This site is the most comprehensive on the web devoted to trans history and biography. Well over 1200 persons worthy of note, both famous and obscure, are discussed in detail, and many more are mentioned in passing - especially in the year-end summaries (see links in right sidebar.)

There is a detailed Index arranged by vocation, doctor, activist group etc.

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 page. There is also a search box at the top left. Enjoy exploring!

30 December 2014

2014 and other stuff: comments


In the 1980s when Thatcher was UK Prime Minister, and perhaps in reaction to her predecessor as Conservative leader whose homosexuality was an open secret,  she caused to be enacted Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1986 to inhibit positive statements about homosexuality, and without saying so transsexuality.  This was not the only similarity of Thatcher to Putin, and it not the only homophobic action of the Thatcher government.  At the same as this opposition to adults joining in consensual loving, there was, we now know, an acceptance or at least a looking the other way with regard to predatory paedophilia.   1) Jimmy Savile, now posthumously openly revealed as such a paedophile, was a close friend of Thatcher, and she tried and tried again against official advice, based on reports of his sexual activities, until she obtained a knighthood for him, and he was a frequent guest at Chequers, the official residence of the Prime Minister, especially at New Year’s Eve.  2) Peter Morrison, scion of a dynasty connected to the Conservative party for many generations, inherited the Isle of Islay in the Hebrides where the Thatchers were invited guests year after year.   Peter became MP for Chester, and after Thatcher became PM he was given various government jobs,  became deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, was given a knighthood and became Thatcher’s Parliamentary private Secretary.  By then his interests in young boys were known and now (he died in 1995) he is regarded as a central figure in the North Wales child abuse scandal.  C) Now the story is coming out that a VIP sex party ring, which included a yet unnamed Conservative minister, actually killed at least 3 boys in the 1980s.    We knew at the time that the Thatcherites were a bunch of hypocrites but it is still surprising how far it went.

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In my article about Catherine McGregor I mentioned the support that she got from Prime Minister Tony Abbott.  This does not mean that Abbot is supportive of transsexuals.   In fact he is known for his fierce opposition to equal marriage despite his sister being lesbian.  And in his Australia, Tori Johnson, the heroic cafe manage in Sydney who lost his life in December’s siege, was a second-class citizen in that he was unable to marry his partner of 14 years.   Abbott is supportive of Catherine because she is a mate going back many years.   There is something similar in the position of Ayla Holdom in Britain’s RAF.  While trans persons are permitted in all the UK’s services, Ayla Holdom does seem to get special attention because she is a mate of William Windsor, an hereditary prince.

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Articles continue to pop up in the press and on-line re persons who transition and then regret and even detransition (change back).  While many of such articles attempt to spin the facts to suggest that transition is not a good idea, it is interesting that so many mention Alan Finch who reverted 17 years ago, and who has long since dropped out of the public eye.  Example, another.  The reason that Finch is mentioned again and again is that the percentage of transsexuals who revert is actually rather low, and it is difficult for the anti-transsexual polemicists to find recent examples.   As is true of so many aspects of the history of transgender, the most comprehensive list of persons who reverted is found on this site which lists 32 such, persons who reverted for quite a variety of reasons.   Given that over 1000 persons are discussed in some detail, this suggests that less than 3% do in fact revert.
Charles Kane reverted in 2004 giving a sort-of reason:
"In fact, I found being a woman rather shallow and limiting. So much depends on your appearance, at the expense of everything else. I wasn't interested in shopping. My female friends would spend hours shopping for clothes, trying on different outfits. But having been a man I knew exactly what would suit me and appeal to men. I could walk into a shop and be out again in five minutes with the right dress. Nor have I ever been interested in celebrity magazines or the things that interest other women, but when I tried to talk to men about blokey things they didn't take me seriously.”
Which leaves some of us appalled about his conception  of womanhood.  There are loads and loads of women who are not at all described by that, and in fact it would be an insult to describe them in such terms.  I included a person in my Year End Part 2 this year who wants the NHS to pay for a reversal because she finds heels and make-up exhausting.   She, like Kane, should explore some the intriguing and delightful ways of being a woman that do not include high heels or make-up or stereotyped behaviour. 
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It is with chagrin that I note that The Danish Girl film has been resurrected.  They have switched from a cis-female to a cis-male actor for the part of ‘Lili Elbe’  - the very idea of using a trans actor seems to be totally alien to the production.  Likewise the idea of using a trans writer.   The following is the first line of the story description from IMDB: “Inspired by the true story of Danish painter Einar Wegener and his California-born wife”.   Gerda Wegener was Danish.   The story cannot be true if she is anything else.   The film is fact-free and transsexual-free.   It will be a film to avoid.

What is that you say:  Gerda was from California in the novel by David Ebershoff.   Yes I know that.  He also has her have a first husband and child before meeting Wegener.   In the true story, she was a pastor’s daughter and married Wegener at age 18.   Hardly time to get in a first marriage.   There is a tradition of filming trans stories by filming a novel ‘inspired’ by the story instead of using the original story – examples: Psycho, M Butterfly.    This is not a good tradition.  If they had in fact filmed the ‘true story’ they could have saved paying a fee to Ebershoff.

Charlotte Goiar, whose instincts about what is good for transsexuals are always somewhat askew, was excited when Nicole Kidman was announced for the part, and is still proclaiming “Nicole Kidman will reportedly play the world's first reported case of a woman born with Harry Benjamin Syndrome  … based on the true story”. !!!

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I put together the list of books in Part 10 partly by going to Amazon and entering ‘transgender’ as a subject.   This was dispiriting in that for every book of interest there were at least 10 that treat trans topics as if they are a fetish: forced femininity etc.   While such books are an established tradition going back to the 1950s and earlier, one would have hoped that with the present-day opportunities for real life transgender such books would be no longer required.   I suppose that the existence of the books is an indication that many, maybe most, trans people remain crossdreamers, and maybe other terms are required.

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Let us return to the quote from Sheila Jeffreys on ABC Radio’s Sunday Night Safran which I mentioned in Part 5:
“Transgenderism for men is about the right to imitate and pretend to be members of the subordinate class even though they are members of – biologically and were brought up in – the superior class. That was problematic for the black and white minstrels. It’s problematic generally when a group of people claim to be another group of subordinate people.”
Whilst this is an Australian academic speaking on Australian radio, this does not seem to address the Australian experience at all.  Without saying so, it seems to be addressing the tradition of blackface in the US.   However in the middle is a reference to the “black and white minstrels”.   The Black and White Minstrels was sing-a-long show on BBC television from 1958-78.  An academic should know better than to mix up cultures like that.   There is the same mishmash on p37 of her new book.   (It is just as well that she is ignorant of the part that US minstrels shows played in the evolution of glamour drag – as I have commented about Janice Raymond’s comments on Jan Morris, the quality of research in transphobic books is usually rather low.)

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