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!

30 September 2018

William Seymour (184? - ?) cab driver

Seymour was raised with the name of Mary in Taunton, Somerset, with a father who was a land agent for the local nobleman.

At age 14 Seymour was married to an army surgeon, by the name of Honeywell. However the marriage was unbearable and Seymour ran away to London.

There Seymour met a woman who had previously been a farm servant on the estate in Taunton. She was married to a cabman, and with his example Seymour took a haircut and with a ‘judicious use of clothing’ was able to pass as a man, and make a living as a cab driver.

After three years, in 1869, Seymour relocated to Liverpool, where he continued in his trade. By this time he had a wife, Agnes, who would bring his dinner to the cabstand. They were recorded as married in the 1871 census.

In February 1875 Seymour was committed for trial for stealing 30lbs of meat from a butcher on Leece Street Liverpool. In the detective office suspicions were aroused in that Seymour was almost 30, and there was sign neither of a beard nor of the use of a razor. Seymour was persuaded to confess his original gender and was indicted under his male name, his girl name and his married name of Mrs Honeywell. He was found guilty and imprisoned for two months in Walton Jail.

  • “A Woman as a Cabdriver for Ten Years’. The Liverpool Mercury, 13 February 1875. Reprinted in Alison Oram & Annmarie Turnbull. The Lesbian History Sourcebook: Love and Sex Between Women in Britain from 1780–1970. Routledge, 2001: 31-2.
  • Billie-Gina Thomason. “William Seymour: The ‘Female Cabdriver”. Museum of Liverpool, January 2018. Online.
_____________

There is no information of what happened to Seymour after his release from jail.  Hopefully he was able to continue as a cab driver.  

Of course there are some cis men with no apparent beard.

This is a hansom cab from the 1870s. which is possibly what Seymour drove:

25 September 2018

Annotated reading list for English trans history.


Bram Stoker. Famous imposters. Strurgis & Walton, 1910. 

EN.Wikipedia. Yes, 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 Boy/Elizabeth Tudor.

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 Transvestiten, 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 Grosskurth’s study of Ellis.

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. 

Review. 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. 

Review. 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 her.

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. 

Review. 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 the 1980s.

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 Press 1984.

Review. 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 Books, 1987. 

Hodgkinson found her interviewees at SHAFT. Two years before her full-length biography of
Michael Dillon, Michael née Laura, she wrote this overview which features Judy Cousins, Rachael Webb (lorry driver and the first elected trans person in Britain), Michael Dillon, Mark Rees, Adèle Anderson and Stephanie Anne Booth.








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 Arts.
Cassell, 1994. 

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. 

Includes two chapters from King’s 1993 book. Also two contributions from Peter Farrer, and chapters by Mark Rees, Roberta Perkins, Phaedra Kelly, Carol Riddell, Rachael Terri Webb and Stephen Whittle. But also Neil Buhrich, Dwight Billings and Thomas Urban, and Janice Raymond.






Peter Farrer. Cross Dressing between the Wars: Selections from London Life, 1923-1933. Karn Publications, 2000. 

Farrer 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. 

Includes 40 pages of source documents on ‘cross-dressing women’. Oram regards them as lesbians, but many seem to be trans men such as Victor Barker, James Allen, Harry Stokes,

Richard Ekins & Dave King. The Transgender Phenomenon. Thousand Oaks. 2006. 

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. 

Impressive analysis from the newspaper archives 1900-1960. Again Oram regards the persons as lesbians rather than trans men. Includes William Holtam, Victor Barker, Ernest WoodHarold LloydMichael Johnson.




Clare R. Tebbut. Popular and Medical Understanding of Sex Change in 1930s Britain. PhD Thesis, University of Manchester, 2014. 

PDF. 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 Jackson only by her male name.

Peter Ackroyd. Queer City: Gay London from the Romans to the present day.
Chatto & Windus, 2017.


Review. A history of queer London. Transvestites are discussed from 1394 to The Well of Loneliness 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. Unbound, 2018. 

Review. Burns’ historical chapters keep over-emphasising what the Beaumont Society achieved and minimises what the other groups achieved, but will spread the story.



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. 

23 September 2018

On Reading Christine Burns. Part III


Part I: Introduction
Part II: 1950-1980
Part III: 1980-2004



1980-2004: A Question of Human Rights

  • Christine Burns.  “A Question of Human Rights”. “The Social Challenge”.  In Christine Burns (ed) Trans Britain: Our Journey from the Shadows.  Unbound, 2018: 119-134, 249-261.
Burns emphasises the division between transvestite and transsexual interests in the 1980s.   She spends 1.3 pages on the Self Help Association for Transsexuals (SHAFT) (half of that an image of the SHAFT newsletter).   Twice she stresses her dislike of the acronym (and it is true that Judy Cousins, the founder, was notably insensitive to other meanings of the word), but tells us nothing of what the group achieved.   It did bring together Judy, Rachael Webb the future Lambeth Councillor,  Brenda Lana Smith, Stephen Whittle, Alice Purnell and academic Richard Ekins.   Donations from SHAFT members established the Ulster Trans-Gender archive.  

There were two major books on English trans persons published at this time.   

  • Duncan Fallowell & April Ashley. April Ashley's Odyssey.  J. Cape, 1982.
  • Liz Hodgkinson.  Bodyshock: The truth about changing sex.  Columbus Books, 1987. 
The first is great fun and of historical importance.   However, cavorting with the rich and famous in France and Spain is not going to happen to most trans women.

Trans Britain mentions Hodgkinson’s biography of Michael Dillon, Michael née Laura, 1989, but not her earlier book, Bodyshock, which features Judy Cousins, Rachael Webb (lorry driver and the first elected trans person in Britain), Michael Dillon, Mark Rees, Adèle Anderson and Stephanie Anne Booth.  Yes the book largely focused on SHAFT, in a similar way to which Men in Frocks had focused on the London TV/TS Group. 

Later, Richard Ekins spent much time with Beaumont Society members and produced Male Femaling, 1997.  He and Dave King also edited an anthology Blending Genders, 1996.  The later was influential and much cited.   However Burns mentions neither book, and Ekins not at all.  
Burns lists the steps preceding the formation of Press for Change (PFC) in 1992 which led to the passing of the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) in 2004.   She mentions several of the English people who appealed to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) especially Mark Rees, Caroline Cossey, Rachel Horsham.   I would have mentioned the international aspect as trans persons in Belgium, France, Switzerland, Portugal etc made similar appeals against the laws of their own countries, all of which contributed to the ECHR finally ruling in our favour. 

Around the turn of the century there were apparently a few unpublicised cases, mainly of trans women in the military and intelligence who were recognised as female, even without divorcing their wives.  This was to stop these persons appealing to the ECHR, and it was insisted that they were one-off exemptions and did not set a precedent.   Petra Henderson, the best known of these cases, says that PFC did know of these cases and used them in negotiating for the GRA.  However, both here and in her two Pressing Matters books, Burns says nothing of this.  This is therefore another area of trans history that is badly documented.

She says nothing of the bureaucracy that came out of the Gender Recognition Act, the Gender Recognition Panel, located in Leicester.  I was very put off by their paternalistic attitude and almost gave up my application.    The man I dealt with seemed to have no feeling for what transsexuality is, and I had to explain to him that it is neither criminal nor shameful.    I would have liked a discussion about any many trans persons were employed by the panel, especially in the more senior roles.   Was the number greater than zero?   Why is this information not in the book?

On p249, Burns summarises what had happened prior to Press for Change: “we have seen how trans people began to form a community among themselves about fifty years ago, with the founding of the Beaumont Society in 1966.  Many contributors have referenced the legal case (Corbett v Corbett) which stripped away key rights for transsexual people shortly after that in 1970, and we’ve seen how it took over twenty years before a legal and political campaign emerged in 1992”.   

This can act as a statement of how Burns and I see English trans history quite differently.    

Burns keeps over-emphasising what the Beaumont Society achieved and minimises what the other groups achieved.  Some of the groups, the Gay Liberation Front Transvestite, Transsexual and Drag Queen Group,  those run by Charlotte Bach and Della Aleksander, the TAO are not mentioned at all; SHAFT is dismissed simply with slurs about its name; and Yvonne Sinclair the leader of the London TV/TS Group is dismissed as ‘opinionated’ – almost all the leaders of trans groups in that period were opinionated - perhaps necessarily, but only Yvonne only is so put down.

Likewise with earlier histories of English trans people.   Men in Frocks is dismissed as “primarily concerned with the London drag scene”, when it is so much more than that.   Hodgkinson’s Bodyshock is not even mentioned, nor are the Richard Ekins books.   Come to that, nor is this encyclopaedia - which would have corrected some of Burn's errors if she had consulted it. 








18 September 2018

On Reading Christine Burns. Part II: 1950-1980


Part I: Introduction
Part II: 1950-1980
Part III: 1980-2004
Annotated reading list for English trans history.

Is There Anyone Else Like Me

  • Christine Burns. “Is There Anyone Else Like Me”. In Christine Burns (ed) Trans Britain: Our Journey from the Shadows. Unbound, 2018: 23-38.
On her first page of this chapter Burns mentions Roberta Cowell in the first and third paragraphs. Which makes it all the more odd that in the second paragraph she writes: “Biographies about trans people were many years away. Conundrum, the first British mainstream trans autobiography by historian and writer Jan Morris, would not appear until 1974.” Equivocation around the word ‘mainstream’ is possible, but surely Roberta Cowell's Story, British Book Centre, 1954, caused enough of a sensation to be mainstream. Burns mentions the running of the story in the Picture Post, but not the release of the book.

Some other trans biographies and other writing by trans persons before 1974:


  • Michael Dillon. Self: A Study in Ethics and Endocrinology. William Heinemann Medical Books, 1946.
  • Robert Allen. But for the Grace: The True Story of a Dual Existence. W.H. Allen, 1954.
  • Georgina TurtleOver the Sex Border. Gollancz, 1963.


The only trans man before 1950 discussed by Burns is the Scottish Lord, Ewan Forbes. Micheal Dillon was the first surgical trans man, but he followed a distinguished line of trans men who had transitioned without medical help: among the rich and titled classes there was Forbes, Walter Sholto Douglas, Wynsley Michael Swan, Joe Carstairs, Toupie Lowther; among the professional classes James Barry, Victor Barker, Robert Allen, Jonathan Ferguson, John Thorp ; and among the workers Harry Stokes, William Holtom, Ernest Wood – not to mention the notorious Bill Allen (executed 1949). There is a brief mention of Robert Allen on p123 where a page of the FTM Newsletter is reproduced, but his biography is still not mentioned.

Burns spends three and a half pages on Virginia Prince and the Beaumont society (BS), but the Manchester TV/TS Group gets only one paragraph and the London TV/TS Group only one page. The leader of the London group, Yvonne Sinclair is dismissed as “a charismatic and opinionated cross-dresser” although she was once within 14 days of the operation. Trans women who turn back are also an important part of trans history. Why is Sinclair described as “opinionated’ while Prince is not?

There is a photograph of the cover of Kris Kirk’s Men in Frocks, 1984 (admittedly not a good title at all) but no discussion of its contents other than to say “primarily concerned with the London drag scene”. Did Burns ever read it? See my review. Amongst other transsexual women it featured Poppy Cooper, Roz Kaveney, Letitia Winter/Fay Presto. I hope that Burns is not one of those who include heterosexual transvestites in the transgender umbrella, but exclude gay transvestites.

We have got to 1984 and two of the major trans groups of the early 1970s have not been mentioned, and in fact are mentioned nowhere in the book at all. The first group was the Gay Liberation Front Transvestite, Transsexual and Drag Queen Group of whom the most prominent activists were Rachel Pollack and Roz Kaveney. In Trans Britain, given that GLFTTDQG and Men In Frocks are largely occluded, Roz does not appear until p307 and 2007 – despite having been a trans activist since the early 1970s.

The other group is, of course, that run by Charlotte Bach. How can anyone write of trans activism in the 1970s and not include Charlotte? Her first group included Della Aleksander who later, post-surgery, did her own activism. Charlotte was adopted by some of the GLF leaders, and later was taken up by writer Colin Wilson who featured her in several of his books.

Also not mentioned is the short-lived UK branch of Transsexual Action Organisation (TAO) which has almost vanished from history – apart from an account by Stephen Whittle included in Ekins & King’s The Transgender Phenomenon.


Burns mentions the first National TV.TS Conference held at Leeds University in 1974. She claims that it was organized by the Beaumont Society. Really? That is not how it is told in Ekins & King’s account presented in 2007. The Leeds University TV,TS Group published the proceedings, and, as Ekins & King say: “The main organisers were Caroline R., a postgraduate student at Leeds University and June Willmott, the local Beaumont Society organiser”. (Actually June was also in the Leeds TV.TS Group and in TAO – so she was not a typical BS member). TAO and GLF were active as were Della Aleksander and a researcher from Charing Cross GIC. This conference also seems to be the first recorded use of the term ‘transgender’ in Britain – I would have thought that worth mentioning.

Then having overstated the role of BS at Leeds, Burns makes no mention of the follow-up Conference at Leicester in 1975, which was indeed organised by the Beaumont Society, with a narrower range of participants.

After commenting on how trans surgery seemed exotic as the most famous trans women, April Ashley and Jan Morris went to Dr Georges Burou in Casablanca, Burns then says “treatment closer to home was already a possibility from the mid-1960s, when John Randell established a clinic at the Charing Cross Hospital”. Except, of course, Randell was appointed at Charing Cross way back in 1950, and was working with trans persons shortly afterwards. (See more on the 1966 claim.)

Burns rightly stresses the importance of Julia Grant’s transition and the CX-GIC’s treatment of her as recorded in the 1979 BBC documentary A Change of Sex.


As I said above, different historians have a different emphasis and selections of facts. The story as told through the entries in my encyclopaedia, is significantly different from that told by Christine Burns. We still await a consolidated history of English trans history. Even more so we need a history of Scottish and Welsh trans history.

16 September 2018

On Reading Christine Burns’ History of Trans Britain: Introduction

Part I: Introduction
Part II: 1950-1980
Part III: 1980-2004
Annotated reading list for English trans history.


Introduction


  • Christine Burns. “Introduction”. In Christine Burns (ed) Trans Britain: Our Journey from the Shadows. Unbound, 2018: 1-18.
Trans Britain was released in the UK in January 2018, and in Australia in February 2018. It is being  released in Canada and the US in September 2018. It is also available worldwide from Book Depository.

There are not many histories of British trans people, so all additions are welcome, whatever their emphasis or selections of facts. In the new anthology, Trans Britain edited by herself, Christine Burns, includes an introduction to the book, and introductory chapters to each of the three sections, that together constitute a history of the topic.

Despite the word ‘Britain’ in the title of the book, almost all that follows applies to England only. The anthology, Trans Britain, does include a chapter on Scottish trans activism by James Morton, but in Burns’ history chapters the only Scottish mention is of Ewan Forbes.

I don’t know why Burns has to start by listing trans persons and events in the US. They are well known, and surely the reader is coming to this book for a discussion on British or at least English trans persons and events.

The Introduction is more of a run around the world mentioning various trans cultures and events. A lot of the content is well-known: D’Eon, Hirschfeld, Mark Weston, Michael Dillon, Ewan Forbes.


However, I too have been researching British trans history, and there are, unfortunately, significant discrepancies between our respective accounts.  I mention them here so that future historian will combine the best of both.

➤Burns mentions the English historian Peter Ackroyd’s 1979 book, Dressing Up (review), but only to say that he quotes somebody else on the North American two-spirit tradition – and then neither this book nor Ackroyd’s Queer City (review) are mentioned again. Surely she must have found much else of relevance in the two books.

➤She repeats the misinformation that d’Eon “infiltrated the court of the Empress Elizabeth of Russia as a woman” – surely Gary Kates’ 1995 book (the first book based on the previously ignored d’Eon archives in the University of Leeds Library) refuted that canard once and for all.

➤Two pages later she repeats the extremely popular but totally false notion that Magnus Hirschfeld coined the word ‘transvestism’ - how many times does this have to be refuted before writers pay attention?!

➤After talking of pioneering surgical techniques at Hirschfeld’s institute, Burns then totally ignores the successful surgeries on Hirschfeld’s patients ( Carla van Crist who was still alive in New York in 1952; Toni Ebel who lived until 1961 in East Germany; Dörchen Ritcher who was probably murdered by Nazis in 1933) and mentions only the unsuccessful surgery on Lili Elvenes (whom she still calls Lili Elbe) who of course was not a patient of Hirschfeld.

➤Burns correctly makes the point that Alan Hart in Oregon had surgery in 1917, before Hirschfeld’s patients, but says nothing about Karl Baer who had surgery in Berlin in 1906.

➤Burns mentions Liz Hodgkinson’s biography of Michael Dillon, Michael Née Laura, only by its reissue title From a Girl to a Man.

➤Most of the English persons mentioned in the period before 1950 are trans men. It is a shame that she did not mention trans woman Norma Jackson who was famously in the newspapers in 1931. It is obvious to modern readers that she was a transsexual, but unable to get any medical assistance.

➤Nor is there any mention of Mark Weston’s surgeon at Charing Cross Hospital, Lennox Broster. While Broster in the 1930s and 1940s declined to operate on any trans person who was not also intersex, he did pioneer genital surgery at Charing Cross, and his clinic was inherited by John Randell.

10 September 2018

Stuart Lorimer on the Charing Cross GIC

Articles on the Charing Cross Gender Identity Clinic (GIC)

Part I: 1818-1982
Part II: 1983-now
Part III. Addendum
Part IV. Stuart Lorimer


Stuart Lorimer (born late 1960s) qualified as a doctor at Aberdeen Medical School, with a distinction in psychiatry. He has been involved with the Charing Cross GIC since 2002.

Lorimer has provided a history of the Charing Cross GIC, with emphasis on his own involvement.
  • Dr Stuart Lorimer. “1966 and All That: The History of Charing Cross Gender Identity Clinic”. In Christine Burns’ Trans Britain: Our Journey from the Shadows, Unbound, 2018: 51-67.
I have also written a history of the Charing Cross GIC – see the links above. My emphasis is different, discusses more of the patients, and starting much earlier in time. I have adjusted my account slightly, especially in the most recent years with input from Lorimer’s account.

There are two points in his account, however, that I would like to examine closely.


1966 and all that.


British persons over a certain age will immediately recognise the title as a riff on the 1930 classic satire by WC Sellar & RY Yeatman: 1066 and all that, which was published in 1930 and is a satire on how English history was taught at that time. How many readers under 40 would get the allusion is an open question as the content of history courses has changed so much. Peter Hitchins in his The Abolition of Britain says “A modern child, shown Sellar and Yeatman’s 1066 and All That, simply wouldn’t get the joke. You cannot laugh at this satire on forgetfulness and confusion unless you, too, share the experience of misunderstanding and mixing up the Wars of the Roses, Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck and the rest. You cannot even be enjoyably confused or forgetful about something which you never even knew in the first place.”

However the important question is what did happen at the CX-GIC in 1966 such that Lorimer and others assume that 1966 was the founding of the clinic, despite it being in operation since the 1930s under a different name.

In Part I of my account, I commented at the end: “The WLMHT GIC web site says: “The West London Gender Identity Clinic at Charing Cross Hospital (CX GIC) is the largest and oldest clinic of its type, dating back to 1966.” But what happened in 1966? Lennox Broster’s work with intersex persons dates back to the 1930s, and John Randell’s with transvestites and transsexuals dates to the 1950s. On the other hand the 1969 symposium reported ‘there is as yet no permanent gender identity unit’.” Lorimer’s account does not answer this.

Lorimer twice mentions 1966. On p53 he writes: “Randell was nonetheless a trailblazer, the originator, in 1966, of one of the largest and oldest trans treatment centres in the world”. On p56 he writes of Harry Benjamin: “Distinguishing his patients from transvestites (a term not coined until Benjamin was twenty-five), he opened the doors of his first proper clinic in 1966, the same year as Randell’s GIC at Charing Cross”. Neither of these assertions answers my questions. What did Randell do in 1966 that is taken as founding the clinic that he had been running since 1950, and was such that three years later in 1969 it was said that reported “there is as yet no permanent gender identity unit”.

(Note also that Lorimer is of the school that insists on ignoring the facts and claiming that Hirschfeld coined ‘transvestism’ despite it being in use from the 16th century and that the Paris Police had been issuing permissions de transvestissement since 1800.)


Russell Reid


Complaints were made against Russell Reid in 2004, and in 2007 there was an investigation by the General Medical Council that led to his resignation. Lorimer mentions this on p62, but does not list the doctors who made the complaint. Here is the list from David Batty’s article "GMC inquiry into gender change expert" in The Guardian, 20 January 2004: “Donald Montgomery, James Barratt, and Richard Green …. Together with Stuart Lorimer, a senior registrar at the clinic, they allege Dr Reid has repeatedly breached guidelines”.


Now of course in 2004, Lorimer had been at Charing Cross only two years, and was the most junior of the four doctors mentioned. However it is naughty (to use a mild term) of him not to mention that he was one of the four doctors.