Bram Stoker. Famous Imposters. Strurgis & Walton, 1910.
that Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula. Today we would object to trans persons
being included in a book on imposters, but this was 1910. Includes essays on
Hannah Snell, La Maupin, Mary Easy, D’Eon and the Bisley
Havelock Ellis. Studies in the Psychology of Sex. Vol 7 Eonism and Other
Supplementary Studies. FA Davis 1928.
Ellis was aware of Hirschfeld’s Die
, but disagreed with his terminology. In 1913 Ellis proposed
the term 'sexo-aesthetic inversion' to describe the phenomenon. In 1920 he coined
the term eonism, which he derived from the name of a historical figure,
Chevalier d'Eon. Ellis explained: “On the psychic side, as I view it, the Eonist
is embodying, in an extreme degree, the aesthetic attitude of imitation of, and
identification with, the admired object. It is normal for a man to identify
himself with the woman he loves. The Eonist carries that identification too far,
stimulated by a sensitive and feminine element in himself which is associated
with a rather defective virile sexuality on what may be a neurotic basis.”
Weirdly ignored in Phyllis
’s study of Ellis.
C J S Thompson. The Mysteries of Sex: Women Who Posed as Men and Men Who Impersonated Women. Hutchinson, 1935.
Essays on both famous and obscure trans persons up to 1935,
Michael Dillon. Self: A Study in Ethics and Endocrinology. William
Heinemann Medical Books, 1946.
The first book anywhere by a trans person that
discusses transsexuality, although it does so as a sub-type of ‘homosexuality’.
Georgina Turtle. Over the Sex Border. Gollancz, 1963.
The first book anywhere to discuss trans women using the term ‘transexual’.
Turtle was a dentist and a mosaic XO/XY transsexual, and thus was generally
ignored e,g in Benjamin’s book three years later.
Roger Baker. Drag: a History of Female Impersonation on the Stage.
Triton Books, 1968.
The performivity end of the spectrum. Features tales of
impersonators who later transitioned, but also many who did not.
Gilbert Oakley. Sex change and dress deviation. Morntide, 1970.
The author of the hoax trans biography
Man into Woman
, 1964, and several books on self confidence and
psychology. He was also a female impersonator. Offer a typology and concludes:
“From his observations, the author is convinced that the transvestite is far
happier than the trans-sexual. Life is by no means so complex, so painful, or so
embarrassing for them. The future is not obscured by a mist of hopefulness and
doubt. The best of two worlds lies within the transvestite's grasp, for he can
change from male to 'female' at will. The author concludes, therefore , that the
sex-change phenomenon is wholly and completely disastrous, and that medical
bodies the world over are seriously at fault in encouraging it in any way when
other means of therapy are surely at their disposal to help these unfortunate
people." Reaches conclusion similar to Virginia Prince without having heard of
Desmond Montmorency. The Drag Scene: The Secrets of Female
Impersonators. Luxor Press, 1970.
Much less scholarly than Roger Baker’s
book. The Oakley and the Montmorency book were both published in 1970. Both
books are the same size and shape, both are dominantly yellow and both have a
partial title but no author on the spine. One is published by Morntide and the
other by Luxor. However both Morntide and Luxor give their address as 50
Alexandria Road, London SW19.
Peter Ackroyd. Dressing Up: Transvestism and Drag, the History of an
Obsession. Simon and Shuster. 1979.
Ackroyd’s first non-fiction book. While openly gay, he describes himself as an
outsider to this subject. “Some transvestites are exclusively fetishistic; they
dress, in other words, to obtain some kind of sexual arousal. Psychoanalysts
believe this to be the dominant mode of transvestism and, indeed, many
transvestites remain fixed at this stage, assuaging their obsessions by frequent
or intermittent cross-dressing. But there are other transvestites who move out
of the fetishistic stage; they cease to be sexually excited by the act of
cross-dressing itself, and go on to a more comprehensive form of feminine
‘passing’.” This book was in the bibliography of almost every book on trans in
George Ives (ed Paul Sieveking). Man Bites Man: The Scrapbook of an
Edwardian Eccentric. Penguin Books, 1981.
The 19th century
pioneer gay activist left many press cuttings, including on transvestism,
Kris Kirk with photographs by Ed Heath. Men In Frocks. Gay Men's
Despite its ill-chosen title, this book traces trans history from the 1940s when
there was almost nowhere for trans persons to go, and shows how performance went from being the only
option to one of several options. Kirk found many of his interviewees at the
London TV/TS Group. My choice for the best English trans history book. "If there
is any one lesson to be learned from studying this field it is that the
individual is individual. People define themselves and the self-definition must
always take priority over the received wisdom. I have met self-defined draq
queens whom others would describe as TV either because they enjoy 'passing'; or
because they 'dress' so often that it could be seen as a compulsion; or because
they wear lingerie, either to turn men on or to make themselves feel sensuous. I
have met drag performers who have grown to dislike drag, and men who insist on
being called 'cross-dressers' because they dislike what the word 'drag' stands
for, and men who wear part-drag in order to create confusion and doubt amongst
others, but who would never wear full drag because that would defeat their
object. I know self-defined TVs who are gay or bisexual or oscillating, some of
them having learned to cross this sexuality barrier through their
cross-dressing. I have met TVs who dress like drag queens and drag queens who
dress like TVs, and TVs whose cross-dressing has encouraged them to question
their 'male role', which in turn has made them examine their idea of
'femininity'. And perhaps most important of all, I have learned how marshy a
terrain is the middle ground between our earlier clear-cut distinction between
transvestites and transexuals."
Liz Hodgkinson. Bodyshock: The truth about changing sex. Columbus
Annie Woodhouse. Fantastic Women: Sex, Gender, and Transvestism.
Rutgers University Press, 1989.
Concentrates on the wives of transvestites. She
also found interviewees at the London TV/TS Group.
Dave King. The Transvestite and the Transsexual: Public categories and
private identities. Avebury, 1993.
A neglected but quite useful history of
both trans persons and the doctors.
Roger Baker. Drag: a History of Female Impersonation in the Performing
Not an expansion of the 1968 book, as content from that
has been removed. A rewrite with a much more positive attitude.
Richard Ekins & Dave King (eds). Blending genders: social aspects of
cross-dressing and sex-changing. Routledge. 1996.
Peter Farrer. Cross Dressing between the Wars: Selections from London
Life, 1923-1933. Karn Publications, 2000.
wrote many books analysing trans content in various publications. This is
probably the best.
Alison Oram & Annmarie Turnbull. The Lesbian History Sourcebook: Love
and Sex Between Women in Britain from 1780–1970. Routledge, 2001.
Richard Ekins & Dave King. The Transgender Phenomenon. Thousand
The major work from Ekins
and King. Some of their conclusions are
odd (e,g, their support of Blanchard and Prince) but the book includes history
not found anywhere else.
Peter Farrer. Cross Dressing between the Wars: Selections from London
Life, Part II 1934-1941. Karn Publications, 2006.
Alison Oram. Her Husband was a Woman!: Women's gender-crossing in modern British popular culture. Routledge, 2007.
Clare R. Tebbut. Popular and Medical Understanding of Sex Change in 1930s
Britain. PhD Thesis, University of Manchester, 2014.
A neglected but very useful publication. More detail on Lennox Broster than
anywhere else; cover the Charing Cross clinic, the press, glands and hormones
and sport. One gripe is that she refers to Norma
only by her male name.
Peter Ackroyd. Queer City: Gay London from the Romans to the present
day. Chatto & Windus, 2017.
A history of queer London. Transvestites are discussed from 1394 to The Well
in 1928, but not a single one after that, and also no
transsexuals at all.
Christine Burns (ed) Trans Britain: Our Journey from the Shadows.
Burns’ historical chapters keep over-emphasising what the Beaumont Society
achieved and minimises what the other groups achieved, but will spread the
Gender Variance Who’s Who, 2007-now
This encyclopaedia contains many entries applicable
to English trans history, as well as that of the rest of the world.