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.

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29 July 2010

Johns Hopkins – Part 2: 1966-1979.

Continued from Part 1.

++Psychiatrist Ira Pauly had published the first aggregation study of transsexual cases in 1965,  "Male Psychosexual Inversion: Transsexualism. A Review of 100 Cases".  This resulted in a job offer from Johns Hopkins, but, after a pay rise, Pauly decided to stay at the University of Oregon Medical School.

It was to Johns Hopkins that underground film star Holly Woodlawn went for the operation in 1966, but she was denied it in that she had not been in the program for at least a year. She went on a shopping spree instead with the money that her boyfriend had provided for the operation.

One-year-old Bruce Reimer was brought to see Dr Money and surgically reassigned to female as Brenda in 1967, and continued annual visits for almost 10 years, until Brenda began to refuse, and started to change back to male as David.

++The same year Barbara Dayton moved to Baltimore with wife and children, and started living as female.  The Clinic declined her application based on age, appearance and numerous tattoos. Also Barbara could not afford the fee.

The most prominent patient in the Gender Identity Clinic was writer Dawn Langley Hall who had surgery in 1968, married an African-American the next year, and publically announced the birth of a daughter in 1971 (a claim that the Gender Identity Clinic said was “definitely impossible”).   ++This was also the year that Roberta White was admitted for surgery.

In 1968 the Gender Identity Clinic provided surgeon Stanley Biber with diagrams on how to do sex change surgery. Renée Richards met with John Money, but at the end was told that Johns Hopkins was not accepting any more transsexual patients at that time.

In 1969, transsexual pioneer Christine Jorgensen came to Johns Hopkins for corrective surgery.  Future showgirl Michelle Brinkle ran away to Baltimore intending to register at the Clinic, but never did, and ended up at Dr Burou’s Clinic in Casablanca instead. Psychiatrist Jon Meyer became chairman of the Gender Identity Clinic, and his predecessor, John Hoopes wrote: “The surgery, often considered outrageously excessive and meddlesome by the uninformed, must be undertaken regardless of the censure and taboos of present society”. Also in 1969, Richard Green and John Money co-edited Transsexualism and Sex Reassignment, with a preface by Reed Erickson, an introduction by Harry Benjamin, and published by Johns Hopkins University Press.

John Money conducted a follow-up study of ‘17 male and seven female patients’, and found that after surgery nine patients had improved their occupational status and none declined. “Seven male and three female patients married for the first time” and “All of the 17 are unequivocally sure they have done for themselves the right thing”.

In 1970, Dr Edgerton left for the University of Virginia, where he established a Gender Identity Clinic, and Dr Hoopes returned to Johns Hopkins to replace him as Chief of Plastic Surgery. Dr Meyer started his own study of the benefits of surgery.

In 1972 future doctor Dana Beyer, then a student, came to the Clinic but found the intake application so off-putting that she fled before seeing a doctor.

In 1974, 23-year-old future intersex-cum-HSTS activist Denise Tree (Kiira Triea) had surgery with Dr Howard Jones after years of therapy from Dr Money.

In a paper with John Hoopes, Meyer wrote: “Most of the patients continue to be emotionally and socially much the same as they were in the pre-operative phase”.

In 1975, Catholic psychiatrist Dr Paul McHugh became head of the Psychiatry department at Johns Hopkins. He later wrote that he intended from the start to put an end to sex change surgeries which he described as “the most radical therapy ever encouraged by 20th-century psychiatrists— with perhaps the exception of lobotomies”.

In 1976 Charles Annicello from the clinic testified in a New Jersey court on behalf of M.T., a trans woman who was suing for alimony. Louis Gooren, who would develop the Gender Clinic at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, studied at Johns Hopkins in 1976, as did Russell Reid who later became a consultant at Charing Cross Hospital.

The clinic was also featured as the location of a rather unusual at-knife-point FTM operation in John Walters’ film Desperate Living, 1977.

The Joneses retired from Johns Hopkins in 1978, and became professors of obstetrics and gynecology at Eastern Virginia Medical School, where they established the first in vitro fertilization program in the United States.

In 1979, (the same year that Janice Raymond published the transphobic The Transsexual Empire) psychiatrist Jon Meyers and co-author Donna Reter reporting to Paul McHugh, finished their evaluation of fifty post and pre-op patients they saw as still deeply disturbed. “To say that this type of surgery cures psychiatric disturbance is incorrect. We now have objective evidence that there is no real difference in the transsexual’s adjustment to life in terms of jobs, educational attainment, marital adjustment and social stability,” he said. He later told The New York Times, “My personal feeling is that surgery is not a proper treatment for a psychiatric disorder, and it’s clear to me that these patients have severe psychological problems that don’t go away following surgery.” He even referred directly to “one case”, probably Reed Erickson, “In which a woman required hospitalization for drug dependency and suicidal intentions after being changed to a man”.

John Hoopes also changed his mind: “Prior to the surgery, these patients were at least male or female, but after the surgery the males converted to females weren’t really females and the females converted to males weren’t really males. . . You’ve created a new breed. You’ve created something you don’t know what to do with. … I never saw a successful patient. For the most part they remained misfits”.

The Meyer study has not been supported by later studies. Its methodology has been strongly criticized, especially the vagueness of some of its scoring, and that it does not include any measure of personal satisfaction. None of the post-operatives regretted the operation (as Meyers and Reter acknowledged). However, citing the study, the hospital administration closed the program.

The Johns Hopkins program was never important in terms of numbers, in fourteen years they provided surgery to only thirty people (compare to Dr Biber who would do many more than that every year), but in that it was the first clinic it was felt as a loss when it closed.

Even so, Johns Hopkins' reputation was such that transsexuals continued to apply to the Hospital. They were seen in the Sexual Behaviors Consultation Unit at $150 a time, but no referrals for surgery were made after 1979.

John Money stayed at the PRU, even after 1986 when it was moved to smaller premises outside the Hospital.

As late as 2005, a group of Christian ministers went to Trinidad, Colorado and tried to use the Meyer study to force Marci Bowers to stop performing gender surgery.
    • Thomas Buckley “A Changing of Sex by Surgery Begun at Johns Hopkins”. New York Times. Nov 21, 1966.
    • “Surgery Now Used to Alter the Sex of ‘Transsexuals’ “. Herald-Journal. Nov 22, 1966.,3668040&hl=en
    • “A Change of Gender” Newsweek. Dec 5, 1966, :73.
    • “Sex-Change Operations at a U.S. Hospital”. US News & World Report. Dec 5, 1966: 13.
    • Charles W. Slack.  "Life's Such a Drag, They'd Rather Switch".   The Village Voice.  Nov 6, 1969, vol XIV, 56.  Archive.  
    • John Colapinto. As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised As A Girl. London: Quartet xvii, 279 pp. Toronto & New York: HarperCollins, 2001: especially chp2.
    • Joanne Meyerowitz. How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States. Cambridge, Ma, London: Harvard University Press. 363 pp 2002: 7, 80, 114, 142, 211, 218-223, 251, 266-270
    • Edward Ball,. Peninsula of Lies: A True Story of Mysterious Birth and Taboo Love. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004: 84, 157-160, 244-9.
    • Deborah Rudacille. The Riddle of Gender. New York: Pantheon Books. 2005: 104-110, 111-113, 116-8, 119, 121-8, 131-3, 143, 169, 238.
    • Laura Wexler. “Identity Crisis”. Baltimore Style Magazine. Jan/Feb 2007. Also at:
    • Elizabeth Reis. Bodies in Doubt: An American History of Intersex. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009, Paperback 2012.


The Wikipedia article, "History of Intersex Surgery", should be called "Intersex Surgery at Johns Hopkins"; as it completely ignores work done elsewhere. The work  of Lennox Broster in particular is scandalously missing.

For those who like to perceive patterns in history, it is remarkable how the Johns Hopkins GIC falls between the publications of The Transsexual Phenomenon and The Transsexual Empire.

25 July 2010

Johns Hopkins Psychohormonal Research Unit & Gender Identity Clinic – Part 1: 1915-1966.

++added later

R.S. an 11-years old boy, was brought to Johns Hopkins Hospital  in 1915. With his parents’ consent, exploratory surgery found that he had a uterus and ovaries. The parents insisted that he not be told that he was female. Twenty years later he returned. He was now a business man with an active sex life, and intending to marry, except that his local priest refused to marry him as he was female. The doctors examined him again, and again found female internal organs. They confirmed that he was female. Three days later he was dead by suicide.

++ In 1925 an orphan Frank was examined and  a vagina, uterus, left ovary and Fallopian tubes were found.  Two years later, Frances had her clitoris removed.  At age 18 Frances became John and became a truck driver.

Genital reconstructive surgery was pioneered by urologist Hugh Hampton Young at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore between 1930 and his death in 1945.

Gynecologist Howard Jones had done his M.D. at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1935. In 1948 he and his wife Georgeanna became part-time faculty in the department of gynecology and obstetrics in the school of medicine.

Around 1950 there was a better understanding of congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH) and doctors were able to treat it with cortisone. Lawson Wilkins set up a new pediatric endocrinology clinic where it was recognized that doctors could not tell a person’s sex just by looking at external genitalia, and in some cases recommended to the child and parents that the child’s sex be reversed.

Milton Edgerton became Chief of Johns Hopkins first division of plastic surgery in 1951. Shortly afterwards he met his first transsexual: “When I went in to see the patient, who was in every outward appearance female, I began to get the request for the removal of male genitalia, and if possible, the construction of a vagina”. Patients began to arrive in his office asking for corrections to botched gender surgery that had been performed elsewhere, usually out-of-country. “Not a single patient, no matter how bad the surgery that had been performed, regretted his or her trip to have the operation. And that was pretty impressive”.

John Money, who wrote his PhD thesis on hermaphrodites (the term then in use), was recruited in 1951 also by Lawson Wilkins to be professor of pediatrics and medical psychology at the newly formed Psychohormonal Research Unit (PRU) in the Pediatric Endocrinology Clinic at Johns Hopkins University. Teamed with Drs Joan and John Hampson he spent six years studying 131 intersex persons, children and adults, who had been treated at Johns Hopkins. They found persons with identical genitals and chromosomes but raised as the other gender fared equally well psychologically. On this basis Money recommended that an intersex child be steered to a chosen gender, which was usually female as the surgery was easier, but it must be done within the first two and a half years, and that the child must not be confused by being told. Their paper won a prize from the American Psychiatric Association in 1955. Soon afterwards, the Hampsons left to take up positions at Washington State University.

In 1956, performer Ray Bourbon approached the hospital to see about a sex change, but was told that it was impossible.

From 1957 to 1961, Richard Green, the future head of Charing Cross Hospital Gender Identity Clinic, was a student at the Johns Hopkins medical school, and worked with John Money.

In 1958, circus performer Hedy Jo Star, after a couple of years on female hormones, presented at Johns Hopkins Hospital. The doctors in the PRU examined her for five days and then sent her home to await a letter. Three months later the letter advised her not to go ahead with surgery as she had no internal female structures.

At about the same time however, the doctors evaluated a female-to-male patient, and in 1960 did a bilateral mastectomy on him.

In 1960 The Joneses left their private practice to become full-time faculty. Howard started doing ‘corrective’ surgery on intersex infants. Money became the director of the PRU in 1962 when Lawson Wilkins retired and died shortly afterwards. Money was awarded considerable grants by the National Institutes of Health, and was also subsidized by wealthy trans man Reed Erickson (who also subsidized Harry Benjamin and Vern Bullough). John Money attended monthly meetings in New York with Harry Benjamin and Richard Green under the auspices of Reed Erickson’s EEF, where the idea was raised of applying the kind of surgery being done on intersex patients to transsexuals as well.

++In 1961 Roberta White arrived without an appointment and managed to obtain an interview with John Money who admitted her for three weeks for detailed evaluation.

In 1964, a 17-year-old transsexual referred to as G.L. who had been convicted of stealing women’s clothing and $800 worth of wigs was ordered by the Supreme Bench of Baltimore City to have sex reassignment surgery at Johns Hopkins. Her probation officer delivered her to the Johns Hopkins Women’s Clinic where Howard Jones was to do the surgery. However the psychiatry department intervened at the last moment, and had G.L. referred to them for therapy instead.

The next year John Money pioneered and cajoled the first Gender Identity Clinic in the US. He brought three postoperative patients of Harry Benjamin to meet with Howard Jones and Milton Edgerton. This was the same year that the Joneses with Edmund Novak published their gynecology textbook. That would go through several editions and in its time outsell all other such textbooks combined. Reed Erickson donated $85,000 to the Gender Identity Clinic over years, and became quite friendly with John Money. In addition he went to Johns Hopkins for a double mastectomy repair in 1965 after having had a mastectomy in Mexico and a hysterectomy in New York, and is arguably the first transsexual patient at the Johns Hopkins Gender Identity Clinic.

However the first patient is usually taken to be an African-American referred by Harry Benjamin, Phyllis Avon Wilson (more) who was operated on by Howard Jones at around the same time. Phyllis became a dancer in New York, and on Oct 4, 1966 a gossip column in the New York Daily News carried the item: “Making the rounds of the Manhattan clubs these nights is a stunning girl who admits she was male less than a year ago and that she underwent a sex change operation at, of all places, Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore”.

This caused Dr Edgerton to get a phone call from Dr Russell Nelson, president of Johns Hopkins Hospital, to find out if the story were true. Edgerton made a tactical decision and gave an exclusive to Tom Buckley of The New York Times, which ran the story on the front page on Nov 21, 1966. A press conference was called on the same day, where Edgerton and several colleagues announced at a press conference the establishment of the Johns Hopkins Gender Identity Clinic under the chairmanship of plastic surgeon John Hoopes. To an audience of 100 reporters, the doctors defined transsexuals, “physically normal people who are psychologically the opposite sex”, explained that “psychotherapy has not so far solved the problem”, and that they had already operated on 10 patients, all of whom were happy with the outcome. Three were already married, and three more were engaged.

This was the same year that Harry Benjamin’s The Transsexual Phenomenon had been published. Shortly afterwards, the Universities of Minnesota, Stanford, Northwestern and Washington at Seattle (headed by John Hampson) also opened Gender Identity Clinics.

Within a year, over 700 desperate transsexuals wrote and implored the doctors at the Johns Hopkins Clinic to help them. However the Clinic would approve for surgery only those whom they unanimously deemed to be ‘good candidates’. They devised four criteria: Is the patient a candidate for psychotherapy? Is the patient authentically motivated? Is the patient psychotic? Will the patient undergo a sociocultural crisis after receiving the operation? This left much room for the doctors’ opinions, and they often chose to err on the side of wait-and-see, recommending therapy rather than progressing a patient on to surgery.

++Previously, vaginoplasty, where it was done in the US had taken skin from the patient's thigh to construct the vagina.   However patients who had had surgery in Casablanca from Dr Burou were able to demonstrate the advantages of Burou's penile inversion method.   Dr Edgerton adopted and adapted this method.  When he was contacted by Dr Stanley Biber in 1968, this was the method that was recommended.

Dr Hoopes, the chairman, recalled that Money was often the advocate for progression: “John Money would argue very forcefully that someone was a candidate ... that he knew the patient very well and if this program was going to make any headway this patient should be accepted”. Not surprisingly, many of the patients did not want to see a psychiatrist. This was based on previous experience with psychiatrists, in that it implied that they had a mental problem, and that they knew within themselves that what they needed was surgery. Most patients soon realized that they should read the medical literature about transsexualism and impersonate ‘textbook transsexuals’ if they wished to be progressed to the next stage.

However the doctors were willing to consider patients with what was described in 1968 as “inadequate social and moral judgment and a long history of petty and sometimes major criminal offenses”. This included transvestites, gay men and strippers, many associated with The Block, a part of downtown Baltimore with many nightclubs, bars and sex workers. The doctors realized that their patients were at risk of arrest for cross-dressing and so issued identity cards with a Johns Hopkins phone number provided by The Erickson Foundation. Dr Edgerton had several calls from police officers, and after an arrest in 1971 helped to get a female transsexual transferred to the women’s facility. Some patients dropped out during the stage where they were taking hormones. In some cases this was because they could not afford the $2,000 to $10,000 for the surgery.

Continued in Part 2.

24 July 2010

Elizabeth Berger (1874 - ?) servant.

Elizabeth lived as female from the age of nine. She was a pastry cook for several wealthy families. She worked as a domestic or maid until 1931 at the age of 57, when applying for a new job as a maid, she was for some reason read, and outed to the press.
  • L.H.Hamsley. “Imposters in Petticoats”. In David O. Cauldwell (ed). Tranvestism … men in female dress. New York: Sexology Corporation. 1956: 63-4.

22 July 2010

Lynne Janine Braithwaite (1934 - 2008) Flight Sergeant, aircraft engineer.

Lawrence James Braithwaite was born in one of the Beatrix Potter Houses, and raised on the shore of Lake Windermere in the Lake District.

At age 15 he joined the Royal Air Force as a ‘Boy Entrant”. He was trained as an airframe mechanic. He married and he and his wife had two daughters and a son. He served 40 years in the RAF rising to Flight Sergeant. He served a year at RCAF Goose Bay in Labrador and three years with the USAF near Omaha, Nebraska.

His speciality was the maintenance of Vulcan bombers. In 1976 he was awarded the British Empire Medal. He left the Air Force in 1989, and was divorced three days later.

He remarried the same year and started a business making silver model aircraft which survived until the recession of 1992.

His second marriage ended in 1993, and in 1994, after consultaion with Russell Reid, Lawrence Became Lynne. She worked with Press for Change, and became the lay advisor on transgender issues to the Lancashire Constabulary. She was a consultant on rebuilding a Vulcan XH558 aircraft.

She died peacefully at age 74 at her home in Morecambe.

20 July 2010

Reginald de Veulle (1889 - ?) fashion designer.

Raoul Reginald de Veulle, the son of a former British vice-consul at Le Mans, was raised in Jersey. He finished his education, aged 17, at the Kensington School of Art. He picked up a few engagements in West End shows, but by his thirties, his stage career was over.

With the help of a gentleman admirer, William Cronshaw, he paid off his debts, and after a 1911 blackmail attempt on Cronshaw by the parents of another young man, Reginald had ₤500 and went to New York, where he picked up a taste for cocaine, and then Paris where he became a ladies dress designer.

He frequented social occasions where dressing as female was encouraged, and was present at a party in Maidenhead when locals started throwing stones, apparently having realized what was happening.

With the outbreak of war in 1914, de Veulle relocated to London and found work with a Mayfair costumier which specialized in theatrical work. In 1915 he fell in with show girl Billie Carleton when she modelled his creations. He also became the one who acquired her drugs and did other shopping for her.

In 1916 Defence of the Realm Regulation 40B was issued, and for the first time ever in the UK opium and cocaine, but not yet cannabis or heroin, became illegal (and remain so to this day). Also that year, Reginald married Pauline Gay, also a dress designer, who was five years older and lived a few doors away.

Billie was becoming a star. In 1918 when a US lieutenant kicked down the door of her flat in Longacre after she declined to marry him, she fled to the de Veulles. Reginald had previously bought cocaine from a couple in Limehouse, Lau Ping You and his Scottish wife, Ada, but had switched to Lionel Belcher, the film actor. Reginald hosted a cocaine party in pyjamas and nightdresses at his flat, for a group that included Billie Carleton, Belcher and others. Ada Lau Ping cooked the opium.

In September 1918 de Veulles was called up, but was declared to be unfit to be a soldier in that he was a cocaine addict. Following the Armistice in November there was a Victory Ball at the Albert Hall. Billie commanded a ‘wonderful frock’ from Reginald for the occasion. Reginald went as Harlequin. Billie followed the Ball by having friends at her flat until 5 a.m. Her maid found her dead in mid afternoon.

Ada was charged with supplying, ended up before an old-school judge and was sentenced to 5 months with hard labour. She suffered from tuberculosis and died, after release, in 1920 aged 29. Her husband, charged with possession came before a magistrate with local knowledge and was let off with a ₤10 fine.

The coroner at Billie Carleton’s inquest gave clear direction to the jury and in 15 minutes they found de Veulle guilty of manslaughter, and he was taken into custody. At his trial the next March he pleaded guilty to conspiracy with Ada Lau Ping to supply cocaine. Again the judge gave clear direction to the jury that he was also guilty of manslaughter but after 50 minutes the jury acquitted him. He was sentenced to eight months without hard labour for the conspiracy.

De Veulle is recorded as the costume designer for a 1926 stage musical, and in 1933 the Obelisk Press in Paris (whose best known book was Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer) promised ‘a book of formidable revelations’ by de Veulle, but it never appeared. Other than that Reginald de Veulle disappeared from history after his release.

19 July 2010

M. T. (193? - ) wife.

M. T. had always considered herself female, dressed as female from age 14, and had always dated men. In 1964 she met J.T. With his encouragement and finance she had surgery arranged by Dr Charles Ihlenfeld in 1971, and she had her New York birth Certificate revised. The next year, M.T and J.T married in New York State and lived in Hackensack.

Two years later he left, and she filed for support. J.T. replied that M.T “was a male and that their marriage was void”.   The trial judge determined that plaintiff was a female and that defendant was her husband, and there being no fraud, ordered defendant to pay plaintiff $50-a-week support.

At the appeal in 1976, the plaintiff produced Dr Ihlenfeld, Charles Annicillo from the Johns Hopkins Gender Identity Clinic and psychologist Dr Richard Samuels explained to the court about transsexualism, and that M.T. was now no longer male.   The defense called the adoptive father of J.T. , a medical doctor, who argued that his daughter-in-law was not a woman in that she did not have or had a uterus and ovaries.

The judges ruled that plaintiff was of the female psychic gender all her life and that her anatomical change through surgery required the conclusion that she was a female at the time of the marriage ceremony. They stated:
It is the opinion of the court that if the psychological choice of a person is medically sound, not a mere whim, and irreversible sex reassignment surgery has been performed, society has no right to prohibit the transsexual from leading a normal life. Are we to look upon this person as an exhibit in a circus side show? What harm has said person done to society? The entire area of transsexualism is repugnant to the nature of many persons within our society. However, this should not govern the legal acceptance of a fact.
They considered the English case of Corbett v. Corbett, but concluded that they could not join its reasoning.

They ruled in agreement with the lower court and M.T. was legally female.

Annicillo is spelt “Annicello” in the legal write-up of the case and in Joanne Meyerowitz’s book, but is spelt Annicillo  in Johns Hopkins sources.

15 July 2010

Happy Ned Taylor (? - 1887) sailor, labourer.

Elizabeth Taylor grew up to be Ned.
Although British, Happy Ned Taylor served in the Union Navy during the American Civil War, and was immortalized in a well known ballad.
“My name was Elizabeth Taylor,
But bless you I’ve long been a man;
I served in the fleet as a sailor
When the war o’ Secession began;
I fought for the North like a good un
Though I wasn’t a Yankee mysel;
And why it all ended so sudden
I’m dash’d if I ever could tell!”
At the end of his service, Ned worked in the docks at Liverpool, then as a navvy and as a farm labourer. The 'fact' that he was female-bodied was only discovered again after he died.
  • Julie Wheelwright. Amazons and Military Maids: Women who dressed as men in pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. Pandora 1989: 42.
  • “Female Sailors”, Notes and Queries. VII series, IV Dec 17, 1887: 486. Online at:

13 July 2010

Jonathan Ames (1964 - ) novelist, columnist.

Jonathan was raised in a Jewish family in suburban New Jersey. He studied at Princeton, and his first novel, I Pass Like Night, 1989, was his senior thesis.

In 1990 he flirted with an older woman in a bar in Pennsylvania, and the memory stayed with him.

In 1992, Ames moved to New York, started sharing an apartment with an older man, and succeeded in becoming a columnist at The New York Press. Looking for inspiration for his second novel, he took up boxing and also started spending time at Sally’s, the transgender bar on 43rd Street, across from The New York Times. He turned much of this into his second novel, The Extra Man, 1999, in which Louis Ives is fired from a New Jersey prep school after being caught trying on a bra, moves to New York, shares an apartment with an older man, and spends time at Sally’s where he is unsure whether he is a budding transvestite or a tranny chaser. His apartment mate later catches him in bed with a trans woman.

In 2001, Ames was sent Aleshia Brevard’s The Woman I Was Not Born to Be that he should write a blurb for the book, and remembered that the woman in the bar in Pennsylvania in 1990 was also Aleshia. He noted “a rash of books” on gender changes: Suits Me: The Double Life of Billy Tipton, As Nature Made Him, Crossing,
Also around this time, Jonathan Lethem gave me a copy of The Vintage Book of Amnesia, which he had edited, and I thought to myself, I want to put together an anthology, it looks like easy money. So I asked Lethem how much he was paid for the book and he told me a rather high number, which turned out to be all wrong. But I didn't discover that until much later. Thus spurred by visions of money, combined with the confluence of all these gender books, I got the idea in my head for an anthology whose unifying theme would be the changing of one's sex. I was going to include transsexual memoirs, the Middlebrook and Colapinto books, some stuff on hermaphrodites and transvestites, and works of fiction that featured transsexuals. Gore Vidal, Jerzy Kosinski, John Irving, and David Ebershoff all had novels that qualified on this front, and I figured I could self-promote and include a passage from The Extra Man.

I was teaching then at Indiana University, so I used the Kinsey Library and Xeroxed about a thousand pages of material and sent it off to Vintage. They made an offer that was one-third of what Lethem had told me he got. I checked with him and he realized he had made a mistake.

I was disappointed but took their offer, and the editor and I decided I should whittle the book down just to the memoirs of transsexuals. Then it was such a pain in the ass  to get permissions--I had naively thought Vintage would do this for me--that I didn't do anything with the book for years. I kept waiting to make some money from Hollywood so that I could pay Vintage back the first part of my advance. Then some money from Hollywood did come in, and instead of giving up on the anthology, which I had been privately referring to as the "tranthology," I hired someone and he did everything and now the book is out! So the book is about sex and I did it for money. A classic tale! (Ames & Ames 2005).
Ames regards transsexual memoirs as akin to Bildungsromans, coming of age novels. He also makes an intriguing claim that Franz Kafka’s ‘Metamorphosis’ draws on case 129 in Krafft-Ebing’s Psychopathia Sexualis.

He has described himself as “probably the gayest straight writer in America”. In his interview with himself, he makes a distinction between a tranny-chaser and a transy-chaser, and then does not really admit to being either.

Given that Ames is quite out about having a thing for trans women, it is odd that the Wikipedia page about him mentions it not at all.

The selection of excerpts in Ames’ anthology is - how shall we say – conservative.  It you have read several trans biographies, you will have read most of them.  The book would be much more rewarding if he had sought out the less well known biographies, and perhaps translated some that are not currently available in English.  But that would have been more work.

Here is the trailer for the film version of The Extra Man.  Notice how the trans content is just not there.

11 July 2010

Lea Sonia (191? – 1941) impersonator

Benjamin O’Reilly grew up to become Lea Sonia, Australia’s major female impersonator, in the 1930s.

In Paris he mentored the young Barri Chat.

In 1941 he was the headline star at Sydney’s Tivoli Theatre. He finished his encore with the song, “Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone”. He ran across the street, darkened in the wartime brownout and was fatally hit by a tram.

He is featured as a ghost in Alex Harding’s musical, Only Heaven Knows, 1988, about gay life in Sydney.
  • Laurence Senelick. The Changing Room: Sex, Drag and Theatre. London & New York: Routledge xvi, 540 pp 2000: 365.

08 July 2010

Valerie Nicole Taylor (1956 - ) model.

Freddie Lee Turner was raised in Greenville, South Carolina with five brothers and a sister. He helped out as a surrogate mother to his siblings after their mother left. He got good grades at school, but dropped out during senior year. He was arrested, once in Atlanta, and several times locally, on misdemeanor charges.

By 1979, using the name Freda, she was known as a trans woman, and was seen leaving a bar in nearby Gaffney with Billy Posey who was found shot dead the next morning in a motel room. A taxi-driver told police that he had taken Turner to Spartanburg, and that Turner had flashed a gun and confessed the killing. It took a few days to sign an arrest warrant, by which time Turner had disappeared.

Turner moved to Atlanta and Florida, and then in 1985, as Valerie Taylor, to Glendale, Los Angeles. She sometimes worked as a photographer’s model. Valerie advertized in the personals and met Dave Allen (1944 – 1999) who did visual effects in and directed movies. She was his date to the Oscars in 1986 when he was nominated for Best Special Effects in Young Sherlock Holmes, 1985. They lived together for some years, their relationship occasionally becoming violent.

In 1990 Dave Allen started to also date divorced mother of two, Donita Woodruff.

In 1991 Dave paid for Valerie’s legal name change and surgery with Dr Biber. Also in 1991 Valerie had an accident while learning to drive, and left the scene of the accident. She was sentenced to three years probation and community service.

Dave and Donita
Dave moved in with Donita and finally married her in 1995. Valerie and Donita took a strong dislike to each other. Donita researched Valerie at the Burbank city hall and obtained a copy of Valerie’s name change. She freaked out that Dave had had a relationship with a transsexual and went for an Aids test. Her psychiatrist suggested that she watch The Crying Game, 1992, and the scene where Dil shoots the IRA agent reminded her that Dave had once mentioned that he knew someone who had killed another. She became obsessed that Valerie must be a murderer, and collected evidence.

In 1996, she informed the Burbank police that Taylor was a fugitive. Taylor denied being Freddie Turner, but her fingerprints were the same as those taken from Freddie in Atlanta. She was extradited to South Carolina. In 1997, she pled self-defense and the evidence being mainly lost and witnesses having died since, she was sentenced to 15 years, suspended to three.

All this destroyed the marriage of Donita and Dave and their divorce was finalized in 1998.

Valerie served two years in prison at the Leath Correctional Institute for women, before returning to Los Angeles and Dave Allen.

Dave died of cancer in 1999 and it is rumored that he left most of his money to Valerie. In 2002, Valerie was convicted of assault on a boyfriend, and put on probation.

Donita Woodruff published her account as a true crime book in 2005.

*Not the English actress, nor the lesbian novelist, not the shark and underwater expert.
 EN.Wikipedia(David_W._Allen)      ____________________________________________________________

The major source on Valerie Taylor is Woodruff’s book.  However Woodruff is very much a hostile witness.  Once Woodruff realizes that Taylor had been a transsexual, she constantly refers to her as ‘Freddie Turner’ and ‘he’ despite Valerie having completed both surgery and legal name change.

Woodruff comes across as very transphobic.  In her opinion a trans woman is a man for life, Dave must be gay because he had an affair with Valerie, and she is at a serious risk of Aids because of Dave.   Whenever she meets persons who had taken Valerie as herself, Woodruff writes it that they had been ‘fooled’.  Her book could be a lot more plausible if she had consulted a trans person for advice.

She is constantly being scandalized by the world as it is.  She is scandalized that the South Carolina justice system uses plea bargaining and that the justice system is imperfect.

Donita also comes across as an unreliable narrator.  In addition to detailed accounts of dialogue which she surely could not remember that precisely, several of the reviewers on Amazon find complete incidents unlikely at best.

I was amazed that Donita could go to city hall and get Valerie’s name change papers.   Are there no privacy provisions?  This is explicitly forbidden in the UK’s Gender Recognition Act, but that is another country.

In Donita’s account, Valerie is a psychopathic killer and violent, physically and emotionally, with all who know her.  In the news articles sourced above, the murder comes across as a self-defence after a night gone wrong.  It is an unfortunate fact that some people do go crazy when with a transsexual.  As stated, Donita spoils her case by being transphobic.

Valerie Taylor is not mentioned among the inmates on the Wikipedia page for Leath Correctional Institute.

The Wikipedia page on Dave Allen does not mention either Valerie or Donita.

07 July 2010

Laura de Vison (1939 – 2007) school teacher, performer.

Noberto David Chucri was raised by Lebanese parents in Rio de Janeiro. He graduated from the Faculdade Nacional de Filosofia in philosophy, psychology and history, and became a history teacher in the public school system. Here he would sometimes take advantage of the syllabus to appear in drag, for example as Cleopatra when teaching Egyptian history.

Under the name Laura de Vison, he was also a well-known transformista from the 1970s to the 1990s. In particular he performed at the bar Boêmio. In a ninety-minute act he wore many of his almost 100 dresses.

After 18 years as a teacher he was fired after he answered student questions about the sexual transmission of Aids. Later he was arrested during a police purge and spent 10 days in jail.

He was often compared to Divine. He has been in eight films, and several television series. He was Gluttony for a samba school float in Carnaval.

He died at age 68 due to complications after surgery for a hernia.

04 July 2010

Michael Brinkle (1951 - ) performer, sex worker, waitress.

Michael and his elder sister were left at the Baptist Children’s Home in Memphis, Tennessee when he was three. He was sexually abused in the home and later in the scouts. He and his sister were adopted by the same parents when he was nine. Michael had been called ‘Butch’ at the home, and his new parents continued this.

When he was 18 he ran away to Baltimore because he had heard about sex changes at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. He worked in a restaurant, and started going out in drag. He found Inferno, the local drag bar. Kelly, a cis woman stripper, had him move in as a roommate so that her boyfriend would not come back.

Michael became Michelle, became a dancer and turned tricks. She went to New York for silicone injections. She never did register at Johns Hopkins. Another trans woman told Michelle about the operations in Casablanca, and together they applied for passports, but had to make a scene at the Passport Office before they were given the application forms. They flew to Casablanca, but Dr Burou didn’t want to perform on Michelle as she was only 19, but eventually after her pleading he took her $2,000 and did so.

On return, Michelle phoned her mother and let her know what had happened. The mother came to accept her second daughter, but still called her Butch. Michelle also had to report to the draft board where the doctor made her disrobe where others could see.

Her first lover was AWOL from the army and already married. They visited each other’s parents but he was constantly chasing other women, until she tired of that and left him.

Michelle and Kelly worked together as exotic dancers. Only some years later did Michelle have electrolysis, to remove her light beard growth, and legally change her name. She married Kelly’s brother, Frank, in Chicago, who did deals and petty crime and was very jealous. She left him and went to Hawai’i where she got a job in a nightclub. Frank somehow traced her, and brought her home at gunpoint. They moved to Memphis. He pulled a job in the club where she was working, and after a few more robberies was arrested. She stayed by him the two years he was in prison. They then separated by mutual consent. Frank later got 12 years for shooting and wounding a policeman.

Michelle stopped taking female hormones because they were increasing her weight. At age 28, with her parents encouragement, she went to beauty school and qualified as a cosmetologist.

The next year she read the Bible and decided that her life was wrong in eyes of God. As Michael, he had his breast implants removed. He still has a high voice and is still sometimes addressed as ‘ma’am’. He joined a church and told of his past, and was accepted. He kept in touch with both Kelly and Frank for some time, but finally drifted away. He attended his mother’s funeral as Michael in 1987, and his father’s in 1994.

In 2006 he published his autobiography.
  • Michael Brinkle. Return to Michael: A Transgender Story. Lincoln: iUniverse. 2006.

Other than his own autobiography, I am unable to find any information about Michael Brinkle.

On p38 Michael tells: “A so-called doctor came to town [Baltimore] every so often pumping the girls and trans-genders full of silicone.  We called him ‘Dr Plastic’.  He mixed the silicone in the bathtub!  Rumors were going around that he used ‘Turtle Wax’! No, he didn’t finish us off with a buff cloth either!  He was later arrested and put on trial for killing that trans-gender.  Kelly was supposed to testify against him but she started getting death threats over the phone.”     This would be about 1970, a year after Stonewall.  The Johns Hopkins Gender Identity Clinic was still operating.  Can anybody identify this so-called doctor?

The book is 63 pages of text.  It is then followed by 40 pages, 40 photographs all of Michael before he ran away to Baltimore.  The only photograph of Michelle is that on the front cover.  No photographs of Michael after 30 are provided.  Nor does Michael tell us how he made a living after returning to being Michael.

On p40, there is a remarkable apology:  “Could I stop here a moment and confess something else in my memories?  I’m really ashamed to admit today that most of the men I had sex with didn’t have a clue about my real story.  I think that it must have been an inner desire to get revenge on the whole male population for the abuse that they gave me.  To this day they probably still don’t realize that they had sex with Michael and not Michelle.  At the time it was thrilling for me to know that they had no idea that they were enjoying sex with a man but in their own minds were having sex with a woman.  I really wasn’t in my right mind, was I?”   ----- I think that most of us will disagree with this paragraph.  Michelle thought that she was not a real woman, which partially explains why she changed back.

Michael thinks that being sexually abused and the absence of his biological father explains his trans nature.  If this were so, there would be many more transsexuals.

02 July 2010

Mrs Shufflewick (1924 – 1983) comedian.

A child who had been abandoned at birth, Rex Coster was named by the couple who adopted him. He was raised in Southend-on-Sea, until 1938 when they moved to Holloway in London, an area that was heavily bombed during the Blitz.

Rex was called up to the RAF in 1942 and was able to join Ralph Reader’s RAF Gang Show. He toured North Africa, Italy and Cyprus putting on shows for the forces. His flight sergeant was Tony Hancock who would become a famous comedian in the 1950s and 1960s. Rex was usually cast as either the leading lady or as a comic vicar. After the war, as there was a popular broadcaster called Sam Costa, Rex took the name Jameson, after the whiskey, to avoid confusion.

He found work in a touring company playing a cockney charlady, a character that he named Gladys Shufflewick when he appeared on BBC radio in 1950. Rex was the first dame comedian to perform in female clothing when on the wireless. He actually arrived, usually by taxi, already dressed and stayed in character. There were very few other comedians doing anything similar, and the act took off. He was usually billed simply as Mrs Shufflewick, and many in the audience were unaware of Rex Jameson, taking Mrs Shufflewick to be a woman.

He did eight seasons at the Windmill Theatre, when as Mrs Shufflewick, he would drink at the Bear and Staff in Charing Cross Road where he developed a friendship with the young Danny La Rue. Mrs Shufflewick played most variety theatres across Britain sharing the bill with most of the stars of the day. However Rex was drinking more and more, and betting on horses, and by 1960 he was bankrupt.

In 1964 Mrs Shufflewick appeared on the LP Look in at the Local recorded live at the Waterman’s Arms on the Isle of Dogs.  He also appeared in West End Shows. He also did some pantomime, and a season at Butlins Holiday Camp where he had to constrain the natural bawdiness of his act for the family audience. However he then started working the northern working men clubs where the bawdiness was encouraged. He lived in a run-down flat in Kentish Town where he kept scrap metal in the bath, and was proud of the fact that he had not had a bath in over 25 years.

In 1968 he was mentioned in the first edition of Roger Baker’s history of drag. In 1969 Mrs S was the star of an ‘adult pantomime’ in Brighton called Sinderella, but the police closed it after two nights because of complaints about the material. Also in 1969, Rex met David, a labourer in his 30s who would stay with him until his death. They shared a fondness for drink and gambling. By the early 1970s, Mrs S was mainly performing in gay pubs, especially the Black Cap in Camden and the Vauxhall Tavern in Lambeth. She recorded an LP live at the Black Cap which sold well, but within a few months there were performers who were doing her full act under their own names.   Listen to the entire album here.

Patrick Newley (1955 – 2009) became her manager in 1972, and managed to get her back into the West End as a support act to Dorothy Squires. Newley also managed Douglas Byng, and introduced the two of them.

Shuff, as both the actor and the character became known, became a fixture of the thriving gay scene of the 1970s. He gave an interview to Gay News in 1973, and was now open about his own sexuality. He did not seem to understand what the Gay Liberation Front was about, but twice Shuff was on a prominent float in the Gay Pride march. He was also a celebrity judge at Andrew Logan’s Alternate Miss World.

He played cameos in the Marty Feldman film, Every Home Should Have One, 1970, and Tony Palmer’s television documentary about music, All You Need Is Love, 1977.

In his 50s, Rex looked over 70. He continued heavily smoking and drinking till the end. In 1983, just before his 59th birthday, he popped out to buy cigarettes and Guinness and dropped dead on the pavement. Over 500 people turned up for his funeral.
  • Roger Baker. Drag: a history of Female Impersonation on the Stage. London: A Triton Book. 1968: 184-5.
  • Laurence Senelick. The Changing Room: Sex, Drag and Theatre. London & New York: Routledge xvi, 540 pp 2000: 250-2.
  • Patrick Newley. The Amazing Mrs Shufflewick: The Life of Rex Jameson. Third Age Press. 2007.
  • J.D. Doyle. “Mrs Shufflewick”. Queer Music Heritage. Contains an audio file from the 1964 album. And also:

Not Southend nor Holloway nor Kentish Town list either persona of Shuff among their notable residents on Wikipedia.

Rex’s preferred term for what he did was Dame Comedian.  Not female impersonator or drag performer.

Rex’s affectionate term for his lover, David, was ‘Myra’.  Nothing to do with any character created by Gore Vidal, the cultural reference was to Myra Hindley (1942 – 2002) the Moors Murderer who finally died in prison.

01 July 2010

Dallas Denny (1949 - ) psychologist, writer, activist.

++Revised September 2012 with feedback from Dallas.

Dallas was raised in an army family and as a child lived on and near military bases all over the world. When he was 13 the family settled in Tennessee. At age 22 he married, and at 28 was divorced. After college and graduate school he worked for the state government of Tennessee as a child protective worker and then as a psychological examiner. He held a license to practice psychology in Tennessee from 1980 until the mid-1990s, retiring it after moving to Georgia.

In his teens, Dallas started going out in public dressed as a girl. He was ready to transition gender roles, but had no idea how to go about it.

At age 30 he paid $500 to apply to the gender identity program at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. After evaluation he was told he was not dysfunctional enough to receive sex reassignment services. Determined to transition with or without the help of the clinic, he immediately began to research transsexualism at the university’s medical library

At that time no physicians in Nashville would prescribe hormones to him and the drag bars wouldn't grant entry when he was crossdressed. With no legal avenue for hormones, and having never met even one other transsexual, Dallas stole part of a prescription pad and self-prescribed Diethylstilbestrol (DES), a medication now prohibited because of carcinogenic properties. He feminized over the next ten years.

The same year--1979-- Dallas reached out for support, but found only The Society for the Second Self (Tri-Ess) , the national group for crossdressers with a no-gays-no-transsexuals policy. After corresponding with co-founder Virginia Prince, he declined to join. Ten years later he looked for support once again, and once again found only Tri-Ess. Dallas lied about his transsexuality and joined. Through Tri-Ess he soon learned of a transsexual support group in Atlanta and contacted it, letting his membership in Tri-Ess lapse.

Dallas completed electrolysis in 1989, and had surgery with Dr Seghers in Brussels in 1991. She resigned her position as a psychological examiner and moved to Georgia, transitioning en route. Her female lover was not able to accept the change, and their long-term relationship ended. She kept the same first name, Dallas, it being androgynous.

She immediately found a job as a behavior specialist in Metro Atlanta, working with adults with developmental disabilities. She held that position until her retirement at age 60.

At the request of her family, Dallas did not call, write or visit for more than ten years. One of her sisters re-established contact in the late 1990s, but she didn't see or correspond with her other family members until her mother phoned her six months after her father's passing in 2001.

In 1990 Dallas founded the American Educational Gender Information Service (AEGIS) and the journal Chrysalis: The Journal of Transgressive Gender Identities. She was Executive Director of AEGIS and Editor-in-Chief of Chrysalis from 1990 until 1998. In 1993 she founded the US National Transgender Archive and Library, which now resides in the Labadie Collection at the University of Michigan. She was director of Montgomery Foundation for a year.  Atlanta Gender Explorations, an open support group she founded in 1990, still meets monthly. She was a principal in the founding of the transgender conferences Southern Comfort Conference and FTM Conference of the Americas.  Also in 1990, Dallas, after much persistence, was one of the first trans professionals permitted a membership in HBIGDA (now WPATH).

Dallas was editor of IFGE's Transgender Tapestry magazine from 2000 until 2008 and director of the transgender conference Fantasia Fair from 2003 until 2007. She has written many booklets and articles on transsexualism, many of them published by AEGIS, nearly 20 chapters for textbooks, and the texts Gender Dysphoria: A Guide to Research and Current Concepts in Transgender Identity, acknowledged by Richard Green as the first books on transsexuality by a transsexual. In 2003 she and many others spoke out against Michael Bailey’s The Man who Would be Queen

She is now a resident of the village of Pine Lake, Georgia, the world’s smallest municipality with a transgender non-discrimination ordinance.

Virgina Prince Award For Lifetime Achievement, 2007.

In her essay for The New Goddess, she wrote: 
My betwixt and between financial status has helped me see the full panorama of transgender behaviors, for I've commingled with the rich and the poor, cross-dressers and transsexuals, the passable and the impassable. I know transsexual people who have managed to hold onto their jobs during transition and those who have been fired, and transsexual people who have deliberately walked away from their old lives to forge new ones. 1 know those whose middle-class lives fell apart when they started to deal with their gender issues, and who now live in reduced circumstances. And 1 know those who ... have never had and never will have a middle-class life, who have wound up on the streets because they were courageous enough to deal with their gender issues at an early age, and because, with their early experiences and upbringing, there was no other place to go other than the street.
In their youth, transgendered people have a terrible choice: they can be true to themselves, for which they will be at grave risk for winding up dead; or they can keep others happy by stifling their innermost selves. The choice they make will determine the path they walk through life: marginalized, rejected, harassed by others, forced into low-paying jobs or into sex work, but able to be themselves; or comfortably middle-class, with all the privileges pertaining thereto, but having to keep the closet door firmly closed as their bodies become progressively more masculine - or, for FTMs, more feminine.  Neither choice is satisfactory; either has grave consequences. Who could be blamed for walking either of these roads? (p113-4)
I don't think there are two different types of transsexual people, as a number of clinicians have reported; I think there are only people who, at the fork in the road, have made different choices, and who have been shaped by those choices. Some face the risks and pains associated with transitioning early, and some delay their choice and inherit the risk and pain associated with transitioning later in life. Often, these choices are made out of consideration for others, by the circumstances of their lives and relationships, or by happenstance. I know my own life has been influenced by chance. (p115)

*Not the Country singer.

  • ·  Dallas Denny. Gender Dysphoria: A Guide to Research. Garland 653pp 1994. 
    ·  Dallas Denny (ed). Current Concepts in Transgender Identity. Garland 452pp. 1997.
    ·  Helen Boyd. “Five Questions With … Dallas Denny”. en|Gender: helen boyd’s journal of gender & trans issues. October 5, 2005.
    ·  Dallas Denny. “My Transsexual Autobiography”. In J. Ari Kane-Demaios & Vern L. Bullough (eds). Crossing Sexual Boundaries: Transgender Journeys, Uncharted Paths. Prometheus Books. 2006: 118-128.
    ·  Dallas Denny.  "Down and Out at the Ross Fireproof Hotel: An Essay on Class in the Transgender Community". In Gypsey Teague (ed). The New Goddess: Transgender Women in the Twenty-First Century. Waterbury, CT: Fine Tooth Press, 2006: 106-117.