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!

31 May 2012

Allanah Starr (198?–) performer.

Starr was born in Cuba and raised in Miami, where she grew up as an effeminate boy frequently harassed at school. At 15 she joined a gay-and-lesbian youth group, and became confident enough to win a school contest with a drag performance.

She went to a fashion college, and also started dancing professionally in clubs, sometimes using the name Damien Divine. Allanah worked at transy-themed restaurant, Lucky Cheng’s, in Miami. With help from a co-worker, she started hormones and electrolysis. She found a plastic surgeon, and had a nose job, an ear job and breast implants, funded by an admirer she met at Lucky Cheng’s. She started doing porn, and also escorting.

She moved to New York, initially working through an agency. She is 36DD and has had 60 cosmetic surgeries. She has starred in a score of porn films – including a sex scene with Buck Angel directed by Gia Darling that earned her AVN awards in 2007 for Transsexual Performer of the Year and Most Outrageous Sex Scene.

In 2008 she and Buck were sculpted life-size by London Artist Marc Quin.

She has modeled for men’s magazines and performed at celebrity parties. She has become an event promoter.
  • Abby Ehmann. “Allanah Starr”. Eros-London, 4-12-2005. Online at: Online2.
  • Amy Sohn. “New York's Transsexual Star Alannah Starr challenges gender boundaries”. The Canadian. 2007. Online.
  • Christopher Ciccone & Wendy Leigh. Life with My Sister Madonna. New York, NY: Simon Spotlight Entertainment, 2008: 219.
______________________________________________________________________________ and her Wikipedia page say that Allanah (under the name Damian Divine) performed at Madonna's 32nd birthday party.  If you check Ciccone's book, she actually gets a one-line mention.  It says that a bunch of drag queens were invited to attend, and also a bunch of basketball players.  The players pushed all the drag queens into the swimming pool.

28 May 2012

La Préfecture de Police, Paris, and permissions de travestissement

Following the French Revolution, Louis-Michel le Peletier (1760-93), an aristocrat who had been avocat-general in the previous regime, sided with the new regime.  He was in favour of the trial of Louis XVI Bourbon, and his was a deciding vote for the king's death.  He was assassinated by a royalist on the eve of the king's execution.  In 1791 he presented a new criminal code to the National Assembly.  It contained only 'real crimes' and not 'phoney offenses created by superstition, feudalism, the tax system, and despotism (ces délits factices, créés par la superstition, la féodalité, la fiscalité et le despotisme)" '.  Thus blasphemy, heresy, sacrilege,  witchcraft, sodomy and transvestity were no longer crimes.  This change stood in the Napoleonic Criminal Code of 1810.

However The Paris Préfecture de Police had other ideas about transvestity.  On 16 Brumaire IX (7 November 1800 in the Gregorian calendar) it issued an Ordonnance:

« Le Préfet de Police,
Informé que beaucoup de femmes se travestissent, et persuadé qu'aucune d'elles ne quitte les habits de son sexe que pour cause de santé ;
Considérant que les femmes travesties sont exposées à une infinité de désagréments, et même aux méprises des agents de la police, si elles ne sont pas munies d'une autorisation spéciale qu'elles puissent représenter au besoin ;
Considérant que cette autorisation doit être uniforme, et que, jusqu'à ce jour, des permissions différentes ont été accordées par diverses autorités ;
Considérant, enfin, que toute femme qui, après la publication de la présente ordonnance, s'habillerait en homme, sans avoir rempli les formalités prescrites, donnerait lieu de croire qu'elle aurait l'intention coupable d'abuser de son travestissement,
Ordonne ce qui suit :
1 - Toutes les permissions de travestissement accordées jusqu'à ce jour, par les sous-préfets ou les maires du département de la Seine, et les maires des communes de Saint-Cloud, Sèvres et Meudon, et même celles accordées à la préfecture de police, sont et demeurent annulées.
2 - Toute femme, désirant s'habiller en homme, devra se présenter à la Préfecture de Police pour en obtenir l'autorisation.
3 - Cette autorisation ne sera donnée que sur le certificat d'un officier de santé, dont la signature sera dûment légalisée, et en outre, sur l'attestation des maires ou commissaires de police, portant les nom et prénoms, profession et demeure de la requérante.
4 - Toute femme trouvée travestie, qui ne se sera pas conformée aux dispositions des articles précédents, sera arrêtée et conduite à la préfecture de police.
5 - La présente ordonnance sera imprimée, affichée dans toute l'étendue du département de la Seine et dans les communes de Saint-Cloud, Sèvres et Meudon, et envoyée au général commandant les 15e et 17e divisions militaires, au général commandant d'armes de la place de Paris, aux capitaines de la gendarmerie dans les départements de la Seine et de Seine et Oise, aux maires, aux commissaires de police et aux officiers de paix, pour que chacun, en ce qui le concerne, en assure l'exécution. »
Le Préfet de Police Dubois
"The Prefect of Police,
Informed that many women transvest, and persuaded that none of them abandon the dress of her sex for health reasons;
Whereas women transvestites are exposed to endless inconvenience,  even to the point of police officers' contempt, if they are not equipped with a special authorization that they show when necessary;
Whereas this authorization should be uniform, and that, until now, different permissions were granted by various authorities;
Whereas, finally, that any woman who, after the publication of this order, would dress as a man, without having fulfilled the prescribed formalities, will give reason to believe that she has culpable intent of abusing her transvestment.
Orders as follows:
1 - All permissions of transvestity to this day, issued by sub-prefects and mayors of the Department of the Seine, and the mayors of St. Cloud, Sevres and Meudon, and even by the prefecture of Police are and shall remain cancelled.
2 - Any woman who wishes to dress like a man, must appear at the  Prefecture of Police to get permission.
3 - This authorization will be given only with the certificate of a medical officer, whose signature will be duly acknowledged, moreover, with the certificate of mayors or police commissioners, with the full name, occupation and residence of the applicant.
4 - Any woman found transvesting, who has not complied with the foregoing provisions, shall be arrested and taken to Prefecture of Police.
5 - This Ordinance shall be printed, displayed throughout the extent of the department of Seine and in the communes of Saint-Cloud, Sevres and Meudon, and sent to the commanding general of the 15th and 17th military divisions, commanding general of arms of the Paris area, the captains of the gendarmerie in the departments of Seine and Seine et Oise, mayors, police commissioners and peace officers, so that everyone, will assure compliance. "
The Prefect of Police Dubois

A permit. P81 in Bard's Histoire.

Note that nothing is said about male-bodied transvestites.

The archives of the Prefecture has retained, in a manner of speaking, some of its archive on the subject.  In the series D/B there is a folder numbered 58 and titled “Travestissement”.    Unfortunately only a few applications have been kept.  The file does contain the Ordonnance reproduced above, and newspaper clippings on the subject.

1806.  The oldest application that has survived is that from Mlle Catherine-Marguerite Mayer, dated 17 September, who wished to dress en homme to ride a horse.  Her application is numbered 167.

1830. Mlle Foucaud, daughter of a ruined industrialist, arrived in Paris, acted a little, and worked as a servant.  Then she got a job as a printer at 2.50 francs a day.  However she discovered that men were paid 4 francs.  She asked for the same, and was told that the sexes must not be mixed.  So she quit, dressed as male and was hired a few days later at 4 francs. She continued in male dress for the next fifty years.  Le Vieux Papier told her story in 1911, and also mentioned a prostitute who became a locksmith, a stonemason, and a Celestine R., who was known as the bearded lady, who was fond of her beard and asked for a permit so that it would not be incongruous.

1833.  Another Ordonnance stipulates that balls, dances, concerts, banquets and public festivals can not receive persons who are transvesting.  This ban may be lifted only during carnival with the consent of the Prefecture.

1846. Claude Gilbert, peddler, was accused of public indecency because he had worn female clothing.  The court however was unable to find a law that he had broken, and dismissed the complaint.  At the same time Jacques-Francois Renaudin appeared several times in court charged under Section 259 of the 1810 Penal Code “Anyone who publicly wore a suit, a uniform or a decoration that is not theirs not, shall be punished with imprisonment from six months to two years”, but was released in that such transvestity is a “kind of distortion that is rare”.

1850-60. According to Le Vieux Papier, 1 July 1911, only twelve women were granted a permit.  They were either in occupations usually reserved for men, or so masculine in their gait or had beards that they attracted attention in skirts.

1853.  Article 471, 15 of the French Penal Code of 10 June passed under the Second Empire criminalized transvesting in public spaces and balls.

1862In October Mlle Adèle Sidonie Loüis, 36, artist and musician living in Asnières, applied for a six-month permit for reasons of health.  Her application was numbered 74.

1885. The novelist Rachilde obtained a permit, but is unmentioned in the file.

1886La Ligue de l’affranchissement des femmes and Mme Astié de Valsayre demanded the right to dress in trousers.  The Prefect of Police repeated the orders of 1800: a woman dressed as a man must have a permit, unless it is carnival.

1887.  1 July, Mme Astié de Valsayre wrote to the National Assembly demanding “éliminer la loi routinière, qui interdit aux femmes de porter le costume masculin, tout aussi décent, quoi qu’on en puisse dire, surtout incontestablement plus hygiénique (eliminate routine laws which prohibit women from wearing men's dress, just as decent, whatever one may say, and most definitely more hygienic)”.  Her plea relied on accidental deaths, by fire, shipwreck, and on trams where women were hampered by their clothing.  The House found “nulle loi n’impose aux femmes les vêtements compliqués dont elles se recouvrent (no law imposes on women the complicated clothes that they wear)”.  Mme Valsayre took to dressing as male, as did Mme d’Estoc, a sculptor, who wore short hair and a false beard.

1889. La Petite République française ran a story about dame Libert who ran a printing press in the Latin Quarter.  She was from Strasbourg, and had left her husband in 1878.  The local police commissioner had remonstrated with her several times for wearing men’s clothing, and a tribunal had warned her to return to female clothing.  Le Temps 9 February 1889 reported that following a denunciations Libert found herself at the commissariat accused of impersonating a man for ten years.  She explained that “ le costume d'homme permet aux femmes de se livrer avec plus de liberté aux travaux du commerce (men’s clothing permits women to engage more freely in the work of trade)”, and that up till then no one had discovered her sex.  She asserted her ignorance of the Paris law and agreed to seek a permit.

1890. La Lanterne reported in 1890 that permits had been issued to the exceptional:  the archaeologist Jane Dieulafoy, the painter Rosa Bonheur, a former actress at the Comédie française who wanted to participate in hunting, Marguerite Boullanger mistress of Napoleon III.  Although not mentioned there seems to be no evidence that novelist George Sand, actress Sarah Bernhardt or traveller Isabelle Eberhardt ever applied for a permit.

After 1890, the Prefecture seems to have stopped enforcing the Ordonnance of 1800.

1900. Clementine Delait, bearded lady, did not live in Paris.  She obtained her her permit from the Minister of the Interior.

Madeleine Pelletier wore men’s clothing habitually from 1905-39, and never requested a permit.

1927.  The 1853 anti-transvesting law was re-affirmed in January.

1928The sporting star Violette Morris, who also never obtained a permit, was excluded by the French Women’s Sporting Federation.  At her appeal in 1930, the Federation cited the Ordonnance of 1800 as part of its argument.

1933.  The Ordonnance of 1833 was repeated verbatim.

1949.  The 1853 anti-transvesting law was re-affirmed yet again in February.

1963Paris Press announced that the Prefect of Police had asked the Interior Minister to introduce a bill in the National Assembly to ban transvestity.  This did not happen.

1969.  Dr Bernard Lefay, conseiller de Paris, wrote to the Prefect of Police that it would be unfortunate if the Ordonnance were to enforced against any female persons.  The Prefect replied, 20 June 1969, that they deemed it “sage de ne pas changer des textes auxquels les variations prévisibles ou imprévisibles de la mode peuvent à tout moment rendre leur actualité (wise not to change the text given the predictable and unpredictable changes of fashion)”.

The ordonnance was finally repealed in January 2013.
  • Jann Matlock.  “Masquerading Women, Pathologized Men: Cross-Dressing, Fetishism, and the Theory of Perversion, 1882-1935”.  In Emily S. Apter & William Pietz (ed). Fetishism As Cultural Discourse. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1993: 31-61.
  • Vernon A. Roserio II. “Pointy Penises, Fashion Crimes. and Hysterical Mollies: The Pederasts’ Inversions”. Jeffrey Merrick & Bryant T. Ragan (ed). Homosexuality in Modern France. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996:152,170n40.
  • Christine Bard.  “Le « DB58 » aux Archives de la Préfecture de Police”.  Clio, 10, 1999.
  • Christine Bard. “L’inderdiction de s’habiller en homme (1800)”. Une histoire politique du pantalon. Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 2010.
  • "Parisian women finally 'allowed' to wear trousers". France 24, 04/02/2013.

I have mainly followed Bard’s essay in Clio.  Obviously not all the female-born persons mentioned above should be regarded as trans.  In some cases the issue was dress reform.  We forget that 19th century female dress with corsets, hoops and layers of petticoats could indeed hamper mobility and could result in accidental deaths, by fire, shipwreck, and on trams.  In other cases there was a temptation to transvest to gain higher wages.  Mlle Foucaud increased her pay from 2.50 fr to 4 fr.  On the other hand Foucard continued en homme for 50 years, and Libert had been dressing en homme for ten years and was never questioned.  Surely they were likely trans.

It seems to be a peculiarity of France that apparent trans men do not take a male name – see Jane Dieulafoy, Mathilde de Morney.  In the cases above this may be an artefact of reporting.  Neither the police nor the journalist was willing to record the male name.

We can easily posit three types of transvesting:  dress reform, economic (for higher pay) and a trans identity.  Bard writes mainly from a feminist and dress reform perspective.  Matlock covers many of same examples in a context of psychiatry and the social construction of fetishism.  Interestingly she posits a different three types of what she calls ‘clothing obsessionals’:
  1. those who enter an asylum because of severely agitated behaviour, and are found to have gender identity confusion.
  2. those who have tried to become men.  Some have succeeded, some have been unmasked.  Doctors at that time could not understand why they would want to.
  3. those who find male clothing to be more convenient, and congruent with an easier life.
I cited Roserio for the law of 1853.  Bard and Matlock do not mention it at all.  It was passed in the conservative early days of the Second Empire, but remained as a tool for police repression.   Roserio does not mention the Ordonnance of 1800.

22 May 2012

The erasure of female transvestites

  • Elisabeth Krimmer. In the Company of Men: Cross-Dressed Women Around 1800. Detroit, Mich: Wayne State University Press, 2004.

The word transvestite has been constricted during the twentieth century to mean mainly men, and to imply an erotic involvement.   Neither of these constrictions were in place in earlier centuries.

The other distortion that has developed is the false claim that Magnus Hirschfeld coined the term 'transvestite'.  This is obviously in conflict with the legal requirement in nineteenth-century Paris that female-bodied transvestites must acquire a permission de travestissement.  In fact the various transvest* and travest* word have been around since the sixteenth century.   I have covered this before in some detail.   Click here.

The following is from Krimmer, p17-18.  She is discussing how the modern usage of 'transvestite' gets in the way of one such as herself who is writing about eighteenth and nineteenth century transvestites.   It is a pity however that she repeats the disinformation that Hirschfeld coined the term.

Until the twentieth century, male-to-female cross-dressers were the exception rather than the rule. Today, of course, the situation is diametrically inverted. The modern medical definition of transvestism all but excludes female-to-male cross-dressers. The origin of this lopsided model can be traced back to the German researcher of human sexuality, Magnus Hirschfeld, who coined the term transvestite in 1910. Thus, one might claim that Germany is not only "the forge in which modern sexuality was constructed", but also the home of the transvestite. Notwithstanding some modifications, today's standardizing definition of the term, set forth in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV-R) of the American Psychiatric Association, is essentially based on Hirschfcld's insights. According to the DSM-IV-R, a transvestite is a man who derives sexual pleasure from wearing women's clothing. Transvestites are to be distinguished from transsexuals, who conceive of themselves as female souls trapped in male bodies and ultimately seek to undergo sexual reassignment surgery. Unlike transsexuals, transvestites hold on to their male identity and are mostly heterosexual. The DSM-IV-R considers transvestic fetishism a sexual disorder which calls for treatment.  Both transvestism and transexualism refer to gender preference; sexual preference is denoted by the term homosexuality.
One (among many) reasons to be skeptical of the DSM-IV-R is its refusal to include women in the category of the transvestite.  The assumption that women wear male clothing for purposes of comfort or fashion effectively denies the possibility of female fetishism. On the other hand, the modern claim that all female transvestites are to be subsumed under the category of transsexualism is based on the even more questionable premise that all women ultimately want to be men. Typically, such psychological theories are unwilling to concede the possibility that female transvestites may want to adopt a male appearance while still holding on to a female gender identity, a combination which is  essential to the definition of male transvestism. Furthermore, the pertinent literature maintains that, in a male-dominated society, the desire to he a man does not hear the mark of pathology but must he considered rational behavior. From this vantage point, female transvestism is neither perverted nor psychotic but rather a suitable strategy for dealing with unfavorable conditions.
To the modern feminist sensitivity, postulating fundamentally different motivations for female and male transvestism clearly constitutes discrimination. However, demanding equality for today's gender-benders should not lead us to transpose today's standard onto historical cross-dressers of both genders. In their study of female cross-dressing in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Dekker and van de Pol emphasize that historical cross-dressing is intrinsically different from its modern counterpart. If we level such differences, we fail to do justice to the specificity of a historical epoch nor do we take into account the historically conditioned power dynamics between the two genders.
One of the factors that differentiates historical cross-dressing from its modern counterpart is that cross-dressers throughout the eighteenth century were free of the restrictions imposed by modern forms of identity control such as passports. But while they were not forced to document their identity and gender, they faced other inhibitions, such as sumptuary laws.  These laws were motivated by two considerations: protection of the domestic textile industry through trade restrictions and stabilization of class hierarchies. An example of the former is Frederick William I's prohibition of the import of colored cotton fabrics from England. By outlawing foreign products, the soldier king intended to shield the domestic textile manufactures from unwelcome competition.

18 May 2012

Brigit Brat (1964 - 2011) sailor, musician, sex worker

After high school, Brat served in the US Navy as a submarine commander.

Brigit, who was 6’7” (2.01m), designed and built speciality guitars. She composed and performed as Ritual Suicide Necrophilic Blues, and also covers of ‘When the Levee Breaks”.
God’s Girlfriend. She did a cover of “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” on her album

She also did porn and domination. And worked with Ilsa Strix (spouse of Buck Angel and then Lana Wachowski).

Brigit died at age 47.

15 May 2012

David Warren (1921 - ?) farmer.

David and Thelma Walter were roommates at the University of California in 1940.

By 1947 David had transitioned as much as was possible at that time, and had a small farm outside Sonoma, California where he raised chickens, rabbits and Chinchillas. Thelma was a teacher at Sonoma Valley Union High School. They were married in June 1947 in San Francisco.
"We couldn't figure out any other way to live. Under our code, we decided that marriage was the only course. We considered living together without being married very improper."
Later that year the FBI visited to find out why David had not registered for the draft. They discovered that David was legally female, and both were charged under an 1872 law against impersonating another person and making false affidavits to marry.

Walter lost her teaching job after their story was in the local newspaper. A San Francisco psychologist interviewed the couple, and recommended that all charges against Mr. and Mrs. David Warren be dropped because no laws had been broken.

Their marriage license was never voided by the court and is still on file at the Sonoma County Courthouse.

13 May 2012

Tony Sinclair (192?–2017) performer, costumier

Tony Morrison grew up in Cincinnati, where one of his friends was Robin Price, who also became a professional female impersonator. As a teenager Tony made a living as a female stripper. He joined the Jewel Box Revue as Tony Sinclair when it played in Cincinnati in the early 1950s, and toured with them for over a year. He then played at the Jewel Box Theater in Kansas City.

He arrived in Oklahoma in the late 1950s, where it is rumored that he lived and worked as a woman before becoming known as a female impersonator. Tony put on the Les Girls Revue at the Inferno club with female dancers. He quickly made a reputation for wardrobe design and sewing, and made specialized costumes for strippers and showgirls including Dallas legend Candy Barr. He also borrowed outfits from Payton-Marcus department store where he worked during the day.  In his own performances he was often taken as a woman until he took off his wig at the end of the act. He was also still working as a female stripper.

Tony’s male persona was one of the few out gay men in Oklahoma City in the 1960s. He never hid his sexual orientation nor his love of drag. He was active in the gay community, and was an early role model.

Les Girls Revue toured Oklahoma and Texas, and was considered locally as a rival to the Jewel Box Revue. Once they were doing a sold-out show in Fort Worth during a local election, and the Texas Rangers, the Texas Liquor Board etc raided and arrested the entire cast.

In 1969 as advertising for a new straight nightclub, Tony was photographed reclining on a chair under the theme “unusual floor shows”. The staff at the Daily Oklahoman didn’t get the joke and ran the advertisement in the women’s section.

In the 1970s Tony ran his own club. He was still performing in the 2000s.

*Not Toni Morrison the novelist. Not the footballer, nor the spokesman for Tanqueray gin.

10 May 2012

Ariadne Kane (1936 - ) teacher, activist.

Of Greek descent, Joseph DeMaios was raised in New York City. The only time that he cross-dressed as a child, he was discovered by his parents, and did not repeat the activity again for four years.

In 1958 Joseph completed a Bachelor of Science in Biophysics, Mathematics and Chemistry at City College, New York, and undertook graduate work in biophysics at New York University and University of Buffalo. He had a short marriage with a fellow student. When that collapsed, he worked for five years as a Math and Physics teacher in Boston.

In 1966 he moved to Europe, where he taught at St. Stephen’s School in Rome, from 1966-67, and at the American College of Switzerland in Leysin, from 1967-68. He was able to cross-dress for Fastnacht in Munich and Mardi Gras in Naples. He moved from teaching to curriculum design.

On return to the US he did educational consulting, developed a travel company, and worked as a realtor.

Kane & Prince at Fantasia Fair, 1981, by Patty Allen
He joined the Boston Gamma chapter of Tri-Sigma, and when the leader discontinued on obtaining surgery, DeMaios stepped forward using the name Ariadne Kane. He and others restructured and relocated the group which was renamed the Cherrystone Club.

From 1975 Kane was one of the initial organizers of Fantasia Fair, the annual week for cross-dressers in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Also from 1975 he ran the Human Outreach and Achievement Institute, later the Outreach Institute of Gender Studies (OIGS) dedicated to educating the public and working with health professionals. He married his girlfriend of nine years after explaining cross-dressing to her, and introducing her to the group.

In 1978, the year that the Cherrystone Club split into the Mayflower Club and the Tiffany Club, Kane was interviewed by Boston’s Gay Community News, and used the term ‘transgenderist’ which was catching on at that time. It seems that it was he who introduced Virginia Prince to the term as Prince used it briefly in the next year and then stopped doing so. Kane himself preferred the term ‘androgyne’.

Kane appeared on many radio and television shows, notably The Phil Donahue Show in 1980 and The David Susskind Show in 1982, and in classrooms in the Boston area. Kane gave seminars at the annual meetings of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, the Association for Humanistic Psychology, the American Society for Criminal Justice Professionals, the American Society of Sociology, and the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists.

IFGE (International Foundation for Gender Education) was founded by Merissa Sherill Lynn in 1986, initially as an outgrowth from the Tiffany Club. IFGE instituted a Virginia Prince Award, and, apparently with no sense of irony, actually awarded the first one to Virginia Prince. The next went to founder Merrissa Sherrill Lynn and the third to Ariadne Kane.

Kane completed an Ed.D. from the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco in the early 2000s.

In 2006 Kane, as J. Ari Kane-Demaios, edited with Vern Bullough Crossing Sexual Boundaries: Transgender Journeys, Uncharted Paths, a collection of autobiographical essays by 18 trans women and two trans men. Kane described it to Helen Boyd: “We tried to involve contributors from all sectors of the gender spectrum, including androgynes, non operative and post-operative, individuals, spouses and close friends of T people” but the editors carefully restricted the sample to middle-class white persons, and, with only one exception, to US citizens, and excluded sex workers and any who had a male spouse. (See review)

Ariadne Kane prefers male pronouns. He identified as androgyne and bigender since first active in the 1970s, and has identified as bisexual since the late 1990s.

The Fantasia Fair site says:  “ 'Fan Fair' is the oldest and longest-running event of it's [sic] kind".  Depending on how you define 'of its kind', it may be.   However Koovagam in Tamil Nadu has been running for centuries, and the Auténticas Intrépidas Buscadoras del Peligro in Juchitan in Oaxaca for many decades (despite being censored from the Wikipedia article on the town).

In his interview with Helen Boyd, Kane with all due modesty says: "The two most important milestones in TG history are the seminal studies on CD/CG behaviors, done by M. Hirschfeld in the early part of the 20th Century (1920's) and Fantasia Fair".

07 May 2012

Jane Dieulafoy (1851 - 1916) photographer, archaeologist, writer.

Jane Henriette Rachel Magre was raised in Toulouse. Her father, a prosperous merchant, died when she was young. She was educated at the Couvent de l’Assomption d’Auteuil in Paris from 1862 to 1870 where she was well instructed in Greek and Latin and modern languages.

In 1870 she married Marcel Dieulafoy (1844-1920), a well-travelled railway engineer also from Toulouse. With the outbreak of war against Prussia later that year, Marcel volunteered. Madame Dieulafoy had her hair cut short and obtained permission from the War Department to wear a man’s uniform and to accompany him. She endured together the harsh winter and the subsequent surrender.

Afterwards she wore fashionable shirts, waistcoat and suit. Marcel was appointed architect in charge of historical monuments, and M. & Mdm Dieulafoy travelled in England, Italy, Spain, Upper Egypt, and Morocco.

In 1881 after a year of planning, Marcel went to Persia as an archeologist, and Jane went as his ‘collaborateur’ (masculine). They sailed via Constantinople to Poti in Georgia. Then after a 10-day trek by horseback across the Caucasus in severe snow conditions, they travelled six thousand kilometres photographing and documenting monuments, bridges, dikes and mosques.

They did not adopt native dress and as two apparent European men had several occasions when they needed their weapons. Jane developed a lice problem and had to shave her head. The Shah received them in Tehran, and was reluctant to believe that Jane was a woman.

Their goal was the ancient site of Susa. They finally reached it, but because of torrential rains and fever, they were able to stay only a few days.

Back in Paris Jane published an account of their travels in Le Tour du Monde, and they prepared to return. In February 1885 they, accompanied by an engineer and a naturalist, returned by sea followed by a caravan to Susa. They employed up to 300 local men and did a systematic exploration of the site. Their major find was the Lion Freize which you can still visit at the Louvre in Paris. They left via Turkey with 54 wooden boxes filled to the brim.

A third trip yielded the Frieze of Archers and the Place of Darius. They returned to Marseilles by sea with 400 creates of archeological material.

During each of the visits to Susa, Dieulafoy had worn only men’s clothing, and a photograph of her on site looks like that of a man, in both clothing and gait. On return to Paris in 1886 she forsook women’s clothing completely and obtained a permission de travestissement from the police. She wore up-to-date men’s fashions.

At the inauguration later that year of the Dieulafoy rooms in the Louvre, Jane was awarded the cross of the Légion D’Honneur. The politics surrounding the Dieulafoy dig changed in both France and Persia, and they were never again to return.

Jane wrote her first novel, Parysatis, set in ancient Susa. It later became an opera with music by Camille Saint-Saëns. She later wrote three novels set in the French Revolution.

In 1904 Dieulafoy and several other women founded the Prix Femina as they were all denied the existing literary awards because of their gender.

Jane and Marcel turned their attention to Spain and Portugal and photographing and documenting old buildings and churches, published several books.

In 1914 she militated for women in the military auxiliary services, a proposal that was met by embarrassment and silence.

Marcel was assigned to build roads and railways around Rabat during the Great War. She went with him and directed excavation of the the 12th-century Yaʿqūb al-Manṣūr Mosque. She died in 1916 of amoebic dysentry.
  • "Mme Jane Dieulafoy Dead.; Explorer and Author Fought Through Franco-Prussian War". The New York Times, May 28, 1916.
  • Jane Dieulafoy. Une amazone en Orient : du Caucase à Ispahan, 1881-1882. Paris: Phébus 404 pp1989.
  • Jane Dieulafoy. En mission chez les immortels: journal des fouilles de Suse, 1884-1886. Paris: Phébus, 1990.
  • Jane Dieulafoy. L'Orient sous le voile : de Chiraz à Bagdad. Paris: Phébus, 1990.
  • Eve Gran-Aymeric & J.M. Jean Gran Aymerich. Jane Dieulafoy : une vie d'homme. Paris: Perrin 1991.
  • “Dieulafoy, Jane Henriette Magre”. Encylopaedia Iranica, 1995.
  • Eve Gran Aymerich translated by Alexandra L. Lesk Blomerus & Paul M. Blomerus. “Jane Dieulafoy (1851 - 1916)”. In Getzel M. Cohen & Martha Joukowsky (eds). Breaking Ground: Pioneering Women Archaeologists. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2004: 34-67.
  • Amanda Adams. Ladies of the Field: Early Women Archaeologists and Their Search for Adventure. Vancouver: Greystone Books, 2010: 3,11,41-64,186.  

The term ‘transvestite’ is appropriate here, but Dieulafoy is quite different from how the term is used in the 20th century.

04 May 2012

Michael Bronski's A Queer History of the United States - a review

From our perspective we can divide gay and lesbian histories into three kinds:
  1. those that attempt to eliminate all trans presence, and to minimize if it cannot be eliminated.  A few drag queens may pop up for Stonewall, but then politely disappear again.  Charles Kaiser's  The Gay Metropolis: 1940-1996, 1997, is such.
  2. those that feature trans anecdotes, often anecdotes nowhere else available.  George Chauncey's Gay New York, 1994, and Matt Cook (ed). A Gay History of Britain: Love and Sex Between Men Since the Middle Ages, 2007, are good examples.  Those who pay attention to my source notes know that I have found many stories in such books.
  3. those that follow in the shadow of Jonathan Katz' Gay American History, 1976.  That is: trans men are regarded as feisty lesbians crossdressing for work or for travel, and 'berdaches' (they tend to still use that word) are regarded as a type of gay men.  Katz has apologized for the attitude in his early books, and the reprints on have appropriate corrections.

Which brings us to:

  • Michael Bronski. A Queer History of the United States. Boston: Beacon Press, 2011. 
The title says 'queer' not 'gay and lesbian'.  In addition the cover photographs include a trans man, Calamity Jane, and a Boston march poster with the word 'transgender'.  The purchaser of the book is therefore entitled to expect B and T and other as well as G and L.   However she will be disappointed in such an expectation.  Bisexuality gets a glancing mention on page 218, and that is it.

There is much value in Bronski's book if you want a history of the gay and lesbian  experience in the US, and the book spends much time on the changing social construction of heterosexuality, masculinity and femininity.  He does not say this himself, but he in effect queers heterosexuality by showing that it is constructed, that is, not unchanging and natural as some of its champions insist.

In terms of gay content, I was surprised that there is nothing on Friedrich von Steuben, one of George Washington's most important generals.  Also, it is a common opinion that male homosexual couples have changed over the last two or three generations from an older male with a younger of lower status to a couple of similar age and status.  Bronski says nothing about this, pro or con.  Nor does he discuss that pedophilia was once an accepted part of gay, but now is not, while trans was out for a long time and is now in.  Likewise the shift from the definitions of homosexuality as behaviour 60 years ago to definitions as identity now.

Like Susan Stryker's Trangender History, Bronski mentions the androgynous aspects of the hippie/freak culture of the late sixties, but says nothing of queer punk or queer Goth. 

However this is a review from a trans perspective.  Bronski is obviously most comfortable with female transvestites.  The only trans person who gets a two-page discussion is the 19th-century actress Charlotte Cushman.  There are also entries on the religious androgyne Jemima Wilkinson and rebel soldier Deborah Sampson.  There are two pages on the Civil War cross-dressers, and Bronski comes to the usual conclusion that Albert Cashier is the one who stands out as transgender.

There is no entry in the index for drag performers, but there are brief mentions of Julian Eltinge, Gladys Bentley and 'Gloria Swanson' (although the latter two are not in the index).  Earl Lind/Jennie June, who is claimed as both gay and trans, is mentioned.  Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P Johnson are in as being excluded from GAA and founding transgender activism.

So 99% of US trans history is missing.  None of the trans historians, Stryker, Meyerowitz, Zagria, get a single mention.  Nor does Christine Jorgensen.

In the section that tells of the Matachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis, it would have been appropriate to include FPE/Tri-Ess as its values were similar.   One, Inc is mentioned a few times, but what is not mentioned is its financing by Reed Erickson, nor his other work with EEF.   One, Inc and Alan Ginsburg's problems with mail censorship are mentioned but not Virginia Prince's trial.

The evolution of glamour drag within 19th-century black-face minstrelsy - a particularly US cultural effect - is not mentioned.

There is nothing on Phil Black, the New York Balls and the evolution of the Paris is Burning scene.

The problems of lesbian feminism vs straight feminism are discussed, but the only mention of trans feminism mentioned is the attack by Janice Raymond (also not in index).  The pivotal incidents with Beth Elliott and Sandy Stone are omitted.  Nor is it admitted how many gay men endorsed Raymond.

The removal of homosexuality from the DSM is recounted but there is no mention that trans conditions were promptly put into the DSM as replacements.

There is nothing at all on medical support for and control of trans persons such as Belt, Benjamin, Stoller, Green etc.

In summary, Bronski does not seem to be interested in the trans part of the queer spectrum.

01 May 2012

Sascha Brastoff (1918 – 1993) performer, designer, artist.

Samuel Brostofsky danced several seasons with the Cleveland Ballet while still a teenager, where he was encouraged to change his name to Sascha. He was awarded an art scholarship to the Cleveland School of Art, where he studied ballet and art.

He moved to New York City where he worked as a window dresser at Macy’s department store. A gifted ceramicist, at age 24 he had a successful show of his terra cottas, and sold items to major New York museums.

With the US entry into World War II he enlisted in the Army Air Corps, and served in the Special Services Events Division, where he designed costumes and scenery for USO shows. He was known for his impersonation of Carmen Miranda, which he repeated in the play and later film Winged Victory 1944 where his costume was designed by Howard Shoup out of a mix of cartridge belts and bananas.  Serving alongside was Howard Shoup who later became a noted costume designer in Hollywood.

Howard and Sascha fell in love, became a couple and lived together until Howard’s death in 1987  shared a house from 1946 to the 1970s, initially because of the post-war housing shortage.    After the war Sascha was signed to a design contract with 20th Century Fox by Darryl Zanuck, where among others he designed for the real Carmen Miranda.

In 1947 he opened a decorative ceramic factory in Los Angeles, and soon his wares were selling to actors and studio executives, especially after millionaire Winthrop Rockefeller fell in love with Sascha  Sascha's work and financed him so that he could move to larger premises and employ a staff. Sascha became one of the top ceramic artists in the US. He was one of the originators of 1950s functional design. He did design contributed sculptures for the 1956 film, Forbidden Planet.
Every year Howard would design a costume for Sascha to wear to the Los Angeles Artists and Models Ball. Sascha continued his Carman Miranda act and was featured so dressed in Harpers Bazaar magazine in 1952. The real Carmen Miranda was reported to have said:
“I don’t like zis boy: he looks more like me zan me”.

Sascha 1950
When not being obviously the other Carmen Miranda, Sascha passed quite effectively as a woman.  Bowers tells how Sascha enjoyed giving blow jobs to young men whom he encountered at parties, a favor he also did for the Santa Monica chief of police.

Sascha left his beloved studio in 1962 and concentrated on pastel and oil painting, and experimented with magnesium sculpture. In 1967 he was commissioned to create the 13 foot by 7 foot gold plated crucifix (and altar pieces) for St. Augustine By-The-Sea Episcopal Church in Santa Monica. Then Sascha and Howard did the design for the Esplanade Mall in Santa Monica.

In the 1970s Sascha created jewelry for Norman Merle Cosmetics, bathroom accessories for Melard, Inc, and silver for Franklin Mint. In the 1980s he was restrained by poor health.

He died of prostate cancer at age 75.
  • Steve Conti. Collector's Encyclopedia of Sascha Brastoff: Identification & Values. Collector Books, 1995.
  • William J. Mann. Behind the Screen: How gays and lesbians shaped Hollywood, 1910-1969. Viking, 2001: 240-3.
  • Kimberly Limbergs. In Search of Sascha Barstoff“”. Movie, May 12, 2011.
  • Steve Conti. “Sascha Brastoff - a mid-century modern DaVinci”. Art & Design Matters.
  • “Sascha Brastoff & Carmen Miranda”. Empire of the Image.
  • Scotty Bowers with Lionel Friedberg. Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars. Grove Press, 2012 : 231-4.