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!

28 April 2020

Two Snapshots

Some people are featured once in the press, and never heard of again.

Lorraine Campbell-Craig

Lorraine, originally from New South Wales, met and was inspired by Coccinelle (presumably in Paris) in the 1950s, and then found work “travelling with theatrical shows through Egypt and Italy” and arrived in London in 1957. She worked as the manager of a bistro, and saved up the £700 needed for sex-change surgery. However her voice gave her away, and by 1966 and she descended into drugs and sex work while living in Manchester.

This much was featured in the Sunday People in November 1967, at a time when she was down.

Lorrains on Cross's blog
There is also a blog post from Peter Cross remembering a club on Sydney’s Oxford Street called Capriccios or simply Caps, where the featured performer was a Lorraine Campbell-Craig, “one of the great personalities of Oxford Street”.

He describes her:
"Lorraine was also a very, very large woman… to say the least, how she made it up the stairs I was never sure but this was her throne. Her history is shrouded in myth and mists of time. Some say she was on the run from the police in Britain, although I doubt she could have run anywhere very fast or far, others say she was just a local girl who liked a frock. One or two people know the truth; sometimes the stories are better than the facts.” 
Cross does not give a date, but I assume that it was the 1970s.

  • Alwyn Thomas. “The Tragic Case of the Woman Who was Once Called Donald”. The People, 5/11/1967: 7. Online.
  • Peter A Cross. “Riah, eek and slap… bona… must be Caps”., 1 October 2009. Online.

Stephen Goad (1929 - 1990)

Goad, from Birmingham, Alabama, worked as a nurse pre-transition, and was married for a while, but was divorced in 1953. He had surgeries in April and June 1960, and then in September, in Miami, legally changed his name. He was living with a common-law wife, mainly working as a cab driver, and doing some free-lance writing. The journalist described him as “an admitted genius and unpublished novelist”.

However it seems that he never was published, at least not under the name Stephen Goad.  He died age 60, in Florida. 

  • Gene Miller. "Once a Bride. and Now a Man". The Miami Herald, 1 Sep 1960:30.  
  • “Sex Change Is revealed by ‘Genius’ “. Sarasota Journal, 2 September 1960.
  • Kyle Phalen.  Email.  2 November 2023.

25 April 2020

Remembering the Cockettes

The Cockettes, the way-out San Francisco performance troope 1969-1972 features lots of drag, cross-dressing and dressing up.   Two of its members, Dahlia McGowan and Bobbi Cameron later transitioned. 

Sylvester James was also a member .   He went on to be a disco star and is especially remembered for "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)", but remained faithful to his drag heritage until his death from AIDS at age 41.

Dahlia, despite being an alumna from the American Conservatory Theatre, had to work as a stripper after surgery.  She married, but her husband died in a bike accident.

Bobbi was in  two of the Cockettes films: she played the lead role in Tricia’s Wedding, 1971, and was Cynthia in Elevator Girls in Bondage, 1972.   She was then in Alejandro Jodorowsky's cult movie The Holy Mountain, and was assistant to actress Judy Carne.    Finally, after surgery she married either a cop or a dentist in Las Vegas, and became the lead showgirl at the Tropicano.

Here is a photograph of Bobbi.

courtesy of Clay Geerdes

This is found of p327 of new luscious 50-year anniversary tribute to the troope, which has lots of pictures, and cuttings, and even more pictures.

  • Fayette Hauser. The Cockettes—Acid Drag & Sexual Anarchy, 1969-1972. Process Media, 2020. 

16 April 2020

Szecsődi Kári (1992 - ) singer

Szecsődi was born in Balatonkenesén, Hungary at the northern end of Lake Balaton to a dynasty of circus performers and musicians, and was singing onstage with mother’s band before starting school.

In 2007 mother died in a car accident, and Szecsődi descended into depression and drugs. With the help of the Szecsődi family, father and siblings, Szecsődi entered the 2008 Megasztar, the talent search program on Hungary’s TV2. 10,000 applied, and Szecsődi came 7th.

In 2011, as Kári she came out as trans in a television interview. She defined herself as “not a boy, not a girl, not straight, not bisexual, not gay, just me”. She had top surgery in 2012.

After the failure of her single in 2016, she has been living abroad with a US boyfriend and doing erotic work.

  • Orbán Violetta. “A Megasztár énekese nem kellett a TV2-nek - Ezért nem került a Sztárban Sztár leszek! Adásába” Femina, 2019.09.18 . Online. Translation.

13 April 2020

La Paloma - a nightclub outside Miami

Miami was not very observant of the alcohol prohibition laws when they were in force, and when they ended in 1933, it was ready to expand and to entertain the tourists who were coming in greater numbers.  It was in competition with Havana, and the newly available airplanes allowed tourists to go to Havana without stopping in Miami. While New York City closed down the Pansy Craze after the repeal of alcohol prohibition, would-be tourists were informed that it was not so in Miami.

La Paloma (=the dove) was a nightclub located on NW 79th Street, then an unincorporated part of Dade County. It featured strippers, female impersonators, off-color jokes. Kofoed commented of the clientele that you could find “homosexuals in evening gowns, trousered lesbians, and prostitutes”, and that performers “solicited customers for normal or abnormal sex practices”. The club was run by Al Youst (1902 -1973), an entrepreneur with an arrest record: for intercourse with a minor, selling liquor without a proper license, assault and battery, and burglary in New Jersey and Baltimore. Judge William Smathers of Atlantic City had released him after several months in jail on condition that he leave New Jersey: “Go away. Go a long ways away. Go to some place like Florida.”

Not all in the county related to what Miami was becoming. In 1935 several dozen neighbors demonstrated, calling for La Paloma to be shut down. One called it a menace to the community’s health because “women and liquor prevail[ed]” without a proper license.

On Monday15 November 1937 there was a gathering of nearly 200 members of the local Ku Klux Klan wearing their standard long white hooded robes, and several dozen new members were inducted. They burned a fiery cross on public property. Then they charged into La Paloma. The band kept playing, figuring that it was all part of an act. However the intruders smashed furniture and musical instruments. They roughed up some of the performers and the staff. They told everyone to leave, and threatened to burn the place down.

However The Miami Herald affirmed:
“Law enforcement has not been turned over to the Ku Klux Klan in Dade County”. 
The raid also made national news. The New York Times commented:
“Every civic club of the Miami area is sure to approve the Klan’s militant stand against too rough divertissement which has characterized the city’s night life from 1934”, 
and also opined that “once-famous hot spots” in Miami would now be unavailable.

Life Magazine, Nov 15, 1937
The Dade County sheriff declared the club to be a menace, and ordered that the club remain closed. However it did re-open. Two weeks after the KKK raid, the sheriff and his men themselves raided the club.  This time the club again re-opened after two days. Youst vowed La Paloma would “reopen with spicier entertainment than ever.” He even incorporated actors dressed as KKK in the skits.

In July 1939 there was another police raid on La Paloma, and they arrested “four men employed . . . to wear feminine clothes and impersonate women in songs and dances”. None of the four appeared in court – they were represented by the club’s attorney, Fred Pine, who entered pleas of guilty. They were to pay a fine of $25 or serve “30 days on charges of vagrancy”. The one exception was an impersonator whose male name was Robert Trent, who appeared personally and was freed on a directed verdict.

The tourist industry was for a while too important. Sporadic raids continued in response to public nuisance charges to placate conservative residents, but in no way did the police attempt to eradicate such clubs. Indeed almost all raids were during the tourist off-season. For the clubs it was a cost of doing business.

In March 1940 Federal agents raided La Paloma. Youst was arrested on two “white slavery” charges for bringing in five young (17-year-old) women from Chattanooga, Tennessee and jailed when he was unable to supply a $20,000 bond. Other employees were released after signing affidavits. One of the transported five, Evelyn Clark, had become Mrs Youst.

Assistant district attorney, George Smathers, nephew of the Judge in Atlantic City, co-prosecuted both Al and Evelyn Youst. Al Youst, supposedly suffering from tuberculosis, attended the trial on a stretcher; Evelyn bottle-fed their child in the courtroom until the judge barred the crying child. Al spoilt his act by rising to enter a not-guilty plea. When the subpoenaed employees, mainly young attractive women, testified about exotic dances and after-hours activities, the judge banned all observers from the courtroom, and newspapers said that “testimony went beyond all printable bounds”.

Fred Pine, the Yousts’ attorney, argued that the charges were hypocritical.  “If they’re going to clean up Miami why is this the only club they pick on? Is it because Al Youst wouldn’t turn rat and save himself by giving false testimony against the sheriff?” – referring to graft charges against the local police. Youst had refused to testify that the police had accepted bribes in exchange for permitting continued operation. The prosecution’s case centered on a $25 check sent to Evelyn’s mother endorsed by Youst and Pine. That and testimony about activities at La Paloma led to guilty verdicts. Evelyn got four years; Al eight.

The club closed down after this arrest. The attorney, Fred Pine, who had worked for Al Capone in 1929, and later been the Dade County solicitor before working for Youst was also convicted on similar charges the next year.

It is said that one of the cops later dated one of the impersonators and escorted her to the annual policeman’s ball – and took her there in a patrol wagon.

  • “The Ku Klux Klan Raise a Miami Hot Spot”. Life, 15 Nov 1937. Online.
  • “La Paloma ‘Artists’ Handed $25 Fines: Four Plead Guilty to Vagrancy Allegations”. The Miami News, 26 Jul 1939: 2. Online.
  • “G-Men Stage Miami White Slave Raid: La Paloma Club Closed and Manager Held in $20,000 Bond”. The Evening Independent, Mar 27, 1940. Online.
  • Jack Kofoed. Moon Over Miami. Random House, 1955: 229.
  • William Peirce Randel. The Ku Klux Klan: a century of infamy. Chilton Books, 1965: 225.
  • Brian Lewis Crispell. Testing the Limits: George Armistead Smathers and Cold War America. University of Georgia Press, 1999: 6-8.
  • John A Stuart & John F Stack. The New Deal in South Florida: Design, Policy, and Community Building, 1933-1940. University Press of Florida, 2008: 56.
  • Melanie Shell-Weiss. Coming to Miami: A Social History. University Press of Florida, 2009: 120.
  • Paul Chartrand. Seeing Red: Paranoia, Politics, and McCarthyism in the 1950 Florida Democratic Primary for the US Senate. Florida Gulf Coast University, 2013: 34-5
  • Julio Capó Jr. Welcome to Fairy Land: Queer Miami before 1940. The University of North Carolina Press, 2017: 232-3, 252, 263, 267-271, 277-8.
  • Julio Capó Jr. “Why a Forgotten KKK Raid on a Gay Club in Miami Still Matters 80 Years Later”. Time, November 28, 2017. Online.
  • Brittany Shammas. “Five Moments in Miami’s LGBTQ History, From 1937 to 2015”. Miami New Times, March 12, 2019. Online.


Youst and Pine sent $25 to Evelyn's mother.   Five young women, so $5 each.  According to this inflation calculator, $5 in 1939 is worth $92.85 now.  Chatanooga-Miami is a bit less than 800 miles/1300 km.   So the money was probably for bus fare, with very little left over.

The racist term 'white slave traffic act' was used as a nickname for the The Mann Act, 1910, which was "An Act to further regulate interstate and foreign commerce by prohibiting the transportation therein for immoral purposes of women and girls, and for other purposes".   While that wording says nothing about race, the act was use to interfere with with interracial relationships and also premarital and extramarital relationships.   Jack Johnson, the black boxer, was charged in 1912 with violating the Mann Act due to traveling with his white girlfriend, Lucille Cameron, who refused to cooperate with the prosecution and whom he married soon thereafter.  In 1941 Charlie Chaplin ended his affair with Joan Barry and bought her a train ticket to New York.  For this he was charged under the Mann Act. As Wikipedia puts it: "The penalties would be applied to men whether or not the woman involved consented and, if she had consented, the woman could be considered an accessory to the offense". 

So the Yousts were convicted in that Youst and Pine had sent bus fare combined with "after-hours activities".   Evelyn would seem to have consented in that she ended up as the boss's wife - although nothing is said about the other four. 


So we have the irony that a mixed queer-straight night club was raided for being queer and kept going.   But was finally closed when the boss was convicted of a technical infraction of a law about heterosexuality.

We might also mention the novel The Saint in Miami, 1940 by Leslie Charteris.   On p136, the protagonist goes to a nightclub with the fictional name of Palmleaf Fan which may well be inspired by La Paloma.
"And he realised that there were some things about the clientele of the Palmleaf Fan which were more than somewhat queer.
He wasn’t thinking of the more obvious queernesses, either; although it dawned on him in passing that some of the groups of highly made-up girls who sat at inferior tables with an air of hoping to be invited to better ones were a trifle sinewy in the arms and neck, while on the other hand some of the delicate-featured young men who sat apart from them were too well-developed in the chest for the breadth of their shoulders. Those eccentricities were standard of the honky-tonks of Miami."

11 April 2020

Anita Verig Sandor (1934 - ) usherette, housewife

As Anita later told her tale to the News of the World:

Her parents in Hungary raised her as a girl, and sent her to school as such, even during the war. When she was 15 she found her birth certificate that said that she was a boy.  She was told to shut up and not ask questions.

After leaving school, she worked as a female in a factory. She found her first boyfriend and told him she was different from other girls. He said that he also had a proper girlfriend and now could have the best of both worlds.

When the Hungarian Uprising began in October 1956, Anita was afraid of being raped by the Russians, so she cut her hair, dressed in some of her father’s clothes and fled to the West. Sandor was shot in the knee, and was two months in hospital before getting to England. Sandor found work in a London hotel stillroom. He met and married a French women in 1959.  They had two sons, but separated after four years, and were divorced in 1967, with  the wife retaining custody of the children.

Anita returned to living as a woman. She was working as a cinema usherette when she met 17-year-old Peter, a building labourer.  They socialised and went on holidays with the other building workers. The major problem was his parents who objected to Anita being so much older.

She had applied for a sex-change operation as it was then known. Peter accepted this and they were able to get a council flat in Islington, north London.  In 1976 they decided to get married at an Anglican church in Hackney. She explained that she had lost her birth certificate in flight from Hungary. So they had to go to a solicitor and swear a declaration that she was Anita Verig Sandor born in 1940.

There were 50 guests at the wedding, and the vicar attended the reception.  All went well until somebody told the News of the World - three years later.

However even the article in that paper finished on a positive note with Peter declaring
“But whatever happens in the future our ambition is to continue to be as happy as we are now.  If anything ever happens to Anita, I know that I’d never marry again.”

  • Ray Chapman. “Secret of the bride in white: she’s the father of two sons”. The News of the World, 25 March 1979. Online.

As readers of the books by Peter Farrer will know, parents cross-raising a child was considered a cause of adult transgender in the 1920s and 1930s.  However it was a very unusual claim by the 1970s.

I was rather naughty of Anita to drop six years from her age.

It is not mentioned whether Anita was making child support payments.

I presume that she was going to the Charing Cross Gender Clinic.  There were very few alternatives in 1976.

09 April 2020

Michelle-Lael Norsworthy (1964 - ) convicted of murder

​After high school, as Jeffrey, Norsworthy became a police informer, joined the army national guard, ran around town inebriated, and carried a loaded gun.
“I was an extremely aggressive, non-thinking person. I did anything I could to suppress my femininity”. 
One night in 1984 Norsworthy, then 20, encountered a man in a bar in Fullerton (close to Los Angeles) whom he had helped bust in a drug deal years before.  They argued, first in the bar, then in the parking lot, and Norsworthy got a gun from his car.  It went off three times, nicking the man’s femoral and carotid arteries.  Norsworthy began dressing his wounds as help was summoned. The man died six weeks later.

Norsworthy was sentenced in 1987 to 17 years to life in prison for second degree murder. Norsworthy takes full responsibility for the murder –
“the crime I committed I’m responsible for. I’m not trying to mitigate that in any way”. 
Most of Norsworthy’s 28 years incarceration was spent in Mule Creek state prison in Ione, California. Most of the first years were violent: fights, self-mutilation, etc. It was not until 1994 that Norsworthy was able to put a name to various feelings. A prison psychiatrist, or maybe the priest, used the term ‘transsexual’. Norsworthy looked it up in a dictionary and it clicked.

She came out and started expressing as female – she now declared her name to be Michelle-Lael. However it took many years of agitation before she was transferred to Vacaville, the only California prison with a Gender Clinic.  She was diagnosed with gender dysphoria in 1999, and it was another year after that before she was allowed female hormones. She requested a bra, was denied, appealed and was so allowed.

In 2009, again in Mule Creek, she was gang-raped with the prison guards doing nothing. This left her with broken teeth and Hepatitis C – for the latter she was not allowed any treatment.

Finally in 2012 her psychologist recommended gender-affirmation surgery – however he was quickly transferred to another prison. In 2013 Norsworthy was again denied parole as “a danger to society”.

In 2014 she filed a lawsuit, arguing that denying her surgery was cruel and unusual punishment. In addition one doctor added that, without surgery, her already damaged liver would suffer from the high dose of hormones – after surgery they could be reduced.   In April 2015 U.S. District Court Judge Jon Tigar agreed, ordering California to provide her transition surgery. This was a groundbreaking decision. Norsworthy was the first person incarcerated in California to get such a ruling.
Michelle-Lael in prison, 2015

All of a sudden she was returned quickly – two years early - to the parole board because of  "a change in circumstances or new information” and parole was granted – officially this was recognition of Norsworthy’s model behaviour: she hadn’t been written up for a disciplinary infraction for years. The same day the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation filed a motion to toss out Judge Tigar’s opinion, arguing that since she’d been paroled, the ruling was moot. The Transgender Law Center, who were representing her, went back to court, arguing the state was trying to make the precedent (not to mention the cost of surgery) go away by releasing her.

In August 2015 the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation agreed with Shiloh Quine, 56, also suing for transgender surgery, that it would pay, but only if all parties agreed that no precedent was being set.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals did rule that the timing of Norsworthy’s release implied “there was at least some chance that the defendants influenced the parole process.” Norsworthy’s case was allowed to set legal precedent for other inmates.

After release Michelle-Lael, aged 52 after 28 years in prison, initially lived in a halfway house in San Francisco for female drug addicts. Although she had been sober for more than 20 years, it was the only place that would take her. She was then able to receive treatment for Hepatitis C. She is sort of cured but has permanent damage to her liver.

She had affirmative surgery in 2017 provided by Medi-Cal. She has been attempting to setup a charity to help trans persons and other women in San Francisco.

The California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation announced a new policy in 2015 re trans prisoners, and a few were even granted surgery, but most were not.  A 30-page guidance document was released in March 2020 that aligns more closely to WPATH criteria, and permits primary care doctors to prescribe hormones.

  • Ed Pilkington. “'Prison within prison': a transgender inmate's years-long battle for treatment”. The Guardian, 26 July 2015. Online.
  • “Transgender convicted murderer, 51, seeking sex-reassignment surgery whilst in jail will now be RELEASED from prison after serving 28 years of her sentence”. The Daily Mail, 7 August 2015. Online.
  • Bob Egalko. “Transgender pioneer out of prison, on a new path”. San Francisco Chronicle, March 19, 2016. Online.
  • Annie Brown. “Michelle’s Case”. The California Sunday Magazine, May 17, 2016. Online.
  • Jacob Anderson-Minshall. “This Trans Ex-Con Helped Make History” Advocate, March 07 2017. Online.
  • Chris Johnson.  “Calif. prison system updates policy on trans inmates as scrutiny grows”.  Washington Blade, March 11, 2020. Online.