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06 December 2023

Jeanne Hoff (1938 – 2023) psychiatrist

++original September 2013, revised February 2019 to include extra detail from Gill-Peterson's book, and December 2023 to acknowledge Jeanne's passing.

Eugene Hoff  was born in in St Louis.  Hoff did an MD at Columbia University, College of Physicians And Surgeons 1963 followed by a doctorate in solid state chemistry at University College, London (where he also converted to Catholicism), followed by training and a residency as a psychiatrist at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri.

Hoffinitially thought of himself as homosexual, but in exploring homosexuality found out that he was not. He was introduced to the Harry Benjamin practice, possibly by Wardell Pomeroy of the Kinsey Institute.

Hoff was a guest on the NBC television program Not for Women Only where he (as she was still) explained transsexualism from a medical viewpoint referring to trans women as 'men' as was the then practice.
"You can say that you know that you are a woman, therefore you want to be one. But no woman I have ever asked has been able to tell me what that means, and I doubt that transsexuals will be the first to define it."
Harry Benjamin's successor Charles Ihlenfeld resigned the practice in 1976 to begin a psychiatric residency in the Bronx, and Hoff took over.  This was Hoff's first clinical practice other than the residency in St Louis.  The practice was being managed under the aegis of the Orentreich Medical Group, a dermatology and hair restoration practice, which was located at in the same building as the Benjamin practice at 1 East 72nd St. It was then still administered by Benjamin's office manager and assistant Virginia Allen.

Hoff fired Virginia, the nurse, Mary Ryan, and the physician, Agnes Nagy, and pleased Dr Orentreich by moving the practice downtown to a townhouse behind the Chelsea Hotel, at 223 West 22nd Street.

In this period Dr Hoff confronted the homophobic psychiatrist Charles Socarides in a television debate and challenged his reactionary views that homosexuality can be cured by psychoanalysis. 

Hoff was starting her own transition.
Her best known patient was the punk musician Jayne County, who wrote in her autobiography: 

"When I walked into the consulting room for my appointment, I nearly fainted: Dr Jean Hoff was a man who was going through the sex change himself. She looked like a woman in man's clothes, she wore men's clothes and no make-up, and she had short hair that was just beginning to grow out. Later on she went through the full change, changed her name to Janine Hoffand got her own practice.   
The best thing about Dr Hoff was that she kept asking me questions about myself over and over again, to make sure that I really knew what I wanted. She'd say things like, 'Do you think you'd ever go back to wearing men's clothes?' and I'd say, Yeah, sometimes I see a jacket I like and think it might be fun to wear.'  At the time I was talking to her about the full sex change, but I was really quite afraid, and I thought it would cut me offfrom all my folks. She said to me, 'Look, there are different degrees of transsexualism. You are a transsexual, but not all transsexuals have a full sex change. Some people are better offjust taking hormones and dressing as a woman. There are some transsexuals who go back to dressing as men. There are so many different degrees, and you shouldn't just assume that because you are transsexual you have to have a sex change. You should only get a sex change if you are one hundred and twenty five per cent sure about it. If you have the least hesitation about it, don't do it.'  That was one of the best pieces of advice anyone ever gave me. Dr Hoff also said that, given the kind of circles I was moving in, there really wasn't much need for me to have a sex change." 

Becoming Jeanne, 1979

Hoff completed her transition to Jeanne with surgery with Dr Granato in 1977. She was interviewed at home by Lynn Redgrave and Frank Fields immediately before surgery and two months afterwards. The resulting television program "Becoming Jeanne" won the prestigious Ohio State Broadcasting award in 1979.

It was now the case that for the first time a trans psychiatrist was in charge of a practice for trans persons. Gill-Peterson comments:
"Though the medical model was still based in gatekeeping and an unacknowledged racialization of gender, Hoff cared deeply about the well-being of her clients to a degree that is viscerally embedded in the archive she gifted to the Kinsey Institute. Her work demonstrates a level of empathy entirely absent from transsexual medicine since its advent—not to mention its predecessors in the early twentieth century— an ethic of care that, although greatly constrained by the material circumstances and history of psychiatry and endocrinology, was also entangled with her situated perspective as a trans woman. It is important to underline that Hoff represents yet another trans person who took an active and complicated role in medicine, rather than being its object."
Gill-Peterson has read Hoff's interview notes in her archive papers at the Kinsey Institute, and comments:
"Because she took the time to interview them without only reducing what they said to standard diagnostic biographies, her notes offer comparatively richer glimpses into trans boyhood than those of her predecessors." 


In 1978 Hoff became aware of a young black trans woman, then 30, who had been committed to a psychiatric Institution in New Jersey for 15 years.  Initially labeled  ‘schizophrenic’, her gender identity issues were taken as evidence of ‘delusion’, ‘mental retardation’ and ‘sexual perversion’. Hoff interviewed her, and petitioned for her release.
“Through all the florid language of the [psychiatric] reports there is an unmistakable moralistic disapproval of her effeminacy and homosexuality but not the slightest hint that the diagnosis of transsexualism was suspected, even though it was quite evident from the details provided. . . . She should be placed in the community, preferably living by herself” and “she should be permitted to explore the various problems that arise from cross-gender living, hormonal therapy, and surgical gender reassignment.” (quoted in Gill-Peterson)

However by 1980 there were few patients left in the practice, and Hoff had already taken a job in a psych ward in Brooklyn. The next year she sold the building on West 22nd St and moved away, first to Massachusetts and then California.

She became a psychiatrist at San Quentin prison. She was in the news in April-May 1998 when she was the only one of three psychiatrists to testify that murderer Horace Kelly might be competent to be executed, and the defense attorney attempted to impeach Hoff.

She retired after being assaulted during a counseling session by a death-row inmate.

In 2013 she donated her archives to the Kinsey Institute.

Jeanne Hoff died at age 85. 
  • "Masculine, Feminine or Androgynous?" Not for Women Only. WNBC 1976  hosted by Polly Bergen and Frank Fields, produced by Madeline Amgott.  Archive 
  • Becoming Jeanne…A Search for Sexual Identity. NBC 30 June 1978. Jeanne Hoff interviewed by Lynn Redgrave and Frank Fields.
  • Kathleen Casey.  "Gay Catholics Hear Transsexual's Story".  Asbury Park Press, October 10, 1978: 23. 
  • Jeanne Hoff. "Multiple personality disorder?" The Journal of clinical psychiatry, 48(4), Apr 1987. 
  • Jayne County with Rupert Smith. Man Enough to be a Woman. London: Serpent's Tail, 1995: 99-100.
  • Michael Dougan. "Killer's mental records turn up". SFGate, April 17, 1998. Online,
  • Maria L LaGanga. "Killer Understands He Faces Execution, Prosecutor Says". Los Angeles Times, May 01, 1998. Online.
  • Michael Dougan. "Sanity trial outcome rests with minutiae". SFGate, May 5, 1998. Online.
  • Sara Catania. "The Alienists: Where experts divide, jury must decide". LAWeekly, May 13 1998.  Archive.
  • Andy Humm. "Socarides, Leading Anti-Gay Shrink, Dies". Gay City, 4,52 Dec 29-Jan 4, 2005. 
  • "Jeanne Hoff Archive". The Kinsey Institute. Online
  • SJ Parker. Emails to Zagria, 15,17 September 2013.
  • Julian Gill-Peterson. Histories of the Trangender Child. University of Minnesota Press, 2018: 159-160, 171, 174, 192-3, 248n105, 251n32, 252n45, 253n79-82, 254n84-5.
  • Andy Humm.  "Jeanne Hoff, first trans psychiatrist to serve trans people, dies at 85".  Gay City News, December 5, 2023.  Online

Although Horace Kelly's lawyer subpoenaed Hoff's prison personnel file in an attempt to impeach her, he presumably hadn't heard rumours that she was transsexual, didn't find it in the file and didn't read her.   Otherwise he probably would have used it to defame her.   She had been in the 1978 television special under the same name, but that was 20 years earlier.   Before the Internet it was much more difficult to make connections.

Jeanne was also, in effect, outed in Jayne County's 1995 autobiography, but presumably the lawyer didn't read punk biographies.  

+++ Other sources led me to write that Hoff left New York in 1981, having sold her building at 223 West 22nd Street.  Gill-Peterson writes that she stayed in practice through the 1980s.  ??


  1. I am the late Lynn Redgrave's ex-husband, John Clark, still alive and kicking, nearly 84 now. I am here to tell you that Jeanne was our friend for many years, and would stay with us very often at our estate in Topanga Canyon. My memory of her is that she had a wonderful sense of humor laced with irony, and we had many a conversation about her life. With Lynn it was usually about baking bread, with me it was more about "what's going on?" I'd take her to our local nudist hangout Elysium in the Canyon, and proudly show her off. No-one knew she used to be a man.
    She told me she quit San Quentin when she was standing close to the bars of a death row prisoner who poked his arms through the bars and pulled her towards him, and almost broke her neck. She managed to break away, and decided to quit there and then, realizing her life could be in danger. She was (is) a trusting individual, and expects honesty in her conversation.
    I've lost touch with her, and I don't think she has much interest in me any more, which is too bad. Hopes she reads this. Please email me, Jeannie! My website is

  2. Since the release of Histories of the Transgender Child, Gill-Peterson has transitioned and is now Jules Gill-Peterson, pronouns she/her.

    1. I am aware of that, but that was not the case in February 2019. The 1st edition of the book was by Julian.

  3. A reader:15/5/24 10:42

    I knew Jeanne Hoff over a period of 15 years, as a patient and then as an ever-more-distant acquaintance, beginning with her arrival at the old Harry Benjamin practice, which was now (1976) at 1 East 72nd Street; and continuing to the early 90s, when we had both moved to the West Coast. As often happens with obituaries of people you know, I found the New York Times notice a little sketchy.

    So, to straighten out some errors: It is implied that Dr. Hoff (then Eugene) had her own private practice in Manhattan at the time she took over the old Benjamin office. Actually she had only that one practice, the Benjamin one, which she moved to her Chelsea brownstone in early 1977, where she operated solo. A year or so later she took an outside job at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, where she worked until moving out of Manhattan around early 1981. She then worked at a hospital in Gloucester, Massachusetts for a couple of years, then was with a clinic in Kingston NY in the Hudson Valley; before decamping for San Diego and then San Francisco, about 1990.

    The NYTimes obit says Hoff’s 1978 NBC documentary, “Becoming Jeanne.” was a television “debut” that was “mostly done as an example for her patients.” It wasn’t Hoff’s debut, since she’d previously appeared, as Eugene, on the daytime talk show “Not for Women Only” in 1976. The later program, with Lynn Redgrave and Frank Field, was framed as a follow-up to the 1976 appearance. “Becoming Jeanne” was planned as a two-part doco, the first segment being filmed in December 1977 at Hoff’s townhouse and at Boulevard Hospital in Queens with Roberto Granato giving his clinical explanations. The second part was shot two months later back at the townhouse, around the luncheon table. The full documentary was projected to be at least an hour, and to be broadcast in the spring (1978). As things turned out, it was cut to a half hour—I suppose most clinical discussion of surgery and post-op complications were left on the cutting-room floor—and repeatedly postponed, at last turning up late on a Thursday night in late June. (I had been phoning up Dr Hoff occasionally, asking about the progress.) On another point, I don’t think it would be churlish to say that the documentary was done more for Hoff, who in person seemed awkward and self-conscious about self-presentation, than for Hoff’s patients.

    The awkwardness was understandable. Hoff was not at all “out” during the early months at the Benjamin practice in 1976. The first or second time I met her (him, actually, at this point), I was told that if I were to bump into him on the street or "at the A&P" I wasn't to say hello or expect a greeting in acknowledgment. This was the weirdest introduction I’ve ever had from a shrink or, indeed, any sort of clinician. I later mentioned it to the nurse in the office, and she guessed that Hoff said it because psychiatrists “don’t usually move in the same social circles as their patients.” Which is scarcely true, and as an attempted explanation was even more baffling than the original remark.

    The Eugene Hoff of that vintage had some very pronounced biases, ones that seemed to arise from personal feelings rather than medical consensus. He strongly opposed the idea of sperm banking, or otherwise saving genetic material, apparently believing that concern about such things indicated a lack of resolve on the part of the patient. He was equally opposed to investigating the possibility that one might be intersex, saying in effect that “if you have a condition like that I can’t help you, because I am a psychiatrist, so you’ll have to go somewhere else.” These attitudes would have been regarded as idiosyncratic then, and seem even odder today.



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