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!

31 January 2019

Rachel Humphreys (1952 - 1990) hairdresser, muse to Lou Reed

++confirmation of death added April 2020

Humphreys was raised in Bridgeton, New Jersey and San Antonio, Texas. It was said that the family were of part Mexican Native descent. An apparent trans child who played with dolls, and wore girls’ clothes, Humphreys wanted to do people’s hair. As Rachel she graduated in hair-dressing at a cosmetology school in Bayonne, New Jersey (north of Staten Island, across the river from Manhattan).

She was a regular at Max's, Kansas City, the hip and glam rock nightclub on Park Avenue South. She also frequented the 82 Club on E 4th St which was in transition from a transvestite performance club to a glam rock and then punk club. The New York Dolls did their first show there on April 17, 1974, when they performed in drag, except for Johnny Thunders who refused. They were followed by Wayne County (not yet using the name Jayne) and short-lived glitter bands like Teenage Lust and Harlots of 42nd Street. 

It was there at this time that Rachel met Lou Reed, the musician. Lou described Rachel in an interview with Bambi magazine:
"It was in a late night club in Greenwich Village. I’d been up for days as usual and everything was at that super-real, glowing stage. I walked in there and there was this amazing person, this incredible head, kind of vibrating out of it all. Rachel was wearing this amazing make-up and dress and was obviously in a different world to anyone else in the place. Eventually I spoke and she came home with me. I rapped for hours and hours, while Rachel just sat there looking at me saying nothing. At the time I was living with a girl, a crazy blonde lady and I kind of wanted us all three to live together but somehow it was too heavy for her. Rachel just stayed on and the girl moved out. Rachel was completely disinterested in who I was and what I did. Nothing could impress her. He’d hardly heard my music and didn’t like it all that much when he did. Rachel knows how to do it for me. No one else ever did before. Rachel’s something else.”
She moved in with him right away. He was then living in a modest one-bedroom apartment at 405 East 63rd street. Lou had already written a few songs about trans women, and with the single “Walk on the Wild Side” (which referred to the Andy Warhol-sponsored trans stars, Candy Darling, Holly Woodlawn and Jackie Curtis) had his biggest hit. Rachel was at this time oscillating. Some days she was Ricky, and others he was Rachel. People who knew Lou and Rachel used either pronoun. One journalist referred to Lou’s ‘boyfriend named Rachel’. Both Lou and Rachel enjoyed the confusion and further muddied the water by wearing each other’s clothes. She was street-wise and spunky in a way that Lou only pretended to be. She was said to always carry a knife, and was good in a fight – which proved useful when a concert at the Pallazzo dello Sport in Rome turned into a riot 15 February 1975.

Lou had been working on his fourth solo album, Sally Can’t Dance – the title track and spin-off single assumed to refer to trans woman, Sally Maggio, who was manager at the 220 Club, another trans bar where Lou went drinking. Sally would in the 1980s open Sally’s Hideaway, and then Sally’s II, again a bar for trans persons and with trans performers. However it was Rachel whose image was on the obverse of the Sally Can’t Dance LP sleeve, drawn as if reflected in Lou’s shades.

She supported him on some of his tours. In New York, they lived for a while in the Gramercy Park Hotel, and then an upscale apartment on East 52nd St at FDR Drive where Henry Kissinger, Greta Garbo and John Lennon had lived. In 1975 they began to frequent the rather grimey but seminal punk club, CBGBs. Lou was recording Coney Island Baby, released January 1976 and several tracks refer to Rachel. At the end of the follow-up tour, Rachel was mugged and assaulted. A doctor was called, who inevitably referred to Rachel as ‘she’, even though Lou was saying ‘he’. As Aidan Levy says:
“Rachel had been contemplating gender reassignment surgery, but the transgender rights movement had not yet solidified, and not fully understanding the nature of the decision, Lou was adamantly opposed to any operations, a growing source of conflict in their relationship”.
Despite this, a friend commented: ““I think that Rachel was the glue holding Lou together, or at least keeping him in the public view in many respects … I know that he doted on her. If there was a light shining, it was the two of them together. It doesn’t mean it was the healthiest relationship in the world.” The cover of Walk on the Wild Side: The Best of Lou Reed, 1977 is of photographs of the two of them.

Rachel acted as road-manager on the next tour, managed the money, and watched over the road-crew. They were in London for their third anniversary and ordered a three-tier cake to celebrate, and Lou gave her two diamond rings. He said:
"Rachel knows how to do it for me, no one else before ever did”.
However by the end of 1977, Lou and Rachel were fighting more and more, and frequently it was about the issue of transgender surgery. She had a date for surgery but backed off as Lou said:
“Well why are you doing that? I love you because of the way you are”.
The title track of Street Hassle, 1978 is about her, and an article in Rolling Stone referred to Rachel as the raison d’etre of the album, although in fact it marked the end of their relationship. Lou moved on, having met Sylvia Morales, who became his third wife in 1980.

Reed completely refused to talk about Rachel after 1978. He desisted and decided to go straight. Both his later marriages were with cis women.

There is a rumor that Rachel died in the early 1990s, possibly from HIV complications.

Rachel died in 1990 age 37 at St Clare’s Hospital, which specialized in treating AIDS patients, and she was interred in the gigantic pauper burial site on Hart Island off the Bronx coast (which contains over a million corpses).

Lou died in 2013, aged 71, from liver failure.
  • LegsMcNeil & Gillian McCain. Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk. Penguin books, 1997: 154-5, 206.
  • Marc Campbell.  "Rachel: Lou Reed’s transsexual muse".  Dangerous Minds, 02.06.2013.  Online.
  • Howard Sounes. Notes from the Velvet Underground: The Life of Lou Reed. Doubleday, 2015: 182-4, 187, 189, 191, 192, 194, 195, 202, 203, 205, 208, 212, 213, 214, 215-6, 221-2, 226, 229, 235, 248, 269.
  • Simon Reynolds. Shock and Awe: Glam Rock and Its legacy, from the Seventies to the Twenty-First Century. William Morrow Publishers, 2016: 271-2.
  • Aidan Levy. Dirty Blvd.: The Life and Music of Lou Reed. Chicago Review Press, 2016: 221-2, 227, 233, 244, 251-3, 264, 285.
  • Corey Kilgannon.  "Dead of AIDS and Forgotten in Potter's Field:  In an untold chapter of the AIDS epidemic, scores of unclaimed bodies were buried in a remote spot on Hart Island.  How many exactly remains unclear".  New York Times, July 3, 2018.  Online.  



Many books and articles say that Lou Reed married three times, but of course he and Rachel were prohibited by the regressive laws in force at the time.    If they had been married legally, Lou would have had to pay alimony.   While separation from Lou left her free to pursue transgender surgery, the rumors are that she descended into poverty and homelessness.

It is of course the case that most of the New York music and movies trans women of this period opted against surgery:  Candy, Holly, Jackie, Chrysis, Kim Christie, Jayne County.

25 January 2019

The Harry Benjamin Foundation in the mid 1960s

In 1963 Benjamin was invited by Dr Robert Hotchkiss, the urologist, to read a paper at New York's Bellevue Hospital. He also read a paper at the Society for the Scientific Study of Sex (of which he was a charter member). That year Reed Erickson became a Benjamin patient and almost completed transition. He then founded the Erickson Educational Foundation (EEF), financed entirely by himself.

Through his foundation Erickson agreed to finance the newly created Harry Benjamin Foundation (HBF) for three years at a minimum of $1,500 a month. The money from Erickson enabled a move to a larger office at 86th St and Park Avenue. The foundation sought to enhance Benjamin’s professional status. Robert Stoller at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) had disparaged Benjamin in that he was not psychiatrically trained, and did not publish in the most reputable journals. Stoller politely declined to serve on the Foundation’s advisory board. Nevertheless Benjamin was able to use the Foundation to enhance his working relationship with other doctors and researchers in the field.

Meetings of the foundation were held in the office, mainly on Saturday evenings. The members conducted psychological, endocrinological and neurological tests on transsexual patients, and interviewed them before and after surgery, looking to prove or disprove any genetic, hormonal or neurological basis for the condition.

Those in regular attendance

Harry Benjamin

Of course. GVWW

John Money

Money had become head of the Psychohormonal Research Unit at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore in 1962, and was keen on opening a Gender Identity Clinic.

Richard Green

In addition to attending meetings of the Foundation, Green also spent time in Benjamin’s office writing approval letters for his clients, and writing what became two appendices to Benjamin’s 1966 book. GVWW

Leo Wollman

Gynecologist and hypnotist, Wollman claimed to have seen more transsexual patients than Benjamin had. At this time they shared the practice, and worked from the same office. Wollman also ran a group session, the first Sunday of every month, near his other office at Coney Island. GVWW.

Henry Guze

Guze was a professor at the American Academy of Psychotherapies which he co-founded. He was also a co-founder of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sex, where he was president 1964-6. He specialized in psychosomatic illness, schizophrenia and disorders of sexual behaviour, and was a hypnotist. He proposed a 4-part typology of transsexuals: 1) effeminate in structural appearance 2) trained early to adopt a cross-gender role, as among some Native American tribes 3) problems of self-identification, perhaps as a result of a psychotic process 4) latent or expressed homosexuals. He found fantasies of sex change and cross-dressing common among ‘so-called normal’ people but regarded the expression of such desires as markedly fetishistic. Guze died in 1970, age 51, of cardiac arrest. Obituary.

Ruth Rae Doorbar

Doorbar had published on sex offenders and sex within marriage in the 1950s. Her major work with the HBF was “Psychological Testing of Transsexuals” (Online), which found more trans woman than expected with high IQs. At a time when inter-racial couples were still illegal in some US states, her boyfriend was Jamaican, and she moved to Jamaica with him and became a pioneer in Jamaican psychotherapy.

Robert Veit Sherwin

Sherwin was a lawyer and co-founder of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sex. He was the author of Sex and the Statutory Law, 1949. He advised Benjamin and others on mayhem and other legal aspects of what they were doing. He published “The Legal Problem in Transvestism” in 1954, and a revised version “Legal Aspects of Male Transsexualism” was included in Green and Money, 1969. He died in 1979.

Herbert Kupperman

Kupperman authored Human Endocrinology, 3 volumes, 1963, and was known for his work on hormones in women. He was a pioneer in identifying the chromosomal sex of intersex infants.

Wardell Pomeroy

Trained as clinical psychologist, Pomeroy had been a major colleague of Alfred Kinsey, and they and Clyde Martin were co-authors of the landmark books Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948) and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (1953). He moved to New York in 1963 and went into private practice as a sex therapist. He was known for his prodigious sexual appetite; while primarily gynephilic, he also went with men for balance. Later he wrote popular books on adolescent sexuality, that those who would ban books kept putting on their lists. He died in 2001 at age 87. EN.Wikipedia. Obituary.

And when they were in New York

Christian Hamburger

The Danish endocrinologist who had overseen Christine Jorgensen’s transition. EN.Wikipedia.

Walter Alverez

Alverez (1884-1978) was a prominent physician at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. After retiring in 1951 he began writing a medical column which soon became syndicated across North America. He was noted for his enlightened attitude to homosexuality. EN.Wikipedia.


Benjamin met monthly with John Money and Richard Green and the idea was raised of applying the kind of surgery being done on intersex patients to transsexuals as well. Money took three post-operative patients of Harry Benjamin to meet his colleagues at Johns Hopkins. As the Gender Identity Clinic there began to coalesce, it was integrated into the work of the Foundation, which provided them with patient referrals. Reed Erickson’s EEF donated $85,000 to the Gender Identity Clinic over a few years, and Reed became quite friendly with John Money. He went to Johns Hopkins for a double mastectomy repair in 1965.

The Harry Benjamin Foundation similarly endorsed the gender clinic at Stanford University. The Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis was considering opening a Gender Identity Clinic led by Donald Hastings. Two members went to New York, met with the HBF and were able to examine patients of Benjamin and Wollman who had had surgery abroad. Their surgeon, John Blum, went to Johns Hopkins to observe transgender surgery.

Harry Benjamin's The Transsexual Phenomenon came out in 1966. Guze gave it a very positive review in The Journal of Sex Research. Also in 1966, Benjamin referred Phyllis Wilson who was the subject of the first sex-change operation by Howard Jones at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. He also witnessed an operation performed by Jones. By now Stoller had come round, and after meeting with Benjamin described him to Green as “not only a good heart but plenty of good clinical data’.

The Harry Benjamin Foundation presented eight separate papers at a meeting at the prestigious New York Academy of Sciences on January 16, 1967, mainly considering etiology based on pre and post examinations of Benjamin's patients. Stoller flew in from Los Angeles and presented the first paper. Green returned from London. Stoller and Green presented papers based on research at UCLA. Kupperman, Pomeroy, Money, Doorbar, Wollman and Guze also presented papers, based on their work with the HBF.

Benjamin and Erickson had been having disputes, sometimes quite petty, about how the money was spent. In the spring of 1967 the EEF grant was reduced to $1,200, and in the fall – after the promised three years expired-- stopped entirely. Shortly afterwards, the Erickson Educational Foundation asked Benjamin to vacate the office that it was subsidizing.

There had been discussion that a book should emerge to embody the findings of the Foundation, but this was felt to be too narrow. In particular that would exclude the important work being done in Europe. The book, financed again by the EEF, eventually came out in 1969 as Transsexualism and Sex Reassignment edited by Richard Green and John Money.

Publications by members of the Foundation

  • Harry Benjamin. The Transsexual Phenomenon. Julian Press, 1966. With a bibliography and appendix by Richard Green.  A close reading.
  • Transactions of the New York Academy of Sciences, 29,4II, January 16, 1967.
Robert Stoller. “Etiological Factors in Male Transsexualism”. p431-3.
Herbert S Kupperman, “The Endocrine Status of the Transsexual Patient”. p434-9.
Richard Green. “Physician Emotionalism in the Treatment of the Transsexual”. p440-3.
Wardell B Pomeroy. “A report on the Sexual Histories of Twenty-Five Transsexuals”.p444-7..
John Money & Ralph Epstein. “Verbal Aptitude in Eonism and Prepubertal Effeminacy – A Feminine Trait”. p448-54.
Ruth Rae Doorbar. “Psychological Testing of Transsexuals: A Brief Report of Results from the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, the Thematic Apperception Test and the House-Tree-Person Test”. p455-62.
Leo Wollman. “Transsexualism: Gynecological Aspects. p463.
Henry Guze. “The Transsexual Patient: A problem in Self Perception”. p464-7.
  • Henry Guze. “Review of The Transsexual Phenomenon by Harry Benjamin”. The Journal of Sex Research, 3,2, May 1967: 183-5.
  • Richard Green & John Money. Transsexualism and Sex Reassignment. The Johns Hopkins Press, 1969. With contribution by Benjamin, Erickson, Money, Green, Stoller, Guze, Pomeroy, Doorbar, Hamburger, Wollman, Sherwin.


  • Anon.  "Review of Transactions of the New York Academy of Sciences, Ser II, vol 29, No 4, pp428-467".  Transvestia, 51, June 1968: 54-7.
  • Joanne Meyerowitz. How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States. Harvard University Press, 2002: 214-5, 219, 222, 223.
  • Richard Green. Gay Rights, Trans Rights: A psychiatrist/lawyer’s 50-year battle. 2018: chp 16.
  • Julian Gill-Peterson. Histories of the Transgender Child. University of Minnesota Press, 2018: 139-140.

19 January 2019

Who was Dixie MacLane?

On page xxii of C Jacob Hale’s introduction to Richard Docter’s biography of Christine Jorgensen, we find:
“During the 1950s, others who claimed to be seeking or to have obtained surgical alteration of the genitals – Ray/Rae Bourbon, John ‘Bunny’ Breckenridge, Dixie MacLane, Charlotte McLeod and Tamara Rees, for example – were in the news”.
Bourbon, Breckenridge, McLeod and Rees are well documented and are found in this encyclopedia. But who is Dixie MacLane? There is no mention of her name in Joanne Meyerowitz’ How Sex Changed, which is a thorough account of transsexuality in the US in that period.

On page xxiv, Hale tells us a bit more. She was one of the trans women included in the Worden & Marsh project.
“Dixie MacLane, who had been inspired to seek surgical transformation by the news about Jorgensen, had a more pragmatic goal: she hoped that her participation might lead to surgery at UCLA.”
Meyerowitz admits that the five names that she gave for the participants in the Worden & Marsh project were all pseudonyms. It is quite likely that Dixie MacLane is the real name of Meyerowtz’ Debbie Mayne: same initials, both waiting for surgical approval that never came.

Hale says that Dixie was in the news.   This was in February 1956, when she was 32, two years after the Worden & Marsh project.   Apparently she had obtained completion surgery in Mexico, and successfully applied for a legal name change. The Los Angeles Times reported that a Los Angeles police officer, G.H Nelson of the Pershing Square beat, took her existence as a personal affront. He made threats and made sure that she lost her office job. He then charged her with masquerading as a man, masquerading as a woman and outraging public decency. In a hearing at a municipal court, the judge accepted written testimony from Dr Harry Benjamin of New York, Dr Lyman Stewart of the Elmer Belt Medical Group and Dr Marcus Crohon of the LA County Jail. The judge refused attempts to determine Dixie’s actual sex, and dismissed the charges.


This was 1956, so Dixie was lucky to get a reasonably enlightened judge.   However justice would have required that Officer Nelson be sanctioned for unprofessional conduct, and that Dixie be re-instated in her job.

  • “Office Clerk Cleared of Charge of Masquerading”. Los Angeles Times, February 15, 1956.
  • Dal McIntire. “News & Views”. One: the Homosexual Magazine, 3/1/1956. Online.
  • C. Jacob Hale. Introduction to Richard F Docter. Becoming a Woman: A Biography of Christinr Jorgensen. The Haworth Press, 2008: xxii, xxiv.
  • Scott De Orio. Punishing Queer Sexuality in the Age of LGBT Rights. PhD Thesis University of Michigan, 2017: 59. Online.

09 January 2019

Robert Gaffney (1872 - ?) janitor.

Gaffney was raised on a farm in a religious family, and was married at 17 to a boy of the same age. They rambled, hunted and fished together, which gave her experience of wearing trousers and other men’s clothing.

After ten years of marriage they split. Gaffney then became Robert A Gaffney, moved to Spokane, Washington and found work as a photographer, a house painter and a janitor.

In 1911 Gaffney met Margaret Hart, an abandoned wife with one child and another on the way. He offered to look after her until she was able to do so by herself. For the sake of appearances, they were married by a Justice of the Peace. It is not clear when and to what extent Margaret realized that Robert was not a regular man. He lost his temper when she brought up the issue.

They moved to Seattle. He was employed as a janitor, and worked his way up to head janitor with 5 men and 10 women working for him. He earned $90 a month.

Then Margaret became pregnant and gave birth again. Neighbors congratulated him on his third child, but he felt that Margaret had broken their agreement. He disappeared, cycling all the way to California.

This left Mrs Gaffney and her three children destitute. The charity she turned to filed a charge under the 1913 “Lazy Husband” Act of Washington State.

Robert worked for a while in California, but then, being unemployed, he returned to Seattle, where he was arrested for abandoning his wife, and sentenced to hard labor (for which his wife would be paid $1.50 a day), which he did not care to do. All he had to do was to proclaim himself a woman, and
Newspaper cartoon implying
Margaret did not previously
know.  Skidmore p152.
dress in women’s clothes. He did so and was quickly released.

There was no law in Washington State nor in Seattle against cross-dressing. However his and Margaret’s marriage was declared void. The press went easy on both: Robert had stepped in to help a woman in distress; they accepted Margaret’s claim that she did not really know about Robert’s sex until the trial.

Gaffney said the required things about being a real woman, and wouldn't dress as a man again, despite still walking and looking like a man in women’s clothes, and having forgotten how to to cook, and how to sew. The best janitorial job that could be obtained now paid only $30 a month.

Gaffney left Seattle. A few months later, a reporter from the Seattle Star was invited to take an interview where he explained himself.  Gaffney pointed to his female dress: “It stands for all the follies of convention that makes men free and women slaves”.

Then Gaffney disappeared again.
  • “Story of Woman ‘Father’ of Family”: ‘Mr.’ Gaffney Tells How ‘He’ Came to Woo, Win and Marry ‘Margaret’”. The Daily Capital Journal, Feb 19, 1916. Online.
  • “Find ‘Lazy Husband’ In Reality Is Woman”. Tacoma Times, Feb 19, 1916. Online.
  • “Woman is ‘Man’ for 18 years”. Rogue River Courier, Feb 20, 1916. Online.
  • “She Longs for the Mental, Economic Freedom of Pants”. Seattle Star, Sept 7, 1916. Online.
  • Emily Skidmore. True Sex: The Lives of Trans men at the turn of the 20th Century. New York University Press, 2017: 150-6.
  • Kerry Segrave. ‘Masquerading in Male Attire”: Women Passing as Men in America, 1844-1920. McFarland Publishing, 2018: 193-5.
  • “100 years ago in Seattle: After 4 years of marriage, wife discovers husband she married in Spokane was a woman”. The Spokesman, January 08, 2019. Online

07 January 2019

Beverly-Barbara (1943 - ) restaurant worker

Beverly-Barbara*, from the Los Angeles area, was definitely a transkid expressing girls’ interest and dressing as a girl from an early age. Her parents hoped that she would grow out of it.

At age 15 she found work as a cocktail waitress, and saved up enough money to go and see Harry Benjamin. She claimed to be 18, although only 16, and Benjamin prescribed female hormones. Beverly-Barbara followed up with breast implants and electrolysis. Her voice had not changed much at puberty.

She found a boy-friend and in early 1967 they were married in Reno. She was able to do presenting her drivers license only. Beverly-Barbara was by then working as a receptionist at a prominent restaurant, but still not able to afford completion surgery. Benjamin suggested that she get in touch with Richard Green who, after two years with Benjamin in New York and a year in London with John Randell, had returned to the University of California Los Angeles Gender Identity Research Clinic (UCLA GIRC).

When Beverly-Barbara approached Green, he initially failed to understand why she was doing so.
“On the phone I did not suspect that she was transsexual. In person I saw no clue either.’ (Green, 2019: 144)
The GIRC had been active since 1962 but had not actually provided transgender surgery to any one, and Green thought that it was time to do so. Robert Stoller, the head of the GIRC was cautious about permitting such surgery, but was open to it being used as a research technique.
“Patient selection was crucial. It should be limited to those males who had been very feminine in childhood, had never lived acceptably in a masculine role, and who had not derived pleasure from their penis. He termed these ‘true transsexuals’.” (Green, 2010:1459).
Beverly-Barbara met these requirements. Green also endorsed John Money’s proposal that transsexual patients should undergo at least 12 months ‘real-life test’. Beverly-Barbara had in effect undergone 10 years real-life test.

Green enquired about the likelihood of being charged with mayhem. The University of California legal counsel in Berkeley quickly replied that such was a possibility, but that the University would pay the legal bill.

Green presented Beverly-Barbara to the GIRC at a Saturday morning conference in November 1968. Stoller gave a qualified approval. A second opinion was obtained from UCLA psychiatrist Larry Newman, and urologist Willard Goodwin (Elmer Belt's ++nephew who had argued against the continuation of transgender surgery by his uncle in 1954) agreed to do the operation.

All went well, and Beverly-Barbara co-operated in follow-up interviews. Then she disappeared into private life.
  • Robert Stoller,. Sex and Gender: On the Development of Masculinity and Femininity, Science House,1968: 251..
  • Joanne Meyerowitz. How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States. Harvard University Press, 2002: 214.
  • Richard Green. “Robert Stoller’s Sex and Gender: 40 Years on”. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 39, 2010: 1459.
  • Richard Green. Gay Rights, Trans Rights: A psychiatrist/lawyer’s 50-year battle. 2018: chp 19.

*Green 2010 calls her Barbara; Green 2018 calls her Beverly.  Meyerowitz does not give her a name.

Beverly-Barbara will now be 75 years old.

Other clinics refused to start the clock on the real-life test until after they had interviewed the patient – as Holly Woodlawn had found when she approached Johns Hopkins in 1966.

Of course Beverly-Barbara is very similar to Agnes, who had been approved for surgery with Elmer Belt by Stoller 10 years earlier. There has been a lot of commentary about Agnes, but very little about Beverly-Barbara.

02 January 2019

The Worden and Marsh project, UCLA 1954

In 1954 Frederick G Worden, psychoanalyst, and James T Marsh, clinical psychologist, both at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Medical Center, interviewed and tested five “physically normal men” (that is trans women): three of whom had already had transgender surgery, Annette Dolan, Caren Ecker and Janet Story; and two hoping for it, Carla Sawyer and Debbie Maine (all names pseudonyms).

Annette had prepared herself for surgery in 1954 by doing an auto-orchiectomy, and had sent an account to Harry Benjamin which was later published in Sexology magazine (albeit under another name). Carla provided Worden and Marsh with a 6-page letter, but they never bothered to read it. Caren had had surgery in San Francisco in 1953, where, while recovering, she gave out offprints of Harry Benjamin’s "Transsexualism and transvestism as psychosomatic and somatopsychic syndromes". She volunteered for the project to show “the true idea that I’m happy with my new life, and that for suitable subjects it is right to make these changes”. Debbie Mayne, hoping for surgery, spent a year working with Worden, waiting for surgical approval which never came – at the end Worden plain refused to approve her. She later wrote that Worden “has never recommended anything for anybody . . . he doesn’t know too much to begin with.”

At this same time, Elmer Belt, the urologist and surgeon ++and his nephew Willard Goodwin, who had been the first surgeons in the world to provide vaginoplasty for trans women as opposed to cis and intersex women, beyond a few experimental cases were persuaded to cease doing so --  Annette Dolan having been one of Belt's last patients. A committee of doctors at UCLA, including Frederick Worden, had decided against the practice.

Worden and Marsh published their paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association in April 1955. Their subjects, they wrote’ had “an extremely shallow, immature, and grossly distorted concept of what a woman is like socially, sexually, anatomically, and emotionally”. They depicted them as attention-seeking, and even held their co-operation with the study against them as a “need for recognition”. Worden and Marsh were irritated by the two subjects who wanted surgery, and criticized their refusal to acknowledge “the possibility that the wish for surgery might be symptomatic of a disorder within themselves”. They, of course, did not provide the desired recommendations for surgery.

Harry Benjamin immediately wrote to the journal to object. Worden and Marsh had “badly misunderstood or misinterpreted” his work. Four of the five interviewees wrote to Benjamin expressing outrage. Annette also wrote to the Journal and Elmer Belt as well as to Frederick Worden. “In general my words were twisted to suit their purpose.” She spoke of how she could sense the ridicule in their words.


Carla Sawyer had the misfortune to have a session with psychoanalyst Robert Stoller, then new to the field, who attempted to reverse her ‘sexual tendencies’ and antagonized her. Benjamin later helped her to obtain surgery in Mexico.

Caren Ecker later became a nurse.

Debbie Mayne (who was probably the same person as Dixie MacLane) later had surgery in Mexico with Dr Lopez Ferrer.
  • Frederick G Woden & James T Marsh. “Psychological Factors in Men Seeking Sex Transformation: A Preliminary Report”. Journal of the American Medical Association, 157, 15, April 9 1955: 1292-4, 1297-8.
  • Joanne Meyerowitz. How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States. Harvard University Press, 2002: 107-9, 143, 146, 155-7, 166.


A similar thing happened in 1970-2 when Harry Benjamin allowed Ethel Person and Lionel Ovesey to interview several of his trans patients.  Person and Ovesey applied a psycho-analytic interpretation.  They proposed a typology of trans persons assuming that a child's separation-individuation anxiety produced a fantasy of symbiotic fusion with the mother which the transsexual tries to resolve by surgically becoming her mother.  Papers to this effect were published 1973-85.  One trans woman who had been declared by Benjamin to be a type VI High Intensity, was rendered by Person and Ovesey as a secondary transsexual.  Again Benjamin was appalled by the printed study.