This site is the most comprehensive on the web devoted to trans history and biography. Well over 1400 persons worthy of note, both famous and obscure, are discussed in detail, and many more are mentioned in passing.

There is a detailed Index arranged by vocation, doctor, activist group etc. There is also a Place Index arranged by City etc. This is still evolving.

In addition to this most articles have one or more labels at the bottom. Click one to go to similar persons. There is a full list of labels at the bottom of the page. There is also a search box at the top left. Enjoy exploring!

09 August 2020

The Bellinger v Bellinger Recognition of Marriage Case 2000

Elizabeth Bellinger, born 1946, was raised as male, and at age 21, under some pressure, was married to a woman. The marriage lasted for four years. After that she undertook eight years of counselling which led to transition.  She had completion surgery in 1981. Later the same year, she went through a ceremony of marriage at a Registry Office with Michael Bellinger, a widower of the same age who was fully aware of the situation. She was described on the marriage certificate as a spinster. In the late 1990s, following the claims of BSTc differentiation in trans women, and the Human Rights Act, 1988 which made rulings of the European Convention on Human Rights authoritive in UK courts, she sought to clarify the legal status of her marriage,

For 30 years since Corbett v Corbett, the criteria for determining sex for purposes of marriage had stood. Trans women were not women for such purpose, but an exception was made for intersex women using the definition of a natural non-congruence of the chromosomes, gonads and genitals.
In 2000 two cases came to court. In the first W. v W., a divorced husband attempted to have the marriage annulled also, but his request was denied when it was established that his wife did meet the Corbett exception.

In November that year, Mrs Bellinger sought a declaration under the Family Law Act, 1986, c. 55, § 43, Part III, Declaration of Status (Eng.), that her marriage had been valid at its inception. This would require that she be recognised as female for the purposes of section 11(c) of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 (which incorporated the Nullity of Marriage Act, 1971), which in turn would necessitate giving the expressions 'male' and 'female' in that Act a novel, extended meaning: that a person may be born with one sex but later become, or become regarded as, a person of the opposite sex.

The respondent Mr. Bellinger filed no objecting reply. It was the Attorney General who elected to intervene to argue the case against granting the declaration. Evidence was taken from Professors Louis Gooren and Richard Green and consultant urologist Timothy Terry, and Russell Reid was cited. However the High Court applied the Corbett test and found that Mrs Bellinger was male in that at birth the chromosomes, gonads and genitals had been congruent: ‘the present state of medical knowledge lead inexorably to my dismissing her petition’.

In 2001 at the Appeal Court, Mrs Bellinger’s counsel argued that the terms ‘male’ and ‘female’ had been deliberately left undefined in the Nullity of Marriage Act, 1971. They sought to expand the range of factors in that scientific understanding had advanced since 1971, and referred to the non-congruance of brain structure, particularly the size of the BSTc (stria terminalis) citing Zhou et al, 1995, and argued that therefore she should be understood as covered by the intersex exception as set out in Corbett. Two of the three judges responded that they were intrigued by the evidence but as the evidence would require a dissection at autopsy, evidence with regard to Mrs Bellinger’s brain could not be obtained. Thus the stated advances could not be brought to her aid. They ruled that Mrs Bellinger was not female as the law then stood. The third judge did dissent, and urged the abandonment of purely biological tests. On psychological grounds he would have recognised Mrs Bellinger as a woman under English law. All three judges accepted that "the profoundly unsatisfactory nature of the present position and the plight of transsexuals require careful consideration". However, the two judges said any change in the law must be a matter for Parliament. The court was dismayed to hear that no steps had been taken by the Home Office following the report in April of the previous year of an inter-departmental working group on transsexual people.

An appeal went to The House of Lords. In the meantime the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) had ruled in Goodwin v United Kingdom and I. v United Kingdom. In both cases involving completed trans women the claim was that UK policies violated their rights to privacy under Article 8 and to marry under article 12 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The ECHR repudiated the Corbett test, arguing that gender dysphoria is a medical disorder and that this obviates any need to determine its aetiology and that the emphasis on chromosomal sex was disproportionate in that in some intersex conditions the gender identity is not congruent with the chromosomes. The minority opinion in the Bellinger appeal was cited with approval.

While it was still left to the UK to establish a workable definition of gender transition and marriage, the ECHR did conclude that the UK’s policies were in violation of articles 8 and 12 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

In December 2002 the UK Government announced that it would bring forth legislation on the matter, and government counsel conceded that UK law was incompatible with the articles 8 and 12.

In April 2003 the House of Lords considered Bellinger v Bellinger and upheld the majority decision of the Court of Appeal, but indicated its incompatibility with the judgements of the ECHR. This was the first such declaration of incompatibility. However they declined to apply section 3 of the Human Rights Act 1988 which states that domestic law must, if possible, be interpreted in a way that makes it compatible with the ECHR. The judges did not accept that the terms ‘male’ and ‘female’ in the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 could be extended to include the marriages of transsexuals. To read the 1973 Act in such a new way would be a major change to the law and such change is not the duty of the courts. The issue was handed back to Parliament.

In 2004 the UK government enacted the Gender Recognition Act, and then Bellinger would be entitled to apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate. Certainly a step forward, but hardly the confirmation of the legal status of her marriage in 1981.
  • J-N Zhou, M A Hofman, L J Gooren & D F Swaab. “A Sex Difference in the Human Brain and its Relation to Transsexuality”. Nature, 1995, 378: 68-70. Reprinted in The International Journal of Transgenderism, 1997, 1,1. Online.
  • “W. v W. Case Law”. October 2000. Online.
  • “Rights of Transsexual are upheld”. Dublin Evening Herald, 23 May 2001.
  • “Transsexual loses appeal over 20-year ‘marriage’ “. The Telegraph, 18 Jul 2001. Online.
  •  "Judgments - Bellinger (FC) (Appellant) v. Bellinger" House of Lords, 10 April 2003. www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200203/ldjudgmt/jd030410/bellin-1.htm.
  • Clair McNab. "Government FAQ: Bellinger v. Bellinger". Press For Change, January 2004. www.pfc.org.uk/node/326.
  • S Cowan.  ‘That Woman is a Woman! The Case of Bellinger v Bellinger and the Mysterious (Dis)appearance of Sex’ Feminist Legal Studies, 12, 2004: 79-92.
  • Lisa Fishbayn. " 'Note Quite One Gender or the Other': Marriage Law and the Containment of Gender Trouble in the United Kingdom". Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law, 15,3, 2007: 429-432. http://digitalcommons.wcl.american.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1252&context=jgspl.
  • Christopher Hutton.  The Tyranny of Ordinary Meaning:  Corbett v Corbett and the Invention of Legal Sex.  Palgrave Macmillan, 2019: 145-152. 
_______________________

There are issues not discussed in the source accounts. Was Mrs Bellinger risking being charged with ‘perjury’ for presenting herself as female, or her status as 'spinster' at her marriage in 1981?

Did the Gender Recognition Board require the Bellingers to divorce before she was awarded her Gender Recognition certificate?

It is just as well that the legal changes were not built on the assumptions about BSTc as proposed by Zhou et al. Twenty-five years later that line of research has not proved productive. 

The European Convention on Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights are not part of the European Union. They are part of the Council of Europe, a wider organisation. Russia is a member. Only Belarus is not. The current Johnson government equivocates and does not commit to remaining in the Council of Europe. If it were to withdraw, and also repeal the Gender Recognition Act, the legal status of trans persons would be back to what it was in 1971. 

05 August 2020

The W. v W. Anullment Trial, 2000

​W is an anonymising initial issued by the judge, William Charles, in the case, and does not reflect their real names.  We have no other name or pseudonym to refer to the persons.

W was born 1947, in the North of England.  Because she had indeterminate genitals, the parents were asked did they want to raise a boy or a girl.  The father chose ‘boy’.   A year later the child was adopted by a cousin of the mother and her husband. The child was raised male but opted for girl toys and female clothing whenever she could.

At secondary school she refused to shower with the boys and to wear the boys’ uniform.  The school compromised and allowed her to wear a female top.  By age 15 she had noticeable breasts and a female body shape. The adoptive father convinced the family doctor to administer testosterone injections.  W resisted and had to be held down by the adoptive father.  There was no effect and when the adoptive father proposed increased dosage and frequency, and surgery to remove the breasts, W ran away and lived as a girl. However she was found and returned home.

At age 17 W ran away for good.  She lived with a man in Manchester, apparently alternating genders, but he complained that she was too feminine, and the relationship ended.

W was scheduled for correction surgery at age 23, but this was postponed indefinitely because of a cerebrovascular accident. It was not until 1980 that she started on oral oestrogen.  She finally had correction surgery in 1987 with a ‘Dr D’.

She married in 1990, and shortly afterwards had a Trachea Shave to reduce her Adams Apple. However the marriage did not last, and ended after two years. It was annulled on the basis that she was not female -- this was on the persuasion of her then solicitor that that was the cheapest way to end the marriage.

A second marriage in 1993, which gave the husband the right to remain in the UK, lasted three years and they were divorced in 1997.  She had had a breast augmentation in 1996.

The husband further applied in 1998 for an annulment so that he could re-marry in church – although he remarried before his case came to court in October 2000. This time Mrs W defended against such an annulment, which would declare her legally male, and thus would interfere with her application for a revised birth certificate, and her future freedom to marry. Both parties jointly instructed Dr Conway, a consultant endocrinologist. Information was sought and obtained from ‘Dr D’ as to W’s anatomical details prior to surgery.  Justice Charles found that she easily fell into the intersex exception as per the Corbett test: emphasis was placed on the natural lack of congruence of the chromosomes, gonads and genitals. Conway also gave in evidence the opinion that if Mrs W had been born in a later decade, she would have been raised as a female.   Justice Charles copied much of Justice Roger Ormrod had written in 1971 in the Corbett v Corbett case.

Thus the Respondent was declared to be legally female, and her ex-husband’s application to have the marriage declared void was thus refused.




‘Dr D’ ?= James Dalrymple?.

Dr Conway stated that “It is extremely difficult to be conclusive about an original diagnosis of an intersex state after  surgery has been completed", but suggested that W had partial androgen insensitivity which is why the enforced testosterone injections failed to have any effect.

Whether you regard W as intersex or a transkid, she was badly failed by the medical system in the  1970s.  There was a Manchester gender clinic at Witherington Hospital from 1972 and a TV/TS group in the city from 1973.   W should have been offered an early transition, and not have had to wait until almost middle-age.

As W had not had her birth certificate revised before either of her two marriages, she was at risk of being charged that in violation of the Perjury Act, 1911, she had “knowingly and wilfully caused a false statement to be entered in a register of marriage”, as Victor Barker had been so convicted in 1929.  The authorities sensibly did not so charge her.

There was a W. v W.  divorce case in South Africa 1976 that involved a trans woman.

03 August 2020

Trans men listed in the press in 1902

​In April 1902 various newspapers published an article that was merely a list of trans men who had come to public notice. The headlines varied.

The St Louis Republic newspaper published “Forty Three Women who have Posed as Men”, April 27 1902. Online.

For the Sunday Times of Perth, WA, it was “Strange Mysteries of Wedded Life: Women Who have posed as Husbands”. Online.

The opening paragraph: “Within a year six women have been discovered, in America alone, who have successfully masqueraded as men; have gone through a legal form of marriage and even posed as the fathers of families. Upwards of a score of similar cases have come to public attention recently in different parts of the world. There have been forty-three instances of women posing as husbands within the last ten years. One medical authority claims that one woman in every 3,000 is a victim of this peculiar mania.”

1 in 3,000 is of course much higher than the 1 in 100,000 that would be so uncritically repeated in the late 20th century.

It then goes on to give a list.   When the writer knows the long unused female name he gives it.  In the list below I give the male if I know it.



๐Ÿ‘‰ William Howard of Canandaigua, New York, who died 33 March 1902 after forty years of legal marriage. He left three children.

๐Ÿ‘‰George Green of Petersburg, Virginia, originally from England, died age 74. He lived as male for sixty years, and had been married for thirty-five, blessed by the Roman Catholic Church. He worked as a manual laborer, including in the mines in Pennsylvania.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Murray Hall of New York who had died the previous year and whom we have discussed in detail.  GVWW.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Charles W Hall, originally of Massachusetts, was returning with his wife from Europe for New York, when he died on board ship from complications due to alcoholism. The writer does not give his male name.  GVWW.

๐Ÿ‘‰ The writer claims the Chevalier d’Eon as a woman passing as a man!

๐Ÿ‘‰ Frank Wayne of the US Army killed in battle in 1862.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Franklin Thompson a soldier in the Second Michigan regiment.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Charles D Fuller of the Forty-sixth Pennsylvania during the US Civil War.

๐Ÿ‘‰ A “Mrs L N Blaylock of the Twenty-sixth North Carolina”, also during the Civil War. The writer does not give Blaylock’s male name.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Christian Canenagh with the British Army in the Netherlands. Canenagh fought a duel with a superior officer, and after being outed, remained with the regiment as a cook.

๐Ÿ‘‰ James Barry, military surgeon. GVWW.

๐Ÿ‘‰ John Taylor, said here to be a steward on a trans-Atlantic liner. Actually he was a cabin boy in the French and English navies in turn during the revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. GVWW.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Christian Walsh, in English Army.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Felix Francoine of the Hungarian Army, who despite being outed at death, was buried with full military honours.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Countess Carlotta May of Austria (male name not given) was ‘notorious’ in the 1890s for male clothes and activities, and was engaged to marry a woman. But then dramatically reverted to womanhood, female clothing and married a Count.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Tony Teesa who worked in a hat factory in Yonkers.

๐Ÿ‘‰ A person who had recently died age 103, who had kept a tavern near London for 17 years until one day a pauper was brought in who recognized his long lost wife.

-----

However this does not add up to 43 – only 17 by my count.

02 August 2020

Navigating the GVWW Encyclopedia


The Gender Variant Who’s Who Encyclopedia has been going since 2007.   There are in excess of 1500 entries, and thus some navigation aids are required.


Ways of navigating:

a)     Start with the most current and read each entry in reverse chronological fashion.  No-one is known to have reached the earliest entry this way.

b)      In any search engine:   “whatever” site:https://zagria.blogspot.com.    

c)     There is a site search box at the top-left-hand corner, and another in the sidebar.   This works quite well.

d)    The Indices.  There are three.  By default you are in the “main mode".   See the Horizontal menu close to the top of the page if in a browser, or the drop-down menu if on a phone.  There are 11 other modes.   The first three are Index, Media Index and Place Index.   These three are updated at the end of each quarter.  
The first contains a list of all persons for whom there are entries.  They are sorted by occupation and/or avocation.   There is a section on the different kinds of Changing Back; on traditional third gender roles, and on other groupings (Pansy Craze, Imperial Court, Eurovision, Sexology Magazine, HBIGDA/WPATH, IFGE, Autogynephilia, HBS etc).   A Section on Legal Cases;  A section on Cis persons who are found in our history:  doctors, lawyers, spouses, nemeses, etc.
  1.    The second index is media:  Books, Film and Television, Music, Untruths, Pictures, Lists.
  The third Index is Place:  London, Paris, Casablanca, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Berlin, Moscow, Dublin, New York, Chicago, Baltimore, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Trinidad in Colorado, Seattle, Portland, Atlanta, Toronto, Sydney, Buenos Aires, etc

e)     Internal Links.   Many of the articles have links to other articles.   This is probably the most fun way to navigate.  Just click on the link and go.

f)      Labels.   Most of the articles have labels at the bottom.   Click on any of the labels to go to other articles with the same label.  In addition, if you scroll to the very bottom, there is an alphabetical list of all labels with a count of the number of associated articles.   Again just click and go.

g)        In the sidebar there is an item, Popular Posts, which shows the most popular posts of the last seven days.

h)        Below that is a Blog Archive.   This allows you to select a month and then the articles published that month.   If you have navigated in by another method, you will notice that this archive is open for the month of the current article.


External Links.

All external links to other sites did work when an article was posted.  However as some articles are as much as 13 years old, some links have become dead and no longer work.   I suggest that readers have the Wayback Machine/Internet Archive extension/add on installed so that the archived version can be accessed. 



16 July 2020

Another calumny against Violet Morris

There is a new book just out on the major Nazi-sponsored criminal gang in Occupied Paris.
  • Christopher Othen. The King of Nazi Paris: Henri Lafont and the Gangsters of the French Gestapo. 2020.
According to Amazon, the back page reads:

Henri Lafont was a petty criminal who became the most powerful crook in Paris thanks to the Nazi occupation of France. A chance encounter in a prison camp led to a life of luxury running a ruthless mob of gangsters who looted the city on behalf of the Nazis, who recognised Lafont's talent for treachery and deceit. Lafont recruited 'the French Gestapo', a motley band of sadistic grotesques that included faded celebrities, ex-footballers, pimps, murderers, burglars and bank robbers. 
They wore the best clothes, ate at the best restaurants and did whatever they pleased. They lived on the exclusive rue Lauriston, where they mixed with celebrities and Nazi officers, while down in the cellar of their building, the rest of the gang tortured resistance prisoners. 
The unbalanced 'Crazy Pete' did it for information. Bisexual athlete Violette Morris, with her short hair and men's clothes and love of frail blondes, just liked to watch people in pain. 
By 1944, the gang ran a paramilitary outfit of Algerians and Moroccan nationalists in the south of France, raping, robbing and murdering the locals under the cover of fighting the resistance. Then the Allies came, and a terrible price had to be paid.

Nowhere in the book does it say that Morris was a trans man.

I wrote about Morris in May 2015. Part 1; Part 2.

Raymond Ruffin is the source of the calumnies against Morris. His attitude to Violette Morris is evident at first glance in his book titles: La diablesse and La hyรจne de la Gestapo. He got the idea from a novel by famous crime writer Auguste Le Breton (1913 – 1999), Les pègriots, 1973, which has 2 pages on Morris.

However Othen did not even read Ruffin. He merely cites a web page by Yasmine Youssi that summarizes his position. The best book on Morris is
  • Marie-Josèphe Bonnet. Violette Morris: histoire d'une scandaleuse. Perrin, 2011.
Bonnet  went through the archives of the Free France Secret Service, and the BCRA (Central Bureau of Research and Action), which are available at the Office of the Resistance. She also examined trial transcripts of the treason trials which followed the Liberation, the National Archives and local archives in Normandy. She found minor references to Morris, but nothing to support the picture found in Ruffin's books. Likewise Morris was not mentioned in the criminal trials of the Bonny-Lafont gang, nor in the Gestapo's own files on repressing the Resistance. Bonnet points out that Ruffin does not seem to know what Morris was doing for the first three years of the Occupation.

Othen cites my article on Morris, but only Part 1, which goes up to 1930. Not part 2 which – drawing heavily on Bonnet – discusses what Morris did in the war.

Why are prurient myths so often repeated while solid scholarship which refuted them is generally  ignored?

02 July 2020

July

I am taking the month off.   I will be back in August.

23 June 2020

Gay Liberation Front (GLF) - London

The post-Stonewall activist organizations:

While QLF and STAR were run by trans women, trans women also played significant roles in GLF and GAA. 

Queens Liberation Front (QLF)
StreetTransvestite Action Revolutionaries. (also Part III of Sylvia Rivera)
Gay Liberation Front (GLF) - New York
Gay Activists Alliance (GAA)
Gay Liberation Front (GLF) - London

See also The Five Years Following Stonewall - A New York Timeline

GLF London was founded in the basement of the London School of Economics in October 1970 inspired by what Bob Mellors had seen happen in New York. All-London meetings were held at All Saints Hall in Powis Square, Notting Hill. The newspaper put out was Come Together, named for a song on the Beatles’ Abbey Road album.

At first there was no drag, but slowly a significant minority started wearing frocks for the dances. This extended to street theatre, notably the Miss Trial demo outside the Old Bailey in support of the women who were on trial for disrupting the Miss World contest.  Then GLF disrupted the 1971 Christian Festival of Light. Some GLF queens wore drag because it felt right, some for fun and some for political reasons. Some were living in communal squats and in poverty in Brixton and in Notting Hill, and wore drag all day every day – and became known as Radical Feminists.

They aligned themselves with lesbians against the masculine gay men who were dominating the GLF meetings. When the women finally split from GLF in February 1972, the Rad Fems began to dominate at the All-London meetings, which was a bit intimidating for newcomers. However the RadFems also demonstrated against the launch of the feminist magazine Spare Rib, which allowed The Sunday Times to run an article on the irony of feminist men telling women how they should behave. The fledgling Gay News used this to disassociate from what they referred to as 'fascists in frocks'. The initial issues of Gay News were hostile to GLF in general and even more so to the queens.

Separate from the RadFems and political drag was the GLF Transvestite, Transsexual and Drag Queen Group which started meeting in late 1971 run by Rachel Pollack and Roz Kaveney which formed a trans presence at the GLF meetings. They collectively wrote a manifesto which was published in Come Together, 11, the Lesbian Issue.

Separately from that, Bob Mellors befriended the eccentric trans woman Charlotte Bach, who wasn’t a member, and Bobbie MacKenzie, who was.

The official first gay pride march in London was the Carnival Parade on 1 July 1972. However a few days earlier, GLF had been allocated a time-slot with the Boilermakers Union to picket the US Embassy about what they were doing to Vietnam. Only the Radfems turned up, a band was playing, and a few started a waltz. The US school band packed up in a fit of pique. The queens sauntered off and ended up at Piccadilly Circus. The police asked where they, the queens and the rent boys, intended to go, and said they would escort the march which went via Oxford Street to Hyde Park.

As the all-London meetings declined, they were replaced by separate GLFs in different parts of London. Some of these put on dances which became welcoming places for those who wished to explore their gender expression.

By late 1973 the all-London meetings were almost over. Some of the surviving RadFems took over the anarchist Agitprop bookshop/commune at 248 Bethnal Green Road which they renamed Bethnal Rouge. In 1974 two buildings in Railton Road, Brixton were squatted and became the South London Gay Community Centre.


  • Jeffrey Weeks. “The Gay Liberation front, 1970-72” in Coming Out: Homosexual Politics in Britain, from the Nineteenth Century to the Present. Quartet Books, 1977.
  • Aubrey Walter (ed). Come Together: The Years of Gay Liberation, 1970-73. London: Gay Men's Press, 1980.
  • Bob Mellors. We Are All Androgynous Yellow. Another-Orbit Press, 1980.
  • Kris Kirk with photographs by Ed Heath. Men In Frocks. London: Gay Men's Press 1984: 95-107. Review.
  • Lisa Power. No Bath but Plenty of Bubbles: An Oral History of the Gay Liberation Front 1970-73. Cassell, 1995.
  • Stuart Feather. Blowing the Lid: Gay Liberation, Sexual Revolution and Radical Queens. Zero Books, 2015.
-----------

None of this is found at all in Christine Burns' Trans Britain.  Review

21 June 2020

Gay Activists Association (GAA)

​The post-Stonewall activist organizations:

While QLF and STAR were run by trans women, trans women also played significant roles in GLF and GAA. 

Queens Liberation Front (QLF)
StreetTransvestite Action Revolutionaries. (also Part III of Sylvia Rivera)
Gay Liberation Front (GLF) - New York
Gay Activists Alliance (GAA)
Gay Liberation Front (GLF) - London

See also The Five Years Following Stonewall - A New York Timeline

----

The GAA was founded in New York City on December 1969 by dissident members of the Gay Liberation Front  who did not approve of the donation of $500 to the Black Panthers. The GAA were prepared to work within the political system, their meetings adhered to Robert’s Rules of Order and they had a constitution.

Sylvia Rivera and Bebe Scarpi first met at an early GAA meeting, however many of the members were initially uncomfortable with Sylvia.

GAA applied for incorporation to the New York State Division of Corporations and State Records.  However they were rejected on the grounds that the name was not a fit name for a New York corporation because of the connotation in which the word "gay" was being used, and that the corporation was being formed to violate the anti-sodomy laws of New York. It took five years to win the right to incorporate under that name.

Initially GAA met at the Church of the Holy Apostles, 9th Avenue at 28th Street. The GAA preamble included “The Right to Our Own Bodies”:
This is the right to treat and express our bodies as we will, to nurture, display and embellish them solely in the manner we ourselves  determine independent of any external control whatsoever.
In March 1970 the GAA organized protests following the police raid on the Snake Pit gay bar, and this led to the first Christopher Street Liberation Day.

Sylvia, right, collecting signatures.
GAA had started a petition to get the reluctant Carol Greitzer, representing Greenwich Village on the New York City Council, to introduce a bill for gay rights. In April 1970,  Sylvia, liking the idea, started soliciting signatures right on 42nd Street between 7th and 8th Avenues where she did her usual sex hustling – and was arrested on the 15th while doing so. This was GAA’s first arrest. Sylvia recounted her adventures at GAA. This was heard by Arthur Bell, who wrote a story for Gay Power, and made Sylvia a celebrity. When her case came to court the public gallery was filled with activists from GAA and GLF. Gay attorney Hal Weiner volunteered his services, and GAA picked up the other legal fees. After several appearances, Sylvia’s court case was thrown out when the arresting officer failed to show.

Sylvia wrote to Gay Power newspaper:
I want to tell you a little about a new gay group. The Gay Activists  Alliance. I really want to talk to my sister queens. So girls, pay me a little mind.
Well, girls, many of us were waiting for a group like GAA. I knew many of us when we used to talk about the day we could get together with other gays and be heard and ask for our freedom and our rights.
GAA collected over 6,000 signatures, but Greitzer refused to accept the petition.  Sylvia was part of the 35-person delegation that GAA sent to confront Greitzer on the issue - to no avail.

In August-September 1970 GAA/ Christopher Street Liberation Day booked the basement of Weinstein Hall, a New York University residence building, for fundraising dances. On the eve of the third dance, to be held 21 August, the administration attempted to cancel the rest. Although the two remaining dances were held, the situation escalated and the Hall was occupied. Sylvia, Marsha and Bubbles were present – and Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries was born.

In March 1971 there was a Conference of Gay Liberation held at Rutgers University in New Jersey with forums on sadism, masochism, and leather; bisexuality; and transvestism. Speakers from S.T.A.R., Queens Liberation Front and GAA addressed the inaugural event on transvestism.

GAA headquarters was moved to the Firehouse at 99 Wooster St in May 1971. It offered weekly dances, with a sound system as good as in the best nightclubs; film nights curated by film historian Vito Russo; and of course political organizing.

GAA and STAR marched together from the Firehouse to Wards Island State Hospital where Marsha Johnson was then confined.

John Wojtowicz, who had become well-known in gay circles after his marriage to trans woman Liz Eden,  was a GAA member, although mainly for social activities, rarely for political events.

In July just after Mafioso Mike Umbers had evicted the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) from one of his houses, Arthur Bell wrote about his influence in the gay bar scene in The Village Voice, and shortly afterwards GAA organized a protest campaign outside Umbers’ major gay bar, Christopher’s End, at 180 Christopher Street.  Wojtowicz was out of favor as it became known that he was associated with Umbers - he turned up at the demonstration holding a sign supporting Umbers, and apparently had passed on information about GAA's plans.

GAA succeeded, after lobbying and protesting, in getting the New York City Council's General Welfare committee to discuss the problems faced by gays and transvestites in late 1971. GAA equivocated and for a while agreed to the removal of transvestite protections. However it ultimately endorsed them. STAR and QLF also gave evidence.

The GAA Street Theatre Subcommittee included trans activists and supported trans expression.

GAA published the Gay Activist newspaper until 1980.

The Wooster St Firehouse was burned down by arsonists in October 1974 – perhaps by the Mafia to eliminate the competition. The Chief Fire Marshall reported that the fire, soon after 3 am had been set in at least six places on the upper floors.

The GAA was disbanded in 1981.

  • Eric Holm.  "Dog Day Afternoon, Dog day aftertaste".  Jump Cut, 10-11. 1976:3-4.  Online.
  • Martin Duberman. Stonewall. A Plume Book, 1993: 230-4,
  • David Carter. Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution. St Martin’s Griffin, 2004: 233-8, 248-9.
  •  Stephen L Cohen. The Gay Liberation Youth Movement in New York “An Army of Lovers Cannot Fail”. Routledge, 2008: 37-40. 107-111, 136-7
  • Lillian Faderman.  The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle. Simon & Shuster, 2015:.214-7
  • Phillip Crawford Jr.  The Mafia and the Gays.  2015: 34. 37.
     EN.Wikipedia
-----------------

It is now well known that Carter made no mention of Sylvia Rivera in that overall the evidence is that she was not at the Stonewall riots.  But why is there no mention in his book of her arrest re the Carol Greitzer petition, and her subsequent trial attended by both GLF and GAA?  He does otherwise write about the petition.  He is also silent about QLF and STAR, but not about GLF and GAA.

Faderman, who places Sylvia at the riots in a fleeting role, also ignores the arrest and trial.

I follow Cohen who discusses it in detail.

I was going to link to the EN.Wikipedia page for Carol Greitzer.   However all it says about her refusal of the petition and her general stonewalling on gay rights is "Following the nearby Stonewall Riots that had occurred months earlier, Greitzer met twice with members of the Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) in May 1970".   I was appalled by this whitewashing and am not linking. 

19 June 2020

Gay Liberation Front (GLF) – New York

The post-Stonewall activist organizations:

While QLF and STAR were run by trans women, trans women also played significant roles in GLF and GAA. 

Queens Liberation Front (QLF)
StreetTransvestite Action Revolutionaries. (also Part III of Sylvia Rivera)
Gay Liberation Front (GLF) - New York
Gay Activists Alliance (GAA)
Gay Liberation Front (GLF) - London

See also The Five Years Following Stonewall - A New York Timeline

----


After the Stonewall Riots, radicalized gays and lesbians attempted to work with the Mattachine Society of New York but the MSNY urged a tempering of demands and the avoidance of further uprisings. On 9 July 1969 a meeting was called by Mattachine-New York, and almost a hundred attended, and a majority voted for a march. The march planning committee felt that it needed a name, and Gay Liberation Front was suggested: in homage to the Vietnamese Liberation Front which was fighting US imperialism and the Algerian Front de libรฉration nationale, which had gained independence a few years earlier.

The GLF met again a week later independently of Mattachine, and decided on a march and protest one month after the riots. The ad placed in The Village Voice said that the march on 27 July was co-sponsored by Mattachine and the Daughters of Bilitis, but at the march 2000 appeared and it was clear that Mattachine and DoB were no longer in charge.

The GLF that emerged was what today would be called intersectional. It denounced racism and the US invasion of Vietnam, and allied itself with third-world struggles and the Black Panther party. They spoke out against capitalism and the nuclear family, psychiatry, organized religion and mafia-run gay bars. And also against lookism, role-playing and objectification in the gay culture. And the homophobia and sexism in the New Left. Meetings were based on consensus and the chair was rotated. This was sometimes chaotic, and some debates continued for weeks.

Their manifesto:
“Gay Liberation Front is a revolutionary homosexual group of men and women formed with the realization that complete sexual liberation for all people cannot come about unless existing social institutions are abolished. We reject society’s attempt to impose sexual roles and definitions of our nature. We are stepping outside these roles and simplistic myths. We are going to be who we are.”
By December, some members had become dissident, and a donation to the Black Panthers was considered too much. They broke away and founded the Gay Activists Association.

Consciousness-Raising groups in GLF were organized. One cell published the newspaper, Come Out! – Zazu Nova was a contributor; another organized dances.

Bob Kohler became prominent in GLF. He lived close to the Stonewall Inn and befriended and helped the street queens who congregated in the park across from the Stonewall. He would sit and talk to them, give clothing or change, and sometimes pay for a room in a cheap hotel. He knew their problems. He spoke up for them in GLF meetings, despite opposition. At different times he brought along various queens, including Bambi L’Amour and Zazu Nova (who is cited by David Carter as being in the vanguard at the Stonewall riots). He had brought Boom Boom Santiago to an early meeting. “Here are the people that you’re supposed to be helping. Meanwhile they’re starving, they’re dying, they have no clothes, they have no food. They’re the ones who started the goddamn [Stonewall] riot”. Kohler’s appeal was actually met with hostility.

Only Sylvia Rivera had the staying power. Kohler was on the committee that organized GLF dances. He put Sylvia on door duty, where, even though often stoned, she fiercely collected and guarded the money.  However the queen known as Orphan Annie volunteered to distribute GLF leaflets in Greenwich Village, and gave one to lovers Arthur Evans and Arthur Bell – which led to them coming into the group.

There was an ongoing problem with homophobia within the Black Panthers. They had been confronted on this issue by GLF at a rally at New Haven on 1 May 1970. Shortly afterwards Panther Huey Newton published an admonishment that militant blacks should acknowledge their insecurities about homosexuality. The GLF was invited to send a delegation to a Panther convention in Philadelphia, and Sylvia was chosen as part of the delegation. Huey even remembered her from a demonstration in New York.

By this time GLF women were becoming impatient with the sexism of the men, and many of them left and founded Lavender Menace, which had a different fight after being excluded from the First and Second Congress to Unite Women.

New York GLF folded in 1971.

  • Martin Duberman. Stonewall. A Plume Book, 1993: 188-9, 219-32, 235-9, 246-53,
  • David Carter. Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution. St Martin’s Griffin, 2004: 213-232, 241-3.
  • Stephen L Cohen. The Gay Liberation Youth Movement in New York “An Army of Lovers Cannot Fail”. Routledge, 2008:
  • Lillian Faderman. The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle. Simon & Shuster, 2015: 194-201, 210-3, 228-232, 265, 343, 589.

14 June 2020

Queens Liberation Front (QLF)

The post-Stonewall activist organizations:

While QLF and STAR were run by trans women, trans women also played significant roles in GLF and GAA. 

Queens Liberation Front (QLF)
StreetTransvestite Action Revolutionaries. (also Part III of Sylvia Rivera)
Gay Liberation Front (GLF) - New York
Gay Activists Alliance (GAA)
Gay Liberation Front (GLF) - London

See also The Five Years Following Stonewall - A New York Timeline



The Queens Liberation Front was the major New York social and activist group for trans persons in the 1970s. It was founded in 1970 by the future Barbara De Lamere (using her stage name of Bunny Eisenhower – she was a member of the Ridiculous Theatrical Company), Lee Brewster (who later ran Lee’s Mardi Gras transvestite boutique), Bebe Scarpinato (a teacher), Vicky West (artist) and Chris Moore (a Jewel Box Revue performer).

Vicky, Chris and Lee met as members of the New York branch of the homophile Mattachine Society. Lee had been organizing drag balls as fund raisers for Mattachine, but had become dispirited given the Mattachine’s disinterest in drag and trans issues. Following the Stonewall riots in June 1969, it was time for a specifically trans group. Bebe joined soon afterwards.

Initially the group was called just Queens, and issued a prospectus declaring two goals.
1. RIGHT TO CONGREGATE;
In New York the license for a drag ball or rather dance permit stated that men dressed in the female attire were not to be permitted on the premises of said dance.
2. RIGHT TO DRESS AS WE SEE FIT …………………………………
We feel that the wearing of a particular article of clothing doesn't make one a criminal. We hope to get a ruling adopting the law presently used in the state of Hawaii. It has been interpreted to mean that one may wear the clothing of the opposite sex as long as he does not deceive others. If one wears a button stating that one is a male it takes away all criminal aspects of cross-dressing.

Shortly afterwards the name was changed to Queens Liberation Front.

The QLF participated in and contributed financially to the first Christopher Street Liberation Day Parade in June 1970 - the world's first gay pride march. They were advised by the parade committee that the police might arrest them if they were in drag. However as their raison d’etre was to change the law on that very issue, this was the best time to start doing so. As it went, the police were friendly and no-one was arrested.

Shortly afterwards they published the first issue of their magazine Drag, a magazine of Transvestism, which would run for over 10 years, reach a circulation of over 3,500, and was much more political than Female Mimics, Transvestia or the by then defunct Turnabout. The first edition opened with a call to arms:
“Each day, as I'm propagandizing the plight of the drag queen, I run into the attitude that drag or as the heterosexual transvites call it, dressing, will never be legalized here in the United States. Even the transvestite and drag queen, himself feels that way. What they don't realize is, that this was the exact attitude towards the legalization of homosexuality, 15 years ago. Today, with the legalization of homosexual acts between consenting adults in England, it is now a possible dream here in the States.
We are in our infancy, in gaining acceptance in that department. We hope to gain a lot from our homosexual brothers, who have unashamedly paved the way for us. Now, heterosexual, homosexual, part-time or full-time drag queen, it's time for us to come down off our 'queenly’ throne and go out amongst the 'common' people and let them know that we're really people, with very REAL feelings.
WE WANT OUR RIGHTS GIVEN US AS CITIZENS OF THESE UNITED STATES AND REFUSE TO BE MADE CRIMINALS ANY LONGER!
We ve got a long way to go, baby, until it's a possible dream for us; but we have to start sometime and somewhere.' Now is the time, as most attitudes are being challenged and we're getting onto the bandwagon and hope to have all of you jump on it with us. . … we're coming out! …' Fighting ..

Of course, the same issue also contained a discussion about the difference between ‘drag queen’ and ‘transvestite”; the Christopher Street Liberation Day Parade; John Hansen, the cis-het actor who played Christine Jorgensen in the film about her; the drag queen picket of the opening of John Osborne’s play, A Patriot for Me, on Broadway; photos of queens; and cartoons.

Vicky was the art director, and drew the cover pictures. Lee had been the initial editor, but as he became bored, Bebe took over. Linda Lee became the West Coast Editor.

In the mid-1960s, the New York State Liquor Authority had it in for bars that catered to gays and/or trans persons. A victory had been won on appeal by the Julius Restaurant, 159 West 10th Street in Greenwich Village, in 1966-7 with a ruling that having its licence suspended for serving homosexuals violated equal protection rights in the state and Federal constitutions. However problems remained as noted by Mattachine and Stonewall lawyer, Enid Gerling. Under city ordinances a bar or club could be closed and patrons arrested, simply because a single person, deemed to be cross-dressed, was present. In addition, Section 250.15 of the 1965 Anti-Mask: New York Penal Law (which is still in effect) criminalizes "the wearing of mask or disguises by three or more persons in a public place” however it is permitted “when it occurs in connection with a masquerade party or like entertainment if … permission is first obtained from the police or other appropriate agency.” However the application for the license specifically stated that “males dressed in female attire” were not to be admitted.  The QLF  and its lawyers pressed the city authorities on the matter. They also reminded them of a declaration by Mattachine a few years earlier:
“Drag queens and transvestites assume, quite rightly, that they will be welcome at any function given by a homosexual organization. Even if we wanted to exclude them, as the law says we should, we wouldn’t know how to. Most drag queens and transvestites, when they choose to mimic women, do it so well that it is impossible to know their genital sex without making a physical examination. Obviously, we cannot ask every apparent female who attends our parties to submit to a check of their genitalia.”
The ordinance that the bar be closed, and the anti-drag clause on the masquerade application were both struck. Furthermore the words "homosexuals, lesbians, or persons pretending to be ..." were also removed, thus decriminalising gay clubs and parties.

This was announced in Issue 6 of Drag Magazine. (Online) The first goal from the 1969 prospectus, the Right to Congregate, was declared achieved.

Lee Brewster announced that the 30 October 1970 QLF Halloween Ball was therefore the first ‘legal’ drag ball in New York.

Lee appeared at a Gay Activists Alliance meeting 18 November 1971, to complain that ‘straight homosexuals’ were willing to drop transvestites in their lobbying to outlaw discrimination in the hiring of homosexuals by city agencies. QLF testified before the New York City Council's General Welfare committee. The Gay Activist reported:
" 'Bebe' Scarpi, a transvestite in male attire, gave testimony on the minority group, he pointed out that transvestites used the men's room because they 'd been warned they would be subject to arrest if they entered the ladies room. And even transvestites had to heed the call of nature. Bebe, a student at Queens College, gave what amounted to a short course on the lifestyle and problems of transvestites with such charm, ready wit and intelligence, that even the Councilmen appeared beguiled. … Chairman Sharison seemed unable to comprehend that some transvestites were heterosexual. He wanted to know whether Bebe believed transvestites would be protected by Intro 475. 'Only as a homosexual, not as a transvestite', Bebe explained, and perhaps the councilman would care to enact legislation protecting the transvestite." (Quoted in Cohen p 150)
In 1973 the committee was still blocked in its attempt to pass a bill to ban discrimination against homosexuals in employment, housing and public accommodation. To get it passed, an amendment was proposed that nothing in the definition of sexual orientation “shall be construed to bear upon the standards of attire or dress code". Bebe, as QLF director, was put in the uncomfortable position of submitting to this wording or seeing the bill fail.

For the Christopher Street Liberation Day in June 1973, Bebe went to the 82 Club and got the showgirls, in full regalia to march behind an 82 Club banner. QLF and Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) were adjacent in the march. Sylvia Rivera’s impassioned speech for Gay Power was followed by Jean O’Leary of Lesbian Feminist Liberation who asserted biological sex, and that Sylvia was “a genital male”. She read a statement on behalf of 100 women that read, in part,
"We support the right of every person to dress in the way that she or he wishes. But we are opposed to the exploitation of women by men for entertainment or profit."
She was booed, and MC, Vito Russo, the film historian, asked the crowd to let her continue. Lee Brewster jumped onstage and responded,
"You go to bars because of what drag queens did for you, and these bitches tell us to quit being ourselves!”
The situation was calmed only when performer Bette Midler took to the stage and sang.

                                                               ---

The balls arranged by Lee and QLF were held at the Diplomat hotel on West 43rd Street and became so fashionable that the final one, in 1973, was attended by the real Jacqueline Susann, Carol Channing and Shirley MacLaine.

By 1980 Drag Magazine was including explicate photographs.

Lee Brewster continued his business Lee’s Mardi Gras, the largest retail concern in the US aimed at trans and drag persons. The business continued for over 30 years at various locations around Manhattan. It carried a large stock of clothes, prosthetics and books. In addition to individual clients, the shop supplied costumes for Broadway, television and movies, in particular To Wong Foo and The Birdcage.

Brewster continued to answer to ‘Mr’ in the style of old-time drag performers. He died in 2000 age 57 after a battle with cancer.

The thespian referred to as Bunny Eisenhower, who had previously been in a long-term gay relationship, gave up acting for a heterosexual marriage, but afterwards she completed transition in 1982 as Barbara de Lamere, and continued as an LGBT activist into the 1990s.

Chris Moore was a constant at QLF parties, but after a few years she was diagnosed with cancer. She was able to fight it for over five years. Lee Brewster put on a special ball for Chris so that she could perform and be the star, and Vicky drew her for the cover of Drag Magazine 3.11. She died in 1975.

Vicki West continued to work as a man in the art department at the publisher Henry N Abrams rising to be Executive Art Director. She contributed to Morris Louis: The Complete Paintings, The Art of Walt Disney, Windows at Tiffany’s, The History of Modern Art, Impressionism. She became a friend of photographer Mariette Pathy Allen and is featured in Allen’s 1989 book, Transformations. Vicky retired in 2000, died in 2005 age 70 and is interred at the US Military's Arlington National Cemetery.

Bebe Scarpinato worked as a school teacher and principal. She was also a stripper, and later worked at Lee’s Mardi Gras. She died in 2019, age 68. In addition to being director of the Queens Liberation Front (QLF), she was on the founding board of the National Gay Task Force and was active in planning the fourth Christopher Street Liberation Day, and was active in Gay Activists Alliance and Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries.


  • “Hail to Queens”. New York Mattachine Times. Nov 1970, 1,2,. Reprinted in Marc Stein (ed). The Stonewall Riots: A Documentary History. New York University Press, 2019: 240.
  • “Transvestite and Transsexual Liberation”. Gay Dealer, Dec 1970, 9. Reprinted in Marc Stein (ed). The Stonewall Riots: A Documentary History. New York University Press, 2019: 212.
  • Guy Charles. “Intro 475 Controversy: Won’t Be Sacrificial Lambs, Drags Vow” The Advocate, 22 Dec. 1971, 12. Reprinted in Marc Stein (ed). The Stonewall Riots: A Documentary History. New York University Press, 2019: 212: 260.
  • Arthur David Kahn. The Many Faces of Gay: Activists Who Are Changing the Nation. Praeger, 1997: 3, 15-20, 266-9.
  • Holly Brubach. Girlfriend: Men, Women, and Drag. Random House, 1999: 133-8.
  • Jack Nichols. “Lee Brewster Dies at 57: Pioneering Transvestite Activist”. Gay Today. 2000. Online.
  • Douglas Martin. “Lee Brewster, 57, Style Guru For World's Cross-Dressers”. New York Times May, 24, 2000. Online.
  • Stephen L. Cohen. The Gay Liberation Youth Movement in New York: An Army of Lovers Cannot Fail. Routledge, 2007: 9, 91, 94, 95-6, 142-5, 149, 150-2, 160, 246n28, 254n251,
  • JD Doyle. “Lee Brewster’s Mardi Gras Ball Ball 1972”. Queer Music Heritage. Online.
  • Marc Stein. Rethinking the Gay and Lesbian Movement. Routledge, 2012: 83, 87, 103, 113.
  • Marc Stein (ed). The Stonewall Riots: A Documentary History. New York University Press, 2019: 5, 187, 212-3, 240-2, 260, 296, 328n13.

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

There is no apostrophe on Queens Liberation Front, presumably because it was initially simply called Queens. There is no connotation of or reference to the New York borough called Queens – which also has no apostrophe.

Some books about Stonewall and its effects make no mention at all of the Queens Liberation Front: Stonewall (Duberman), Stonewall (Carter), In Search of Stonewall (Schneider – review), The Stonewall Reader (Bauman – review – This book totally ignores several other New York trans activists in addition to QLF, but finds room for Virginia Prince, from Los Angeles, to discuss being divorced by wife no 1, and marrying wife no 2).

There are two significantly different accounts of the Julius Bar court actions:

a) Duberman’s Stonewall p114-116, presents it as a Mattachine initiative. Three members tried several bars on 21 April 1966, announcing that they were homosexual and requesting alcoholic drinks. Several bars served them anyway, but the barman at Julius did not. Mattachine then filed a complaint with the State Liquor Authority (SLA), and announced that they would pay Julius’ legal fees. The SLA quickly announced that it would take no action, but the case was picked up by the Commission on Human Rights, and in 1967 an Appellate court ruled in their favor.

b) Crawford’s The Mafia and the Gays, p27-9, says otherwise. The Julius had been subjected to a NYPD visit 11 November 1965 with an officer reporting in very stereotyped and derogatory terms that a homosexual crowd frequented the bar. This resulted in a suspension of the Julius' liquor license on 1 April 1966. The bar management contested this as requiring them to violate equal protection rights in the constitution. The 1967 decision was an agreement with the argument put forth by the Julius management – which incidentally had supported the Mattachine ‘sip-in’ 21 April 1966.

10 June 2020

Some more unknowns

See also:   A miscellany of Unknowns
                  Transgender Surgery III: Untruths and Unknowns               

Dana Rivers, School Teacher, Trans Activist

In November 2016, an Oakland female couple, 56 and 57, and their 19-year-old son, died after being stabbed and shot. Their garage was set on fire. Rivers was arrested outside, covered in blood. She was charged with murder, arson and possession of metal knuckles. GVWW.

That was 3 and a half years ago. I still cannot find anything in the press explaining what happened. Justice delayed is justice denied, whether Rivers is guilty or otherwise. There should have been a trial by now. There should be explanations.

Masha Bast, lawyer, political activist

I wrote about Masha in July 2015. GVWW. She is a Russian lawyer who supported political and trans activists, and then transitioned. I described her as a hero.

But since then what has happened?  Googling brings up a few more recent articles from Russia that are abusive about her, but nothing else. What has happened to her?

Peter Fries, New York Plastic Surgeon (sometimes spelt Friess)

GVWW      Fries offered facial work and breast implants for transsexuals. His last nurse was Robyn Arnold, who was the last girlfriend of Diane Delia, and was charged with Delia's murder.

Diane Delia died 7 October 1981. Fries died a few days later.

Happenstance? Coincidence? Something else?

Did Harry Benjamin take US citizenship, and if so when?

When I wrote my biography of Benjamin I was unable to find any evidence that he actually took US Citizenship, and thus no statement of when: 1914, 1919, 1933, 1941, 1946 ??

While it is generally assumed that he did, there is no clear statement to that effect.

The only claim is by Susan Stryker on p25 of The Transgender Studies Reader: “Benjamin immigrated to the United States prior to World War I and became a US citizen”. No source is given. The statement would imply that he was a US citizen by August 1914. However this is certainly not true. Benjamin was a member of the Prussian Guard, and sort-of made an attempt to return to Germany to serve therein. Also he had been in the US on a work assignment - not as an immigrant. The war forced him to stay in New York.

28 May 2020

Malcolm Himschoot (1977 - ) pastor

​Himschoot was raised as a girl in Colorado, the middle child of three – but always felt like a third brother. They were raised on “church potlucks and belief that homosexuality – never mind transgender – was just awful” (quoted in Draper).

Intrigued by the lore of Emily Dickinson, Himschoot did a BA at Amherst College in Massachusetts, which led to an encounter with the United Church of Christ (UCC), and enabled a new-found mental wellness and a shedding of fundamentalist guilt and shame. After graduation Himschoot worked as a small-town journalist, but felt more inclined to give counsel and comfort than to write. While volunteering to help orphans in Guatemala, Himschoot realized a calling to be a minister.

The parents were devastated when told of his gender identity, but while they did not condone, they did not shun either. In 2000 Himschoot was accepted at Denver’s Iliff School of Theology, and in 2001 participated in a consultation for trans people in the UCC’s national LGBT Concerns Office in Cleveland. Also that year the UCC featured him in a documentary film, Call Me Malcolm, that followed him around the US meeting other trans people and talking about his faith.
“Some people hear, just by who I am, … the sermon about stepping into who God has called you to be, and understanding transformation even if it’s hard … I wasn’t really ready to do anything while I was going by the name of Miriam. I was sort of a lonely person, and I don’t think that’s a way to head into ministry. So I don’t think I, as Miriam, could have been a minister, or much of anything” (In Call Me Malcolm, quoted in Cornwall). 
He completed transition in 2002, taking the name Malcolm, and graduated and was ordained by the
UCC in 2004. In 2005 he married a female friend who knew his gender history. That year the UCC at its General Synod voted 80% in support of equal marriage, the first major US church to do so.  In 2007 Malcolm and his wife welcomed twin girls into their family.

Malcolm served as an associate pastor in Minneapolis, and as the Open and Affirming Coordinator for the United Church of Christ Coalition for LGBT Concerns. In 2012 he became an adjunct professor at the Iliff School of Theology. In 2019 he returned to being a full-time pastor at a church in Maine.
  • Joseph Parlagreco (dir). Call Me Malcolm, with Malcolm Himschoot, Matt Kailey, Calpernia Addams, Major Griffin-Gracy. US 90 mins 2005. IMDB .
  • “Q&A: Malcolm Himschoot”. The Advocate, August 30, 2005: 4. Online.
  • Malcolm Himschoot. “Action and Reflection: One Pastor’s Method of Creating Trans Day of Remembrence Liturgy”. In Marcella Althaus-Reid & Lisa Isherwood (eds). Trans/Formations (Controversies in Contextual Theology). SCM-Canterbury Press, 2009: 139-147.
  • Malcolm Himschoot. “fatherhood”. In Megan M.Rohrer and Zander Keig (eds). Letters for My Brothers: Transitional Wisdom in Retrospect. Wilgefortis, 2010.
  • Electa Draper. "Church's transgender pastor grateful for life 'beyond my wildest dreams'". The Denver Post, 03/14/2011. www.denverpost.com/news/ci_17608273.
  • Susannah Cornwall. Sex and Uncertainty in the Body of Christ: Intersex Conditions and Christian Theology. Routledge, 2014: 132-3, 146.
  • Malcolm Himschoot. “Gender Going Forward (and Back Again”. In Megan Rohrer & Zander Keig (eds). Manifest: Transitional Wisdom on Male Privilege. Lulu, 2016: 121- 4.

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26 May 2020

Jeffrey McCall (1988 - ) Christian organizer

All bible quotations from the King James Bible.

McCall, from Franklin Springs, Georgia, identified as gay from age 15. By age 18 he was living in Nashville:
"I just partied and would shop, and that was my life, shopping, partying, and whoever was my boyfriend at the time. I was addicted to drugs. I was taking a ton of Xanax and smoking crystal meth.” 
He then returned to Georgia to attend college, and by the time he graduated at age 27 was using the name Scarlet, and identified as a trans women. He started doing drag shows and living as Scarlet and as such was actively sexual, and was drinking heavily. He threatened suicide and spent two days in a psychiatric ward. McCall obtained a psychiatrist’s diagnosis of ‘gender dysphoria’, but had not started on hormones.

In secret he was also listening to and watching preachers on television or online, particularly Jentezen Franklin. In March 2016 he had a religious experience and felt that Franklin’s god had a mission for him. By June he had thrown away all the aspects of Scarlet:
“All the hair, makeup, jewelry, clothes, shoes, everything. I just threw my life as I knew it away. It was an encounter with the Lord.” 
He made a Facebook video about acknowledging Jesus Christ as his saviour and cut ties with his previous life. He lost friends and some family, and had peace and joy.

He has organized “Freedom Marches” in various US cities, proclaiming that people gain “freedom from homosexual/transgender lifestyles by the grace and power of Jesus Christ”.  He insists that this is not a type of Conversion Therapy:
"It's not about conversion therapy. It's about following the Holy Spirit. And as I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ, I changed. My ideas of who I was changed. The Lord showed me that He created me as Jeffrey McCall and He showed me how much He loved me specifically as Jeffrey." (Christian Post, 2018)
McCall is inspired by the death of Jezebel (2 Kings 9:30-36), wherein a rebellious army commander, Jehu, having murdered his king, intends to kill the king's mother, Jezebel, who had stood up for religious diversity against the monolatrous Yahwists:
"And he lifted up his face to the window, and said, Who is on my side? who? And there looked out to him two or three eunuchs. And he said, Throw her down. So they threw her down: and some of her blood was sprinkled on the wall, and on the horses: and he trode her under foot."   
To this he adds Isaiah 56:4-5
"For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off."  
and Matthew 19:12: 
"For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it."
He identifies 'eunuchs' with LGBT persons, and comments:
"The Lord spoke to my heart that eunuchs born that way are those who were set apart by God from the womb to minister to God. They are to continually minister to his heart, and He to them. They were set apart not to be touched by any other humans. They were not created for marriage and the typical family life.  Then the Lord shared with me revelation of where they are today. The Lord spoke to me again, saying, 'Many eunuchs are trapped in the LGBTQ community.' He showed me that not all in the LGBTQ community are born eunuchs, but that many eunuchs are trapped in those lifestyles under deception from the enemy."(Charisma 2019)
In 2018 McCall published his memoirs.


*not the boxer, nor the media critic.
  • “Jeffrey McCall: From Transgender to Transformed by God”. CBNnews, 04-29-2019. Online.
  • Brandon Showalter. “Former Transwoman, Gay Male Prostitute Shares New Life in Christ”. The Christian Post, May 04, 2018. Online
  • Sam Damshenas. “Ex-LGBTQ activists humiliated after only 36 people show up to gay conversion therapy march”. Gay Times, 8th May 2018. Online.
  • Peter Montgomery. “Ex-Gay ‘Freedom March’ Organizer: Trump’s Jehu Anointing Opens Door for ‘Trapped’ LGBTQ Eunuchs to Defeat Jezebel”. Right Wing Watch, August 23, 2019. Online.
  • Jeffrey McCall. For Such a Time: From Transgender to a Son of God. Jeffrey McCall, 2018. 
  • Jeanne Gossett Halsey. The Emperor has no Clothes!. Lulu, 2019: 128-9.
  • Jeffrey McCall.  "Prophetic Word: Eunuchs Trapped in LGBT Community Will Overthrow Jezebel".  Charisma, Aug 2019,  Online.  
------------

Others would observe that like many religious fundamentalists, Jeffrey not only relies on questionable interpretations of scripture, but also alleges personal communications from his god supporting his views. None of this is provable, and, we might observe,  this would appear to be a very different religion from that of Fran Bennett, even if both call their gods by the same name. 


18 May 2020

Fran Bennett (195?-) monk, spiritual guide


Francis Bennett did a BA in Philosophy at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio, and then a two-year chaplaincy residency in the Ohio Health Hospital system. He then entered the Trappist Abbey of Gethsemane, Kentucky in 1981 and in the 90’s subsequently lived at a “daughter house” of Gethsemane in Moncks Corner, South Carolina. And then after that a small urban monastery in Montrรฉal. Bennett has been a “spiritual seeker” throughout, practicing in the Christian mystical/contemplative Tradition and inspired by the Christian mystic, Thomas Merton, and working deeply with teachers in both the Theravadan Vipassana and the Zen traditions of Buddhism as well as the Advaita-Vedanta teachings of Ramana Maharshi;. In 2010 he experienced a profound perceptual “shift” in which he realized the ever-present presence of pure Awareness.

Bennet then left monastic orders, and came to see that this awareness is actually the unchanging essence of who one really is and has always been; the Supreme Self, talked about by many sages and saints from many spiritual traditions down through the ages.

In 2013 Bennett published a book: I Am That I Am, described by reviews as simple and straightforward, yet profound.

Bennett then travelled and taught, lead residential retreats and weekend events in the US, Ireland, the UK and elsewhere in Europe, and also wrote and recorded a series of online courses.

She transitioned to female 2016-7. This was announced on Facebook 16 November 2016.
“God created humankind in the divine image … both male and female (Genesis 1:27). So God as Creator is both father and mother. God is both male and female. God is fully androgynous……God is therefore trans-gender if you will… 
I believe that we LGBTQI persons can be considered to be special gifts of God not in spite of, but precisely BECAUSE we are different and don’t fit within normally accepted societal gender or sexual attraction categories. We have been rejected by the leaders of most organized religions. Simply to survive emotionally and spiritually, we have been often forced to look more deeply into the meaning of life than the average person who fits in more easily. Our rejection by mainstream religions causes many of us to question the basic tenets of these religions in order to determine what fits for us and what does not. Though not always, this in turn can sometimes result in a higher level of spiritual consciousness. . . . Because our very survival depends on it, we who are different must question all these things. As survivors of this painful process, we are perhaps better able to tap into the true nature of God/Source/Consciousness, and the intended relationship of humanity with this absolute Reality.” (Bennett in Science & Non-Duality, and quoted in Horsley)
Fran has since then been involved in spiritual outreach to LGBTQI communities, as well as others interested in an inclusive study of the mystical forms of Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism. She regards being trans as just one part of her own journey, which she describes as a quest of the spirit.

“In that journey and process we do not necessarily need to reject spirituality or religion altogether. But we do need to reject the patriarchal, misogyny and sexism that has defined virtually all religious hierarchies and structures, both in the East and the West from time immemorial.”

*There is another trans woman with the same name: Fran Bennett the celebrity DJ in Phoenix and Los Angeles.
  • Rick Archer. “133. Francis Bennett”. BatGap, August 7, 2012. Online.
  • Francis Bennett. I Am That I Am: Discovering the Love, Peace, Joy and Stability of the True Self. Non-Duality, 2013.
  • Jim Morekis. “Renowned mystic leads two-day event at UU Church”. Connect Savannah, November 29, 2017. Online.
  •  Jasun Horsley. “The Rise of the Dream-State, part 3 of 3: Trans-Culture, Paraphilias, Non-Duality, & Corporate Cures for Alienation”. Auticulture, 12 June 2017. Online.
  • Francis Bennett. “What Does Being Transgender, Intersexed, Lesbian or Gay Have To Do With Spirituality Anyway?”. Science & Non-Duality, no date. Online.

Finding Grace at the Center (archive)       Francis Bennett Europe (archive)

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Francis has stayed with the male spelling: not Frances.

I am that I am” is the standard English translation of the name given by Yahweh or perhaps the Elohiym in Exodus 3:14. This is not the same as “I am what I am” as per Greta Garbo, Popeye, the Village People, a song in the musical version of La Cage aux Folles and a defiant cry from many who are queer.