This site is the most comprehensive on the web devoted to trans history and biography. Well over 1700 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!

30 September 2009

Jean Malin (1908 – 1933) female impersonator, male impersonator, MC.

Victor Eugene James Malin was born to Polish/ Lithuanian immigrants in Brooklyn, New York.

As a teenager he won prizes for his costumes at the drag balls in Manhattan. After one win, still in drag, he wandered into a nearby cafeteria, and was attacked by four thugs, but was able to beat three of them unconscious.

By his late teens he was a chorus boy in Broadway shows, but he lost jobs because he was considered too effeminate. So he concentrated on performing in drag in Greenwich Village, under the name Imogene Wilson (he copied the name from Mary Nolan who used that name as a dancer in the Zeigfeld Follies)

As he became more successful he mainly performed in a tuxedo as the emcee, in the swishy style, and is regarded as one of the originators of the Pansy Craze 1930-3. He was called a ‘male impersonator’ because of the clothes that he wore.

He appeared in small sissy parts in Hollywood films, and as a female impersonator in Arizona to Broadway, all in 1933.

He is known for his recording of ‘I'd rather be Spanish than Mannish’.

He died in a fluke accident. While parked on a pier, he confused the gears and reversed into the water. He was pinned under the steering wheel, but his passengers survived.

His wife was Lucille Helman who was later a notorious madam in Manhattan who was convicted in 1936 and 1942 of sending prostitutes across state lines.

28 September 2009

Michel-Marie Poulain (1906 – 1991) performer, painter, stained-glass artist.

Michel-Marie was born in Nogent-sur-Marne, Paris. After having been dressed as a girl and sent to girls’ schools, he went to highschool as a boy, but with long hair. He was met with  taunts, but being big and strong he easily punched the jokers to the ground. He was allowed to be a girl every Sunday, and kept a room at home with perfumes and dresses.

At 15, la demoiselle Poulain was taken to a jewellers to have her ears pierced, and attended her first ball in a maidenly dress.

At 20, he cut off his hair for the first time and did his national service in the Dragoons.

Afterwards, he quickly spent his legacy, and then became a travesti performer in the music hall under the name of Micky. He became involved with and married Solange, a fellow performer, and they had a daughter, Michele.

He was also a painter and exhibited regularly at the Salon d'Automne and the Salon des Indépendants in Paris.

In the early 1930s, Micky visited Berlin and saw Dr Magnus Hirschfeld, but emphasized that his way of life aimed at pleasure and that he wanted to be male. And then when Hirschfeld was in Paris, after the destruction of his Institute in 1933, Micky accosted him again. Hirschfeld listened to his history of wanting to be a woman, of wanting dresses and frivolity, and offered to make him into a woman. However Michel-Marie was not yet ready.

He was a senior-sergeant in the Second World War. He was captured by the Germans and interned until 1945. He self-castrated himself in 1946, and then lived increasingly as a woman.

She was a high-fashion model. She painted portraits and did stained-glass windows for churches, particularly in Abbaye de La Colle-sur-Loup and the Chapelle des Pénitents Blancs in Èze. Later she opened a gallery in Cannes.

In 1954 she published an autobiography J'ai choisi mon sexe.

When not painting in Èze, she performed in shows in Paris, and even had her own night club, Le Vol de Nuit.

She would be seen in the latest fashions at the major horse-racing events.

She stayed with her wife, and their daughter called her ‘Papa’ even in public.
  • Claude  Marais. J'ai choisi mon sexe. Confidences du peintre Michel-Marie Poulain. Monaco: Les éditions de Fontvieille, 1954.
  • Maxime Foerster. Histoire des transsexuels en France. Paris: Harmatten 2003. Beziers: H&O 2006: Chp 2.
  • “Michel-Marie Poulain”. Wikipédia: L’encyclopédie libre.
  • “Michel-Marie Poulain”. A selection of her paintings.

Foerster’s book is vague about the chronology, and does not even suggest that when Hirschfeld was in Paris it was right after the destruction of his Institute.  He must have been sick with worry, and one can only admire his professionalism that he was able to put on his doctor persona and attend to Micky.

Michel-Marie Poulain is not listed among the noted inhabitants for Nogent-Sur-Marne, La Colle-Sur-Loup nor Èze.

Neither of Michel-Marie Poulain's consultations with Hirschfeld are mentioned in Charlotte Wolff's biography of Hirschfeld.

Foerster says that she underwent ‘plusieurs interventions chirurgicales (several surgical interventions)” in 1946.  One can only ask where she went.   Hirschfeld’s Institute had been destroyed 13 years before; Georges Burou did not start sex-change operations until 1958; Harold Gillies did two and only two such operations ever; Lennox Broster operated only on “hermaphrodites” and refused to do ‘transvestites’ as he called them.    The Chronologie et bibliographie représentative du transsexualisme et des pathologies de l'identité sexuelle says that “Michel-Marie Poulain se fait castrer pour vivre en femme (castrated herself to live as a woman)”.  So I went with the latter.  There is no mention that she had other operations in later years when they became more available.

Marie André regarded Michel-Marie Poulain as a bad example who discredited the transsexual cause, in that she lived with her wife, and her daughter called her Papa in public.  This contrast of two types of transsexuals, of course, returns again and again through transsexual history under several different names.

27 September 2009

Marie André Schwidenhammer (1909 – 1981) nurse, activist.

Georges Marie André Schwidenhammer was born into a rich industrial family in the Vosques. There were a few scandals before the war with regard to his crossdressing.

After studying physics and chemistry, he enlisted in the Army, where he attained the rank of captain.

Working with the Résistance in 1940, he helped several hundred prisoners-of-war escape the camp at Luneville. Then from late 1940 to 1943 he organized the production of a scouring powder, which employed a few dozen young people who would otherwise have been conscripted for compulsory labour in Germany. In 1943 he was arrested and sentenced to death by the Gestapo, and finally, interned at Natzweiler-Struthof concentration camp (in Alsace which had been incorporated into the Reich). There he was subjected to experimental hormonal treatment.

After 1945, he was forced to resign from the Army, and his internment was not recognized by the Military Pensions office.

Schwidenhammer now chose to live as female, using the name Marie André. She obtained diplomas in para-medical specialities and practiced as a masseuse therapist nurse, first in Paris hospitals and Monaco, then she moved to private practice, establishing a practice in the 17th arrondissement of Paris, where she worked until her death. She was in contact with most French transsexuals and transvestites. She also worked with Mme Bonnet who did waxing and electrolysis.

In the early 1950s, Marie André happened to meet Coccinelle by chance on a train, and informed her of hormones, and of the possibility of transition.

In 1963 Marie André was decorated with the cross for voluntary fighters in the Résistance.

In 1965 she founded AMAHO (l'Aide aux Malades Hormonaux), registered under the law of 1 July 1901 regarding voluntary associations. She proposed that transsexuals and transvestites were the result of growth hormones injected into calves and chickens which were then eaten by pregnant mothers.

She was for many years the transsexual spokesperson, frequently quoted in newspapers and books. She did not hesitate to approach government ministries on behalf of transsexuals. AMAHO issued membership cards that closely resembled the French National Identity Card. This was tolerated by the Prefecture of Police.

With a judgement in cassation in 1975, and and a ruling in the Court of Appeal of Reims, 1979, she was able to remove her first name ‘George’ from her identity papers. This became a precedent for all French citizens.

She became strident as was probably necessary for her work, but this did alienate some.

She died in a car accident. Her grave, very simple with her birth name only, is located near Chartres.
  • Joseph Doucé. La Question transsexuelle. Paris: Luminière et justice. 1986 :159.
  • Maxime Foerster. Histoire des transsexuels en France. Paris: Harmatten 2003. Beziers: H&O 2006: chp 2.

While rarely remembered outside France, she is of course a pioneer trans activist, who was working at the same time as Virginia Prince, José Sarria and Reed Erickson in the US and Della Aleksander and Charlotte Bach in the UK.

Both Doucé and Foerster express skepticism re the hormonal treatments in the concentration camp.  We have only Schwidenhammer’s own word for this having happened.

21 September 2009

Georgia Black (1906 - 1951) housewife.

George Cantey ran away from grueling field work in 1921 and went to Charleston, South Carolina. He was taken on as a servant by a gay man who encourage him to dress as female, and coached his mannerisms.

This suited Georgia, and she continued as Georgia after he dumped her. In Winter Gardens. Florida, she met Alonzo Sabbe, who was seriously ill. She nursed him back to health. He then asked her to marry him. A cousin of Sabbe abandoned her three-year-old child, and Alonzo and Georgia adopted him.

Alonzo died soon after, and Georgia Sabbe then married Muster Black in Sanford, Florida. Muster died seven years later but left Georgia his Veterans pension.

Georgia was outed only on her her own death bed when her doctor examined her more closely. The Police Chief, taking her to have been masquerading, did a background check on her, but found nothing. Many people in Sanford refused to believe that Georgia was not a woman, and the others criticized the doctor for his lack of discretion, and the local paper for running the story on the front page. Her son, who grew up to be steelworker in Pennsylvania, was as surprised as anyone.
  • “The Man who Lived 30 years as a Woman”. “Townsfolk Wonder About Married Life”. Ebony. Oct 1951.

    A pioneer who is largely forgotten.   Quite a lot of our pioneers in the US were black, which is another fact that is often overlooked.

    Georgia is second from the left on the front row in the group photograph.

    Jean Genet (1910 – 1986) novelist, dramatist, poet

    Jean was born in Paris, the son of a prostitute, and raised by adoptive parents in the countryside. He was punished for misdemeanours by being in the Mettray Penal Colony for boys from 1926-9.

    He left to join the Foreign Legion, from which he was discharged after being caught having sex with a man. He then lived as a thief, vagabond and prostitute, and went to prison several times.

    In prison he wrote his first poem and the novel Notre Dame des Fleurs (Our Lady of the Flowers), 1942. He managed to introduce himself to Jean Cocteau, who used his contacts in German-occupied Paris to get Genet published, although only 30 copies were bound in 1943, and largely sold to rich collectors of erotica. Genet removed the more pornographic passages from the 1944 and 1948 L’Arbelete editions, and even more from the 1951 Gallimard edition.

    The novel is a memory of Divine (taken by many to be the author’s alter), a transgender prostitute in Montmartre, Paris, who lives with her pimp who brings home a young hoodlum, Our Lady of the Flowers, who is eventually executed. Divine herself dies of tuberculosis.

    The book was celebrated by Parisian intellectuals, and Jean-Paul Sartre, Hélène Cixous and Jacques Derrida wrote books about Genet and his novels.

    Later in life Genet became a political activist speaking up for immigrants in France, and toured the US as a guest of the Black Panthers. He also spent six months in the Palestinian refugee camps, and he was later in Beirut during the massacres at Sabra and Shatila.

    In his posthumous book, Un Captif amoureux (Prisoner of Love), he compares the joy of a transsexual having decided on the operation with the joy of suicide bomber who have decided to ‘cross over’.

    Genet developed throat cancer at age 76, and died of a fall in his hotel room.
    • Jean Genet. Notre Dame des Fleurs. Paris: Robert Denoël and Paul Morihien 1943. Paris: L’Arbelete 1944. English translation: Our Lady of the Flowers. New York: Grove Press 1963.
    • Jean Genet. Un Captif amoureux. Paris: Gallimard 1986. English translation: Prisoner of Love. London: Pan Books 1989.
    • “Jean Genet”. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
    • “Our Lady of the Flowers”. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

    14 September 2009

    Viviane Namaste: Invisible Lives – a review

    See also: “A Gang of Trannies”: Gender Discourse and Punk Culture – a review of the chapter by Viviane Namaste

    Viviane did a BA in Sociology at Carleton University, Ottawa, 1989, an MA at York University, Toronto, 1990, and a PhD in Semiology at the Université du Québec à Montréal, 1996. She is Principal at the Simone de Beauvoir Institute, Concordia University, Montréal. She was awarded the 2009 Canadian Award for Action on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights for her efforts to address the HIV prevention and treatment needs of trans people, bisexuals and the swingers community.
    • Viviane K. Namaste. Invisible Lives: The Erasure of Transsexual and Transgendered People.  University of Chicago Press, 2000.

      Namaste, as the subtitle of the book says, is concerned with the erasure of trans people in both straight and gay/lesbian contexts. Of course any conceptual or bureaucratic system emphasizes some people and erases others.   In addition, the high estimate for transsexuals being 1 in 500, it is inevitable that social workers, civil servants etc will neglect us, which makes it all the more important to speak up for our existence.   In turn, inevitably,  Namaste’s book also erases some types of transsexual. Her major concern is with trans prostitutes, unemployed and seropositives. It is of course good that someone is speaking up for this group. However trans persons with regular jobs are not much mentioned in this book.  She says not a word about trans people who erase themselves by going stealth and denying that they were ever a different gender. Nor does she say anything about gay scholars, Jonathan Katz the most prominent, who treat trans people as either gay or lesbian.

      If you are the kind of reader who ignores footnotes, you will miss Note 3 to the introduction where Viviane mentions that she herself is trans, and goes on: “I am not interested in situating myself personally in this book. There are a variety of reasons to justify my position. First, autobiography is the only discourse in which transsexuals are permitted to speak. An academic text on transsexuality and the institutional world that does not address the transsexual author’s personal history, then, is a critical intervention in the existing knowledge paradigm”. She extends this with a disinterest in the personal history of the other writers that she engages with, some of whom are trans and some are not. Those readers who happen to know which ones are, will be reading a somewhat different book to those who do not.

      Throughout the book she inserts comments by Diane Gobeil, Mirha-Soleil Ross and Margaret O’Hartigan, much in the same way as television documentaries have talking-heads, but beyond the simple fact of them being MTF activists, she tells us nothing of them.  Again, some of us know who they are, and others do not.

      This is an academic text. It is concerned with the implications of post-structuralist theory and sociology. It is narrower than post-structuralist, it is post-Foucaultian. Much of the theory discussion will not interest the general reader.

      In 1995 Namaste was funded by Health Canada to do a needs assessment for transgendered persons in Toronto. She interviewed 33 people, 31 mtf, 2 ftm, 6 post-operative, 19 enrolled at the Clarke Institute (now the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health=CAMH) Gender Identity Clinic (more), 12 sex workers. She does not explain why it was so difficult to find more than 2 trans men. Toronto, after all, is the city where Rupert Raj (not mentioned in the book), has worked so long and hard in organizing trans men.

      It is no surprise that the 12 sex workers reported frequent police harassment, and in a back-handed way it is encouraging that only one other did so: she is a métis who was stopped in northern Ontario for driving with a broken light, and who was then jailed when they realized that she was trans.

      It is also not a surprise that homeless trans persons avoid the youth, women’s and homeless shelters where they were usually expected to impersonate their birth gender, and even then were often turned away. Seven years later in 2002, Toronto revised its shelter standards: "It is expected that all shelters be accessible to transgendered/transsexual/two-spirited residents in their self-defined gender and that shelters will work toward improving access to this group”. This was a step forward, but practice lags behind theory. Interestingly, Namaste reports that some trans women opted to go to gay bathhouses rather than to the city shelters. This in turn raises questions that she does not answer. The gay bathhouses admit only men, and therefore to some extent the trans women must be impersonating their birth gender there also.

      In discussing trans persons who attend Alcoholics Anonymous, she mentions that many AA members are transphobic. Some trans persons attend AA either as their birth gender or as their chosen gender but in both cases feel frustrated in that they cannot talk about what actually drove them to drink. Now just a minute. The latter group, those who attend as their chosen gender are complaining that they pass. The down-side of stealth or passing is that there are things that one cannot talk about. It is difficult for a trans alcoholic to attend AA unless he or she is out, for this very reason. Ideally there should be a specialist trans AA group, but failing that would it not be better to attend a gay/lesbian group where one can be out as trans, rather than a heterosexual group where one is intimidated not to discuss the real issue.

      While Namaste was conducting her study in the Summer of 1995, a provincial election returned the Progressive Conservatives under Mike Harris with an item in their manifesto that they would discontinue funding under the provincial health plan for SRS. This put Namaste in a bind when she wrote her report in that she did not want to provide material that would support that intention. This book, published in 2000, contains data that she left out. Nevertheless the Harris government did suspend funding in 1998, and the suspension remained in place until reversed by the Liberal government in 2008.

      The major complaint of the 19 respondents who were or had been enrolled at the Clarke Institute Gender Identity Clinic was the requirement that they do 12 months of real-life test before starting hormones. This is more than is required by the HBIGDA (now WPATH) Standards of Care, but is required by several Gender Identity Clinics. Namaste reports that the staff at the Clarke Institute Gender Identity Clinic estimate that 30-50% of their clients are receiving hormones from somewhere else, but contrary to what some expect, such clients are not expelled from the program. It is of course, as Namaste explains, not good health care to force persons to cross-live without hormones if such policy leads to them being beaten up.

      The second complaint of the respondents is that the Clarke Institute Gender Identity Clinic does not provide any counselling in dressing, passing etc. Personally I would never have expected such advice from a GIC. Such is part of what is offered by transsexual peer groups.

      The Clarke Institute Gender Identity Clinic is (in)famous as the institution where the concepts of autogynephilia and Homosexual Transsexual (HSTS) were developed, first by Kurt Freund and then by Ray Blanchard.  In addition to the many web pages that discuss this issue, it is explained at length in a book published by the Clarke Institute Gender Identity Clinic, Gender Dysphoria: Development, Research, Management, 1985.  This being the case, I found it particularly odd that Namaste’s book does not mention Blanchard nor the 1985 book nor the concepts of autogynephilia and HSTS, nor even the idea that there are two types of transsexualism.  I wanted Namaste to ask her respondents whether they tried to present themselves more as autogynephilic or more as HSTS. But it is as if the Clarke had never coined the concepts.

      Those who have read Michael Bailey’s The Man Who Would Be Queen, 2003, may be left with the impression that trans prostitutes are the epitome of HSTS.  In addition, Namaste quotes Dallas Denny from 1992 who expressed the opinion that prostitutes were over-represented among the clients at GICs, and then Namaste makes a very strange comment: “Nevertheless, her position assumes that most ‘true’ transsexuals are not involved in prostitution and/or street life”.   Is Namaste asserting that most transsexuals, or at least ‘true’ transsexuals, are prostitutes?   She never defines what might constitute a ‘true' transsexual, and what would be a ‘false’ transsexual.     Traditionally most trans women went into prostitution because all other types of employment were closed off to us.  This is still the case in some Mediterranean countries, but this is hardly the case in modern Canada.  While prostitutes are still a significant proportion of us, it has not been my experience that they are the majority, and certainly Namaste does not supply any statistics or any other evidence to get me to change my mind. In her own sample only 12 out of 33 are prostitutes.

      Anyway the reality at the Clarke Institute Gender Identity Clinic was that prostitutes were not accepted. The GIC does not regard prostitution as a typical female employment, and of the nature of the trade, prostitutes are not able to present a tax return in a female name showing that they have been working as women. Namaste also interviewed GIC staff in Montréal and Québec City and shows that they have a very similar attitude. Not surprisingly only 4 of the 12 prostitutes in Namaste’s sample were enrolled at the Clarke Institute Gender Identity Clinic, and only two of those admitted to them that they were prostitutes. One of these was told that she would get no help if she were busted by the police again, and withdrew from the program. An angle that Namaste does not pursue: as clients are expected to show their tax return to prove that they are working as the target gender, do not some other self-employed persons run into similar problems of proof?

      Namaste mentions that many think that there is a quota re how many transsexuals the Clarke Institute Gender Identity Clinic can approve per year and quotes in refutation a representative of the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) that the numbers vary from year to year. Surely the wrong question is being asked here. The population of Ontario is 13 million and was 10 million in 1995. We divide the 1995 total by 1,000 to get a rough estimate of transsexuals in the province which would be 10,000, and further divide by 50 to get the number who apply in any given year. Therefore we would expect around 200 per year. The Clarke approval figures are around 10 a year. There may not be a quota as such, but the Ontario Ministry of Health expects the Clarke to keep the figures closer to 10 than to 200. They have been very efficient at this.

      From 1998 to 2008 OHIP did not fund SRS. Hence the Clarke Institute Gender Identity Clinic was without its carrot. Why did people continue to enrol and put up with their nonsense? While this happened after Namaste’s study, her data offers a snapshot of Toronto transsexuals just before the funding suspension was introduced.  We should be able to extrapolate from her data to answer the question, but the data presented does not do so.
      A few notes on word usage.
      • Not everyone will understand ‘Anglo-American’. It does not mean UK + USA, as in the mining company. It is Quebec usage in contrast to Franco-American. American here = US + Canada. This usage of course erases Hispanic-American and Aboriginal American and all the types of immigrants.
      • A footnote on the word ‘travelo’ would be useful.
      • transsexuel/transsexuelle. Which is which? Just as Anglophone sexologists describe trans women as ‘male transsexuals’, so I think that there is a political dispute as to whether a transsexuelle is a trans man or a trans woman. This is not clarified.
      • Namaste is constantly saying “transsexual and transgendered (TS/TG) people”, which does of course become tedious. At least in the chapter on applicants to the Clarke Institute in Toronto, '”transsexual” alone would have sufficed.
      • Sometimes she says ‘transgenderist’, as does Anne Bolin whom she quotes several times. This form of the word is, of course, associated with Virginia Prince whose meaning is distinctly different from what Namaste and most writers mean by ‘transgendered’. Prince is not mentioned even once in this book, but the use of her word does open up confusion.
      • What does Namaste mean by ‘heterosexual’? E.g. p63 ‘MTF queens who are unapologetically heterosexual’. I read this twice, once thinking that she means gynephiles and then that she means androphiles. She is doing here the writing equivalent of mumbling, and her meaning is not clear. She never uses ‘androphilic’ or ‘gynephilic’, and one is left uncertain at best.
      • There is a contentious translation on p12: “La fierté gaie, lesbienne, bisexuelle, travestie, et transsexuelle” is rendered “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender pride”.

      12 September 2009

      Joseph Cluse (1954 - 2018) performer, housewife, pastor.

      Joseph was born in LaFayette, Louisiana, three months early. From the age of seven he was molested for several years by a male relative. At 10 he was gang-raped at a boys’ camp. In 1971 the family home burned down, and his parents divorced.

      He started a relationship with an older man, but was dumped. After high-school he moved to New Orleans, became Joanna, performed in a nightclub and did sex work. She also did lots of drugs and drink.

      In 1975 Joanna moved to San Francisco, and started taking counseling. She had breast implants, and in 1979 had genital surgery from Dr Biber. Joanna met and married a loving Jewish man, but cheated on him, and then asked for a divorce. Her next fiancé dropped her when he discovered her past.

      She returned to LaFayette in 1986. One evening, while drunk, she crashed her car and almost killed her passengers. In 1988 she married a single father of two children. They moved to Marietta, Georgia, and she became a Christian wife and mother, and stayed off drugs and alcohol.

      She embraced her Christian beliefs more deeply, and by 1994 had concluded that she was outside God’s will. She shared her conclusion with her husband, and they separated.

      She returned to Louisiana as a woman, but not until 1997 did she participate in Crossover, the ex-transgender group. Eighteen months later she did a 40-day fast, and then in January 1999 returned to being Joseph.

      Joseph had his breast implants removed. He is now a pastor with Crossover and with Exodus, and is a star feature on the Exodus Gender Identity page, where he explains: “Satan’s stronghold on my life was such that I could see no other course for my life than a complete sex change operation. I believed God had made a mistake and given me the physical attributes of a man, and I determined to set things ‘right’ ”.

      ++Joseph died on his birthday, age 64.

      11 September 2009

      Brenda Lana Smith, consul, activist.

      Brenda Lana Smith has a small but important part in our history. You can read about her in Joanne Meyerowitz. How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States, and Richard F. Docter. Becoming a Woman: A Biography of Christine Jorgensen, and the Cleis Press' 2000 edition of Christine Jorgensen: A Personal Autobiography.

      In her male phase she was a long-time resident of Bermuda and was the Honorary Danish Consul. This led to the bestowment of Ridder af Dannebrogorden (R af D). After a divorce after 29 years of marriage with a son and daughter, Brenda completed transition with surgery with Stanley Biber in 1984. Brenda was introduced to Christine Jorgensen by Sister Mary Elizabeth, and became Christine's housemate for the last six months of her life, and arranged her estate at her death. Later Brenda moved back to England. She has remained active for transsexual rights, and especially against the lack of gay and transsexual rights in Bermuda where the Gender Recognition Act and other UK civil rights acts do not apply.

      A few days ago Stephen Whittle commented on this blog:
      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) .


      Brenda has replied:
      Greetings, all… especially to Stephen (Whittle OBE—a blast from my

      Rest assured that this otherwise reclusive 76-year-old Anglo-Danish
      Mancunian born Bermudian exile is particularly alive and kicking when
      it comes to sexual orientation and gender identity being individually
      separate and distinct entities that need to be regarded and legislated
      as such in much needed amendments to Bermuda's present gay and gender-variant omissive Human Rights Law...

      That done and dusted…

      As most folk will have probably observed I am not given to bantering
      online... this is not so much that I dislike confrontational
      situations or that I might diplomatically prefer not to unnecessarily
      fuel volatile situations with my two cents' worth... but, since my
      early pre World War 2 school days, due to what is now termed Attention Deficit Disorder impeding my committing on paper/online what I might readily articulate…

      Whether publicly or privately... we gender-variant folk all seem to
      hold that our own particular manifestation of dissociative gender
      identification is unique... often deep down believing that we
      individually hold the proprietary format on all matters gender-
      variant... and… divided by semantics idealistically bicker between
      ourselves to that end…the end result is that none of us tend to
      countenance our peers lightly… no doubt subconsciously looking for
      imperfections that we have yet to come to terms with within our own

      My own metaphysical belief in that we need search inwardly for the
      answer to whatever over attracts or irks us gave rise to the
      therapeutic content of not only my partially electronically
      transcribed journals, but my still self-searching twenty-two year-old
      musing: "a'top a dung-hill..." with its some 200-plus A4 page small
      print roots in what is a now politically incorrect 1950s mind-set...
      remains "a work in progress" procrastinating on my 2.66GHz Intel iMac,
      in much need of my editing, and properly punctuating by a grammarian
      before ever being photographically embellished and archived for
      posterity, whatever…

      One thing for sure… while my failing memory is increasingly in the
      habit of relying on extracts to support or illustrate an occasional
      argument online… any publisher of "a'top a dung-hill…" whose author
      The Gender Genie thinks is male… will certainly have a field day
      posthumously endeavouring to commercial address my dyslexic 'stream of consciousness' style musing...

      So, I while I need not worry about being unable to claim immunity

      "Kindly appreciate that Brenda Lana Smith D. having had no
      editorial input whatsoever in the above declines to entertain e-mail
      argument on its content..."

      A diplomatic fence-sitting rider that I long ago attached on articles
      I had gleaned and once widely conduited—that are now posted sans rider on "From brendalana's Archives…" <
      My present bloated unresolved concern raised by "Is your autobiography on the press yet, Or do we really have to wait until you are gone…" is to whom I now best leave my archives and memorabilia, etc... to honourably enjoy after I am gone…

      Brenda Lana Smith R af D
      Cornwall 2009-09-08

      09 September 2009

      Roberto C. Granato, Sr (1926 - 2014) urologist.

      Dr. Granato received his medical degree from the University of Buenos Aires Medical School in 1954. He trained as an emergency room surgeon in Argentina and had a private practice there as a surgeon from 1956 to 1959.

      He then moved to the United States and pursued further training in urology from 1959 to 1963. In 1961, he completed his qualifications for practicing in the United States from the Educational Council for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG). He pursued further training at New York Polyclinic Medical School and Hospital, which he completed in 1964. As part of his advanced training, he did clinical and laboratory research in urological cancer at the Institute of Cancer Research from 1963 to 1964 at Columbia University.

      Dr. Granato is a clinical and surgical urologist who has been licensed in New York since 1964 and certified by the American Board of Urology since 1971. From 1972 - 1985 he did about 800 vaginoplasties and phalloplasties. He trained his son, Roberto E. Granato, in the techniques, but the latter did not adopt that speciality.

      Patients include: Diane Kearny, Renee Richards, Eleanor Schuler, Jeanne Hoff.

      Peter Ackroyd (1949 - ) novelist, biographer.

      See also my review of Ackroyd's 2017 book, Queer City.

      Peter Ackroyd was raised in East Acton, London, by a single mother who worked in personnel. He knew that he was gay at age seven. He was educated at St Benedict’s public school, Ealing and Clare College, Cambridge which he left with a double first in English. In 1972 he was a Mellon Fellow at Yale University.

      His early publications were of poetry. When he was employed at The Spectator, he contacted his publisher to change the pronouns in his poems from ‘he’ to ‘she’. He worked at The Spectator magazine from 1973, and became joint managing editor in 1978. He published his first non-poetry book in 1976, and has since published many acclaimed fiction and non-fiction works, mainly connected with London.

      The only time, other than Yale, that he has lived outside London, was when he lived in the West Country with his lover Brian Kuhn. When Brian died, in 1994, he moved back to London.

      He never uses the underground.

      He was nominated to the Royal Society of Literature in 1984, and awarded a CBE in 2003. He is chief book reviewer for The Times, and regularly broadcasts on radio. He was number 79 (up from 86) on the Independent on Sunday Pink List 2009. He has written 15 novels (e.g. Hawksmoor, 1985, Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem, 1994, The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein, 2008) and 17 non-fiction books (e.g. Dickens, 1990, Blake, 1996, London: The Biography, 2000, Albion: The origins of the English Imagination, 2002, Thames: Sacred River, 2007), both usually about London.

      Early in his publishing career Ackroyd wrote a book, Dressing Up, on transvestity, that is usually skipped in later summaries of his output, although it is frequently listed in books on cross dressing.

      David Sexton saw Dressing Up as the “key to all Peter Ackroyd’s novels” in that it prefigures his preoccupation with shifting identities and masks.

      Barry Lewis summarizes the book: “The transvestite is primarily an inverter of norms, someone who reverses the clichés of fashion and identity. The fetishism associated with the wearing of women’s clothes by a male, or the wearing of men’s clothes by a female, reveals something about the fluidity of gender roles and the futility of rigid rules. … In the primitive phases of many cultures, transvestism often performs a sacred function as the mark of nature’s own androgyny. … Thus the concept of ‘dressing up’ acquires for Ackroyd an aesthetic dimension that exceeds mere transvestism and embraces the importance of impersonation and pastiche.”

      Ackroyd describes himself as an outsider to the subject (p34), but as a writer with a known penchant for masks, can we take this at face value?

      He surveys transvestites in the arts and the opinions of various psychoanalysts. He always writes ‘trans-sexual’, but has little interest in them as opposed to transvestites. He makes the eminently sensible comment: “Some transvestites are exclusively fetishistic; they dress, in other words, to obtain some kind of sexual arousal. Psychoanalysts believe this to be the dominant mode of transvestism and, indeed, many transvestites remain fixed at this stage, assuaging their obsessions by frequent or intermittent cross-dressing. But there are other transvestites who move out of the fetishistic stage; they cease to be sexually excited by the act of cross-dressing itself, and go on to a more comprehensive form of feminine ‘passing’.” While on p14 he had gone along with the common assumption that gays do drag and heterosexuals are transvestites, on p24 he comments: “it is certainly the case that homosexual transvestites are the most misunderstood and neglected of all”. Of transvestites themselves he says that 'they themselves are not forthcoming about the nature of their obsession: most of them have no interest in discussing or explaining the nature or context of their activities' (p21). He finds them rather pathetic: 'Most transvestites locate their obsession in their infancy, as an unmanageable and threatening "disease" which haunted and often ruined their youth.' ... 'Most of them would abandon it if they were able to' ... 'Even those men who have been cross-dressing for a number of years still find the phenomenon to be both threatening and divisive'. He writes (p107) "Coccinelle, the male cabaret artiste” and nothing else about her, totally ignoring her transition. He repeats the unreliable tales about Edward Hyde and Charlotte d’Eon de Beaumont.

      Actual transvestism does not occur much in his novels with the major exception of Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem where the famous Dame performer, Dan Leno, is contrasted with Lizzie, cross-dresses on the stage, and then on the street, and who might be the murderer. The novel is set in the 1880s and has echoes of the Ripper killings that happened a few years later and for which there are several cross-dressing candidates. There is also a transvestite in his The House of Doctor Dee novel.
        • Peter Ackroyd. Dressing Up: Transvestism and Drag, the History of an Obsession. Simon and Shuster. 1979.
        • David Sexton. “Thereby Hangs a Tale”. Spectator. 10 Sept 1994:33.
        • Peter Ackroyd. Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem. London: Sinclair-Stevenson. 1994. US Edition: The Trial of Elizabeth Cree: A Novel of the Limehouse Murders. New York: N.A. Talese/Doubleday, 1995. 
        • Barry Lewis. My words echo thus: possessing the past in Peter Ackroyd. University of South Carolina Press. 2007:
        • Jason Alden. “Peter Ackroyd: 'Retire? Only if my arms are chopped off first' “ The Independent on Sunday. 12 July 2009.

          The book is richly illustrated, and that is its major merit.

          In the 1980s virtually every book on trans whatever had both Janice Raymond and Peter Ackroyd in its bibliography.