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14 June 2011

David van Rippey (1924 - ?) retailer, minister, bigamist.

Dorothy van Rippey was raised in Waynesboro, Tennessee.

Van Rippey became David in 1950. He owned a service station and a women’s shoe store in Arkansas. In 1953 he was ordained a minister in the conservative Church of Christ, and married for the first time. He and his wife adopted two young boys.

prison mug shot, Thompson p47
He later married Glenda, who, when she found out about his first wife, complained to the county sheriff in August 1961. Van Rippey plead guilty to bigamy, and, after four months in the Monroe County jail, was transferred to Cummins Prison Farm, near Pine Bluff. He refused to remove his clothes for the standard medical exam, and guards had to be called to undress him.

He was then designated a woman, removed from the brutal farm work that male prisoners were expected to do, and assigned to work in the laundry and prison. He was assigned a cot outside the Superintendent’s office.

The story appeared on the front page of the Arkansas Gazette, and then in other papers across the southern States. A man who had been at school with Dorothy wrote to the Superintendent to identify her. Van Rippey confessed his past.

Both his marriages were deemed to be void. The Arkansas parole board granted parole, and van Rippey was released to the custody of relatives and returned to Tennessee. He stayed out of the press after that: Thompson was unable to find out what he did later.

  • Brock Thompson. The Un-Natural State: Arkansas and the Queer South.  Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2010: 45-50.


  1. As a PhD and an author, I believe Dr. Thompson should correct the information. Glenda was a victim of this perverted person. Dr. Thompson should have had the decency to speak with her or her descendants.

  2. As you claim a PhD it behoves you to say where, when and on what topic. There are plenty of rubbish PhDs. As you have used the word 'perverted' we cannot help assuming that you are either incompetent or ill-willed - probably both. Even a basic introduction to gender studies should inform you that simplistic assumptions about the wives of trans men is just that: simplistic. Glenda's complaint was bigamy, not David's sex.

  3. She was a VICTIM, not a wife....this sham was NEVER a marriage. It's very hurtful to our family. The SMALLWOOD name should never have been mentioned, as Glenda Smallwood did NOT marry Van Rippey.

  4. You read incorrectly....Brock Thompson was the PhD and author....


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