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11 September 2010

Betty Steiner (1920 - 1994) psychiatrist.

Betty married Andrew Conduit who worked for Reader's Digest from 1948-1979, eventually rising to Senior Vice president, and they lived in the upscale Castle Frank area of Toronto.

Dr Steiner, MB, FRCP (C) was a general practitioner for several years, and then retrained as a psychiatrist. She was appointed psychiatrist at the Women's College Hospital, where she was included in a 1963 Globe and Mail article on women in the professions. In 1969 she became the first head of the newly created Gender Identity Clinic at the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry. "I wanted to do some clinical research, and as I knew nothing about transsexualism it seemed an interesting field to explore (Steiner, 1985: xi)".

Later the same year she personally guided the Clinic's first client approved for surgery, Dianna Boileau, through the process, even giving her a kiss as she went under the anaesthetic. Dianna dedicated her autobiography to Dr Steiner.

At the January 1973 meeting of the Ontario Psychiatric Association, Dr Steiner reported that six patients had been operated on, five of them in the previous six months.

In 1981 she examined inmate Katherine Johnson and recommended female hormones but was ignored. She did not see Katherine again until 1989. In 1982 Dr Steiner and Dr Hucker wrote a report for Correctional Services of Canada that recommended that gender variant inmates be 'frozen' at the stage of feminization or masculinization that they were at when incarcerated. They were to be placed in accordance with their 'anatomical structures'. Hormone treatment but not sex-reassignment surgery could be provided.

In The Globe and Mail in 1983, Dr Steiner reported that "between 1975 and 1983, the clinic had 111 surgical patients, of which 59 were biological males wishing to become females and 52 females wishing to become men" and "women who become men are much more stable as a group than their counterparts". In 1984 in the Toronto Star she attributed the social success of the 102 clients who had had surgical sex change through the Clinic in its first 15 years to the fact that only 1 in 10 'men' who request it are approved.

Through the mid-1980s she apparently got on well with Susan Huxford, the leader of the peer-support group FACT, perhaps because they were both women of a similar attitude and of almost the same age. She was delighted to get gossip from Huxford re the activities of the transsexuals in Toronto and Hamilton. At the same time patients at the GIC were complaining more of how they were treated. Certainly the special treatment that Dianna Boileau had been given was not continued.

In 1985 she edited the anthology Gender Dysphoria wherein the foundations of the Autogynephilia-HSTS binary are clearly laid out. She has her name with others on several of the foundation texts that had been published elsewhere, but in the essays in the book authored by herself alone the ideology is muted, although she still divides male-born transsexuals into homosexual and heterosexual (based on their birth body), insists that all female-born transsexuals are homosexual (i.e. gynephilic) and that only male-born persons are ever fetishistic. She regards a trans woman finding a husband as ‘unusual’. She feels that many transsexuals have poor impulse control. She was at first a follower of Robert Stoller, but having Kurt Freund and Ray Blanchard on her staff, it is no surprise that she drifted to their conceptualizations. She echoes Stoller's claim that there have been only three female transvestites. She speculated that transsexual women (i.e trans men) differ from lesbians because of a "sustaining influence of the high level of aggression within the family of the' transsexual-to be' (Steiner, 1985: 420)".

She retired as head of the clinic in 1986 and was replaced by Robert Dickey. However she co-edited a further anthology on the work of the GIC in 1990, and contributed a paper on Intake Assessment.

In 1994 Mr & Mrs Conduit were overcome by fumes from a car that had been left running in the garage of their home. Steiner died at the time, and her husband 10 days later.
  • Eric Haworth. "The bright promise of the professions". The Women's Globe and Mail. May 9. 1963.
  • Dianna as told to Felicity Cochrane. Behold, I Am a Woman. New York: Pyramid Books, 1972.
  • Leone Kirkwood. "Work described with children having 2 sexes". The Globe and Mail. Jan 27, 1973.
  • Kurt Freund, E. Nagler, R. Langevin, A. Zajac, B. Steiner. "Measuring Feminine Gender Identity in Homosexual Males, Archives of Sexual Behavior, 3, 1974: 249-260.
  • C Nelson, D.Paitich and B. W. Steiner. “Medicolegal Aspects of Transsexualism.” Canadian Psychiatric Association Journal 21(8), Dec. 1976: 557-564.
  • Betty W. Steiner, S.M. Bernstein, J.T.D. Glaister and C. Muir. "Metamorphosis: Cross-gender identity formation in females vs males". AGM. Canadian Psychiatric Association. Halifax. Oct 17-20, 1978.
  • Betty W. Steiner. "From Sappho to Sand: Historical perspective on crossdressing and cross gender". Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 26, 1981: 502-6.
  • Kurt Freund, Betty W. Steiner, & S. Chan, “Two types of cross-gender identity”. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 11, 49–63. 1982.
  • John Fitzgerald. “Transsexuals tread a path fraught with doubt, pain”. The Globe and Mail. Oct 27, 1983.
  • Ray Blanchard, Leonard H. Clemmensen & Betty W. Steiner. "Gender reorientation and psychosocial adjustment in male-to-female transsexuals". Archives of Sexual Behavior, 12, 1983: 503–509.
  • Ray, Blanchard, J. G. McConkey, V. Roper & Betty W. Steiner. "Measuring physical aggressiveness in heterosexual, homosexual, and transsexual males". Archives of Sexual Behavior, 12, 1983: 511–524.
  • Lillian Newbery. "Trans-Sexuals happier after operation, MD says". Toronto Star. Nov 27, 1984. Online at:
  • Betty W. Steiner (ed) . Gender Dysphoria: Development, Research, Management. New York & London: Plenum Press. 1985.
  • Betty Steiner. "The Management of Patients with Gender Disorders", “Transsexuals, Transvestites, and their Partners”, "A Personal Perspective". In Steiner, 1985.
  • Ray Blanchard, Leonard H Clemmensen and Betty W. Steiner. “Social Desirability Response Set and Systematic Distortion in the Self-Report of Adult Male Gender Patients.”. Archives of Sexual Behavior 14(6),1985: 505-516.
  • Ray Blanchard, Betty W. Steiner and Leonard H. Clemmensen, “Gender Dysphoria, Gender Reorientation, and the Clinical Management of Transsexualism.”. Journal of Consulting & Clinical Psychology 53(3), 1985: 295-304.
  • R. Blanchard, I. Rachansky & B. Steiner. "Phallometric detection of fetishistic arousal in heterosexual male cross-dressers". Journal of Sex Research, 22, 1986: 452-462.
  • Ray Blanchard, Leonard H. Clemmensen and Betty W.Steiner. “Heterosexual and Homosexual Gender Dysphoria.” Archives of Sexual Behavior 16(2), 1987: 139-152.
  • Ray Blanchard, Betty W. Steiner, Leonard H. Clemmensen & R. Dickey. "Prediction of regrets in postoperative transsexuals". Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 34, 1989: 43–45.
  • Ray Blanchard & Betty W. Steiner (eds.). Clinical management of gender identity disorders in children and adults. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press. 1990
  • Cal Miller. "Fumes kill psychiatrist, husband clings to life Car left running in garage of Rosedale home". The Toronto Star. Feb 17, 1994.
  • Alan Barnes. "Andrew Conduit, 80, held top post at Reader's Digest ". The Toronto Star. Mar 03, 1994.
  • Katherine Johnson and Stephanie Castle. Prisoner of Gender: A Transsexual and the System. Vancouver: Perceptions Press, 1997.
  • Also see other patient experiences with Dr Steiner at Transsexual Road Map here and here.

Only an MB and “I knew nothing about transsexualism”.  So of course she got the top job in the Clinic.

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