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!

29 January 2010

Frank Spisak (1951 - 2011) factory worker, serial killer, inmate.

Frank was the son of a factory worker in Cleveland, Ohio, who moved home because too many blacks had moved into the area. He had childhood fantasies of being a woman.  He married at 22, and they had one daughter. He read constantly on Hitler and the Nazis and his wife tried to ignore the issue. He worked in various factory jobs.

At 25 he suffered a head injury in a car accident. In 1977, he started dressing as female. As Frankie Ann, Spisak received treatment from the Gender Dysphoria clinic at Cleveland Metropolitan Hospital, lived as female full-time, changed her ID, saw a psychologist and started taking female hormones. She was also saving for surgery. She was fired from her factory job after turning up as female. Frankie Ann found employment with a maker of eyeglasses until found not to be a woman. She tried prostitution until charged with solicitation, and briefly worked as a Kelly Girl temp. When she brought a trans woman home for sex, her wife and daughter moved out.

But in 1979 the Nazi Frank took over. He collected Nazi memorablia, and played Hitler’s speeches on his stereo. He was stockpiling guns and ammunition. He was also dating a black female prostitute. In February 1982 he found a black preacher in the next stall in the men’s toilet at the Cleveland State University Library and shot him dead. In June he shot a black man at a train station, who survived. In August he returned to to CSU and shot at a female student in the ladies room but missed. He became paranoid about a maintenance worker at CSU who might identify him, and so shot him dead, again in the men’s toilets. The next night he killed a young man waiting at a bus stop.

A week later he got drunk and shot his gun out of the window of his house. For this he was arrested, but was allowed to post bond. An anonymous phone call suggested to the police that they re-examine the guns that they had taken from Spisak’s house, and they were found to match those used in the killings.

Once arrested he admitted the murders, grew a Hitler-style mustache and carried a copy of Mein Kampf. At his 1983 trial, his attorney presented him as crazy but he was not found to be ‘legally insane’. He declared that he was under orders from God, and that Jews were to blame for his transvestite episodes, having seized control of his mind. The jury quickly found him guilty and sentenced him to death.

In jail, Spisak lobbied for a sex change, filed a lawsuit to force the state to refer to him as a woman, and appealed the death sentence. In 2006 the appeal court ruled that he had not received a fair defense and struck down his death sentence. In 2010, this was reversed.

He was executed 17 February 2011. He had been 27 years on death row.

26 January 2010

Phynix (1944 - ) musician.

Beverly Glenn-Copeland was born in Philadelphia. She trained as a musician at McGill University and the New York Metropolitan.

Pre-transition she had a wife, but lost her to a man, who could give her children. Phynix transitioned to male in 2002.

Post-transition he has another wife and is step-father to her two sons.

He works in classical, rock and jazz as a pianist and singer. He also does music for children’s television: Sesame Street, Mr Dress-up, and he did the music for the 1974 film Montréal Main.

He is a Buddhist and lives in Ontario.

23 January 2010

Albert F. (188? - ?) printer.

Originally from the north of England, she had been wife to a man for several years, but the marriage broke up when both their children died. She then became sexually involved with a woman.

Partly from fear that her husband would turn up, she moved to North London, became Albert and got a job as a printer. Albert did well in the job and was earning 'very high wages even for a man'.

After war started in 1914, five of his co-workers volunteered for the forces. By 1916 Albert was called up. His employer appealed that he was indispensable.

However he was required to appear before the recruitment medical examining board. He requested permission for a private medical examination because of a cardiac condition. This was refused and the examination soon revealed his biological sex.

The story got into the newspapers, and Albert despite his employer's objections was barred from the printing profession. He left London and went to live with relatives in the north.
  • “Woman’s Attempt to Join the Army”. Hornsey Journal. Aug 18, 1917.
  • Julie Wheelwright. Amazons and Military Maids: Women who dressed as men in pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. Pandora 1989: 44-6

20 January 2010

The virgin of Rapsha

The tradition of Sworn Virgins, found in northern Shqiperia (Albania), Crna Gora (Montenegro) and Kosova, wherein born-female persons avoid marriage and adopt male dress, was a long time as a legend in the West, reported at best in brief anecdotes, almost as if the subject were part of crypto-biology.

One of the earliest reports was by Edith Durham, who at the beginning of chapter IV of her book reports of an incident in 1908:
We left early next morning for Seltze-Kilmeni, piloted by the old man, and followed a stony track to Rapsha whose people derive from Laj Gheg, son of Gheg Laz.
Here we found one of the Albanian virgins who wear male attire. While we halted to water the horses she came up—a lean, wiry, active woman of forty-seven, clad in very ragged garments, breeches and coat. She was highly amused at being photographed, and the men chaffed her about her " beauty." Had dressed as a boy she said, ever since she was quite a child because she had wanted to, and her father had let her. Of matrimony she was very derisive—all her sisters were married, but she had known better. Her brother, with whom she lived—a delicate-looking fellow, much younger than she —came up to see what was happening. She treated me with the contempt she appeared to think all petticoats deserved—turned her back on me, and exchanged cigar­ettes with the men, with whom she was hail-fellow-well-met. In a land where each man wears a moustache, her little, hairless, wizened face looked very odd above masculine garb, as did also the fact that she was unarmed.
  • Edith Durham. High Albania. London: E. Arnold, 1909. Reprinted:Virago travellers. London: Virago, 1985: 80.

18 January 2010

Jacquie Grant (1943 - ) merchant sailor, nightclub owner, councillor, foster mother, museum owner, business woman.

Grant was born in Gippsland, and raised in a children’s home in Melbourne. In 1964 Grant fled to New Zealand to avoid imprisonment for dressing as female: New Zealand being the one place that Australians could go without a passport.

After being in the merchant navy for several years, and then being a restaurant/ nightclub owner, in 1970 Grant transitioned and became Jacquie. She married, and with her Maori husband adopted and fostered over 70 children for the Dept of Welfare.

For 15 years she managed the Moana Zoo and Wildlife park at Lake Brunner.

She served for two terms on the Greymouth District Council.

She has collected circular sock machines for over 30 years, she owns about 200 and owns a manufacturing business that makes them, and also a museum.

She also runs a motor camp at Hokitika.

Her husband died in 1992.

She was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit in 1998 for her fostering services. She has been a sitting member of the NZ Human Rights Review Tribunal since 2004. In 2007 she sat as a member of the local High Court bench.

Jacquie is the first transsexual NZ Order of Merit, Human Rights Review member, zoo manager  and the first to foster over 70 children. 

What a role model. 

She is not the first transgender museum keeper – that would be Charlotte von Mahlsdorf.

15 January 2010

Maxwell Anderson (1956 – 2010) tax accountant, psychologist.

After spending early adulthood in Chicago, Maxwell began transition to male in the mid 1980s.

He moved to Florida in 1990 where he ran the transgender support group, The Eden Society.

In 1996 he moved to  the Atlanta area. He worked as a lecturer and was a certified tax expert. He was a friend of Robert Eads, and in 2000 he co-chaired the 10th Southern Comfort convention. Maxwell and Robert are in the associated documentary Southern Comfort.

He later married his girlfriend and did a PhD in Psychology and had a practice specializing in GLBT issues. He was also a certified Grief Counselor. He was working on a second documentary, Southern Comforted.

He died of brain cancer at the age of 53.

*Not the playwright.

Flo McGarrell (1973 – 2010) sculptor.

McGarrell was born in Rome to US expatriate parents and lived there until the age of 8. They lived in St Louis before moving to Vermont in 1993.

McGarrell did bachelor’s and master’s degrees in new arts and fibres at Maryland Institute College of Art, and a master’s in arts and technology from the School of the Art Institute in Chicago in 2004.

He transitioned to male in 2003.

He was known for large scale inflatable sculptures that could envelop people, and was experimenting with plants and recycled materials. He was art director for the film Maggots and Men, about the 1921 uprising in Kronstadt in the USSR. He had a studio in Vermont and another in Haiti.

He died in the January 2010 earthquake.

14 January 2010

Alfred Taylor (1862 - ?) aristocrat, procurer, waiter.

Alfred Waterhouse Somerset Taylor was the son of a cocoa manufacturer. He served in the 4th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers, City of London Regiment. In 1883 he inherited ₤45,000, which he proceeded to spend, and had become bankrupt.

He introduced several young men to Oscar Wilde, and ran a male brothel.

In 1893 he and Charles Mason were wedded, Taylor being the bride and dressed accordingly. 1894 he and Arthur Marling, a female impersonator, were arrested for wearing female clothing at a party given by John Preston on Fitzroy Street.

In 1895 when Wilde was arrested, Taylor was arrested with him, and charged with procuring. The police found a considerable collection of female clothing in his room. Taylor refused to turn Queen’s Evidence against Wilde, the two men were tried together, and both sentenced to two years with hard labour.

On release Taylor emigrated to the United States where nothing is known of him except that in the 1920s he was working as a waiter in Chicago, for by chance he served Alfred Douglas, Wilde's old lover, who was visiting the city.

*Not the surgeon at Guy’s Hospital, nor the Tennessee Governor.
  • Alfred Taylor. “Testimony”. The Trials of Oscar Wilde 1895.
  • Rupert Croft-Cooke. Feasting with Panthers; A New Consideration of Some Late Victorian Writers. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1968: 266-78, 280, 282.
  • Richard Ellman. Oscar Wilde. Vintage Books 1988: 389-91,441,445,459,462, 474-9, 486.

12 January 2010

Finocchio’s – a nightclub.

Joe Finocchio opened his famed San Francisco nightspot after a customer, drinking in his father's speakeasy, performed an imitation of the legendary Sophie Tucker. This gave Joe the idea of a nightclub with men performing with all the glitter, sophistication and glamour of sophisticated women.

He opened a speakeasy in 1929 at 406 Stockton St, which he managed with his wife Marjorie. Initially the show was a female impersonator paired with a exotic dancer – hula or Chinese.

In 1933 with the repeal of Prohibition, it became legal, and Joe hired more dancers and expended the floor show. In 1936 the police raided the club and arrested five female impersonators, including Walter Hart and Carroll Davis, and the owners for employing entertainers on a percentage basis. Police Chief Quinn ‘declared war’ on female impersonators, and also revoked the permit of the 201 Club.

After the raid, Finocchio’s moved to a larger location at 506 Broadway, and hired more impersonators. Marjorie planned the entertainment on a grand scale. She booked the finest entertainers, supervised and planned elaborate productions. The club was allowed to exist because it became a tourist attraction, a symbol of the city’s sophistication. Joe had to promise the police that the entertainers would not mingle with the customers. Tourist magazines billed Finocchio’s as ‘America’s most unusual night club’. This was reinforced during the 1939 World’s Fair in San Francisco.

The club always included ethnic impersonators. Li-Kar did a Geisha dance; Billy Herrero recreated Hedy Lamarr in the film Algiers, 1938;  in 1940 the club developed an Argentine feature; later Juan Jose did a flamenco dance; Reene de Carlo a hula dance; Bobby de Castro did a striptease in a gorilla costume (this was supposed to be Cuban).

There was little trouble at the club over the years, though military authorities declared Finocchio's "off limits" for selling liquor to WWII military personnel outside of authorized hours. That temporary sanction was lifted New Year's Eve 1943 after Joe Finocchio and other bar owners signed an agreement to limit liquor sales to military personnel to between 5 p.m and midnight. Beer could, however, be sold between 10 a.m. and midnight. The future Tony Midnight, who was working in munitions during the war, snuck into Finocchio’s using fake ID.

In 1945 there was a rumor that Errol Flynn, David Niven and two others had taken Pussy Katt and friends back to a hotel suite at the Fairmont for a night of ‘debauchery’. Gossip columnist Louella Parsons heard this, but couldn’t use it. Howard Hughes who had first met Katt when he escorted Ava Gardner to Finocchio’s, returned for another meeting, and became her lover.
Postwar, even when the Jewel Box Revue was in town, Finocchio’s was filled to capacity, four shows a night, six nights a week, attracting locals, tourists and celebrities such as Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Bette Davies and Tallulah Bankhead.

Marjorie died in 1956 and then Joe married Eve. The chorus line were known as the Eve-ettes, after the second Mrs Finocchio. The nightclub was the long-time venue of LaVerne Cummings, and Lucian Phelps, the legendary "Male Sophie Tucker," who appeared there for 27 years. Freddie Renault was the MC.

Evelyn Hooker enjoyed a visit to Finocchio’s in the mid 1950s before starting her research that showed that gay men are no less socialized that other men.

Joe Finocchio died in 1986, aged 88. Eve Finocchio, his widow, decided to close the club in late 1999 because of a major rent increase and dwindling attendance. The club closed November 27, 1999.  Eve died 2007.

Other artists who performed there include: Rae Bourbon, David de Alba, Libby Reynolds, Katherine Marlow, Aleshia Brevard, Stormy Lee, Lavern Cummings, Bambi Lake, Carroll Wallace, Holly White, Russell Reed, Val DeVere, Ted Hendrix, Harvey Lee, Nicki Gallucci, Francis Stillman, Lestra La Mont, Jeri-Lane, Jackie Maye, Frank Doran, Jackie Philips, Bobby Johnson, Francis Blair, John Lonas, Vaughn Auldon, Johnny Mangum, Del LeRoy, Milton La Maire, Ray Francis, Karyl Norman, Francis David, Paul La Ray, Mike Michelle, Bobby Belle, William Stoffler, Pussy Katt,


*’finocchio’ is Italian for fennel and by extention a negative word for gay. Some say that this is because its bulb looks like male genitals, but the corresponding word in Portuguese, ‘fanchono’ would seem to be cognate.

Rachel Harlow was also born with the Finocchio name.

10 January 2010

Clementine Delait (1865 - 1939) café owner, bearded lady.

Clémentine Clattaux was raised in Thaon-les-Vosges in Lorraine. She shaved regularly and was married to Joseph Delait, a café owner, until she saw a bearded lady at a fair in Nancy.

She bet with her husband’s customers that she do better, and she won the wager. Her husband renamed the café to Café de la femme á barbe, and the curious came from all over France to see Clémentine.

She was also a keen cyclist.   In the Great War she was a famous Red-Cross nurse.

After her husband’s death in 1928, Clémentine appeared on stage in London and Paris. She obtained permission to wear male clothing, and paid the associated tax, so that she could dress as she chose.

In the 1970s, Thaon-les-Vosges opened a museum to its most famous daughter.
  • Frederick Drimmer. Very Special People: The Struggles, Loves and Triumphs of Human Oddities. Bantam Books. 1976: chp 12.
  • Joe Nickell. Secrets of the Sideshows. Lexington, Ky: University Press of Kentucky, 2005: 152.
  • Tom Hernandez. “Sideshow X-Dressers IV”. Quasi-Modo.

08 January 2010

Kalemba (185? - 1871) harpist and singer.

Kalemba was a harpist and singer in the kingdom of Buganda.

One day in 1871, while he was performing for Zansanze, a senior princess of the royal family, Luwedde came for a visit. Luwedde was a niece of the king and one of the wives of the prime minister, Mukase. It was hardly possible for Kalemba to refuse Luwedde's statement of her desire for him.

It being necessary to be discreet, it was arranged that Zansanze would visit Luwedde in her personal compound. She arrived with eight other women, one of whom was Kalemba suitably attired. After the departure of the group minus one, Luwedde announced to her husband that her period was about to start and she was left alone for several days.

The difficulty was in getting Kalemba out again. Mukase intercepted the messenger woman who was sent to set up the exit, and upon having the couple found and brought to him, Mukase ordered the youth's head to be removed, and Luwedde to be smeared with his blood.

He was also insisting that she carry the head when she went to visit her uncle, but his advisors suggested that this might not be in accord with his longevity as prime minister.
  • Eli Sagan. At The Dawn Of Tyranny: The Origins Of Individualism, Political Oppression, And The State. London: Faber And Faber. New York : Knopf. xxiii, 420 pp 16 plates. 1985: xi-xiii.

This of course is in accord with traditional Ugandan values, unlike the love that they legislate against against these days pretending that it never existed before the Europeans came.

    06 January 2010

    Mary Jones (1803 - ? ) servant, pickpocket.

    Peter Sewally was raised in New York City. He served in the State service (military duty).

    He lived by cooking and waiting for female prostitutes. He also met clients at the door and took the money. They encouraged him to dress as female, which he also did on a visit to New Orleans. During the day he would wear men’s clothing, but at night as Mary Jones he would entice men into dens of prostitution and pick their pockets. Numerous men were so robbed, but were not willing to appear in court.

    On June 11, 1836, Mary robbed a man who confessed his story to a constable, who sought out Mary. He saw her throw away two wallets, arrested her and searched her apartment finding more wallets. He then, to his surprise, searched Mary and found that she was male-bodied. She was also wearing a false vagina, made from cow leather.

    Five days later, it was Mary who appeared in court to be charged with grand larceny. The court, including his Honor the Recorder, laughed at the scene, and a member of the audience snatched Mary’s wig. Mary denied the charge. However the jury quickly returned a verdict of guilty and Sewally was sentenced to five years in the state prison.

    In 1845 and 1846 Mary was arrested again for similar activities, and had become known as Beefsteak Pete (with reference to her artificial vagina).

    The man who went to the constable had $100 in his wallet.  $100 in 1836 is worth over $1530 today.

     Mary/Peter visited New Orleans.  That is he went to a slave state and came back.   How did black people do that in the 1830s?  Did they get a special letter from the local authorities, or what?

      04 January 2010

      Jonathan Ned Katz (1938 - ) gay historian.

      Katz was raised in New York. As a teenager he was featured in Life Magazine for his efforts to make a film of Tom Sawyer.

      He studied at Antioch College, the City College of New York, The New School and Hunter College. He has taught at Yale University, Eugene Lang College and New York University. He was a founding member of the Gay Academic Union in 1973.

      In 1976 he published his Gay American History, a source book. One section is “Passing Women” which features many that we would consider trans men but he presents them as women and lesbians. Another section is “Native Americans/Gay Americans” which features Berdaches as they were called in the 1970s. He presents them as mainly gay men rather as third gender persons [‘transgender’ was not an available concept at the time]. On page 382 he says:
      “The term transsexual, however, is so loaded with traditional assumptions connecting gender and "masculinity" and "femininity" as to render it of the most controversial and doubtful character. The solution to the problem of confused gender can be of the gravest practical import to those who, seeking help, fall into the hands of those doctors claiming to be "experts" on the subject, and offering only surgical (or technological) treatment.”
      Katz was the first historian to realize that patient H in Dr Allen Gilbert's ‘Homosexuality and Its Treatment’ was in fact Alan Hart.  However he spoilt his case by insisting that Hart was a lesbian, and that his hysterectomy was an example of unneeded medical mutilation forced on a lesbian.  As a result Mrs Hart, the widow, refused to be interviewed.

      His follow-up book Gay/Lesbian Almanac has a similar approach. In footnote 2 on page 662, he writes:
      “The most profound, extended critique of the medical concept of ‘transsexualism’ is Janice G. Raymond’s The Transsexual Empire. …. [See] my unpublished paper ‘ “Transsexualism”: Today’s Quack Medicine: An Issue for Every Body,’ Nov 1, 1978. An historical study needs to be made of the medical and autobiographical literature on ‘transsexualism’: it will, I think, reveal the fundamentally sexist nature of the concept and of the associated medical treatments.”
      In 1997, he was awarded the Magnus Hirschfeld medal for Outstanding Contributions to Sex Research by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Sozialwissenschaftliche Sexualforschung. In 2003 he was given the Yale University Brudner Prize for scholarly contributions in the field of lesbian and gay studies.

      In 2008, he was one of the founders of On that site he says:
      “the Introduction that I wrote for these documents in Gay American History has become a historical document itself, a product of a particular time and viewpoint that I no longer completely share. In 1976, I got caught up a bit in claiming the persons described here as "lesbians" and as "women" or "females."”
      *Not the actor, nor the technology writer nor the gay arts professor.
      • Jonathan Katz. Gay American History: Lesbians And Gay Men In The U.S.A. New York: Crowell 1976. New York: A Discus Book.1978.
      • Jonathan Katz. Gay/Lesbian Almanac. Harper & Row. 1983.
      • Pat Califia. Sex changes : the politics of transgenderism. San Francisco: Cleis Press 1997. Second edition by Patrick Califia 2003:8, 123-9,149-151.
      • “Jonathan Ned Katz”. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
      • Jonathan Ned Katz. Introduction.,_1782-1920.

      Gay American History and Gay/Lesbian Almanac remain useful as source books giving the original documents or original English translation on many trans and two-spirit persons.  Katz’ structure that would turn them into gay men and lesbians is annoying, but can be ignored.

      Unlike Wayne Dynes and Vern Bullough, Katz has partially apologized for his past distortions.  That is to his credit.

      02 January 2010

      Dorce Gamalama (1963 - 2022) performer.

      ++revised February 2022

      Dedi Yuliardi Ashadi was born in Solok, West Sumatra, of Minangkabau descent. Both parents died when Dedi was one year old.  Dedi was raised in Jakarta by grandparents.

      Dedi started singing in elementary school, and started performing in female clothing as a teenager, at first using the name Dorce Ashadi.

      As Dorce Gamalama she completed transition in 1984 at age 21 with surgery in Surabaya.  Her legal gender change was recognised in 1986.  That year she took a husband, but the marriage lasted only two years.

      She performed the Hajj twice, in 1990 and 1991. 

      She adopted four children, and owned several orphanages caring for thousands of children. She had her own morning television show and wrote her autobiography. She recorded many albums in both Indonesian and western styles.

      In 2008 she attended the funeral of Imam Samudra, one of the men executed for the 2002 Bali bombings.

      Her show was cancelled in 2009.

      In 2014 Dorce encountered Joko Widodo (who became the Indonesian president shortly afterwards) on a plane flight, and for a while endorsed and campaigned for him.  Later she sold him a house to help raise funds for orphaned children in Palestine, Syria, and Indonesia.

      In 2022, when she was already suffering Alzheimer's and diabetes, she contracted Covid.  She passed on at age 58.

      While she had expressed her obvious preference to be bathed and buried as the woman that she was, the Indonesia Ulema Council (MUI) has ruled that the body of a trans person must always be buried according to their gender assigned at birth. So, despite her final wishes, her family and religious leaders decided that she should be bathed and buried as a man.

      • Dorce Gamalama. Aku Perempuan: jalan berliku seorang Dorce Gamalama. Depok : GagasMedia 2005.  Autobiography.
      • Radhiyya Indra.  "Renowned presenter “Bunda” Dorce Gamalama passes away". The Jakarta Post, February 16, 2022.  Online.  
      • Lily Wakefield.  "Trailblazing trans woman Dorce Gamalama buried ‘as a man’ after family ignored her last wishes".  Pink News, February 17, 2022.  Online.  

      EN.Wikipedia      IMDB