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30 September 2020

Trans London in the 1960s: part III - 1968-1971

Part I: 1960-3
Part III: 1968-71


After a long wait, during which Peter Stirling had worked as a female bus conductor and a store detective, her divorce became final, she had her hysterectomy, started taking male hormones, started wearing male clothes. He took the name 'Peter' which his mother had said would have been his name if born male. The hospital arranged for a national insurance card, medical card and tax form in his new name, and also arranged for the Australian High Commission to issue a new passport, but the High Commission informed them that birth certificates were never altered. Mrs Branch commented: “[This] I think is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard! It's a pity you weren't British, there would be no hassle here.” Peter married co-worker Jennifer in an Anglican Church.

Private Eye magazine jested that if Morris were invited to a function 'dressed informally', it was Jan who was expected. With the support of wife Elizabeth, Morris lived as a woman in Oxford, but travelled the British Empire androgynously, sometimes being taken as male, and sometimes as female. Jan was issued a new passport 'without any indication of sex at all'. Word of course got around. Morris' old tutor at Christ Church College had heard from a colleague at Harvard before being told directly. Some in London knew of Jan but others only of James. At their other home in Pwllheli, Gwynedd in North Wales, Jan and Elizabeth presented as sisters-in-law to explain why two women had the same surname.

Despite having completed transition, ventriloquist and magician Terri Rogers appeared in the drag review Boys Will be Girls at the Theatre Royal Stratford East.

Jean Fredericks and Ron Storme started to organize five or more drag balls a year in London, mainly at the Porchester Hall. Legend has it that gangsters, the Krays, had suggested what turned into the drag balls.

The future Petra Henderson had a short gig as a DJ/news reader on a pirate radio station under the name Anne Kennedy.

Charlotte Bach was more or less living full-time as female.

David Palmer was introduced to the band Jethro Tull and did orchestral arrangements for them.

Grant Williams, urologist, joined the staff at Charing Cross. He would later object to transgender surgery.

27 April: The Abortion Act came into effect.

May: the Kray twins and their associates were finally arrested, and interviewed separately until one agreed to co-operate. The operation was conducted by Detective Chief Superintendent Nipper Read after a new Police Commissioner was in place, and Read insisted on conducting the entire operation away from Scotland Yard itself. The trial was in March 1969. Both twins were found guilty and sentenced to a non-parole period of 30 years – the longest sentences ever passed. Ronnie died in prison; Reggie was released in 2000 and died a few weeks later.

July: Lord Chamberlain's authority to license plays was finally abolished by the Theatres Act, 1968. The London premiere of the musical Hair was delayed until this was in effect.

December: James Callaghan directed that Ewan Forbes be entered in the Roll of Baronets. Ewan Forbes was to assume the Scottish Baronetcy after the death of his elder brother in 1965. His cousin, John Alexander Cumnock Forbes-Semphill, had contested the inheritance on the grounds that Ewan was female. The court case in May 1967 was technically in the Scottish Court of Session, although held in a solicitor’s office and no papers were filed. The result was that Forbes inherited the title and the estate. No decision or judgement was ever issued, and no Press report of the case was therefore possible. The case was then referred to the Home Secretary (the future Prime Minister), James Callaghan in London. Callaghan, after consulting with the Lord Advocate, directed in December 1968 that Ewan should be entered in the Roll of Baronets as The 11th Baronet of Craigievar and The 20th Lord Semphill, Sir Ewan Forbes of Craigievar. All public records of these events were removed, although knowledge survives in newspaper archives. The case was not available as a legal precedent – in particular April Ashley’s barrister in Corbett vs Corbett was forbidden to mention it. The Statement to the press was simply: 

"In an effort to settle the dispute Dr Forbes and his cousin agreed to make use of the summary procedure available under Section 10 of the Administration of Justice (Scotland) Act. 1933. and to petition the Court Session for a finding as to whether Mr John Forbes-Sempill was the heir-male. After evidence had been heard in Chambers the court found that- Mr Forbes-Sempill was not the heir-male."


An appeal against the ban on Last Exit to Brooklyn was issued by the writer John Mortimer and resulted in a reversal of the ruling. This, following the trial of Lady Chatterley’s Lover some years earlier, led to a relaxation in British censorship of books.

Gaiety Box Revue, produced by Jack Lawrence, with drag artists Rogers & Starr and Larry Grayson. It ran 3 months at Stratford East.

  • “Sir Ewan gets the verdict: on the roll as eleventh baronet”. The Press and Journal, December 4, 1968: 1.
  • May –The Beatles: “Ob La Di, Ob La Da“ track on the White Album. " Desmond stays at home and does his pretty face/ And in the evening she's a singer with the band." Wikipedia
  • James Morris. Pax Britannica: The Climax of Empire. Faber and Faber, 1968. Published under Jan’s male name, although she had started transition.
  • Roy Ward Baker (dir). The Anniversary. Scr: Jimmy Sangster, based on the play by Bill MacIlwraith, with Bette Davis as Mrs Taggart and James Cossins as Henry. UK Hammer 95 mins 1968. A dysfunctional family in the construction business. As in the stage version, we are told that Henry is a transvestite, but never see him in a dress, but we do see him stealing female underwear from washing lines. Wikipedia.
  • Robert Aldrich (dir) The Killing of Sister George. Scr: Lukas Heller based on the play by Frank Marcus, with Beryl Reid. US 138 mins 1968. The radio soap has become a television soap. A very British story filmed in Los Angeles. The lesbian content is much more explicit and includes scenes in the real Gateway nightclub, Chelsea. Wikipedia
  • Roger Baker. Drag: a History of Female Impersonation on the Stage. Triton Books, 1968. The performativity end of the spectrum. Features tales of impersonators who later transitioned, but also many who did not.
  • Donald Zec. “Well, there was this railwayman called Yvonne ..: Donald Zec looks at the Drag trade”. Daily Mirror, September 26, 1968: 9.
  • Quentin Crisp. The Naked Civil Servant. Jonathan Cape, 1968. Autobiography of a flamboyant gender queer, definitely not homonormative, who was flouting gender norms as early as the 1930s. The book would be filmed in 1975 and make him into a media star.
  • Scott Walker. Scott 2. LP 1968. 3 tracks arranged and conducted by Wally Stott(the future Angela Morley), including the single “Jackie” which contains ‘authentic queers and phony virgins’ and which was banned by the BBC.
  • Shirley Bassey. Love for Sale. LP 1968. Arranged by Wally Stott.
  • Jethro Tull. This Was. LP 1968. French horn and orchestral arrangements by David Dee Palmer.


January: a medical article in the doctors' weekly newspaper, Pulse International, compared Georgina Somerset to Christine Jorgensen as being transsexual, "implying that I was homosexual, would have had breast implants, electrolysis and was probably not legally married, I had no choice but to instigate libel proceedings for, indeed, all these premises were totally false". The proceedings continued for two years.

January: The photograph of the engagement of Dawn Langley Hall and John-Paul Simmons in Charleston, South Carolina was printed on the front page of the News of the World. The Wedding was international news featured in The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Express and the Sussex Express. The People paid her ₤3750 for a series on her life, and supported her claim to have been examined by a Harley Street surgeon (Dawn later said that this was Dr Elliot Phillip) who said that she had been wrongly sexed at birth and was capable of becoming pregnant. She was also on radio and television in the UK and Canada, but not in the US where her story was too hot. Margaret Rutherford enabled a blessing of their marriage in an Anglican church in Hastings, Kent.

25-7 July. The First International Symposium on Gender Identity was held at the Piccadilly Hotel. It was sponsored and organized by the Erikson Educational Foundation (EEF) and the Albany Trust. This symposium brought together various London hospitals that had trans patients, with similar specialists from other countries. Arguments arose between the team from Chelsea Women's Hospital who regarded transsexuals as a form of intersex, and the team from Charing Cross Hospital who regarded them as having a psychological disorder. The only known trans persons in attendance were Reed Erickson and Virginia Prince, both from the US. The program for the symposium reported the situation in Britain as follows: “The treatment of transsexuals has also been undertaken by specialising teams of psychiatrists, physicians and surgeons but there is as yet no permanent gender identity unit” – despite the clinic At Charing Cross Hospital having been functioning since the 1930s.

Papers given:

CJ Dewhurst Opening Address

Peter Scott (Maudsley Hospital) “Clinical Aspects and Introduction”

John Randell (Charing Cross Hospital) “Indications for Sex Reassignment Surgery”

Fred Oremland (Los Angeles) “Surgical and Psychiatric Treatment in Private Practice of Transsexuals in California”.

Margaret Branch (Guy’s Hospital), “Social Aspects of Transsexualism”

Richard Green (UCLA Medical Center) “Transsexualism and Sex Reassignment. The Diagnosis and Treatment of Gender Identity Disorders during Childhood”.

John Money (Johns Hopkins Hospital) “The Transsexual’s Female Image. Male Partners are not Homosexual”.

David Green (Manchester lawyer) “Gender Identity. Some Legal Problems”.

Zelda Suplee (EEF) and Doreen Cordell (Albany Trust) “Private problems and Public Attitudes”.


After reading about the symposium in The Times, Mark Rees contacted the Albany Trust, which passed him onto Dr Randell, at first at his Harley Street Rooms for a fee, and then at the Charing Cross Clinic on the NHS.

Della Aleksander had been a teacher in Bermuda when started taking female hormones, and was paid to resign. She had then returned to England became a patient at Charing Cross Hospital. Through Charlotte Bach she came to know the writer Colin Wilson and visited Wilson’s home. While Wilson learned much from her, he concentrated on Bach in his books, and reduced Aleksander to a footnote.

Virginia Prince visited the Beaumont Society. She visited members in Scotland and Leicester, and there was a formal dinner in London with 9 members and three wives.

November-December: the main hearings of Corbett vs Corbett. Arthur Corbett was tired of his marriage to April Ashley, and sought to have it declared void ab initio. Roger Ormrod, doctor and lawyer, presided. As Ashley had not had her birth certificate amended, she was legally male, and nullification could easily ensue. However, despite her freely admitting that she was transsexual, she was medically examined by three doctor-professors for the plaintiff and three for her defence (despite she being on legal aid). Although some of the doctors and lawyers knew about the 1965 Ewan Forbes case, Ashley’s lawyer was strictly warned that it was not to be mentioned.  In many ways the event was a show-trial to establish that the aristocrat Ewan Forbes and the commoner April Ashley were not of a kind.  

November: Dawn Langley Hall and her husband were in England, and got a lot more press attention than the concurrent Corbett vs Corbett trial.

Mrs Shufflewick was the star of an ‘adult pantomime’ in Brighton called Sinderella, but the police closed it after two nights because of complaints about the material. That year her male persona, Rex, met David, a labourer in his 30s who would stay with him until his death in 1983.

The Black Cap pub in Camden was becoming known for its drag-queen cabaret.

Petra Henderson, then 15, worked in pirate radio broadcasting on and off the Isle of Wight. She dressed as a hippy chick and on the air was Anne Kennedy, the only female on the station. During a police raid she and four others escaped in that the police found four men and a boy when they were looking for several men and a woman.

Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE) formed as the first British gay activist group.

The Divorce Reform Act passed. Couples were able to divorce after they had been separated for two years if they both desired a divorce, or five years if only one wanted a divorce. 

David Raven and James Court founded the Trollettes.

Danny La Rue did a Royal Command Performance.

Danny La Rue appeared in a film version of Charley’s Aunt,

Noted choreographer Frederick Ashton did his dame performance in the film Cinderella.

Cavalcade of Drag at the Horseshoe Hotel, Tottenham Court Road, 1 April, with Bobbie Kimber (returning after an absence of eight years), Roy Rolland’s Old Mother Riley, Terry Bartlett and others.

Kenneth Tynan created the stage show Oh! Calcutta! With sex and nudity (and Tony Blair's future father-in-law, Anthony Booth, in the cast), it became one of the longest running shows both in the West End and on Broadway. (The title is a bilingual pun from O quel cul t’as = ‘what a lovely bottom you have’)

Patrick Clarkson, the New Zealand surgeon had specialised in hand surgery, and did one sex-change operation, that of Georgina Turtle in 1957 - no doubt drawing on the experience of his colleague Harold Gillies. He died age 58.

  • John B. Randell. "Preoperative and Postoperative Status of Male and Female Transsexuals" in Richard Green & John Money (eds), Transsexualism and Sex Reassignment, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1969.
  • January - The Beatles “Get Back” . Single and then on the Let it Be LP. “Sweet Loretta Martin thought she was a woman/ But she was another man/ All the girls around her say she's got it coming/ But she gets it while she can”
  • July – The Beatles. “ Polythene Pam” a track on the Abbey Road album. “Well you should see Polythene Pam/ She's so good-looking but she looks like a man/ Well you should see her in drag/ Dressed in her polythene bag/ Yes you should see Polythene Pam/ Yeah, yeah, yeah”. Wikipedia.
  • July – The Rolling Stones. “Honky Tonk Women’ a 45 single. “I met a gin soaked, bar-room queen in Memphis/ She tried to take me upstairs for a ride/ She had to heave me right across her shoulder/ cause I just can’t seem to drink you off my mind … She blew my nose and then she blew my mind”. Wikipedia
  • Brigit Brophy. In Transit: An Heroicycle Novel. Evelyn Hillary, called Pat is in transit at an airport, but has forgotten which sex s/he is. Review.
  • Joseph McGrath (dir) The Magic Christian. Scr: Terry Southern & Joseph McGrath, with additional material by Graham Chapman, John Cleese & Peter Sellers, based on the novel by Terry Southern, with Peter Sellers as Sir Guy Grand and Ringo Starr as Youngman Grand. The only film that has cameos by Beatles, Goons and Monty Pythons. Famous for its uncredited sequence where the female singer being watched by film director Roman Polanski is revealed to be Yul Brynner. UK 92 mins 1969.
  • Stanley Donan (dir). Staircase, scr: Charles Dyer, with Rex Harrison and Richard Burton. UK 96 mins 1969. Wikipedia. 2 cishet stars attempt to show how liberal they are by playing an aging and bickering gay couple, one of whom is about to go on trial for dressing as female in public. Set in the East End of London but shot in Paris. 
  • Scott Walker. Scott 3. LP 1969. All but 2 tracks arranged and conducted by Wally Stott.
  • James Hill (dir). Captain Nemo and the Underwater City, with music by Wally Stott. UK 105 mins 1969.
  • Richard Benner (dir). Black Cap Drag, with Shane and Laurie Lee.  UK/US 42 mins 1969.  

  • Jethro Tull. Stand Up. LP 1968. String arrangements and conducting by David Dee Palmer.


January: Guy’s Hospital hosted an international convention on sex conditions. Peter Stirling was interviewed by a panel of doctors.

2 February: final hearing of Corbett vs Corbett. The decision was not rendered until a year later.

Charlotte Bach changed her name by deed poll in 1970. She started writing the enormously long Homo Mutans, Homo Luminens which presents the transsexual urge as the key to human evolution, but could not interest any publishers. She also wrote an autobiographical novel Fiona which also has never been published. Charlotte started giving weekly talks in a friend’s flat. One of her acolytes, Don Smith, produced several pamphlets on Bach’s ideas, each of which sold between 500 and 1,000 copies. She was several times invited to speak to gay and lesbian groups. She wrote to television programs and the science editors of The Times offering her assistance, but was not taken up. She wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury to advise him that god is a human invention.

Della Aleksander, who had been seeing Dr Randell at Charing Cross, had completion surgery in Casablanca instead.

Sociologist David Riddell, married and with a daughter, was a lecturer at the University of Lancaster, when he co-authored Approaching Sociology: A Critical Introduction, 1970, a work inspired by humanist Marxism, symbolic interactionism, phenomenological sociology and ethno-methodology. Two years later Riddell completed transition to Carol with surgery from Dr Georges Burou in Casablanca. She was in the clinic there the same time as Jan Morris. The revised edition of Approaching Sociology in 1972 names the co-author as Carol S. Riddell.

Wally Stott, by then a widower, met a female singer and they married in May. The second wife was a major support as Wally became Angela Morley with surgery from Dr Burou in Casablanca a few weeks after the marriage.

The Gay Liberation Front (GLF) was established at London School of Economics on 13 October. At first there was no drag. Later "It started with jellabas and kaftans and long hair and flowers ... then we discovered glitter ... and the nail varnish. Later some of us - a quarter of the men, I'd say, at some time or other - would get a nice new frock for the next Gay Lib dance. Then a few people began wearing it to meetings. It just evolved." -- Michael James.

Two old-fashioned books were published together.

  • Gilbert Oakley. Sex change and dress deviation. London: Morntide, 1970. Review.
  • Desmond Montmorency. The Drag Scene: The Secrets of Female Impersonators. London: Luxor Press, 1970.

Both books are the same size and shape, both are predominantly yellow and both have a partial title but no author on the spine. One is published by Morntide and the other by Luxor. However both Morntide and Luxor give their address as 50 Alexandria Road, London SW19. 

Oakley was the author of the hoax trans biography, Man into Woman, 1964, and several books on self confidence and psychology. He was also a stage female impersonator. Offers a typology and concludes: “From his observations, the author is convinced that the transvestite is far happier than the trans-sexual. Life is by no means so complex, so painful, or so embarrassing for them. The future is not obscured by a mist of hopefulness and doubt. The best of two worlds lies within the transvestite's grasp, for he can change from male to 'female' at will. The author concludes, therefore , that the sex-change phenomenon is wholly and completely disastrous, and that medical bodies the world over are seriously at fault in encouraging it in any way when other means of therapy are surely at their disposal to help these unfortunate people." Reaches a conclusion similar to Virginia Prince without having heard of her. He also claims in his chapter 12: "it is said that at Hammersmith Hospital alone no less than twelve sex-change operations are performed every month".

Montmorency’s book is mainly a survey of drag performers in London and abroad with lots of photographs. It lists 18 pubs in London that put on drag shows. It has an entire chapter on the theatre show Birds of a Feather. It devotes another chapter to a film made that year starring Joanna Lumley and Jeremy Lloyd for which 42 well-known drag performers were recruited for the drag ball scene. He calls the film Two Girls (presumably a working title), but it was released in 1971 as Games That Lovers Play. IMDB. However none of the 42 were credited, and the drag ball scene is far less significant in the film than Montmorency makes out.

  • Dawn Langley Simmons. Man into Woman: A Transsexual Autobiography. Icon Books, 1970. The first of her three autobiographies.
  • E. Bates. The Triple Echo. Michael Joseph, 1970. Bates had struggled with this story, of a WWII army deserter who takes a female persona on a farm run by a woman, since 1943. The novel was published in instalments in the Daily Telegraph December 1969. It was released as a film in 1972.
  • The Kinks. “Lola”. 45 single, Pye, June 1970. “Michael McGrath … used to have this place in Earl's Court, and he used to invite me to all these drag queen acts and transsexual pubs. They were like secret clubs. And that's where Ray [Davies] got the idea for 'Lola'. When he was invited too, he wrote it while I was getting drunk”. “Girls will be boys, and boys will be girls/ It's a mixed-up, muddled-up, shook-up world/ Except for Lola, lo lo lo lo Lola”. Went to no. 2 in UK Singles chart. Wikipedia.
  • Jethro Tull. Benefit. LP 1968. Orchestral arrangements by David Dee Palmer
  • Paul Raymond's Birds Of A Feather, drag revue with Ricky Renee, Les Lee, Barry Scott and others., ran for only 5 weeks. The British début of Les Lee from Le Carrousel
  • Jim Clark (dir). Every Home Should Have One, with Marty Feldman, and a cameo by Gladys Shufflewick. UK 94 mins. A satire about sex in advertising and prurient opposition to it.
  • Frank Pierson. The Looking Glass War, based on the novel by John le Carré, with music by Wally Stott. UK 107 mins 1970.
  • Auriol Stevens. “The sexual misfits”. The Guardian, 7 Jan 1970. Online. Actually about Betty Cowell. It accepts her claim to be intersex. “Perhaps the change is usually from male to female because, as Roberta Cowell thinks, it is much easier to live as a woman than as a man. ‘A man must prove his masculinity and go on proving it; a woman just has to be.’ She also finds that people are much nicer, kinder and more friendly to women than to men. On the other hand it is harder she thinks for a woman to work and make a living.”


2 February: Justice Roger Ormrod finally read his judgment on Corbett vs Corbett. Arthur Corbett was found that morning in a coma at his villa in Spain and thus did not attend the hearing. Ormrod redefined legal intersex status as the discordance at birth of chromosomal, gonadal and genital sex, and only then are psychological factors to be taken into consideration. The Corbett marriage was annulled; and April’s £6 a week alimony payment was cancelled. Corbett v Corbett became case law in the UK and in Australia. The correcting of birth certificates for many intersex and all transgender persons ceased, and such persons lost the legal right to be treated as their new gender – in particular to marry a person of the now opposite gender.

April Ashley rallied by opening a restaurant just round the corner from Harrods, which was an immediate sensation, and continued to run it for five years until she had a heart attack.

Ina Barton was having problems, and passed on. April Ashley commented that she: “had recently died from a combination of booze and pills. I believe an open verdict was recorded but that's splitting hairs - in effect she killed herself.”

Caroline Cossey, then 17, started living as female, and working as a showgirl and topless dancer.

Michelle Confait was working as a trans prostitute, and in 1971 was arrested for importuning and served five months in HMP Wormwood Scrubs (a men's prison) where she was protected by and provided sexual favours to Douglas Franklin – who would murder her after release.

Rachel Pollack and her wife moved to London, and Rachel became the contact person for the Gay Liberation Front TV, TS and Drag Queen Group, and soon after was joined by Roz Kaveney.



  • Duncan Fallowell & April Ashley. April Ashley's Odyssey.Jonathan Cape, 1982. London: Arrow 1983. Online.
  • Kris Kirk with photographs by Ed Heath. Men In Frocks. Gay Men's Press 1984.
  • Peter Stirling. So Different: an Extraordinary Autobiography. Simon & Schuster 1989.
  • Alkarim Jivani. It’s Not Unusual: A History of Gay Britain in the Twentieth Century. Indiana Press, 1997.
  • John Pearson. “The Lords of the Underworld”. The independent, 15 June 1997. Online.
  • Colin Wilson. The Misfits: A Study of Sexual Outsiders. Grafton Books,1988.
  • Georgina Somerset, with a Forward by Grant Williams. A Girl Called Georgina: An Illustrated Autobiography, with Study Update. The Book Guild, 1992.
  • Francis Wheen. Who was Dr Charlotte Bach? Short Books, 2002.
  • Pierre-Henri Castel. Chronologie et bibliographie représentative du transsexualisme et des pathologies de l'identité sexuelle de 1910 à 1998. Online.
  • April Ashley with Douglas Thompson. The First Lady. Blake, 2006.
  • Zoe Playdon. “Who’s Offensive Now? Trans law at the time of the Sexual Offences Act. SEXing the Past. 3-5 March 2017. 
  • Christopher Hutton.  The Tyranny of Ordinary Meaning:  Corbett v Corbett and the Invention of Legal Sex.  Palgrave Macmillan, 2019.  
  • Haydon Bridge. “The Mysterious East: East London has generally kept its gay history secret … until now”. QX London Gay History. Online.
  • Haydon Bridge. “Go West, Young man: Pretty and fashionable – West London is just like the gay men who’ve lived there!”. QX London Gay History. Online.
  • Haydon Bridge. “Northern Exposure: For London’s newest gay village and most famous cruising ground head north …” QX London Gay History. Online.

28 September 2020

Trans London in the 1960s: part II - 1964-7

Part II: 1964-7


Gloria Robinson completed surgical transition and became the wife of Brian Greaves.

++A sex worker dressed as female but charged under the male name of "Maurice Fitzgerald" was convicted of  "conspiring to corrupt and debauch" and also of "attempting to procure an act of gross indecency", and sentenced to two years,

++Newly signed singer, Brigitte Bond, put out two songs as a 45 rpm single “Blue Beat Baby’ and “Oh Yeah Baby” backed by an impromptu group named the Bluebeats. When Ska star prince Buster arrived in London she was photographed dancing with him.  She was later engaged to Sir John Waller, 7th Baronet of Braywick Lodge, a noted poet and gay, was not able to claim his full inheritance of £250,000 ( £4 million today adjusted for inflation) until marriage and a male heir. He had rejected many women. One day he walked past the 2i’s coffee bar and saw a poster promoting Brigitte. He already knew her manager Tom Littlewood, who was willing to introduce him to Brigitte. He proposed to her on their first date. She accepted.  However she would not be able to give him a baby, and the engagement was quickly called off. This resulted in press articles stating that Brigitte was trans, that were repeated internationally.

Dr Shan Ratman from Singapore studied at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School in London where he earned MRCOG and FRCS in 1964. He then became Professor and Head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Singapore. By the end of the decade he performed his first sex-change operation, and then ran a gender identity clinic for 25 years, in which over 300 operations would be performed.

The Future Carolyn Mercer spoke to the family doctor about feeling as if in the wrong body but was told “Stop bothering your mother”. The vicar arranged a referral to a psychiatric hospital where Mercer was subjected to ‘five or six’ sessions of electric shock aversion therapy while seeing pictures of women’s clothes. It took 40 years to get over that experience.

James Morris was in New York and visited Harry Benjamin, who advised him that a change of body must be a last resort, and that he should try working life as a man. Shortly afterwards Morris obtained an appointment with a London endocrinologist who said: "What it would do to your personality or your talent, we cannot say. It is a grave decision to take, but it must be your own. You do know what you are doing?" Morris returned to Venice with a box of oestrogen tablets, but considered the advice of both men and flushed them down a lavatory. However he did take a subsequent prescription from Dr Benjamin.

After the George Brinham murder and subsequent trial, it was felt by the judicial authorities that persecution of gay men should be toned down. The Director of Public Prosecutions issued instructions to police forces that in cases involving consenting adults in private no prosecution should be initiated until an opinion had been obtained from the Director. It was noted that his boss Peter Rawlinson, the Solicitor General 1962-4 – who had survived the Vassell and Profumo scandals although they happened on his watch – had, despite being Catholic, previously been a defence barrister who had defended accused gay men. The story was leaked by the London Evening Standard in July 1964.

Also in July, The Daily Mirror ran a story about a Peer and a gangster (both unnamed) implying a sexual relationship. They were named by the West German magazine Stern as Robert Boothby and Ronnie Kray. Both Tom Driberg, a Labour MP and ex-chairman of his Party, and Robert Boothby, previously a Conservative MP and since 1957 in the House of Lords, were sexually interested in young men, and that interest had led to associations with the Kray twins, the most notorious of the East End gangsters. Boothby was in France when the story broke. The Conservative government was alarmed and feared a new Profumo scandal on the eve of the up-coming election- but had no idea what to do. However the Labour Party leaders – who wisely had not made capital from the Profumo affair a year earlier - were concerned that the story would spread to include Driberg. Boothby went from considering suicide to threatening to sue the Sunday Mirror. Labour put pressure on Cecil King the owner. The Mirror sacked its editor, apologized and paid Boothby £40,000 [over £800,000 today]. Other papers stopped covering the Krays and their criminal enterprises for 3 years – as also did Scotland Yard.  There was also a secret agreement forbidding those in the know from discussing it in public.  

The General Election of 15 October 1964 returned the Labour Party to government, after 13 years of Conservative rule. Both Labour and Conservative had chosen new leaders in 1963. The Conservatives had chosen Alec Douglas-Home, a 61-year-old aristocrat who seemed out of touch, while Labour elected 48-year-old Harold Wilson, who promised to modernise the country. Labour won a narrow majority. They would later pass a series of social reforms, but not immediately, other then the Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Act 1965 introduced as a private member's bill.

Anthony Storr, psychiatrist, published a book called Sexual Deviation which sold quite well, and strongly influenced thinking in the English-speaking countries. Quite possibly, from the internal evidence, Storr thought that he was writing a liberal book, an intelligent mix of common sense and psychoanalysis, a plea for compassion rather than condemnation of the poor perverts. His chapter on transvestism follows immediately on his chapter on fetishism, and it is presented as a variation thereupon. He repeats the common misconception that transvestites dress usually to masturbate. This false premise also leads to his conclusion that there are no female transvestites and that female cross-dressing is of a completely different nature. He gives the standard psychoanalytic interpretation of transvestism as follows: “The homosexual man replaces his love for his mother by an identification with her: the fetishist refuses to acknowledge that a woman has no penis. The male transvestite assumes both attitudes simultaneously. He fantasies that the woman possesses a penis, and thus overcomes his castration anxiety, and identifies himself with this phallic woman.”  He does note that for ’normal’ men, the desire to dress as female is widely catered for vicariously in public entertainment. He discusses that there are also "men" who seek an operation to “change their sex”. This is possible for anatomical hermaphrodites, but “this is very far from changing the sex of an individual with normal organs, and such an operation is of course impossible”. The word “transsexual” is not used at all. Those who express the “delusion” of becoming the opposite sex “are invariably psychotic”.  Female cross-dressing is merely a part of lesbianism which is merely the normal schoolgirl crush for another female extended into adulthood because of a shortage of men or because of emotional immaturity.

20 November: John Randell from Charing Cross Hospital gave a paper at the Royal Medico-Psychological Association in London on aversion therapy for homosexuality. He had intended to include a film on the topic but was advised that it might constitute obscene material, and so did not do so.

The wife of Michael Karoly (the future Charlotte Bach) died of a severe uterine haemorrhage that erupted while she and her new lover were on holiday in Germany. It then came out that she had embezzled thousands of pounds from her employer. Her son Peter died in a road accident a few weeks later. In shock Michael retreated into his wife's flat, avoided all contact and took lots of photographs of himself in his wife’s clothes.

++A trans woman referred to only as Maurice Fitzgerald but dressed as female appeared at the Old Bailey charged with acts of prostitution.   She explained that she hoped to have a sex change operation.  She was sentenced as a man to two years in prison.

Commercially successful female impersonator, Danny La Rue opened his own club in London’s West End. La Rue was the most successful drag artiste in Britain, and among Britain’s highest paid performers in the 1960s. His act emphasised that he is a man in drag with giveaway comments, and, in the old tradition, his wig came off at the end.

Through the 1960s the number of pubs doing drag increased. Roy Alvis had been in the forces drag shows after WWII, but when that dried up in the mid-1950s he became a meat porter at Smithfield Market. He returned to doing drag, although he was arrested by the police for doing so more than once.  Alvis and O'Dell are credited with being the first act to mime to records – they chose Susan Maughan singing Bobby's Girl, a 1962 single that went to number 3 in the UK. Alvis and O'Dell were then one of the hottest acts in town -- until every other drag performer got a tape recorder.

Gay men had started going to drag shows in straight pubs in that that was a good way to meet other gay men.

The show Sh..' at the New Century Theatre in Notting Hill Gate featured Douglas Druce's impressive imitation of the Queen for one night only. The Lord Chamberlain oversaw theatrical censorship. The incumbent of the office, Cameron Cobbold, previously Governor of the Bank of England, actually appeared in person the next night to ensure that Druce’s scene was removed. 

The Lord Chamberlain also did not approve of any drag shows in general. Chris Shaw managed to get small all-male reviews at Kent House in Hammersmith staged by disguising them as Old Tyme Music Hall.

Mrs Shufflewick recorded her appearance at the Waterman’s Arms in the Isle of Dogs, and it was issued as an LP, Look in at the Local. This led to a career bounce. She also appeared in West End Shows; did some pantomime, and a season at Butlins Holiday Camp where she had to constrain the natural bawdiness of the act for the family audience. However she then started working the northern working men clubs where the bawdiness was encouraged. She lived in a run-down flat in Kentish Town, London where she kept scrap metal in the bath, and was proud of the fact that she had not had a bath in over 25 years.

Heterosexual drag queen Keith Moon became the drummer in The Who. As his personal assistant put it: Moonie 'frequently takes it into his head to act the ginger beer, especially if he can get hold of a dress or two'.

Jane Heap, apparently a trans man who wore men’s suits etc but never took a male name, and who had run the Gurdjieff study group in London since 1935, died of diabetes at age 81.

Micky Jacob, masculine/gender queer woman actor, novelist, memoirist, died age 80.

  • Victor Knight. “The peer and the gangster”. Daily Mirror, July 13, 1964: 1. 
  • Frank Marcus. The Killing of Sister George. The play was premiered in Bristol in April and in London in June. A character in a radio soap opera is to be killed off, and the actor who plays her is belligerent. The actor is implicitly a lesbian butch.
  • Reginald Pound. Gillies: Surgeon Extraordinary. Michael Joseph, 1964. A biography of Britain’s first sex-change surgeon.
  • C N Armstrong & A J Marshall. Intersexuality in Vertebrates Including Man. Academic Press, 1964. Armstrong proposed four criteria of sex (1) chromosomal sex (2) gonadal sex testes or ovaries (3) apparent sex: external genitalia and body form; and (4) psychological sex: psychosexuality and behaviour. Normally, all four criteria indicate the same sex; if they do not, the case is one of intersex.
  • Eric Gilbert Oakley. Man into Woman: The Amazing account of a male’s change into female, with full psychological and medical Case History and Personal Analysis Questionnaire. Walton Press, 1964. Apparently a hoax biography. It is claimed that Juliet Griffiths, a big nightclub star otherwise unknown to history, had a sex change operation in Casablanca in 1950, before contracting cancer of the neo-vagina. She drowned herself at age 30. Analysis.
  • Anthony Storr. Sexual Deviation. Penguin Books. 1964.
  • Mrs Shufflewick. Look in at the Local. LP 1964.
  • Jean Fredericks. Recitals are a Drag. LP 1964
  • Susan Maughan. Sentimental Susan. LP 1964. Arranged by Wally Stott (the future Angela Morley). 
  • Harry Secombe. Film Favourites LP 1964. Arranged by Wally Stott. 
  • Brigitte Bond and The Bluebeats. “Blue Beat Baby / Oh Yeah Baby” 45 single 1964.
  • “The King and Queen of Blue Beat meet”. Daily Mirror, 26 February 1964: 26.
  • David Hunn. “Brigitte Bond: She has a built-in licence to thrill”. Tit-Bits, 9 May 1964: 13.
  • “I’ll be Lady Waller in 4 Months says Brigitte”. The Evening Standard, 21 May 1964.


Alice Purnell, Alga Campbell from Dublin, Giselle, a US expatriate, and Sylvia Carter, members of the European chapter of Virginia Prince’s FPE, met in 1965 and agreed to found the Beaumont Society (named after the 18th century transgender pioneer). The membership numbering was started at 100 (which was assigned to Alice), and then issued back and forth from that to give the impression of greater membership. Initially there were almost as many overseas members as in the UK, with some in Malaysia, Kenya and other parts of the Commonwealth. Alice became the overseas contact person because of her French. Regional contacts were appointed but were often the only member in their region.

The Charing Cross Hospital surgeon Lennox Broster died age 77.

September: Peter Stirling was still living as a woman. She was arrested on Westminster Bridge by two police constables who assumed that she was a man in drag, an assumption quickly dropped when they arrived at the well-lit Canon Row Police Station. 

Peki d’Oslo from Le Carrousel had become Amanda and was studying at St Martin’s College of Art in London. She became acquainted with musicians Marianne Faithfull and Keith Moon. Desiring a UK passport she and April went to a pub in Notting Hill and found a Mr Lear, a Scottish architecture student, who was willing to wed Amanda for ₤50. Mr Lear was dumped right after the ceremony, but Amanda has kept his name to this day.

Jean Fredericks featured in the first issue of London Life magazine.

John Osborne's A Patriot For Me at the Royal Court Theatre, was banned because of the drag ball scene. The Theatre became a private theatre club to continue the performance. 

Kenneth Tynan, on 13 November, on a BBC late-night satirical show, was asked about sexual intercourse on the stage and replied: “Well, I think so, certainly. I doubt if there are any rational people to whom the word 'fuck' would be particularly diabolical, revolting or totally forbidden. I think that anything which can be printed or said can also be seen." This was the first speaking of 'fuck' on British television. The BBC issued an apology, there were four separate censure motions in the House of Commons and Christian morality campaigner, Mary Whitehouse, wrote to the Queen that Tynan should have "his bottom spanked" (which of course he would have enjoyed).

Chris Shaw performed in the West End in The It Girl for six months.

The Black Cap pub in Camden had been first licensed in 1751 and was originally called the Mother Black Cap, after a local witch. By 1965 the Black Cap was a well-known gay pub.

The Lord Ranelagh pub in Earl’s Court had been encouraging local transvestites to come and perform. This evolved into the Queen of the Month contest. This continued until May 1965 when the show was denounced in the News of the World. This resulted in the pub being so crowded that the audience spilled out onto the pavement, and the police closed the show. The pub was later renamed The Bromptons. 

Julian and Sandy” was a regular in the BBC radio comedy show Round the Horne, starting with episode four of the first series and continuing to the end of the fourth and last in 1968. Their use of a simplified Polari (the gay underground argot) identified the characters as gay to those in the know, and introduced Polari to a mass audience for the first time. 

William Burroughs on a trip to London stayed at Hotel Rushmore at 11 Trebovir Road in Earl’s Court. There was a circle of transvestites known as “the Maids” who all lived at the Rushmore. They were called Babs, Carlotta, and Scotch Agnes. There was no bar, but Benson ran a sort of salon in his parlor, featuring the Maids. The owner, Jeffrey Benson, was always referred to as Madame. And Madame’s acquaintanceships were always very wide and varied. And Madame was always the same, in sort of half drag, very painted up, falsies. Very sure of what he thought was the best kind of life to lead.

In December Roy Jenkins was appointed Home Secretary. He would hold the position until November 1967. During these two years he oversaw as direct government policy or by encouraging a private member's bill several important social reforms: the legalisation of abortion, the implementation of the Wolfenden recommendations re homosexuality, the end of flogging in prisons, no-fault divorce, the end of the Lord Chamberlain’s censorship of the theatre, the ban on racial discrimination in employment – the last three were passed as legislation under his successor as Home Secretary, James Callaghan.

  • R. B Ball. Transsexualism. M.D. Thesis, University of Newcastle upon Tyne. 1965. Ball started as an assistant to CN Armstrong. His first trans patient was an Australian living in England, who had a brief, moderately successful career as an entertainer and then settled down to domestic anonymity.
  • JC Baker. “Behaviour therapy for transvestism”. British Journal of Psychiatry, 11, 1965. 
  • “This show must not go on”. News of the World, May 1965. A denunciation of the The Lord Ranelagh pub in Earl’s Court.
  • Bryan Forbes (dir & scr). King Rat. Based on the novel by James Clavell, with George Segal, Tom Courtenay, James Fox. UK 134 mins 1965. The episodes featuring Sean Jennison who plays women in the POW camp theatre and comes to identify as a woman were in the script from the beginning, but at a late stage, Columbia Pictures executives finally realized that they were present, and Sean was completely removed from the film.
  • Terence Young (dir) Thunderball. Scr: Richard Maibaum & John Hopkins, based on the novel by Ian Fleming, with Sean Connery as James Bond and Rose Alba/Bob Simmons as Madame Boitier. UK 130 mins 1965. In the opening segment Bond attacks the widow of a Spectre boss, but as the fight develops it becomes apparent that it is the husband in drag. This is a casting cheat in that a woman plays the part until the fight starts and is then replaced by a man in a similar dress.
  • Gerald Thomas (dir). Carry on Cowboy. UK 93 mins 1965. With Richard O’Brien as a stunt rider (uncredited)


After an initial meeting in Hampstead, the first full meeting of the Beaumont Society was held in Southampton in 1966 with 12 in attendance including two wives.

David Burgess who had been born in Castleford, West Yorkshire and educated in Skipton, went to Cambridge in 1966. Then he became a lawyer in London working for immigrants and trans persons. Burgess would also be known as Sonia. 

The future Alice Purnell, a co-founder of the Beaumont Society, had been attending the Charing Cross Hospital Gender Clinic under the care of Dr Randell, and was offered surgery. However Purnell married a second wife instead.

Michael Karoly (the future Charlotte Bach) was charged with 13 offenses of obtaining credit under false pretences, and trading as a psychologist without disclosing that he was an undischarged bankrupt under another name. He was jailed for three months.

++June 1966 US establishment preacher Billy Graham was in London for a month, and had denounced the newly fashionable mini-skirt. On 17 June he visited Soho as announced. Brigitte Bond, who was now calling herself Brigitte St John, climbed on Graham’s car to protest his comments about miniskirts. The Sunday Mirror put her on the front page to make her point.

9 April 1966. A two-page summary of the then professional view of transsexuality was published in the British Medical Journal in 1966, just a few months before Harry Benjamin’s The Transsexual Phenomenon, and three years after Georgina Turtle's Over the Sex Border (which is not mentioned). 

“The sincerity and conviction with which these people describe their predicament has inclined many physicians who have studied the disorder to regard transsexualism as an inborn tendency, but the men patients show no chromosomal abnormality and in every possible measure are anatomically and physiologically male. … Psychotherapy is at best supportive for these patients, behaviour therapy of unproved value, and the indications for surgical operation often based on opinion rather than facts. Many transsexual men achieve a real sense of contentment for the first time if, despite the social and administrative problems, they can live and work as a woman. … Some maintain that operation is the most effective means of treatment available, yet the evidence is by no means clear.” 

In the House of Commons Conservative MP Humphrey Berkeley introduced a bill to legalise male homosexual relations along the lines of the Wolfenden report. Berkeley was well known to his colleagues as a homosexual, and was unpopular. His Bill passed a second reading by 164 to 107 on 11 February, but fell when Parliament was dissolved soon after. Unexpectedly, Berkeley lost his seat in the 1966 general election, and ascribed his defeat to the unpopularity of his bill on homosexuality.  He later became a candidate for the Labour Party.

The Labour Government whose majority had been reduced to only 2 after a by-election, called a snap election for 31 March, and was returned with a majority of 98. 

Richard Green who had worked with John Money and Robert Stoller, was awarded a one-year fellowship at the Maudsley Hospital London. He became friends with Yoko Ono, and part of his anatomy appears in her film, Bottoms. He also socialised with John Randell: Green later commented: “He had a home and family in North London. But he also had a flat in Central London. One evening, as we were preparing to go out for drinks and dinner at his club, he went to the wardrobe to get his coat. There were many dresses on hangers. 'A woman stays here sometimes' he explained. I thought he had a mistress. I did not realize that they were his dresses."

Entrepreneurs Ray Jackson and Eric Lindsay had taken over Annie’s Room, a nightclub in Russell St. They contracted with prominent female impersonator Sonne Teale that she would have a third share in a new club to be called Sonne Teale’s. While renovations were being done to the building, Sonne headlined in a Carrousel tour of Japan. However she and three other performers were killed in a plane crash leaving Tokyo on 4 February.  Jackson and Lindsay were devastated, but were able to recruit Ricky Renée who had been working at the Chez Nous in Berlin for some years, having made Berlin his home. Lindsay phoned and offered the same deal to Ricky that Sonne would have had. Ricky accepted.

King Shaw productions started the drag shows at the Vauxhall Tavern in south London; they put on Holiday Showboat at The Playhouse Theatre in Jersey for three years; they organized drag balls at various London town halls.

Last Exit to Brooklyn, a US novel by Hugh Selby Jr, with several trans characters was published in the UK in January 1966. It sold 14,000 copies. Blackwell’s Oxford bookshop complained about its contents, but no action was taken. Cyril Black, Conservative MPP for Wimbledon, brought a private prosecution at Marlborough Street, and all copies within the jurisdiction of the court, roughly Soho, were to be seized. It turned out that no bookseller in the area had a copy but three were found at the publisher and taken. The book continued to be published and sold everywhere else in Britain, so the public prosecutor did bring criminal charges under Section 2 of the Obscene Publications Act of 1964. The jury was all male – because women "might be embarrassed at having to read a book which dealt with homosexuality, prostitution, drug-taking and sexual perversion”. After a nine-day trial, a guilty verdict was returned on 23 November. The judgement was appealed in 1968.

  • Hugh Selby Jr. Last Exit to Brooklyn. Calder & Boyers, 1966
  • “Transsexuality”. British Medical Journal, 9 April, 873,1 1966. Online.
  • Georgina Turtle. “Transsexuality”. British Medical Journal, 9 July 1966: 116. Online
  • “Sex change”. Horizon, BBC, 24 October 1966. The program was prompted by the withdrawal of the Press sisters from international athletics. This was the first appearance of a "sex changeling" person on a medical program on British television. Georgina Somerset was invited following her letter to the British Medical Journal. She gave up a day in her surgery, cancelling a full appointment book, to go to Television Centre, and gave a forty-minute filmed interview. However only a minute of her interview was broadcast, and she was afterwards informed that she had said more than the BBC was prepared to screen.
  • Colin Spencer. Poppy, Mandragora and the New Sex. Anthony Blond, 1966. Described variously as a ‘larky romp’ and a ‘satirical black comedy’ . The evil Dr Berriman uses rare plants to intensify the effect of female hormones. He gives this treatment to gay men released from prison, and marries then off to the upper classes. An English Myra Breckinridge that came out two years earlier. Review. Review of Spencer’s autobiography 45 years later.

  • Chris Shaw & Arthur Oates. A Pictorial History of the Art of Female Impersonation. King-Shaw Productions. 1966.  Online
  • Bill MacIlwraith. The Anniversary. With Mona Washbourne as Mrs Taggart and James Coussins as Henry. The play, after first being performed at the Theatre Royal, Brighton had a long run at the Duke of York's Theatre in the West End. A dysfunctional family in the construction business. We are told that Henry is a transvestite, but never see him in a dress, but we do see him stealing female underwear from washing lines. 
  • Guy Hamilton (dir). Funeral in Berlin. Scr: Evan Jones based on the novel by Len Deighton, with Michael Caine as Harry Palmer. UK 102 mins 1966. The film features several symbolic gender swaps, and has scenes in a Berlin drag bar, Chez Nous, which if you were there at the right time featured Coccinelle, Capucine, Sonne Teal, Ricky Renée, Amanda Lear, Tobi Marsh – but none of these were in the film: the trans women in the film are very obvious.
  • Peter Glenville (dir). Hotel Paradiso. UK 98 mins 1966. With Douglas Bing, a female impersonator who did the first drag show on television in March 1938, in a straight role.
Have you seen your mother, Baby
  • September - The Rolling Stones 'Have You Seen Your Mother Baby, Standing in the Shadow?'.  a 45 single.  The band dressed in drag as World War II army nurses for the photograph that accompanied the single.
  • The Who. “I’m a boy”. August 1966. A 45 single from the never completed opera, Quads, set in a future where parents choose the sex of their children. A mistake is made and a boy is being raised as a girl, and his objections to his parents are being ignored.
  • Harry Secombe. Italian serenade. LP 1966. Arranged by Wally Stott. 
  • Brigitte St John. “Sin and Mini Skirts”. Sunday Mirror,June 19, 1966 p1.


Justice Ormrod declared that in the case of Talbot (otherwise Poyntz) v. Talbot the husband, John Talbot, was a woman and that their marriage was not permitted under British law.

MP Leo Abse introduced the Sexual Offences Bill 1967 as a Private Member's Bill supported by the Home Secretary Roy Jenkins.

The Abortion Act passed legalising abortions on certain grounds by registered practitioners, and regulating the tax-paid provision of such medical practices through the NHS. The bill was introduced as a Private Member’s Bill by David Steel, a Liberal MP, and supported by the Home Secretary Roy Jenkins.

The soon-to-be Charlotte Bach placed an advert in the New Statesman claiming to be a psychologist seeking transvestites, and got a dozen replies. One was from the person who would transition as Della Aleksander, but who at that time was a novice. Michael Karoly (Bach’s male persona) acted as male escort for several of his new contacts, and started a book, Man and/or Woman: A Comprehensive Study of the ‘Tammuz Complex’ (Transvestism), using the anecdotes of his new contacts. He also started to go out dressed as Charlotte. At the same time, as Michael, he took his last female lover. Through Della, Charlotte was able to obtain female hormones, although she persuaded herself that living as a woman in itself altered her hormones. Her method of coping with being read was to engage the person in conversation, and to repeat the story of how her husband and son had died. From 1968, Charlotte was more or less living full-time as female. The major exceptions were signing on for unemployment pay, and Michael the psychologist’s one paying client.

The future Anita Verig Sandor had come to the UK during the 1956 Hungarian Uprising and had tried, as society said that he should, to live as a man. As such he had married a French women, and they had two sons. They were divorced in 1967, with the wife retaining custody of the children. Anita returned to living as a woman.

The future Rachel Webb consulted with the Maudsley Hospital in London and started taking female hormones. However he married a woman, they had two children and he stopped taking the hormones. Webb did not restart until 1978.

The future Janine Roberts was ordained, and started a B.Sc in sociology at the London School of Economics.

Chris Shaw did a tour of South Africa and Rhodesia called Boys Will Be Girls. He fell in love with a Rhodesian man, sold his half of the agency and his house in London. He opened a nightclub in Salisbury (now Harare) and brought out top cabaret acts from the UK. However as the struggle for Zimbabwean independence developed, Chris moved to Cape Town in South Africa,

Michael Karoly wrote to the prominent female impersonators Danny La Rue and Ricky Renée for advice on cross dressing.

Gillian Freeman published a pioneer survey of pornography and some other literature, such as it was at the time: The Undergrowth of Literature. It includes two chapters on trans topics. The transvestite chapter is based mainly on Turnabout (New York) and Justice Weekly (Toronto) and forced femininity fiction. The transsexual chapter includes the British Medical Journal April 1966 summary of the condition, Geoff Brown’s novel I Want What I Want, and the stars at Le Carrousel, although there is no mention at all of April Ashley or of Dr Burou or of the Charing Cross clinic.

The Sexual Offences Act 1967, decriminalised homosexual acts between two men over 21 years of age in private, excluding the armed forces and the merchant navy, and hotel rooms were not ‘private’ for the purposes of this Act.  It was debated 4 July, and received Royal Assent on 27 July.  Enoch Powell and Margaret Thatcher were among the MPs who voted for it, a coalition of left-wing libertarians and right-wing libertarians.  Passage of the Act was followed by a surge in the number of arrests for 'indecency between males' where the restrictions were not observed . Although transsexuality or change of sex was not mentioned in either the new Wolfenden Report or in the Act, it was thought and said by some that sex changes were now legal.

From May to December an in-camera case in Scotland was taking place at the same time which should have established the rights of transsexuals to be registered as their target sex, and as such would have been an obvious supplement to the Sexual Offences Act. However almost all information about the case was kept secret and there were no press reports of the conclusion – much like the cover-up of the Boothby-Kray affair. See Callaghan and Ewan Forbes December 1968.

  • John Berger and Jean Mohr. A Fortunate Man; the Story of a Country Doctor. Writers and Readers Publishing Cooperative 1967:56. The doctor had been called because a housewife was bleeding from below. The doctor is surprised to find male organs when he examines her, but as they are irrelevant to the condition, nothing is said of them. The trouble is severe piles.
  • Pink Floyd. “Arnold Layne”, written by Syd Barrett. 45 single, Columbia, 1967. About a closeted transvestite who steals women’s underwear from clothes lines. Wikipedia
  • David Palmer (the future Dee Palmer) for the first time produced an LP, Nicola, by Bert Jansch.
  • Gillian Freeman: The Undergrowth of Literature. Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1967, Panther 1969. 
  • Ricky Renee’s Club London closed.
  • Quick Change Artist. 3 min Pathé film, with Ricky Renee. UK 1967. Online
  • Scott Walker. Scott. LP 1967. 5 tracks arranged and conducted by Wally Stott. 
  • John Huston et al (dir). Casino Royale. UK 131 mins 1967. With Richard O’Brien as a stuntman, and perhaps Brigitte Bond/St John.
  • Don Levy (dir). Herostratus. With Michael Gothard as Max and Brigitte St John as dancer. UK 142 mins 1967



  • Gillian Freeman: The Undergrowth of Literature. Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1967.
  • Kris Kirk with photographs by Ed Heath. Men In Fr London: Gay Men's Press 1984.
  • Peter Stirling. So Different: an Extraordinary Autobiography. Simon & Schuster 1989.
  • Alkarim Jivani. It’s Not Unusual: A History of Gay Britain in the Twentieth Century. Indiana Press, 1997.
  • John Pearson. “The Lords of the Underworld”. The Independent, 15 June 1997. Online.
  • Colin Wilson. The Misfits: A Study of Sexual Outsiders. Grafton Books,1988.
  • Francis Wheen. Who was Dr Charlotte Bach? Short Books, 2002.
  • Pierre-Henri Castel. Chronologie et bibliographie représentative du transsexualisme et des pathologies de l'identité sexuelle de 1910 à 1998. Online.
  • Tommy Dickinson. ‘Curing Queers’: Mental nurses and their patients, 1935-74. Manchester University Press, 2015.
  • Michael Bloch. C10set Queens: Some 20th Century British Politicians. Abacus, 2015.
  • Zoe Playdon. “Who’s Offensive Now? Trans law at the time of the Sexual Offences Act. SEXing the Past. 3-5 March 2017. 
  • Haydon Bridge. “The Mysterious East: East London has generally kept its gay history secret … until now”. QX London Gay History. Online.
  • Haydon Bridge. “Go West, Young man: Pretty and fashionable – West London is just like the gay men who’ve lived there!”. QX London Gay History. Online.
  • Haydon Bridge. “Northern Exposure: For London’s newest gay village and most famous cruising ground head north …” QX London Gay History. Online.

The Gangster and the Pervert Peer (Boothby, Dieberg and the Krays)

26 September 2020

Trans London in the 1960s: part I - 1960-3

Part I: 1960-3

The 1960s in Britain were a time of considerable change. The Britain that had been before WWII was finally being shaken off, and changes – at first small – were accumulating. Drag performance was a bubble of freedom where trans women too oppressed to go elsewhere could express themselves. The attitudes expressed in drag where very different to what they would become in the next century. The old sexual intolerance, that of aversion therapy, blackmail, entrapment, hypocrisy, etc. started to give way and by the end of the decade we had Swinging London, an incredibly prolific music scene and Gay Lib. However aristocratic privilege was taken to be in conflict with general rights for trans people, and the Corbett v Corbett show trial at the end of the decade legally shackled trans people for the ensuing 30 years.   London – well before anywhere in the US - already had a Gender Identity Clinic at Charing Cross Hospital, but it was not called that, and reactionary opinions were common there as elsewhere.

The legal situation.

Buggery or Sodomy had been a capital offence since the Buggery Acts of 1533, 1548 and 1558 – the last men hanged for Sodomy met their end in 1835. The Offences Against the Person Acts of 1828, 1861 and 1956 retained Sodomy as a crime, but it was no longer a capital offence. 

There was no law against Lesbianism. 

The 1870 trial of Boulton and Park/Fanny and Stella had established that there was no English law against cross-dressing as such. However those doing so were often charged with Disturbing the Peace, which was an offence under English Common Law which gave police officers very free scope. Cross-dressing ‘men’ would often be fined, imprisoned or, in earlier times, put in the pillory, probably because cross-dressing was commonly conflated with sodomy; cross-dressing ‘women’ were usually just cautioned or reprimanded.   

The Labouchère Amendment, 1885, introduced a new offence of ‘gross indecency’ whereby gay men could be prosecuted even when sodomy could not be proven. Oscar Wilde in 1895 and Alan Turing in 1952 had been convicted of ‘gross indecency’. Cross-dressing could be taken as evidence of such.

There had been an attempt in 1921 to expand the 1885 law to cover women as well. It was passed in the Commons, but defeated in the Lords, and the attempt was not repeated.


At the beginnings of the 1960s, there were very few places where visible cross-dressing was accepted.  The three major gatherings where one could do so without the police interfering were the northern resort town of Blackpool at Easter, and in London the Vic-Wells Costume Balls (Old Vic and Sadler's Wells) although it had signs posted saying "No Drag Allowed", and also the Chelsea Arts Ball, which had a similar sign – although people had been cross-dressing for it since 1926.  

Chelsea Arts Ball 1926

The last molly house, that of Stella Minge, was still going in Silvertown, Newham.  Stella, who had been in the merchant navy, was known for her frequent Friday night parties that often lasted until Sunday or even Monday. Stella, a queen herself, often encouraged younger queens, and her place was generally known among sailors, straight as well as gay, as the place to go when in London. Police officers often stopped by because of the noise complaints, but individually would come back when off duty to join in the fun. Sometimes it was raided.

That is unless we regard the Elm Guest House near Barnes common as the last molly house.  However it was a very different kind of molly house, in effect a boy brothel rather than a place for adults to be free in gender expression and same sex activity.

In 1954, after a number of high-profile – and therefore exemplary - convictions of gay men, a change of direction had been needed and John Wolfenden, Vice Chancellor of the University of Reading, was invited to set up a Royal Commission into homosexuality and prostitution.   This was partly at the urging of the bisexual Robert Boothby, then a Conservative MP (and the long-time lover of Dorothy, wife of Harold Macmillan, who became Prime Minister in 1957).  The Wolfenden Report was published later in 1957, and sold 5,000 copies within hours.  Its recommendations on prostitution were quickly acted on and were included in the Street Offences Act, 1959.  The Government used the excuse that the recommendations re homosexuality were “in advance of public opinion”.   A full decade would pass before they were enacted.  For the first seven years, Parliament having refused to act on the recommendations, the implicit message to the police was that homosexuality was not to be tolerated, and things got worse for all LGBT persons.

There was very little pub drag before 1960 except for a few tolerant, mainly straight, pubs in the East End, such as the Bridge House in Canning Town (just north of Silvertown).  The Bridge House in later decades became a heavy metal/punk/goth pub, and the first pub with its own record label.  Another was the Duke of Cambridge pub in Islington, where drag artists had been appearing since the mid-1950s. And in Chelsea the Gateway, London’s best known lesbian bar, which attracted cross-dressing and butch lesbians. 

The Gateway in the early 1950s

Diamond Lil and Maisie
 - Lil lived as female and Maisie dressed for the stage - were a couple who lived in Hackney, London, and were accepted by their neighbours.  They had performed as a drag duo since WWII at various East End venues, particularly the Royal Oak in Columbia Rd, Hackney.  They were still performing into the mid-1960s.

Female impersonator Chris Shaw and his pianist Peter King had a successful double act in the 1950s. In 1959 they had started King Shaw Productions with an office in Bond Street. They produced all-male variety shows, drag acts and fancy dress balls. In the early 1960s Chris performed at the Hoxton Music Hall (1890 – 1987).

Georgina Turtle, the dentist who had had completion surgery in 1957, moved to Hove, Sussex in April. She finally obtained a revised birth certificate in July, but had to supply medical reports along with affidavits from three doctors Kenneth Walker, A.P. Cawadias and her father. Mr Clarkson, the surgeon, was also obliged to provide a report of her anatomy and Georgina had to provide written assurances that she had never been married or been capable of functioning as a male.

The press discovered Georgina, her home was besieged and the phone never stopped ringing. She agreed to an 'exclusive' with The News of the World, and was paid £100. A local paper gave the name of her road and stated that she intended to start a dental practice. This led to difficulties with the General Dental Council, which in those days was very strict against advertising. Turtle threatened to sue the newspapers, apologised to the Council, and was given a reprimand.  Letters started to come from all over the world, from transsexuals and those who might be. Georgina sat up long hours answering them, and at weekends received the writers personally.  Turtle knew most of the London consultants, especially John Randell and Kenneth Walker, and they referred patients to each other.

12 May. Toni April had surgery with Dr Burou in Casablanca.   Shortly afterwards she returned to England, and chose the name of April Ashley.  “I could do nothing about my birth certificate….although people could have their condition biologically explained, medically diagnosed and successfully treated, their transition from one sex to the other had not taken place in the eyes of the law.  For £13 , I became April Ashley.”  (The First Lady p139-140)

April Ashley was quickly able to build a career as a model; clothed, in underwear and nude.  She was in demand and booked months in advance.

18 November.  Arthur Corbett, the heir to the Rowallan Baroncy and a closet transvestite had seen Toni April, a star performer at Le Carrousel in Paris. He used his contact with Louise Lawrence to get in in touch with April via Les Lee, a fellow performer at Le Carrousel. 

Surgeon, Harold Delf Gillies, age 78, suffered a cerebral thrombosis while operating.   He died in hospital a month later.   He had repaired thousands of servicemen in both World Wars, and developed ‘flap surgery’ where a flap of skin is moved to another part of the body to help healing. Flaps were later rolled into tubes, from which a penis could be fashioned. He had done two, but only two, transsexual operations: on Michael Dillon 1942-6, and Betty Cowell in 1951.  He had then been called to the general Medical Council to explain himself.

John Randell, from Glamorganshire, himself a closeted tranvestite, was Physician for Psychological Medicine at Charing Cross Hospital, where he worked with transvestites and transsexuals.  He used the data from this for his MD thesis.  Through the coming years he would see 50 cases a year – however fewer than 10% were approved for surgery and only a third of those had vaginoplasty.

Victor Barker had been pilloried in the press in 1929 when he was convicted of wilfully causing a false statement to be entered in a register of marriage when he took a wife.  In the late 1950s he suffered from Parkinson’s Disease.  In 1960 he sank into a coma, and later died.   He was buried in the grounds of the local parish church in Suffolk, in an unmarked grave. He was 64.

The future Jan Morris won the George Polk Memorial Award for Journalism.

Canadian Jean Fredericks moved to London.  After a straight role in a West-End musical and at the Edinburgh Festival she concentrated on a drag act doing mock-opera.

Mrs Gladys Shufflewick, known to some as Rex Jameson, Dame Comedian, had been drinking more and more, and betting on horses, and by 1960 was bankrupt.

Ernest Thesiger who had played drag and female parts in the 1930s was awarded a CBE.

At the Rome Olympics, two British female athletes were accused in the press of being men.

Roger Ormrod was appointed a judge in the Probate, Divorce and Admiralty division.

R v Penguin Books Ltd.  Following the publication of a full unexpurgated edition in 1960 of Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D H Lawrence, Penguin Books was prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act 1959, which had been introduced in Parliament by Roy Jenkins and included the notion of ‘literary merit’.  Penguin argued successfully that the book did have literary merit and brought in novelists and professors of literature to so testify.   The success opened up a much greater degree of freedom for publishing in the UK.

  • John RandellCross Dressing and the Desire to change Sex, MD Thesis, University of Wales, 1960. Discusses 61 mtf and 16 ftm cases. This was one of the first higher degree theses in English on transsexuality.
  • Lobzang Jivaka. Growing Up into Buddhism. Maha Bodhi Society of India, 1960.  Written by the pioneer trans man Michael Dillon.
  • Gerald Thomas (dir). Carry on Constable.  Scr: Norman Hudis, with Charles Hawtrey as PC Timothy Gorse and Kenneth Williams PC Stanley Benson.   UK 86 mins 1960.   Roger Lewis, Hawtry’s biographer, says of this cheaply made comedy film in which the constables are in cod drag: “where Williams has to have trouble balancing on his high-heeled shoes, Hawtrey’s feminine carriage is perfection – it’s not over-done.  You realize with a smile that he is completely in his element”.   Hawtrey had played female leads in West End Theatres during WWII, but work had dried up in the 1950s.
  • Diana Dors. Swinging Dors.  LP 1960. Arranged by Wally Stott (the future Angela Morley). 



April in Road to Hong Kong

31 July: April Ashley obtained a small part in the Bob Hope-Bing Crosby film, The Road to Hong Kong, partially filmed at Shepperton Studios.   Hope remembered her as a Le Carrousel performer in Paris and Juan-des-Pins, but said nothing publicly.   Crosby kept singing ‘April in Paris’ when April was around. 

27 August:  The People ran an article on the decadence of Rome and its Dolce Vita.  They included a street photograph of April Ashley and Kiki Moustique from a few years before – without naming them, but claiming that they were male ballet dancers.

The People journalist Roy East, having followed up claims that one of the woman in the 27 August photograph was April Ashley, and having paid someone £5 for a tip-off, checked her modelling profile, and then accosted her at her flat in Kensington, and bullied her until he got her story.   Arthur Corbett went to see the editor, and also a friend of his tried to get the story killed.   However this only made the editor convinced that the story was worth running. 

19 November.  The People printed the story " 'Her' secret is out", repeating the photograph from 27 August.   East ended his article with: “One thing I know. April Ashley has had the courage to be frank about her two lives.  It is a courage to be admired”.   This led to closer press attention, and April lost all her modelling work. 

Ina Barton was accepted at Charing Cross Hospital for surgery.  Her friend April Ashley commented:  “They insist on lengthy intervals between each stage and use skin grafts from the legs which leave tell-tale scars on the thighs. So much messier than Dr Burou's technique. But her doctor, John Randell, was very solicitous for her well-being and wrote her letters which began, 'My dearest Galatea...'”.

April Ashley left for Spain with Arthur Corbett.

Ron Storme worked in risqué shows including the Gaiety Box Revue fronted by the gay comedian Larry Grayson. Storme was skilled at costume making, and made outfits for many London drag acts. He was often en femme at private parties, and out on the town – at a time when such off-stage behaviour was unheard of among female impersonators.

Molly Millbury, age 16, had started to go out in female clothes.  The police picked her up, exhibited her at the police station.   Her parents came to pick her up, and she was then sent to a psychiatrist.   She did not complete transition until 2000. (Dickinson: 52-3, 248-9).

John David Talbot married a widow, Mrs Eileen Poyntz, matron of an old people’s home in Brighton, Sussex.   Eileen, now Mrs Talbot, soon realized that John was anatomically not quite the man she expected – but continued to live with him for a year.   They divorced in 1967.

Karoly Hajdu, the future Charlotte Bach, took the name of Michael Karoly and took a course in hypnotherapy. He never graduated but set up in business as a hypnotherapist anyway. He also was taken on as a psychology lecturer at the Stanislavsky Studios in Knightsbridge, and wrote a column on psychology for Today magazine. He was also commissioned by Paul Elek, a Hungarian, to write a book on hypnosis. The book, the only one of his ever published, includes an early explanation of the joys of cross-dressing, and many of the patients in the book are aspects of himself.

Arnold Lowman (Virginia Prince) and his wife Doreen visited her relatives in England, and Virginia used the trip to contact some English transvestites.

4 December.  The contraceptive pill became available for the first time on the NHS, but generally only for older married women who already had children.  Health Minister Enoch Powell announced the decision in the House of Commons.

  • Michael B. Karoly. Hypnosis. Elek,   
  • Claus Overzier (ed). Intersexuality.  Academic Press, 1961.
  • “Sex-Change Girl Barbara Plans Gretna Wedding”. The News of the World, 13 August 1961. Online. Barbara Buick on a trip to England.
  • Ronald Handyside. “Wickedest Street in the World”.  The People, 27 August 1961.  Included a photograph of two women being ejected from a hotel with the caption; “You never dare to take things at their face value on the Via Veneto.  The ‘girls’ that this rich industrialist thought that he was getting along with both turned out to be MALE BALLET-DANCERS … one of them British”.  They were actually April Ashley and Kiki Moustique a few years before.
  • Roy East. " 'Her' secret is out". The Sunday People, 19 November 1961. The first outing of April Ashley.  April had been identified in the photograph in August, and Roy East pursued her until he got a story.

  • Basil Dearden (dir). Victim. Scr: Janet Green & John McCormcik, with  Dirk Bogarde as Melville Farr.  UK 96 mins 1961.   A bisexual barrister stands up to the homophobic blackmail that was possible because being gay was illegal.  The first UK movie to be sympathetic to LGBT persons.  Wikipedia.  Dirk Bogarde, up till then a matinée idol, positively transformed his career with this film.    Following the decision in the Lady Chatterley’s Lover trial the previous year, freedom of discussion was being widened.
  • John Blofeld. City of Lingering Splendour: A Frank Account of Old Peking's Exotic Pleasures. Shambala. 1989 (1961): chp 5 tells of Aleksandr Mikhailovich, a Russian ex-patriate woman in Beijing who changed into a man in the mid-1930s.
  • Roy Castle. Castlewise.  LP 1961. Arranged by Wally Stott



April's autobiography in the News of the World

6 May – 10 June:  April Ashley’s autobiography as written by journalist Noyes Thomas appeared weekly in The News of the World.  An inspiration to a generation of trans girls. 

April Ashley and Ina Barton were sharing a flat in South Kensington.   Ina went to Spain with April. On a previous trip they had gotten into a drunken slap fight about who was to drive. This time April did drive, but Ina freaked out when April mentioned that she’d never taken a test and didn’t have a license. In the commotion they went over a small cliff.  Later when Ina’s surgeries were complete, April took her to Jersey for a week. They rented bicycles. On the second day Ina fell heavily on the cross bar and her vulva was enlarged. She left immediately and returned to London to see her own doctor.

Ventriloquist Terri Rogers had transgender surgery at Charing Cross Hospital.

Gloria Gold, 27, was incarcerated in a mental hospital and subjected to electro-shock aversion therapy while in female clothes and attached to a Penile Plethysmograph. She realised that the only way to escape was to lie that the ‘treatment’ had actually worked.  This put off her transition until twenty years later.  (Dickinson: 52, 54, 74-6, 219, 248)

The future Peter Stirling, who had left her husband and child in Australia, arrived in London and found a flat and a job in shoe retailing. She was able to talk herself into becoming a patient at the Endocrine Clinic, Guy’s Hospital, London, where her primary contact was social worker Margaret Branch.  Stirling was told that her chromosomes were 47 XXY, and she was becoming more male and that if she had waited another couple of years, she would not have been able to have a child. They explained that this extra chromosome altered her hormones. They proposed surgery and hormones to turn her into a man, but they would not start doing this until she was divorced from her husband.

Ron Storme and husband George became known for their parties at their home in Putney which were said to attract name guests such as the spy Kim Philby, lesbian singing star Dusty Springfield and the gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray.  

James Morris resigned from The Guardian and became a freelance writer.  Morris investigated transsexualism. One winter evening in Ludlow he found a half-price copy of Lile Elvenes (Elbe)'s Man into Woman, and "with what agonies of embarrassment" bought it. Morris also read Robert Stoller, and an unspecified account of Charlotte D'Eon.  "I trod the long well-beaten, expensive and fruitless path of the Harley Street psychiatrists and sexologists, one after the other, getting their names from their published works, or being passed from one to the other. None of them in those days, I now realize, knew anything about the matter at all, though none of them admitted it."

Michael Dillon died.   The first trans man to obtain completion surgery, he had fled to India in 1958 to escape attention by the press.   He converted to Tibetan Buddhism and took the name Lobzang Jivaka.  His health failed and he died in Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh,  age 47.  He published two books on Buddhism in his last year.

Jeremy Wolfenden, son of the chairman of the Wolfenden Report and the Daily Telegraph correspondent in Moscow where he had befriended gay defector Guy Burgess, was photographed at his hotel by the KGB in bed with a man. 

Gay man John Vassell was sentenced to 18 years for spying for the Soviet Union. He served 10.   This briefly  embarrassed the Harold Macmillan government, but was soon eclipsed by the more dramatic Profumo Scandal in 1963.

Cis actor Wilfred Brambell (Steptoe & Son; A Hard Day’s Night) was arrested in a public toilet in Shepherds Bush for persistently importuning.  He was given a conditional discharge.

++Popular comedian Stanley Baxter was arrested in a public toilet in Holloway and charged with soliciting.  His barrister convinced the court that Baxter could not have been 'soliciting' when he was arrested because, apart from two policemen, there was no one else in the lavatories.

George Brinham, a former chairman of the Labour Party, had been murdered at home by an 18-year-old Lawrence Somers.   Brinham asked for a kiss; Somers responded by hitting him with a wine decanter several times.  He then dragged the body into the bedroom, and attempted to make it look as if a burglar had done it.  However he left his coat and gloves behind and was soon arrested. 

Wally Stott arranged UK Eurovision Song Contest entry, “Ring-A-Ding Girl" sung by Ronnie Carroll.

Vita Sackville-West who had cross-dressing adventures at the end of WWI, and who was the model for Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, died at age 70 of stomach cancer.

October: The engagement of Georgina Turtle and Christopher Somerset was announced in the Court and Social Page of the Daily Telegraph, and they were married in a church wedding in Westminster. Photographs of their wedding appeared on the front page of all editions of the Evening Standard. They were also featured in most of the Sunday newspapers, and when they arrived in Paris for their honeymoon, they found that they were on the front page of Le Journal du Dimanche.

  • Oxford English Dictionary: ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ are no longer synonyms: ‘gender’ refers to social and cultural aspects, and ‘sex’ to the biological.
  • Lobzang Jivaka. Imji Getsul An English Buddhist in a Tibetan Monastery. Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1962.
  • Lobzang Jivaka. The Life of Milarepa: Tibet's Great Yogi. Murray, 1962.
  • Norman Panama (dir). The Road to Hong Kong, with Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Joan Collins and a very small part by April Ashley.   UK 91 mins 1962.  Ashley’s credit in the film was removed (although Dean Martin, Peter Sellers, Frank Sinatra and David Niven were also uncredited). 
  • Noyes Thomas writing as April Ashley. “My Strange Life”. The News of the World. 6 May 1962.
  • Noyes Thomas writing as April Ashley. "Goodbye M'sieu, hello Mamsells, the doctor said". News of the World, 13 May 1962.
  • Noyes Thomas writing as April Ashley. "Roman Scandal – hotel throws us out". News of the World, 27 May 1962.
  • Noyes Thomas writing as April Ashley. "The Operation". News of the World, 3 June 1962.
  • Noyes Thomas writing as April Ashley. "There, in a crowded pub, Arthur told me he loved me". News of the World, 10 June 1962.
  • James Clavell. King Rat.  Martin Joseph, 1962.  A novel about the Japanese POW camp at Changi, Singapore where Clavell was interned for three years.  A secondary character was Sean Jennison, a fighter pilot.   He is selected to play female parts in the camp theatricals because he was one of the youngest men present and because he shaved only infrequently.   Initially very resistant, Jennison comes to identify with the part and, after growing his hair, starts to live as a woman full- time.  When the camp is liberated, Jennison cannot adjust, and – in female clothing – walks into the sea and dies.  Review.


Philip Larkin’s poem, “Annus Mirabilis”:

Sexual intercourse began
In nineteen sixty-three
(which was rather late for me) -
Between the end of the Chatterley ban
And the Beatles' first LP.

23 January.  Top British spy, Kim Philby, fled to Moscow, although it was not officially confirmed until 1 July.  Unlike his two fellow spies, Donald Mclean and Guy Burgess, who had fled to Moscow in 1951, Philby was neither gay nor bi.

The Conservative Government of Harold Macmillan was greatly and further embarrassed by the heterosexual Profumo Scandal, wherein the Secretary of State for War had been having sex with the same mistress, Christine Keeler, as a Soviet naval attaché.  Keeler had been introduced to both by Stephen Ward an osteopath and socialite.  In March Profumo denied impropriety in a statement to the House of Commons, but admitted all a few weeks later and resigned as a Minister and as an MP. In June, Tom Denning, a senior judge was asked to conduct an enquiry. He published it in September, and 105,000 copies were sold.  Ward was the only person charged – with living off immoral earnings – and killed himself during the final stages of his trial.  Macmillan resigned as Prime Minister ‘on health grounds’ in October. 

It was an open secret that Ernest Marples, the Minister of Transport, engaged prostitutes, however he was not involved in the Profumo Scandal.  Tom Denning investigating the Profumo scandal, also investigated rumours about other ministers.  His investigation was close to its conclusion when on 9 July a woman using the name Mrs Ann Bailey, but sometimes Mrs Smith, came forward. She explained that she was a full-time prostitute and had for a long time been paid by Marples. She described how he bought women’s clothes and wore them when he met her. She described his further tastes of which, she said, ‘whipping was the least sickening’.   It was felt that this very much exposed Marples to a risk of blackmail. It was also felt that Bailey had been encouraged to approach the Denning inquiry by a national newspaper so that once her evidence was authenticated and published in Denning’s report, the newspaper would be clear to pay her and publish the story. 

Several of the medical men in London had suggested to Georgina Somerset that she write her autobiography, but what she did produce was a study based on those transsexuals who had contacted her. This involved a detailed knowledge of 30 of the transsexuals (one of whom was the future Jan Morris) and lesser knowledge of 100 others. The book was published in 1963, under her maiden name, as Over the Sex Border, with a Foreword by Kenneth Walker.  This was three years before Harry Benjamin's book, and thus is the first ever on the topic.  She says that she is not a transsexual, and that surgery should be only for intersex persons and those transsexuals under 25 who have never married or had children.  "Less than a few percent of transsexuals are true or primary transsexuals. These are generally the lonely, sensitive, asexual types of transsexual" (p82).  She refers to trans women as male transsexuals.  "The sad part is that, however permissive society becomes, these cases will always have to accept that biologically and organically they are really no more than feminised males or masculinised females, and will forever remain, regardless of their altered anatomy, of the male or female sex to which they were born. (72)".  However she does balance this with:  "There are still some to-day known to me of that era who were repeatedly turned away, heartbroken and suicidal, and yet who have managed to struggle on trying to do 'the right thing' and maintain the respect of society. For them the magical dream of being a young girl has gone for ever – they never wanted to be old women! They banged at the door and it creaked a little, making it easier for the next, but they themselves never 'made it' through. It is these less fortunate unknowns, not just the well-known cases, that transsexuals have to thank to-day for the recognition given to the syndrome. (p97)"

S vs S 1962.  A woman [possibly intersex] with a defect of the vagina was held to be a woman in that her chromosomes, gonads and genitals were concordant, and the court declined to annul the marriage.

10 September. Arthur Corbett and April Ashley were wed in Gibraltar, April thereby becoming Lady Corbett, Arthur being the heir apparent to the Rowallan Baroncy.  April’s passport was sufficient for identification. 

Norman Hartnell, couturier to three Queens and half the aristocracy, and closet transvestite, had made the mistake of promoting his husband, George Mitchison, to general manager of the firm.  Mitchison was extravagant and incompetent, and the firm sank into debt.  In 1963 Hartnell had to sell his beloved house. 

The future Christine Goodwin, bus driver, married and father of four, underwent aversion therapy which led to repression of being trans for over twenty years.

Michael Karoly – the future Charlotte Bach - was charged at Knebworth with a breach of the peace after being arrested dressed as female. He separated from his wife, founded Divorcees Anonymous and seduced several of the women who attended. After a denouncing article in the Sunday People, both his hypnosis patients and members of Divorcees Anonymous stayed away.

Wally Stott arranged the UK Eurovision Song Contest entry, “Say Wonderful Things” sung by Ronnie Carroll.

Kenneth Tynan, drama critic, closet transvestite and spanking enthusiast, was having an affair with April Ashley’s flatmate.  He also became literary manager at the newly founded National Theatre, in those days located at the Old Vic Theatre in Waterloo.

At the trial of Lawrence Somers for murdering George Brinham, the accused used the gay panic defense, the judge directed the jury to a verdict of not guilty: "...this man attempted to make homosexual advances... I think that is about as clear a case of provocation as it is possible to have".  Somers was found not guilty of all charges despite his excessive reaction, his tampering with the scene, attempting a cover-up and failing to report a death.

  • Georgina Turtle. Over the Sex Border. Victor Gollancz, 1963. A study based on those transsexuals who had contacted the author. This involved a detailed knowledge of 30 of the transsexuals and lesser knowledge of 100 others. 
  • CJ Dewhurst & RR Gordon.  “Change of Sex”.  The Lancet, 2, 7 December 1963. 19 successful late reassignments of hermaphrodites (up to 33 years). 
  • Ian Berg, Harold Nixon & Robert MacMahon. “Change of Assigned Sex at Puberty”. The Lancet, 2, 7 December 1963. Two article refuting Money’s position that gender changed must be done by 30 months.
  • James Morris. Coronation Everest. Faber and Faber, 1963.

  • Lionel Crane. “How to Spot a Potential Homo”.  Sunday Mirror, 28 April 1963: 7.  The KGB had identified John Vassell, so why not MI5?  On the homophobic assumption that all gays are security risks, a list of stereotypes: middle-aged, unmarried with a strong affection for his mother; fussy dresser; over-clean; adored by older women; drinks alone while looking at other men; etc.
  • Derek Ive. “The strange facts about ‘Divorcees Anonymous’ and the bashful Mr K who runs it”.  The People, November 10, 1963: 6.  Michael Karoly (Charlotte Bach)’s last attempt to be cishet.



  • Georgina Turtle. Over the Sex Border. Victor London: Gollancz. 319 pp 1963.
  • Gillian Freeman: The Undergrowth of Literature. Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1967.
  • Duncan Fallowell & April Ashley. April Ashley's Odyssey.Jonathan Cape, 1982. London: Arrow 1983. Online.
  • Kris Kirk with photographs by Ed Heath. Men In Frocks. London: Gay Men's Press 1984.
  • Peter Stirling. So Different: an Extraordinary Autobiography. Simon & Schuster 1989.
  • Alkarim Jivani. It’s Not Unusual: A History of Gay Britain in the Twentieth Century. Indiana Press, 1997.
  • Roger Lewis. Charles Hawtrey 1914-1988: The Man Who Was Private Widdle. Faber and Faber, 2001.
  • Rose Collis. Colonel Barker's monstrous regiment: a tale of female husbandry. Virago, 2001.
  • Pierre-Henri Castel. Chronologie et bibliographie représentative du transsexualisme et des pathologies de l'identité sexuelle de 1910 à 1998. 2003. Online.
  • April Ashley with Douglas Thompson. The First Lady. Blake, 2006.
  • Patrick Newley. The Amazing Mrs Shufflewick: The Life of Rex Jameson. Third Age Press. 2007.
  • Tommy Dickinson. ‘Curing Queers’: Mental nurses and their patients, 1935-74. Manchester University Press, 2015.
  • Michael Bloch. C10set Queens: Some 20th Century British Politicians. Abacus, 2015.
  • Michael Pick. Norman Hartnell. The Biography. Zuleika, 2019.
  • Haydon Bridge. “The Mysterious East: East London has generally kept its gay history secret … until now”. QX London Gay History. Online.
  • Haydon Bridge. “Go West, Young man: Pretty and fashionable – West London is just like the gay men who’ve lived there!”. QX London Gay History. Online.
  • Haydon Bridge. “Northern Exposure: For London’s newest gay village and most famous cruising ground head north …” QX London Gay History. Online