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!

28 March 2010

Bette Bourne (1939 - ) performer.

Peter Bourne was born in the east end of London. He studied at the central School of Speech and Drama in the 1960s, and subsequently toured with Ian McKellan doing Shakespeare. He also had small parts in the television series The Prisoner and The Avengers.

He then dropped out and became a Radical Feminist activist during the days of the Gay Liberation Front in the early 1970s. With a group of similar-minded radical drag queens he set up a squat in a disused film studio in Notting Hill.

When the New York gay cabaret group, Hot Peaches, played London in 1976, Bourne pestered them until he was taken into the troupe, and toured Europe with them. When they returned to New York, Bette, as he now was, was the main founder of Bloolips, the charity-shop drag review that kept going into the 1990s.

With the decline of Bloolips, Bette has found parts in more orthodox theatre. In 1989 he played with Regina Fong in Neil Bartlett’s Vision of Love Revealed in Sleep about 19th-century artist Simeon Solomon. He was one of the three actors who portrayed La Zambinella in the 1990 theatre version of Balzac's Sarassine, and played a somewhat controversial role as the gay drag queen supporting hetero-sexuality in A Little Bit of Lippy, 1992. In 1999 he played Quentin Crisp in the stage version of Resident Alien, having visited Crisp in his New York apartment. He has also played The Nurse in an all-male production of Romeo and Juliet at the Globe Theatre. He was in the stage version of Mother Clap’s Molly House, which was directed by Mark Ravenhill, who in 2009 put on a version of Bette’s life, A Life in Three Acts, in Edinburgh.

Obviously the term 'Radical Feminist" as it was used in London GLF in the early 1970s has a very different meaning from how it was used by Janice Raymond and her ilk.

    26 March 2010

    Shi Pei Pu (1938 - 2009) opera dancer/singer, spy.

    In 1964 France opened its first embassy in the People's Republic of China. On the staff was Bernard Boursicot (1944 - ) an accountant. His colleagues were aware that he was gay, but it was considered that in a closed society like that of Maoist China there would be no opportunity to meet men.

    The Chinese secret service recruited Shi Pei Pu, a native of Kunming in Yunnan and a singer with the Beijing opera. He was also an actor and playwright and spoke French. Shi was a student of the master dancer Mei Lanfang and like Mei specialized in female roles.

    It was arranged that Shi and the 20-year-old Boursicot would meet. The meeting extended into an affair, an affair that is muddied in retrospect. Boursicot never saw Shi Pei Pu as a woman and yet insisted in believing that she was a woman dressed as a man. At any rate she did produce a child, Shi Du Du, that was 'theirs'.

    In 1970 Shi introduced him to a man named 'Kang'. Boursicot would have known that the head of the Chinese secret service was Kang Sheng, but it is highly unlikely that Kang himself, member of the Politburo and lover of Jiang Qing, the wife of Mao Zedong, would have been there. Faligot and Kauffer suggest that Kang's adoptive son, Yu Zhensan, was the intelligence officer involved. At any rate Yu was supervising the operation. The situation was made clear to Boursicot, and between 1970 and 1972 alone he handed over more than 150 confidential documents.

    After an interval of five years outside China, Boursicot was transferred to the Mongolian People's Republic in 1977, and was able to resume his services for the Chinese. He transmitted to them the texts of numerous dispatches.

    He was so useful that in 1982, a year after he had returned to Paris, the Chinese agreed to send Shi Pei Pu, and the 16-year-old son, to France to continue the romance. In September 1981 Li Shuang, a non-conformist artist, who had been having an affair with another French diplomat, the ex-militant Maoist, Emmanuel Bellefroid, was arrested and sent off for two years in a re-education camp. This despite an appeal from the French Minister for Overseas Trade.

    Shi Pei Pu, now living with Boursicot, became well known in Parisian artistic circles for his traditional dance. However his affair with Boursicot could not go unnoticed. On 30 June 1983 Boursicot was summoned for questioning, and Shi Peipu on 3 July. They were both sentenced to six years' imprisonment. The French government were able to use this as a show of force against the Chinese concern about foreign opinion, and in November of that year Li Shuang was put on a plane for France.

    Shi was pardoned in 1987. He stayed in Paris and performed as an opera singer. Shi and Boursicot spoke infrequently. Shi Du Du now has three sons of his own.

    Bouriscot now lived for a longtime with a male partner, and was in a nursing home when informed of Shi’s death.

    The affair has been turned into a successful play by David Henry Hwang called M. Butterfly. Hwang renamed the characters to Song Lilang and Rene Gallimard and made the story less plausible by make Gallimard middle-aged and hetero-sexually married. David Cronenberg filmed Hwang’s play in 1993 without any reference to Joyce Wadler’s book on the real story. Boursicot is a fan of the play, and co-operated fully with Wadler for her book.
    • Roger Faligot & Remi Kauffer. Kang Sheng et les services secrets chinois. Paris: R. Laffont, 1987. English translation by Christine Donougher. The Chinese Secret Service. Headline 1989: 432,447,448,474.
    • Joyce Wadler. “For the first time, the real-life models for Broadway's M. Butterfly tell of their very strange romance”. People Weekly. 8 August 1988.
    • Joyce Wadler. Liaison: The Gripping Real Story of the Diplomat Spy and the Chinese Opera Star Whose Affair Inspired "M. Butterfly”. Bantam 1993.
    • David Henry Hwang. M. Butterfly A play, written and performed in 1988.
    • David Cronenberg (dir). M. Butterfly Scr: David Hwang based on his play, with Jeremy Irons as Rene Gallimard and John Lone as Song Liling. Canada 110 mins1993.
    • “Shi Pei Pu”. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
    • “Bernard Boursicot”. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

    24 March 2010

    Jim Sinclair (1940 - ) neurodiversity activist.

    Sinclair was born intersex and raised as a girl in Texas. She was also autistic and did not speak until aged 12, and then became very outspoken about not being a girl.

    She was sent for intensive psychotherapy. By 14 he was accepted outside his family as a boy, and at 16 was evaluated by intersexuality ‘specialists’. He was put on testosterone injections until he objected that he did not want to be a male either.

    Sinclair took the name Jim, and self-identifies as “"openly and proudly neuter, both physically and socially”. Jim does not reveal his genotype as that would assign gender.

    Jim was one of the co-founders of the Autism Network International in 1992, and as the only one with an internet connection became the original co-ordinator. Sinclair gave an anti-cure presentation at the 1993 International Conference on Autism in Toronto, and later published it as “Don’t Mourn For Us”. He is a major activist in the neurodiversity movement.

    I suggest a reading of the Andrew Solomon article.  There are a lot of parallels between the transgender and the neurodiversity movements, including division over whether the condition should be removed from the DSM, whether the cause is cultural/social, biological or pollution (in their case vaccines), and whether the condition is a disease or an improvement on normality.

    22 March 2010

    Liz Lyons (1919 - 1991) performer.

    In the 1940s Rubin Elkins, in the northwest USA, became a raunchy female impersonator under the name Lee Leonard.   She performed at Finocchio’s and the Garden of Allah

    ++She took up with fellow performer Robin Raye.  They toured together, but did separate acts.  However in 1958 Raye married a female stripper and they drifted apart.

    +Later using the name Liz Lyons, she became a woman in 1968 at the University of Minnesota Gender Clinic.

    In the mid and late 1970s Liz put out x-rated LPs, such as Up Your Ass, Live at the Club Morocco, 1975, and Liz Lyons, Live,1979. Her later stage show often included a display that she was indeed female.

    * Not the Lee Leonard, a radio/TV personality, nor Liz Lyons the social scientist nor the novelist.

    20 March 2010

    Jimmy Slater (1898 - 1998) impersonator.

    Jimmy was raised in Yorkshire. He started performing with seaside concert parties just before the Great War, and served in the war doing much the same.

    After the war he was part of Splinters, the ex-soldiers impersonation revue.He left before the first of the three Splinters films, 1929, 1931 and 1937,

    He later had a solo career, mainly in the north of England. In addition to his drag show, he produced revues, seaside shows and pantomimes. He was still performing in the 1960s.

    He also ran a costume supply business. He retired to Cleethorpes.

    *Not the corporate raider, the trade unionist or the hockey player.

    18 March 2010

    Barbra Amesbury (1948 – ) musician, film maker.

    Bill Amesbury was born in Kirkland Lake, Ontario. He became a singer-songwriter who had several hit singles and albums in Canada and the UK in the 1970s. His biggest hit was “Virginia (Touch Me Like You Do)” in 1974. His 1976 LP Can You Feel It, has a song “A thrill’s a thrill”which contains:
    “The gays are straight/
    and the straights are queer/
    and the bi's just call everybody dear. … I know a boy who growing tits,/
    and, he swears -/
    A thrill’s a thrill, even in paradise”.
     The song was also recorded by Long John Baldry and Marianne Faithful (in the latter case with slightly censored lyrics).

    Bill transitioned and became Barbra in the early 1980s. She retired as a performer and became an arts patron with her partner Joan Chalmers, the Maclean-Hunter publishers heir. In 1994 they organized an exhibition re breast cancer survivors, and Barbra made a documentary film about the tour of the exhibition 1995-8.

    In 2002, James Collins had a top-40 radio hit with his song about Barbra and the problems that friends have about talking about the pre-transition self.   Apparently this was done without either input or approval by Barbra.

    In 2006/7 Barbra’s documentary The G8 is Coming was shown at several film festivals.

    15 March 2010

    Chiya Fujino (1962 - ) novelist.

    Fujino was born in Fukuoka, Japan, and went to university at Chiba. In the 1980s he worked for a major publisher before transitioning to female, and becoming a published novelist.

    She has been awarded three major Japanese literary prizes. Her first novel, Gogo no jikanwari (Afternoon Timetable), 1995, has a transsexual protagonist.  Her novel Natsu no Yakusoku (Promise of the Summer), 2000, which won the Akutagawa Prize was criticized by the Tokyo Governor as abnormal for containing gay characters.  This was met by outrage.


    13 March 2010

    Wendy Carlos (1939 - ) musician.

    Walter Carlos was born in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, and played the piano from the age of six. Walter took a bachelor's degree in physics at Brown University, and a master’s in music at Columbia University in 1965.

    Working at Gotham Recording Walter became friendly with Robert Moog, the inventor of the synthesizer that is known by his name. Walter took naturally to the instrument, and managed to get a small advance from Columbia records to create what became the best-selling Switched-On Bach - a series of Bach compositions arranged for the synthesizer. This was one of the first classical LPs to sell over a million copies.

    By this time, as Wendy, she had become a patient of Dr Harry Benjamin, and completed her transition in 1972. However Wendy was still 'Walter' to her audience. When writing the score for A Clockwork Orange she would dress as a man for meetings with Stanley Kubrick who later commented: 'I could tell he felt something was strange. But I didn't know what.' She appeared on The Dick Cavett Show disguised as man. In 1979 she finally told the world of her gender in an interview with Playboy.

    From that point all her albums carry the name ‘Wendy Carlos’.

    Her hobby is eclipse chasing which involves flying to obscure parts of the globe.

    In 1998 she sued Momus for a silly song called ‘Walter Carlos’ which suggested that Wendy would go back in time and marry Walter. Momus settled out of court, removed the song from the CD and paid legal fees.

    • 'Playboy Interview: Wendy/Walter Carlos' . Playboy. May 1979.
    • Susan Reed & Barbara Rowes. “After a sex change and several eclipses, Wendy Carlos treads a new digital moonscape”. People Weekly. 24, 1 July 1985.

    11 March 2010

    Danielle Berry (1949 - 1998) game designer.

    Dan Bunten was born in St Louis, Missouri and later raised in Little Rock, Arkansas. He completed a degree in Industrial Engineering in 1974.

    He became a computer game designer for the Apple, Atari and Commodore platforms. He created M.U.L.E.,1983, and The Seven Cities of Gold, 1984.

    Dan was married to women three times and had three children with them, but became androphilic after transition in 1992.

    Three years after transition Danielle wrote a note combining various emails that she had sent that advise others not to follow her path:
    ”You lose control over most aspects of your life, become a second class citizen and all so you can wear women's clothes and feel cuter than you do now. Don't do it is all I've got to say.”
    “Being my 'real self' could have included having a penis and including more femininity in whatever forms made sense. I didn't know that until too late and now I have to make the best of the life I've stumbled into. I just wish I would have tried more options before I jumped off the precipice. I miss my easy access to my kids (unlike many TS's I didn't completely lose access to them though), I miss my family and old friends (I know they 'shouldn't' have abandoned me but lots of folks aren't as open minded as they 'should' be ... I still miss them) and finally, I hate the disconnect with my past (there's just no way to integrate the two unrelated lives). There's any number of ways to express your gender and sexuality and the only one I tried was the big one. I'll never know if I could have found a compromise that might have worked a lot better than the 'one size fits all' sex-change. Please, check it out yourself before you do likewise.”
    She was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Computer Game Developers Association, 1998.

    A chain smoker from teenage, Dani died of lung cancer shortly after.

    09 March 2010

    Keith Stern: Queers in History – a review

    Keith Stern (1952 – ) from Connecticut, started as a musician, and then worked for Warner Bros Records in promotion and public relations.  He ran a punk/new wave club in 1979, and then promoted punk and new wave acts.  The first version of Queers in History was published as a CD_ROM in 1993, and expanded as a book in 2009. 
    • Keith Stern.  Queers in History: The Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Historical Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, and Trangenders.  Forward by Sir Ian McKellen.  Dallas: Benbella Books, Inc.  2009.
    From a trans perspective, the repeating problem with books about Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, and Trangenders is that trans persons get swamped by the other three categories.   There are over 900 entries in this book.  How many transsexuals? Two actually, Wendy Carlos and Candis Cayne. This matches the 1:500 estimate.  Except of course that the 1:500 is against the total population, not the GLBT population.  If we take GLBTs to be around 10% (a rough figure that dates back to Kinsey) then there should be 20 transsexuals in the book.

    Wait.  Who is this on p28.  A gay man cum drag queen called Alexis Arquette.  Alexis transitioned to female in 2006.  Queers in History is dated 2009.  This was not a last minute change that we would excuse the book for missing.

    There are no transsexual men in the book, not even Patrick Califia. Most of the lesbian cross-dressers from the 19th and early 20th century appear but not always as cross-dressers:  George Sand, Renée Vivian , Bryher, John Radcliffe Hall, Vita Sackville-West, Romaine BrooksHilda Doolittle but not Jane Heap, Micky Jacob.

    The only heterosexual cross-dresser included as such is Edward Wood, but the article follows the book by the science-fiction writer Jean Marie Stine that he was bisexual in his younger years.  There is no entry for Stine herself.  Robert Baden-Powell is in as a repressed gay, but no mention is made of his female impersonations.

    None of the trans men activists are here, nor the trans women activists.  And, somewhat surprisingly, very few gay activists.  Harvey Milk is here but not Peter Tatchell, Joseph Doucé or Louis Georges TinJosé Sarria, trans activist and gay electoral candidate is sorely missed.  Aurore Dupin is in under her pen name of George Sand and Pauline Tarn as Renée Vivien, but the writer known as Vernon Lee is in under her mufti name of Violet Paget.  Stern is of the school that if a person is a king, queen or pope, their other name is not to mentioned.  Thus on p107 we find Christina but not Christina Vasa;  on p21 we find Anne but not Anne Stuart.

    Whilst Stern includes many English kings and queens, he is quite indifferent to prime ministers and other members of parliament.  Thus no mention of Peter Mandelson, Jeremy Thorpe, Edward Heath, William HagueWilliam Lygon, the 7th Earl Beauchamp, leader of the Liberals in the Lords, who resigned after being outed in 1931, is missing.  Lygon is usually taken to be the real-life model for Lord Marchmain in Brideshead Revisited.  However Archibald Primrose, the 5th Earl of Rosebery, Prime Minister 1894-5 is included under Rosebery.  Nor does he include the various gay and lesbian mayors of major cities: Paris, Berlin, Hamburg, Zurich, Houston etc.

    Many authors, musicians, painters etc. are included.  One meaning of ‘queer’ is gays and trans who lack heterosexual privilege.   That is not the meaning here.  This book features the famous and the accomplished as recognized by the straight world.   Some of us would have preferred the inclusion of those who had contributed to GLBT history  without the approval of the straight world, but that was not Stern’s choice.

    In his “Notes” at the beginning of the book, Stern says “Their sexual orientation is made evident by their choice of romantic partners”.  This leaves one thinking that he does not properly understand what ‘transgender’ is.  Wendy Carlos is in the book by being one of the few transsexuals that straight people instantly name, but surely not by her ‘choice of romantic partners’.

    With these few caveats, the book is quite fun, but many of us would have come up with quite different lists.

    07 March 2010

    Tima die Goettliche (1965 – ) actor, singer, author, Travestiekünstler.

    Marcus Timo Schrader was born in Munich. He also uses the name: Timo Lewandowsky.

    Timo moved to Berlin in 1983 to improve his stage career. He made his debut as a transvestite in Ladies Neid (1984), and he left a lasting impression on director Rosa von Praunheim, who cast him in almost all his movies, including as the young Charlotte van Mahlsdorf in Ich bin meiene eigene Frau, 1991.

    The Theatre Head Attack Theatre used Tima's acting skills in Frauen schlafen nie (1994), and Praunheim made him a cult star with Neurosia - 50 Jahre pervers (1995), a feature film about his own life. Four years later, Tima received critical acclaim for his sensitive portrayal as Dörchen Richter in Der Einstein des Sex - Leben und Werk des Dr. M. Hirschfeld, 1999, again under the direction of Praunheim.

    He did numerous bit parts on TV series and movies, and was cast alongside Rainer Hillebrecht on Berlin Bohème. Still, he prefers stage to film, and appeared as Elvira in Elvira, die Samenbankmörderin von Schloss Gerolstein (2000), and as a chanteuse in Intima geht's nicht (2001). He is also an author, and a qualified tailor, and makes his own costumes.

      DE.Wikipedia        Spreedosen.

    05 March 2010

    Henry Wriothesley (1573 – 1624) aristocrat.

    Henry Wriothesley was raised in Sussex. He became the 3rd Earl of Southampton at age 8 when his father died. He graduated from Cambridge with an MA in 1585, and was presented at Court at age 17. He became a favourite of the Queen, Elizabeth Tudor, and became a friend of Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex.

    He became a patron of poets: Thomas Nashe, Gervase Markham, Barnebe Barnes, and most famously William Shakespeare. Venus and Adonis, 1593 and The Rape of Lucrece, 1594, are explicitly dedicated to the teenage Wriothesley, and it is argued that the Sonnets were addressed to him. He was known as ‘Rose’ to those who dared. It has been argued that the family name was pronounced ‘Rose-ly’, and its heraldic devices included roses. Sonnet 95 alludes to ‘thy budding name’. Rose, en femme, posed for a portrait that has been dated to 1590-3 based on the expensive lace collar on his dress. Sonnet 20 addresses him thus:
    'A woman's face, with Nature's own hand painted,
    Hast thou, the master-mistress of my passion;
    A woman's gentle heart, but not acquainted
    With shifting change, as is false woman's fashion”.
    In 1596 and 1597 Wriothesley sailed with Devereux to Cadiz and the Azores. In 1598 he married the pregnant Elizabeth Vernon, one of the Queen’s waiting women, for which they were both briefly imprisoned. In 1599 he went to Ireland with Devereux as part of the suppression of Tyrone’s Rebellion (Cogadh na Naoi mBliana, known in England as the Nine Year’s War). Southampton had an affair with Piers Edmunds, a fellow officer, and won a victory at Arklow in County Wicklow.

    Devereux returned to England to a show trial and then attempted rebellion. Wriothesley was involved in this and they were both sentenced to death. Robert Cecil, Secretary of State, intervened to obtain commutation to life imprisonment for Wriothesley. When James Stuart became King of England, Wriothesley was released and recalled to Court.

    He was a volunteer on the Protestant side in Germany in 1614. He financed the first tinplate mill in England, He participated in the East India Company, the New England Company and was active in the Virginia Company. In 1624 he and his elder son volunteered to fight for the United Provinces of the Netherlands against Spain. Both came down with fever and shortly died.

    03 March 2010

    David Petillo (1908 – 1983) gangster.

    Petillo was born in New York with connections to the Genovese crime family. In his teens he was reputed to be a finocchio, but at age 18 was sent to Chicago where Al Capone straightened him out. However he did like to dress as female when committing murder.

    On return to New York he worked with Lucky Luciano, and in 1936 he was arrested on ‘white slavery charges’ in a racket that grossed $12 million a year. The women were happy to testify against him and he served twenty years in Sing Sing prison.

    He was paroled in 1956 and then trafficked heroin for the Genovese family though Lower East Side and Greenwich Village bars including the 82 Club. He was involved in pornography in the late 1960s and until the business was sold to the Gambino family. He continued in sex-related businesses and cocaine trafficking until he fled the US after a murder. He died in Spain.
    • “David Petillo”. "The FBI Files: David Petillo Did It In Drag".  Friends of Ours
      Mostly About Organized Crime,
      12/20/2010.  Archive

    See the footnote to my article on Finocchio’s nightclub for the etymology of ‘finocchio’.

    01 March 2010

    Bibíana Manuela Fernández Chica (1954 - ) actress, performer.

    Revised May 2018.

    Manuel Fernández Chica was born in Tangier, Morocco, and raised in Malaga, Spain. By her early 20s she was living as a woman, Bibi Andersen.

    The cis Spanish film star Victoria Abril played the lead transsexual in Cambio de Sexo, 1977.  Her character sees Bibi
    (played by Bibi) performing in a show and is later mentored by her.

    This enabled Bibi to get roles in television, and then in the 1980s she started being cast in movies as cis women with no suggestion of transsexuality,.  Notably she has played in several films for Pedro Almodovar (Matador, Law of Desire, High Heels and Kika).  Film-goers who had not seen Cambio de Sexo were usually not aware at that time that she was trans.

    Bibi in 2018
    She sang her way into the Spanish pop charts with ‘Call me Lady Champagne’ and ‘Sálvame’.

    She had completion surgery with James Dalrymple, FRCS, in London in 1991.

    She was known as Bibí Andersen until 1998.

    Bibíana is also a presenter on Spanish radio and television, and has done more than 100 films and television appearances. She was married from 2000-2003.

    *Not the Swedish actress, Bibi Andersson.