This site is the most comprehensive on the web devoted to trans history and biography. Well over 1200 persons worthy of note, both famous and obscure, are discussed in detail, and many more are mentioned in passing - especially in the year-end summaries (see links in right sidebar.)

There is a detailed Index arranged by vocation, doctor, activist group etc.

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 page. There is also a search box at the top left. Enjoy exploring!

30 October 2011

Alex Davis (1981?–) singer.

Alex was the only child of actor Brad Davis (1949 – 1991) who starred in Midnight Express, 1978, and Querell, 1982. Brad, having contracted Aids, died by assisted suicide.

Alex was raised in Los Angeles, and played music from early childhood. By 2004 he was a man, and he played local venues to much acclaim. He has played LA Pride 2008, and DOR 2009, Los Angeles. He is an open trans man, and his act incorporates material from his life as the child of Brad.

*Not the footballer, nor the composer.
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28 October 2011

Billy Thornley (1922 – ?) driver.

In 1957, truck driver Billy Thornley was booked into Los Angeles county jail on charges resulting from a fight with two other drivers.

On the second day, he was taken to the showers to clean up. And was found to be female-bodied.
  • Tom De Simone, Teresa Wang, Melissa Lopez, Diem Tran, Andy Sacher, Kersu Dalal, Justin Emerick. Lavender Los Angeles. Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia Pub, 2011: 23.

26 October 2011

Jenny De Savalette De Lange (1790 - 1858) pensioner.

Jenny, the daughter of a major freemason, lived in Paris and Versailles first on a government pension of 1,000 francs a year granted by Napoleon in 1812 for services rendered by her family, which continued until the fall of the Empire in 1822, and then the salary of a postmistress, although she did not do the associated tasks. Her pension was restored in 1825. She also had rooms in Versailles Palace until 1853 when it was turned into a museum.

She had suitors, and was even engaged, but never went as far as marriage. She was criticized as looking masculine.

She was outed as male-bodied when she was prepared for burial.

There has been speculation over the years that she was Louis XVII Bourbon in hiding after his parents were executed, but this was disproved by DNA testing in the late twentieth century.
  • Hérail. Sur l'homme-femme connu sous le nom de Mademoiselle Savalette de Lange. Versailles: Cerf 1859. Reprinted with a preface by Frederick Prot Paris: Dilecta 2006.
  • Georges Moussoir. L'homme femme Mlle. Savalette de Lange 1786-1858 avec portrait. Paris: Garnet 1902.
  • Oscar Paul Gilbert (translated from the French by Robert B. Douglas). Men in Women's Guise: Some Historical Instances of Female Impersonation. London:John Lane The Bodley Head Limited. New York: Bretano’s, 1926: Chp XII, XIII..
  • C.J.S. Thompson. “The Mystery of Jenny de Savalette de Lange”. The Mysteries of Sex: Women Who Posed as Men and Men Who Impersonated Women. London: Hutchinson. 1938. New York: Causeway Books, 1974. New York: Dorset Press, 1993: 201-7:

24 October 2011

JoAnn Guidos (1950 - ) retailer, maintenance engineer, publican.

John Guidos, raised in New Orleans, was a loner, but he was also on the school football team. He married young to Kathy, they had two children and he took over and expanded his father’s gift shop. He dressed en femme secretly, and his wife avoided noticing.

In his late 30s, after losing his business and marriage, he managed a Domino’s Pizza outlet, and finally attended a cross-dressing club. Then while taking female hormones, he worked doing maintenance on hospital MRI and CAT scan machines.

He waited until his mother died, and finally became JoAnn full time at age 51. Her ex-wife Kathy and her new husband were friendly and together the three of them fixed up a couple of properties to be run as bars.

By 2005 JoAnn was the proud co-owner with Kathy of Kajun’s Pub in downtown New Orleans. A few months later during Hurricane Katrina in August-September JoAnne kept her pub open as a place of refuge until armed troops forced the place to close, and all to evacuate.

She re-opened the pub once the emergency was over.

JoAnne is featured in Dan Baum’s book about New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina.

21 October 2011

Roz Kaveney (1949 - ) writer, critic, editor, activist.

Kaveney grew up in Acton, London. Before going to university, he spent some time with a group of trans sex workers in Manchester who helped with self-definition, and with self-defense. At Pembroke College, Oxford the gay scene was somewhat lacking:
“I wanted something that promised more, something wilder and saner. Something with radical politics and a sense of fun and experimental attitudes to the possibilities of sex and style and screaming in the street.”
A phone call to the newly formed Gay Liberation Front in London led to the TV/TS Group, which turned out to be run by Rachel Pollack then living but fifty yards from where Kaveney had grown up. Together they formed a transvestite presence at GLF meetings.

From the late 1970s Kaveney established a reputation as a Science Fiction critic, and also wrote on feminism, gay rights and censorship. Roz had completed transition by 1980.
"I was reared Catholic but got over it, was born male but got over it, stopped sleeping with boys about the time I stopped being one and am much happier than I was when I was younger."
In the 1980s Roz was a co-editor of Interzone science fiction magazine. From 1989 she was a founding member of Feminists Against Censorship. In the early 1990s she was in the Midnight Rose collective (with Alex Stewart, Neil Gaiman and Mary Gentle) that produced a series of SF anthologies for Penguin Books.

In the mid-90s, when she was Deputy Chair of Liberty, she wrote their report of transsexuals for submission to the UN. The Director, having come across the term ‘transgender’ and thinking it a more radical synonym, did a search and replace throughout the document. Roz persuaded him that the best solution was a policy switch in favour of appropriate rights for all trans people.

She was a contributing editor to The Encyclopedia of Fantasy, 1997.

In her essay for More & Whittle’s Reclaiming Gender, 1999 Roz articulates six non-negotiable axioms as the basis for any workable transgender and transsexual politics:
  1. Display solidarity with all of our transgender (including transsexual) brothers and sisters
  2. Build alliances by getting involved as ourselves in other areas of politics
  3. Don’t let journalistic and intellectual attacks on our community go unanswered; We can have and keep the intellectual and moral high ground
  4. Be creative, be smart, be ourselves and don’t let anybody tell us who we are and what we do
  5. Refuse the pathological medical model - we are not sick, just different
  6. Refuse those politics - heterosexism, body fascism - that work against all the above, but most especially against no.1.
She continues:
“The reformist transsexual agenda often sets up, as part of its argument, a largely false dichotomy between ‘people who pass’ and the inferior capacity of ‘people who don’t pass’. ... And, of course, none of us really know that we have passed all the time and as long as we fetishize the model of passing as the only way to be accepted as who we are, for just that long our self-esteem will be under threat from any small child or gutter journalist who feels like having a go. ... The possibility, or even probability, that someone passes most of the time is no defence for them on the rare occasions when they do not. You are only as safe as your roughest day.”
Roz is a regular contributor to The Guardian, The Independent and The Times Literary Supplement, and was number 85 in the Independent on Sunday Pink List, 2011.
  • Kris Kirk and Ed Heath. Men In Frocks. London: Gay Men's Press. 1984: 82.  
  • Roz Kaveney. More Tales from the Forbidden Planet. London: Titan Books, 1987.
  • Neil Gaiman, Mary Gentle, and Roz Kaveney. The Weerde. Bk. 1, A Shared World Anthology. ROC, 1992.
  • Neil Gaiman, Mary Gentle, and Roz Kaveney. The Weerde. A Shared World Anthology Bk. 2. Harmondsworth, Mddx: Penguin, 1993.
  • “Roz Kaveney”. John Clute and John Grant. The Encyclopedia of Fantasy. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997.
  • Roz Kaveney. “Talking Transgender Politics”. In Kate More and Stephen Whittle. Reclaiming Genders: Transsexual Grammars at the Fin De Siècle. London: Cassell, 1999. http://bit.ly/rpFY0e.
  • Roz Kaveney. Reading the Vampire Slayer: An Unofficial Critical Companion to Buffy and Angel. London: Tauris Park Paperbacks, 2001.
  • Roz Kaveney. From Alien to The Matrix: Reading Science Fiction Film. London: I.B. Tauris, 2005.
  • Kaveney, Roz. Teen Dreams: Reading Teen Film from Heathers to Veronica Mars. London: I.B. Tauris, 2006.
  • Kaveney, Roz. Superheroes. London: I. B. Tauris, 2008.
  • Jorjet Harper. “Pop Culture, Queer Culture: An Interview with Roz Kaveney”. Windy City Times, 2008-04-16. www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php?AID=18047.
  • Roz Kaveney and Jennifer Story. Nip. London: I B Tauris & Co Ltd, 2011.
  • Roz Kaveney. “Shot, Stabbed, Choked, Strangled, Broken: a ritual for November 20th”. In Kate Bornstein and S. Bear Bergman. Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation. Berkeley, Calif: Seal Press, 2010.
  • "Roz Kaveney". Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roz_Kaveney.
  • "Roz Kaveney". The Guardian. www.guardian.co.uk/profile/roz-kaveney.
  • Roz Kaveney. "Gay Liberation Front at 40". Pride London. www.pridelondon.org/component/content/article/61-glf/111-glfrozkaveney
  • http://glamourousrags.dymphna.net.
  • http://rozk.livejournal.com.
  • “Roz Kaveney” Internet Speculative Fiction DB. www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/ea.cgi?Roz_Kaveney.
____________________________________________________________

I also went to the GLF TV/TS group, but in 1974, by which time it was pretty naf.

19 October 2011

Cat Tuyen (1977–) singer.

Cat Tuyen had her surgery in Thailand.


Family pressure and social prejudice dissuaded her and her boyfriend, an actor, from marriage until
Tuyen had successfully performed as a female singer which she did in August 2007.

They then again sought their families permission to marry, which they did in Ho Chi Minh City in April 2008.

17 October 2011

Giuseppe Marzo (? – 1865) servant.


Giuseppina had been considered female at birth, but from age 4 Giuseppe had been raised and treated as a male.

He joined the feudal household where his father worked. He proposed marriage to one of the maids, but she ran away when he had to produce his birth certificate.

When he died, a post mortem was done by Professor Luigi de Crecchio, professor of forensic medicine at the University of Naples, who reported that the body was ‘decidedly male in all respects’, with a heavy beard and a masculine distribution of pubic hair, hairy legs and a small penis, but also hypospadias. Internally he had a normal vagina, uterus, tubes and ovaries.

Giuseppe had lived exclusively as a male, and had even contracted syphilis twice. He had died after a series of vomiting and diarrhoea.

This is earliest known description of probable Adrenal Hyperplasia.
  • Luigi de Crecchio. “Sopra un caso di apparenzi virili in una donna”. Morgagni, 7:154-188, 1865.
  • Alfred Bongiovanni & Allen W. Root. (1963). The adrenogenital syndrome. New England Journal of Medicine, 1963: 268:1283-1289;1342-1351; 1391-1399.
  • Maria I. New. “Ancient History of Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia”. in L. Ghizzoni, M. Cappa, G. Chrousos, S. Loche, M. Maghnie (eds): Pediatric Adrenal Diseases. Endocr Dev. Basel, Karger, 2011, vol 20, pp 202.
  • “Congenital adrenal hyperplasia”. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congenital_adrenal_hyperplasia#Before_20th_century.

15 October 2011

A Prolegomenon to a Typology of Cis Gender Variance


While there is variance of gender from male to female, from cis to trans, from authentic to bad faith, there are in fact very few Typologies of Gender Variance.

The best known are:

Harry Benjamin in The Transsexual Phenomenon, 1966
  1. Pseudo Transvestite
  2. Fetishistic Transvestite
  3. True Transvestite
  4. Non-op Transsexual
  5. True or Core Transsexual (moderate intensity)
  6. True or Core Transsexual (high intensity)
Ekins & King in The Transgender Phenomenon, 2006
  1. Migrating
  2. Oscillating
  3. Negating
  4. Transcending

Anne Bolin in “Traversing Gender”,  in Sabrina Ramet.  Gender Reversals and Gender Culture,  1996
  1. hermaphroditic genders
  2. two-spirit traditions
  3. cross-gendered roles in the manly heart tradition
  4. woman-marriage
  5. cross-gendered rituals

What each of these typologies have in common is that they are typologies of trans variance only, not of cis variance, and in fact contribute to the mistaken idea that gender variance is a synonym for transgender, that trans persons are at variance in not being cis.

There are in fact quite distinctive variants among people considered as cis-gendered.

Autogynephilia went wrong especially in that the idea was applied to transsexuals before it had been investigated in cis-women as to frequency and as to what are its normal manifestations.   The same goes for autoandrophilia in cis men.  Typologies of trans gender variance are likewise shackled.

I will be treating crossdreamers (to use Jack Molay’s term) as cis, in that that is how the people around them regard them.   Arguably they are wannabe trans, and might persuade a psychologist or a gender therapist that they are such, but one of the points that I will be making is that the dividing line between cis and trans is movable.

As with trans persons, cis persons can be arranged by psychological identification, and then clothing, hormonal and surgical enhancements.

Here are some of the variants within the cis spectrum:
  • persons who are quite comfortable with the gender of their body and, what is another way of saying the same thing, are not at all uncomfortable with the idea of or in the presence of transsexuals, genderqueer, drag performers, transvestites, etc.
  • persons who do not want to change their gender, but are nevertheless estranged from their current gender.   While there have always been such persons, post-structuralist theory has offered new ways to articulate it.
  • intersex persons who stay with the gender of rearing. Intersex is, of course, an umbrella term covering much variation of its own.
  • autogynophilics/autoandrophilics.   For many this is a phase typically starting with puberty where they are erotically excited at being the sex/gender that they are.   For some this excitement continues into maturity.
  • crossdreamers who have accepted their inner cross gender persona, are comfortable with trans persons, but have not or not yet decided to do anything about it.
  • a variant on crossdreaming is literary androgyny where a writer is able to pass, not in person but through his/her manuscripts as the other gender.  Examples would be Fiona Macleod, George Elliot, James Tiptree, Jr, Patricia Highsmith, and the female writers of contemporary gay romances.
  • persons who are uncomfortable with the idea and/or the presence of various types of trans persons.   On the model of the research that has established that male homophobes are erotically aroused by male imagery, we may speculate that persons in this type are crossdreamers in denial.
  • persons who seek out homosocial environments, be it the military, a convent, a feminist group, a male-only pool-hall as a validation of their biological gender.
  • hom(e)ovestites, who dress in a standard or exaggerated way associated with their own gender, even when it is not appropriate.  Examples are men who always wear suits, even when their friends are casually dressed; women who wear skirts and makeup when they are impractical.
  • butch men and women. For men this is an extreme homeovestity.  Butch women are taken by some to be a type of trans, but many butch women object that they are not.
  • There should be an extreme femme homeovestity, but apart from femme lesbians it does not seem to exist, probably because it is indistinguishable from the way that prostitutes dress – which is required for employment.
  • the bear culture that has developed over the last few decades, that appreciates the normal appearance of middle-aged and often overweight men.  This is still mainly a gay culture, but straight bears are becoming more common. 
  • same-sex hormonally enhanced cis-persons.  Most women in the developed countries spend some years taking contraceptive pills which of course are estrogens.  Until a health scare a few years ago, many women went on hormone-replacement therapy after menopause.  Estrogens again.   Some men into bodybuilding or athletic attainment like to take testosterone for greater achievement, but this is generally illegal.
  • cross-sex hormonally enhanced cis-persons.  Many men are put on estrogens to diminish prostate problems.  Women athletes sometimes take testosterone for the same reasons that men do.
  • surgical enhancements 1: plastic surgery.  Traditionally associated with women, this is becoming more common with men.
  • surgical enhancements 2: in vitro fertilization
  • surgical enhancements 3: body modification
  • surgical enhancements 4: Transhumanism. 

13 October 2011

Charles Winslow Hall (1860 - 1901) painter, shooter, gambler.

Caroline Hall was born in Malden, Massachusetts, her father a prominent architect, John Hall.

In 1890, Hall left for Europe and became Charles Winslow Hall. Charles participated in shooting contests and won several. He was a frequent gambler and drinker. He was a water-color painter.

In 1897 he met Guisseppa Boriani, also an artist, of Milan. They later married.

In 1901, Mr and Mrs Hall boarded the Città di Torina, bound for New York after receiving word that his father was dying. They occupied a luxurious stateroom on the upper deck. Mrs Hall spend time in the ladies’ parlour, while Charles drank, smoked and gambled with the men until he became ill from complications due to alcoholism. The ship’s doctors discovered that he was female-bodied, and informed the captain.

Mr Hall died en voyage, and as the ship docked, the story of Caroline Hall and her wife was featured in newspapers across the US. John Hall claimed the body, and there was a small family funeral. Ms Boriani was not considered family, but was still invited.
  • “BOSTON WOMAN POSED AS MAN WITH A WIFE; Sex of Liner's Passenger Revealed Through Fatal Sickness. HAD LIVED TEN YEARS IN ITALY An Artist and Had Won Prizes In Shooting Contests -- said to be Daughter of Col. Hall, U.S.A., Retired.”. The New York Times, Oct 1, 1901. Online
  • Havelock Ellis. Sexual Inversion. In Studies In The Psychology Of Sex. Random House. 1936: 247.
  • The History Project. Improper Bostonians. Beacon Press, 1998: 104-5.
  • “Caroline Hall”. Gay History Wiki. http://gayhistory.wikidot.com/caroline-hall.

10 October 2011

Andréia de Maio (1950 – 2000) club manager, activist.


Andréia (who was born in May and died in May) ran a trash-cult nightclub, Prohibidus, near the centre of São Paulo.

She was also an activist for travesty and gay causes, and was particularly active against Afanásio Jazadji who campaigned for GLBT persons to lose their civil rights. She also organized the Paulistana trans prostitutes, enabled them to stand up to the drug dealers and pickpockets, and be respected by the police. She maintained two apartments crammed with bunk beds where travesties could stay at a low cost; she also helped to distribute free food. Very little was being done about the serial killings of trans prostitutes, but in 1993 she complained to the police anyway.

Andréia was well-known in the Paulistina art scene, and is featured in Pierre-Alain Meier’s documentary on São Paulo trans persons, along with Brenda Lee and Claudia Wonder.

Andréia died in a plastic-surgery clinic after having silicone in her thighs and buttocks removed, probably of an embolism.
PT.Wikipedia.

06 October 2011

Charles Kane (1960 - ) executive.

Sam Hashimi was born and raised in Zofaranaya, a suburb to the south of Baghdad. When the family was out, he would dress in his sister’s clothes, until caught by his brother. His one masculine interest at school was football. However he was perceived as feminine by the other boys, and started having sex with them in the passive role.

At age 16, he moved to England, took an National Diploma in engineering, in Swindon. He financed it by selling hot food at night from a van. He met a woman in a disco, and eventually married her in 1984 in a Anglican church in a village outside Swindon. They soon had two children. He launched two companies: one importing fruit and vegetables, and the other making computers.

He later met an Arabian sheikh and they created a property and investment company. This company thrived. Hashimi became known for negotiating on behalf of wealthy Arabs. He also ran a club and a restaurant in Mayfair. In 1990 he had the opportunity of investing in Manchester United Football Club, but was unable to raise the required ₤10 million in the specified 24 hours. Later the same year he launched an unsuccessful takeover bid for Sheffield United FC, at a time when foreign ownership of British football clubs was not done. The bid resulted in much publicity. It was discussed in the House of Commons, and the Saudi King expressed his disapproval. Coincidentally it came out that a Sheffield company was supplying materials for Iraq to build a ‘supergun’, and then Iraq invaded Kuwait. The deal was off; his major investor pulled out; Hashimi was bankrupt.

For the first time he told his wife that he was a woman trapped in a man’s body. She was at first sympathetic and helped him to cross-dress, but quickly segued to divorce, and, once she found another rich man to keep her, ousted Sam from the family home, and obtained injunctions to keep him from seeing the children. In violation of those injunctions he was arrested and served a few months in HMP Wormwood Scrubs.

During a subsequent period of depression and living at the Ealing YMCA, he started going to gay and trans clubs and was told how great it was to be a woman. He applied through his doctor to be evaluated by the Gender Identity Clinic at the Charing Cross Hospital. However the wait would be over a year, and if he were to become a woman he needed money.

Through his old contacts he was able to get restarted as a property refurbisher. In the course of that work he met an Israeli divorcee, and they became both business partners and spouses. However that was short lived, and a second divorce ensued.

He then contacted Dr Russell Reid and was accepted as a private transsexual patient.
"First of all, I thought I would I would do my nose to make it look more feminine. I had eye correction surgery to get rid of my glasses. Then I did my teeth to give me a better smile and I had electrolysis all round my face to remove the masculine beard. I had my Adam's apple removed and my vocal chords tightened. I had breast implants, all before the sex change surgery to remodel my genitalia".
Six months after first seeing Dr Reid, in December 1997 Samantha Kane had genital surgery with Michael Royle. She spent over £100,000 in total.

She had not seen her family for 10 years. She contacted them and, because of the situation in Iraq, they arranged to meet in Amman, Jordan. They did not know about her change until they actually met at Amman airport, but they did accept her.

Samantha wrote an autobiography in her first year, when she was trying to launch a football magazine to take advantage of the 1998 World Cup. She was even considered as chief executive at Sheffield United FC because of the possibility that she could attract supporters in Asia and the Middle East who would watch on subscription television. She built a new career in interior design, and lived an expensive life in London and Spain.

Within four years he regretted the mistake, as he missed being one of the boys talking football, business and girls.
"In fact, I found being a woman rather shallow and limiting. So much depends on your appearance, at the expense of everything else. I wasn't interested in shopping. My female friends would spend hours shopping for clothes, trying on different outfits. But having been a man I knew exactly what would suit me and appeal to men. I could walk into a shop and be out again in five minutes with the right dress. Nor have I ever been interested in celebrity magazines or the things that interest other women, but when I tried to talk to men about blokey things they didn't take me seriously.”
In 2004, after the collapse of her engagement to a wealthy landowner when it became apparent that he did not regard her as a ‘real’ woman, Kane decided that it had been a mistake, and as Charles Kane reverted to male. He complained, at the time that the Gender Recognition Bill was going through Parliament, to the General Medical Council that Russell Reid had been too easy in accepting him. Charles was referred to the Charing Cross Hospital Gender Identity Clinic, and as a private patient spent a further £25,000 on breast removal and phalloplasty.
"After what I've been through, I now think that sex-change operations shouldn't be allowed. They should be banned. We live today in a consumerist society where we all believe we can have everything we want, but too much choice can be a dangerous thing."
Charles has prospered again in the property market, and is now living in a £2.6 million property in west London, and had recently announced his engagement to a 28-year-old woman. His son, now 25, has reconciled with his father. Charles has completed a novel, and is seeking funding for a
documentary on the “the Sex Change Delusion”.
“In many ways I see myself a victim of the medical profession. Even with the glamour of Samantha Kane and the £100,000 I spent on myself, I had people shouting abuse at me and builders throwing stones at me from rooftops.”
As Charles he was featured in a BBC documentary, 2004, and an ABC "Primetime Nightline" documentary in 2011.

++ In March 2017, in an exclusive interview with the Daily Mail, Kane announced a return to being a woman, and a chnege of name to Sam Kane,  
"The reversal operation did not return me to the man I once was, just an approximation.  With the exception of Victoria, I was rejected by both men and women. The original surgery was effectively irreversible. You can’t turn back into a man because whatever defines the male has been completely removed, so how can you bring it back?
‘I discovered to my detriment that there is only so far medical science can go.  As Charles, I still sometimes wanted to wear a blouse or a pretty ring, and wear my hair long.  Having become Samantha, I should have stayed Samantha. When I told Victoria how I was feeling, it effectively ended the relationship.  She said she preferred men and did not want to live with a woman, but we are still friends."

*Not the romance novelist, Samantha Kane, nor Charles Kane the protagonist in Citizen Kane, 1941, nor the character in Tomb Raider, nor the boxer, nor the President of One Laptop Per Child.

____________________________________________________________

I also had the surgery only six months after first meeting Russell Reid, but unlike
Hashimi/Kane I had by that point been on female hormones for some years, was living full-time as female and working as female.

Why is it that these who change back, then feel that they want to ban the operation for everyone?

What a pity that Samantha did not discover ways of being female, ways that are less shallow and consumer oriented. Nor did she figure out that being glamourous and passing are not the same thing.

04 October 2011

Bülent Ersoy (1952–) singer, actor.

Updated 01/02/13.

Bülent Erkoç was born in Malatya, Turkey, and named after a footballer. His grandparents played classical Turkish music and he first took private lessons and then studied at Istanbul Municipal Conservatory.

For the purposes of performance, Bülent changed his name from Erkoç (=brave ram) to Ersoy (= brave lineage).

His first single came out in 1971. After establishing himself as a classical singer, he also recorded the more remunerative but down market arabesk. Ersoy also appeared in several Turkish films as a young naïve, somewhat androgynous heterosexual man, and was visible in the press with fake fiancées. However he was openly gay in his private life. He, along with the gay popular singer Zeki Muren, was seen in contrast to the regular macho Turkish man. In the film Evlidir Ne Yapse Yeridir, 1978, some women articulate ‘feminist’ demands: male domestic help, new clothes and listening to Bülent Ersoy.

By the time of the military coup in 1980, Bülent had started transition, and was wearing female clothing on stage, and while singing at the Izmir International Fair, she showed her new breasts. For this she was arrested and spent 45 days in prison.

She had surgery by Peter Philip at Charing Cross Hospital in 1981. She kept the male name, Bülent, because her career was already established.

Back in Turkey she had to endure several physical examinations and a long legal case in an attempt to be recognized as a woman, in which she emphasized her patriotism. Meanwhile the military government arrested 650,000 people, one of whom was Demet Demir. The military government also closed the trans brothels and forbad all performances by trans entertainers. Bülent was also banned, but under a law that required women to obtain police permission to perform. She chose, as a result of this, to live in exile in Germany and Australia through the 80s, although her films and albums were still sold in Turkey.

In 1988 the ruling Motherland Party under Turgut Özal, wanting to be seen as somewhat liberal, and to distance itself from the preceding military rule, allowed her to return, gave her a female ID and allowed her to perform. There was no relaxation of the oppression of other trans persons. Bülent resumed performing in prestigious nightclubs, many of her songs and films were instant hits. However she was shot on stage five times by Haci Tepe, a paramilitary right-wing extremist demanding that she sing the nationalist song “Rippling Black Sea” - the man's family disowned him and apologized to Bülent during her convalescence.  Shortly afterwards, she announced her engagement to her boyfriend, Birol Gurkanli.

Bülent enjoyed the support of Semra Özal, the Prime Minister’s wife. Bülent refused to acknowledge that she had been transsexual, and presented herself as a Muslim, nationalist, upper-class woman, and dressed more conservatively than before. She would no longer kiss her leading man. Some said that she was germ-phobic, but this was also the style of Turkan Soray, Turkey’s most popular actress. She also started using Ottoman words that had almost disappeared from the language. State television kept up a de facto ban on her performing, but with the new private channels she began to appear regularly, and had her own talk show on Kanal 6, owned by the Özal family.

In 1992 she recorded “Ablan Kurban Olsun Sana (Older Sister Would Sacrifice Herself For You)”, and she came to be referred to as Abla (older sister). She began to mention Allah in her songs, and in 1995 she recorded the adhan, the call to prayer. It was controversial for a woman to do so, but the controversy affirmed both her faith and her gender. In 1998 she married her then boyfriend, Cem Adler. This was controversial in that he is more than 20 years younger than she is. In 1993, she was badly injured in a car accident, and later that year she divorced Adler for infidelity.


In 2004 Bülent broke her practice and gave an interview to the newspaper Milliyet in which she apologized for diluting the classical tradition by singing arabesk for money. She followed this with a concert at the open-air Cemil Topuzlu where she sang only classical songs, some dating back to the 13th century.

However on television and in her other concerts she did continue to sing arabesk and modern pop. When an old friend mentioned that she had done (the male only) national service she furiously denied it. On the television show Canli Hayat, a re-enactment of her early life was performed by a female actor.

Bülent became a regular and a jury member on Popstar Alaturka. In 2007 she married one of the contestants on the show, but divorced him a few months later. Later in 2007 drag star Seyfi Dursumoglu was banned from public television, and soon afterwards Lamdainstanbul which had worked with transsexuals was ordered to be closed. Later still that year when the Armenian human rights activist Hrant Dink was assassinated and thousands marched in the streets chanting “We are all Armenians!”, Popstar Alaturka opened with an Armenian song in sympathy. However Bülent later in the show gave a monologue to the effect that as the Muslim daughter of Muslim parents she could never say that she was Armenian.

In February 2008 Popstar Alaturka was devoted to the Turkish soldiers who had died in Northern Iraq, and Bülent made the common but illegal comment that she would never send a son to the army. She was subsequently prosecuted for disparaging the military. The comment brought the support of many intellectuals, but to Ersoy’s chagrin, she was also endorsed by the (Kurdish) Democratic Society Party (DTP), and her sales took off in the Kurdish southeast. However nationalist Turks made comments that the DTP leader was not as brave as Ersoy to have his thing cut off, and similar remarks. Bülent called a press conference and asserted her patriotism and her support of the military, and that she was leaving part of her wealth to a military foundation for disabled war veterans and their families. At her trial she was found not guilty.

In 2012 Bülent claimed that she had once met the iconic left-wing activist Deniz Gezmis. His lawyer denounced her for saying it, "he was against such people of lower morals". The press was critical of such 'traditionalism' on the left. The lawyer then apologized by identifying with the Raoul character in The Kiss of the Spider Woman, who likewise was initially intolerant of the queer character.


 EN.WIKIPEDIA    TR.WIKIPEDIA    IMDB     TRANS.ILGA   

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It is a lot more difficult to be gay or trans in Turkey than in western Europe, and therefore we should not be as critical.   However the statement in the en.wikipedia page on her: “Over the years, Ersoy has become a symbol for the increased tolerance for LGBT figures in Turkish media” does avoid the fact that post 1988 she has avoided and even badmouthed gays and trans.   By being known as transsexual and being a major singer she is a role model, but I am unable to find any example of her speaking up for other transsexuals.  Altinay quotes Esmeray, a Turkish activist as saying:  “Bülent Ersoy is as transsexual as Michael Jackson is black”.   Also she has announced that she is leaving a bequest to a military foundation, but has not said anything about a bequest to any gay/trans organization.

Does a good Moslema initiate divorce? Twice?

02 October 2011

Frank Blunt (185? - ?)

On 18 January 1894 the Badger State Banner and the State News, both Wisconsin newspapers, carried the following:
'Anna Morris, alias Frank Blunt, the woman who has tried to be a man for the last fifteen years, was sentenced to the penitentiary for one year by Judge Gilson at Fond du Lac. She was arrested several months ago in Milwaukee charged with stealing $175 in Fond du Lac. It was then discovered that the prisoner was a woman, although she had worn masculine attire nearly all her life. A jury convicted her of larceny and a motion for a new trial was overruled. After the sentence had been passed, Gertrude Field, a woman who claimed to have married the prisoner in Eau Claire, fell upon the neck of the prisoner and wept for half an hour. This woman has furnished all the money for Blunt's defense and now proposes to carry the case to the Supreme Court.'
  • Jonathan Katz. Gay American History: Lesbians And Gay Men In The U.S.A. New York: Crowell 1976. New York: A Discus Book.1978: 352.  Online.
  • Michael Lesy: Wisconsin Death Trip. Pantheon Books, 1973 under 1894.