This site is the most comprehensive on the web devoted to trans history and biography. Well over 1400 persons worthy of note, both famous and obscure, are discussed in detail, and many more are mentioned in passing.

There is a detailed Index arranged by vocation, doctor, activist group etc. There is also a Place Index arranged by City etc. This is still evolving.

In addition to this most articles have one or more labels at the bottom. Click one to go to similar persons. There is a full list of labels at the bottom of the right-hand sidebar. There is also a search box at the top left. Enjoy exploring!

24 April 2012

A short history of (Harry) Benjamin Syndrome.


a) the sentiments of HBS were expressed long before the term was proposed
b) the first usage of the term was in Paris in 1994, where it was a radical and inclusive term
c) the Argentinean usage seems to be closer to the Parisian, than to the Goiar-Kearny usage
d) TS-Si and WBT identified with HBS in 2007, but later disassociated
e) no HBS person has published a history of the HBS movement
f) neither Reucher nor Goiar seem to have discussed the other.


-- Georgina Somerset sued the doctors' weekly newspaper, Pulse International, for comparing her to Christine Jorgensen, "implying that I was homosexual, would have had breast implants, electrolysis and was probably not legally married, I had no choice but to instigate libel proceedings for, indeed, all these premises were totally false".   


-- Betty Cowell interviewed in the Sunday Times: "I was a freak. I had an operation and I’m not a freak any more. I had female chromosome make-up, XX. The people who have followed me have often been those with male chromosomes, XY. So they’ve been normal people who’ve turned themselves into freaks by means of the operation.”


-- Georgina Somerset wrote to the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine,  "These true transsexuals are rare, often asexual and although popular, usually lonely sensitive souls, and its is these who primarily deserve our pity and time-consuming help. However, large numbers of homosexuals, antisocials, exhibitionists and perverts have for some time been jumping onto the transsexual bandwagon, bringing the subject and the medical profession into disrepute. These are more aptly trans-homo-sexuals, often having their partners at their side when having surgery, many afterwards becoming prostitutes."


-- Margaret O’Hartigan wrote:
"Every application of the term transgender to me is an attempt to mask what I've done and as such co-opts my life, denies my experience, violates my very soul.”('Changing sex is not changing gender', Sound Out, May 1993:20.). 
While she is the obvious pre-curser to the Goiar-Kearny flavour of HBS, she was never acknowledged by them.
-- O'Hartigan helped Dean Kotula, herself and others file complaints in Oregon on the basis that they were covered under disabilities anti-discrimination laws.  


 -- Tom Reucher, Diane Potiron, Hugues Cariou and others found Association du Syndrome de Benjamin in Paris.  This was an inclusive group working with gays and with the trans spectrum.
-- Melanie Phillips, having completed transition with surgery from Dr Biber,  set up the first online transgender support site, and became one of the most cited advisors on developing a female voice.


-- O'Hartigan received Pride NorthWest’s “Spirit of Pride Award” for her “tireless advocacy for the trans community and for trans consciousness raising with both the Les/bi/gay and general straight cultures”. She has opposed the removal of Gender Identity Disorder from the DSM in that the associated HBIGDA Standard of Care is non-abusive unlike what she was exposed to as a child, and attacked Phyllis Burke's Gender Shock which documents abusive attempts to 'cure' gender variant children as a 'transphobic' book.


-- Association du Syndrome de Benjamin start an annual march in Paris, Existrans, the first Saturday in October.
-- Cathryn Platine, who later identified as HBS, founded the Maetreum of Cybele Magna Mater in Catskill in upstate New York.  


-- Rachel Horsham, who later identified as HBS, appealed to European Court of Human Rights about UK's continued refusal to re-issue birth certificates for trans persons.


-- Georgina Somerset wrote to the Daily Telegraph to oppose the Gender Recognition Bill, then before Parliament, and re-iterated that "trans-sexuals do not change their sex but only become simulacra of the opposite sex".  This was quoted with approval by Norman Tebbit in the House of Lords.


-- Tom Reucher left the Association du Syndrome de Benjamin.


-- Charlotte Goiar of Spain set up  
-- She posted on the Australian WOMAN forum and encountered Diane Kearny in the US who already had a forum.  Goiar participated for a while and then they separated.  
-- September: Síndrome de Harry Benjamin Spanish Yahoo Forum founded.
-- October Existrans attracted over 1,000 marchers.
-- Yasmene Jabar had set up the web sites Cafe Trans Arabi and the International Transsexual Sisterhood, the first to help trans women in the middle east, and then expanded to help trans women wherever they are. In 2005 she was involved in the Trans Eastern Conference (TEC) in Istanbul.  
-- Cathryn Platine organised relief efforts for LGBT victims of hurricane Katrina,


-- May: The Original Benjamin Syndrome English Yahoo Forum founded.  Proposed HBS Standards of Care published.
-- Goiar and Kearny both then had a website, a forum and a Standards of Care. Goiar’s  was multi-lingual.  Kearny’s was in English only. Kearny’s required members to be post-op, a condition that Goiar could not meet. 
-- Laura Amato joined Goiar’s forum enthusiastically.
-- Alejandra Portatadino of Argentina completed transition:  an HBS woman, she worked with GLBTTI and sex workers. 
-- Yasmene Jabar's web sites were discontinued.   She became an advocate of HBS, put an explanation by Goiar on her web site, but did not stay with either of the two groups.
-- Melanie Phillips wrote on her website:  "I've presented myself as just another transsexual and documented my story in the hope it might smooth the way for others.  But now I wonder if it doesn't really foster false hope. … out of all those who have sex reassignment surgery, only a very few have female minds.  All the rest, no matter how feminine they have become, have male minds - they don't just think like men, then think as men. ... After all, those who speak in a female voice are as rare as those with female minds, in my experience.  Sure, anyone can learn to be more feminine in their speaking, but to actually alter the timber of the voice so it is rich and full but female in resonance, that may be beyond the ability of the rank and file transsexual."


-- Karen Gurney “Harry Benjamin Syndrome is a neurobiological condition”. 
-- Laura Amato, turned off by disparagements  and anti TG and anti GLBT sentiments within the group, warns her readers. 
-- Diane Kearny, Jennifer Usher and 3 others attend a WPATH Symposium in Chicago to give an HBS presentation. 
-- A BBC news item on Argentinian trans woman Nati and her support from the gay community uses the expression “Harry Benjamin Syndrome” – while this one article is cited by HBS advocates for many years, the press doesn’t use the term again until 2012. 
-- Suzan Cooke:  “Good-Bye to Transgender and All That”  says that: “The transgender community is like a cult that pounds extremely negative messages into the heads of people treated for TS/HBS”.   
-- Lisa Jain Thompson: “Ruminations On HBS, Revolution, Society, And Real Life” – editor of TS-Si identifies with HBS.


-- Association du Syndrome de Benjamin is dissolved and Objectif Respect Trans continues with many of the same members.
-- Alejandra Portatadino recognized by Buenos Aires Legislature as one of 20 Argentinean women who ‘broke traditional moulds’.


-- Zagria’s Encyclopedia Gender Variance Who’s Who discusses the major HBS players. 
-- Goiar revises her estimate of the frequency of HBS and estimates that: “an extremely rare condition [1:100,000]”.  Zagria  points out that therefore HBS are only a fraction of 1% of transsexuals. 
-- Goiar removed her Myspace page.
-- Suzan Cooke’s blog Women Born Transsexual has HBS in its About, although her postings show that she is reconsidering her allegiance.
-- HBS International (Joanne Proctor) created pages on English, French, Spanish, Italian, German and Simple Wikipedias. However they did not comply with Wikipedia standards in that they were mainly an advertisement with no historical references and made unsupported medical claims. The English version was also very rude about the other 99% of transsexuals. The pages lasted only several weeks.
-- Joanne Proctor writing as P.J. Schrödinger: Trans-Fried Fluff , in which she claims that: “Wikipedia should be treated as the publishing arm of CAMH”. 
-- Joanne became the HBS liaison to OII. 
-- Goiar created an HBS Knol


-- Rose White writing as as Violet Grey: Harry Benjamin Syndrome Review.  CompletelyNovel,  (Review).  A very idiosyncratic book obsessed with the dangers of oral sex.   Goiar endorsed it and linked to it; other HBS persons ignored it.  None have disassociated from it.

-- HBS International put a page on  in January. It lasted less than a day.
-- Joanne Proctor HBS blog  was discontinued, as was the New Zealand HBS  site.
-- Cassandra Speaks  (HBS) blog was discontinued.
-- Diane Kearny’s HBS International  site was discontinued.
-- Ophelia Bradley. ’They Need Labels’: Contemporary Institutional And Popular Frameworks For Gender Variance. MA Thesis. Georgia State University. Discusses AGP, HSTS and HBS persons using their blog names rather than their person names.
-- the Maetreum of Cybele Magna Mater denied recognition as a religious institution and thus exemption from local property taxes.   The resulting win established legal precedence re minority religious property rights that range far beyond New York State.


-- Goiar’s forum discontinued and closed.  Its active members moved to a Facebook group
-- Joanne Proctor closed Trans-Fried Fluff , and replaced it with trans-friedfluff
-- Joanne died from medical problems.
-- Cathryn Platine. The Cybeline Revival.  Home Brew Press.
-- TS-SI attempted to organise an annual Transsexual Independence Day whereon they urged their followers to write to politicians thus: “People of transsexual history, those born transsexual, have a correctable medical condition that should not be confused with the sociopolitical and lifestyle activism of transgender activists. This is important because the willful confusion imposed by transgenderism deflects effective medical treatment from those who desperately need it.”


-- Goiar at age 39 wins a court ruling that the Galacian Health Service should pay for her to have genital surgery.  This results in many Spanish newspapers using the expression Síndrome de Harry Benjamin for the first time.
-- TS-SI closed down.   It had some time before denied that it was an HBS site.


-- the Galician government appealed to the Spanish Supreme Court, which in turn also found in Goiar's favour in May 2013.  By September, as no steps were taken to conform with the ruling, Goiar went to the press. SERGAS then wasted almost two years sending Charlotte to public clinics in Málaga and Barcelona that did not do the required type of operation.


-- at age 42, Goiar finally had surgery in the private Instituto de Cirurxía Plástica, Barcelona, with Dr Iván Mañero - the only clinic in Spain to offer colovaginoplasty. 
-- was taken down.


-- Goiar allied herself with the ultra-Catholic Hazte Oír and its opposition to sex education and to ‘gender ideology’. She also claimed that the new ICD-11 term Gender Incongruence is the same thing as HBS.


-- Charlotte Goiar.  The Original Harry Benjamin Syndrome Book.   Self published.

1 comment:

  1. Well researched. Perhaps the use of the HBS term by courts in Spain, Argentina and Denmark could have been mentioned.
    Gayle, Perth, WA


Comments that constitute non-relevant advertisements will be declined, as will those attempting to be rude. Comments from 'unknown' and anonymous will also be declined. Repeat: Comments from "unknown" will be declined, as will anonymous comments. If you don't have a Google id, I suggest that you type in a name or a pseudonym.