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21 March 2013

Virginia Prince: Part IV – Full-time Living

Part 1 – Youth and First marriage
Part II – Second Marriage
Part III – Femmiphilic activist
Part IV – Full-time Living
Part V – Transgenderist dowager
Jargon terms and general comments

In 1969, Prince used the term ‘transgenderal’ in an article for Transvestia. This was a one-off usage that she never repeated. She commented on the Stonewall Riots as being the inevitable consequence of a group being oppressed by society.(Hill: 401). The leader of the Gamma Chapter in Boston discontinued on obtaining surgery: Ariadne Kane stepped forward and with others restructured and relocated the group under a new name, the Cherrystone Club. In London Jean Fredericks and Ron Storme started organizing drag balls, mainly at the Porchester Hall.

In the same year Prince visited the UK for the first International Conference on Gender Identity in London, organized by the Albany Trust and the Erickson Foundation, and to visit the Beaumont Society. She visited members in Scotland and Leicester, and there was a formal dinner in London with 9 members and three wives, and she returned again in 1971. By then Charlotte Bach was living full-time a female, and writing a theory of transvestity that was completely different from anything that Prince ever wrote. It is a shame that they did not meet. Nor apparently did Prince attend any of the Porchester Balls.

H. Taylor Buckner, of Sir George Williams University, Montréal, presented a paper at the American Sociological Association annual meeting in San Francisco that drew on the data about 272 transvestites that Prince had presented in 1963. However he also drew on the biography of the fetishist and bondage transvestite Leonard Wheeler, and concluded that transvestism is a socially induced pathology.

In 1970 Prince visited Sydney, NSW, to kickstart what evolved into the Seahorse Society. Rosemary Langton, who had recently immigrated from the UK, had been a member of the Beaumont Society. She contacted some others by mail and then they advertised in the Daily Telegraph and then the rather bawdy King's Cross Whisper.

Susanna Valenti’s last regular column for Transvestia was in 1970. She announced she also was going to start living full time as female.
1970.  Hill p406

In May Prince was in the meeting at the American Psychiatric Association in San Francisco when it was zapped by gay and feminist protesters: "Between them they created so much noise, confusion and disturbance that the chairman had to dismiss the session. It was a frightening premonition of things that may lie ahead for this nation when even a professional group like that of the psychiatrists can have their meeting disrupted by the radical wing of various minority groups". (Transvestia #62, 1970; Hill 401n47)

Prince took out a membership in the National Organization for Women (NOW), and encouraged her readers to support its work, but clarified that she did not mean the radical women's lib which got the media attention. After two years of living as a woman, second-class citizenship "was now my problem as it is the problem of all women, even when they don’t realize it. My interest in the movement has since become more personal and less intellectual.”(Transvestia #63, 1970; Hill 394-5).

Despite Prince’s proscription, ‘transvestite’ and ‘TV’ continued to be used elsewhere, and also kept creeping back into Transvestia. In Transvestia 62, 1970, she urged that the usage stop:
“It was bad enough when misguided and ignorant reporters used it in the press when referring to drag queens. But when the queens themselves appropriate it and use it in reference to themselves because they are, after all, crossdressers and because we have managed to give the word some respectability and dignity, then I for one have had it. I have spent 10 years trying to educate both my readers and the public to the fact that heterosexual crossdressers are a separate breed of cat. It is the only way to establish our identity, to gain a modicum of understanding and to escape the opprobrium (albeit unfairly) that society lavishes on the homosexual.”
Hill who has examined the original Transvestia proof files found that many of them feature pen marks where 'TV' or 'transvestite' is replaced by femmepersonator etc (p148). This presumably is Prince acting as editor.

Around 1970 three transvestite novels were published by Chevalier Publications: From Martin to Marion, The Turnabout Party and The Birth of Barbara. They are attributed to Prince, and they and others are advertised at the back of How to be a Woman Though Male.

Prince's How to be a Woman Though Male, 1971, was an advice book very different from Pudgy Robert's Female Impersonator's Handbook., 1967 or Michael Salem's How to Impersonate a Woman: A Handbook on Makeup & Dress for the Male Transvestite , 1973. Prince's book is notable for its old-fashioned ideas of femininity, as if the counter-cultural and feminist changes of the time had never happened. It contains extensive and detailed advice on how to walk, sit, stand, run, eat, drink, and so on, "like a woman". One piece of general advice is "try to be more gentle, less direct, less forceful, and more delicate and graceful in your movements". "If you are nervous about how adequate you look upon entering the inner room you can buy considerable authenticity by going over to the Kotex or Fems dispenser which is usually on the wall at one end and spend a dime for a pad and take it with you into the booth" (p141) and "It is often overlooked or unknown to males that the female urinary stream not being focused as it were into a narrow stream by passing through a pipe (penis) before leaving the body tends to spray out and to hit the water in the bowl in a much bigger stream than a male urinary stream. For this reason it makes considerably more sound. A male sitting on the seat will have a thin stream falling only a few inches and will not therefore make a usual sound. While most of the time this might be of no importance, if you feel any qualms about your authenticity you might be well advised to make much the same sound as the other females. This can be accomplished by standing up, facing the door, and straddling the bowl with feet not too far back (this would seem strange to anyone in the neighboring booth). Aim the stream right into the pool of water and let go. The greater length of fall will allow the stream to spread out and make more noise." (p142) She also gives advice on how to avoid the then common 10¢ charge to use toilets. "It is the best in womanhood that the FP seeks to emulate, not the common. Be the LADY in the crowd if you are going to be a woman at all, not the scrubwoman or a clerk. It is the beauty, delicacy, grace, loveliness, charm and freedom of expression of the feminine world that you are seeking to experience and enjoy, so ‘live it up’ – be as pretty, charming and graceful as you can. " (p137)

In the same year, FPE member Carol Beecroft split off and founded Mamselle Sorority with a more open membership policy. In London Rachel Pollack and Roz Kaveney were organizing a transvestite presence at the Gay Liberation Front Meetings.

A wife of a new member discovered what her husband was up to, and wrote the following to another member whom her husband has been corresponding with. The second member passed it onto Prince who published it:
"You are sick and are in very bad need of professional help. As you don’t know, I am a nurse and we put people like you in an insane asylum or on the psycho ward in the hospital. I know my husband must have answered that ad by the reference to your letter but no letter from you or your B+ wife could convince me what you’re doing is normal. You’d better seek help from a Professional Doctor or find an old fashioned altar and pray to God for his saving power to save you from a Devil’s Hell. That would be the best fulfillment you or your ‘sisters’ could ever get. I hope and pray if you ever ‘dress’ again there will be a Policeman close by to nab you and ‘undress’ you in front of so many people it will make you feel as low as an animal…. No, your wife had better not write to me for what you do is your business and I am an F or Z wife and I won’t ever believe anything could convince me to believe what you’re doing is right. If my husband desires this kind of life he has my blessing with a divorce. I wouldn’t want to expose our daughter to anything so disgusting." (Transvestia #70, 1971. Hill: 257)
In 1971 Charles Lowman was named Doctor of the Century by the Los Angeles County Medical Association. In August that year the Alpha Chapter hosted Lady Java, who had been in the press for trans activism in 1967 – and were thus more accepting than Virginia. At the same time the Gamma Chapter in Boston was doing outreach to the local gay community. Dot from Gamma spoke to a meeting of the Homophile Union of Boston with much success, and then to the local chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis.

Prince’s paper with P.M. Bentler, “A Survey of 504 Cases of Transvestism” in Psychological Reports, 1972, followed on from Louise Lawrence’s work in the 1940s and 1950s bringing non-patient transvestites to the attention of doctors. Prince and Bentler surveyed 504 crossdressers, mainly readers of Transvestia. 66% had never seen a psychiatrist.

A count was made that year by Fran Conners of all FPE members, past and present. The total came to 1,800. This would be comparable to the size of the pre-Stonewall homophile groups. Each of the Chapters had the right to suspend members who were security risks "in the opinion of the majority of chapter members". Hill, however, comments that: "The organizational literature, however, indicates that local chapters were plagued more by drop-outs—the revolving door syndrome—rather than suspended members. Many crossdressers, much like their homophile counterparts in Mattachine and Daughters of Bilitis, used the magazine Transvestia and the organization as a source of information and entrée into the larger subculture. They bolted once they got what they needed or developed peace of mind." (Hill: 284)

In Transvestia #74 Prince wrote "…we are the vanguard of Men’s Liberation in that we have met and made friends with that woman formerly locked away in the dungeons of our psyche". However the pro-feminist Men's Liberation movement of the early 1970s did not acknowledge any contribution by Prince.1

1972 was also the year that Fran Conners, who was recognized as having built up the organization over the last seven years, resigned as executive secretary of FPE and as the editor of Femme Forum. Fran's replacement was Donna from Los Angeles. However, Donna suffered from ill health and Femme Forum did not survive beyond the end of the year. Prince had that year reiterated the basic philosophy of the group: "FPE was organized to serve one kind of person only….heterosexual, single and family people with jobs, reputations and responsibilities…and to do it in a context of concern for that person’s personal, marital and reputational well-being" (Femme Forum #33, January 1972). Other groups, that were less exclusionary were referred to as 'open groups'. The next year Prince announced that FPE was no longer a non-profit organization, but was now to be an adjunct of Chevalier Publications. All membership dues were now to go to her and were now raised to $12. Hill (296) speculated that there was a mass exodus of members to the other open groups at this time. For the next few years the national organization was minimal. Prince started issuing a directory listing the femme-name, code, city and state, marital status, religion, wife’s attitude, degree of dressing, and hobbies of each active member. But not mailing addresses. Contact could be initiated with others only through Transvestia's contact forwarding service at $1 a time.

Charles Lowman married his second wife, Mary, in 1972. This wife was not sympathetic towards her stepson. Prince, in male drag, made a rare appearance at their home but was not invited inside. (Docter:17)

By now Angela Douglas had founded Transsexual Action Organization (TAO) and was actively campaigning in Los Angeles. I could find no record of Prince and Douglas even acknowledging each other. In New York Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P Johnson were organizing transvestites with STAR (Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries); the scene that was to become the voguing balls of the 1980s was evolving.

By 1973 Prince was urging her readers to read Germaine Greer's The Female Eunuch, and to subscribe to MS magazine.
“Learn exactly how women are tied down and suppressed by the male organized culture. When you have learned something of that you will be better able to understand what’s inside your wife’s head.” She took the side of an unhappy wife who wrote to complain that although she accepted her husband's cross-dressing, he did nor reciprocate by trying to understand her. ...
"What is ridiculous is that he [the husband] sees women as beautiful creatures that have lots of time to kill and just lay around reading or doing their nails, or going out shopping, etc. ... Is it any wonder then, that in a lot of cases after several years of trying to understand and to accept the idea that men have a need to express their femininity as women do their masculinity, that she gets a bit fed up with seeing what his concept of femininity is?"(Transvestia #78, 1973; Hill:397)
In her 1973 paper “Sex vs Gender” just after Fisk had proposed the re-medicalizing concept of ‘gender dysphoria syndrome’, Prince argued for a distinction from ‘sexual dysphoria syndrome’:
"I was pleased to have Dr. Fisk use the term ‘gender dysphoria syndrome,’ but if it is truly a matter of gender dysphoria, why do you not offer a gender solution instead of a sexual one? What you really have is a ‘sexual dysphoria syndrome.’ We have sexual identity clinics in which people are examined, selected, screened, and finally have surgery performed on them which changes their sexual identity … It seems a very sad thing to me that great many individuals have to go to the expense, pain, danger, and everything else when they could achieve a gender change without any of it."
In 1974 Vern and Bonnie Bullough organized a conference in Los Angeles under the auspices of the Institute for the Study of Human Resources (ISHR, associated with ONE and sponsored by Reed Erickson) which brought together Prince, Christine Jorgensen, Zelda Suplee, Laud Humphries, Christopher Isherwood and Evelyn Hooker. Nicole Ramirez, the Empress of the Imperial Court of San Diego, rode in San Diego’s first Pride parade in an open vehicle amid jeers from hostile spectators.

1974 was also what Docter refers to as 'The Revolt of the Alpha Chapter'. Virginia had always been autocratic and made the chapter do things her way. She was also often looking for ways to get rich quickly. When the members found that she had given a list of their male names and addresses to a gold and silver broker they were furious. Many of them broke away and the next year formed the Crossdressers Heterosexual Intersocial Club (CHIC), which is still going. Virginia resigned during a angry confrontation over the broker. The Chapter reformed without Virginia. 2 (Doctor:85-7).

Charles Lowman received from President Nixon the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1974. In 1975, 1,200 people honored Dr Lowman at the Hollywood Palladium. A message of tribute was sent by President Ford. Dr Lowman had treated over 210,000 patients during his lifetime. There is no mention that Virginia was present or even invited.3

Ariadne Kane and other members of the Cherrystone Club organized the original Fantasia Fair in Provincetown, Massachusetts which was to become an annual event.

Virginia's son Brent, who had by then become a husband and father, was arrested for burglary March 1, 1976. He was held at the jail ward of the Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center to be medically examined for heroin addiction.  He died there on October 30, 1976. He was 30 years old.

Prince published Understanding Cross Dressing in the same year, and, as Arnold, published the final revised and enlarged Chemistry in Your Beauty Shop.

Vern Bullough and other members of ONE, Inc finally published their An Annotated Bibliography of Homosexuality: In Two Volumes, which contained the largest bibliography of transvestite and transsexual material available at that time. Apparently there was no input from FPE. The gay bibliography was later expanded by Wayne Dynes; the trans by Dallas Denny.

Carol Beecroft had returned to Prince’s views about membership, and Mamselle Sorority and the FPE were merged and renamed the Society for the Second Self, or 'Tri-Sigma'. Several of Carol’s concepts such as Femme Mirror magazine and Holiday En Femme became part of the Tri-Sigma program. Beecroft had the time and energy to run a national organization. From 1977 the annual dues were set at $20. The policy of barring homosexuals, transsexuals and fetishists was continued. Aspiring members now had to to purchase and read only three issues of Transvestia, or alternatively, Understanding Cross Dressing. Hill (299) suspects that this is when the interview requirement for new members was suspended, but was unable to find confirmation.

Despite urging her readers in earlier years to read Greer and Friedman, Prince could still write the following in 1977: “while a man’s world and a woman’s world can be toted up on a scoreboard and on any given item one or the other will have an advantage or a specific disadvantage, when the total score is taken into consideration, things are about equal.” As Hill comments, "missing from Prince’s avocation of free gender expression were analyses of economic and power differentials between men and women". (“I’m Glad I Wasn’t Born a Girl,” Transvestia #91 ,1977; Hill:398 ). In the same issue she commented on the Anita Bryant attempt in Dade County to roll back gay rights. "There is a wave of reaction under way in this country today and you ought to be aware of it….Thus if the anti-gay rights movement is successful, you can expect a lot less freedom for yourself, too. Remember that as far as society is concerned, FPs are the same as gays….Thus you don’t have to be gay to take the position that they, too, have a right to live, to have a job, to be able to rent an apartment, and the other things that the Miami ordinance attempted to guarantee them." (“Persecution of Minorities,” Transvestia #91, 1977; Hill:401)

In London, the TV/TS Group, mainly run by Yvonne Sinclair had been started.

Charles Lowman died in 1977 at the age of 97 after a minor cerebrovascular thrombosis. He died in the institution that he had founded in 1922. Prince dressed in a male suit one last time for the funeral. (Docter:17)

In 1978 the Archives of Sexual Behavior published Prince's "Transsexuals and Pseudotranssexuals" in which she proposed that the only true transsexuals are asexual, socially-inadequate men who would function better as women, as "less is expected of women". She presumed that bisexuals (2,3,4 on the Kinsey scale) of their nature do not become transsexuals. She also proposed two kinds of 'pseudotranssexual' based on sexual orientation.
"The preoperative homosexual group (Kinsey 5,6) gave much higher scores on all questions dealing with sex and lower scores on those questions dealing with gender, while those in the heterosexual group (Kinsey 1,2) gave high scores to gender type questions and much lower scores on the sex type questions".
This model was later taken up by Ethel Person, and anticipates the two-type system that will later be developed by Freund and Blanchard, although neither of them ever refer to it, with the important difference that Freund and Blanchard see the heterosexual group as erotically based.

Also in 1978 the Boston group, the Cherrystone Club split into the Mayflower Club and the Tiffany Club. Ariadne Kane was interviewed by Boston’s Gay Community News and used the term 'transgender' . Prince was introduced by Ariadne Kane to this term, which was not new but was being increasingly used. Prince then used the term in “The Transcendents or Trans People”, a paper read to the Western Regional Meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sex in Santa Barbara, June 1978, reprinted in Transvestia 95.
"The second class [transgender] is a group of which I am a member and about which most of you haven’t heard …These are people who have adopted the exterior manifestations of the opposite sex but without any surgical interventions. Thus they are what may be rightly termed ‘male women’."
1979.  Hill p405
Prince used 'transgender' a couple of times more in Transvestia magazine, and then once and once only in a paper, “Charles to Virginia: Sex Research as a Personal Experience” for Vern Bullough’s The Frontiers of Sex Research, 1979. After that she lost interest in the word, and stopped using it. In “Charles to Virginia" she continued the specious claim from 20 years before that "This name [tranvestism] was coined [by Hirschfeld] specifically for heterosexual persons but, unfortunately, of recent years if has come to be used by many people to refer to anyone who cross-dresses for whatever reason". She explained that "Although I personally try to dissuade people from having the surgery, except in special cases, it is interesting that three of my best girl friends are former men who have had the surgery". She considered that the four of them had reached an ideal state: "When one person is androgenous [sic] (gynandrous) and has access to both the masculine and feminine parts of one total person, he or she is not so in need of another person to fulfill life. This unification of the duality of masculine and feminine in one person is what make people like the four us is self-sufficient."

Vern Bullough's message at this time was mixed. Ten years after Prince had gone full time, in his introduction to Prince in Frontiers of Sex Research, he still still described Prince as a transvestite who "dresses up" as a woman. In his Homosexuality, a History, in his “Cross-Dressing: Transvestism, Transsexualism, and Homosexuality” chapter he describes Prince as a good example of a heterosexual transvestite. Some would say that by the logic of book's title it should not have even discussed Prince. He also mentions Chevalier d’Eon, Lili Elvenes (Elbe) and Christine Jorgensen who were not homosexual either. And having done so it does not mention even one gay transvestite or even one androphilic transsexual. However he does say: "Though no large-scale study exists of homosexual transvestites, our own preliminary work in this area indicates that such people do exist, and for many of the same reasons as the heterosexual transvestites". He further disagreed with Prince saying: "Probably transsexualism and transvestism exist on a continuum".

Also the year that Prince first met Richard Docter, a colleague of Vern Bullough at Northridge University, when she gave a talk there.

Other than to her three friends, Prince was still being mean-spirited on the topic of surgery. A reader wrote: “I am sorry I have to disagree strongly on what you wrote to me. Transsexuals (me, personally) are NOT gay or homosexuals. They have the mind of a woman, and think and want to satisfy a man like a woman does.” Prince replied (Transvestia, 94, 1978; Hill:140): "Can you believe that? How do you manage to NOT be homosexual when you want a hole so that you ‘can satisfy a man the way a woman does’?”

In the special 100th edition of Transvestia, the last one edited by Prince, Susanna Valenti returned to comment on all that had been accomplished since the first issue in 1960. She was impressed by the achievements of homosexuals, transsexuals and women, but pointed out that transvestites had done less well.
"A good number of people, many more than there were one hundred issues ago, know about us. The moral ‘liberation’ of our times seems to have helped somewhat, too. But, we ask ourselves, have we really become liberated? Have we really become understood? Accepted? Our transsexual sisters are willing to meet the cameras, to make the headlines, but we are not quite willing to follow the example of GG’s and transsexuals and gays. We are still at the bottom of the acceptance totem pole….We are letting the revolution pass us by, while we timidly hope that the GG’s, transsexuals, and gays will win their battle so that we can gather a few crumbs from their banquet. We can count with the fingers of one hand the number of TV’s…who have dared a break-through in radio, television, and other organizations. The rest of us sit back silently and do nothing but wish that something, somebody, would do something for our liberation." (Transvestia 100, 1979: Hill: 328)
In July 1979, Prince sold Chevalier Publications to Carol Beecroft, who also took over the editorship of Transvestia, and became the sole president of Tri-Sigma. In twenty years Prince had published some 120 life histories from readers and 300 letters to the editor. With only a few exceptions, these readers were white male middle-class heterosexuals usually aged between 30 and 60 (Hill: 30).

The third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders was issued in 1980. Homosexuality, after a long and loud campaign, had finally been removed. But transvestism was now added. In DSM-III-R, 1987, it was renamed 'Transvestic Fetishism'. As Prince had advocated, Transvestism was defined as done by heterosexual males. Cross-dressing was not regarded as a transvestism when done by women or gay men. However, presumably to her chagrin, the psycho-analytic tradition that heterosexual transvestism was a fetish was accepted.

In the same year, Vern and Bonnie Bullough moved to the State University of New York at Buffalo.

In 1981, the national college sorority called Sigma Sigma Sigma, dating from the 1890s, having discoved Tri-Sigma and making noises about possible litigation, Beecroft changed the name of Tri-Sigma to Tri-Ess. Transvestia failed shortly afterwards, although Femme Mirror continued. Beecroft subsequently gave responsibility for Tri-Ess to Jane & Mary Fairfax, a husband and wife, in Houston, (Docter:82-3)

In 1982, Marcia Ann Lowman, Brent's wife, lost her appeal against the dismissal of her complaint for wrongful death in the case of her husband, in that such a complaint cannot be maintained against a public entity and she was not able to truly name any individual involved. 4
  1. See for example Jack Nichols' Men's Liberation: A New Definition of Masculinity, 1975, which was probably the book most likely to do so. It does have a chapter on psychological androgyny, but nothing on the topics that Prince would raise.
  2. Docter does not give a date for 'The Revolt of the Alpha Chapter'. I took the year from the CHIC website.
  3. Virginia Prince like Roberta Cowell had a father who was one of the outstanding doctors in his own country. And neither father has a Wikipedia page.
  4. There is no mention that Virginia aided Marci in her case re Brent's death.

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