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!

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.

08 January 2018

Donna Perry (1952 - ) convicted of murder

From 1975 to 1998 at least 26 prostitutes in Spokane, Washington State – population 200,000 - were murdered by shooting, apparently by a trick who had sex with them first. Their bodies were dumped in rural locations.

Douglas Perry of Spokane had a history of being arrested. In 1974 he was arrested for second degree assault. In 1979 he was found guilty of a dangerous weapons violation. In 1986 he was arrested for second degree assault. In 1987 he was found guilty of reckless endangerment with a firearm. In 1988 he was found guilty of assault.

Later in 1988 Perry was arrested by Federal Agents for possession of a pipe bomb. A search of his home discovered 22 handguns (including .22 handguns), 27 rifles and 20,000 rounds of ammunition. Thus he became a convicted felon.

In 1989 Perry was arrested in Spokane for soliciting sex from prostitutes.

Three sex workers, Nickie Lowe, Kathy Brisbois and Yolanda Sapp, were murdered in February and March 1990. All three were shot with a .22 caliber gun, and their nude or partially nude bodies were found in or near the Spokane River. At the time investigators considered the three deaths to be part of the longer string of prostitute murders.

In 1994 Perry was again arrested for unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition, including a .22 handgun and a couple of .22 rifles. As a convicted felon Perry was prohibited from possessing firearms.

Perry was in prison in Oregon from January 1995 to October 1997. Other inmates later reported that he talked about taking prostitutes home, and talked in such a way that they thought that he was involved in the prostitute murders.

In December 1998, a prostitute who had serviced Perry at home, reported to the police that she saw a lot of guns, knives and a cross-bow. She identified his car and police officers stopped and searched it. They found attorney papers that said that Perry had “a gender psychosis disorder where he does not like females”, and other papers explaining gender transition.

Robert L Yates (also born 1952) was arrested in 2000, initially for one murder, but was then tied by DNA evidence to 12 more. He was convicted and sentenced to 408 years in prison. However Yates had been in the US Army, was stationed in Germany in February-March 1990, and so could not have murdered Nickie Lowe, Kathy Brisbois and Yolanda Sapp. The three murders were reassigned as cold cases.

Also in 2000 Perry became Donna and flew to Thailand for correction surgery.

In 2001, Yates was charged and convicted of two more murders of women. For this he was sentenced to death.

Perry said too much in 2007-8 when talking to an agent of the Department of Social and Health Services. She talked of shooting people, and said: “I knew I was going to end up dead or in prison again if I didn’t do something. I got gelded just like a horse and got my life back under control.”

In 2009 matter found under Ms Brisbois’ left middle fingernail was submitted for DNA analysis. A full male profile was developed and entered into the DNA Indexing System.

In 2012 Perry was again arrested by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms for unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition. A search of her home recovered more firearms. She was sentenced to 18 months and placed in a Federal Prison in Fort Worth, Texas. She boasted to her female cell-mate that she was a contract killer who had killed nine prostitutes. “He told me … becoming a woman was a disguise to take the heat off of him, that an elderly lady with mental illness would never get caught.” She also claimed to have killed two others after returning from Thailand.

A check on Parry’s DNA revealed a match to that taken from Ms Brisbois’ fingernail. A further match was found with DNA found on the blanket wrapped around Yolanda Sapp’s body, and a fingerprint match to Nickie Lowe’s purse etc. which had been recovered from a dumpster. A further search of Perry’s home found a box containing panties – but in a size too small to be her own.

In an interview in November that year Donna said: 'Douglas didn't stop, Donna stopped it,' 'I'm not going to admit I killed anybody, I didn't. Donna has killed nobody.' And 'I don't know if Doug did or not, it was 20 years ago and I have no idea whether he did or did not.' She also said that a sex change is a “permanent way to control any violence” – that it results in “a very great downturn in violence”.

In July 2017, Perry was found guilty and sentenced to three life sentences without parole.

Yates is still on Death Row. He has contested his death sentence on the ground that he “suffers from a severe paraphilic disorder” (that is necrophilia).

*not the Playboy Playmate of November 1994.

Two serial killers operating at the same time!     However this book says that London, Ontario, with almost 400,000 people, had six serial killers operating at the same time.  

I think that Perry was right in exploring lower testosterone levels as a way of becoming less violent.  However if she were not trans she would simply have had herself gelded. 

Of course a gender change does not confer absolution for crimes already committed.