This site is the most comprehensive on the web devoted to trans history and biography. Well over 1700 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 right-hand sidebar. There is also a search box at the top left. Enjoy exploring!

27 December 2019

2019 trans obituaries

Brenda Lana Smith (1933 – 2019) Honorary Danish Consul in Bermuda. Christine Jorgensen’s housemate until her death. Active in PFC. Campaigned against lack of gay and trans rights in Bermuda.

Jackie Shane (1940 – 2019) musician who had a hit in Toronto, 1962 with “Any Other Way”. She was then androgynous. She completed transition in old age.

Gayle Sherman (1940 – 2019) Jewel Box Review, 82 Club, post-op stripper, cosmetologist.

Bebe Scarpinato (1951 – 2019) teacher, activist in GAA, STAR, QLF, on the originating board of the National Gay Task Force and was active in planning the fourth Christopher Street Liberation Day (which later became the New York Pride March), editor of Drag Magazine.

Julia Grant (1954 – 2019) protagonist of the pioneering documentary A Change of Sex, 1979, author of two autobiographies, bar owner, activist.

Phaedra Kelly (1955 – 2019) cofounder of the Transconscient Arts Movement, founder of the International Gender Transient Affinity. Featured in Richard Ekins’ books.

Jamie Lee Hamilton (1955 – 2019) Vancouver activist, first trans person in Canada to run for public office, ran a non-profit centre for sex workers, and agitated to bring attention to the missing women in the period before the arrest of serial killer Robert Pickton.

Penny Whetton (1958 – 2019) climate scientist, Melbourne. a lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Third Assessment Report, and of the Fourth Assessment Report which was awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

Julie Berman (1968 – 2019) Toronto activist who raised awareness about violence against trans women, herself murdered.

Nikki Arguz Loyd (1975 – 2019) A trans activist since adolescence. Her second husband, a firefighter, died on the job in 2010, and his family and first wife litigated to deny her widow’s benefits. This was reversed in 2015.

Miriam Rivera  (1981 – 2019) featured in UK and Australian reality shows in 2004. Found dead in apartment in Mexico.

Rajathi (1981 -2019) priestess murdered and beheaded while attending at her temple in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu.

Genilson José da Silva (1984 – 2019) bar owner Jardim Marisa, Campo Belo, Brazil, murdered and mutilated by a trick.

Camila Díaz Córdova (1990 –2019) San Salvador. Fled from transphobic violence to US, but was deported back, and then murdered.

Jade Camila Diaz (199? – 2019) was creating a transgender women's collective in San Francisco Gotera, the provincial capital of Morazán state. She had also worked on forced displacement and migration issues, which particularly affect the trans community. Murdered.

Santiago Carbajal (199? – 2019) Honduran television personality murdered.

Jordan Cofer (1997 – 2019). Cofer’s brother, Connor Betts, did a mass shooting at a nightclub in Dayton, Ohio, and Jordan was the first victim of 9 – also 13 were wounded.  Betts was quickly shot dead by police.

Britany Sanchez Zárate (1999 – 2019) had just been crowned Princess of the Carnival of Minatitlán, Veracruz when two men fatally shot her.

Murder Count

Murders in the 12 months up to the Transgender Day of Remembrance. Transrespect.

There were 331 recorded deaths this last year – plus many more nor reported, especially in countries were transgender is not recognized. This is slightly less bad than the 369 reported in 2018, but still a serious jump from the 270 in 2017.

As usual the most murders were recorded in Brazil (130), Mexico (63), the United States (30).

15 December 2019

Books on Gender Variance in 2019

$£¥ €=Excessively overpriced books. 
  • Miriam J Abelson. Men in Place: Trans Masculinity, Race, and Sexuality in America. University of Minnesota Press, 2019.
  • $£¥ € Michel J Boucher. Transgender Representation and the Politics of the Real in the United States. Routledge, 2019.
  • Stephanie Castle. Feelings: A Transsexual's Explanation of a Baffling Condition. Kindle, 2019. A re-issue of the book from 1992 by the Vancouver activist.
  • Jian Neo Chen. Trans Exploits: Trans of Color Cultures and Technologies in Movement. Duke University Press, 2019.
  • Maria Cook. Gender Identity: Beyond Pronouns and Bathrooms. Nomad Press, 2019.
  • $£¥ € Katherine Crawford-Lackey & Megan E Springate (eds). Identities and Place: Changing Labels and Intersectional Communities of LGBTQ and Two-Spirit People in the United States. Berghahn Books, 2019.
  • Jules Joanne Gleeson & Elle O’Rourke (eds) Transgender Marxism. Pluto Press, 2019.
  • Ardel Haefele-Thomas. Introduction to Transgender Studies. Harrington Park Press, 2019.
  • Addison Hernández. Autoconcepto y concepción de masculinidad y feminidad en Drag Queens: Un estudio de casos en profundidad.  Editorial Académica Española, 2019.
  • Amos Mac. Original Plumbing: The Best of Ten Years of Trans Male Culture. Amethyst Editions, 2019.
  • Sarah McBride. Tomorrow Will Be Different: Love, Loss, and the Fight for Trans Equality. Three Rivers Press, 2019.
  • Eva A Mendes & Meredith R Maroney. Gender Identity, Sexuality and Autism: Voices from Across the Spectrum. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2019.
  • $£¥ € Ruth Pearce et al (eds). The Emergence of Trans: Cultures, Politics and Everyday Lives. Routledge, 2019.
  • Juno Roche. Trans power. Jessica Kingsley, 2019. Newsarticle.
  • Peter W Schulze. Los transgéneros tango, samba y ranchera: (re)configuraciones mediáticas y culturales. Vervuert Verlagsges, 2019.
  • Arlene Stein. Unbound: Transgender Men and the Remaking of Identity. Vintage, 2019.
  • Rachel Anne Williams. Transgressive: A Trans Woman on Gender, Feminism and Politics. Jessica Lingsley Publishers, 2019.

Jargon & Language

  • Morgan Lev Edward Holleb. The A-Z of Gender and Sexuality: From Ace to Ze. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2019.
  • Douglas Robinson. Transgender, Translation, Translingual Address. Bloomsbury Academic, 2019.
  • Eris Young. They/Them/Their: A Guide to Nonbinary and Genderqueer Identities. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2019.


  • James K Beilby & Paul Rhodes (eds). Understanding Transgender Identities: Four Views. Baker Academic, 2019.
  • Mike Jolls. Living Life Between Two Worlds: The Story of A Transsexual Experience, the truth God revealed about it, and how He brought me out of it. Christian Faith Publishing, Inc, 2019.
  • Kevin Manders & Elizabeth Marston (eds). Transcending: Trans Buddhist Voices. North Atlantic Books, 2019.

Legal, Imprisonment & Surveillance

  • Toby Beauchamp. Going Stealth: Transgender Politics and US Surveillance Practices. Duke University Press, 2019.
  • Persson Perry Baumgartinger. Die staatliche Regulierung von Trans: Der Transsexuellen-Erlass in Österreich (1980-2010). Eine Dispositivgeschichte. Taschenbuch, 2019.
  • Marty Erickson. Transgender Rights. Brightpoint Press, 2019.
  • $£¥ € Mia Fischer. Terrorizing Gender: Transgender Visibility and the Surveillance Practices of the U.S. Security State. University of Nebraska Press, 2019.,
  • Christopher Hutton.  The Tyranny of Ordinary Meaning: Corbett v Corbett and the Invention of Legal Sex. Palgrave Macmillan, 2019.
  • $£¥ € Susan Gluck Mezey. Transgender Rights: From Obama to Trump. Routledge, 2019.
  • $£¥ € Damian A Gonzalez Salzberg.  Sexuality and Transsexuality Under the European Convention on Human Rights: A Queer Reading of Human Rights Law. Hart Pub Ltd, 2019.
  • $£¥ € Alex Sharpe. Sexual Intimacy and Gender Identity 'Fraud': Reframing the Legal and Ethical Debate. Routledge, 2019.

Health and Medical

  • $£¥ € Dana Bevan. Transgender Health and Medicine: History, Practice, Research, and the Future. Praeger, 2019.
  • Daphna Joel & Luba Vikhanski. Gender Mosaic: Beyond the myth of the male and female brain. Endeavour, 2019.


  • Martin Aston. Breaking Down the Walls of Heartache: How Music Came Out. BackBeat, 2017.
  • Rebecca Bell-Metereau. Transgender Cinema. Rutgers University Press, 2019.
  • Darryl W Bullock. David Bowie Made Me Gay: 100 Years of LGBT Music. Harry N Abrams, 2019.
  • Jian Neo Chen. Trans Exploits: Trans of Color Cultures and Technologies in Movement. Duke University Press, 2019.
  • $£¥ € Simone Chess. Male-to-Female Crossdressing in Early Modern English Literature: Gender, Performance, and Queer Relations. Routledge, 2019.
  • Valérie Clayman. I'm Supposed to Relate to This? A Trans Woman on Issues of Identification with Trans Moving Images. AnteBody Press, 2016. As Clayman’s life progressed, she found that characters she initially accepted as being trans looked less and less so.
  • $£¥ €=Heather Duerre Humann. Gender Bending Detective Fiction: A Critical Analysis of Selected Works. McFarland Publishing, 2017.
  • Quinlan Miller. Camp TV: Trans Gender Queer Sitcom History. Duke University Press, 2019.
  • Tomás Pérez Niño y José Luis Mena. El cine transgénero. Los 100 mejores títulos. Cacitel, SL, 2018.
  • Jonathan Weinberg. Art after Stonewall, 1969-1989. Rizzoli Electa, 2019.


  • Dunia Miralles & Olivier G Fatton. Coco. Edition Patrick Frey, 2019.


  • Kristen Worley & Johanna Schneller. Woman Enough: How a Boy Became a Woman and Changed the World of Sport. Random House, 2019.
  • Joanna Harper. Sporting Gender: The History, Science, and Stories of Transgender and Intersex Athletes. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2019.
  • Narrick Hugo Melonio & Thomaz D. Abdalla Siqueira. O Transgênero no Esporte. Kindle, 2019.


  • Finn V Gratton. Supporting Transgender Autistic Youth and Adults: A Guide for Professionals and Families. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2019.
  • Sam Hope. Person-Centred Counselling for Trans and Gender Diverse People: A Practical Guide. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2019.
  • Adrienne J. Transgender 101: a Guide to Coping with Gender Dysphoria. 2019.
  • Gary J Jacobson, Jan C Niemira & Karalyn J Violeta (eds). Sex, Sexuality, and Trans Identities: Clinical Guidance for Psychotherapists and Counselors. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2019.
  • Sally Jo. How to Pass as a Girl: A Guide for Cross-Dressers. Kindle, 2019
  • Tiffany Jones. Improving Services for Transgender and Gender Variant Youth: Research, Policy and Practice for Health and Social Care Professionals. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2019.
  • Jennie Kermode. Supporting Transgender and Non-Binary People with Disabilities or Illnesses: A Good Practice Guide for Health and Care Provision. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2019.
  • S.J. Langer. Theorizing Transgender Identity for Clinical Practice: A New Model for Understanding Gender. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2019.
  • Matson Lawrence & Stephenie Mckendry. Supporting Transgender and Non-Binary Students and Staff in Further and Higher Education: Practical Advice for Colleges and Universities. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2019.
  • Julie Nicholson et al. Supporting Gender Diversity in Early Childhood Classrooms: A Practical Guide. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2019.
  • Denise O’Doherty. Prosperando a través de la transición: Autocuidado para padres de niños transgénero. 2019.
  • Sally Rymer & Valentina Cartei. Working with Trans Survivors of Sexual Violence: A Guide for Professionals. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2019.
  • Brynn Tannehill. Everything You Wanted to Know About Trans * But Were Afraid to Ask. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2018. Newsarticle.
  • Madison-Amy Webb. A Reflective Guide to Gender Identity Counselling. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2019.

Couples & Family

  • Amanda Jetté Knox. Love Lives Here: A Story of Thriving in a Transgender Family. Viking, 2019. The authors child and spouse both transitioned.
  • Mimi Lemay. What We Will Become: A Mother, a Son, and a Journey of Transformation. Houghton Mifflin, 2019.
  • ++Rick Prashaw. Soar, Adam, Soar.  Dundurn, 2019.   A father celebrates the life of his trans son who drowned during an epileptic fit.


  • Céline Audebeau. Du masculin au féminin, mon parcours singulier. Editions KAWA, 2019.
  • Freiya Benson (ed). Trans Love: An Anthology of Transgender and Non-Binary Voices.  Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2019.
  • Jackson Bird. Sorted: Growing Up, Coming Out, and Finding My Place (A Transgender Memoir). Tiller Press, 2019.
  • Joanne Borden. The Transgender Monologues: Gender, Sexuality, and LGBT Life. 2019.
  • Clarisse. Homme un jour, femme toujours - Les tribulations d'une femme transgenre. La boite à pandore, 2019.
  • Lucky & Wolsey Bradley. Accidentally Gay: The True Love Story When a Wife Becomes a Husband. Riverdale Avenue Books, 2019.
  • Katherine Cummings. The Live and Loves of a Transgendered Lesbian Librarian : and other essays, stories and verses. Beaujon Press, 2019.
  • A J D. Transition: Opinionated Transsexual's Views of the Gender Journey Shared with Transgender Youth. 2019.
  • Monica F Helms. More Than Just a Flag. MB Books, 2019.
  • Rock Holliwood. Trixy Long: A Transgender Memoir. Kindle, 2019.
  • Anne L Koch. It Never Goes Away: Gender Transition at a Mature Age. Rutgers University Press, 2019.
  • Sabina Kocherhans. Vom Slumgirl zur Botschafterin: One Voice - One Heart – Transgender. Basic Erfolgsmanagement, 2019.
  • Landa Mabenge. Becoming Him: A Trans Memoir of Triumph. Jacana Media, 2019.
  • Benjamin MacEllen. A Cut Closer to Whole. Kindle, 2019.
  • João W. Nery. Velhice transviada: Memórias e reflexões. Objetiva; Edição, 2019.
  • Rick & Adam Prashaw. Soar, Adam, Soar. Dundurn, 2019.
  • Lorimer Shenher.  This One Looks Like a Boy: My Gender Journey to Life as a Man. Greystone Books, 2019.  Vancouver police officer - see also under Written by a trans person.
  • Abby Stein. Becoming Eve: My Journey from Ultra-Orthodox Rabbi to Transgender Woman. Seal Press, 2019.
  • Margot Wilson & Aaron Devor (eds). Glimmerings: Trans Elders Tell Their Stories. Castle Carrington Publishing, 2019.

Doctor Autobiography

  • Donald R Laub. Second Lives, Second Chances: A Surgeon's Stories of Transformation. ECW Press, 2019.


  • Chris Coffman. Gertrude Stein’s Transmasculinity, Edinburgh University Press, 2018.
  • Gérard de Cortanze. Femme qui court: Violette Morris, la scandaleuse. Albin Michel Littérature, 2019.
  • John Hemingway. Strange Tribe: A Family Memoir. 2019. By Gloria’s son.
  • Lida Maxwell. Insurgent Truth: Chelsea Manning and the Politics of Outsider Truth-Telling. Oxford University Press, 2019.
  • Michael Pick. Norman Hartnell: The Biography. Zuleika, 2019. 
  • Angela Steidele, translated from German by Katy Derbyshire. Gentleman Jack: A biography of Anne Lister, Regency Landowner, Seducer and Secret Diarist. Serpent’s Tail, 2018. Review. Review.
  • Margot E Wilson. Girl in the Dream: Stephanie (Sydney) Castle Heal, A Transgender Life. Transgender Publishing, 2018.

Trans/GLBT history

  • Simon Avery & Katherine M Graham (eds). Sex, Time and Place: Queer Histories of London, c.1850 to the Present. Bloomsbury Academic, 2018.
  • Jason Baumann (ed). The Stonewall Reader.  The New York Public Library & Penguin Books, 2019. Review .
  • Steven F Dansky. Hot August Night/1970: The Forgotten LGBT Riot. Blurb, 2019. Online.
  • $£¥ € Jessica Hinchy. Governing Gender and Sexuality in Colonial India: The Hijra, c.1850-1900. Cambridge University Press, 2019.
  • David Kohl. A Curious and Peculiar People: A history of the GLBTQ Communuity and the Metropolitan Community Church. CreateSpace, 2019.
  • Jenny Latreille. Trans en France: Histoire des personnes trans en France et ailleurs d'autrefois à nos jours.2018.
  • Russ Lopez. The Hub of the Gay Universe: An LGBTQ History of Boston, Provincetown, and Beyond. Shawmut Peninsula Press, 2019.
  • Elizabeth Otto. Haunted Bauhaus: Occult Spirituality, Gender Fluidity, Queer Identities, and Radical Politics. The MIT Press, 2019.
  • $£¥ € Don Romesburg (ed). The Routledge History of Queer America. Routledge, 2019.
  • Hugh Ryan. When Brooklyn Was Queer: A History. St Martin’s Press. 2019.
  • Kerry Segrave. ‘Masquerading in Male Attire”: Women Passing as Men in America, 1844-1920. McFarland Publishing, 2018.
  • Richard Schneider Jr (ed). In Search of Stonewall: The Riots at 50, The Gay & Lesbian Review at 25, Best Essays 1994-2018. G&LR Books, 2019. Review.
  • Howard Philips Smith & Frank Perez. Southern Decadence in New Orleans. LSU Press, 2018.
  • The New York Times (ed). Transgender Activists and Celebrities. New York Times Edu Pub, 2018.

Other Cultures

  • Aren Z Aizura. Mobile Subjects: Transnational Imaginaries of Gender Reassignment. Duke University Press, 2018.
  • Mathieu Boisvert. Les hijras : Portraits socioreligieux d'une communauté transgenre sud-asiatique. PU Montréal, 2019.
  • Franck Poupart & Jean-Pascal Huvé. Ladyboys of Thailand, un Hommage à la Féminité, a Tribute to the Feminine. UV Productions, 2018.
  • Dante X. Transsexuals and Katoys in Thailand. Kindle, 2019.

Written by a trans person

  • Lorimer Shenher.  That Lonely Section of Hell: The Botched Investigation of a Serial Killer Who Almost Got Away. Greystone Books, 2015.  The Robert Picton case by a detective who later transitions – see also in Autobiography.


  • Stephanie Castle. Far Side of the Moon: A Novel About the Life of a Child Transsexual.  Castle Carrington Publishing, 2019.
  • Hafren Evan. Learning to Roar. 2019.


  • Janice Atkinson. What Women Want versus The gender, transgender and cultural wars of the West. Aspekt Publisher, 2019.
  • $£¥ € Heather Brunskell-Evans & Michele Moore (eds). Inventing Transgender Children and Young People. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2019. 
  • Alex P Serritella. Transgenda - Abuse and Regret in the Sex-Change Industry. Bookstand Publishing, 2016.
  • Stephen Stacey. Sexual Political Correctness: Can Our Nations De-Transition from Harmful, Transgender Legislation? Kindle, 2019.

Announced for 2020

  • Noah Adam & Bridget Liang. Trans and Autistic: Stories from Life at the Intersection. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2020.
  • $£¥ € Conrad Alexandrowicz. Acting Queer: Gender Dissidence and the Subversion of Realism. Palgrave Macmillan, 2020.
  • Samantha Allen. Real Queer America: LGBT Stories from Red States. Back Bay Books, 2010.
  • Alex Bakker, Rainer Herrn, Michael Thomas Taylor & Annette F Timm. Others of My Kind: Transatlantic Transgender Histories. University of Calgary Press, 2020.
  • Anne Balay. Semi Queer: Inside the World of Gay, Trans, and Black Truck Drivers. University of North Carolina Press, 2020.
  • Dennis Baron. What's Your Pronoun?: Beyond He and She. Liveright, 2020.
  • $£¥ € Lauren Bonati. Transgender Dermatology,An Issue of Dermatologic Clinics. Elsevier, 2020.
  • Jennifer Boylan. Good Boy: My Life in Seven Dogs. Celadon Books, 2020.
  • Brian Bradley. Outrageous Misfits: Female Impersonator Craig Russell and His Wife, Lori Russell Eadie. Dundurn, 2020.
  • Heather Bryant. My Trans Parent: A User Guide for When Your Parent Transitions. Jessica Kingsley, 2020.
  • Peter Bussian. Trans New York: Photos and Stories of Transgender New Yorkers. Apollo Publishers, 2020.
  • $£¥ € B Camminga. Transgender Refugees and the Imagined South Africa: Bodies Over Borders and Borders Over Bodies. Palgrave Macmillan, 2020.
  • P. Carl. Becoming a Man: The Story of a Transition. Simin & Schuster, 2020.
  • Daniel Shank Cruz. Queering Mennonite Literature: Archives, Activism, and the Search for Community. Penn State University Press, 2010.
  • Christina Beardsley & Chris Dowd. Trans Affirming Churches: How to Celebrate Gender-Variant People and Their Loved Ones. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2020.
  • Heidi Dalzell & Kayti Protos. A Clinician's Guide to Gender Identity and Body Image: Practical Support for Working with Transgender and Gender-Expansive Clients. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2020.
  • Jo Ivester. Once a Girl, Always a Boy: A Family Memoir of a Transgender Journey. She Writes Press, 2020.
  • Selenis Leyva & Marizol Leyva. My Sister: How One Sibling's Transition Changed Us Both. Bold Tpe Books, 2020.
  • Jen Manion. Female Husbands: A Trans History. Cambridge University Press, 2020.
  • $£¥ € Daniel Marshall. Queer Youth Histories. Palgrave Macmillan, 2020.
  • Rachel Mesch. Before Trans: Three Gender Stories from Nineteenth-Century France. Stanford University Press, 2020.
  • $£¥ € Adam M Messinger & Xavier L Guadalupe-Diaz. Transgender Intimate Partner Violence: A Comprehensive Introduction. New York University Press, 2020.
  • Matthew Mills & Gillie Stoneham. Voice and Communication Therapy with Trans and Non-Binary People: Sharing the Clinical Space. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2020.
  • · $£¥ € Dmitriy Nikolavsky & Stephen Blakely. Urological Care for the Transgender Patient: A Comprehensive Guide. Springer, 2020.
  • Jay Kyle Petersen & Christina M Laukaitis. A Comprehensive Guide to Intersex. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2020.
  • $£¥ € Barry Reay. Trans America: A Counter-History. Polity, 2020.
  • Robyn Ryle. Throw Like a Girl, Cheer Like a Boy: The Evolution of Gender, Identity, and Race in Sports. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2020.
  • Rob Sanders. The Fighting Infantryman: The Story of Albert D. J. Cashier, Transgender Civil War Soldier. Little bee books, 2020.
  • Troy R Saxby. Pauli Murray: A Personal and Political Life. University of North Carolina, 2020.
  • Abigail Shrier. Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters. Regnery Publishing, 2020.
  • Jespa Smith. Non-Binary Lives: An Anthology of Intersecting Identities. Jessica Kingsley Publsihers, 2010.
  • Maxfield Sparrow. Spectrums: Autistic Transgender People in Their Own Words. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2020.
  • Hida Viloria & Maria Nieto. The Spectrum of Sex: The Science of Male, Female, and Intersex. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2020.
  • Emerson Whitney. Heaven. McSweeneys Books, 2020.
  • Mark Yarhouse & Julia Sadusky. Emerging Gender Identities. Brazos Press, 2020.

Announced for 2021

  • $£¥ € Linda W Brakel. The Trans Phenomenon and the Nature of Self: Moore's Paradox? More Paradoxes! De Gruyter, 2021.
  • $£¥ € Lopamudra Sengupta. Human Rights of the Third Gender in India: Beyond the Binary. Routledge India, 2021.
  • Dashka Slater. The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives. Square Fish, 2021.

11 December 2019

Éve-Claudine Lorétan (Coco) (1969 – 1998) model, housekeeper

​Lorétan was raised in Thun, south of Bern. She was taking black-market hormones from the age of 13. Her elder sister had been raped at age 13, and afterwards turned to drugs and died at a young age.

After high school, Lorétan trained as a model. At age 20 she took the name Éve-Claudine and Coco as a professional name. She met 32-year-old photographer Olivier Fatton in a sauna in Bern in November 1989, and they instantly fell in love.  She asked him to document her transition.

Her surgery was further video-documented by film-maker Paul Riniker. However there was an error, and more  surgery was required. The day her friends took her home from the hospital, she did cocaine to deal with the pain, and also insisted on performing that night. On stage she tore out her IV, howled and bled.

Riniker’s film Traum Frau Coco was shown on Swiss television in 1991 and watched by over 660,000 on the first broadcast. This made Coco famous in Switzerland, and sporadically she was in the news over the next few years, but she had to work as a housekeeper at a mental hospital in order make a living.

She also suffered from osteoporosis and depression. Doctors prescribed morphine, but that led to addiction.  She did model for the Bernese fashion designer Marianne Alvoni, and for a while was working at a sex salon in Thun, but was too well known.

In 1997 the manuscript of her autobiography was stolen. She made several suicide attempts, and so died at age 29.

In 2018, Coco’s life was made into a musical, Ein Transgendermusical by author Alexander Seibt and composer Markus Schönholzer. A male was cast for pre-transition and a female for her later years.

In 2019, Fatton published his photographs of Coco.

  • Paul Riniker (dir) Traum Frau Coco. With Coco. Switzerland, 56 mins 1991.
  • Miss Rosen. “Candid Photographs of 1980s Trans Trailblazer and Model, Coco”. AnOther Mag, March 01, 2019. Online.
  • Miss Rosen. “The Majesty and Tragedy of a Trans Radical Gone Too Soon”. Feature Shoot, May 2, 2019. Online.
  • Dunia Miralles & Olivier G Fatton. Coco. Edition Patrick Frey, 2019.
  • Dunia Miralles. “Olivier et Coco: Art, amour, passion et tragédie”.  Des Avenues et des fleurs, 21 février 2019. Online.

07 December 2019

Adrian Angelico (1982 - ) opera singer

Adrian, an indigenous Sami, was raised with the name Angelica Voje in Tromsø, in northern Norway. Voje studied opera singing in Norway and Denmark, at the International Opera Studio in Zurich, the Royal College of Music and the Benjamin Britten International Opera School in the UK.

Voje, a mezzo-soprano, gained two special prizes at the 2009 Queen Sonja International Music Competition, and made a debut at the Bregenze Festival in July 2010. Major roles were as Carmen at Opera Trondheim and the title role in Handel’s Taseo. Concert appearances included Peer Gynt with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and Beethoven’s Symphony no.9 with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra.

In July 2016 Norwegian law permitted those 16 or over to change legal gender without diagnosis or medical treatment. Voje changed his name to Adrian Angelico, obtained top surgery and a new passport. However he did not take testosterone because it would affect his voice. He remained androphilic. “Some might think it was easier for me to be a woman and a heterosexual, because it is less sensational, but it is not. It is easier for me to be authentic.”

In March 2017 Adrian made his first transition performance in Ariadne auf Naxos with the Nordnorsk opera and symphony orchestra. Opera houses across Europe which had booked a female mezzo-soprano had been informed that a man was coming instead.

He has been working since. He specialises in ‘trouser roles’, male roles requiring a soprano or falsetto voice, initially played by castrati, and later by women. A male mezzo-soprano is ideal to be cast thus. Adrian also accepts female roles which he plays in drag.

  • “Angelica Voje Mezzo-Soprano”. Royal Opera House, Online.
  • “Angelica ble til Adrian: – Sjelen min har alltid vært gutt”. NRK, 18.mars 2017. Online  Translation.
Everybody.Wiki   StellisPolaris

05 December 2019

Lucia Lucas (1981 – ) opera singer

Lucas, from Sacramento studied voice and horn at California State University, Sacramento, and did graduate work at the Chicago College of Performing Arts. Lucas married a woman, a fellow opera singer, a contralto, in 2009, and also that year they moved to Germany.

Lucas was then being billed as Lucas Harbour.  Harbour sang at the Deutsche Oper Berlin and Teatro Regio Torino in 2009-10, spent the following season in Heidelberg, then moved with artistic director Peter Spuhler to Karlsruhe and stayed through 2015-16. At first the roles were small, but some were led by famous conductors, including Wagner’s Tannhäuser with Semyon Bychkov in Italy.

In 2013 Lucas announced that she would transition, would be Lucia Lucas. Lucia had surgical completion in 2016. That year she sang the four villains in Offenbach’s Les Contes d’Hoffman at Opernhaus Wuppertal, a staging that had her start as female for Lindorf, become male for Coppélius, then switch back – and that went down very well.

Lucia, being primarily a baritone, continued to sing male parts: “It would be great if I could just take estrogen and wake up and sing Brünnhilde. It doesn’t work like that.”

In April 2019 Lucas played the title role in Mozart’s Don Giovanni at the Tulsa Opera - the first female baritone to sing the part. In late 2019 it was announced that she has been cast in the part 'Public Opinion' in Orpheus in the Underworld with the English National Opera.

*not Lucie Lucas, the French actress

  • Ronald Blum. “Transgender Opera Singer Lucia Lucas Makes US Debut In ‘Don Giovanni’ “. HuffPost, 05/02/2019. Online.
  • Michael Cooper. “Transgender Opera Singers Find Their Voices”. New York Times, July 11, 2019. Online.

02 December 2019

Barbara Buick (1928 - ?) performer, factory worker

Buick was the child of Colonel and Madame Gaston Joly of Paris. At the end of the Second World War the child went with the parents to Bad Ems, Germany as part of the army of occupation, but then returned to Paris alone to pursue a theatrical career. A manager commented on her beauty and delicacy of features and suggested working as a female impersonator. She  was pleased with the observation and took the name Barbara Buick.

She was working at Le Carrousel in 1949 when the Prefecture of Police banned, temporarily as it turned out, wigs, fake breasts, high heels and dresses. The artists of course circumvented this by growing their own hair, taking hormones and wearing flat heels with feminine trousers. In all Buick stayed ten years at Le Carrousel, often working alongside lesbian singer Suzy Solidor. In the late 1950s she went for surgical confirmation from Dr Burou in Casablanca.

By this time her father, Colonel Joly had left his wife and disowned his daughter. While holidaying with her mother in Avignon, Barbara met Monsieur H, a French aristocrat. She told him of her past, and he was in shock, but he came round and still wanted to marry her. However she ran into problems trying to get her birth certificate re-issued.  In the early 1960s Barbara was sufficiently well known that she was featured in the English-language press as an epitome of a trans woman.

Later she  worked in the factory where her mother worked. This went well until a serious accident put her in hospital with first and second degree burns. After a month in hospital, Barbara returned to the factory and was summoned to see the boss – who had not visited her in hospital even once. He had become aware of the gender on her official papers. While the authorities had also become aware of her situation, they had decided on discretion and not interfered. The employer decided differently, and she was dismissed.

Barbara published her autobiography in 1971. Afterwards she disappeared from public view.

  • “Sex-Change Girl Barbara Plans Gretna Wedding”. The News of the World, 13 August 1961. Online.
  • Arnold Wells. “Exclusive! MD Reveals The Fourth Sex! Not Male, Not Female, And Not Homosexual”. The National Insider, 5, 3, July 19, 1964. Online.
  •  Barbara Buick. L’Eiquette. La Jeune Parque, 1971.
  • Annette Runte. Biographische Operationen: Diskurse der Transsexualität. Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 1996: 22, 114f., 117, 128f., 218, 239, 242,275,294,314,444,450,479,490,492,495, 502,553,619.
  • Maxime Foester. Histoire des transsexuels en France. H&O éditions, 2006: 86, 92, 93.

25 November 2019

The Triple-Whammy 1928-9

I have previously referred to the triple whammy of 1928-9 - when, within a few months, trans men and masculine women in London and Paris were involved in three much publicised trials which, while they did not lead to legislation about clothes, gender or civil rights, did sent a message to trans men that they should be careful.

Note regarding pronouns: Most of the persons discussed here never stated a preferred pronoun. In addition, Swann, Gluck, Lowther, Carstairs, Radclyffe Hall and Sackville West had considerable inherited wealth, and were therefore less affected by the laws about clothing and gender which the lower orders had to conform to. Swann, Gluck, Carstairs and Barker masculinised their names and wore male clothing. Barker, Wood, and Holtom had to work for a living, and therefore they had to pass. They are close enough to the 21st century concept of a trans man that anything but male pronouns would be wrong. Pelletier and Morris both kept their female first name, but dressed in male clothing, and worked at a time when women of their class did not, Pelletier as a doctor and Morris in sports and with motors. Morris also had a double-mastectomy (top surgery). But because of their retained first names, Madeleine and Violet, it is difficult to use male pronouns for them.

The biographers of Gluck, Lowther, Carstairs, Morris and Pelletier use female pronouns, but I expect that this will change for future biographies.

Contrariwise to Pelletier and Morris, Radclyffe Hall did take a male name: John, and was so addressed by friends. However her manner of dress was only in-between: usually a skirt topped with a male-style jacket and tie – a style that had been very fashionable for upper-class women through the 1920s. Laura Doan, author of Fashioning Sapphism comments on Radclyffe Hall:
“Her haircut was thought to be the most feminine of all the short cuts popular at the time, and she had her hair done at Harrods — not a barbershop. Even Hall’s famous sartorial choices were on the feminine side of what was known as the ‘severely masculine mode’… Nor did Hall and her partner Una Troubridge dress in a bizarre manner, wearing, as some biographers have claimed, clothing from a costume shop. The couple studied fashion magazines and built their wardrobes not from men’s tailors in Savile Row, but from the most chic of London’s department stores for women. [unlike Gluck who bought suits from the expensive men’s tailors].  Hall always wore a skirt and conducted herself in a completely womanly way - in short, Hall definitely didn’t model her protagonist, Stephen Gordon, after herself.” 
Diana Souhami’s biography frequently refers to Radclyffe Hall as John, but she never uses the pronoun ‘he’. While Radclyffe’s anti-hero Stephen Gordon in the Well of Loneliness is very definitely a trans man, perhaps also intersex, his author was not so. And we should note that Radclyffe Hall uses female pronouns for her protagonist in The Well of Loneliness.

Sackville-West had done soldier drag as part of her affair with Violet Trefusis, and as such the pair had fled to France pursued by their husbands. However she did not persist in such gender expression.

Trans men not mentioned below: Madeleine Pelletier was a doctor in Paris; Camille Bertin and his wife were residing with their three daughters in Juan-les-Pins on the Côte d'Azur.

Radclyffe-Hall, Carstairs, Barker and Morris


Wynsley Michael Swann, Lieutenant-Colonel in the Women’s Army Corps during the Great War, quietly transitioned.

Ernest Wood, cellarman, waiter, died age 24 from consumption, and was found to be female-bodied. He was buried as “Miss Ernest Wood”.

Gluck, now having taken male clothing and appearance, has first one-man show of 56 paintings in South Kensington.

Joe Carstairs bought and developed a secluded estate in Hampshire, which he named Bostwick after his grandfather. He bought a yacht, Sonia, and became so proficient that by 1924 he was winning yachting prizes.

Toupie Lowther had run an ambulance unit that was incorporated into the French Army, 1917-8, and in the 1920s ran a lesbian salon, and Radclyffe Hall and other female writers popular at the time attended. Toupie loved to tell how, while motoring, she was stopped at the Franco-Italian border for masquerading as a man. On the return journey she wore a skirt and was arrested for masquerading as a woman. In 1926, Toupie Lowther was elected a member of the French Academie d’Armes, the only woman to that date to be so.

Mary Weston was the best UK shot-putter 1924- 1930.

Multi-event athlete (put-shot, javelin, football, swimming, cycling, motor-racing) Violette Morris, who had set new records in the 1922 Olympics, opened a car/motorbike accessories shop, Spécialités Violette Morris, at 6, rue Roger-Bacon, Paris, using the inheritance from her mother. The rent was 8,000 francs per annum, and the 41,000 franc valuation was all in the stock. She lived in the flat upstairs.
  • Vita Sackville-West. Challenge. George H. Doran 1924. A novel, based on the affair between Vita and Violet Trefusis, with Vita’s male persona, Julian Davenport,  the leader of a revolution on a Greek island. His cousin Eve (Violet) joins him as his lover but becomes jealous of his attachment to the island. The book was published in the States only, for Vita’s father found the portrayal obvious enough to identify his family. In the real world, Julian and Violet broke up because the latter had sex with her actual husband.


Joe Carstairs commissioned the best motorboat that money could buy, a hydroplane from Samuel Saunders of East Cowes, Isle of Wight. Joe named the boat Gwen after his lover, Gwen Farrar. After the boat capsized and came up again, Joe reversed the name to Newg.


Carstairs took part in and won the Duke of York’s International Trophy. On Lake Windermere Joe set a world record of 54.97 mph for a 1½ litre class boat.

Morris had been temporarily suspended for giving performance-enhancing drugs to her football team, for questioning the referees and for doing nothing when the referee was hit by a member of her team. In 1926 Morris was indefinitely suspended from football. She used her name to recruit female athletes for a film. She refused to transfer her licence to another club.

Gluck had an exhibit at the Fine Art Society in London.

Radclyffe Hall wrote a short story, "Miss Ogilvy Finds Herself", although it was not published until 1934. It drew on Toupie Lowther's accounts of her life during the war, her masculinity and her lack of fit in society. Ogilvy, "My God! If only I were a man", who, even as a child had insisted that "her real name was William and not Wilhelmina", finds a role in the war leading an ambulance unit, but afterwards finds that again her masculinity has become absurd. She commits suicide.
  • Oscar Paul Gilbert. Men in Women's Guise: Some Historical Instances of Female Impersonation. John Lane The Bodley Head Limited. 284 pp 1926


Wynsley Michael Swann took a wife. Unlike what happened to Victor Barker two years later, this marriage was never challenged.

Victor Barker was the live-in secretary of National Fascisti. After a fracas with dissident members, he was charged with “uttering a forged firearm certificate”. He was found not guilty, but his firearms certificate was cancelled. The Public Prosecution Office did find rumours about a woman masquerading as a man, but did not pursue them.

Joe Carstairs commissioned Samuel Saunders to build three hydroplanes designed to be the fastest craft ever at a cost of £50,000. In a significant lapse of memory, Joe named the boats Estelle I, II and III after his mother Evelyn.

Mary Weston was the best UK javelin thrower.

Anton Prinner , artist, moved to Paris from Budapest taking a male name and from then wearing male clothes, a beret and smoking a pipe. Picasso would greet him as "Monsieur Madame".

The Fédération française de sports féminins (FFSF)  notified Morris that she was suspended for violations, and for wearing male clothes. Her smoking and drinking did not help. The FFSF also banned shorts that were too short, playing without a bra, and costumes that were too tight.

A journalist from Paris Midi who questioned Morris apropos the new regulations thought that he must be meeting her husband or brother, "mais non, c'était bien elle, en chair plus qu'en os, habillée d'un complet veston, avec pantalon - comme vous et moi, monsieur - faux col et cravate (but no, it was her in the flesh, dressed in a full jacket with trousers - like you and me, sir - collar and tie)".

Morris won the motor-racing Bol d'Or against male competitors, and practised boxing, sparring with Raoul Paoli (1887-1960), the male Olympics athlete, champion boxer, wrestler, and rugby player for France.

Morris attended a meeting of the FFSF, and issued a defense of her dress style: "L'habit masculin n'a, à ce que je sache, rien de malséant. J'y suis tenue de par mes obligations professionnelles et tant que les lois de la République française ne m'en empêcheront pas, rien ni personne ne peuvent m'interdire un costume qui, vous en conviendrez, est toujours décent (There is nothing, to my knowledge, unseemly about male clothing. I am bound by my professional obligations and as long as the laws of the French Republic  do not prevent it, nothing and nobody can forbid me to dress in a way that you will agree, is still decent)". However this argument did not convince, and Morris was expelled from the FFSF, and thereby from all French championships and the French team for the Olympics where she was expected to win gold medals.


The novel The Well of Loneliness by Radcliffe Hall was rejected by three publishers, and then accepted by Jonathan Cape, who priced it at 15/-, twice the price of an average novel.
  • Radcliffe Hall, with an appreciation by Havelock Ellis. The Well of Loneliness. Jonathan Cape, 1928. The cover page names the author as ‘Radclyffe Hall’, not as Marguerite nor as John.
Plot: Aristocratic parents, the Gordons are expecting a boy and so call the child Stephen anyway. Stephen is narrow-hipped and broad-shouldered, hates dresses, wants short hair and longs to be a boy, and from age seven develops crushes for heterosexual women. The father reads Ulrichs and Krafft-Ebing to understand Stephen, but does not share his findings. After his death Stephen opens his locked bookcase and discovers the concept of ‘invert’. Stephen is an accomplished fencer, tennis player and motorist, and during WWI is in the ambulance unit in the battles at Compiègne, and is awarded a Croix de Guerre. This draws on the life of Toupie Lowther. The book presents inversion as natural, but Gordon’s self-loathing leads him to pretend an infidelity so that his girl-friend will leave him to go with a real man. The word ‘lesbian’ does not appear in the book at all. Radclyffe Hall uses female pronouns for Stephen throughout.

27 July: published. Reviews were mixed. No calls for it to be banned.

28 July-12 August The Olympics were held in Amsterdam. Although only a few women's events were included, Morris was not on the French team.

19 August: Christian reactionary James Douglas’s editorial in the Daily Express: "I would rather give a healthy boy or a healthy girl a phial of prussic acid than this novel. Poison kills the body, but moral poison kills the soul”. Cape sent a copy to the reactionary Home Secretary William Joynson-Hicks who had been supressing alcohol, nightclubs and gambling. Joynson-Hicks replied after two days that the book was "gravely detrimental to the public interest". Proceedings would be brought if publication not stopped. Cape secretly transferred printing to Pagasus Press in Paris.

28 September: Pegasus editions on sale in London.

3 October: Joynson Hicks issued a warrant for shipments of the book to be seized.

11 October: publication of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando: A Biography.  A magic sex-change novel.
"Orlando had become a woman - there was no denying it. But in every other respect, Orlando remained precisely as he had been. The change of sex, though it altered their future, did nothing whatever to alter their identity". 
Based on Woolf’s affair with Vita Sackville-West, imagining Vita as Orlando. Despite the fuss about The Well of Loneliness, no fuss was made about Orlando.
  • Virginia Woolf. Orlando: A Biography. Hogarth Press, 1928
19 October : the Chairman of the Board of Customs balked. He had read The Well and considered it a fine book, not at all obscene; he wanted no part of suppressing it. On 19 October he released 250 seized copies for delivery. However police were waiting when they were delivered. Jonathan Cape and the bookseller were summoned to appear at Bow Street Magistrates Court.

9 November: the trial. Havelock Ellis was not willing to testify, his book Sexual Inversion having been previously convicted of obscenity and thus his presence might be counter-productive. Sexologist Norman Haire was to be the star witness for the defence – he argued that homosexuality ran in families and a person could no more become it by reading books than if he could become syphilitic by reading about syphilis. However he and the other witnesses were not called.

16 November : The chief magistrate ruled that the book was obscene.

For a while after the trial, Toupie Lowther took to dressing as a heterosexual woman: skirts, silks etc, and disassociated herself from Radclyffe Hall and her wife Una Troubridge.
  • Havelock Ellis. Studies in the Psychology of Sex. Vol 7 Eonism and Other Supplementary Studies. FA Davis 1928. “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.” Perhaps not the very best time to publish this work.
  • Anonymous. The Sink of Solitude. 1929. A lampoon in verse by "several hands", satirised both
    sides of the controversy over The Well of Loneliness. Its primary targets were Douglas and Joynson-Hicks, "Two Good Men – never mind their intellect". The introduction, by journalist P. R. Stephensen, described The Well's moral argument as "feeble" and dismissed Havelock Ellis as a "psychopath". The Sink itself endorsed the view that lesbianism was innate: “Though Sappho burned with a peculiar flame/ God understands her, we must do the same,/ And of such eccentricities we say/ "'Tis true, 'tis pity: she was made that way”. It portrayed Hall as a humourless moralist who had a great deal in common with the opponents of her novel. One illustration, picking up on the theme of religious martyrdom in The Well, showed Hall nailed to a cross. The image horrified Hall; her guilt at being depicted in a drawing that she saw as blasphemous led to her choice of a religious subject for her next novel, The Master of the House.


January: Victor Barker was arrested after he did not respond to a bankruptcy notice that he did not receive. He was arrested and put in Brixton prison until medically examined. He was then quickly transferred to Holloway women’s prison.

February: using the excuse of fitting into a racing car, Violet Morris publicly had a double mastectomy (what today we would call top surgery) at the clinic of Dr. Cazalis in the suburb of La Garenne-Colombes.

10 March: both Victor Barker and his wife published accounts of their marriage in different newspapers.
  • Valerie Arkell-Smith. “The Man-Woman – My Story” Sunday Dispatch, 10 March 1929.
  • Elfrida Barker. “My Story: By the Man-Woman’s Wife: Mrs Barker Reveals the Truth”. Sunday Express, 10 March 1929.
27 March: Barker was charged with “wilful and corrupt perjury in an affidavit” re his bankruptcy. Of this he was discharged, but was then charged with having “knowingly and wilfully caused a false statement to be entered in a register of marriage”.

24 April: the second trial. Barker was sentenced to nine months imprisonment.

11-12 May: William Holtom of Evesham, Worcestershire, coal heaver, a cow-man, a road mender, a timber haulier and a navvy, was taken ill, and admitted to the Evesham Poor Law Hospital men’s ward with enteric fever. He was then 42. This led to a discovery of strapping around his chest, and he was hastily transferred to the women’s ward.

Radcliffe Hall wrote: 'I would like to see [Colonel Barker] drawn and quartered. A mad pervert of the most undesirable type'. Radclyffe Hall considered herself an invert and Barker a pervert, but despite what was said at Barker’s trial about passing as male to earn a wage, it was Barker, not Radcliffe Hall who lived full-time as male.

16 June: Claude Lowther, brother of Toupie, died age 59 after a period of illness. He was unmarried but the father of two, and had established a career as a right-wing Conservative. The outing of his sister during the trial cannot have helped.

9 September: The World League for Sexual Reform held its third congress in London in 1929, organized by Norman Haire. The two trials were not on the programme.

Toupie spoke of being the inspiration for Stephen Gordon and some books say that John and Una dropped her for saying so. Una wrote in her life of Radclyffe Hall: “She passed out of our lives when John wrote The Well of Loneliness, and we afterwards heard that she had resented the book as challenging her claim to be the only invert in existence. Later still, when she was growing very old, I was told that she had moreover acquired the illusion that she had served as a model for Stephen Gordon.”

Morris sued the FFSF for reinstatement and 100,000 francs in damages. While her case was against the arbitrary use of power, the trial focused on the right to wear male clothing. Her male lawyer defended the inherent decency of trousers, and questioned why trousers had been okay with the FFSF for ten years, but no longer. He contrasted Morris with Victor Barker in England who had attempted to pass as male. The FFSF had two female lawyers, one of whom, Yvonne Netter, was a noted feminist, divorced and an advocate of planned parenthood. They explained that because of their responsibility to the government (which provided grants) and to parents, they must set good examples. Morris was accused of cross-dressing to attract attention. They noted how female clothing had evolved from the long skirts and corsets of the pre-war era. They portrayed Morris as being a moral danger in female locker rooms, and criticized her in that she had never applied for a permission de travestissement. Morris' lawyer produced a letter from the Commissioner of Police giving assurance that they no longer pursued women in trousers.

The court ruled: "nous n'avons pas à nous occuper de la façon dont se vêt à la ville et dans ses autres occupations Mme Violette Morris, mais nous estimons que le fait de porter un pantalon n'étant pas d'un usage admis pour les femmes, la FFS avait parfaitement le droit de l'interdire. En conséquence, le tribunal déboute Mme Violette Morris et la condamne aux dépens"(we do not have to deal with how Mme. Volette Morris dresses in the city and in her other occupations, but we believe that to wear trousers is not permitted by custom for women, FFSF had every right to prohibit it. Accordingly, the court dismisses Mme. Violette Morris and awards costs)".
  • Gladys Mitchell. Speedy Death. Victor Gollancz, 1929. The first (of 66) Mrs Bradley detective novel. Explorer Everard Mountjoy is discovered dead in the bath, and to everyone’s surprise – especially his fiancée – he has a female body. Review. Included the delightful untrue story of Captain Jack Tremain who was part of the British team sent to Khartoum in 1884 to rescue General Gordon. Tremain died of malaria and a post mortem revealed his secret. He was previously Miss Wilhelmina Nash.....who wrote in a diary "to be a woman with ambition beyond that which society will allow is to endure a slow death. I was determined to live a life."
  • Joan Riviere. “Womanliness as a Masquerade”. International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 9, 1929: 303-313. Analyses how intellectual women in particular practice an artificial femininity as a defensive mask that is put on to hide masculinity. An important contribution to the concept of gender as social construction.


Evan Burtt in a village near Salisbury, Wiltshire, had been declared male at age 29 after examination by a doctor, and supported by Salvation Army solicitors had his birth certificate changed.  Saturday 30 March he married a childhood friend.  This was reported favourably by local and national newspapers.  


The boyette fashion style of a skirt with jacket and tie had, as clothing fashions do, run its course by 1928 and was being replaced by more feminine styles. While Radclyffe Hall’s appearance had been regarded “on the feminine side of what was known as the ‘severely masculine mode’” before 1928, afterwards it came to signify lesbianism, much as effeminacy came to signify male homosexuality only after the Oscar Wilde Trial in 1895.

Despite this, skirt, jacket and tie in later decades became the standard female school uniform – without any suggestions of lesbianism.


  • Gerald Berniers writing as Adela Quebec. The Girls of Radcliff Hall. Privately published, 1932. A spoof which featured Berniers, Cecil Beaton and others as lesbian schoolgirls at an institution named after the famous writer. Beaton attempted to have all the copies destroyed and it became a very rare book until reprinted in 2000.


Joe Carstairs had seen an advert in a US newspaper for the sale of an island in the Bahamas. He bought Whale Cay for $40,000, and moved there. He was sensitive to the growing hostility about gender variant persons in the press. He never returned to England.
  • Radclyffe Hall. Miss Ogilvy Finds Herself. William Heinemann, 1934.


Bill Allen had a mysterious stay in hospital, and afterwards claimed that he was now a man.


Mark Weston, previously England’s best female shot-putter and javelin thrower, underwent two operations by Lennox Broster at Charing Cross Hospital, and was declared male.  Unlike Violet Morris, he took a male name.  Two months later he married a female friend. Not Britain’s first surgically completed trans man – there had been others operated on by Broster – but the first to garner press attention because Weston was a well-known athlete.


Una Troubridge, Hall’s partner, petitioned the Home Office to reconsider the ban on The Well of Loneliness (as she hoped to include it in the republication of Hall’s major works), all the relevant files were drastically purged and then closed for one hundred years.


Falcon Press brought out an edition of The Well of Loneliness with no legal challenge. It has been in print in the UK continuously since.

It is ironic that Douglas and Joynson Hicks regarded The Well of Loneliness as dangerous in that it would lead young women into an inversion composed of depression and self-hatred, while they had no problem with Orlando that presented inversion as a high-spirited romp – in fact as gay in the old sense. But experience teaches that those who would censor are rarely consistent.

Both Woolf and Radclyffe Hall seem to be incapable of imagining inverts who are not aristocratic and wealthy. Readers had to wait until the 1950s for invert stories where the protagonists are ordinary people.

Radclyffe Hall’s books give the author’s name as just that, without a given name, and many write as if Radclyffe were her given name (what in the 1920s would be called a ‘christian name’). Radcliffe Hall’s given name was Marguerite and later John. Radclyffe-Hall was a double-barrelled surname. Her father was Radclyffe Radclyffe-Hall.

You could easily argue that Morris’ law case was wrong-headed. It is a pity that Morris did not follow Weston’s example of, after gender surgery, taking a male name and pronoun and leaving female sports behind. However Morris was 13 years older than Weston and had her operation seven years earlier. It is indicative that she did not claim top surgery as gender surgery, but excused it on the grounds of fitting into a racing car. Morris had been sparring with the male Olympics athlete Raoul Paoli, and in motor racing had held her own against male drivers – and actually won the Bol d’Or in 1927. It was time to leave female sports behind – and she was already 36. Neither Morris nor her lawyer nor the FFSF discussed whether a trans man should be involved in female sports. No-one used those concepts in 1929.

Either way, Morris’ trial came immediately after those of Radclyffe-Hall and Barker, and the three together had an impact.

So where are the trans women and female impersonators in this period? Actually there were very few in England and France 1924-9. Once we move into the 1930s it changes significantly. Also of course the situation in Berlin was significantly different and Magnus Hirschfeld oversaw the surgical completion of a few trans women.

23 November 2019

Ina Barton (1934 - 1974) friend of April Ashley

In the best trans (auto)biographies there are accounts of other trans persons, who are otherwise unknown. This is one such.


Ina, who was from Newcastle, and April Ashley first met in 1955. Ina was then still in male mode – in fact doing National Service in the RAF. Ina was introduced into the house in London where April was living with other gender variant persons. April was at that time going by the unisex name of Toni, and was androgynous in appearance. This was before she went to France. While others were cruising for men, Ina did not. As April wrote: “Ina however was a true transsexual and very unhappy, as I had been in the Merchant Navy. He didn't want to be discharged for being a homosexual because he didn't consider himself one.”

In 1960, after being a star in Paris, and after going to Dr Burou in Casablanca, April was back in London, modelling and being filmed for her very small part in The Road to Hong Kong. Ina had been accepted at Charing Cross. April commented: “Ina Barton who was in the throes of a marathon sex transformation, the specialty of London's Charing Cross Hospital.  They insist on lengthy intervals between each stage and use skin grafts from the legs which leave tell-tale scars on the thighs. So much messier than Dr Burou's technique. But her doctor, John Randell, was very solicitous for her well-being and wrote her letters which began, 'My dearest Galatea...'”.

In 1962 April and Ina were sharing a flat in South Kensington.  This was after April had been outed in The People newspaper, and The News of the World had had run her story in six parts.  Ina went to Spain with April. On a previous trip they had gotten into a drunken slap fight about who was to drive. This time April did drive, but Ina freaked out when April mentioned that she’d never taken a test and didn’t have a license. In the commotion they went over a small cliff .

When Ina’s surgeries at Charing Cross were complete, April took her to Jersey for a week. They rented bicycles. On the second day Ina fell heavily on the cross bar and her vulva was enlarged. She left immediately and returned to London to see her own doctor.

After the trauma of Corbett v Corbett in 1970 , April rallied by opening a restaurant just round the corner from Harrods, that was an immediate sensation, and continued to run it for five years until she had a heart attack. During this time Ina was having problems of her own, and passed on. April: “Ina Barton had recently died from a combination of booze and pills. I believe an open verdict was recorded but that's splitting hairs - in effect she killed herself.”

  • Duncan Fallowell & April Ashley. April Ashley's Odyssey. Jonathan Cape, 1982: 46, 104, 139, 140, 156, 257. Also Online.

In April's second autobiography, The First Lady, the 1955 meeting and Ina's death are mentioned but not the other incidents. 

18 November 2019

Kubrà (1912 - ?) Iran's first surgical gender confirmation

In the late 1920s the police in Garrus in Iranian Azerbaijan became aware of a young person with a non-standard gender. The person was referred to as “Kubrà, son of Tahir Sultan”, although Kubrà is a female name.

Kubrà was sent to Tehran, where the Police Health Office referred her to the state hospital. Kubrà was demanding that her male organs be surgically removed and her female ones be completed or she would kill herself. The doctors considered her a “khilqat-i ‘ajib” (wondrous creation) in that she had both male and female organs. While her body was considered to be predominantly male, in her feeling she was predominantly feminine, and her sexual "lust" was female.

A team of doctors led by Dr Khal‘atbari granted her desire, and she was operated on 24 October 1930. A report in the daily newspaper Ittila‘at reported that Kubrà was recovering well and was very happy. “This event is a wondrous story that speaks to Iran’s medical progress and the advance of its surgical capabilities”. It congratulated the hospital for having such specialised doctors.

  •  Afsaneh Najmabadi. Professing Selves: Transsexuality and Same-Sex Desire in Contemporary Iran. Duke University Press, 2014: 41.

Unlike so many others at that time, Kubrà's sense of being female was allowed to override the masculine predominance of her body.

11 November 2019

The GG Knickerbocker P T Barnum Room

Part I: The Gilded Grape
Part II: The GG Knickerbocker Barnum Room

The Knickerbocker Hotel

The Knickerbocker Hotel  1466 Broadway at 42nd Street, opened in 1906 – two years after the first NY subway line, the IRT, reached Times Square. It was "a Fifth Avenue Hotel at Broadway prices" - $3.25 a day (<1% of today’s rates). 
It was owned by John Jacob Astor IV until he went down with the Titanic in 1912. Legend has it that the martini drink was invented at the Knickerbocker and named after the house bartender. World-famous tenor Enrico Caruso and his family lived in the hotel (until his death in 1921). 
After that the hotel was closed and converted to commercial use. The same building was reopened as the Hotel Knickerbocker in 2015.  However in-between, the brand name Knickerbocker was free for others to use, and in the 1960s the name was taken by a down-market hotel located at 128 West 45th Street.

The Peppermint Lounge

The ground floor premises at128 West 45th Street had been licensed on numerous occasions since 1934. Over the years there had been numerous arrests of gay men, and citations for disorderly premises and Administrative Code violations. The NY State Liquor Authority had stated that no renewal was to be issued for 1959 until a bona fide buyer took over. It was then rented to 128 Restaurant Inc, and the owners of record were Ralph Saggesse and Orlando Grippo. In reality they were employed by Sam Konwiser who ran businesses for Johnny Biello, a capo in the Genovese crime family.

The Peppermint Lounge opened in 1958. It had a lengthy mahogany bar running along one side, lots of mirrors and a dance floor at the back, a capacity of just 178 people. There was a back door into the Knickerbocker Hotel Lobby. Johnson et al describe the hotel at that time: it “rented as many rooms by the hour as they did to the luckless out-of-towners, the unemployed and those only a week away from living on the streets”.

 The Peppermint Lounge was mainly a gay bar. The major dance craze 1960-1 was the Twist. Much to the surprise of Johnny Biello, this became associated with the Peppermint Lounge, and celebrities, especially Hollywood stars, flocked there to do the dance, and to be photographed doing it. The house band was Joey Dee and the Starlighters. Jackie Kennedy arranged for a temporary ‘Peppermint Lounge’ in the White House. A sister club was opened in Miami Beach. Gays and lesbians liked the dance because it did not necessarily require a partner, and if dancing with a same-sex partner when the police raided, one could spin around to face a partner of the other gender. It is said that (female) go-go dancing (alone on a raised platform for others to watch) originated at the Peppermint Lounge.


Proprietor Ralph Saggesse appeared as a contestant on the popular television program What's My Line? 

  • Greg Garrison (dir) Hey, Lets Twist, with Joey Dee and the Starlighters. US BW mono 79 mins 1961. IMDB. EN.Wikipedia. A fictionalized story of the Peppermint Lounge, partially filmed there.
The Ronnettes made their professional debut at the Peppermint Lounge.


  • The Starlighters. “Peppermint Twist”. 45 rpm single. Three weeks at number 1 in January.
  • Sam Cooke. “Twistin’ the Night Away”. 45 rpm single. "a place/Somewhere up a New York way/Where the people are so gay".


The Beatles were filmed at the club. Many musicians of the period performed there including the Beach Boys, the Crystals, Chubby Checker, Liza Minelli, the Four Seasons etc.


The State Liquor Authority decided to revoke the Peppermint liquor licence. This was upheld in the state Supreme Court. The club closed in December.  Within two months Matty Ianniello on behalf of the Genovese family had arranged a new front company to purchase the club. Mar-Jear Restaurant paid $20,000 and received a liquor licence at the end of June 1966. A September 1966 FBI memo stated:
“On 08/29/66 the informant advised that Matty Ianiello whom the informant has previously met had recently bought a piece of the Peppermint Lounge Nite club on West 45th St. NYC. He continued that Matty has an interest in a number of ‘Fag Joints’ in NYC and that the Peppermint Lounge is now a ‘Fag Joint.’ ” (Crawford:113).
The designated owner was Abraham Margorgolies (the ‘mar' in Mar-Jear) who also owned a jewelry business on 135th Street, a factory in Puerto Rico and was co-producer of a Broadway show. The manager was John Mink, who had just retired as a police captain in the 10th Precinct. He had been an army buddy of Ianniello – they had been in combat together in the South Pacific.

Initially the place opened as a topless bar. Geri Miller who had been in the Warhol/Morrissey films Flesh, Trash and Women in Revolt, IMDB, and had been one of the Peppermint Twisters and had dated Ringo Star, was one of the performers.

Johnny Biello was whacked in 1967 in a Miami Beach parking lot on orders from Anthony ‘Fat Tony’ Salerno.

The topless bar was not too successful, and the place reverted to being a gay bar, The Turntable. Later it was called the Hollywood. Richie Kaczor was the DJ, and Abe Glanstein was the manager. It was popular with Puerto Ricans. By 1977 Disco music was the craze. That was also the year that Studio 54 opened, and Kaczor took his skills there.

 The GG Kickerbocker Barnum Room 

When the Gilded Grape closed, most of the staff went to the Hollywood. Glanstein’s mainly Puerto Rican clientele had pretty well moved on and he needed a new crowd. He changed the name of the club to GG Knickerbocker – the GG was a signal to the Gilded Grape crowd that they were welcome. The new club was a moderate success from its opening in May 1977. Police harassment was way down in that the hookers were off 8th Avenue. Also being on the south side of 45th Street, the policing was done by the Midtown South Precinct – who were less uptight than their colleagues to the north.

Most of the Knickerbocker Hotel was being converted into condos – the Knickerbocker hotel was no longer so down-market. Ianniello arranged for the remodeling of the ground floor incorporating the hotel lobby into the new version of the club. Jerry Cohen’s design company got the contract. The new club could hold 400 comfortably, nearly three times as many as the Peppermint Lounge. The big innovation was the circus theme: a trapeze and a net were put up and aerialists performed. Some of them were trans.  All this to a disco beat.  As had the Peppermint Lounge, this had a long bar with seating in the front, and a dance floor in the rear, Caraballo from the Gilded Grape was still the doorman. The GG Knickerbocker P T Barnum Room (named after PT Barnum the 19th century circus entrepreneur) opened July 20, 1978.  The name was quickly shortened. Jerry Cohen was now the manager.

Generally admission was $5, $10 after 11pm.

Not only trans women from the Gilded Grape started coming: also Truman Capote, Robert Redford and Andy Warhol. Cohen commented:
“A celebrity is no more to us than the average transvestite. Besides they are the cheapest people around. They don’t spend any money.”
Three Italian television journalists making a documentary on the state of US women came and filmed in the Barnum room.

Victoria Cruz did sex work out of the GG Knickerbocker, and the Grapevine.

Timmy Scott had been the show co-ordinator at both the Gilded Grape and at the Barnum Room. He made a point of using regular customers in the show. A regular talent show packed the club every Monday night. He also selected themes for the Sunday shows. He kept things moving and the crowds jumping, and his comebacks on the microphone quieted unruly customers. He died in 1978 age 42.

Tish Gervais:
“GG’s Barnum Room wasn’t exempt from providing us girls with the opportunity to make some extra cash. The clientele from the old Gilded Grape soon discovered this new location and men were continuously on the prowl for some action. Another way you could make some money there was by doing some lip-synching performances. As the reigning Miss 220, I got to perform there and was paid a hundred bucks a night. It was easy money. While I wasn’t comfortable with lip-synching, I rose to the challenge.” (p 106)
Carmen Xtravaganza:
“The club had a circus trapeze on the roof of the club, Salvador Dali and many celebrities would come through the Barnum Room, at the time celebs would mix with people and it wasn’t such a big deal like it is today. Ava Hollywood was a great beauty and a great friend of Dali. I remember seeing them coming out of a large limo with ‘Hollywood’ on the limo’s number plate entering The GG’s Barnum Room. Grace Jones did a show there as well and Taxi, a beautiful girl did the show with her, it was history for Taxi, Grace Jones was her idol and became mine after that!”

Rosalyne Blumenstein mentions that Ava Hollywood was also a hit at Studio 54. She also says:
“I worked in the Barnum Room as a coat-check girl. … It was right around the corner from my old school. Down the block there was a restaurant where all the thugs hung out. I was always scared to go there but because I worked in the bars and I was friends with some of the thugetts, the women who hung out in the restaurant, I would never get jumped or ripped off. The Barnum Room was as hip as studio 54, Zenon’s and the Limelight. But the Barnum Room catered to a more eclectic, shall we say common and perverse, clientele. Trans women and non-trans women who were working girls working out of the Barnum Room would sometimes take their tricks past the restaurant on 45th and Sixth and then their boyfriends would come out and rip the johns off or beat them up. This was the cultural norm in my life.”

In September 1980, New York Magazine, in its True Tales of New York retold an anecdote from August the previous year. Two housewives from Litchfield County, Connecticut, in town for the day, having had an all-day pampering at a 5th Avenue beauty salon, and a meal in an expensive restaurant, all put on their husbands’ credit cards, decided that they would go slumming, to the notorious GG Barnum’s that they had seen on television. Inside they were even daring enough to strike up conversation with a ‘tasteful’ black trans woman sitting nearby. “This your first time here?” she said. “Then lemme give you some advice. You two ain’t never gonna score. Shit, you guys look like dogs. You’re made up like hookers, and frankly, you’re both much too butch!.” The ladies quickly left, and in their hotel scrubbed off the effect of the expensive pampering. They returned early to Litchfield County the next morning.

In 1980 the Barnum Room hosted a Miss Gay NY contest. Blumenstein:
“I entered the contest not even thinking the word ‘gay’ had anything to do with me or the contest. … And gay just meant that women who were not TS could not participate”. 
It was judged by gay men. The winner was Mara Devau from Cuba, the reigning champion. The first runner up was Sugar Belane.  Blumenstein, under the name ‘Roe’ was third runner up.

Chicky died while working at the Barnum Room. His eldest daughter had become a cashier at the club.

In 1980 Motown singer Diana Ross had her second hit single with “I’m Coming Out”. Writer Nile Rodgers got the idea after seeing three different Diana Ross impersonators at GG Barnum Room. For Ross the lyrics had an additional meaning in that she was about to leave - that is to come out from - Motown Records. The song became a sort-of gay pride anthem.

Finally, later that year, after complaints from surrounding businesses, complaints about pickpockets, of johns getting rolled, and finally a pair of murders, the GG Barnum Room lost its liquor licence. It closed November 1980.


Some went back to the Grapevine, although that was a letdown after the Barnum room. A new club for trans women with new owners was the Casa Dario on 46th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues. The hostess was Edie Lane, back from completion surgery with Dr Biber in Colorado. She was found stabbed to death in her apartment on the upper East Side – apparently she had taken the wrong man home.

Jim Fouratt was a gay activist who had been at Stonewall but was critical of trans women as reinforcing gender stereotypes. In the late 1970s, in partnership with Rudolf Pieper, he was running the rock music nightclub Danceteria, which was closed by the police and fire department 4 October 1980 in that they did not actually have any licences. As the Barnum Room was about to be closed, Fouratt investigated the site. In the basement he found the old signage for the Peppermint Lounge. Fouratt and Pieper reopened the place as the Peppermint Lounge, this time as a cutting edge rock club with acts such as Black Flag and British bands such Gang of Four. However they did not get on with what Fourett referred to as the Italian ‘uncles’ in the back room, who were asking for a bigger cut. After threats of violence, the two of them left. The Peppermint Lounge continued at the same address until May 1982 when the building was condemned. The club moved to 100 Fifth Ave. as the New Peppermint Lounge, where it continued until 1985.

The building at 128 West 45th Street was torn down in the mid-1980s.

GG Barnum Room was not the first New York nightclub with live circus performers. That credit goes to Jerry Brandt who opened the Electric Circus at 23 St Marks Place in the East Village back in 1967.

Was the Barnum Room the first to have go-go boys? For a nightclub, perhaps yes. However go-go boys had been noticed at the GLF dances several years before.

Some source documents talk as if there were two moves, with GG Knickerbocker being in the hotel on 42nd Street for a short while. This threw me off initially, and I had to read the better sources carefully to establish that this was not so.

Apparently Ava Hollywood was somewhat of a legend in the New York party scene from the late 1970s through to the 1990s. She must be at least 60 now. Google gives me an Ava Hollywood who is a porn star. This cannot be the same person who was dating Salvador Dali in 1978? Somebody else must have taken the name.

I could not find any details about the two murders that happened at the Barnum Room.

The building was converted to condos in 1978 and then condemned and pulled down in the mid 1980s.  Bad luck if you bought one.

There is no mention at all of the Gilded Grape or the Barnum Room in Julian Fleisher's The Drag Queens of New York, 1996. There is no mention at all of them in Laurence Senelick's The Changing Room: Sex, Drag and Theatre, 2000,

  • “GG Changes Name / Location”. Drag, 7, 25, 1977: 9. Online.
  • “Gilded Grape’s Timmy Scott … Gone”. Drag, 7, 26, 1978: 9. Online.
  • Orde Coombs. “Le Freak, C’est Chic on 45th Street”. New York Magazine, 8 Jan 1979:47-50. Online.
  • John P French. “Drag” in True Tales of the City, New York Magazine, 1 September 1980. Online.
  • Rosalyne Blumenstein. Branded T. 1st Books, 2003: 99, 101, 104-6, 112-3, 117, 144, 177.
  • Jim Fouratt. “Studio 54, 1982”. RudolfPiper.Com, 2008. Online.
  • John Johnson, Joel Selvin & Dick Cami. Peppermint Twist: The Mob, the Music, and the Most Famous Dance Club of the '60s. Thomas Dunne Books, 2012: chp 23.
  • Paul Vitello. “Matthew Ianniello, the Mafia Boss Known as ‘Matty the Horse,’ Dies at 92”. New York Times, Aug 22, 2012. Online.
  • Carmen Xtravaganza. “The Late 70s”., February 4th, 2013. Online.
  • Phillip Crawford Jr. The Mafia and the Gays. 2015: 23, 40, 50, 51, 58.
  • Martin Aston. Breaking Down the Walls of Heartache: How Music Came Out. Constable, 2016: 104, 134-5.
  • Tim Laurence. Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor 1980-1983. Duke University Press, 2016: 58.
  • Ric Tennenbaum interviews Melissa Sklarz. New York City Trans Oral History Project, July 5, 2017. Online.
  • Duncan Osborne. “Feds Tracked Mob Control of Gay Bars into the 1980s”. Gay City News, August 30, 2018. Online.
  • Brian Belovich. Trans Figured: My Journey from Boy to Girl to Woman to Man. Skyhorse, 2018: 106.
  • “GG’s Barnum Room”. DiscoMusic.Com. No Longer available.
  • Victoria Cruz. Where Love is Illegal: A Witness Change Project. Online.

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