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17 February 2010

Tamara Rees (Stevenson) (1924 - 2000) stripper, housewife.

++brief update March 2016 based on Elnora's comments.

From Los Angeles, the father of two children, Rees was wounded and decorated as a paratrooper in WWII.

Frontispiece to Reborn, 1955
As Tamara Tees she transitioned in 1954, with surgery in the Netherlands, a year after the media sensation around Christine Jorgensen. She was mobbed by the press when her ship returned to New York. She played to the press and claimed that her ex-wife’s children had been fathered by someone else. At the end of the year she published a short autobiography.

Back in Los Angeles, she worked as a stripper in burlesque clubs. In 1955 she married James Courtland, a makeup artist, and hairdresser. This was regarded as the first transsexual wedding, but lasted only a short time. She married again, became Tamara Stevenson, and adopted children.

Like Jorgensen, she became a patient of Harry Benjamin who used her as as a counseling resource for other transsexuals, and in the early 1960s she was interviewed by psychiatrist Ralph Greenson, who interpreted her as in flight from homosexuality.

Mr and Mrs Stevenson remained married until the husband's death.  Tamara died of cancer at age 76.
  • Tamara Reese. "Reborn": a factual life story of a transition from male to female. Los Angeles: Irene Lipman. 1955. PDF  
  • Ralph R. Greenson. “On Homosexuality and Gender identity”. International Journal of Psycho-Analysis. 45, 1964.
  • Joanne Meyerowitz. How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States. Cambridge, Ma, London: Harvard University Press. 363 pp 2002: 84-5, 90, 133,173, 305n98-102.


Elnora said...

According to this link, Tamara Rees died in 2000 from cancer after a long marriage to a controlling husband. I had to search by her birth name to find her, but it sounds like she remained Tamara right until the end. The link is very poorly written, so one must take it with a grain of salt, but it IS about her and she is no longer with us. I always wondered what became of her, so hopefully this information can get out there.

Elnora said...

Okay, I have confirmed that Tamara Rees died on August 12, 2000 in Sacramento, California via the Social Security Death Index. She was listed under her married name, Tamara Stevenson, which is why I had a hard time finding her.

Zagria said...

Thank you for these details. I notice that there is considerable more information available about Tamara Rees than there was in 2010 when I wrote this article, including a PDF of her autobiography. I will be updating this shortly.