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.)

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!

24 July 2017

Ellie Zara Ley (1974–) surgeon

Eleazer Ley was born in San Luis, Sonora. His mother was Chinese, and his father half-Chinese. Shortly after birth he developed a medical complication that the local doctors did not know how to deal with. Despite not having the correct papers, his mother was able to take the child across the US border to a hospital in Yuma, Arizona, purely with a doctor’s letter.

Ley grew up to be a doctor. He did undergraduate work in the US as a foreign student, returned to Mexico for medical school, and immigrated to the US. He worked at New York Medical College in Valhalla, NY and in the general surgery program at the University of Arizona. He then completed a fellowship in pediatric craniofacial plastic surgery at Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City. At the University of Southern California in Los Angeles he received fellowship training in hand and microsurgery, and then returned to the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, to complete a fellowship in plastic and reconstructive surgery.

He considered extending his skills into gender surgery, and researched how it was being done in Thailand. He had also married, and they had two daughters. He took a position in Tucson where his wife is from. Approaching 40, Ley had 14 years of medical school, residency, and three fellowships. He opened the Ley Institute of Plastic & Hand Surgery, LLC and the Arizona Craniofacial & Pediatric Plastic Surgery. He also did work in Nogales, Sonora, for the border community.

Then Ley had a damascene moment. Helping the two daughters with nail polish, it was suddenly apparent what was missing from life.
“It just stirred something inside of me that wouldn’t stop, this force. It was relentless after that. My feminine side just completely came out.”
Ley transitioned and was divorced in 2015. Ellie Zara Ley had surgery from Dr Toby Meltzer, who
Drs Meltzer & Ley
continued discussions with her for several months and then asked her to join his practice. She closed her Tucson practice, and moved to Scottsdale. She shadowed Meltzer’s surgeries, and is now taking on her own patients.

22 July 2017

Toby Meltzer (1957–) gender confirmation surgeon.

Toby Meltzer graduated in medicine and did his residency at the Louisiana State University Charity Hospital, and then did a plastic surgery residency at the University of Michigan. He became clinical professor of plastic surgery at the Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU), in Portland, where he completed a fellowship in burn injuries.

He was a year out of plastic surgery residency when two doctors, a plastic surgeon and a urologist, about to retire, suggested that he take over their transgender surgeries. Meltzer accepted the challenge of learning. However because the two doctors performed such surgery only a few times per year, Meltzer’s training consisted of observing only one surgery by each doctor. He also traveled to Trinidad, Colorado to observe Stanley Biber. In addition, he interviewed pediatric urologists who had worked on intersex children.

He almost gave up after his first transgender surgery discovering how much he did not know. The patient required additional surgery, but sent a thank-you note. He persevered, and began performing vaginoplasty at OHSU in 1993.
“Previously, my patients came to me in terrible condition after something like a car accident, and after I had literally put the pieces of their face back together, all they could focus on was the way they used to look, and would complain about the little scar they had right above their lip. GRS patients are always extremely grateful that someone is finally helping them, and it is refreshing to feel so appreciated in my work.”
Anne Lawrence describes the technique that Meltzer was using from May 1994:
“creation of a neovagina lined with inverted penile skin, and construction of a sensate neoclitoris from the glans penis using a dorsal neurovascular pedicle”.
He also performed Cricothyroid approximation (CTA) surgeries to raise the vocal pitch, and facial feminization surgery. He is also one of just a few surgeons in the U.S. who performs metiodioplasty (clitoral release). Unlike many other plastic surgeries, GRS with Meltzer requires a team of several professionals and patients are required to undergo a lengthy process, which adheres to the WPATH standards for GRS and ancillary procedures. Patients must see a psychologist or psychiatrist, an endocrinologist and a social worker in addition to their work with Meltzer. They must also spend one year in therapy, receive medically-supervised hormone therapy, and spend one year in a “real-life test,” passing as the other gender. Meltzer will perform surgeries only after patients have passed this “test” and have obtained a letter from a psychiatrist saying that they are prepared for the operation.

Anne Lawrence had been able to observe Meltzer do a transgender operation. The next year, 1995, she returned to Dr Meltzer as a patient for her own operation, only six months after social transition. Later she published photographs of his work on her site.


There were sometimes problems finding beds for his patients at OHSU, and in 1996, Meltzer opened his private practice at the Eastmoreland Hospital, a 100-bed medical center also in Portland, and over the next few years expanded to take more than 50% of the surgical workload. In the early days of the internet word about his work spread in transgender chat rooms.

In 2002, Eastmoreland Hospital was purchased by Symphony Healthcare, a for-profit hospital company founded in Nashville Tennessee in late 2001. Meltzer received a certified letter advising that he would not be allowed to perform any type of gender transition surgery after July 2002 (this was extended to December 2002), and that his patients must leave the hospital after three days. Meltzer asked around Oregon, at hospital after hospital, but was unable to get the hospital privileges that he required. A former patient, a doctor, suggested Scottsdale, Arizona, and in 2003 Meltzer, his wife and three children, and four members of his office staff, relocated there.

In 2003, Anne Lawrence published the results of a survey of 232 MtF transsexuals who had undergone SRS with surgeon Toby Meltzer during the period 1994–2000 (Lawrence, 2003).
“I observed that about 86% of respondents had experienced one or more episodes of autogynephilic arousal before undergoing SRS and 49% had experienced hundreds of episodes or more. Two years later, in a second article based on data from the same survey, I reported that 89% of the respondents classified as nonhomosexual on the basis of their sexual partnership history reported one or more experiences of autogynephilic arousal before undergoing SRS, vs. 40% in the small number of respondents classified as homosexual (Lawrence, 2005); there was evidence that some of these supposedly homosexual participants had misreported their partnership histories and were actually nonhomosexual.”
By 2004, Symphony Healthcare was bankrupt and they sold the entire site to Reed College for $52 million, and auctioned off everything inside the hospital. After acquiring the property, Reed College razed the buildings.

In 2010 Rhiannon G O'Dannabhain, who had had surgery with Meltzer in 2001, won in court against the US tax authorities to the effect that the cost of transgender surgery was tax deductible.

A 2015 patient, Ellie Zara Lay, also an experienced surgeon, joined Meltzer’s practice in 2016, and it is hoped will continue the practice after Dr Meltzer retires.

Meltzer has kept a low profile in Scottsdale. He does not promote his practice, and rarely grants media interviews, but his patients find him on the internet. It can take up to seven months for a first meeting with him. Dr Meltzer has done over 3,000 sex change operations. Out-of-town and out-of-country patients account for more than 85 percent of his caseload. He operates Monday through Thursday, with two 12-hour days, he does at least five male-to-female and two to four female-to-male procedures each week.

Patients include:

Babette Ellsworth 1994
Andrea James 1998,
Anne Lawrence 1995,
Robyn Walters 2000
Rhiannon G O'Donnabhain 2001
Christine Beatty 2002,
Jamie Clayton 2003.
Donna Rose 2005
Kaitlin Sine Riordan 2007
Sheela-Marie Padgett 2008,
Andreja Pejic 2013
Ellie Zara Ley 2015


  • “Interview with Toby E Meltzer, MD”. In Dean Kotula (ed). The Phallus Palace: Female to Male Transsexuals. Alyson Books, 2002: 173-7.
  • “Portland Gender Reassignment Surgeon Plans To Move”. National Transgender Advocacy Coalition, August 22, 2002. Online.
  • A A Lawrence. “Factors associated with satisfaction or regret following male-to-female sex reassignment surgery”. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 32, 2003: 299–315.
  • A A Lawrence. “Sexuality before and after male-to-female sex reassignment surgery”. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 34, 2005: 147–166.
  • Sarah Brown. “Surgeon pioneers gender reassignment surgery”. The Misc. 11/11/05. http://misc.vassar.edu/archives/2005/11/surgeon_pioneer.html. No Longer Available.
  • Anne A Lawrence. Men Trapped in Men’s Bodies: Narratives of Autogynephilic Transsexualism. Springer, 2013: 27.
  • Amy Saunders. “Change/MD”. Phoenix, April 2016. http://www.phoenixmag.com/lifestyle/change-md.html
  • Susan Faludi. In the Darkroom. Henry Holt and Company, 2016: 134.

EN.Wikipedia     tmeltzer.com

18 July 2017

Stefánie Faludi (1927 – 2015) photographer

István Friedman was raised by prosperous Jewish parents in Budapest. However with the coming of anti-Semitic fascism in the 1930s, all was lost. 17-year-old István became a legend in his family when in 1944, wearing a stolen armband of the fascist Arrow Cross, and carrying an empty gun, he removed his parents from a holding building for Jews, and supplied them with with false papers which enabled them to live in an abandoned flat in Pest.

At the end of the war, István changed his surname to Faludi (Magyar for ‘of the village’), and was part of a youth film club, and he and two other members were able to get to Denmark, initially to replenish the Hungarian film stock.

After an idiosyncratic alteration to their passports, they were able to get on a ship to Rio de Janeiro. Through Hungarian expatriates and luck they were able to talk themselves into a team that did photography for the Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística, which involved journeys by canoe and plane across the Mato Grosso. They applied for visas to the US, but when they came through after three years in 1953, only István used it. His childhood sweetheart had also survived the war, and was living in New York. However on arrival he found that she was engaged to another.

Faludi, now calling himself Steven (English for István) lived in a cheap room in the Upper West Side, and found darkroom work for the photo departments of Manhattan advertising agencies. He met his wife Marilyn at a Jewish émigré cocktail party in 1957. They married six weeks later in a Reform synagogue. They acquired a house in Yorktown Heights, outside New York City, and had a son and a daughter. From the 1960s onward Faludi largely worked in the Condé Nast’s art production department doing difficult darkroom alterations for the photography that appeared in Vogue, Glamour, House & Garden, Vanity Fair, Brides. Susan Faludi (p7): “I’d always known my father to assert the male prerogative. He had seemed invested—insistently, inflexibly, and, in the last year of our family life, bloodily—in being the household despot. We ate what he wanted to eat, traveled where he wanted to go, wore what he wanted us to wear. Domestic decisions, large and small, had first to meet his approval.”

By 1976 the Faludis were separated. Later that year he broke into Marilyn’s house, and badly assaulted the man she had started seeing. He then claimed he had saved his family from an intruder, and got off with a small fine. He even claimed to be the wronged party at the divorce trial, and avoided alimony. After the 1977 divorce, Faludi moved into a Manhattan loft that was also his commercial photo studio.

In 1990, after the end of the Communist regime, Faludi visited his parents in Israel, the only time that he ever did so. He then moved to Budapest. He attempted to get the deeds of the buildings that the family used to own in Budapest, and then attempted to reclaim the buildings, but without success.

In 2004, at age 76, Faludi, now using the name Stefánie, had vaginoplasty and breast augmentation with Dr Sanguan Kunaporn in Phuket, Thailand. At this stage she had minimal experience of going out as a women – she had done this mainly in Vienna, rather than Budapest. As she did not have psychologists’ letters that approved her for surgery, Faludi wrote a letter as if from a Hungarian friend, and this was accepted by Dr Kunaporn. She also deducted 10 years from her age, in case she was rejected for being too old. Faludi flew out in men’s clothes and with women’s clothes for after surgery, and with several cameras, a tripod, a videocam, a computer and DVD player, and a suitcase full of films, music, and opera recordings. Faludi was able to persuade Kunaporn’s staff to film the operation.

Afterwards she spent time recovering in Melanie’s Coccon in Phuket, a guesthouse run by Melanie Myers from Portland, Oregon, who had had the same operation from Dr Kunaporn as well as facial feminization from Douglas Ousterhout in San Francisco, which resulted in her losing her job as a commercial printing salesman. The guesthouse was aimed at trans women, and Mel passed her business card to Kunaporn’s patients. Stefánie was by far the oldest guest.

As Dr Kunaporn’s Post-Operative Medical Certificate specified 1937 as birth year, Stefánie used her professional skills to make an altered copy with the correct birth year so that she could change her Hungarian birth certificate.

Susan and Stefánie 
Later in 2004, after a quarter century of non communication, Stefánie contacted her daughter Susan Faludi who had become a well-known author with her books Backlash, 1991, and Stiffed, 1999. Susan visited her father in Budapest several times, and wrote up her discovery of he father’s womanhood and of Hungary in the 2016 book In the Darkroom.

Stefánie died at the age of 88.
  • Susan Faludi. In the Darkroom. Henry Holt and Company, 2016.
  • Marcie Bianco, Raewyn Connell, Jay Prosser, Susan Stryker & Judit Takács. “Short Takes: Susan Faludi's In the Darkroom”. Signs Journal, 2016. Online.
  • Laura Miller. “Susan and Stefánie”. The Slate Book Review, June 10, 2016. Online.
  • Michelle Goldberg. “Susan Faludi’s ‘In the Darkroom’”. The New York Times, June 16, 2016. Online.
  • Rachel Cooke. “In the Darkroom review – an elegant masterpiece”. The Guardian, 19 June 2016. Online.
  • Kay Brown. “In the Dark Room”. On the Science of Changing Sex, June 23, 2016. Online.
  • Louise Adler. “In the Darkroom, Susan Faludi: dealing with Stefanie, her father”. The Australian, September 3, 2016. Online.
  • Stacia Friedman. “book review: susan faludi’s ‘in the darkroom’”. Women’s Voices for Change, October 24, 2016. Online.
-----------------------------

While there is some information about the trans scene and persons in Hungary, there is nothing about Hungary's best-known trans persons: the 19th-century novelist Sándor Vay; the artist Anton Prinner who left for Paris in 1927; Charlotte Bach who left Hungary at about the same time as Faludi pere and became a theorist of gender. Nor is there any mention of Desiré Dubounet, an immigrant from the US who settled in Budapest.

A few years later Melanie reverted to being Mel so that he could marry his Thai girlfriend and get her into the US.

In 2003, as part of the preparation to join the European Union, Hungary passed the Equal Treatment Act. They were so eager that they added extra categories: in addition to race, religion and sex they included ‘family status’, ‘motherhood’, ‘fatherhood’, ‘circumstances of wealth and birth’, ‘social origin’, ‘state of health’, ‘language’, ‘part-time work status’, and ‘trade union representatives’. They also added ‘gender identity’, which made Hungary the first country in the world to do so. However the legislation was very far in front of public opinion, and while gender changes are legally recognized, public acceptance is low.  Susan Faludi does not mention any case of a Hungarian trans person being able to use the law.

Susan Faludi, as is to be expected, gives a potted history of trans surgery. Then very briefly, p151, she brings in Michael Bailey and takes his side. Transgender activists ‘hounded’ him and his supporters. Why they would do so is not explained. Susan has entered an ongoing controversy and given only one side.  She is, of course, on thin ice here. If she thinks that Bailey’s position is defensible or even cogent, then she must think that her father was an autogynephile, but she quite avoids saying so. Kay Brown of course makes this explicit, and reasonably complains that she leaves “the reader with the notion that perhaps ALL MTF transfolk are like her father” - but then it is probably true that most biographies of their nature present their protagonist as some kind of exemplar.

Stefánie Faludi was a photographer.   There are a lot of descriptions in the book of photographs, but the book itself contains no photographs at all except for one of the author on the back flap.

Twice in the book, Susan tells us why we say Hallo on the phone: “Hallo. As my father liked to note, the telephone salutation was the coinage of Thomas Edison’s assistant, Tivadar Puskás, the inventor of the phone exchange, who, as it happened, was Hungarian. ‘Hallom!’ Puskás had shouted when he first picked up the receiver in 1877, Magyar for ‘I hear you!’.” I was unable to confirm this.


07 July 2017

William Sidney Holtom (1886 – 19??) haulier, navvy

Sarah Withers married a farm labourer, William Holtom at the age of 18. However Sarah felt quite wrong in the situation, and after two years left. “The idea struck me that it would help me if I dressed as a man, as I did not like the idea of domestic service. I spent the few shillings I possessed in buying men’s clothing, and then tramped to Birmingham.” The one thing that Sarah took from the matrimonial home was her husband’s name. Sarah was now William Holtom.

In 1924 William Holtom was working on a coal wharf in Birmingham where he met Mabel, the sister of his employer. He was already living with a woman, and Mabel had a young daughter. They met again in Worcester, where Mabel was in service. Although he refused to marry her, they both left their existing partners and set up common-law in Evesham, Worcestershire.

William worked as a coal heaver, a cow-man, a road mender and a timber haulier. In the latter he had been employed taking large trees from the Cotswold hills, driving four or six shire horses. In 1927 his best workmate was killed under the wagon that he was driving, and his nerves went to pieces. This led to his quitting that work. After medical treatment he worked as a navvy in a team building a bridge. He also did odd jobs and repaired boots.

William smoked the extra-strong Black Twist, specially ordered by the local tobacconist. He drank cider, and went with mates from the pub to the English Football Cup Final. He was also a thoughtful and considerate husband and father. In 1928 Mr and Mrs Holtom had a baby son, whom they named William after his father. In April 1929 the Colonel Barker story was prominently in the newspapers, and Holtom expressed indignation at the masquerade.

However two weeks later, Holtom was taken ill, and admitted to the Evesham Poor Law Hospital men’s ward with enteric fever. He was then 42. This led to a discovery of strapping around his chest, and he was hastily transferred to the women’s ward. The story was quickly picked up by the local, and then the national press. He was moved to a private ward for privacy.
Oram p69


As William recovered, the police considered charging Mabel with making a false statement to the Registrar of Births and Deaths at Evesham with regard to the father of her second child. Holtom, under the name Sarah Holtom, was called as a witness before Evesham Borough Police Court and admitted that he did not know who the father was. Mabel appeared at the Birmingham Assizes 11 July and plead guilty. The court heard that her estranged husband, abandoned five years before, was willing to take her back, if he could find work where they were not known. Mabel was bound over in the sum of £30 ‘to be of good behaviour for two years’.
  • “An Evesham ‘Col Barker’: A Man-Woman Timber Haulier”. Evesham Journal, 11 May 1929:2.
  • “Another Man-Woman: Amazing Fortitude of Masquerader”. News of the World, 12 May 1929:5.
  • “Man-Woman’s Pose for 15 Years”. The People, 12 May 1929:3.
  • Rose Collis. Colonel Barker's monstrous regiment: a tale of female husbandry. Virago, 2001: 182-3, 189-93.
  • Alison Oram. Her Husband was a Woman!: Women's gender-crossing in modern British popular culture. Routledge, 2007: 1-2, 68-73.
______________________

The spelling of William's name varies.   Oram settled on Holton, Collis on Holtom.

03 July 2017

Bobbie MacKenzie (1948 – 1987) sex worker, activist

Bobby was born in a small fishing village in Scotland. At the age of nine he was put in a children’s home when his mother came down with Huntington’s Chorea, a genetic condition for which there is no cure. She died of the condition. Bobby left the home at 15, and found out that his elder brother had contracted the disease. Later he died also.

By 1970 Bobbi was in London, living mainly as female, a declared lesbian, and after discovering the newly established Gay Liberation Front, promptly joined, and attended the Women’s Group meetings. She made a living turning tricks on Park Lane.


At a women’s commune, Bobbi met the artist and film maker Mair Davies. Bobbi made a pass at Mair, but explained that she was transsexual and that they would have to wait until after her operation. Several of the women in the group made it clear that Bobbi was not welcome. Later Mair attended a gay event where Bobbi did a striptease and, because she was so feminine, the crowd gasped when she revealed her genitals. Mair went on a date with Bobbi, and they were kicked out of the pub after kissing.

Another friend was Bob Mellors, one of the founders of London GLF and who was also associated with Charlotte Bach who was writing a book arguing that the transsexual urge is the key to human evolution. Influenced by both women, Mellors became fascinated by transsexuality and wrote a couple of theoretical books on the subject.

At some point Bobbi went through a crisis and had her breasts removed. Bobbi started confusing Mair by wearing male clothing, usually leather trousers and a t-shirt, which she described as ‘drag’, also saying that she was ‘heterosexual’ – and as such fancied Mair. Mair even took Bobbi to her home in Wales where they met her husband. They last saw each other in 1976.

Bobbi regained her breasts, but this time by implants.

Bob Mellors starting visiting with Mair, but never mentioned that he also was a friend of Bobbi.

Bobbi was diagnosed with Huntington’s Chorea in 1978. She chose to end her life 1987 at the age of 38 by jumping from a high window. Her body was cremated by Social Services at Kensel Green Cemetary, and only her probation officer attended. Mair did not find out about her death until years later.  An open verdict was returned. As nobody claimed the ashes within twelve months they were scattered among the other graves as per standard practice.