This site is the most comprehensive on the web devoted to trans history and biography. Well over 1400 persons worthy of note, both famous and obscure, are discussed in detail, and many more are mentioned in passing.

There is a detailed Index arranged by vocation, doctor, activist group etc. There is also a Place Index arranged by City etc. This is still evolving.

In addition to this most articles have one or more labels at the bottom. Click one to go to similar persons. There is a full list of labels at the bottom of the right-hand sidebar. There is also a search box at the top left. Enjoy exploring!

03 February 2009

The first British trans woman

The first surgically confirmed British trans woman is usually taken to be Roberta Cowell, who had surgery from Harold Gillies in May 1951, published her autobiography in 1954 and then managed to disappear from the media.

However, apparently, there was an earlier British trans woman. In November 1945, a Sergeant in the UK army, a career soldier, not a conscript, who was at that time serving with the occupation forces in Hamburg, was evaluated by the medical officer and a psychologist. The Sergeant was then permitted to travel to Denmark for a sex change operation to female.

No details are given of what she did afterwards. Hopefully she was reassigned elsewhere in the army and not terminated. Her name has never been released.
  • Eye-witness report on a ZDF (Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen) television program in 2005, and recorded on an earlier version of the Joanne Rushton Wikipedia page.


  1. Zagria, as usual, thanks so much for this tantalizing tidbit of our history. It reminds me how silly it is when the wider media reports so-and-so as the "first" transsexual or the "youngest" transsexual when they clearly haven't checked their facts. For a group like ours that is so often castigated by society, the likelihood anyone in their right mind in those days would have wanted to be public about something like that is absurd. Christine Jorgenson became known to the larger public as the result of a fluke of a family friend blabbing her return to NYC to the press. Whoever this brave mystery woman was, I hope she was able to live in peace, without fear of her privacy being stolen from her. One can only imagine what she must have thought seeing how Cowell and Jorgenson were raked over the coals and objectified by the press.

  2. Anonymous5/2/09 14:31

    While it's always nice to see more hidden bits of trans history uncovered, I'm concerned that you appear to be equating being trans / TS with having had the relevant genital surgery. Not only would this induce a historical bias due to those in earlier times having less or no access to surgery, but it also devalues and invalidates the identities of those trans/TS people who consciously opt not to have genital surgery.

    Although I realise it might just be poor phrasing.

    (I'm on Wordpress, but blogger seems to hate me right now, hopefully this'll post 4th time lucky.)

  3. Jessikat,

    I quite agree. It depends when you read the posting. A few hours after putting it up, I went back and added the words 'surgically confirmed' to clarify.

    Hve you read my posting about a classic transsexual who was in news in 1931.

  4. Anonymous2/9/09 12:09

    Greetings, all...

    Having been privileged to have been Christine Jorgensen's housemate and confidante during the terminal six months of her life... and... as a retired konsul of Denmark... I think that the "The First British trans woman" is probably nothing more than an urban myth...

    Brenda Lana Smith R af D...

  5. Anonymous4/9/09 12:08

    how lovely to hear you are still alive and kicking so to speak. At this age, one tends to presume the worst far too often.
    Is your autobiography on the press yet. Or do we really have to wait until you are gone.
    love, Stephen (Whittle)


Comments that constitute non-relevant advertisements will be declined, as will those attempting to be rude. Comments from 'unknown' and anonymous will also be declined. Repeat: Comments from "unknown" will be declined, as will anonymous comments. You may type in a name if you don't have a Google id.