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18 June 2017

Ethel Person–Part II: theory

Part I: Life
Part II: theory

Unless otherwise noted, page references are to The Sexual Century.

Person and Ovesey follow the old psychoanalytic tradition of referring to trans persons by their birth gender, and thus a heterosexual trans woman is in their terminology a ‘male homosexual’.

Development model

Person and Ovesey were influenced by the development model of psychoanalyst Margaret Mahler, and from this proposed that a child's separation-individuation anxiety produced a fantasy of symbiotic fusion with the mother which the transsexual tries to resolve by surgically becoming her mother.
“The male transsexual is defined by most workers as having a female core gender identity. From our experience, it seems more accurate to say that transsexuals have an ambiguous core gender identity. … [this] permits the disorder to be conceptualized psychodynamically in conflictual terms as a neurosis. In our opinion, transsexualism originates in extreme separation anxiety occurring early in life, before object differentiation has been accomplished. To alleviate the anxiety, the child resorts to a fantasy of symbiotic fusion with the mother. In this way, mother and child become one and the danger of separation is nullified. We believe that this reparative fantasy is the psychodynamic basis for transsexualism in the male and that the transsexual phenomena can be understood clinically as attempts to ward off threats to psychic fusion with the mother.” (p 107-8)

Typology

They proposed a typology of transsexuals as follows (as summarized by Vitale):

1 Primary - functionally asexual and who progresses resolutely toward a surgical resolution without significant deviation toward either homosexuality or heterosexuality, no evidence of effeminacy in childhood.

2a Secondary, homosexual - effeminate from earliest childhood, preferred girls as playmates, avoided boyish pursuits and were "mother's helpers." Crossdressing began in childhood, initially for narcissistic satisfaction, but later at puberty to attract male sexual partners. Cross-gender fantasies were frequently tied to identification with movie actresses and drag queens. The authors note that the homosexual cross-dresser wants to be noticed and to this end often wears flamboyant and colorful clothing and engages in theatrical endeavors.

2b Secondary, transvestic - appropriately masculine, and occasionally exceedingly hyper-aggressive and hyper-competitive. They neither played with girls nor engaged in female pursuits. They fantasized about being girls when cross-dressed, but valued their assertiveness and maleness.
This typology was in contradistinction to Stoller’s writings where the homosexual early transitioner was regarded as primary.

Trans men

With regard to trans men, Ovesey and Person write:
“we have concluded from a study of female transsexuals that there is no female equivalent of primary male transsexualism. In our opinion, the transsexual syndrome in women develops only in homosexuals with a masculine gender role identity. Female transsexualism, therefore, can be classified as another form of secondary (homosexual) transsexualism.” (p 112)

Homosexual transsexuals

Of male homosexuals, Person and Ovesey write:
“The vast majority of male homosexuals lack the propensity for a transsexual regression. The propensity exists almost entirely in cross-dressing effeminate homosexuals who comprise a very small segment of the homosexual population.”
They divide homosexual transsexuals into two subgroups:

a) passive effeminate homosexuals who
“in many ways present a caricature of typical female norms. They are interested in such things as cooking and decorating, but most of all, they seek a love relationship with another man where they can assume the female role. … on the surface they are passive and dependent, but they often dominate their mates through oversolicitousness. In this respect they, they tend to duplicate the close-binding behaviour frequently ascribed to their mothers. Often a relationship is terminated because the lover feels suffocated.”
b) the more aggressive, though equally effeminate, drag queens. They
“are usually involved in a community of other queens. They treat each other as ‘sisters’, and sexual relations within the group are rare. …. Narcissism is institutionalized in an endless series of drag balls and parties. … The queen claims that he wants involvement with a hypermasculine man who will overpower him …[however] he frequently prefers to be the active partner in anal intercourse. … These queens are quick to violence, both verbal and physical.”
Two examples are given: C. a 33-year-old who lives with mother and has worked only two years in his life. He met a man in Spain while on holiday and maybe the man would marry him if he had the operation. D. works as a drag queen and also turns tricks. His family know that he is gay, but not the rest. He has lost interest in sex, but hopes that post-op he would find a ‘real man’.
(p 127-135)

Transvestic Transsexualism

“transvestic transsexuals have the typical personality structure of their parent group, transvestites. The personality is organized on an obsessive-paranoid axis with attenuation of both tender affectivity and sexuality. These patients are hypercompetitive, may be hypermasculine, and engage in endless struggles for power with other men. … The relationship with the wife is essentially dependent. As such, its success is determined by the personality of the wife and her capacity to tolerate both cross-dressing and minimal sexuality. … Mental life is characterized not only by irritability and preoccupation with power struggles but also by bouts of depression. … they are countered most frequently by cross-dressing and many instances by resort to alcohol. … Suicide attempts are common, as we would expect in a patient population so prone to depression.” (p135-142)

Transvestism

Person and Ovesey went with the definition that transvestism is done by male heterosexuals (not gay men nor women) for fetishistic sexual arousal, although they concede that it may also be done ‘to relieve anxiety about gender role identity’. They divide transvestites into masochistic and non-masochistic. The psychoanalyst Milton Jucovy had proposed the concept of ‘initiation fantasy’ as a central part of male transvestism. Person elaborated that there are two versions: forced initiation by a dominant, big-breasted, booted phallic woman, and also initiation by a kindly woman who dresses the man to save him from ‘Mafia killers’ or some such.

DSM III

In 1978 the Archives of Sexual Behavior published Virginia  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".
The third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM III) 1980 added transsexualism for the first time, and subdivided it into asexual, homosexual, heterosexual and unspecified. Thus it was roughly congruent with Stoller, Person-Ovesey and Prince. Furthermore ‘transvestites’ was defined as done by a heterosexual male. Again congruent with Stoller, Person-Ovesey and Prince. However to the chagrin of Prince (who had been insisting on a differentiation from fetishism) it was defined as done for sexual excitement.
  • Robert Stoller. Sex and Gender. Science House, 1968.
  • Ethel S. Person. “Some Differences Between Men and Women: We think and behave different for biological and psychological reasons, not just cultural ones”. The Atlantic, March 1988. Online.
  • Ethel Person & Lionel Ovessey. “The transsexual syndrome in males I: primary transsexualism”. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 28, 1974: 4-20.
  • Ethel Person & Lionel Ovessey. “The transsexual syndrome in males II: secondary transsexualism”. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 28, 1974: 174-193.
  • Ethel Person. “Initiation fantasies and transvestism: discussion”. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 24, 1976:547-551.
  • Lionel Ovesey & Ethel Person “Transvestism: A disorder of the sense of Self”. International journal of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 5, 1976: 219-235.
  • Virginia Prince. "Transsexuals and Pseudotranssexuals", Archives of Sexual Behavior, 7, 4, 1978: 263-272. Reprinted in Richard Ekins & Dave King (eds) Virginia Prince: Pioneer of Transgendering. The Haworth Medical Press, 2005: 33-7 and the International Journal of Transgenderism, 8,4, 2005: 33-7.
  • Ethel Person & Lionel Ovessey. “Psychoanalytic Theories of Gender Identity”. Journal of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis. 11, 2 (Apr 1, 1983): 203.
  • Ethel Spector Person. “Harry Benjamin and the Birth of a Shared Cultural Fantasy”. In The Sexual Century: 347-366.
  • Vern L. Bullough & Bonnie Bullough. Cross Dressing, Sex, and Gender. University of Philadelphia Press 1993: 219-220..
  • Ethel Spector Person. By Force of Fantasy: How We Make Our Lives. Penguin, 1996.
  • Anne Vitale. “Primary and Secondary Transsexualism--Myths and Facts”. www.avitale.com, January 22, 2000. http://www.avitale.com/PrimarySecondary.htm
  • “Initiation Fantasy” in Salman Akhtar. Comprehensive Dictionary of Psychoanalysis. Karnac Books, 2009: 146.
  • Ethel Spector Person. The Sexual Century. Yale University Press, 1999.
  • Elizabeth. “The Person Ovesey Transsexual Study”. Notes from the T side, October 3, 2010. http://ben-girl-notesfromthetside.blogspot.ca/2010/10/person-ovesey-transsexual-study.html.
  • Leslie Kaufman. “Ethel Person, Who Studied Sexual Fantasies, Dies at 77”. New York Times, Oct 20, 2012. Online.
  • Irene Silverman. “Ethel S. Person, Psychoanalyst”. The East Hampton Star, October 25, 2012. Online.
  • Stephen Burt. “Ethel Person”. The New York Times, December 30, 2012. Online.
  • Molly Haskell. My Brother My Sister: Story of a Transformation. Penguin, 2014: 15, 73.
EN.Wikipedia
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Surely the non-homosexual transsexual group should have been called ‘heterosexual transsexuals’ or even better ‘gynephilic trannsexuals’. To put ‘transvestic’ in the type name predisposes to a negative interpretation just as much as calling them ‘autogynephilic’.

I have previously commented on similar attempts at typology. See Kay Brown androphilic and gynephilic, and Anne Vitale. I still think that 3-part typologies of transsexuals are better than Blanchard’s 2-part – but I am certainly not recommending the Person-Ovesey model. Vitale’s model regards the pathology as gender deprivation anxiety - non-standard gender identity as such not being a pathology. Thus Vitale’s approach is preferable if we are to continue with typologies. Those who transition as soon as possible, those who spend some time living as gay before transition and those who marry and have children before transition are intuitively three different types. However to define the three types by adding psychoanalytical interpretations and to ignore the great variety within each type ends up defaming all and sundry. The intuition of three types does lead to some valuable insights, but to reify the three types leads to severe distortion.

In part I, I mentioned Elizabeth who writes Notes from the T Side. Apparently she is a Benjamin VI (High Intensity True Transsexual), a Vitale G1 and a Stoller Primary; but a Person-Ovesey Secondary and a Prince Pseudo-transsexual. This is an excellent example of how typologies should not be taken literally.

I am not aware of any trans persons who actually identity with the Person-Ovesey model. Rachel Webb identied as a ‘constructed woman” as per Janice Raymond; Kay Brown and Kiira Triea identified as Blanchardian HSTS; Anne Lawrence, Willow Arune, and probably Maxine Petersen self identify as autogynephiliacs. But no-one has in public identified as a Person-Ovesey secondary transsexual.  This despite the fact that the Person-Ovesey papers came out over a decade before Blanchard's.

It is difficult to reconcile the portraits of all three types of transsexuals as described by Person-Ovesey with the range of creativity and achievement of individuals featured in this Encyclopedia. Apparently Person was charming and easy to get on with face-to-face. However when you read the descriptions of trans persons in her book, then obviously she was not so nice.

Furthermore, the typology that Person-Ovesey come up was far from original.   In its basic structure adheres closely to street stereotypes current at the time.   All Person-Ovesey really did was revise the psychoanalytic dialectic to support the model.   This despite Person being credited for doing field work in porn shops and transvestite parties!   How come she never saw those of us who do not fit into the model - and I strongly argue that those of us who do not fit are the majority.   She must have worked at ignoring those of us.   This is later called erasure.   Yes, there are some trans people who are like those described.   There are some who have the separation-anxiety neuroses described.   There there are even more who do not.

I have not found any record of Benjamin’s reactions to the 1974 Person-Ovesey papers on Primary and Secondary Transsexuals.

We should remember that two decades earlier, Benjamin had provided a few of his patients to Federick G Worden & James T Marsh who quite disappointed the volunteers and in effect refused to listen to them, because they knew in advance what transsexuals were.

The New York Times obituary says: “Her work, upsetting the conventional thinking, found that many transsexuals and transvestites did not perceive themselves as homosexuals but rather saw themselves in many different lights — sometimes, for example, as a woman trapped in a man’s body, and sometimes as a heterosexual who preferred a feminine demeanor.” Surely this and more had been established by Magnus Hirschfeld over 50 years before.

Molly Hacker commends Ethel Person in her book about her trans sibling. But did she never read Person’s book? Does she actually regard her sibling as a ‘transvestic transsexual’, in effect a fetishist? If she does not, how can she commend Person in her book?

This is Anne Vitale’s summing up of Primary and Secondary Transsexualism:
“It is with dismay that I continue to encounter individuals with gender identity issues using the terms Primary and Secondary Transsexualism as diagnostic indicators. The terms show up repeatedly in Internet chat rooms, in the Internet news groups, in my email, and by individuals presenting to me in my private practice. The individuals who self-identify as Primary Transsexuals are usually using the term to mean that they are "Benjamin Type VI, true transsexuals." Those who self-identify as Secondary Transsexuals are usually trying to diminish their condition and to find some way to deal with their gender dysphoria without having to face the possibility of transitioning. As we shall soon see, neither term has ever had anything to do with severity or prognosis. There is no hierarchy of transsexualism. There are no Primary Transsexuals or Secondary Transsexuals. There are only gender dysphoric individuals who need help.”

See also A Blanchard-Binary Timeline.

17 June 2017

Ethel Person (1934-2012) psychoanalyst: Part I Life

Part I: Life
Part II: theory

Unless otherwise noted, page references are to The Sexual Century.

Ethel Jane Spector was raised in Louisville, Kentucky. Her mother was a mathematician, and her father owned a bar. He died when she was twelve. She completed a first degree at the University of Chicago in 1956, and then a medical degree at the New York University College of Medicine four years later. She became Mrs Person when she wed an engineer. The marriage ended after ten years, although she kept his name for her professional life. She married her second husband, a psychiatrist, in 1968, and became Mrs Sherman.

Soon after joining the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research, Person was invited to work with Lionel Ovesey (1915-1995), the author of The Mark of Oppression: A Psychosocial Study of the American Negro, 1951, and Homosexuality and pseudohomosexuality, 1969. His concept of ‘pseudohomosexuality’ concerned `homosexual anxieties' in heterosexual males who were concerned about dependency and lack of power. Ovesey was one of the psychiatrists strongly opposed to the delisting of homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in 1973.

Ovesey’s proposal was that he and Person would write a textbook on sex and gender. They quickly realized that neither of them had any experience with transvestites or transsexuals. An acquaintance in the psychoanalytical world was Harold Greenwald, the founder of the Professional School for Humanistic Studies (where Anne Vitale qualified as a psychologist). Greenwald introduced Person to the then 88-year-old Harry Benjamin and his assistant Charles Ihlenfeld in 1972. She spent time in Benjamin’s office interviewing some of his patients.
“The work that I did with Lionel would have been well nigh impossible without the cooperation of Harry Benjamin, who was hospitable to me despite his major bias against psychoanalysts. In fact we became great friends.” (p xiii)
Indeed Benjamin asked her to write a biographical portrait of him to be published after his death. She formally interviewed him to this end a dozen times.

One person that Person met at Benjamin’s offices was Ed/Edna, 60, a retired tugboat captain who had become the superintendent of a rental building. He fell in love with Clair, one of his tenants, a completed transsexual. He detransitioned to become her lover, and was devastated when she left him for a truck driver. To cope with the resulting depression, Edna restarted hormones and dressing full-time. Again he rented to a completed trans woman, Janet. Again he reverted to male, and became her lover. After Ed’s original wife died, he married Janet, and lived happily with her until she also died ten years later. He was then 85. (By Force of Fantasy p 131-4)

Edna subscribed to Transvestia magazine, and through that discovered transvestite social groups. Edna introduced Person to these socials: “it was at these events that I gained some of my deeper insights into the subjective meaning to transvestites of their participation in that world”. Person and Ovesey also sought confirmation for their work by visiting pornography shops and reading trans publications.

Person and Ovesey proposed a typology of trans persons assuming that a child's separation-individuation anxiety produced a fantasy of symbiotic fusion with the mother which the transsexual tries to resolve by surgically becoming her mother.  Papers to this effect were published 1973-85. (See part II for details).

One of the transsexuals included in the Person-Ovesey study was Elizabeth – author of the Notes from the T Side blog. She writes:

Harry Benjamin “in 1970 -71 asked me to talk to a Dr. Ethel Person as part of a study and I agreed although I am inherently distrustful of shrinks but I found her pleasant and quite nice and we became friendly. When the study was published I was stunned to be honest. I was part of the study and I knew two others who were part of it and friends of mine. We never talked about anything mentioned in the study directly. We talked about our lives as children until the current time and at the time I was 24 and had close to enough money for surgery. In point of fact Harry might have been more upset by the study than anyone. I am posting this to refute what they found because as one of the participants in the study I walked into her office and asked her where I fit in late 1974 and she said Secondary because I liked boys so I was a homosexual transsexual where by Harry's definition I was a Type VI high intensity transsexual and according to Harry the study was bogus.”
Ethel Person’s second husband died in 1976. She married a lawyer in 1978 and became Mrs Diamond. 


Person was director of the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research 1981-91. She did an “epidemiological study of sexual fantasy” which she contrasted to Alfred Kinsey’s study of sexual acts.

Her best known book is By Force of Fantasy: How We Make Our Lives, 1995, where she argues that we shape our lives by trying consciously or otherwise to live out our fantasies.

In 1987 Person had paired the film critic Molly Haskell with an appropriate analyst, and became a friend. In 2005 when Haskell’s sibling was starting transition, she spoke to Person about the situation. Apparently Person said nothing to her about primary or secondary or separation anxiety. Only: “Transsexuals are the best, the kindest people I know, maybe because they have to learn compassion the hard way” and “He longs for validation,” Ethel spoke of transsexualism as being “a passion of the soul”. Later in Haskell’s book, Person is quoted: “The worst thing about it is you discover you don’t know the person you thought you knew.”

In 1997 Person gave a presentation to the International Psychoanalytic Association Congress in Barcelona on her life of Harry Benjamin, and used it to illustrate the origin of shared cultural fantasy. In 1999 she collected her works on sex and gender, including her biography of Harry Benjamin, and published them as The Sexual Century.

Person’s third husband died in 2009. Ethel Jane Spector Person Sherman Diamond, her final name, incorporating the surnames of all three husbands, died at age 77 of complications from Alzheimer’s disease.

12 June 2017

Jackie Shane (1940- ) musician

Originally from Nashville, Jackie Shane, like Jimi Hendrix, spent time with musical house mother, ‘Queen of the Blues’, Marion James, and in late teenage started touring.

In 1960 Jackie was picked out of the crowd by fellow-American Frank Motley at a gig in Montréal. Jackie became part of the band, The Motley Crew, which was based in Toronto, where they frequently performed at at the Sapphire Tavern. Jackie was a soul/R&B singer whose appearance was androgynous, often wearing makeup, and sometimes an evening gown. This at a time when homophobia was rife and taverns and clubs in Toronto had to close before midnight on Saturday as required by the Lord’s Day Act. Jackie’s type of show was new in Canada where the US black tent shows and the Chitlin Circuit with their traditions of drag performance were unknown. A rumour developed that Shane was cousin to Little Richard, but this was unfounded.

Carl Wilson comments:
“Jackie Shane wasn’t bringing his act to Toronto so it could be better understood. Instead he was taking it out of context, to someplace where it seemed more alien and strange. Maybe he liked it better that way. By coming to Toronto he was escaping segregation and getting to perform to white people with presumably deeper pockets, who had never seen anything like him before. You could cross over in the States, but then you’d have to pull a Little Richard and turn your ‘freak’ show into a clown act, taking out the gay innuendo.”
Shane had only one hit record, “Any Other Way” which was released in April 1962, and reached No. 2 in Canada.  (Listen)
“Tell her that I’m happy/ Tell her that I’m gay/ Tell her I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
The words and emphasis were somewhat changed from that of the original versions by William Bell (video) and Chuck Jackson (video) which use the words as a man’s face-saving lie after being dumped. The new version reads like a gay woman's confession to a female friend, and in fact many listeners assumed that the singer was a woman.*

Between songs Jackie would talk to the audience:
"You know, when I'm walking down Young Street, you won't believe this, but you know some of them funny people have the nerve to point the finger at me, and grin, and smile, and whisper ... but you know that don't worry Jackie because I know I look good. You what my slogan is? Baby, do what you want, just know what you're doing. As long as you don't force your will and your way on anybody else, live your life because ain't nobody sanctified and holy."
Toronto’s gossip tabloid, Tab, told how Jackie was invited to a local radio station CHUM for an on-air chat, but they were so upset by Jackie’s makeup and attire that they cancelled the interview and did not play the record until it was at the top of the charts.

Jackie was listed in the 1964 Etta James Revue as ‘female impersonator’.





In 1965 Jackie appeared on the WLAC television show, Night Train, in Nashville performing “Walking the Dog”.




Frank Motley discontinued The Motley Crew in 1966, and formed a new band, The Hitchhikers. Jackie was performing in clubs across North America, and released a couple of live albums.

On the back of her 1967 LP Jackie Shane Live, it said

“Warning: This Album is not meant for squares! You’ve got to be down with it and can’t quit it, baby. … What are Jackie’s likes and dislikes? Well, you know Jackie likes ‘chicken’. Even when food is concerned Jackie likes chicken. The only problem is when Jackie suggests, ‘let’s go out, and get some chicken after the show’, you can’t be too sure what he has in mind. … You’ll feel energetic and ambitious when you here ‘Money’. You’ll be inspired as Jackie tells you his life story in ‘Any Other Way’.”
Talking in the live version of ‘Any Other Way’, Jackie says:
“You know what my woman told me one night? She said, ‘Jackie, if you don’t stop switchin’ around here and playing the field and bringing that chicken home, you gonna have to get steppin’.’ I said, ‘Uh huh,’ and I grabbed my chicken by one hand, baby, and we been steppin’ ever since that night.”
That year a woman wrote to the Toronto Star:
“My friend and I saw a group called Jackie Shane and the Hitchhikers, and she says Jackie Shane is a girl. I thought he was a boy.”
Shane’s last singles were released in 1969, which was also the last time that Jackie worked with Frank Motley; and she left Toronto in 1971, maybe because of problems with immigration officials, maybe because the club scene was changing.

After moving to Los Angeles, Jackie turned down an offer to be part of the band Funkadelic. Jackie began caring for an aged aunt.

 After her mother’s death she and her aunt returned to Nashville. By now Jackie was living as a woman. Shane had become a legend, and it was even rumoured that she had been murdered in 1998.

After the airing of a CBC Radio documentary in 2010, renewed efforts were made to contact Jackie. A double CD is about to be released. The 2017 anthology about queer Toronto is named Any Other Way after her single.
  • Jackie Shane. “Any Other Way”. Single Sue, April 1963
  • Jackie Shane. Jackie Shane Live. LP Caravan, 1967. Listen at JunoRecords.
  • Kimdog. Comment on MataFilter. July 27, 2009. Online.
  • Elaine Banks. "I Got Mine: The Story of Jackie Shane". CBC Radio, February 28, 2010. Online. Geo-restrictions in effect.
  • Carl Wilson. “I Bet Your Mama Was a Tent-Show Queen”. Hazlitt, April 22, 2013. Online.
  • Sonya Reynolds & Lauren Hortie. Whatever Happened to Jackie Shane? 2014
  • Elio Iannacci. “Searching for Jackie Shane, R&B’s lost transgender superstar”. The Globe and Mail, May 19, 2017. Online.
  • Steven Maynard. “ ‘A New Way of Lovin’’: Queer Toronto Gets Schooled by Jackie Shane”. In Any Other Way: How Toronto Got Queer. Coach House Books, 2017.
QueerMusicHeritage     EN.Wikipedia       CanadianBands

The Saphire Tavern from YZO on Vimeo.

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*Jackie was a unisex name in the 1960s. Jackie Robinson was a baseball player; Jackie Kennedy was a presidential spouse.


Some of the sources say that Jackie was in drag for the 1965 Nighttrain performance.