This site is the most comprehensive on the web devoted to trans history and biography. Well over 1400 persons worthy of note, both famous and obscure, are discussed in detail, and many more are mentioned in passing.
There is a detailed Index arranged by vocation, doctor, activist group etc. There is also a Place Index arranged by City etc. This is still evolving.
In addition to this most articles have one or more labels at the bottom. Click one to go to similar persons. There is a full list of labels at the bottom of the right-hand sidebar. There is also a search box at the top left. Enjoy exploring!
30 May 2010
He studied law and theology in Göttingen and history in Berlin. His dissertation, in Latin, was on the Peace of Westphalia. From 1849 to 1857 he was a legal advisor for the district court of Hilesheim in Hanover. He was fired for being gay. He then worked as a reporter for the Allgemeine Zeitung, and lived off a small inheritance.
Under the pseudonym of Numa Numantius, he wrote a series of booklets in the 1860s proposing that homosexuality is natural and biologically based. He describes himself as an Urning, and used Dioning for males attracted to females. He proposed that Urnings are anima muliebris virili corpore inclusa (a female psyche confined in a male body), a metaphor that would be applied to trans persons in later generations.
He then wrote more under his own name, and pleaded at the Congress of German Jurists in Munich for a repeal of the anti-homosexual laws. His books were banned and confiscated in Saxony, in Berlin and throughout Prussia.
As a patriotic Hannoverian he was briefly imprisoned after the Prussian Anschluss in 1866. The next year he left Hannover for good. He lived in in Munich, Wurzburg and Stuttgart, and then from 1879 he lived in Italy, where he finally settled in L’Aquila. He continued to publish in German and Latin at his own expense.
In 1884 he wrote the first gay vampire story, “manor” in in his collection, Matrosengeschichten (Sailor Stories).
He died at age 70.
There are now streets named for him in Munich, Bremen and Hanover. His birthday is marked each year by a poetry reading at Karl-Heinrich-Ulrichs-Platz in Munich. There is an annual pilgrimage to his grave in L’Aquila. The International Lesbian and Gay Law Association presented a Karl Heinrich Ulrichs Award in 2005 and 2009.
28 May 2010
In the thirties he was described as as having a 'pug-ugly face, ungainly 250-pound wrestler's physique and crinkly, boyish grin [which] fascinated audiences', starred in several MGM films of that time, including The Secret Six, Grand Hotel and The Champ (for which he received an Oscar in 1932).
Louis Mayer of MGM had a soft spot for the reckless pilot who often crashed his plane in deserts and on mountains, but who flew though a stormy weather and a forced landing in St Louis to be at the bedside of dying mother in New York.
Beery remained a drag queen who would put on an evening dress and a feathered hat at the slightest provocation.
As an actor he ignored the dialogue he was given, ill-treated his co-stars, and improvised everything to the despair of the director. He was brutal with women: he bloodily raped his first wife, Gloria Swanson, on their wedding night, and without her consent got her to drink an abortificant when she was pregnant. He was equally bad to his second wife, Rita Gilman.
In 1937 Ted Healy, a founder of the Three Stooges, was beaten to death. One account is that the beating was inflicted by Beery, Albert Broccoli (the future producer of the James Bond films) and Pat DiCicco (gangster and Broccoli’s cousin). MGM sent Beery to Europe for several months and put out a story that three students had done the beating.
Beery acted in over 230 films. One account says that he died of a heart attack on the Queen Mary at age 64. The ship owners took his body to New York and put it in a hotel to avoid bad publicity. Other accounts say that he died at home in Beverly Hills.
- Charles Higham. Merchant of Dreams: Louis B. Mayer, M.G.M., and the Secret Hollywood. New York: Donald I. Fine, Inc. 488 pp 1992: 168-9. London: Sidgewick & Jackson 1993. London: Pan Books 1994. New York: Dell 1994.
- “Gloria Swanson – Marriages”. http://home.hiwaay.net/~oliver/gsmarriages.htm
- “Wallace Beery”. Internet Movie Database. www.imdb.com/name/nm0000891.
- “Wallace Beery”. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wallace_Beery.
- “Sweedie”. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweedie.
- “Ted Healy”. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_Healy.
26 May 2010
A professed Christian, she was the author of TransChristians which played particular attention to trans persons who had changed back for religious reasons.
She was also the author of Answering-Islam and WikiChristian, and was active in the asexual community. She was open about her transgender nature, but had not gone full time.
She was killed in a car accident at age 26.
- “Map of Ephilei on the Web”. http://sites.google.com/site/ephilei.
Ephilei commented on this blog several times. We had exchanged opinions and information and cited each other about transgender Christians, especially Jerry Leach and Perry Desmond.
I do recommend the TransChristians site.
23 May 2010
Daniel Paul Schreber became Presiding Judge of the Saxon High Court of Appeals. In 1893 at the age of 42, having just been appointed the Senatspräsident of the Superior Court in Dresden, he became convinced that he was being transformed into a woman, and that he was to be the wife of God. He was diagnosed as having dementia praecox and entered a Leipzig psychiatric clinic and stayed there until the new century. After release he published his memoirs of the experience in 1903.
Sigmund Freud wrote an analysis based on Schreber’s memoirs but without ever meeting him. His diagnosis was paranoid dementia, based on repressed homosexual feelings for his physician.
Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari interpreted Schreber’s experiences in terms of the experience of power in late capitalism.
Jacques Lacan said that Schreber was incapable of being the phallus that the mother lacks and that he was left with the solution of being the woman that men lack.
Morton Schatzman interpreted Schreber’s experiences as mirroring the physical restraint methods used by Schreber’s father to control children.
Richard Ekins, deviating from his declared adherence to grounded theory, uses Schreber as his one example of a solitary ‘male femaler’ who living before the terms transsexuality or even transvestity had been developed, must construct concepts from his own life experience.
Schreber has been described as the 'most quoted patient in psychiatry'. He died during a subsequent hospitalization.
- Daniel Paul Schreber. Denkwürdigkeiten eines Nervenkranken. Leipzig: O. Mutze 1903. Translated into English by Ida MacAlpine & Richard A. Hunter: Memoirs of my Nervous Illness. London: Wm. Dawson & Sons Ltd. 1955.
- Sigmund Freud. Psychoanalytische Bemerkungen über einen autobiographisch beschriebenen Fall von Paranoia. Translated as Psychoanalytic Notes Upon an Autobiographical Account of a Case of Paranoia (Dementia Paranoides) 1911. Standard Edition, vol 12; The Penguin Freud Library, vol 9.
- Gilles Deleuze & Félix Guattari. Capitalisme et schizophrénie. L'anti-Oedipe. Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit. 1972. Translated into English by Robert Hurley, Mark Seem and Helen R. Lane. London and New York: Continuum, 2004.
- Morton Schatzman. Soul Murder: Persecution in the Family. London: Allen Lane 1973. New York: Random House 1973. Penguin. 1976.
- C. Barry Chabot. Freud on Schreber: Psychoanalytic Theory and the Critical Act. The University of Massachusetts Press. 1982.
- David B Allison, Prado de Oliveira, Mark S Roberts & Allen S Weiss (ed). Psychosis and Sexual Identity: Towards a Post-Analytic View of the Schreber Case. State University of New York Press. 1988. A collection of recent work.
- Richard Ekins. Male femaling : a grounded theory approach to cross-dressing and sex-changing. London & New York: Routledge. 1997: 110-3, 128.
- Jacques Lacan. "On a question prior to any possible treatment of psychosis", in Écrits: A Selection (translated by Bruce Fink), pp. 531-214. New York: Norton. 2002: 92.
- Brent Dean Robbins. “The Psychotic Dr. Schreber Page: The Life of Daniel Paul Schreber, Mystic and Madman”. Mythos & Logos. mythosandlogos.com/Schreber.html.
As we have seen with Charles Lowman, Frederick Taylor and Robert Baden-Powell, pillars of society are quite often secretive or even public cross-dressers. However such persons do not normally have mental breakdowns.
I would like to repeat the paragraph on Schreber that I wrote in my review of Richard Ekins’ Male Femaling:
Under Constituting he needs examples of femalers who have ignored or have no access to common terms like 'transvestite' or 'transsexual' and invent their own terms. Despite the many persons he spoke to over the 17 years he has no example of such a person that he has met, and falls back on the Daniel Schreber case made famous by Sigmund Freud and discussed in countless books. This example is unnerving in that it is the only example in the book of a schizophrenic trans person. He should either have discussed schizophrenics elsewhere in the book or have not mentioned this one. Schizophrenic trans-ness is a topic of great interest, but it belongs in a different book. To bring it in just to fill one slot in his schema is not reasonable.As many of us know, if you are schizophrenic or have dissociative identity disorder (multiple personality) as well as transsexual, what the shrinks call ‘co-morbidity’, you are very unlikely to be approved by the gatekeepers. This is an area which needs more attention, but I have not found a suitable book or blog on the topic.
As we can see in the sample of theorizing that I give above, many theorists from very different schools have used Schreber and his memoirs to pursue their own agendas. All of which make it the more difficult to understand Schreber as a person. And - an important point - their theories turn Schreber into any else but a transgender person.
Note that the de.wikipedia article does not even mention the trans aspect of Schreber.
22 May 2010
Lucia Vestris played many breeches parts such as Don Giovanni and MacHeath. In 1830 James Planche began working with her in burlesques, which were similar to pantomimes, but included daring and extravagant sets.
In 1838 she married Charles Mathews. They took over the management of Covent Garden Theatre and put on the first known version of Love’s Labour Lost since 1605, with herself as Rosaline. In 1840 she starred in the first relatively uncut A Midsummer Night’s Dream casting herself as Oberon, which started a tradition of female Oberons that lasted for 70 years. Her legs became very famous, and plaster casts of them were sold. There is even a song about such casts being stolen. She was still playing Breeches Parts when she was fifty.
She was the first woman ever to manage a London stage, and was the first stage manager to use realistic sets.
- Clifford Williams. Madame Vestris - a Theatrical Biography. London: Sidgwick and Jackson, 1973.
- William Worthen Appleton. Madame Vestris and the London Stage. New York: Columbia University Press, 1974.
- Gerald Frow. "Oh, Yes It Is"! A History of Pantomime. London: British Broadcasting Corp, 1985: 90-5.
20 May 2010
In the Great War he enlisted as a private and worked as an ambulance driver in France. He was then selected to be part of the Dumbells, an army entertainment unit that became the most famous of the 30 or so Canadian army shows. Although formally part of the regular army, the show was entirely funded and organized by the YMCA.
Ross had a remarkable soprano voice, and his Marjorie character was an opera diva. He continued this act with the Dumbells Canadian and US tours until 1932.
In 1939 he was re-engaged with the rank of lieutenant to organize entertainment units. In 1940 his act was was featured as a talent show in a National Film Board production about new recruits, Letter From Camp Borden. However he was caught doing more with the new recruits than he was supposed to. He was quietly discharged by the medical board ‘for reasons other than medical’.
He continued as an entertainer and retired to Nova Scotia. He died of heart disease.
- Raymond Spottiswoode (dir). Letter From Camp Borden. With Ross Hamilton. Canada. NFB. 17 mins 1940.
- Max Braithwaite. 'The rise and fall of The Dumbells,' Maclean's, 1 Jan 1952.
- “Ross Hamilton, World War I Dumbell, Dies”. The Montreal Gazette. Sep 30, 1965. http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1946&dat=19650930&id=eaUtAAAAIBAJ&sjid=h58FAAAAIBAJ&pg=7029,6530343.
- Paul Jackson. One of the Boys: Homosexuality in the Military during World War II. Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press. 2009: 72-3.
- “Ross Hamilton, entertainer (1889 - 1965)”. The Virtual Gramophone: Canadian Historical Sound Recordings. http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/4/4/m2-1011-e.html.
- “Ross Hamilton”. Ambisextrous. http://scaa.sk.ca/gallery/genderimpersonators/ross_hamilton/hamilton_index.htm.
18 May 2010
From 1982 he was a consultant at the Charing Cross Hospital Gender Identity Clinic, and also ran a private practice as an alternate route to the NHS path for transsexuals. He worked with surgeons Peter Philip, James Dalrymple & Michael Royle. He was a member of the parliamentary forum on transsexuality, and the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ expert committee on transsexuality. He helped and guided hundreds of transsexuals.
Like John Money and Ray Blanchard, Dr Reid became interested in apotemnophilia, and referred two such patients to Robert Smith, surgeon at Falkirk and District Royal Infirmary who amputated their legs at their request. Then the hospital Trust stopped the procedure. Dr Reid was featured in the BBC2 program Complete Obsession about apotemnophilia.
In 2004 as the Gender Recognition Bill was proceeding through parliament, Reid faced an complaint to the General Medical Council that he too easily accepted patients for hormone therapy and surgery. The complaint was brought by four of his colleagues at the Charing Cross Hospital Gender Identity Clinic, psychiatrists James Barrett, Richard Green, Donald Montgomery and senior registrar Stuart Lorimer on behalf of four of his former patients. A fifth patient filed a separate complaint. (For more on the five patients see Batty, 2007). The patients included a convicted paedophile who thought that being female would get him closer to her boyfriend’s children, but lost interest in a sex change when that did not work out, and a woman with manic depression who thought that she was turning into Jesus and becoming male would help. In addition Charles Kane, Claudia and four other former patients started legal claims for damages against Dr Reid.
Reid retired from his NHS post in 2005, and in 2006, trans man and doctor, Richard Curtis, took over Reid’s private practice.
The complaints were formally addressed in 2007. The charge was that he did not adhere to the HBIGDA (now WPATH) Standards of Care in that he prescribed cross-gender hormones and recommended gender surgery without adequate assessment. Many of his professional peers spoke in his defence, as did more than 250 of his former patients who posted to a blog. He was found guilty of Serious Professional Misconduct, mostly for failing to communicate fully with patients’ family doctor (a rule that many doctors are unaware of) and not documenting his reasons for departing from the HBIGDA Standards of Care guidelines sufficiently. However, the panel "determined that it would be ... in the public interest as well as your own interests if you were to return to practice..." and allowed him to return to practice, subject to some normal, by GMC Fitness To Practice panel standards, restrictions on his practice and hormone prescriptions for the next 12 months.
* Not the Chicago plastic surgeon, nor the editor of The Sunday Post, nor the Liverpool graphic designer, nor Russell Reed, the impersonator, nor Russell Reid Ortiz the baseball player.
- D. Di de Cegli, James O. Dalrymple., L. Gooren, Richard Green, John Money, & Russell Reid. Transsexualism: The Current Medical Viewpoint. London: Press For Change. 1996.
- Russell Reid, Melanie McMullen, Stacy Novak, Ashley Carrington, et al. INSIGHTS into transvestism, transsexualism and other gender presentations. Insights. Nd
- Jemima Harrison & Vivienne King (dir). “Complete Obsession”. Science and Nature. With Russell Reid and Robert Smith. BBC2 9:30pm Thursday 17 Feb 2000. Transcript at: www.bbc.co.uk/science/horizon/1999/obsession_script.shtml.
- Carl Elliott. “A New Way to be Mad”. The Atlantic. December 2000. www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2000/12/a-new-way-to-be-mad/4671/1/.
- David Batty,. “GMC inquiry into gender change expert“ The Guardian. 20 Jan 2004 www.guardian.co.uk/print/0,,4839988-103690,00.html.
- Russell Reid. “Minefields and Pitfalls in Gender Identity Disorder, for both Patient and Doctor”. Gendys Conference, 2004. www.gender.org.uk/conf/2004/04reid.htm
- Peter Tatchell. “Listening is not a crime”. The Guardian. 6 October 2006. www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2006/oct/06/drrussellreidunjustlyaccus.
- “Fitness to Practise Panel Hearing: Dr Russell Warwick Stedman Reid” General Medical Council. 25 May 2007. http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-files/Guardian/documents/2007/05/25/reid.PDF.
- David Batty. “Q&A: Russell Reid Inquiry”. The Guardian. 25 May 2007. http://society.guardian.co.uk/print/0,,329615991-105965,00.html.
- David Batty. “Russell Reid inquiry: key figures: David Batty profiles the main people in the inquiry into the treatment of transsexuals by Dr Russell Reid”. The Guardian. 25 May 2007. www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2007/may/25/health.society.
Russell Reid has kept his private life very so. There is no mention of a wife or civil partner or anything.
I am one of hundreds who passed through Dr Reid's gatekeeping and have never complained to the GMC or taken him to court.
17 May 2010
It is a shame that some gender variant persons are intolerant of others.
In particular, those who organize in his name, should respect his sentiment.
13 May 2010
She returned to São Paulo in 1984 and bought a house in the Bixiga neighbourhood at rua Major Diogo, 779, which she decorated in gold and white, inside and out. Her car was also done in the same colours. She turned the building into a Casa de Apoio to care for those with HIV who were rejected by their relatives, as many were after a series of murders of travesties in the South Zone of Sao Paulo in 1985.
It started with three patients and in 1988 an agreement was signed with the São Paulo Ministry of Health, and in 1992 was legally incorporated. She worked with the Emilio Ribas Hospital which took those who needed hospitalization. Brenda also had a car repair business and a hairdressers in the building.
In 1987 she was featured in Pierre-Alain Meier’s documentary about São Paulo trans women.
In 1996 she was brutally murdered and her body found in an abandoned VW van, after she went to sort out a cheque that had been altered after she signed it. She was given a full Catholic funeral with representation from the Cardinal-Archbishop.
A Brazilian award for defending human rights was named the Brenda Lee Award.
* Not the Country singer.
- Moira Ashford. “Escaping Manhood”. New Internationalist. 175, September 1987. www.newint.org/issue175/queer.htm.
- Pierre-Alain Meier & Matthias Kalin (dir). Douleur D’Amour. With Brenda Lee and others. Brazil/Switzerland 59 mins 1987.
- Frederick L. Whitam “Culturally Universal Aspects of Male Homosexual Transvestites and Transsexuals”. In Bonnie Bullough, Vern Bullough & James Elias (eds). Gender Blending. Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books. 1997:199.
- “Brenda Lee“. Wikipédia, a enciclopédia livre. pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brenda_Lee.
- Confissões agridoces [de uma sereia trans]. 09 Janeiro 2009. aquariodasereia.blogspot.com/2009/01/biografias-trans-da-cplp-brenda-lee.html.
- Rita Colaço. “Trans in Memorian: Brenda Lee, O anjo de guarda des Travestis”. Astra Rio: Associacao des Travestis e Transexuais do estado do RJ. 22 Janeiro 2010. associacaodastravestisetransexuaisrj.blogspot.com/2010/01/trans-in-memorian-brenda-lee-o-anjo-da.html.
11 May 2010
Marion’s ‘boyish’ ability in sports led the neighbors to suspect that she might not be a girl. They explained the situation to Marion at age 9. He threw a tantrum and wept, but his parents persuaded him to continue. They considered moving to another place where Marion could start over as a boy, but Mr Bodmer had acquired considerable property and become Chief Burgess.
Marion continued through high school as a girl, as a good student and for three years was on the girls’ basketball team, however the other girls considered that she played like a boy and her nickname was Gus.
At age 19 Marion switched to male clothing with the intention of entering the legal profession, and to that end registered at a preparatory school in Allentown for the summer, and Dickenson law School in the fall.
He married a Turkish-born doctor and they lived in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania and had two children.
- “ 'Girl' For 19 Years Revealed As Man; Marion Bodmer of Selinsgrove, Pa., Graduated From Female High School, Changes Attire”. July 14, 1929. The New York Times.
- “ ‘Girl’ for 19 Years, Boy To Stay in Allentown”. The Reading Eagle. July 16, 1929. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=FJAzAAAAIBAJ&sjid=KeEFAAAAIBAJ&pg=4342,2840616&dq=marion+bodmer+pennsylvania&hl=en.
- L.H.Hamsley. “Imposters in Petticoats”. In David O. Cauldwell (ed). Tranvestism … men in female dress. New York: Sexology Corporation. 1956: 63.
This story, which resembles fantasies found in transvestite fiction, was actually reported in the US national press at the time.
Thank you to Kathy Padilla for the photograph and the obituary of Marion's wife.
Marion is on the right in the front row in the photograph.
09 May 2010
Maryani was raised as a Catholic boy in Yogyakarta, Java. She grew up up be waria*, and for many years was a sex worker and drank alcohol.
She then converted to Islam. She has since adopted an eight-year old girl, and in 2008 turned her house into Indonesia’s first Islamic school specifically for waria. As mosques are gender segregated, there is no place for waria to pray. Twice a week a group of about 20 waria, many tired because of their night-time employment, come to study the Koran and pray. They also study baking and beauty therapy to provide employment opportunities other than sex work.
Maryani says: “I'm thankful to God I've been given this fate, that I live like this".
In 2013 she made the umrahm, the minor haj pilgrimage.
She died at age 53, which resulted in the temporary closing of her school, but it reopened a few weeks later.
- Aubrey Belford. “Indonesian transgendered find refuge in Islamic school”. France 24.11 Nov 2008. www.france24.com/en/20081111-indonesian-transgendered-find-refuge-islamic-school.
- “Photo Story: The Third Sex : Getty photographer looks at life as a transgendered Muslim.” The Vancouver Sun. Nov 11, 2009. www.vancouversun.com/news/2210885/story.html.
- Prodita Sabarini. "A transgendered person goes on ‘umrah' ". The Jakarta Post, July 05 2013. www.thejakartapost.com/news/2013/07/05/a-transgendered-person-goes-umrah.html.
- "Indonesian Qur’an school for transgender women reopens". GayAsia News, April 23 2014. http://gayasianews.com/2014/04/23/indonesias-quran-school-for-transgender-women-reopens.
07 May 2010
He also wrote two novels, Dormitory Mates, 1968 and Seafood, 1969, an how-to book, and edited a monthly magazine. ++He also wrote for Gay Power, 1969-70, and ran a business distributing flyers.
Avery Willard made a short film about him, and he was one of the first drag queens to do comic relief in a porno movie, The Sexualist, 1975.
- Pudgy Roberts. Female impersonator's handbook. Newark: Capri Publishers, 1967. Selections
- Gil Truman. "Girls Who Are And Can't: An Interview with Pudgy Roberts". Female Mimics, 1,12, Spring 1968. Online at: http://paganpressbooks.com/jpl/PUDGY.HTM.
- Avery Willard (dir). Camp Burlesgue. With Pudgy Roberts impersonating Bette David, Carol Channing, Tiny Tim, Marlene Dietrich, Lily Tomlin, Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand. US 6 mins 1969.
- Kemal Horulu (dir) The Sexualist: A Voyage to the World of Forbidden Love. With Pudgy Roberts as Papamabuto. US 73 mins 1973.
- Donald Greenhaus. “Without Abstract”. Society. Vol 11,1 November 1973. www.springerlink.com/content/h6870muw8m283033/fulltext.pdf?page=1.
- Pudgy Roberts (ed). The great female mimics. New York: Mark Lithographers. 1963-79. Monthly magazine. Sample
- Laurence Senelick. The Changing Room: Sex, Drag and Theatre. Routledge xvi, 540 pp 2000: 384, 395, 403n15.
- Mark Singer. Mr. Personality: Profiles and Talk Pieces from The New Yorker. Mariner Books, 2005: 95-8.
I met Pudgy once, when we were both in Lee Brewster's boutique.
05 May 2010
In 1955, at the end of military training in which he was trained as a nurse, he did an impersonation of Eartha Kitt as part of the farewell concert. He worked as a nurse in Auckland and Wellington doing part-time drag.
In 1957 Rupe moved to Kings Cross in Sydney, took the name Carmen from the 1954 film, Carmen Jones, stopped wearing men’s clothes altogether, and became the first Maori drag performer in Australia. She stripped, danced the hula and had two snakes. She also got breast implants and worked as a prostitute. In 1963 she joined the famous Les Girls revue, and worked with Carlotta. She was a friend of Noel McKay.
On a trip home Carmen was arrested in a car at 3am and charged with wearing women’s clothes. However the magistrate threw out the case because there was no such law. In 1968, the police harassment in Sydney got to be too much, and she returned to Wellington. An inheritance from her grandfather enabled her to open a coffee bar that was a brothel upstairs. The place became popular with the local rich and famous, including several MPs.
She ran for mayor of Wellington in 1977 under the banner ‘Get in Behind’ promising gay marriage and legalized brothels.
In 1979 she returned to Sydney, and to working in nightclubs. She had small parts in television dramas in 1992/3.
In 2003 she was inducted into the Variety Hall of Fame. In 2008, she lead the Decade of the Diva float at Sydney’s Mardi Gras. She was a prominent member of Agender, the New Zealand transgender group.
She died at age 75 after some months of medical problems.
- “Carmen recalls Coffee Lounge glory days”. Gay.co.nz. www.qna.net.nz/news/696.html.
- Carmen Rupe. “Madame Carmen”. In Tracie O’Keefe (ed) Trans People in Love. Routledge 2008.
- “Carmen”. Time Out Sydney. 2010. www.timeoutsydney.com.au/thebridge/colourfulsydneyidentity/carmen.aspx.
03 May 2010
Twenty-one-years ago today… on 1989-05-03… my comatose very good friend and "605 Calle Canasta #1, San Clemente, California 92672" housemate Christine Jorgensen (nee George W Jorgensen Jr) died at 15.59 PDT in the presence of her sister Dolly Cudworth, nurse Lillian Havens RN, and her good friend and confidante Susan Constans, and myself at San Clemente General Hospital, San Clemente, California, USA - death due to metastatic bladder cancer…
Entrusted with the awesome responsibility and privilege of her "Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care," I legally did as she had bidden. With her looks ravaged beyond recognition and knowing her quality of life was no longer tolerable I acted on her awesome given authority by waiving all further life support systems when hospitalizing her. Which I would have expected and have wanted done for myself had our tables been turned and it was my looks, not hers, that were ravaged beyond recognition.
By entrusting her final transition in San Clemente to a consul and knight of Denmark, destiny had brought Christine a full circle from "Georg" Jorgensen's transition some thirty-seven years earlier in Copenhagen.
We both realistically accepted that she would never be beautiful again. The side effect of her and medicine's valiant attempt to overcome the original bladder cancer that, although in remission in the bladder and seemingly remitting in the lung, had finally roosted in the brain. Steroids to relieve cranial pressure horrifyingly undid in just a couple of weeks almost forty years worth of hormonal and surgical feminization.
Christine died positively believing that she would have beaten her cancer if it had been diagnosed earlier. Bless her, she didn't give up until after I had the terrible task of advising her that she had three inoperable tumors in her brain. It was the only time we ever really held each other.
From my first having moved in with her, Christine had optimistically had me carry my camera and pictorially record her visits to the oncology department to embellish the barely started and never completed sequel of her autobiography.
And during her final days she pragmatically had me record her ogre-like transformation to posthumously emphasize the possible consequence facing people with a familial history of cancer who imprudently neglect having regular check ups.
Chris was adamant that her "change" had absolutely nothing to do with the onslaught of her bladder cancer. She put it down to her smoking, drinking, and living the good life to its fullest, as she did to just days before her demise... an already toxic combination—she would emphasize—not helped by a predisposition to the disease when one has a familial history of cancer.
Nevertheless—having autocratically bidden me relay her posthumous message—I should add that I have memories of this indomitable terminally ill lady was just couple or so weeks before she died still resignedly smoking away, and smugly raising her bucket size glass of vodka-on-the-rocks "mit twist" to salute her dear friend Yul Brynner's posthumous television message: "Just don't smoke!"
In retrospect, the more I think about it, Chris—knowing my anecdote regarding me probably not having "changed" if I hadn't quit smoking—was probably appreciatively toasting the fact that I would not have been there to care for her if I hadn't done just that…
Brenda Lana Smith, R.af D.
© Brenda Lana Smith, R.af D., 2010... All Rights Reserved…
"To go against the dominant thinking of your friends, of most of the people you see every day, is perhaps the most difficult act of heroism you can perform." - Theodore H. White
With the start of the US Civil War in 1861, she volunteered on the Union side, but was only allowed to be a nurse, but after working as an unpaid field surgeon near the front lines, she became the second ever US Army Surgeon in 1863. In 1864, while treating civilians, she was captured by Confederate troops and charged as a spy. She was released as part of a prisoner exchange. In 1865 she was awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor, the only women to ever receive one.
She was an advocate for women’s dress reform and in 1866 was elected president of the National Dress Reform Association, and made speaking tour of England. In 1869 she finally obtained her divorce. She became a persistent wearer of trousers, switching from an androgynous mix to strictly male clothing later, although at all times insisting on being treated as a lady, and she never attempted to pass as male. She stood by the earlier suffrage position that the US Constitution gave women the vote, and she opposed the majority of suffragists who switched tactics to campaign for a female suffrage law.
She argued that women’s clothes kept them “unnaturately excited, or in a condition to be excited sexually”. Her solution to the sexual double standard was for men to be continent. She condemned all anal and oral sexual acts, and also masturbation.
In 1887 she began the first of several mid-western tours in dime-museum sideshows. She built up a collection of over 1000 pictures and letter of cross-dressing individuals. She corresponded for many years with the German transvestite Otto Spengler.
In 1902 a medical journal article referred to “Dr. M- W--, of Washington" as “the most distinguished sexual invert in the United States".
In 1917 the US Congress revoked her Medal of Honor (along with 900 others) as she had not been in ‘actual combat with an enemy’, but she refused to return it and continued to wear it until her death. She died of old age at 86, and was buried in her black suit.
A Liberty ship was named after her in the Second World war. US President Carter restored her medal in 1977. The US Postal Service issued a 20¢ Mary Walker stamp in 1982. The medical facilities of SUNY Oswego are named for her as is a US Army Reserve center in Walker, Michigan.
- Mary Edwards Walker. Hit. New York: American News, 1871.
- Mary Edwards Walker. Unmasked, or The Science of Immorality. To Gentlemen. Philadelphia: Wm. H. Boyd, 1878.
- R. W. Shufeldt, "Dr. Havelock Ellis on Sexual Inversion," Pacific Medical journal (San Francisco), vol. 45 (1902), p. 201.
- Charles McCool Snyder. Dr Mary Walker: the Little Lady in Pants. Arno Press, 1976
- Allison Lockwood. 'Pantsuited pioneer of women's lib, Dr. Mary Walker'. Smithsonian. 7 March 1977.
- Leslie Feinberg. Transgender Warriors: Making History from Joan of Arc to Rupaul. Beacon Press, 1996: 111.
The FTM page implies that she was a trans man, but limited by the technology of the time. I don’t see this. While she liked men’s clothing, there is no implication that she wanted to be a man. Unlike many female-born persons in the 19th century she did not attempt to pass as male. Had she done so, she would have been able to vote.
01 May 2010
A few months later, while on a work assignment in Chile she changed her appearance and became Alejandra. This was okay with her boss. She was considering having surgery in Chile which was more advanced in services for trans persons, but the Homosexual Community of Argentina (CHA) encouraged her to do it in Argentina to set a precedent. In 2001, Chevron acquired Texaco and Portatadino was transferred to Texaco, where she had to dress in a suit and tie. She was demoted and then fired.
Alejandra educated herself on the law and anthropology and applied for legal recognition. She applied to obtain legal recognition as a woman, and for the right to have gender surgery. The judge required an evaluation from government medical investigators, and they agreed with Portatadino’s request. The judge then dismissed the case as outside his jurisdiction. She applied to the Supreme Court and the expert opinion already obtained was accepted. She was able to use this but still had to file many motions in lower courts. She gave a paper at the first Argentine conference on gender dysphoria in 2005. She was finally legally recognized in 2006, and had surgery the same year.
Since then she has worked with the law division of CHA on rights for all GLBTTI persons. In particular she was able to arrange free hormone supervision in a state hospital, and to establish the standards of care for transsexuals in Argentina. She has a grant from the World Health Organization to do outreach work for sex workers with Aids.
In 2008 on International Women’s Day, Alejandra was recognized by the Buenos Aires Legislature as one of 20 Argentinean women who ‘broke traditional moulds’.
She uses the term Harry Benjamin Syndrome in preference to transsexual.
- Alejandra Victoria Portatadino. “Mi Historia Bien Sencilla”. Transsexual Women’s Successes. http://ai.eecs.umich.edu/people/conway/TSsuccesses/Alejandra/Alejandra.html#Historia. English Translation by Sonia John: http://ai.eecs.umich.edu/people/conway/TSsuccesses/Alejandra/Alejandra.html#Story.
- Interview with Alejandra Victoria Portatadino. www.politicaydesarrollo.com.ar/nota_completa.php?id=1929.
- Alejandra Victoria Portatadino. La Discriminación y el Estado de Apartheid. 2008. www.shb-info.org/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/apartheid.pdf.
Sonia John adds a translators note to her translation:
"The label "travesti," with its connotation of sex work, is very highly stigmatized throughout Latin America. In addition, the general Latin American public often does not make a distinction between "travesti" and "transexual," and so some trans women there are working to change public attitudes by avoiding the latter term, referring to the Harry Benjamin Syndrome instead."Charlotte Goiar likes to claim Alejandra's work in Argentina as an HBS success, but note that she works with the CHA and uses the umbrella term acronym GLBTTI, both of which are anathema to most HBS persons in Europe and North America.