This site is the most comprehensive on the web devoted to trans history and biography. Well over 1700 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!

29 September 2013

Rose Venkatesan ரோஸ் வெங்கடேசன் (1980 – ) engineer, broadcaster, filmmaker.

Ramesh was raised in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, and graduated in mechanical engineering at Sathyabama Engineering College in 2001, and then completed a master’s degree in biomedical engineering from Louisiana Tech University in 2003, where he found people to be “aggressively homophobic”. Venkatesan has also designed web pages.

She transitioned full time in 2004. She announced her change to a large family gathering that had intended to arrange a bride for her. They threw her out and she worked for a while in a call centre teaching US pronunciation and idioms. In 2007 she won a widely televised transgender beauty contest and in 2008 using the name of Rose became host of a television program Ippadikku Rose on Vijay TV (owned by Murdoch's Fox International).

She had surgery in March, 2010 in Bangkok with Dr Thep Vechavisit.

In 2012 she attempted to found a Sexual Liberation Party.

She had a part in the film Vaaimai as a trans district collector. However when director Senthil Kumar unexpectedly announced an extended shooting to 10pm, Rose explained that she was expected at the Chennai US Embassy that evening and left. Two assistants attacked her car on the road in a dangerous fashion.

She has since directed a film about match-fixing in cricket, with a team captain who falls for a trans women.


27 September 2013

Gayle Sherman (1940 - 2019) performer.

Original September 2010; revised September 2013.  My original version was based simply on a reading of Gayle's autobiography.   Since then more information has emerged, particularly in the Chicago Whispers book and on Queer Music Heritage.


Gary Paradis, from Ohio, was raised by an aunt after both parents died in a car crash. At age 16, Gary went to live with relatives in New York, and based on appearance alone was able to get a job, using the name Gayle Sherman, in the chorus line at the Jewel Box Revue.

Later she worked at the 82 Club and then at a small club in Toledo featuring 4 strippers and 2 female impersonators, but the club did not say which was which. A customer fell in love with Gayle, and then killed himself in a car accident when he finally realized that that she was one of the female impersonators.

Gayle moved to Chicago and became a star at the Nite Life, Chicago's longest-running drag bar (early 1940s – 1981). She was mentored by Tony Midnite. Nightlife magazine ran with a cover photograph of Gayle in July 1963 advertising the show at the Nite Life with Vicki Marlane. She was said to be a twin for Sophia Loren.

In 1963 the National Insider ran a 4-part series on her life that was reprinted as a Novel paperback the next year. 

Gayle replaced Tony at the Blue Dahlia, a straight club. She was able to charge $100 just to
accompany business men on dates and no more. On her own time she dated women. She was working off the books and therefore could not have a bank account. She always paid cash, even when on one occasion she bought $2,400 of furniture.

After surgery Gayle was not allowed to work any more as a female impersonator, and so changed her name to Brandy Alexander and became a stripper. With implants her breast measurement was 48" (122 cm) and she performed as Alexandra 'The Great 48'.  She often worked between films in porn cinemas, but when Chicago Mayor Richard Daley pulled their licenses, she got a gig in Hawai'i, and was featured in Confidential Magazine three years later.

She retired from performing at age 48.

She became a cosmetologist.

Gayle died in 2019 at age 79.

*Not Gayle Sherman the 1990s stuntwoman, nor the harpist, nor the wife of Pastor Paul Sherman.

Not the Brandy Alexander of New York, also a drag performer, and mentioned on p157-8 of Randy Shilts' And the Band Played On.


Gayle’s autobiography is only 36 pages long.  She was not even 20 when she wrote it.  The book also contains a similarly short account by a British trans man, and an essay ‘As the Experts See It’, by the then ubiquitous hack writer Carlson Wade, which will strike modern readers as particularly badly informed.  The next year, 1965, Novel Books put out a similar collection, I Was Male: two autobiographical accounts by trans women, one in regret, and an ‘expert’ essay by Carlson Wade and George Griffith.
I obtained I Want to be a Woman through interlibrary loan.  The copy is stamped IFGE on the title page and the side, although it is now owned by a university library.

Joanne Meyerowitz (How Sex Changed:184) mentions Gayle merely to quote her as an example of transsexual separation: ‘I wasn’t then and I’m not now a transvestite. I don’t get sexual pleasure out of dressing as a woman.’   This has been repeated (e.g. Robert Hill, ‘As a man I exist; as a woman I live’: 141).  Whatever Gayle’s opinions may have been later in life, it is a bit much for academics to build generalizations on casual comments by persons hardly out of teenage.

Not to question Gayle’s narrative, but the tale of a parviscient punter at a drag revue who falls in love with a drag performer and comes to a bad end is an old tale.  The classic telling is Honoré de Balzac’s Sarrasine, 1830.  This of course was over-analyzed to death by Roland Barth in S/Z, 1970.

$2,400 in the mid 1960s would be $17,000 today.   To pay that amount in cash today would probably initiate a criminal investigation.

Thank you  Morgan Stevens.

25 September 2013

Adela Vazquez (1958–) performer

Vazquez was born during the Cuban Revolution to a single mother, and raised by his grandparents in Camagüey.

He was sexually active with men early, and especially when he was sent to a  boarding school at age 11, where he seduced both bullies and teachers.
"But do not call me gay.  I never had gay sex.  Never will.  I'm always the girl, he's always the man."
At 15 he was in the school drag pageant, where he stood out by being real. In 1974 Vazquez was called to register for the Cuban army, but turned up in semi-drag and was ruled ineligible because 'homosexual'.   He became a teacher but was obliged to resign despite being a good teacher. He discovered the gay scene and took such jobs as supervising convict labor.

In 1980, when Vasquez was 22, President Fidel Castro said that anybody who wanted to leave Cuba could do so, and sent mental patients and convicts with them.   Vazquez joined the 'Marielitos' (as they came to be known from the name of the harbor where they left). The Marielitos were sent to Fort Chaffee in Arkansas, where Vazquez found a lover the first night. In all he had 31 lovers before being sent to a gay sponsor, Rolando, in Los Angeles.

By 1981 he had his first venereal disease, just as AIDS arrived. Rolando persuaded Vazquez to start using condoms, and helped him get a job at the Neiman Marcus department Store. However he did too many drugs and was fired, but then worked doing sewing for a boyfriend who was a designer at the Ice Capades. Together they went to see the trans performers at the Cha Cha club.

Vasquez decided that it was time to change and became Adela. After changes that come from taking hormones, Adella advertised herself as a 'She-Male' in Hollywood Connections, and was a sex worker for a few years. In 1992 Adela was invited by a community worker to enter in the Ms Gay Latina contest, which she won.

Since then Adela has been an activist against HIV. She started as a showgirl with the AtreDivas, a drag group that would donate their earnings to AIDS charities. She has become an artist and a performer and lives in San Francisco.

In 2004 the artist Jaime Cortez developed her life story into a graphic novel.

In the documentary film, Diagnosing Difference, Adela says: “I think ‘passing’ is a word to discriminate us immensely. Not everybody can pass. And passing is something that the doctors will tell you to do, you try to pass. Well, no matter how much I pass, I will never be a biological woman. How about empowering me as the transgender woman that I am?”

23 September 2013

Nana (1939 - ) sex worker, performer. housewife, Place Blanche , Paris circa 1960

Nana was raised in Oran, Algeria. In 1955 she met Bambi and others in the Le Carrousel cast who were on tour. Nana realized instantly that was what she wanted to do.

There was a roundup of the queers in Oran in August 1957. However Nana had already left as her brother had told her that their parents had intended to have her locked up with the Ain Sefrah White Fathers, a Catholic order.

Nana arrived in Paris 5 August 1957, presenting as male but having already started female hormones. Nana and a friend took a room at the hotel Fairyland. The friend knew Fetiche who was a performer at Chez Madame Arthur, and Nana sewed for her in addition to working in a travel agency.

Nana's mother turned up in 1958 and took a room in the same hotel. She intended to take her son back to have him locked up by the White Fathers. However a flare-up in the ongoing War for Independence closed all the Algerian airports. Mother was able to get herself home by phoning the secretary of a minister whom she knew. Only one seat was available.

Nana was increasingly dressing as female. She left the travel-agency job, and met the Swedish photographer  Christer Strömholm.

She started to solicit in the Place Pigalle. The pimps at that time left the trans women alone for they would lose status as a man by pimping them. The police frequently arrested the trans women and charged them with being dressed as a woman outside the carnival period. As she was from Algeria she was called a 'dirty Arab'.

One summer Nana and a friend went to the South. Nana was arrested in that her ID card said that she was a man. The policeman even paid for a barber to cut her hair, and then she had to hitchhike back to Paris looking like a man in women`s clothes as those were the only clothes that she had.

In 1959 Nana created an act and obtained work at le Fifty, a cabaret on rue Fontaine. She worked in Cabarets until she was 45, but also kept working the streets.

One time a pimp slapped her and claimed that she owed 5,000 Fr for working on 'his' territory. Nana had to go and see the local godfather, and argue that she was not a woman.

Through Christer Strömholm, Nana was introduced to several artists. In 1970 Nana moved to Luxembourg to live with a boyfriend. In 1972 she had surgery with Dr Burou in Casablanca; in 1977 she met a lawyer in Lyon who was able to effect her change of Civil Status, and her name became Eva. She and her boyfriend were married in 1980.

  • Hélène Hazera interviews Nana. "Aujord'hui Nana Se Raconts". In Christer Strömholm. Les Amies De Place Blanche. Stockport: Dewi Lewis, 2011: 50-9.

Nana 1959

18 September 2013

Jennifer N. Pritzker (1951 - ) scion of wealth, military officer

James Pritzker was born into the Chicago plutocratic family that owns the Hyatt Hotel chain, and many other corporations. Pritzker married and they had three children.

In 1974 Pritzker joined the US Army as a private and rose through sergeant to 2nd lieutenant, with 11 years service in the US and West Germany. This was followed by 16 years in the Illinois National Guard. After retirement in 2001, Pritzker was given the honorary rank of Colonel.

In Pritzker founded the Tawani Foundation "to enhance the awareness and understanding of the importance of the Citizen Soldier" and the Pritzker Military Library. In 2003 the Tawani Foundation made a $1.35 million donation to the University of California's Palm Center to study the feasibility of transgender people serving in the military and police and fire departments.

In 2013 Pritzker announced a legal name change to Jennifer, and that she was starting transition. Thus she became the first trans billionaire. Forbes magazine lists her at #327 in its rich list, and estimates that she is 'worth' $1.7 billion.

++In January 2016, Pritzker donated $2 million for a Chair in transgender studies at the University of Victoria, BC, with Aaron Devor to be the inaugural chair.
  • "Jennifer Natalya Pritzker, Decorated Colonel And Hyatt Hotel Heir, Announces Identity As A Woman". Huffington Post, 08/23/2013. Online.
  • George Chidi. "Chicago billionaire comes out as transgender, backs study of transgender military service with cash". The Raw Story, August 23, 2013. Online.
  • Alexandria Fisher. "Evanston Billionaire James Pritzker Changes Name to Jennifer Pritzker". NBCChicago, Aug 25, 2013. Online.
  • "Jennifer Pritzker Becomes First Transgender Billionaire". Forbes, 9/16/2013. Online.
  • Dawn Rhodes.  "Jennifer Pritzker's foundation donates $2 million for transgender studies".  Chicago Tribune, Jan 10, 2016.  Online
  • Rose Kaplan.  "Jennifer Pritzker’s Foundation Gives $2 Million for Transgender Studies at Canadian University".  Tablet, January 2016.  Online.  
  • Jennifer N Pritzker.  "Why should I support a political party that is marginalizing me out of existence?".   The Washington Post, January 8, 2019.  Online

16 September 2013

Jasmine Goode (1976–) burglar, inmate

Darren Goode was born in Rhyl, Denbighshire.
 "Then, on my seventh birthday, I'd been so excited about the Barbie doll I'd asked for - but instead I'd got a teddy bear wearing an army uniform.  I'd look at my parents, confused. ‘You're a boy now called Darren,' my dad Derrick, 53, had sighed. ‘You have to start behaving like one.' Talk about a shock!"
He was jailed for burglary several times from age 18, and once worked in a slaughterhouse. He had a son with his first wife, and then met his second wife in 2002 after release from prison. He was on incapacity benefit for depression. He spent most of his time on that motorbike that she bought for him and was into motocross racing. They had a son and a daughter.
" I was doing everything I could to become the man my parents wanted me to be. With my short black hair and skull-and-crossbones tattoos, I looked as tough as you could get. I acted tough, too - a real hard man in prison."
In Unsafe Sex in the City
Steven Locke, while working as a gardener in Herefordshire, selected houses to burgle with Goode. They chose the homes of the elderly, including one victim aged 102. Some victims were burgled a second time. Loche and Goode were stopped by the police on the A49 in April 2005, after an operation to catch them. Goode admitted three charges of burglary, one of attempted burglary, six of conspiracy to commit burglary and one of robbery. Lock pleaded guilty to 10 counts of burglary, one of attempted burglary, nine of conspiracy to commit burglary and one of robbery. They were both sentenced to 11 years.

The next year Goode told the prison psychiatrist that he was intersex and wanted to become a woman. After his wife's divorce in 2011 Goode was moved to an open prison. and was now addressed as Jasmine. Jasmine was allowed to visit a consultant in London's Harley Street, accompanied by a female prison officer, and on home leave had stayed at Stephanie Booth's transvestite hotel in Colwyn Bay, North Wales.

She applied to the NHS for gender re-assignment, given permission to wear a skirt after 5pm, electrolysis and hormones. Jasmine was released from jail in 2012 and found work with a charity that helps transsexuals.

Jasmine appeared on BBC3's Unsafe Sex in the City visiting the Manchester Centre for Sexual Health and claimed to have had more than 60 sex partners since release. This was a few days before her surgery. In September 2013 she appeared on the ITV breakfast program, This Morning.


14 September 2013

27 trans persons in France/French Belgium/French Africa who changed things by example and/or achievement.

See also US, Canada, UK, Germany, Italy, Australia/NZ, Americans in Europe, Europeans in the Americas, Africa.

A special mention of Joseph Doucé (1945 – 1990), though not trans himself, murdered by agents of the State after agitating for trans rights. GVWW FR.WIKIPEDIA.

France is notable for a series of female-born persons before the Second World War who dressed and behaved like what we would call trans men, even having what operations were then available, but not taking a male name.
  1. Amantine Dupin (1804 – 1876) novelist as George Sand, well-known transvestite. EN.WIKIPEDIA.
  2. Rosa Bonheur (1822 – 1899) famous painter. FR.WIKIPEDIA.
  3. Camille Barbin (1838 – 1868) A school teacher as Adélaîde Herculine Barbin in Charente-Maritime. Compelled by the authorities to become a man, committed suicide. GVWW EN.WIKIPEDIA.
  4. Jane Dieulafoy (1851 – 1916) Paris. Photographer, archeologist, writer. GVWW EN.WIKIPEDIA.
  5. Mathilde de Belboeuf (1862 – 1944) Paris. Aristocrat. GVWW    FR.WIKIPEDIA.
  6. Clementine Delait (1865 – 1939) Lorraine. Café owner, bearded lady. GVWW FR.WIKIPEDIA.
  7. Madeleine Pelletier (1874 – 1939) Psychiatrist, Socialist, feminist. Died in incarceration. GVWW   EN.WIKIPEDIA.

  8. Si Mahmoud Essadi (1877 – 1904) From Geneva, originally called Isabelle Eberhart, converted to Islam in Algeria, became a Sufi, writer, died in a flash flood in a wadi. EN.WIKIPEDIA.

  9. Lili Elvenes (Elbe) (1882 – 1931) Danish artist who spent most of her adulthood in Paris. She went to Dresden for experimental surgeries which she did not survive.  GVWW    EN.WIKIPEDIA.

  10. Georges Masasco (1890 - ?) From Brussels. Lion tamer, stigmatic. GVWW.
  11. Violette Morris (1893 – 1944) All-round athlete, rejected from French Olympic team for being too masculine, especially after her mastectomy. Assassinated by the Resistance. GVWW  EN.WIKIPEDIA.
  12. Claude Cahun (1894 – 1954) Paris, Jersey. Photographer, writer. EN.WIKIPEDIA.

  13. Pierre Molinier (1900 – 1976) Bordeaux. painter, photographer, fetishist. GVWW FR.WIKIPEDIA.
  14. Michel-Marie Poulain (1906 – 1991) Paris, Alpes-Maritimes. performer, painter, stained glass artist. GVWW FR.WIKIPEDIA.
  15. Marie André Schwidenhammer (1909 – 1981) Paris. Nurse, activist, founder of AMAHO. GVWW.
  16. Frede Baule (1916 - ?) lover of Marlene Dietrich, Paris club owner. GVWW .
  17. Ovida Delect (1927 - ) Normandy. Part of Communist Résistance, sent to German concentration camp, poet. GVWW.
  18. Jacqueline Dufresnoy (1931 – 2006) star at Le Carrousel as Coccinelle, film actor, 3 husbands, trans activist. GVWW    FR.WIKIPEDIA.
  19. Marie-Pierre Pruvot (1935 - ) From Algiers, star at Le Carrousel as Bambi, school teacher, novelist. GVWW FR.WIKIPEDIA.
  20. Amanda Lear (1939 - ) performer, singer, muse of Salvador Dali, painter, Chevalière. GVWW FR.WIKIPEDIA

  21. Maud Marin (1945 - ) Paris. Postal inspector, lawyer. First French trans person to change ID papers after Coccinelle's divorce. GVWW. FR.WIKIPEDIA.
  22. Marie-France Garcia (1946 - ) From Oran, lives in Paris. singer, actress, activist. GVWW EN.WIKIPEDIA.
  23. Hélène Hazera (1952 - ) Paris. Activist, actor, broadcaster. GVWW FR.WIKIPEDIA

  24. Camille Barré (1959 - ) Paris. Communist candidate married to Argentinian Monica Leon. GVWW Deleted from FR.WIKIPEDIA.
  25. Tom Reucher (196? - ) Paris. Psychologist, activist, coined Syndrome de Benjamin. GVWW

  26. Ludwig Trovato (196? - ) Reims. film maker, accused of rape. GVWW

  27. Olivier Theyskens (1977 - ) Belgian fashion designer. GVWW EN.WIKIPEDIA.

11 September 2013

Nzinga Mbandi (1583 - 1663) queen.

Nzinga was the favourite daughter of her father Kiluanji, the ngola (chief or king) of the Ndongo. When her brother Mbande deposed their father, he also had Nzinga's child murdered, and she fled.

In the 1620s as the Portuguese were expanding their slaving expeditions to the area, taking out ten thousand slaves a year, and the Ndonga were negotiating for their independence and to be a supplier rather than a victim tribe. In 1621 Mbande asked his sister to return and to negotiate with the invading Portuguese, represented by João Correia de Sousa. This she did, dramatically emphasizing her equality with de Sousa by sitting on one of her minions as de Sousa took the only chair.  She was also baptized as a Catholic taking the alternate name of Ana de Souza.

However the Portuguese kept none of their promises, and Mbande either committed suicide or was poisoned by Nzinga. Nzinga became regent, but had Kaza, Mbande's son killed for impudence, and then herself reigned as ngola wearing male clothing. She renounced her Catholicism and formed an alliance with Kasanje against the Portuguese, and conquered the Jagas who were further inland.

In a book published in 1670, a Dutch sea captain by the name of Fuller describes Nzinga:
'In man's apparel ... hanging about her the skins of beasts, before and behind, with a Sword about her neck, an Axe at her girdle, and a Bow and Arrows in her hand, leaping to the custom, now here, now there, as nimbly as the most active among her attendants, all the while striking her Engema, that is, two Iron Bells'.
Nzinga was by then in her 60s. Captain Fuller was the captain of her bodyguard in the late 1640s - he is describing her preparations for ritual human sacrifice.
She kept a pool of fifty or sixty young men, instead of husbands, who were in turn allowed as many wives as they pleased. She had a smaller select group of young men whom she dressed in women's clothes. This emphasized the claim that she had been transformed by her male clothing.

Captain Fuller, after mentioning her ritual sacrifices and cannibalism, goes on to describe her as
'a cunning and prudent Virago, so much addicted to arms that she hardly uses other exercises; and withal so generously valiant that she never hurt a Portuguese after quarter given, and commanded all her slaves and soldiers alike'.
As the Ndongo had moved inland, the Portuguese followed, stretched too far and the Dutch were able to capture Luanda in 1641. Nzinga formed an alliance with the Dutch, and made an agreement with them to sell her prisoners of war. Aided by a few hundred Dutch soldiers, Nzinga's forces were able to defeat the Portuguese in 1643, 1647 and 1648. However later in 1648, the Portuguese were able to recapture Luanda.

The Ndongo retreated inland as before, but the Portuguese held Nzinga's sister and Nzinga agreed to deal with them, and to return to Catholicism. In 1659 she signed a new treaty with the Portuguese.

The modern-day statue to Nzinga in Luanda
She died at age 80, a remarkable age for the time.

After her death the Portuguese were able to seize control, and restore the shipping of slaves to Brazil.

Nzinga is honoured as a hero in modern Angola.
  • Antonia Frazer. The Warrior Queens. London: Mandarin Books, New York: Anchor Books 1988: 238-46.
  • Leslie Feinberg. Transgender Warriors: Making History from Joan of Arc to Rupaul. Beacon Press, 1996: 34.
  • Jone Lewis. "Anna Nzinga". Women's History.

09 September 2013

Eleanor Schuler (1936 - ) chemical engineer, spy, entrepreneur

John Huminik, Jr was born and raised in Washington, DC by immigrants from the Soviet Union. He married, at 20, the only woman he ever dated, and they had four children.

He was, at 23, vice-president of an engineering firm and working on high temperature coatings for rockets, a subject on which he later published a book.

He was also a second lieutenant in the Army Reserves for twelve years: he received a commission in the Chemical Corps Reserve and commanded the 312th Chemical Company and the 419th Chemical Biological and Radiological Center. In 1960 he was approached by Soviet agents at a scientific conference. The FBI asked him to play along, and for six years he delivered selected documents.

In 1963 Huminik became president of Chemprox. He served as chairman of the Washington chapter of the American Society for Metals (1965-66) and of the American Welding Society ( 1961-62) , was awarded the Welding Society's meritorious certificate in 1963, and was listed in Who's Who in Commerce and Industry (13th edition).

In 1965 he was involved in the US support of a right-wing coup in the Dominican Republic. In 1966 he was outed as an FBI asset, in the events leading to the expulsion of Valentin Revin, the Soviet embassy's third secretary and science officer. Huminik gave evidence to the Committee on Un-American Activities and published an autobiography of his years as a spy.

His wife had by now become aware of his cross-dressing, but he didn't go beyond dressing in private.

In the early 1970s Huminik was president of General Industrial Corp. and General Enterprises Corp. which in December 1975 were sued by the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) for alleged defrauding of investors. Huminik agreed, without admitting or denying the SEC's allegations, to a permanent injunction barring him from making untrue statements, and otherwise defrauding investors, in the future.

However once the espionage phase was over the inner feeling of being female became more insistent. He was diagnosed as having 'gender reversal', and the Huminiks divorced in 1975, and as Eleanor Schuler she had surgery the next year with Dr Roberto Granato, and took a job as a medical secretary.

She wrote a second autobiography and a general book on sex-change surgery (she contended then that gender reversal occurs in the fetus, but in 1996 would contend that the reason was that her mother had taken fertility drugs), but they were never published.

By 1989 Schuler was chairman of Printron based in Albuquerque which was pioneering a pollution-free process for manufacturing printed circuit boards. She brought together scientists and engineers, and apparently raised over $7 million to float the company. Several patents were filed, one of which included Schuler's name.

In 1991 the SEC filed suit in that Schuler had been brought into the company by Karl Huber, a convicted felon and disbarred lawyer. Without admitting or denying the allegations, Schuler and Printron settled the charges by agreeing to a consent decree barring them from future securities law violations.

In 1992 Printron was chosen as one of 23 new companies on its Emerging Company Marketplace (ECM) most of which would subsequently fail. One of the companies that was to make a flame retardant was run by a convicted arsonist. The blue-ribbon panel that chose the 23 companies knew about the 1991 filing but not the 1975 one. The central registry of the National Association of Securities Dealers listed John Huminik and Eleanor Schuler as two separate people.

Printron's share price declined from $14 to 22¢. Business Week published a story in September 1994 focused on the inadequate vetting by SEC. One investor who had lost $217,000 sued claiming that the company was a fraud with himself as the target. The company was forced into bankruptcy.

Schuler sued Business Week for libel and invasion of medical privacy, and maintained that the story caused Printron to go bankrupt. However the court granted Business Week's motion to dismiss on all counts, pointing out that Schuler had, in 1975, given interviews to The Washington Post and to People Magazine. It held that the references to her being transsexual were neither false nor defamatory:
"If, however, the Business Week story could have been fairly read as implying that Schuler changed her sex to escape recognition as the person the business world knew as Mr. Huminik, she arguably would have had a plausible false light action. It is one thing to point out that a sex change can have career advantages but something else to imply that a sex change was prompted by an unethical and perhaps pathological desire to gain those advantages."

I suppose that after the events of recent years that few of us are surprised that the SEC’s punishment for defrauding investors is to get the accused to promise not to do it again.

The Business Week story is not intrinsically a transsexual story.  A name change for any other reason: family, marriage, religion would have produced the same lack of a match in the central registry of the National Association of Securities Dealers.

07 September 2013

Vern Leroy Bullough (1928 – 2006). Historian and sexologist.

Original February 2008. Revised September 2013. 

Vern Bullough was born and raised in Salt Lake City.  He and his high-school sweetheart, Bonnie Uckerman (1927 - 1996), left the Mormon Church as teenagers in protest against its then exclusion of black people.  Bonnie's mother left her family to live with a woman, Berry Berryman.  Vern found this fascinating and asked many questions and met their gay and lesbian friends.  Vern and Bonnie married in 1947, and had two children. 

After being in the US Army, Vern did a BA in history at the University of Utah and an MA and PhD in 1954 at Chicago University, using GI Bill Benefits. He specialized in the Middle Ages and did a dissertation on medical education.  He was hired the same year to teach at Youngstown University in Ohio. 

In 1959 he became a professor of history at San Fernando Valley State College  (which later became California State University at Northridge), and Bonnie, already a nurse, completed a PhD in Sociology.  Shortly afterwards Vern became associated with Virginia Prince.   He also became involved with the homophile organization, ONE, Inc and became head of the San Fernando Valley chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). 

Vern and Bonnie became friends with Prince and visited Virginia and his wife Doreen at home.  They attended the second meeting of the Hose and Heel Club in 1960.  Having published several articles and books on the early history of medicine and nursing, Vern felt that he could look at sex, and published The History of Prostitution in 1964.  Working with ONE, Inc, where he came to know Harry Hay, Jim Kepner and Don Slater, Vern was successful in getting the San Fernando Valley chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to adopt a policy of protection of homosexuals, transvestites and transsexuals.  He was chairman when the local ACLU was very involved in the struggle to desegregate Los Angeles City schools.

In 1965 ONE, Inc split into two competing factions, and Vern Bullough was one of only two people who were able to maintain working relationships with both sides.  In 1966 the national ACLU adopted a national policy re homosexuals, transvestites and transsexuals based on Bullough's draft.

He rode in an early gay parade in Hollywood in 1966 that Slater organized to demand that gays be drafted to serve in the Vietnam War. Bullough opposed the war but supported gays' rights to serve in the military.  That same year Vern was able to visit West Asia on a Fulbright scholarship.   However the trip was marred when his son David was killed in a hit-and-run accident in Jerusalem.  The Bulloughs subsequently adopted three children of different races, two of whom are gay.

Vern allied himself with gay causes, and was a founder of gay caucuses in the American Historical Association and the American Sociological Association. He was a charter member of the original Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), which was founded in Los Angeles.  He established the Vern and Bonnie Bullough Collection on Sex and Gender, housed at the campus' Oviatt Library.  He “halfway encouraged” John Brown to do transsexual surgery, as he admits with chagrin. In 1974 Vern and Bonnie 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 Virginia Prince, Christine Jorgensen, Zelda Suplee, Laud Humphries, Christopher Isherwood and Evelyn Hooker.  The same year he and Bonnie published, The Subordinate Sex, 1974. This was his first book sponsored by the millionaire trans man Reed Erickson, and the one in which he made the claim that Islam is a sex-positive religion.

In 1976 Vern Bullough, Dorr Legg and other members of ONE, Inc finally published their An Annotated Bibliography of Homosexuality: In Two Volumes, which also contained the largest bibliography of transvestite and transsexual material available at that time.  His Sexual Variance  of the same year was again sponsored by Reed Erickson.  It contains many examples of gay and transgender behavior showing that it differs across time and between cultures.

Bonnie progressed from sociology instructor to professor of nursing, chair of primary care and coordinator of the graduate nursing program.

In 1979 Virginia Prince gave a talk at Northridge and Vern introduced her to his colleague, Richard Docter.  Vern published his Homosexuality, a History, the final book sponsored by Reed Erickson.  Chapter 10 is called “Cross-Dressing: Transvestism, Transsexualism, and Homosexuality” in which only one real transvestite is named: his friend, the avowed non-homosexual, Virginia Prince. He also mentions the Chevalier d’Eon, Lili Elvenes (Elbe) and Christine Jorgensen who were not homosexual either. But only these few. For some reason, even at the price of damaging the logic of his book, he chose not to mention at all any of José Sarria, Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P. Johnson, Bunny Breckinridge, Jimmy Donahue, Miss Destiny, Tamara Rees, Patricia Morgan, Norma Jackson, Hedy Jo Star, Candy Darling, Minette, Rachel Harlow, Rae Bourbon, Francis Renault, Dawn Langley Simmons, Abby Sinclair, Angela Douglas, Perry Desmond, Lee Brewster, Liz Eden, Holly Woodlawn, Carlotta. This was the first sign that he was censoring the existence of gay/androphilic trans women.

Later that year Vern and Bonnie Bullough moved to the State University of New York at Buffalo where Vern was dean of natural and social sciences, and Bonnie was dean of nursing.  In 1981 Vern earned a Batchelor of Science in Nursing from California State University, Long Beach, and proudly put his Registered Nurse license number on his CV.    In 1992 he was honored by the International Humanist and Ethical Union, and was their chairman 1995-6.  He was also on the editorial board of Paidika: The Journal of Paedophilia

In 1993 Vern and Bonnie Bullough returned to Los Angeles after their retirement. Vern again taught at Northridge as an adjunct professor until 2003. That year Vern and Bonnie published Cross Dressing, Sex, and Gender, specifically on trans people and their doctors. In the chapter “Transsexualism” they discuss (only) 6 known transsexuals: Lili Elbe (surgery 1931), Alan Hart (1918), Roberta Cowell (1951), Michael Dillon (1949), Christine Jorgensen (1953) and Jan Morris (1972)– none of whom, incidentally, had a male partner. He does also mention Coccinelle (1958), who had three husbands after her operation, but he puts her in the “Drag Queens and Cross Dressing on the Stage” chapter rather than the “Transsexualism” chapter, and omits all mention of her husbands. There is no mention at all of April Ashley (1960) whose divorce by her husband set such an unfortunate precedent, but then she could not be mentioned without admitting that she had a husband. Almost all the people that I mentioned in a previous paragraph are still apparently unknown to the Bulloughs, as are the extra people who were in the news in the additional 14 years. Of those mentioned, only Jan Morris and Coccinelle transitioned later than Jorgensen in 1953. Thus in the 40 years prior to writing their book, the Bulloughs seem to have become aware of only two more transsexuals, although they knew of Michael Dillon from Liz Hodgkinson's 1989 biography rather than from the media kerfuffle in 1958. In the “Organized Transvestism” chapter, again, only his friend Virginia Prince is mentioned, and the equally important work by Louise Lawrence, José Sarria and Sylvia Rivera is totally ignored.  And one more thing: The Bulloughs ignore completely the organizations for female-to-males. Surely they would not omit Reed Erickson, his former sponsor? Actually they do. But the next major ftm organizer is Louis Sullivan. Okay, he is briefly mentioned (p306) as a female cross-dresser who finds men's clothing erotic. They suppress the fact that he transitioned to male, and – this fits the pattern - that he became a man to be a gay man, a role that he tragically embraced to the point of dying of Aids.

Bonnie Bullough died in 1996, just before the publication of the anthology Gender Blending edited by herself, Vern and James Elias.  Vern quickly re-married.

In 2004 Vern encouraged Richard Docter to write and publish his biography of Virginia Prince and provided a Preface.
Helen Boyd asked Bullough to comment on rumors that he must be a cross-dresser because of his strong interests in the transgender community. Others assumed that he was gay and were disappointed to learn that he was an avowed heterosexual.
"If I was everything I wrote books about, I would probably be a very screwed-up person," he said, mentioning his works on sadomasochism, pedophilia, masturbation and other forms of sexual expression. I consider myself a sex researcher, and I will admit to having a strong interest in the way people sexually express themselves."
In his final book with Ariadne Kane, Crossing Sexual Boundaries, 2006, Bullough's Introduction again - as we now expect - fails to mention any transsexuals with male lovers/husbands, as does the book itself which contains 18 mtf and 2 ftm autobiographical essays, but not a single one in which the person has a male spouse. As Kane has said: "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" --- and they could not find a single trans person with a male partner!!!

Bullough died later in 2006, of cancer.  He was 77.  


Apparently Bullough was uncomfortable with transsexuals or transvestites who have male partners. This would explain why he was unable to name any gay transvestites or transsexuals in his 1979 book, and why Coccinelle is put in the other chapter in the 1993 book.  However this is odd in that he worked so well with gay organizations as well as with Virginia Prince.  He is even critical of Prince for proclaiming that transvestites are necessarily heterosexual.  And yet the omission is plainly there in his books.  I suspect somehow the influence of Prince, who apparently also had input into the non-presence of gay transvestites in Harry Benjamin's book and scale. 

Photo of Bullough, Prince, and Docter from Docter's book.
In his Preface to Richard Docter’s biography of Virginia Prince Bullough makes the claim – that surprisingly has been ignored in the debate about social construction - that “there is no evidence in Western culture of what might be called a heterosexual transvestite consciousness before the twentieth century”, and probably not before Magnus Hirschfield modified the term 'transvestite' in 1910.

Michel Foucault is associated with the claim that there were no homosexuals before that term was coined in 1869, and this claim is wrongly taken to represent the social constructionist position. The historian Rictor Norton has written extensively against social constructionism largely by demonstrating the many homosexuals who existed and had sex before 1869.

What a shame that Bullough made this claim only in a Preface to someone else's book. Could someone pay attention to the claim and either refute it or develop it?
  • Vern L. Bullough. Sexual Variance in Society and History. New York: Wiley 1976.
  • Vern L. Bullough. Homosexuality, a History. New York: New American Library 1979.
  • Vern L. Bullough & Bonnie Bullough. Cross Dressing, Sex, and Gender. University of Pennsylvania Press 1993. 
  • Vern L. Bullough.  "In Memory of Bonnie Bullough".  The Journal of Sex Research, 33,3, 1996: 179-181.   
  • Vern L. Bullough, Bonnie Bullough & James Elias (ed). Gender Blending. Amherst NY: Prometheus Books 1997. 
  • Raj Ayyar.  "America's Foremost Historian of Sexuality: Vern L. Bullough, RN, PhD ".  Gay Today, 01/01/03.
  • Vern L. Bullough. “Preface” in Richard F Docter. From Man to Woman: The Transgender Journey of Virginia Prince. Docter Press xiv, 149 pp 2004. 
  • Helen Boyd.  "Five Questions With… Vern Bullough".  en|Gender, November 16, 2005.
  • J. Ari Kane-Demaios (Ariadne Kane) & Vern L. Bullough (eds) Crossing Sexual Boundaries: Transgender Journeys, Uncharted Paths Prometheus Books, 365 pp, 2006. 
  • Elaine Woo.  "Vern Bullough, 77; Prolific Author Was Scholar of Sex History".  Los Angeles Times, July 2, 2006.
  • Wayne Dynes.  "Vern Bullough, 1928 - 2006".  Dyneslines, July 02, 2006.
  • Jeremy Pearce.  "Vern Leroy Bullough, 77, Noted Medical Historian, Dies" The New York Times, July 3, 2006.