This site is the most comprehensive on the web devoted to trans history and biography. Well over 1400 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!

17 March 2018

Daniela Vega Hernández (1989–) singer, actress

Vega was born in Santiago, Chile, with a father who owned a printing business. At age 8, teachers discovered that Vega had an aptitude for opera singing, which led to singing and acting in local productions. This was a safer space away from the all-boys school where Vega was bullied for being ‘effeminate’.

Performing at a Santiago nightclub allowed experimentation with glam and goth. At first androgynous, but increasingly feminine, by age 15 she identified herself as trans, and her family was immediately supportive. Her father later appeared with her on television talk shows.

In 2011 Daniela debuted in La mujer Mariposa, a one-woman stage show based on her own experiences of transitioning. This piece included her singing, and ran for eight years in Santiago. Her first movie role was in La visita, 2015 where she played a trans woman at her father’s wake.

She was approached by film director Sebastián Lelio who was developing a film about a trans woman, but actually did not know any such in Chile (Lelio lives in Berlin). At first she was a consultant to the film, but then it became obvious that she was ideal to play the lead role. The film became Una mujer fantástica (A Fantastic Woman), 2017. The protagonist must struggle against rejection and suspicion after her boyfriend dies.
Vega at Berlinale 2017

The film won much international acceptance including a Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival, Best Actress at the Havana Film Festival, and Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards. Daniela was also a presenter at the Academy Awards – the first openly trans person to do so.

Later in 2017 Daniela played a cis woman in Un domingo de julio en Santiago (A Sunday in July in Santiago).

“As far as her own identity goes, she has stated that if she were born again, she’d choose to be trans, not cisgender – and that she enjoys unsettling the kind of people who can’t cope with who she is. ‘It actually gives me a physical pleasure to annoy conservatives,’ she smiles. ‘I don’t have to be violent, I don’t have to insult anyone – my mere existence shakes those people up.’ " …" ’In Chile, you can’t legally change your gender identity in a straightforward way. If you want to change the name on your documents, you have to go to court.’ She could easily do that, but refuses to – that would mean recognising political oppression.” (Guardian interview)

IMDB    ES.Wikipedia   EN.Wikipedia   


The Spanish word 'mariposa' means 'butterfly' but it is also used to mean 'queer'.  So La mujer Mariposa can mean either A Butterfly Woman or A Queer Woman.

ES.Wikipedia has a very short account of Daniela's transition: "At age 15, Vega identified herself as a trans woman to her family, who immediately supported her."   While EN.Wikipedia is otherwise almost the same as ES.Wikipedia, even this little has disappeared. 

15 March 2018

Ayta Sözeri (1976 - ) actress.

Sözeri was born in Nuremberg, Germany. In 1982 the family moved back to İzmir (Smyrna).

Ayta had confirmation surgery in her early 20s. She did a business degree at Ege University and then studied Turkish music at Dokuz Eylül University, both in İzmir.

After working as a support vocalist, Ayta started getting acting roles in television and then in films. She has been in 13 television programs and in 5 films.

In March 2018 she was awarded as Best Female Actress In A Supporting Role at the 50 SIYAD (Film Critics Association) Awards Ceremony, for her role in Aile Arasında (Within the Family).

TR.Wikipedia     IMDB

08 March 2018

How did pink become a girly colour?

Things not mentioned in the video below:

In Dutch pinck means little  (cf pinkie finger).  A variety of the flower genus Dianthus  was called pinck-ooghen (little flower).  This was taken into English in the 1570s as a name for the Dianthus.

From this time pink or pinke was used for being at one's zenith, be it health or accomplishment.  'In the pink' meant strong and healthy, and by the sexist conventions of the time was applied mainly to boys and men.  This was reinforced by Thomas Pink, an 18th-century London tailor who specialised in the scarlet jackets used in fox hunting.  Here is an article from FoxHunting World on whether their jackets are pink, red or scarlet.

 "It is the very pink of hideousness and squalid misery"  wrote Charles Dickens in 1845, of an Italian town that he disliked.

"Pure white is used for all babies. Blue is for girls and pink is for boys, when a color is wished."(Ladies’ Home Journal, 1890)

"If you like the color note on the little one’s garments, use pink for the boy and blue for the girl, if you are a follower of convention." (The Sunday Sentinel, March 29, 1914)

"Pink or blue? Which is intended for boys and which for girls? This question comes from one of our readers this month, and the discussion may be of interest to others. There has been a great diversity of opinion on this subject, but the generally accepted rule is pink for the boy and blue for the girl. The reason is that pink being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy; while blue, which is more delicate and dainty is prettier for the girl. In later years the shade of pink has been much improved. Perhaps if we had had the delicate flesh tints when baby layettes were first sold, the rule might have been reversed. The nursery rhyme of‘‘ Little Boy Blue’’ is responsible for the thought that blue is for boys.  Stationers, too, reverse the colors, but as they sell only announcement cards and baby books, they cannot be considered authorities. If a customer is too fussy on this subject, suggest that she blends the two colors, an effective and pretty custom which originated on the other side, and which after all is the only way of getting the laugh on the stork." (The Infants’ Department, June, 1918, p. 161)

In 1922, Thomas Gainsborough's painting Blue Boy was acquired by the US magnate Henry Edwards Huntington for his art gallery in California.  He paid £182,200 (over £6 million today).  This created a huge outcry in Britain where it was a popular favourite in print reproductions.   Huntington hung the portrait in juxtaposition to Thomas Lawrence's Pinkie, and the two paintings were repeatedly associated.  The paintings were used as set decorations for many episodes of the American television show, Leave It to Beaver, (1957-63) which furthered the association.  This brought the association to those who don't read art criticism. 

Smocked pink Polly Flinders baby dresses were popular for girls in the 1940s, as little boy blue sailor suits were for boys. 

Mid-1980s:  pre-natal testing became available and parents, family and friends bought baby clothes specifically for a boy or a girl, rather than just for a baby.

Futher reading:

  • "PINK: A shockingly butch cultural history of the world's prissiest colour".  Toronto Star, Jan 09 2010'. 
  • Jeanne Maglaty.  "When Did Girls Start Wearing Pink? Every generation brings a new definition of masculinity and femininity that manifests itself in children’s dress".   Smithsonian, April 08, 2011.
  • J. B. Paoletti.   Pink and blue: Telling the boys from the girls in America.  Indiana University Press, 2012.   The major book on the topic.   She proposes that gender coding was inconsistent before the 1950s, but the current pink=girl/blue=boy took off after that. 
  • Marco Del Giudice.  "The Twentieth Century Reversal of Pink-Blue Gender Coding: A Scientific Urban Legend?"  Archives of Sexual Behavior, 41, 2012: 1321-3.   Argues against the reversal, and concludes: "Of course, the [Pink-Blue Reversal] PBR is a big stumbling block for biological explanations of gender-color associations; but far from being an established fact, the PBR shows many warning signs of a scientific urban legend. Uncritical acceptance of the PBR may have hindered theoretical and empirical progress in this fascinating area of research."
  • Lucy Waterlow.   "Too much in the pink! How toys have become alarmingly gender stereotyped since the Seventies... at the cost of little girls' self-esteem".  Daily Mail, 10 June 2013.  

ETYMONLINE      EN.Wikipedia   


The Wikipedia article concludes: "The reality is that 'pink for girls, blue for boys' has existed continuously since at least the 1820s, while 'blue for girls, pink for boys' is only recorded between 1889 and 1941." 

Marco Del Giudice attempts a case that attraction to blue or pink is somehow biological.   He is what John Money called biological devout.

Even if there was not actually a blue-pink reversal in the 1950s, it being the case that the two systems were in conflict earlier, we are still dealing with a social construction in that the pink for girls was unknown before the 1820s, and that it did not rule unchallenged 1889 to 1941.

The US is the dominant country associated with the colour reversal.  It is also in the US that the red-blue political colours have been reversed.  Red has been associated with socialism and communism since the French Revolution, and now (only in the US) it is the colour of the plutocratic party.  British viewers find it nicely ironic that Trump frequently wears what looks very much like a Labour Party tie.

02 March 2018

Lotte Hahm (1890 - 1967) activist, bar owner, ball organizer

Charlotte Hahm was born in Dresden. As Lotte – sometimes as Lothar - Hahm was a transvestite and lesbian activist in 1920s Berlin.

From 1926 she ran the DamenKlub Violetta which had 400 members. She often performed her own
cabaret act at the club. She hosted a New Year’s ball at the end of 1926, and her balls became part of the lesbian scene.

She sought to organize lesbians together with transvestites of both sexes. Newly arrived male-to-female transvestites were advised see Hahm for advice on where to buy female clothing.

From 1928, Hahm was head of the women’s group in the Bund für Menschenrecht (BfM; Union for Human rights – founded by gay publisher Friedrich Radszuweit (1876-1932) in 1923).

E.K., like Hahm, an out transvestite, wrote against the 1920s fashion of a skirt topped by a man’s jacket and tie. He wrote in Die Freundin (The Girlfriend – a women’s publication that contained material for both male and female transvestites):
“What good are tuxedos to me when they are not accompanied by trousers? I will do without the tuxedo, but not the trousers.”
In 1929 Hahm founded the Monbijou Association, which later in the same year was merged with Violetta after the members so voted. She founded the Transvestitenvereinigung D`Eon (Transvestite Association) for both male and female transvestites, and led it for a year. This was so successful that a few weeks later they had to find a larger meeting place. Later the Association had its own dance events at Violetta. Its events were reported in Die Freundin.

Radszuweit and Hahm launched a new association, Bund für ideale Freundschaft (“Union for ideal friendship”), whose statutes were published in Die Freundin, 22, 28 May 1930. Balls and parties were fun, and fine, but they must also think about fighting for their rights.

That was the same year that Hahm started organizing annual steamboat trips on the Spree river.

Later the same year, the sexologist Franz Scheda linked lesbianism and prostitution, and claimed that “50% of Berlin’s prostitutes are lesbians”. Hahm organized a rebuttal lecture.

Hahm left the BfM in 1931, and in 1932 opened the Manuela Bar, where she performed as a comic with an accordion.

That same year, Hansi (not Hansi Sturn, the Miss Eldorado of 1926) took a very different position to that of E.K. and Lotte. She wrote in Die Freundin:
“I declare that we are not transvestites, with only a few exceptions, we masculine women do not wear suits or shirts and ties in order to wear men’s clothing. We want to remain women, which is why we also wear skirts. It is only the masculine touch that we emphasize. Female transvestites are as rare to find as homosexual male transvestites.”
However change was coming. In late 1932, police licences were to be denied to bars where only homosexuals danced, and in 1933, all same-sex dancing was banned. The last issue of Die Freundin was 8 March 1933. By then the Nazi Party had become the government.

In 1935 a stranger approached Hahm in Alexanderplatz, and asked her to watch his baggage. She was then inspected by the Gestapo, who found communist flyers in the man's baggage. It is said that she had been denounced by the father of a lover, who may have been under age. Hahm was sent to the concentration camp for women at Moringen. Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler visited the camp in May 1937, and a few months later decided to close the camp and relocate its prisoners.

Hahm was one of the few who was released, albeit half-paralyzed, probably in 1938. She returned to Berlin and again organized social evenings for lesbians, but it did not last long.

In 1945, under the occupation she again led a women’s club. In 1958 she was part of a group that attempted to re-establish the BfM.

She died aged 77.
  • E.K. “Meinungsaustausch der Transvestiten”. Die Freundin, 13, 11 July 1927: 6.
  • Lotte Hahm. “Mondscheinfahrt fur unsere Frauen!”. Die Freundin, 25 June 1930: 6 .
  • Lotte Hahm. “Mondschein-Dampferpartie von ‘Violetta’” Die Freundin, 2 July 1930:5.
  • Hansi “Die Welt der Transvestiten”. Die Freundin, 23, 8 June 1932: 6.
  • Florence Tamagne. A history of homosexuality in Europe : Berlin, London, Paris, 1919-1939, volume I & II. Algora Publishing, 2006: 79, 364.
  • Katie Sutton. The Masculine Woman in Weimar Germany. Berghahn, 2011: 118-9.
  • Julie Nero. Hannah Höch, Til Brugman, Lesbianism, and Weimar Sexual Subculture. PhD Thesis Case Western Reserve University, 2013: 102n334, 155, 374.
  • Marti M. Lybeck. Desiring Emancipation: New Women and Homosexuality in Germany, 1890–1933. SUNY Press, 2014: 151-2, 163, 165-7, 181, 187, 195-6, 231 n2,3.
  • Laurie Marhoeffer. Sex and the Weimar Republic: German Homosexual Emancipation and the Rise of the Nazis. University of Toronto Press, 2015: 56-8, 62-5, 200.



Pronouns.   There is no mention that Lotte asked to be addressed by male pronouns.   So in German Hahm was sie not er.   Being also active in feminist organizing, it would have been difficult to take the extra steps into masculinity.   While Virginia Prince combined transvestity with men's rights, Prince was never involved with the men's rights organizations of the period, and is not at all mentioned in the men's liberation books of the 1970s and 1980s.

Hansi's dress style combining a skirt and stockings with men's jackets and ties was common in the 1920s.  So it was more a fashion statement than identity expression.    Almost all of the photographs of Radclyffe Hall show her in a skirt.

There is mention at all of Lotte Hahm in Halberstam's Female Masculinity.

27 February 2018

Gerd Winkelmann (1906–?) postal worker

Gerd Winkelmann was working for the post-office in Berlin in 1933 when he first obtained a Transvestitenschein (permit to cross-dress).

Two years later, after the Nazi takeover, he applied for an extension of the Transvestitenschein. Winkelmann pleaded that the discrepancy between the name on his papers and his appearance prevented him from getting a job, and that he could not wear female clothing because he was always taken to be a man. He stressed that he was not a lesbian. Three officials found his case to be plausible in that he looked like and passed as a man. They ordered the police to keep an eye on him.

In April 1936 the case was passed to the Geheime Staatspolizei (Gestapo), who requested a report from Herrn Professor Dr. Müller-Heß of the Berlin Institute for Forensic Medicine (Psychiatric division). His report is no longer in the archives.

In February 1940, the application was reprocessed. However it was announced that Winkelmann was a woman and must dress accordingly. A change of first name from Gertrud to Gerd would not be allowed. Winkelmann attempted to live as a woman, but met great humiliation.

  • Landesarchiv Berlin, A. Pr. Br. Rep. 30. Berlin C Tit. 198a 5. Allgemein, Nr.79.
  • Rainer Herrn. Schnittmuster des Geschlechts. Transvestismus und Transsexualität in der frühen Sexualwissenschaft. Giessen, 2005: 163-4.
  • Jane Caplan. “The Administration of Gender Identity in Nazi Germany“. History Workshop Journal, 72, Autumn 2011: 173.

26 February 2018

Jonathan Ferguson (1915 - 1974) pilot, engineer, civil servant

Joy Ferguson was born in Lurgan, County Armagh, and attended Lurgan College, a Christian instition which had admitted girls since 1918.

In 1939 while working as an electrical appliances demonstrator in the local electricity showrooms, Ferguson gained a Royal Aeronautical Club pilot’s licence. With this Ferguson was able to join the Women’s Air Transport Auxiliary (more), which moved planes around, especially from factories to airfields (the men pilots were all needed in combat). Ferguson flew as a 2nd officer and racked up over 1,000 flying hours, and continued with this commission after the war.

Ferguson was then employed by the Ministry of Supply working probably in aircraft research. She was also involved in the Air Rangers section of the Girl Guides, and was elected to the council of the Women’s Engineering Society.
Ferguson 1950s.  No post-transition photographs available

In 1958 Ferguson quit the WES. Shortly afterwards he announced that he had had a sex-change operation and was now Jonathan. He was even able to get his North Ireland birth certificate re-issued and the entry in the register of births changed. A spokesman for the civil service was quoted that “the alteration to the birth certificate will not affect his employment in the Ministry”, and he was upgraded to the male pay-scale.

Jonathan Ferguson died at age 59 after falling from a ladder while doing maintenance at home.


24 February 2018

Juno Dawson (1985–) school teacher, young adult author

James Dawson, from Bingley, Yorkshire, went to the University of Bangor (previously the University College of North Wales), moved to Brighton, Sussex, and became a school teacher of personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education. He lived as a gay man.

He wrote young adult novels with gay characters. He also wrote the well-received Being a Boy, 2013, a guide for boys going through puberty. In 2014 Dawson wrote in the Guardian:
“I was unaware gay people even existed and, when puberty hit, found myself more than a little lost. I so dearly wish there had been just one book with a character who was a bit like me – just a normal teenage guy who happened to be gay. I would have especially loved one whose sexuality did not define him.”
The same year, he became the first male winner the Queen of Teen award where the shortlist are all nominated by teenage readers, who then vote for the winner.

Dawson published This Book is Gay for lesbian, bisexual, gay, queer, transgender or just curious persons, but mainly for teens and young adults. By this time Dawson had begun a gender transition. In 2015 she announced that she was transgender and that her name was Juno. Most of her books were re-issued with her new name (but not Being a Boy).

She was signed to write a column in Glamour magazine to document the experience of transition.
In an interview with Attitude magazine, May 2017, Juno says
"I think there are a lot of gay men out there who are gay men as a consolation prize because they couldn’t be women. That was certainly true of me."
She describes her identity as a gay man as a 'personal misdiagnosis', and believes that it is a more common phenomenon than one may think.

For her Glamour column, Juno interviewed the plastic surgeon Christopher Inglefield who does work for trans persons.  She was considering facial feminization surgery. She was then invited to be part of the ITV 3-part series documentary, Transformation Street. She is featured in episode 2. It fell to her to help educate the television crew on limits, such as the inappropriateness of childhood photographs. Initially the program was to be called Sex Change Clinic, and Juno had to make a fuss to explain that such terminology is outmoded.

Juno’s most recent book is The Gender Games: The Problem With Men and Women, From Someone Who Has Been Both, which restates for another generation that gender is a system of oppression for cis and trans both, mixed with autobiography.

*Not the US Actress, nor the other writers called James Dawson.
Amazon Author Page     EN.Wikipedia     Glamour


This book is gay contains the following diagram which I think is kinda neat:

19 February 2018

Eve Golden (1957–) film biographer

Golden was born near Philadelphia, the child of an electronics engineer and a high-school guidance secretary. The family was gay-friendly, and one grandmother was openly lesbian. Family funding paid the costs of transition including surgery.

Golden graduated from Philadelphia College of Art, 1975 (before it became part of the University of the Arts). She read Neils Hoyer’s book on Lili Elbe and Jan MorrisConundrum; started hormones at 18, started living as a woman at 20, and had surgery as soon as she was 21. Eve had done two years at Towson State University as a man, took a semester off and returned as herself. That was okay with the students, but less so with the faculty. The head of the theatre department said that he would never allow her on stage. She would be a distraction -- and what if an actor had to play a love scene with her. However Eve did graduate in 1979.

She acted for about five years: Off-Broadway, in commercials and summer stock. In 1984 Eve got a job as a secretary with a New York advertising agency, and talked her way into a copywriting position.

Being a classic-movie buff, she was annoyed that there was no good book on Jean Harlow, and eventually had a go at writing one herself. She managed to get an agent, a publisher and an advance, and the book came out in 1991. It got good reviews and sold well.

By that time she was working as a senior editor. She followed up with books on silent actress Theda Bara, 1997, Essays on Silent Film Stars, 1998, Anna Held and Ziegfeld’s Broadway, 2000, the 1950s actress Kay Kendall, 2002.

From 2005 Golden was working as a freelance writer and photographic archivist. In 2007 she published a book on the Ragtime dancers, Vernon and Irene Castle.

Eve next intended to do a book on Peg Entwistle, the British actress, who is mainly remembered in that she jumped to her death from the Hollywood Sign in 1932 at the age of 24. However after starting research, she discovered that a first-time writer, James Zeruk, was already working on such a biography. Impressed by the quality of his work, she helped him.

Her most recent books have been Essays on film stars 1930s-60s, 2009, and on the silent actor, John Gilbert, 2013.
  • Eve Golden. Platinum Girl: The Life and Legends of Jean Harlow. Abbeville Press, 1991.
  • Eve Golden. Vamp: The Rise and Fall of Theda Bara. Vestal Press, 1997.
  • Eve Golden. Golden Images: 41 Essays on Silent Film Stars. McFarland, 1998.
  • Eve Golden. Anna Held and the Birth of Ziegfeld's Broadway. University Press of Kentucky, 2000.
  • Eve Golden. The Brief, Madcap Life of Kay Kendall. University Press of Kentucky, 2002.
  • Eve Golden. Vernon and Irene Castle's Ragtime Revolution. University Press of Kentucky, 2007.
  • Eve Golden. Bride of Golden Images: Essays on Stars of the 1930s-60s. BearManor Media, 2009.
  • Eve Golden. John Gilbert : the last of the silent film stars. University Press of Kentucky, 2013.
  • James Zeruk, with an introduction by Eve Golden. Peg Entwistle and the Hollywood Sign Suicide: A Biography. McFarland Publishing, 2013.
  • Una Newling. “Eve Golden: Queen of the Dead“. Transas City, March 2014.

IMDB     EN.Wikipedia     Encyclopedia.Com     Amazon Author Page

15 February 2018

Michelle Suárez Bértora (1984–) lawyer, senator.

Michelle was born in Salinas in the Canelones Department of Uruguay. She transitioned at age 15 with the support of her mother.

Accepted at the Universidad de la República in Montevideo, she was the first out-trans person to attend university in Uruguay. She suffered transphobic harassment and a professor who specialized in human rights refused to grade her work. She also set a precedent in changing her legal gender status. She graduated and became the first out trans lawyer in the country in 2010.

That year her mother died. Michelle joined Ovejas Negras (Black Sheep), an LGBT rights organization. There she made a major contribution to the draft bill for equal marriage legislation. The bill was presented to congress in 2011, initially passed in 2012, and finally approved in 2013.

In 2012 Michelle published a book on the difficulties that some minorities, including trans and gay, have in achieving human rights.

She joined the Communist Party (PCU) which is part of the ruling coalition Frenta Amplio (Broad Front) and was elected an alternate senator (with limited voting rights).

In October 2017, Senator Márcos Carámbula resigned and Suárez became a full Senator. She said that she would introduce a bill that would allow trans people to legally change their identity without a court order. The measure would also require Uruguay to set aside 1 percent of government jobs for trans people and create a pension to compensate those who suffered persecution during the country’s military dictatorship, 1973-1985, because of their gender identity.

However in December, two months later, she was found guilty in a case of an estranged father’s parental rights having been cancelled in a document with the wrong signatures. Suárez resigned her seat.

ES.Wikipedia     EN.Wikipedia


ES.Wikipedia says that Michelle was born in 1984; EN.Wikipedia says 1983.   I have gone with the former. 

30 January 2018

Dana Bevan. Part III: 7 factors that are not causes

Part I: Life
Part II: Theory
Part III:  7 factors that are not causes

As in part II, we are referring to Dana Bevan's works using the numbers 1-5 for reference with a page number when applicable.

1) The Transsexual Scientist. 2013.
2) The Psychobiology of Transsexualism and Transgenderism. 2014.
3) “Transgender Science Recap”. In Sisterhouse, 2015
4) “The Science of Gender”. In The Wireless, 2015.
5) Being Transgender: What You Should Know. 2016.

For full bibliography see Part I.

In (3) Bevan presents a list of 7 factors that are often taken to be somehow a cause, or even the cause, of being trans. I agree that none of them are in fact such a cause, but for most of them I have problems with how Bevan states the issues.

Sexual arousal or fetishism

As Bevan first came out into SMBD/fetish groups, I was expecting an explanation about how self-styled fetishists are not at all the same as what psychologists mean when they use the word.

However, Bevan simply dismisses the idea of TSTG being a fetish with
“The arousal from crossdressing fades with exposure”. (2:191) 
This is true enough, but not as fast as Bevan implies. Furthermore Bevan does not consider the variant claim that being trans is an addiction, and like other addictions (heroin, gambling, coffee, Facebook) it requires a bigger and bigger fix: cross-dressing at home, then in a group, then going out alone, then hormones and then surgery.


Bevan quotes several definitions by Blanchard and Lawrence, and then writes (2:192)
“it is clear that the concept of Autogynephilia is not well defined and cannot be easily operationalized. For this reason alone, it does not constitute a scientific theory”. 

One wants to agree with this.  However the concept has been frighteningly successful, and quite a lot of trans women have self-identified with it.   It is not to be so easily dismissed.

More importantly, Bevan writes as if Autogynephilia is being considered as a, or even the, cause of transsexuality. As Ray Blanchard makes very clear, he proposed Autogynephilia as a second type of transsexuality with a different etiology.

Why does Bevan obfuscate this? Bevan does not mention Anne Lawrence’s book, Men Trapped in Men's Bodies: Narratives of Autogynephilic Transsexualism, but as it came out in 2013, it was probably too late to be included. More seriously she does not mention Michael Bailey’s 2003 book, The Man Who Would Be Queen: the science of gender-bending and transsexualism. She does mention – actually she cites – Bailey with reference to twins, sexual orientation, and sibling order. But she totally ignores his infamous book on Autogynephilia.

The development of Autogynephilia into Cross Dreaming is not even mentioned.

One last point: from her autobiography we know that Blanchard would regard her as an Autogynephile (late transition, two wives, two daughters). Surely it would have been tactical for her to have conceded this, rather than wait for others to point it out.

Autoandrophilia is not even mentioned.

3 Prenatal testosterone

Bevan writes:
“This theory is rooted in East German eugenics and available scientific evidence refutes the theory. Some of the evidence comes from prenatal conditions in which testosterone should be abnormally low or high but there is no TSTG. Organization of gender begins with early DNA expression, long before testosterone is produced by the testes or adrenals. Measuring prenatal testosterone is currently beyond the state-of-the-art despite research papers it is responsible not only for TSTG but also for autism spectrum and dyslexia. As far as we know, there are no cases in which testosterone was injected into pregnant human mothers to avoid TSTG in males but the East Germans proposed this and played around with hormones in other areas such as athletics.”
On this I have no further comments.

4 Family dynamics.

Bevan writes:
“Research indicates that neither your mama or your papa make you TSTG; however, TSTG behavior does induce parents to use violence against their TSTG kids”. 
In general, yes – however. It was a common idea in the first part of the last century that mothers dressing their boys as girls had a lasting effect. This comes up a lot in the books by Peter Farrer.

There are recent cases like Jill Monro, and Greer Lankton where the mother or the family definitely pushed the child in a trans direction.

There are also the Filipino Baklas where in a family of only sons, one is selected to be raised as a girl (and to do girls’ work). See the article by Robert Turner in The Gay and Lesbian Review, Sept-Oct 2017)

5 Conversion by peers

Bevan writes
’No evidence that this occurs although we do like to get together in clubs and conventions to compare notes”. 
Remember that this is the same author who maintains that we are incapable of conscious decisions. Such incapacity makes it more likely that people will adopt memes and fashions circulating in the culture – of which transgenderism could now be considered one. If one were to believe in this incapacity, it would at least explain the big increase in the number of trans persons over the last century.

6 Psychodynamics.

Bevan writes:
“Not really scientific theories and assume intervening variables that cannot be measured, e.g. complexes. No objective evidence for early trauma involvement assumed by some psychodynamics.“ 
Psychoanalysts still claim that trans persons should submit to years, maybe decades, of analysis rather than transitioning. However their success is noteworthy for its absence.

7 Homosexuality. 

Bevan writes: 
DNA markers are in different locations from those for TSTG. Some TSTG are homosexual but the two phenomena appear to be independent at this time.” 
Not so simple. From the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century, the dominant social construction in western societies was that both homosexual persons and transvestites were both ‘inverts’. There is not a single word in Bevan re either inverts or social construction.

Even if DNA markers are slightly different, gay and trans are parallel, and many supposed explanations of gay were later re-used for trans: trapped soul, pre-natal hormones, family dynamics.

Like Ray Blanchard and his predecessors, Bevan uses ‘homosexual’ when she means heterosexual trans women. This is only one step away from referring to trans women as ‘male transsexuals’. We have been arguing for decades that this usage is offensive in that it ignores what we really are. The words ‘gynephilic’ and ‘androphilic’ are well established. Like Blanchard, Bevan chooses not to use them.

There is no mention of Frederick Whitam’s Male Homosexuality in Four Societies, 1986. It is a sociological study of transvestity in third-world countries. Whitam sees heterosexual transvestites as a different category and protests their appropriation of the word 'transvestite'. "Some heterosexual transvestites, not wanting to be identified as being homosexual, have insisted that they are the 'true transvestites' and take a demeaning attitude towards drag queens and female impersonators". (p80).  The only mention of Whitam is a citation of several papers from which Bevan concludes: " the proportion of transgender children who become non-TSTG homosexuals is relatively small". (2:157)

Whilst, even in third world countries, the majority of gay men and lesbians are not and do not become trans, the overwhelming majority of trans woman are androphilic and early transitioners.

Again, as she did with Autogynephilia, Bevan obfuscates that there are different types of trans persons. The late transitioning persons who first become husbands and fathers are very different from early transitioners and also from trans persons who came through the gay community. Traditionally (this includes hijra, kathoey, and most of the Latin American activists) trans women came through the gay community or even were the local gay community. The transkids who have attracted so much attention recently are neither. They will not be gay in the traditional sense (that is heterosexual post-transition), and they certainly will not become husbands and fathers.

The closest that Bevan comes is: "Some transsexuals and transgender people start out as heterosexual and some as homosexual. The difference may help clinicians predict the time course of the emergence of transsexualism because some early homosexuals tend to become transsexual at an earlier age." (2:46)

Even Vern Bullough regards the heterosexual crossdresser/late transitioner as a phenomenon of the 20th century. Bevan however claims traditional third gender persons and modern transkids as being the same as herself.   This is appropriation.


My Conclusion

Bevan is strong on experimental psychology and weak on history, biography, philosophy and the politics of transgender.    The Psychobiology of Transsexualism and Transgenderism is useful in that you can use it as a reference book that summarizes experimental psychology on trans topics up to 2015.  It is particularly useful for refuting simplistic biological theories proposed by some other writers.

However her further reading section includes only two late transition accounts in addition to her own, and no androphilic trans woman is mentioned at all, no early transition person is mentioned at all, no trans man is mentioned.   This is trans without Sylvia Rivera, without Coccinelle, without Louis Sullivan.   The only trans organizing that Beven mentions is a) the Virginia Prince/Tri-Ess/IFGE strand b) computer bulletin boards. 

Historians distinguish between diachronous  (changing through time) and synchronous (at one time) explanations.  Devan's account is heavily synchronous and does not explain the big growth in numbers of trans persons.   DNA varies little from one generation to the next.   The only aspect of change through time in a DNA-epigenetic model is pollution acting epigenetically.    To some extent she is aware of this and has brief sections on traditional third-gender traditions.   However she does not explain how or why these traditions are very different from the Princian/IFGE tradition, and almost erases the 20th century gay trans tradition.  

The irony of a biological explanation is that it does not explain why some are early transitioners, and some are late transitioners, and some go to the grave without ever transitioning.   In her autobiography, Bevan resolved this by making transition a choice: "I should have chosen transsexuality earlier in my life and fought for being my authentic self, no matter what the cost".  So we are back to existential issues and the quest for authenticity.   Elsewhere however Bevan denies our capacity for conscious decision making.

The TSTG phenomenon that she creates is a social construction that emphasizes some aspects and neglects others.  Caveat lector!

26 January 2018

Dana Bevan. Part II: theory

Part I: Life
Part II: Theory
Part III:  7 factors that are not causes

Bevan, trained in experimental and physiological psychology, has--sometimes as Thomas, sometimes as Dana--presented her findings on what she and only she calls TSTG. We will take five of her works (for full bibliography see Part 1).

1) The Transsexual Scientist. 2013.
2) The Psychobiology of Transsexualism and Transgenderism. 2014.
3) “Transgender Science Recap”. In Sisterhouse, 2015
4) “The Science of Gender”. In The Wireless, 2015.
5) Being Transgender: What You Should Know. 2016.

For brevity and clarity, I will use the numbers 1-5 for reference with a page number when applicable.

What is transgender? There are transvestites who use the word for transsexuals; there are transsexuals who use the word for transvestites; some use it as an umbrella word for both. Obviously as Bevan keeps saying TSTG, she is with the second camp.

Two-Factor causality

Here is an extract from the summary at the end of  her second book (2:241):
“Evidence from biopsychology indicates that the two causal factors for TSTG appear to be genetics and epigenetics, perhaps working together. We know genetics is involved because of twin and family studies and genetic markers on the DNA molecule for TSTG. We believe epigenetics may be involved because TSTG is implicated as being correlated with such phenomena as prenatal exposure to drugs. Prenatal exposure to toxic chemicals and maternal stress are also potential epigenetic mechanisms for TSTG. Genetic and epigenetic factors may work together to produce a gender predisposition that may be incongruent with cultural expectations of a person’s appropriate gender behavior category. We know that the prenatal testosterone theory of TSTG causation is not supported by the evidence. Several phenomena are known to involve both genetics and epigenetics, and TSTG is correlated with some of them. In particular, transsexuals and transgender people tend to be less right-handed. Genetic and epigenetic evidence as well as absence of evidence for other causal factors forms the basis for the two-factor theory of TSTG causation.”

A question that is not considered: Is there a two-factor causality for homeovestity and homeogender surgery? Psychoanalysts proposed a cause, but nobody else is looking for one. Why does transvestity require a cause and explanation, but homeovestity does not?   This is of course a variant on the question: why are scientists looking for a cause of homosexuality, but not looking for a cause of heterosexuality.


“We know that TSTG is probably a biological phenomenon because of the historical and geographic spread of gender diversity and cultural accommodation. Information from genetics and epigenetics, as well as the appearance of TSTG in early childhood and other evidence, confirms that it is biological in nature” (2:241) 
I must disagree with this. Bevan evaluates alternate biological explanations, rejects most of them, but finds a core of biological explanation that she takes to be valid. The discussion of psychological or cultural causation is only cursory. Money is not even mentioned, and Benjamin is mentioned (2: 42) only for popularizing the word ‘transsexual’ and for outlining professional standards. There is nothing taken from his book. The rejection of psychological or cultural causation would seem to imply an axiom along the lines that if a biological explanation can be found than psychological or cultural causation need not be considered.

Sex and Gender. 

Bevan again and again writes:
“Sex and gender do not mean the same thing”. 
Both John Money and feminism sorted this out over 50 years ago. If Bevan is talking to LGBT persons she is belabouring the obvious. Money was a pioneer in using the term gender as opposed to sex. However Bevan cites  in the bibliography of (2) only a couple of papers where Money is a co-author. His major works, the Johns Hopkins clinic and the David Reimer case are not mentioned at all. Likewise there is no mention of feminism.

Far more of a problem in recent years has been the conflation of gender and gender identity. Bevan has no comment on this problem.

Historical and Contemporary Cultures

This is a short chapter in (2). In Antiquity she mentions only Queen Hatsheput and “eunuchs who were voluntarily castrated” - no mention of Gallae. In Contemporary Western TSTG, the only support group that she mentions is Virginia Prince and Tri-Ess, and she says
 “Some support groups still require interviews before a TSTG can be admitted” 
- as Tri-Ess forbids TS members, that is very badly phrased.

Like so many other authors, Bevan claims that Viscount Cornbury, Governor of New York was TSTG. Bevan wrote 15 years after Patricia Bonomi’s detailed biography that explained that Cornbury was not a transvestite, and gets his name wrong. Cornbury was Edward Hyde, but Bevan calls him Henry Hyde, the name of his father.

There is then a brief mention of Hijras, Kathoeys, waria, mahu, fa’afafine, Bakla, bugia, xanith and two-spirit. Apparently Bevan regards herself and these traditional third gender traditions as being pretty much the same. She certainly does not mention Vern Bullough’s hypothesis:
“there is no evidence in Western culture of what might be called a heterosexual transvestite consciousness before the twentieth century”. 
See further in Part III when I discuss Autogynephilia.


Bevan writes:
“Heritability studies involving identical twins and families indicate significant loadings for a genetic factor in TSTG. If one identical twin is transsexual or transgender, then it is more likely the other twin will also be TSTG than the population frequencies.” (2:8) 
In (4) Bevan puts numbers to this:
“If [transsexuals] have an identical twin the chances are about one third that their identical twin will also be transsexual and that’s against a population frequency of about 0.1 percent. That’s not seen in fraternal twins and that’s not seen in siblings”. 

Other writers would mention the famous examples of trans women with an identical cis twin (Candis Cayne, Laverne Cox) – but Bevan is not that kind of writer. Bevan cites this ratio as the major reason for believing that TSTG is genetic. However having established this, it does not seem to be taking us anywhere.


Bevan writes:
“ TSTG is not a conscious lifestyle choice. Subconscious mechanisms make choices for us before there is any conscious awareness of them. Decisions regarding TSTG are influenced by biological gender predisposition, fear of exposure, and decisions about existential crises and other things, all of which are represented somewhere in the subconscious.” (2: 242). 
The key word here is ‘conscious’. There is a section (2:182-4) titled The Illusion of Conscious Choice. This is the only section in Bevan’s books where she cites her mentor Julian Jaynes. (Note to Dana Bevan: it is inconsiderate to one’s readers to cite an entire 500 page book for a minor point. Please give a page or at least a chapter reference. Jaynes gives page numbers in citations.)

Bevan also cites the MRI scanning that shows the associated brain activity 10 seconds before conscious awareness of the decision. Neither Bevan, nor other writers who use this data, explain how to get from a momentary event like lifting an arm to events that take several years like doing a PhD or raising a child. Did Bevan spend 4 years at Princeton without ever making a conscious choice?

Remember the quote at the end of her autobiography (1):
“I had several good opportunities to choose correctly but I passed them up, choosing to fight another day.” Does Bevan make conscious choices or not.


Bevan goes with the Olyslager-Conway estimates. This is good. But her two-factor causality does not explain why there are so many more trans persons now than in previous decades and centuries.

The Olyslager-Conway estimates refer to transsexuals. Bevan goes with estimates of other trans persons being 1-2%. I think that this is too low. There is not any mention at all of the cross-dreamers, and beyond them the Dark Crossdreamers. And like practically every other writer, Bevan totally ignores Charlotte Bach and her proposal that attraction to being the other sex/gender is fundamental to being human – an attraction that one can either deny or asseverate.

24 January 2018

Dana J Bevan (194?- ) bio-psychologist. Part I: life.

Part I: Life
Part II: Theory
Part III:  7 factors that are not causes

Thomas Bevan’s father was a wildlife manager, and his mother a school teacher. Thomas was an only child, and was soon trying on his mother’s clothing. He tried to tell his parents that he was not really a boy, but quickly learned that his gender identity was something that should be kept a deep secret, and concentrated on science and on sports. Partly because they did not live in town, Bevan did not make male friends, and his female friends withdrew as puberty developed. Loneliness led to depression.

The football coach got Bevan an award in the senior year. He picked Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, for its football team and its Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). Bevan graduated AB in psychology in 1969, and spent the next four years at Princeton University.

Thomas, like so many others, married a woman thinking that it would ‘cure’ the urge to cross-dress. However the graduate student housing provided the privacy to do so when his wife was at work.

Bevan was able to talk freely with “a somewhat mysterious lecturer” (p73).  This was Julian Jaynes, who was working on the ideas that he would publish as The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, 1978. Bevan later described Jaynes as a mentor.

Bevan gained a PhD in physiological psychology at Princton 1973 with a thesis on Experimental Dissociation of Hypothalamic Finickiness and Motivatonal Deficits from Hyperphagia and from Hyperemotionality.

After graduation Bevan served as a Captain in the Army Medical Service Corps, and was involved in developing antidotes to chemical weapons and agents. After leaving the army, Bevan became a civilian contractor. One of the projects that he worked on was aircraft sensors.

The Bevans had two daughters.

Bevan's job involved near continuous travel, and the associated hotel stays provided opportunities for cross-dressing. Sometimes there would be a local transvestite group that provided dressing facilities at its meetings. Bevan accumulated enough female clothing – between purges -- that a second bag was being checked on air flights.

Bevan found Jan MorrisConundrum, and later some books by Vern Bullough in libraries, but being in the closet hid the book in the stacks rather than check it out. By the 1990s Bevan had rented a post-office box, and bought books and Tapestry magazine from IFGE.
“I particularly studied Virginia Prince How to Be a Woman though Male, information I use to this day”.
With the end of Cold War I, Bevan felt that he could come out a little. However most transvestite groups met on weekends only, and he was not prepared to tell Mrs Bevan. So he went instead to a BSDM group that met on a weeknight. Using the listings in Tapestry Bevan did find cross-dressing groups in different cities to attend.

The Bevans separated.

Bevan also started taking testosterone by patches, hoping that it would ‘cure’ the cross-dressing.

Thomas found another wife using the new invention tele-conferencing. This wife knew from the beginning that Thomas was a cross-dresser. Bevan found a job in Atlanta where she lived, and moved in with her:
“she panicked when she saw all the ‘junk’ that I had, which consisted mostly of professional technical files, electronic junk and all my carpentry and metal working tools”.
From 2000-2005, Bevan was an Associate Lab Director at Georgia Tech Research Institute, and did work for Department of Defense customers.

Using the name 'Dana', Bevan found a therapist who was experienced in Transgender issues, although Bevan continued to pretend that it was marriage counseling.

From 2005-2011, Bevan was a Research VP at KFORCE Government Services in Atlanta, working on artificial intelligence algorithms for Homeland Security.

In 2007 Dana gave a paper at the IFGE conference held in Philadelphia. Dana started transition in 2011. She gave presentations at the Southern Comfort Conference in 2011 and 2012, and to WPATH in 2012.

In 2013, as Dana Bevan, she published The Transsexual Scientist: The Causation and Experience of
Transgenderism and Transsexualism, a mixture of autobiography and the science of TSTG as she named her condition. The next year, reverting to her male name, Thomas Bevan, she published a 280 page exposition, The Psychobiology of Transsexualism and Transgenderism: A New View Based on Scientific Evidence.

She gave a workshop at the 2015 Fantasia Fair.

In the title of The Transsexual Scientist, Bevan refers to herself as ‘transsexual’, tells of taking hormones, electrolysis but says nothing of surgery. In the Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, 2017, Dana says:
“I still present as male at family gatherings, primarily because of in-laws and friends of my children. The trend seems to be that younger people are more accepting, so we’ll see what happens with my grandchildren’s generation.”
Dana ends her autobiography, The Transsexual Scientist with
“Knowing what I know today, I should have chosen transsexuality earlier in my life and fought for being my authentic self, no matter what the cost. The delay has cost me time, friends and productivity. I had several good opportunities to choose correctly but I passed them up, choosing to fight another day.” (p. 155)

Dana’s theoretical position will be discussed in Part II.
  • Thomas E. Bevan, Experimental Dissociation of Hypothalamic Finickiness and Motivatonal Deficits from Hyperphagia and from Hyperemotionality. PHD, Princeton,1973.
  • Thomas E Bevan. “Physiological correlates of information processing load-ongoing research and potential applications of physiological psychology”. The Role of Behavioral Science in Physical Security Proceedings of the Second Annual Symposium, March 23-24, 1977. US DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE: National Bureau of Standards.
  • Thomas E Bevan. “Biosensor for Assessment of Defender Performance Capability”. The Role of Behavioral Science in Physical Security Proceedings of the Third Annual Symposium, May 2-4, 1978. US DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE: National Bureau of Standards.
  • Dana J Bevan. The Transsexual Scientist: The Causation and Experience of Transgenderism and Transsexualism. Bevan Industries Inc, 2013.
  • “An Interview with Dana Bevan ’69”. Dartmouth Gay, Lesbian,, Bisexual & Transgender Alumni/ae Association, May 2, 2013.
  • Thomas E. Bevan. The Psychobiology of Transsexualism and Transgenderism: A New View Based on Scientific Evidence. Praeger, 2014.
  • Dana Bevan. “Transgender Science Recap”. Sisterhouse, Mar 2, 2015.
  • William Ray. “The Science of Gender”. The Wireless, 6th August 2015.
  • Thomas E. Bevan, Being Transgender: What You Should Know. Praeger, 2016.
  • Dana Bevan. Thea Peach State Conference. Thea, 2/22/2016.
  • Allison Tate. “5 Transgender Myths...Busted: In the wake of Trump repealing transgender protections, scientist Dana Bevan is here to bust your misconceptions”. Advocate, February 24 2017. See below.
  • Lisa Furlong. “Dana (Thomas) Bevan ’69: A transgender bio-psychologist on embracing her true self”. Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, May-June 2017.
TGForum   WebPage   Bloomberg   LinkedIn

TGForum says that “Thomas E Bevan” is a pen name; Dartmouth Alumni Magazine says that it is her professional name. It is the name on her PhD.

In Bevan’s 2013 and 2014 books she uses the term TSTG as a collective noun, for individual trans persons, for the phenomenon and as an adjective. E,g: “Many TSTG suffer from depression”; “TSTG behave as they do”; “Although TSTG is no longer regarded as a disorder”. Fortunately the usage has not caught on. She does not use the acronym in Being Transgender, 2016, but does still use it on her LinkedIn page and elsewhere.

“For the purposes of research I treat transgenderism and transsexuality (TSTG) as one phenomenon. Many transgendered people become transsexuals. Most important, there is no scientific evidence to distinguish between the two, other than the frequency of TG presentation.” (2013 interview with Dartmouth GLBT Alumni)   This statement will of course alienate many transsexuals.   While the DNA and epigenetic triggers may be indistinguishable between transvestites and transsexuals, they do not constitute the totality of causality, and a scientific approach that does not examine the wider picture is not the best of science.   See more in part II.

The text of The Transsexual Scientist disguises the names of the universities that Thomas attended, but then openly names them on and only on the back cover. Likewise the text hides the name of the mentor at Princeton, but gives his name in a dedication at the front of the book.

On p30 of The Transsexual Scientist Bevan says “I gradually put aside my love of music and art lest these be seen as ‘feminine’”. This was in the mid 1960s when the Beatles and the Stones were changing music. The feminist criticism of ‘60s music is that it was far too masculine.

Bevan is yet another writer who repeats the misinformation that ‘transvestism’ was coined by Magnus Hirschfeld (p38). However she does not like the term: “Today, transvestite is regarded as a pejorative word and is used primarily in degradation of transsexuals and transgender people” (Psychobiology: 42).  This may be so in the Tri-Ess culture, but despite Prince's efforts, Tri-Ess never did own the word.

Is Bevan a Princian?   In addition to her statement: “I particularly studied Virginia Prince How to Be a Woman though Male, information I use to this day”, let us look at the appendices to The Psychobiology of Transsexualism and Transgenderism.    The only autobiographies listed are her own, Jan Morris,  Jennifer Boylan's She's Not There, and for some strange reason, the novel Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides.  The only self-help books are two by Prince, Crossdessing with dignity by Peggy Rudd and Identity Management by Dallas Denny.  The only support groups are Beaumont Society, Seahorse Society, Renaissance, Tiffany Club,  Transgender Educational Association, Tri-Ess and Susan's Place.    So she certainly looks like a Princian.

14 January 2018

Karla Avelar (1978 - ) activist

Avelar was born  in Chalatenango Department, in the north of El Salvador, just before the Civil War,. From an early age, despite being dressed as a boy, she came across as a girl, and most in the neighbourhood called her Karla rather than Carlos.

By the age of 10 she had been raped twice by one cousin, and another would shoot at her, and said that he would kill her as there were only machos in the family. She left without money.

In the capital, San Salvador, she spent the first six months sleeping in the bus station or on the street, begging and finding whatever to eat in the trash. She was taken in by a woman who made her work hard at domestic chores. She was raped by the woman’s son. One of her chores was to buy tortillas, but the tortillería was in a neighbourhood run by the Mara Salvatrucha (MS 13) gang.They decided to gang rape her. After 15 men, she seized an opportunity and was able to escape.

Homeless again she met a trans woman, Diana, who showed her how to survive by sex work. The more established trans whores resented newcomers. They bullied her, they called her la machorra (the dyke) because of her short hair, and they stole her money, until she learned to fight back.

While the civil war raged, the capital was comparatively peaceful. Over 80,000 were killed in the country, the vast majority by the forces of the US-backed Junta. In 1992 the UN brought the two sides together and enforced peace accords. However criminal gangs such as MS-13, reinforced by members deported from the US, tightened control.

Many – including prostitutes – emigrated to the US if they could. The term transgeneros was not yet in use. One of the terms used for trans women was locas (literally: crazy women).

There was a serial killer in San Salvador who would drive by and shoot at trans women. He became named Matalocas. It was said that he had an artificial leg. One night in 1992, 14-year-old Karla was in a john’s car giving head when she realized that he had an artificial leg. He hit her with his gun, but she was able to grab the wheel and forced a crash. She grabbed his gun as she escaped the car and threw it away. However he had a second gun and shot her nine times.

She went into a long coma, but the hospital doctors saved her. They also informed her that she was HIV+. Officials could not find her next of kin while she was unconscious, so a television station broadcast her picture, and her grandmother came to sit with her in the hospital.

Karla was the first of Matalocas’ victims to survive and who could identity him. The police had retrieved the gun which was registered. Further the man, a high-ranking military official, went to reclaim his firearm. However he was never charged with anything.

Karla was approached by William Hernández who had just founded an LGBT rights group, Entre Amigos. Karla was willing to go public. She and Entre Amigos held a press conference and gave the real name of Matalocas. The only result was that they received death threats.

After recovery, Karla returned to sex work. She and Paty Hernández organized a trans-rights group, El Nombre de la Rosa. Those working as prostitutes gave a portion of their earnings – almost like a union. At first the government refused to register the group as a non-profit, saying that its aims were “contrary to morality”.

In 1996 Karla was working near the national monument, Monumento al Divino Salvador del Mundo, when three gay men taunted her and another trans woman. They removed their belts as if to whip her and she stabbed one of them as the other trans woman fled. She alone was arrested, and sent to the notorious Sensuntepeque prison where she was gang-raped on the first day.

While the prison had a Sector 2 for gay and trans prisoners, the gang inmates were free to come and go in Sector 2 as they pleased. They treated Karla and the others as personal slaves for housekeeping tasks and for sex. She was also tortured by the guards.

The first pride march was in 1997 – this was followed by a new wave of violence. Trans women were vanishing. Between the late 1990s and 2003, the number of adult trans women known to Entre Amigos and El Nombre de la Rosa dropped from around 200 to 40. Some emigrated (mainly to the US), some died of AIDS, other were murdered.

Karla was released in 2000, suffering from being HIV+, and having lost a lot of weight. Even so, she went back to sex work. In 2006 she started antiretroviral therapy, but was shot five times for refusing to pay ‘rent’ while working on gang turf. She survived the shooting and also being stabbed twice in the back by the same gang the next year.

Karla’s friend Diane was killed, also in 2007, by her lover, a police officer. El Nombre de la Rosa had evolved into ASPIDH-Arcoiris, but Karla was not welcome, having been too pushy before. She started a new group, COMCAVIS Trans. At first it was funded by sex workers' contributions, but Karla taught herself how to do paperwork to incorporate the organization, and how to do Excel accounting. It got a USAID grant in 2011.

In 2010 COMCAVIS filed a first complaint against Sensuntepeque prison, and then others in 2011 and 2014. They won the trans inmates the right to wear female clothing, and then a partition was put up to separate Section 2, the same year that gang members were removed to a separate prison. Then condoms were made available. Karla visits the prison regularly to speak up for the trans inmates.

Tania Vásquez, a trans activist was murdered in 2013, and no one was ever arrested. Karla filed a complaint. The Attorney’s General Office responded with the threat to arrest Karla, a search warrant and a confiscation of the technical equipment of COMCAVIS TRANS.

However that year, Karla became the first trans woman to appear before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and to denounce the State of El Salvador for discrimination and hate crimes. Paty Hernández, emigrated in 2014 after 20 years of activism. In 2015, Karla participated in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, which submitted an alternative report, which resulted in the first UN recommendation to the state of El Salvador on LGBTI matters.

Karla frequently travels abroad to speak for trans rights to international bodies. Now about to turn 40, she is one of only a few trans women in El Salvador over 35. She is constantly receiving death threats, and has had to move seven times in the last two years. In 2017 she was announced as a finalist for the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders, quickly followed by extortion attempts to seize whatever prize money she might get.


In a country where soldiers and death squads working for the junta killed 70,000 people, where serial killers go free, criminal gangs have impunity and young women are regularly raped on the street, an organization to protect trans women is refused registration on the grounds that it is  “contrary to morality”.

10 January 2018

Paula Williams (1951 - ) evangelical preacher

Despite feeling from childhood that he was really a girl, Paul Williams followed his father and became an evangelical preacher. He married a minister’s daughter and they had three children. He has a Doctor of Ministry degree in Pastor Care.

From 1979, Williams worked with The Orchard Group, formerly ‘Go-Ye’ Chapel Mission, Inc, founded in 1948. Orchard Group ‘planted’ churches, providing financial support until the church could be financially independent. One of the rules of the Orchard Group was that LGBT persons could not preach. Williams became chairman in 1989.

He was also editor-at-large and a weekly columnist with Christian Standard magazine; head-writer and on-air host of the Worship Television Network, and a teaching pastor at two mega-churches.  Williams wrote a series of devotional books called Windows of Worship as well as the book Laughter, Tears, and In-Between.

In late 2012 Williams informed his son, Jonathan, a preacher in a newly planted church in New York, that he wanted to live as a woman. When Williams told the Orchard Group a few months later, they demanded an immediate resignation. Also she was no longer permitted to preach.

“In 21 states, you can’t be fired for being trans, but in all 50 states religious organizations have an exemption.”
Some mainline Protestant churches are more LGBTQ-affirming, but she didn’t connect with their liturgy or atmosphere. She stopped going to church. In 2015 she found an evangelical church that is about 30% LGBTQ.
“It’s a church full of people who have been wounded by evangelicals, and the fact that there’s still a church at all is probably a little bit of a surprise.”
Paula is still married to her wife, and they share a Christian counselling practice. Jonathan has been moving his New York church to an LGBT-affirming stance – which allows LGBT persons to preach.

*Not Paul Williams the composer, nor the boxer.

One would have wished that while chairman of the Orchard Group, Paula had nudged it a little bit in a pro-LGBT direction.