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08 July 2013

Gloria Greaves (1932 – ?2015) sex worker

++ added some data from Gloria's niece, and cuttings in Digital Transgender Archive..

++Robinson, originally from Liverpool,  the third of ten children, had a confrontation with father over wanting a gender change, and moved to London in 1955.

As Gloria she completed surgical transition in the 1960s, 1964, became the wife of Brian Greaves, and for 20 years had been recognised as a female for national insurance purposes.

In 1982 Gloria Greaves was working as a dominatrix offering humiliation, flagellation, bondage and torture accompanied by masturbation, but not sexual intercourse, at 15 Calendon Street in Belgravia, London, and subletting 89b Warwick Way to Moira Tan who offered similar services.

Both Tan and Greaves were arrested and convicted of keeping a disorderly house under the Disorderly Houses Act of 1751. Furthermore Mrs Greaves was convicted under the Sexual Offences Act 1956 of living on the earnings of prostitution in that she was Tan's landlady, and her husband of living on the earnings of male prostitution (that is of his wife's).

The wording of the 1956 Act is:
1; It is an offence for a man knowingly to live wholly or in part on the earnings of prostitution.
2 For the purposes of this section a man who lives with or is habitually in the company of a prostitute, or who exercises control, direction, or influence over a prostitute's movements in a way which shows he is aiding, abetting or compelling her prostitution with others, shall be presumed to be knowingly living on the earnings of prostitution, unless he proves to the contrary.
Thus only a man can commit the offence.

Mr Greaves, ++who was disabled++, was convicted of both living on the earnings of prostitution (implicitly that of a female) and of living on the earnings of male prostitution. Tan was sentenced to six months and "deprived of property rights in apparatus found at such premises"; Mrs Greaves was sentenced to 18 months, the same deprivation of property rights and a fine of £10,000; Mr Greaves was sentenced to 12 months – Mrs Greaves to serve her time in a women's prison. All were released pending appeal which took place in December 1982 and February 1983.

The appeal court quashed Mr Greaves' conviction of living on the earnings of (female) prostitution. However all other appeals against conviction were dismissed, but appeals against sentence were upheld and the custodial sentences were suspended for two years. The judges agreed that the convictions of Mr and Mrs Greaves depended on the assertion that Gloria was still a man. They cited the precedent of Corbett v. Corbett (1970), and considered but rejected the contention that
"for the purposes of s 30 of the Sexual Offences Act 1956 and s 5 of the Sexual Offences Act 1967 another test should be applied; that, if the person had become philosophically or psychologically or socially female, that person should be held not to be a man for the purposes of the sections and that, on this basis, the evidence was inconclusive and the counts ought to have been withdrawn from the jury".
They continued:
“It would in our view create an unacceptable situation if the law were such that a marriage between Gloria Greaves and another man was a nullity, on the ground that Gloria Greaves was a man; that buggery to which he consented with such other person was not an offence for the same reason; but that Gloria Greaves could live on the earnings of a female prostitute without offending against section 30 of the Act of 1956 because for that purpose he/she was not a man and that the like position would arise in the case of someone charged with living on his earnings as a male prostitute.”


Gloria in later years

++added May 2020, more bibliography

  • "Gloria the 'Vice Girl' is a man".  The Sun, 23 September 1982.  Online.
  • " 'Madam Stern' of vice racket is convicted by a jury as a man".  Daily Mail, 29 September 1982.   Online.
  • "Jail Dilemma on Sex-Change Prostitute".  Daily Telegraph, 29 September 1982.  Online.  
  • Linda Avery."The legal labyrinth that faces the transsexual".  The Guardian, 4 October 1982.  Online
  • "Sex-change Gloria 'must stay a man' ".  The Sun, 11 February 1983.  Online
  • James Morton.  "The Transexual and the Law".  New Law Journal, 27 July 1984.  Online
  • David W Selfe & Vincent Burke.  Perspectives on Sex, Crime and Society.  Cavendish Publishing Ltd, 2001: 261-2, 271. 
  • Paul Kavanagh.  "Slipping Quietly into the Crowd - UK Transsexuals Finally out of Exile".  Mountbatten Journal of Legal Studies, 9,1,2005:22, 24-5, 40.  Online.
  • Robert E Rains.  "Legal Recognition of Gender Change for Transsexual Persons in the United Kingdom:  The Human Rights Act 1998 and 'Comaptibility' with European Human Rights Law".  Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law, 33,2, 2005: 344-6,401. Online.

Thus it was possible to be sent to a women’s prison convicted of a crime that only a man could commit.

Gloria transitioned and married many years before Corbett v. Corbett, and thus until 1970 was accepted as a legal woman.   It is not stated whether of not she had her birth certificate amended, nor whether the marriage of the Greaves was nullified in 1983.

I am presuming that Gloria went to Dr Burou, as there were few other options at the time.    See comment below.

There is no record of the Greaves after 1983.


  1. Gloria was a friend of mine for 30years, van I ask who posted this information ?

  2. Gloria had surgery at Charing cross, not with Dr Burou, I am currently writing a book about glorias life

  3. Anonymous2/1/23 16:55

    I was a friend of Gloria’s until her death & have written a book about her life, as she suggested I should before she passed in 2016.

    1. As you are keeping your name a secret, how will anyone find your book?


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