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. There is also a Place Index arranged by City etc. This is still evolving.

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!

31 August 2018

Harry Allen (1882 – 1922) musician, bartender, barber


Nell Pickerell was raised in Seattle. At age 16 Pickerell gave birth to a child by a father who was not recorded. Pickerell had already inclined to masculine interests and dress, and now adopted them full time. The child was raised by its grandparents.

Two years later Pickerell, who had taken the name Harry Livingstone, was being featured in the press as far away as Philadelphia, “A Woman By Nature – A Man By Choice”. Livingstone had been arrested several times by the Seattle police. The reason given was creating a disturbance, but really for wearing the wrong clothes.


Livingstone left town and got a job as a bartender in Washington’s Tunnel City, a railway camp at Stevens Pass in the Cascade Mountains, where a tunnel was approaching completion. Edward ‘Black Jack’ Morse, a felon from Alaska, was shot dead during an attempted robbery in Seattle in 1900. In his pocket was said to be found a photograph of himself and Livingstone taken in Tunnel City. Also in Tunnel City, it was reported, a waitress named Dolly Quappe, killed herself on Christmas Day, 1901, by drinking carbolic acid. This was said to be because she discovered that her Harry was not really a man, and anyway he loved another. In August 1902, Harry, drunk, punched a cop, which led him to the jailhouse. In November 1903, Pearl Waldren in Seattle attempted suicide by gunshot, declaring her love for Harry. In 1906, Harry was arrested again on a trumped-up charge – it was said that the police wanted to tie him in to train robberies by the infamous Bill Miner.

Harry was said to have worked at all kinds of male jobs: bronco busting, bartending, barbering, long-shoring. He sang well in a deep voice, and played piano, violin, guitar and slide trombone.

By 1911 Harry was mainly using the name Harry Allen. He was arrested and charged with selling alcohol to Native Americans.

In June 1912 Harry and a prostitute friend, Isabelle Maxwell, travelled to Portland Oregon and took a room. As Maxwell was a prostitute, Allen was charged under the 1910 Mann Act for transportation across state lines for immoral purposes. The arrival of a cop who knew Allen and his gender history resulted in the dropping of the Mann Act charges, although – Oregon having no law against cross-dressing, he was convicted of vagrancy and sentenced to 90 days in the city jail.

It just so happened that while Allen was in jail, Miriam Van Waters, a Portland native, an anthropology student at Clark University, Massachusetts and a future prison reformer, was in town doing research on female inmates at the city jail. Waters perceived Pickerell as an energetic and independent woman for whom modern society (unlike many aboriginal tribes) had no place.

By 1917 Harry was working as a police informer after Washington State introduced alcohol prohibition.

In 1919 Harry got into a quarrel with his 79-year-old father and was stabbed in the lungs from the back. The city hospital managed to save him. In 1920 he was busted for opium. Harry did die two years later at age 40 of syphilitic meningitis.

  • “A Woman By Nature – A Man By Choice”. Philadelphia Times, May 6, 1900: 18. Online.
  • “Dolly Quappe’s Suicide. Loved a Masquerading Girl”. Los Angeles Times, Dec 26, 1901. Online.
  • The Notorious Nell Pickerell in Town”. The Ellensburgh Capital, Feb 13, 1907. Online.
  • “How Catherine Madden Fell a Victim to Strong Drink; Why Nell Pickerell Will Not Wear Women’s Clothing”. The Spokesman Review, Oct 22, 1911: 24. Online.
  • “Nell Pickerell Returning to Jail”. The Spokesman Review, Nov 15, 1911: 5. Online.
  • “Nell Pickerell Denies Her Sex; Woman Who Dresses in Male Attire Starts Story She Is a ‘Real Man’; Rumor Causes Sensation”. The Spokesman Review, Nov 22, 1911: 6. Online.
  • “Fighter, Bootlegger and ‘Bad Man’ is Miss Pickerell For Love of Whom Three Women Have Killed Themselves”. Tacoma Times, April 12, 1912. Online.
  • Miriam Van Waters. The Adolescent Girl Among Primitive Peoples. PhD Thesis Clarke University, 1913: 107-110.
  • “Nell Pickerell May Die of Wounds”. Seattle Star, Sept 27, 1916. Online.
  • Nell Pickerell Dead:. Seattle Star, Dec 28, 1922. Online.
  • Peter Boag. Re-Dressing America's Frontier Past. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011: 23-31, 35, 45, 46, 48, 50, 52, 53-4, 57, 117, 202n2, 203-4n14.
  • Knute Berger. “Meet Nell Pickerell, transgender at-risk youth of yesteryear”. Crosscut, June 29, 2014. Online.
  • John Mackie. “This Week in History: 1906 The notorious Nell Pickerell returns to Seattle”. Vancouver Sun, February 24, 2017. Online.
EN.Wikipedia
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Boag is, probably rightly, skeptical of the tales of young women who killed themselves. Sometimes it is two, sometimes three. The waitress who drank the carbolic acid is sometimes named Dolly Quappe and sometimes Hazel Walters.


Miriam Van Waters' dissertation, published 1913 was The Adolescent Girl Among Primitive Peoples. Far from seeing Allen as an invert, she heterosexualized Pickerell and even claimed that Pickerell had been married to the father of the child, and cross-dressed only to earn a better wage. She referred to Pickerell as Case I and as HA.

27 August 2018

Francis Blair (1913–?) performer

Charles Schultz was born in West Seattle. By early teenage, Schultz had acquired a trunk full of female clothing, and often rode on the city streetcars where she passed easily.

She got work at the local Florence Theatre. Her family and friends were aware, and proud of her professional photographs. She took the stage name of Francis Blair.

In the 1930s Francis was in the chorus line of the Rivoli Burlesque. Her gender was known and her dressing space was separated from that of the cis women by a screen. She sometimes played the organ for the show.

She was in the dishwashers’ union in case no theatre work was available; she was an officer in the performers’ union.

Very unusually for the time, Francis wore her hair long, and did not have to wear a wig. When out in male persona, he concealed it under a hat.

Francis was one of the first performers to join the Garden of Allah in 1946. Syndicated columnist Walter Winchell wrote about Francis as ‘the boy with the million-dollar legs”. She was known for her singing, but also danced, stripped, produced shows and designed costumes.

During the Korean War, Francis did shows for the United Service Organizations (USO) which provided entertainment for the US Military. A rather prim hostess of the show had a fit when Francis stripped down to only a G-string.

She was also a comedian and in contrast to her usual glamor act did a double act with Kenny Bee as ‘Two Old Bags from Tacoma’ where they wore old clothes with holes in their stockings. They took that act to Finocchio’s in San Francisco as ‘Two Old Bags from Oakland’.



Years later, Francis and her husband of 20 years took a vacation in San Francisco, and they were attacked in Golden Gate Park. The husband and their dog were killed. Francis was left to drive home to Seattle alone, and was killed in a car crash in Oregon.

*Not Charles Schultz the cartoonist.


  • Don Paulson. “Gay History: Francis Blair - Seattle's quintessential female impersonator”. Seattle Gay News, no date. Online.
  • Don Paulson & and Roger Simpson. An Evening at the Garden of Allah: A Gay Cabaret in Seattle. Columbia University Press, 1996: 135-141.
  • Gary L. Atkins. Gay Seattle: Stories of Exile and Belonging. University of Washington Press, 2003: 63.
  • Melissa Gohike. “San Antonio’s Drag Culture of the 1930s and 40s”. The Top Shelf, October 22, 2012. Online.

Queer Music Heritage     David de Alba     

-----------------------------------

As with Jackie Starr, there is no mention of Francis in either Lawrence Senelick's The Changing Room or F Michael Moore's Drag! Male and Female Impersonators on Stage, Screen and Television.


It is odd that we do not have a date, not even a year, for Francis’ unfortunate demise.

26 August 2018

Dean Kotula (1958–) photographer, antiques dealer

Kotula was born in the US Midwest in a family of six girls and one boy, both parents school teachers. Kotula was refusing dresses by the age of six. Fortunately, unlike his elder siblings, Kotula did not have to attend parochial school with its gendered uniforms. On the other hand father often took the one son on hunting trips, but Kotula, despite heartfelt pleas to go, was left at home.

Father was the local mayor for several years. He then retrained and took the family to live for six months in Hawai’i and two years in Bangkok.

Being uncomfortable with the body changes that come with teenage, Kotula did drugs, was in a drug treatment center for eight months, and went to an alternate high school.

Kotula started a relationship with a woman, and became much calmer. He visited the University of Minnesota gender identity program in his early twenties, but after they had stopped giving free treatment in 1979.
“They could have helped me and a far greater percentage of transsexuals if they hadn’t charged exorbitant fees for their services. They had a long, drawn-out evaluation process, and I couldn’t afford their services. I moved, and finally, fifteen years later, connected with a psychiatrist in Portland, Oregon, who had a lot of experience evaluating transsexuals. I was a classic female-to-male (FTM) transsexual. He recognized the signs and wrote out a prescription for hormones during my second, one-hour session with him.” (In Cronn-Mills: 31)
Kotula engaged in a variety of vocations: taxidermy, chimney sweeping, house renovations, commercial fishing – and especially photography. He also travelled around the US, and to India and South America.

After 1975, every foreign vessel fishing in US waters had to have an American on board during fishing operations to document catches and collect biological data. From 1985 to 1990 Kotula worked aboard these factory ships as an observer, and also used his camera to record the experience.

He applied to volunteer with the US Peace Corps, and went through the eight month evaluation process. He had checked several times that there was no dress code and that he would be working as an aquaculturalist in rice fields in Thailand for 27 months. He quit his job, gave up his apartment, and replaced the photographic equipment stolen by a burglar. However at the orientation session in San Francisco, there was suddenly a dress code requiring women to wear a skirt, and as a result Kotula was ejected from the program.

He took the name Beryl, as a unisex name, and later the name Dean. In the mid-1990s, Kotula was working in the Portland shipyards and had found the right psychiatrist:
“I was hired on as one of two female shipyard machinists just prior to receiving my long-awaited prescription for testosterone. I said nothing to my employer regarding my transsexual status or intention to transition. But a short time after introducing testosterone to my system, the physical changes were apparent. Around that time, I was featured prominently in a national pop-culture magazine. The son of one of the shipyard electricians saw the article and gave it to his dad, who passed it around among the two-thousand-plus employees working in the yard. So, the company saw the changes in me and read the explanation—the whys and wherefores—in the magazine, but no way did they accept it (there were a few exceptions). I began to be harassed in both subtle and obvious ways. [During work slowdowns], I was usually one of the first to be laid off and one of the last to be called back to work. During one layoff, I called the company and asked the secretary to send me a copy of my work record. Handwritten in the record were the words “was F, now M. When?” along with a notation stating that I should not be called back. Since I was a union employee, they had to begin to falsify a record of poor performance on my part, or some such thing, in order to justify a dismissal. When I saw the layoff notation linked to their knowledge of my transition (was F, now M) I felt that was proof positive of their decision to discriminate, so I filed a lawsuit against them. The Bureau of Labor and Industry in Portland, Oregon, investigated and found a positive finding of discrimination against me. I was the first transsexual in the state of Oregon to have a case with a positive finding of discrimination, and my case was instrumental towards gaining statewide protection for transsexuals in the state of Oregon.”
(In Cronn-Mills: 31-2)
He obtained a ruling from the Bureau of Labor and Industry (BoLI) that he was protected under the Oregon Disability Law. This was around the same time that a similar ruling was obtained, also from BoLI, for Lori Buckwalter who had been fired from Consolidated Freightways for starting transition.
In 1997 the Oregon Legislature responded to the Buckwalter and Kotula decisions by amending the state law to say that "an employer may not be found to have engaged in an unlawful employment practice solely because the employer fails to provide reasonable accommodation to a person with a disability arising out of transsexualism”. This was better than the original proposals.

Kotula was able to continue working in the shipyards despite harassment from both workers and management. Enough money was saved to pay for surgery.

It was also in Portland that Dean met the Cheris Hiser (1940 - ) when they were both offering support to Kenny after his mastectomy. Cheris was a ‘photoevangelist’ who was known for her photographs of unknown subcultures. She had meant to do a project on trans men, but after meeting Dean realized that he should do it. He submitted a photographic essay to Transgender Tapestry and it was published in 1997.

Later Hiser introduced Dean to painter/ photographer William E Parker (1932 - 2009) whose experience broadened the book. He became consulting editor and persuaded Dean to include essays by others. The book, The Phallus Palace, came out in 2002, with a preface by Hiser, and contributions from Milton Diamond, Toby Meltzer, Rachel Pollack, Ken Morris, Margaret O’Hartigan (on Alan Hart) and Dean’s sister, Sharon.  The center of the book being 19 photographs of trans men with an essay from each (some of whom were included in the 1997 photo essay).

Post-transition Dean Kotula established himself as a photographer, and antiques dealer and lives in Massachusetts. In May-June 2014 there was an exhibition of Kotula’s photography in Searsport, Maine.
  • Dean Kotula. “Building a Male Body”. Transgender Tapestry, 79, Summer 1997. An early version of the photographic section of The Phallus Palace, 2002. Online.
  • Dean Kotula & William R Parker (eds). The Phallus Palace: Female to Male Transsexuals. Alyson Publications. 2002.
  • Dean Kotula. “Perceptions and Plaights”. In The Phallus Palace: 208-228.
  • Sharon E Kotula. “Metamorphosis of a Sibling: When History Changes”. In The Phallus Palace: 230-4.
  • Max Wolf Valerio. “Peering Inside the Phallus Palace”. Transgender Tapestry, 100, Winter 2002: 48-9. Online.
  • “Maritime Muse – Inspired By the Sea: Dean Kotula Photography Exhibit”. Bangor Daily News, May 20, 2014. Online.
  • “Dean Kotula” in Kirstin Cronn-Mills. Transgender Lives: Complex Stories, Complex voices. Twenty-First Century Books, 2015: Chp 5: 28-33.
_______________________________

Is Beryl a unisex name?  Apparently only in the US.  Discussion.

Kotula's own account, in his own book and in Cronn-Mills is shy of dates.  I may have mis-assumed once or twice.

For whatever reason, the Buckwalter and Kotula cases with BoLI are never discussed together.

15 August 2018

Helen Savage (1955 - ) vicar, archeologist, wine columnist

Part I: Life
Part II: PhD thesis

Mark Savage was born in Barrow, Cumbria, one of three children of a Baptist minister, and was raised in various parts of Lancashire. Despite a happy family home, Mark was thinking “I didn’t understand why I wasn’t a girl” by the start of school.

After graduating from Birmingham University Savage became an archaeologist: He co-directed the first modern, complete excavation of a Roman milecastle – Milecastle 35 at Sewingshields on Hadrian’s Wall.

In his mid-20s he decided to follow his father into the church and became a Church of England (CofE) curate in Heaton, on the outskirts of Newcastle. He completed a theology degree at Durham University, and a masters in adult learning. He became an adult education advisor for the diocese of Newcastle.

He married in 1979, and they had two children. He was ordained in 1983. After ten years of teaching, Savage became the vicar in the parish of St Cuthbert’s in Bedlington, Northumberland.

From 1990 Savage was also the wine writer for the Newcastle Journal. From 1991 he owned a house in France. Being fluent in the language, was able to visit hundreds of small vineyards across the country.

However he still felt that he was living a lie. In his 40s he contacted the Beaumont Society, but quickly realised that he was not a transvestite. He saw doctors at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, and was approved for NHS surgery.

Savage also began a PhD on gender dysphoria and Christian theology at the University of Durham, which draws upon the experiences of seven trans Christians who were interviewed over a period of eight months from 2002-3.

In 2004, with the support of the Bishop of Newcastle, Savage stepped down as vicar so that she could transition to Helen. While Helen is not the only trans CofE vicar, the news of her transition became national news and the press camped on her doorstep for a while.

She has stayed with her wife, and her now adult children have stood by her.
“Neither am I the least bit girly, but as a female I just feel so at ease. It fits with the way my brain works, and I now feel grateful for every new day. It may not be easy for those who know and love me, but before I was so bound up in misery and so obsessed. Now I don't have those feelings anymore. I am just getting on with my life."
She is still a CofE priest, and still a wine writer. Helen completed her PhD in 2006. (see discussion in Part II).

While Savage had wanted to return to being a parish vicar, she encountered more problems as a
woman than as a trans person in that some parishes would not take a woman priest, and she wished to remain in the north. Finally in 2015 she took the Moorland group of seven parishes around Hexham in Northumberland, and the Hexham Courant acquired its first ever wine columnist.

She also has become a Master of Wine (one of only 300 or so worldwide). She is a member of both the Association of Wine Educators and the Circle of Wine Writers; she has twice been short-listed for the coveted Louis Roederer International Wine Writers’ Award.

* Not Helen Savage the movie actor/director, nor the Library of Congress classifier, nor the jazz singer.
* Not any of the other writers called Mark Savage
  • Mark Savage. Excavations on Hadrian's Wall at Sewingshields: Interim Report 1979. Peter Robson, 1979.
  • Mark Savage. Master of Wine Study Bursary: Reports on Visits to Italian Wine-Producing Regions, 1983. The Institute of Masters of Wine, 1985.
  • Mark Savage. The Red Wines of Burgundy. Octopus, 1988.
  • Mark Savage & Claude Dovaz. Bourgogne rouge. Gründ, 1988
  • “Vicar quits to change sex”. Evening Chronicle, 21 Mar 2004. Online.
  • “’Sex Change’ vicar quits parish”. BBC News 22 March 2004. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/tyne/wear/3555221.stm.
  • “Anguish of sex change vicar”. The Journal, 22 Mar 2004. Online.
  • Jane Hall interviews Helen Savage. “This is who I am, and I am proud of it”. The Journal, 13 Oct 2005. Online.
  • Helen Savage. Changing Sex?: Transsexuality and Christian Theology. University of Durham PhD Thesis, 2006. Online. Review.
  • Helen Savage. L’Histoire du vin de France. Fetjaine, 2011.
  • “Multi-talented vicar welcomed to Slaley”. Hexham Courant, 22 April 2015. Online.
helensavage.com    twitter     WineEducators
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Several newspaper articles quote Helen to the effect that there are 5,000 transsexuals in Britain. This is surely a serious under-estimate.

The Hexham Courant mentions that Savage has written a book on music. I was unable to find it.

I have updated my Non-Fiction Books on other topics by trans authors to include Helen Savage.


13 August 2018

Harry Stokes (1799 – 1859) master bricklayer, publican

Stokes was born and raised in Doncaster, the child of a bricklayer. He ran away, some say at age 8, and did an apprenticeship with a bricksetter in Whitby.

He married his first wife in either the Old Parish Church of Sheffield or Sheffield Cathedral in January 1817. Through the 1820s and 1830s they lived in Manchester where he built up a bricklaying firm that specialized in chimney and flue construction. His wife was the company accountant, and at its peak the company employed eight men and an apprentice.

Harry had been sworn in as a Special Constable in 1829 in the 13th division, and acted in that capacity in the first days of the Chartist Riots, 1838.

In April, also 1838, after 22 years of marriage, Harry’s wife approached a lawyer as she wanted a separation. Harry was withholding housekeeping money, getting drunk and ill-treating her.

This was almost 20 years before the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1857. Divorce was governed by ecclesiastical courts and the canon law of the Church of England. In practice only the very wealthy, who could afford a private bill in Parliament, were able to get a divorce. However there was a chance of annulment.

Mrs Stokes also stated, that she accidentally made the discovery of the sex of her husband “as much as two or three years back” but that she had kept the secret till the present time. Harry was then examined by a police surgeon who did certify that he was a woman. This led to stories in the press, gossip and ridicule, and ballads that were composed and sung in the streets.

While no legal proceedings were taken, Harry had several conversations with the deputy constable and was persuaded to give the family home and contents to his wife, but refused to set aside any sum as a provision for her. Harry ceased to be a special constable in that he not present himself to be re-sworn at the annual procession at Manchester’s New Bailey.

A year later Harry met Francis Collins who, initially out of pity, took him on as a lodger in nearby Salford for a couple of years. She was 10 years his senior, a barmaid with an adult son and daughter. They returned to Manchester and established a beer-house under her name. They were assumed to be a couple and Collins took the name of Stokes. Eleven years later they opened a second beer-house under the name of her son.

However Harry in later years fell into decayed circumstances. In October 1859, a body was found in the River Irwell. The corpse was identified as that of Harry Stokes, then aged 60. The stories of 1838 being remembered, two women were deputed to examine the body. They reported back that it was of a “woman”. Again there were various newspaper stories about the “man woman”. Francis Collins Stokes maintained that despite sharing a bed with Stokes for 20 years she did not know that he was a woman.


  • "A Female-Husband". The Manchester Guardian. 11 April 1838:2. Online.
  • "The Woman-Husband". The Manchester Guardian. 14 April 1838: 2. Online.
  • “A Female Husband in Manchester”. The Weekly Dispatch, 15 April 1838: 175. Reprinted in Oram & Turnbull.
  • "A Woman Passing as a Man for Forty Years". The Manchester Examiner. 22 October 1859. Online.   
  • “ ‘Harry’ Stokes, The Man Woman”. Salford Evening News, October 1859. Online.
  • The Lancet: A Journal of British and Foreign Medicine, Surgery, Obstetrics, Physiology, Chemistry, Pharmacology, Public Health and News, Volume 2, 1859:649-650. Online.
  • Alison Oram & Annmarie Turnbull. The Lesbian History Sourcebook: Love and Sex Between Women in Britain from 1780–1970. Routledge, 2001: 21-3, 26-8.
  • Esther Roper & Eva Gore-Booth. “Harry Stokes – Manchester’s ‘female husband’ “. Warp and Weft, https://wearewarpandweft.wordpress.com/harry-stokes-a-female-husband-in-manchester.
  • Esther Roper & Eva Gore-Booth. “Harry Stokes – timeline “. Warp and Weft. https://wearewarpandweft.wordpress.com/harry-stokes-a-female-husband-in-manchester/harry-stokes-timeline.


EN.Wikipedia

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Some accounts (Lancet, Salford Evening News) ignore the first wife married in Sheffield and instead tell of a one-day marriage to a widow, Betsy, who kept a beerhouse, but objected that her new husband was a woman and charged him with assault, which led to his spending a month in the New Bailey prison. Warp and Weft think that maybe this was misremembering because of the ballads that were sung in 1838.

02 August 2018

A BBC2 discussion from 4 June 1973 with Della Aleksander


This program was part of a series called Open Door that launched in April 1973.   Championed by the BBC’s director of programmes at the time, David Attenborough, the series provided a platform for marginalised groups to talk about issues affecting them, without any editorial intervention. 


Four trans women were described as the Transex Liberation Group, and were led by Della Aleksander.  The others were Rachel Bowen, Jan Ford and Laura Pralet.   Della was also the founder of GRAIL (Gender Research Association International Liaison), and co-produced this program.




They are joined by two men: Member of Parliament for Pontypool, Leo Abse, who had introduced the private member’s bill to decriminalize homosexuality that had become law in 1967, and Dr Schlicht, a psychiatrist. 

The opening clip is from the comedy program, Are You Being Served?  The same 'joke' was repeated in the movie spin-off from the series.

Note that the pre-ops are referred to as 'transsexuals' and the post-ops as 'sex changes'.   I wonder how much of out jargon today will still be used in 2063 in the same way?   Della several times describes herself and others as 'intersexual', a term which we use much more carefully these days. 

If the video does not play full-screen, click: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p06c83f4.