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

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25 November 2020

Trans New Orleans: Part III - Activism and Legal Changes

Part I: the early years to news of Christine Jorgensen

Part II: to the two fires of 1972-3

Part III: Activism and Legal Changes


1974

Perry Desmond’s mother died, and wished to remember Perry ‘as you were’. Perry’s ex-lover had turned to Jesus, and kept sending her religious literature. She finally read it, and approached the Baptist Church next to the laundromat. The minister visited her at home, and she converted, and was persuaded that to God she was still a man. Perry reverted to male clothing. He (from now on) became a minister after a while, and a celebrity on the Christian circuit. He became a pioneer in the Exodus ex-gay movement.

Travis’s Bar on Rampart Street became the drag venue after Club My-O-My closed. It sponsered a Miss Drag Universe Pageant.

1977

During a few weeks in the spring, five gay men were attacked and killed. The spree stopped when two black trans women tipped off the police. Sixteen-year-old Warren Harris who had been raised in a devout Baptist home was arrested. During questioning he expressed revulsion for gay men – this despite living with a trans woman. He was sentenced to three life sentences.

The Anita Bryant crusade against gay and trans persons came to New Orleans – her first public appearance after her successful overturn of the gay rights ordinance in Miami. Perry Desmond spoke out in support, but otherwise it became the first large mobilization of gay protesters.


Lucille Mar (born 1956) was arrested for prostitution. However a medical examination showed that she had previously been a man, and the Louisiana Law against prostitution applied only to women. The charges were dropped. 

Faubourg Marigny Bookstore opened, the first gay/feminist bookstore in the US South.






1978

At Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Vicky West, the cover artist for New York’s Drag Magazine, was with a contingent organized by New York’s Lee's Mardi Gras Boutique when she met cis photographer Mariette Pathy Allen who was impressed by her posture: “who focused straight back at me. As I peered through the camera lens, I had the feeling that I was looking at neither a man nor a woman but at the essence of a human being”. As it turned out they lived 20 blocks apart in New York. They started going to parties and other events together.

1979

Joanna Cluse had genital surgery from Dr Biber in Colorado. Joanna met and married a loving Jewish man, but cheated on him, and then asked for a divorce. Her next fiancé dropped her when he discovered her past.

Neil Cargile/Chenille, Tennessee cross-dresser and dare-devil pilot, landed a passenger at New Orleans, who then walked into the propellor and was decapitated.

1980

Regina Adams, who had escaped the Upstairs Lounge fire, became a well known performer in New Orleans, first as a drag performer, and then as a woman. In 1980 Regina legally changed her name to Regina Adams, honoring the man who should have been her husband.

Colin Markland, previously sex-change surgeon at the University of Minnesota, was professor and Head of Urology at Louisiana State University.

1981

Leslie Townsend was in New Orleans. She worked as a female impersonator and a sex worker.

1983

Tara O’Hara had been raised by a Jehovah's Witness family in New Orleans. In the early 80s, he was working in Berlin as an English teacher. When he discovered Romy Haag's drag club he went back again and again, and started wearing drag to the club. This lead to a part in the show and he gave up both teaching and the Jehovah's Witnesses. She was in Rosa von Praunheim's 1983 film, Stadt Der Verlorenen Seelen (City of Lost Souls) along with Jayne County and Angie Stardust where they all play versions of themselves.

Future sex-change doctor Toby Meltzer graduated with a MD from Lousiana State University, then did a four-year residency at the Charity Hospital in New Orleans.

1984

Perry Desmond died of a heart attack aged 48.

1980s

Gilbertine Liveaudais was a fashionable trans woman who managed to be at the best galas, balls and soirées. She was a self described and unapologetic “quadroon”, who had been raised in the Magnolia Housing Development. She always did well in the Miss Drag Universe Pageant. She performed at Travis’s Bar. 

1985

Marsha and Rip Naquin-Delain moved to New Orleans. They expanded the coverage of Ambush Magazine to include the city.

Crystal Little, ex-navy, had been oscillating for 20 years. After her mother died, she started to live openly as a woman. Her son stopped speaking to her.

1986

Marsha and Rip Naquin-Delain acquired the building at 828 Bourbon Street. The ground floor was the office of Ambush Magazine and Naquin and Delain lived upstairs.

Joanna Cluse returned to LaFayette. One evening, while drunk, she crashed her car and almost killed her passengers. In 1988 she married a single father of two children. They moved to Marietta, Georgia, and she became a Christian wife and mother, and stayed off drugs and alcohol.

Dave Parsons, punk rock author and record producer, lived in New Orleans for a while. He started performing mime and doing Charlie Chaplin impersonations. An Italian film crew found him and asked him to do Charlie at their film premier in Rome. He then ended up in Switzerland making a living as a Chaplin impersonator, and was the official Charlie Chaplin impersonator to the Chaplin family, working with them for 15 years. Dave as Donna completed transition in 2003, but died shortly afterwards.

1987

Marcy Marcell, who missed the Upstairs Lounge Fire by being late, founded the Gay Appreciation Awards, a charity fundraiser.

1991

  • Oliver Stone (dir) JFK. Scr: Oliver Stone & Zachery Sklar, with Kevin Costner as Jim Garrison, Gary Oldman as Lee Harvey Oswald, Tommy Lee Jones as Clay Shaw. US 189 mins 1991. The major film about the 1963 presidential assassination which is shown as having been planned in New Orleans, with gay conspirators and a few fleeting drag queens, leading up to the trial of Clay Shaw. While some gay men may have been involved, the presentation here was upsetting to gay reviewers. Comment from GLAAD.

1991-5

Megan Chavalier and Alex Forrset performed as drag queens at Papa Joe’s on Bourbon Street. Chavalier later moved to Hollywood and became a trans pornstar.

The City Council passed its first Gay non-discrimination ordinance.

1992

  • Mark Frost (dir). Storyville. Mark Frost & Lee Reynolds (scr) with Bernard Zette as Tom Plunkett. US 113 mins 1992. Plunkett is a trans model who witnesses a murder, and then retreats to a male identity so as not to be found. Finally Plunkett – en femme – does appear at the trial to give evidence and is shot at, but survives. 











1993

New Orleans Ordinance introduced same-sex domestic partnerships in 1993, Naquin and Delain were the first to be registered.

Section 5-66, ccs 18, 537, the ban on gay bar employee from 1959 was repealed; Ordinace 14.240 from 1935, that prohibited cross-dressing in public except on Mardi Gras, also repealed.

1994

Joanna Cluse had embraced her Christian beliefs more deeply, and by 1994 had concluded that she was outside God’s will. She shared her conclusion with her husband, and they separated. She returned to Louisiana as a woman.

1995

Trans woman Chrystal Little became director of the GLBT Community Center. She had already been president of Gulf Gender Alliance.

1997

Joanna Cluse participated in Crossover, the ex-transgender group. Eighteen months later she did a 40-day fast, and then in January 1999 returned to being Joseph. Joseph had his breast implants removed. He became pastor with Crossover and with Exodus, and became a star feature on the Exodus Gender Identity page, where he explained: “Satan’s stronghold on my life was such that I could see no other course for my life than a complete sex change operation. I believed God had made a mistake and given me the physical attributes of a man, and I determined to set things ‘right’ ”.

Louisiana became the first state in US South to pass a hate crimes law that covered sexual orientation.

1998

New Orleans added gender identity to the list of groups protected from discrimination.

Katey Red was signed and became one of the first trans rappers in the sissy bounce genre.

1999

Big Freedia, who had started singing in her local Baptist Church, started her career in bounce music.

2000

Peter Oiler, a 20-year Winn-Dixie supermarket truck driver in Harahan outside New Orleans, was fired when his manager found that outside work he was Donna. The case was taken up by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) which filed a federal lawsuit on his behalf under title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits sex discrimination, and the Supreme Court case Price Waterhouse v. Cooper which had barred sex stereotyping in the workplace. The US District Court Judge ruled against Oiler on both counts in 2002, and Winn-Dixie then sued Oiler for legal fees of $9,000. Casetext.

Bobbi D’ean Perry was featured in the Times-Picayune as an example of trans women being benevolent.

  • Bill Grady. “The Girl Can’t Help it, So She helps Others”. Times-Picayune, 23 July 2000.

2001

JoAnn Guidos had waited until his mother died, and finally became JoAnn full time at age 51. Ex-wife Kathy and her new husband were friendly and together the three of them fixed up a couple of properties to be run as bars.

Robert Durst, from a New York real-estate dynasty and a murder suspect, was living sometimes as Diane Winn in New Orleans.

2003

The husband of Ilsa Strix (Karin Winslow), a top dominatrix in Los Angeles, who had left him for Lana Wachowshi, one of the directors of the Matrix films, moved to New Orleans to be with his second wife, body piercer, tattoo artist and body modification enthusiast Elayne Angel - he took her name, and became Buck Angel. He then sought work as a trans-porn actor.

The Louisiana anti-sodomy law was rendered unenforceable in 2003 by the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Lawrence v. Texas. However the 1805 law otherwise remained in effect and the police started using the clause that prohibits “unnatural copulation” against sex workers. They were charged with a felony, had “sex offender” added to their drivers’ license, were forbidden to wear a costume at Mardi Gras, and were denied public assistance. Of those so arrested, 78% are black, almost all are women and many are trans. Archived newsarticle.

Rose Venkatesan of Chennai, Tamil Nadu, graduated in biomedical engineering from Louisiana Tech University. She commented that she found the people there to be “aggressively homophobic”.

  • Big Freedia. Queen Diva. CD, 2003.

2005

JoAnn Guidos was the co-owner with Kathy of Kajun’s Pub in downtown New Orleans. A few months later during Hurricane Katrina in August-September JoAnne kept her pub open as a place of refuge until armed troops forced the place to close, and all to evacuate.

Cathryn Platine and Ethan St Pierre from New York State’s Cybele Maetreum organized relief efforts for the LGBT victims of the hurricane.

Because of Hurricane Katrina, there was no Southern Decadence in 2005. Therefore joint Grand Marshalls Lisa Beaumann and Regina Adams reigned in both 2005 and 2006.

Amiyah Scott, 17, raised in New Orleans, completed transition.

2007

New Orleans born female impersonator Elton Paris (1922-2007) died age 85. He had performed at Finocchio’s in San Francisco and with the Jewel Box Revue.

2010

Tyra Fields, a health worker, facilitated a meeting of black trans women who had been harrassed and subjected to arrest without cause by the police. NewsArticle.

  • Big Freedia. Big Freedia Hitz Vol 1. CD, 2010.

2011

Marcy Marcell died.

New Orleans bounce artists including Katey Red and Big Freedia were celebrated in an exhibition at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans.

203

Marsha and Rip Naquin-Delain were married in St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York on their 40th anniversary.

2014

Three Louisiana residents have been arrested after allegedly holding a transgender woman captive for months, treating her as their “slave”. 37-year-old David Rodriguez, Jr., along with Christina Marie Harper and Ambre Tubbs Lomas, both 39, were arrested on charges ranging from human trafficking to battery. Newsstory.

  • Big Freedia. Just be Free. CD, 2014.

2015

Tristan Broussard, 21, Lake Charles, Louisiana, filed a sex-discrimination lawsuit after forced to leave his job. A company executive found out he was listed on his driver's license as female. The executive demanded he dress and act like a woman, something he refused to do.

Amiyah Scott cast in The Real Housewives of Atlanta – the first trans woman in the franchise. Later she was cast in the show Star.

Murdered: Penny Proud.

2016

Goddess Diamond was found dead in a torched car. 

2017

Rip Naquin died age 63 in August 2017 of liver failure. Marsha died four months later – some say of a broken heart.

Sophie White, filmmaker and actress started transition. That year she won an International Screen Writers Association award. She also pitched a film called Hummingbird loosely based on her own story of almost being pushed to suicide. They started filming with Sophie in the lead role. However another trans woman brought in as a consultant died by suicide, and they did not have the heart to finish post-production. 

Three unrelated murders of trans women in February: Ciara McElvee, Chyna Gibson & Jaquarrius Holland.

2018

Joseph Cluse died on his birthday, age 64.

Armani Nicole Davenport, a trans pageant winner, was tried in New Orleans for illegally injecting another trans women with silicone. She pleaded guilty to negligent homicide, and was sentenced to two years probation and 50 hours of cummunity service. Newsarticle.

2019

Sophie White cast in an episode of Chicago Med.

  • Amiyah Scott. Memoirs of a Mermaid: The Evolution of Amiyah Scott. Kindle, 2019.

2020

New Orleans trans poet, Taylor Johnson, featured by the Folger Shakespeare Library. NewsArticle.

The House of Tulip organized an online fundraiser, and bid for some rundown properties to become a refuge for homeless trans and gnc persons.

_____________________

The following were consulted

  • James T Sears. Rebels, Rubyfruit and Rhinestones: Queering Space in the Stonewall South. Rutgers University Press, 2001.
  • Roberts Batson. “New Orleans”. GLBTQ, 2004
  • Scott S Ellis. Madame Vieux Carré. University Press of Mississippi, 2010.
  • Jelisa Thompson. You make Me Feel: A Study of the Gay Rights Movement in New Orleans. BA Thesis. The University of Southern Mississippi, 2011.
  • Frank Perez & Jeffrey Palmquist. In Exile: The History and Lore Surrounding New Orleans Gay Culture and Its Oldest Gay Bar. LL Publications, 2012.
  • Frank Perez. ““My O My! The Most Interesting Women Are Not Women At All!”. Ambush Magazine, March 5-18, 2013: 12. Online.
  • Frank Perez. “Killer Tricks”. Ambush Magazine, September 24 – October 7, 2013. Online.
  • Ryan Pretcher. Gay New Orleans: A History. PhD Thesis. Georgia State University, 2017. 

Trans Legends on New Orleans 

History of Drag Culture in New Orleans 

LGBT+ Archives of Louisiana

22 November 2020

Trans New Orleans: Part II - to the two fires of 1972-3

Part I: the early years to news of Christine Jorgensen

Part II: to the two fires of 1972-3

Part III: Activism and Legal Changes




1954

At Louisiana State University Perry Desmond found his first gay friends, but was expelled for being gay. He found a lover in Baton Rouge until his mother interfered. He then went to Southwestern Louisiana Institute (now the University of Louisiana at Lafeyette) and found another lover before being kicked out for doing so. In New Orleans he became a waiter and a prostitute, and as a kept boy started wearing female clothing full time, until his mother interfered.

1955

Charlotte McLeod, back from surgery in Copenhagen, took a gig in New Orleans, but found that the contract was with a strip club. “And right across the street was a very, well the nicest club on the street. No hard bumps and grinds and strips and all that kind of thing. And to get me out of the verbal contract the owner paid for me going to court. And the next thing I am sitting up in front of the judge. I never will forget, I had a great big felt cart wheel hat on. Couldn’t sit on the seat because the cart wheel hat hit the back and I had to take my hat off. I don’t know why I should remember that. In that day and time ladies wore their hats. And he released me from the contract and I went across to the Show Bar, which was the nicest club on the street.” A dancer-comedienne called Cupcake wrote material for Charlotte: “I’ve been to many places, environments strange, and then I went to Denmark, just for a little change”.

Charlotte met Christine Jorgensen when they were both appearing in New Orleans. 

Stormé DeLarverie, New Orleans born, became the sole male impersonator in the Jewel Box Revue. After starting with the show he began to dress in men's clothing offstage too.

Impersonator Harvey Lee performed at Club My-O-My.


Queer Music Heritage


NOPD Superintendent declares homosexuals to be “Number 1 vice problem”.

1956

Bobby Marchan was employed by Ace Records’ Johnny Vincent who did not realize that Bobby was not a woman until told two days later.

Leynon, from Mexico was a star at the My-O-My Club on Lake Ponchatrain. When Perry Desmond was hired for a first chance as a performer at New Orleans’ My-O-My Club in 1956, Leynon stepped in to help Desmond with make-up and costume.

Desmond records that Leynon was viciously murdered in a transphobic hate crime in Mexico a few years later. 

Perry Desmond was recruited for the Jewel Box Review because his size allowed him to take over the costumes of one who had left. He quit the Revue when his father was in hospital. After that he opened a beauty salon, but then performed in various drag clubs.

1958

The first gay 'krewe' – of the krewes that put on the New Orleans Mardi Gras celebrations –the Yuga Krewe, was founded. The first two Yuga Balls – a mixture of a drag show and a bal masque - were held in a private house on Carrollton Avenue, but the neighbors had become irate. They did not join the Mardi Gars parade.

Candy Lee had started a career as a female impersonator at the Club My-O-My on Lake Pontchartrain. She also worked as a bartender at Bacino’s bar, and was an acquaintance of playwright Tennessee Williams, who wrote a one-act play, And Tell Sad Stories of the Death of Queens in 1958, which is said to be inspired by the life of Candy. The play’s protagonist, an interior decorator who sometimes cross-dresses, is called Candy, and is about to turn 35. Her older lover who set her up in business has left her for a younger man. Candy picks up a sailor, Karl, in a gay bar. She spends money on him, and he then beats her up and steals more. This was the first play by Williams with explicit gay characters, and was never performed during his lifetime.

Candy was also one of the founder members of the Yuga Krewe. However she did not get on with the other members, and by the early 1960s had been banned from the balls. The word is that she called the police on the 1962 Fifth Yuga Ball.

An agent in New York named Perry Desmond ‘The South’s Most Beautiful Boy’. In 1958 he and 142 others were arrested at a big costume ball at the Manhattan Center in New York. At the same time he came down with jaundice.

New Orleans city council created a “Committee on the Problem of Sex Deviates”.

Section 5-66, ccs 18, 537 was added to city ordinances. “No person of lewd, immoral, or dissolute character, sexual pervert … shall be employed” in bars or restaurants. This ordinance was not repealed until 1993.

The manager and staff (one of whom was Candy lee) of Tony Bacino’s, a gay bar, were arrested six times, the charge each time reading “Person of lewd character employed as bartender”. They applied for and were awarded an injunction and temporary restraining order, but ultimately lost the case.

Three students at New Orleans’ Tulane University decided to” roll a queer”. At 1:30 am one of them picked up a man in the Café Lafitte in Exile. He got him into an alley, where he and the two others beat the man so badly that he died 12 hours later. An autopsy revealed that the victim had an unusually thin cranium. During their murder trial the three students argued that his thin cranium was why he died, not their beating. The all-white, all-male jury quickly acquitted them to courtroom applause. They were also charged with robbery and got six-months suspended. 

1960

The third Yuga Ball in 1960 was held in a jazz club, Mama Lou’s on Lake Pontchartrain, reached by a wooden walkway that proved quite difficult for those who came in high heels. William Wooley was the head window dresser at a department store on Canal St. He and his team simply borrowed stock for the Yuga ball.

Smith p107

One day on the street Perry Desmond met an old friend who was close to completing transition, and demanded the name of her doctor. Perry then started on hormone injections from “Dr Ritter” in New York (probably Dr Benito Rish) , and started electrolysis. She also bleached her hair. She had a nose job and silicone injections. Once she had breasts she passed easily as a woman, and went back to a mix of hooking and running a beauty salon. She gave that up to be a kept woman, but after a year of two-timing her husband, left him for the other man, Wayne.

New Orleans chapter of the lesbian organization Daughters of Bilitis founded.

1961

The Krewe of Petronius legally registered as a Mardi Gras krewe. It received a charter from the state to stage a Mardi Gras ball. The krewe also hired a police detail for protection, thus making it safe from a raid or other harassment.

1962

The fourth and fifth Yuga Balls were held in the New Orleans suburb of Metairie in a school that had a large dance studio, and was surrounded by a wooded area close to the lake. The second gay krewe, that of Petronius, held its first ball in 1962 at the same location.

However the Yuga Ball a week later was raided by the Parish Police. Some managed to flee, but many were arrested in what the police dubbed a ‘lewd stag party’. Those arrested had their names printed in the newspapers and thus most lost their jobs.

Newly elected and sexually flexible District Attorney Jim Garrison made headlines with a series of vice raids in the French Quarter.

1963

Soon-to-be-assassination-patsy Lee Harvey Oswald returned to his birth city. He approached Jules Weiss of the gay Armeinius Krewe who was also known as Lovely Rita. Weiss let him stay in his spare room for several weeks before he moved on to Dallas. Oswald noted this kindness in his diary, and a decade later Weiss was charged with conspiracy to kill President Kennedy and fencing stolen goods.

John Rechy published his accounts of male hustling in New Orleans and elsewhere. He had seemingly been unaffected by Garrison’s vice raids.

After surgery in New York and at Johns Hopkins, Reed Erickson legally transitioned – a legal precedent in Louisiana. He married his first wife shortly afterwards.

  • John Rechy. City of Night. Grove Press, 1963.

1964

Tony Barreto-Neto ran off to New Orleans where, sometimes as a man, sometimes as a lesbian, he did a degree at Louisiana State University Medical Center while being openly gay, dropped out of graduate school, ran a gay disco, played drums in several bands, especially Original Bleus, became active on lesbian issues, was the first female co-chair of the Louisiana Gay Political Action Coalition (LAGPAC)

1965

Delisa Newton , nurse, jazz vocalist, had surgery and was billed in the press as ‘The First Negro Sex Change’.

Mid-1960s

A few of the bars in the French Quarter offered drag performances, but it was strictly enforced that performers had to arrive dressed as men, and likewise to leave.

The balls of the gay krewes were popular despite police harassment. They had problems finding places for the balls to be held. Some of the few organizations willing to rent to them were the African-American labor unions, especially the Longshoremen’s Association.

1966

Richard Ekins, the English future sociologist of transgender, and jazz musician, on his first visit to New Orleans encountered Joseph 'Kid Twat' Butler, bass player with the Kid Thomas Band, who had never seen such a tall, long-haired and heavily-bearded man, and bowed down proclaiming: “Here come de Lord!". The moniker stuck. Lord Richard set up his own record label, La Croix Records, and released seven LPs by both British and New Orleans musicians. The famous Kid Thomas Band recorded live in 1968 at Kohlman’s Tavern in New Orleans was one of his projects.

State v. Young et al (1966); the Louisiana Supreme Court unanimously held that cunnilingus between lesbian partners was also criminal.

1967

Originally from New Orleans, Lady Java had been working in Los Angeles for two years, and was then performing and waiting at the Redd Foxx Club. She was billed as "The Prettiest Man on Earth”.

Eddie Dame, the future Barbara de Lamere, had lost his New York boyfriend to a heterosexual marriage. After the wedding, Eddie went to New Orleans for Mardi Gras and bought a full set of female clothing. Back in New York Eddie started going out en femme. Barbara completed transition by 1982.

Prominent gay businessman Clay Shaw was charged by Jim Garrison with conspiring to bring about the JFK assassination. New Orleans gay persons saw this as homophobic persecution.

1968

Perry Desmond’s father died, and she bought male clothing to attend his funeral. She opened a new beauty salon in a haunted ante-bellum house in New Orleans, and then became a self-taught astrologer, and did lots of drugs. Her business evolved into an occult shop called The Age of Aquarius. She had her fortune read two or three times every day and constantly recalculated her horoscope.

1969

Alice Stevenson reportedly first NO trans woman to achieve completion surgery. (Approximate year.)

Clay Shaw reads about his trial

The trial of Clay Shaw started during Mardi Gras. A not guilty verdict was returned by a jury that took less than one hour to decide.

1970

Gay Liberation Front local chapter founded. Although the group fell apart by mid-1971, in that brief span it had produced the first gay public action, a demonstration at City Hall protesting police harassment. It also published the first gay-identified publication, a newsletter entitled Sunflower, and presented the first Stonewall commemoration, a June 1971 "Gay-In" in City Park.

1971

Joseph Cluse from Lafayette, Louisiana, moved to New Orleans, became Joanna, performed in a nightclub and did sex work. She also did lots of drugs and drink.

New Orleans Metropolitan Community Church founded.

It is said that Bubbles Rose Lee of New York’s Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) was extradited to Louisiana on serious criminal charges – although there is no record of a trial.

1972

Club My-O-My destroyed by fire. It relocated to the French Quarter for a short wile, before closing permanently.

First Southern Decadence. At first a private party, it has grown into one of the city's most important gay events. Guests at the original party were invited to come as their favorite Southern decadent character, real or fictional. This was repeated and became the huge annual Labor Day extravaganza called Southern Decadence, which rivals Mardi Gras in terms of the number of gay tourists it attracts. Costumes and cross-dressing are part of the celebrations.

1973

24 June. An arson attack at the Up Stairs Lounge, 141 Chartres Street, in the French Quarter of New Orleans. The prime suspect is a gay man who had been ejected from the bar earlier in the day. He was never charged and killed himself 17 months later. 29 died, and another 18 were injured, of whom three later died. 

Among the dead was Reginald Adams, an Afro-American from Dallas who had been studying at Loyola University in New Orleans, initially with the aim of becoming a Jesuit priest. At the Up Stairs lounge he had met a young performer, who did drag acts, and was trying out some feminine personae. They became a couple, Regina and Reginald, one of the few inter-racial gay couples in New Orleans at that time. They were both at the Up Stairs social on the fatal night. They realized that they did not have enough money for a dinner arrangement afterwards, and, having finished her drink, it was Regina who went home to get some, and also a borrowed hat to be returned. On return she saw the building aflame.

Marcy Marcel was a regular performer at the Upstairs, but she was fortunate in that she arrived late after watching Bette Davies in Jezebel on television.

Another survivor was Adrian St Clair, a drag performer who went on to be the repeated winner of the Miss Drag Universe Pageant.

The horror of the Upstairs fire was compounded by the undisguised homophobia of the time. Some churches refused to allow funerals for the victims, and some parents refused to claim the bodies of their children for burial. The tragedy, however, did motivate a handful of activists who launched another publication, Causeway, and established a Gay Crisis Phone Line.

Marsha Delain met Rip Naquin on a trip to New Orleans. They soon moved in with each other in Baton Rouge. They started two gay publications that ultimately failed. Their third attempt was Ambush Magazine. Originally it covered Baton Rouge and north Louisiana.

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

The following were consulted:

  •  James T Sears. Rebels, Rubyfruit and Rhinestones: Queering Space in the Stonewall South. Rutgers University Press, 2001.
  • Roberts Batson. “New Orleans”. GLBTQ, 2004.
  • Albert J Carey. “New Orleans Mardi Gras Krewes”. GLBTQ, 2004.
  • Scott S Ellis. Madame Vieux Carré. University Press of Mississippi, 2010.
  • Jelisa Thompson. You make Me Feel: A Study of the Gay Rights Movement in New Orleans. BA Thesis. The University of Southern Mississippi, 2011.
  • Frank Perez & Jeffrey Palmquist. In Exile: The History and Lore Surrounding New Orleans Gay Culture and Its Oldest Gay Bar. LL Publications, 2012.
  • Frank Perez. ““My O My! The Most Interesting Women Are Not Women At All!”. Ambush Magazine, March 5-18, 2013: 12. Online.
  • Frank Perez. “Killer Tricks”. Ambush Magazine, September 24 – October 7, 2013. Online.
  • Clayton Delery-Edwards. The Up Stairs Lounge Arson: Thirty-Two Deaths in a New Orleans Gay Bar, June 24, 1973. McFarland Publishing, 2014.
  • Howard Philips Smith. Unveiling the Muse: The Lost History of Gay Carnival in New Orleans. University Press of Mississippi, 2017. 
  • Robert W Fieselar.  Tinderbox: The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge Fire and the Rise of Gay Liberation. Liveright, 2018. 
  • Ryan Pretcher. Gay New Orleans: A History. PhD Thesis. Georgia State University, 2017. 

Trans Legends on New Orleans      History of Drag Culture in New Orleans     

LGBT+ Archives of Louisiana        QueerMusicHeritage(Club My-O-My) 

20 November 2020

Trans News Orleans: Part I - the early years to news of Christine Jorgensen

Part I: the early years to news of Christine Jorgensen
Part II: to the two fires of 1972-3
Part III: Activism and Legal Changes


There were two tribes living where New Orleans was later built:

Choctaw/Chahta: Their Two-Spirit traditions were referred to as Hatukiklanna and Hatukholba

Chitimacha (whether or not they had two-spirit traditions is not recorded)

1718

La Nouvelle-Orléans (feminine) founded and named for Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, who was said to be queer.

1722

Capital of La Louisiane is relocated to New Orleans, from Biloxi.

1729

Marc Antoine Caillot of the Company of the Indies went as a shepherdess, all in white for the Carnival on Lundi Gras (the day before Mardi Gras).

1751

Jean Bernard Bossu wrote of the Choctaw: “They are morally quite perverted and most of them are addicted to sodomy”.

1762

Louisiana ceded to Spain in the aftermath of the Seven Years’ War.

1800

Spain ceded La Louisiane back to France as part of Napoleon's secret Third Treaty of San Ildefonso. The territory nominally remained under Spanish control.

1803

After failure in the attempt to suppress Haitian independence, Napoleon sold La Louisiana to the US.

1805

Louisiana, now in the US, enacted a criminal code copied from that of Mississippi which made sodomy subject to a penalty of life imprisonment with hard labor. The law was also applied to heterosexual acts, and was not struck down until 2003. 

1809

Following the colonial struggles in Haiti and Cuba, many migrated to New Orleans: 2,731 whites, 3,102 free people of color (of mixed-race European and African descent), and 3,226 slaves of primarily African descent, doubling the city's population. The city became 63 percent black.

1811

Largest slave revolt in US history, in the so-called German Coast, outside New Orleans, was  brutally crushed

1812

Louisiana became a US state.

1815

The Battle of New Orleans. 18 days after the end of War of 1812, news of which had not yet arrived, the US Army with their Choctaw allies inflicted a major defeat on the British Army.

1830?

Peter Sewally/Mary Jones, a thief of African descent who normally lived in New York, visited New Orleans and transvested as was her wont.

1831-3

The Choctaw, who had allied with the 13 colonials in the session from the UK in the 1770s, and with the US against the UK in the War of 1812, and notably at the Battle of New Orleans, were forcibly relocated so that their land could be seized.

1848

Walt Whitman lived in New Orleans. There he wrote "Once I Pass'd Through a Populous City," a poem about New Orleans, in which he wrote "I remember only the man who wandered with me, there, for love of me."

1854-5

Ludwig von Reizenstein having fled sexual-legal problems in Bavaria, wrote an anti-slavery gothic novel in German with gay and lesbian characters, Die Geheimnisse von New Orleans, which was serialized in the Louisiana Staatz-Zeitung.

1856

The Mistick Krewe of Comus – the founding of the oldest of the carnival ‘krewes’ which initiated parades and balls at Mardi Gras. Into the 21st century this krewe has a prominence in the Mardi Gras parades. The costuming of the krewes provided a place for queer participants to hide in plain sight.

1861-5

Cuban-born Loreta Janeta Velasquez had been convent-educated in New Orleans and eloped to marry a young army officer. She passed as male in the Confederate forces during the US Civil War.

During the occupation of New Orleans by northern forces, French language instruction in the schools was abolished. This was never reversed.

1889

The Louisiana Democrat Party passed a constitutional amendment disenfranchising all non-white citizens including those blacks who had been free and enfranchised before the Civil War. Non-whites were also excluded from juries and schools were racially segregated. A case of an arrested black man Plessy v Ferguson went to the US Supreme Court which ruled that “separate but equal” provisions were constitutional.

1896

The penalty for sodomy revised to 2-10 years with hard labour, but fellatio now included in the definition.

1897-1917
Ellis p14

The District, a 38-block area, was designated as the part of the city in which prostitution would be tolerated. This had been proposed by Alderman Sidney Story and the area became known as Storyville. Miss Big Nelly was the Madam of a gay brothel. The Frenchman’s was a small jazz club which was popular with trans women. The District played an important part in the evolution of early jazz, and was an area where queer persons were more comfortable.

1917

As the US joined in the Great War, the city was pressed to close Storyville. 

1920

Alcohol Prohibition was introduced via the 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act. New Orleans largely ignored it and kept on drinking.

1920s

Pretcher, p18: “The social and sexual dynamics by which Storyville operated were still utilized by white uptown gays, but was the most beneficial for the city’s gay African-American population. Outside of nightclub acts, the most visible groups of cross-dressers in New Orleans were prostitutes. Many of these gender fluid prostitutes were of African American or mixed race and kept to the neighborhood where Storyville had once thrived. Evidence of black men in New Orleans performing in drag dates back to the 1920s. In the mostly non-white “drag balls” resembling Mardi Gras bal masques were a popular showcase for fashion and celebration. The drag balls appealed to both the gay and straight African-American community.”

1923

Izzy Einstein, a top prohibition officer, was sent to New Orleans and made many raids, but the drinking resumed the next weekend. 

1933

21st Amendment reversed Alcohol Prohibition.

The opening of New Orleans’ first gay bar, Café Lafitte.

1935


Emile Morlet opened The Wonder Bar at 125 Decatur Street, featuring female impersonators. Police harassment followed. Morlet tried to get an injunction to stop the raids but city officials denied his request because his club was a “menace” to morality. 

City ordinance 14,240, enacted March 13, prohibited cross-dressing in public except on Mardi Gras.

1936

Morlet moved his bar to the lakefront and renamed it the Wonder Club. Because the club itself sat on pilings over the lake and straddled the parish line, police raids were no longer a problem. The Cuban Gene La Marr was one of the stars. It was the only tourist attraction outside the French Quarter. Celebrities such Howard Hughes and Carmen Miranda were found in attendance, as were local mobsters.

The city passed an ordinance redefining “Vagrancy” to include “loitering, prostitution, or offering to procure another for prostitution, or any indecent or immoral act”. The last phrase was used to regard even the appearance thereof as cause for arrest.

1939

Gay playwright Tennessee Williams moved to New Orleans where he wrote A Streetcar Named Desire in 1946.

1940

In a series for the Times-Picayune, journalist and book author Lyle Saxon harangued those who would not wear a costume for Mardi Gras, and discussed it as an opportunity for transvesting, and its potentials for gay men. As Pretcher (p17) summarizes: “The opportunity to exploit this dissonance made Mardi Gras an especially important and exciting annual experience for closeted gay men and lesbians. New Orleans’ social emphasis on drinking and celebrating Mardi Gras also provided a unique environment in which the city’s gay population could foster a shadow community that allowed them to socialize by means unavailable in other American cities.”

  • Lyle Saxon, “Mask and Lose Self for a Day for Mardi Gras,” The Times-Picayune, February 2, 1940.
  • Lyle Saxon, “Maskers Defy Bad Weather, Uphold Holiday Spirit to Portray Gayest Characters,” The Times-Picayune, February 7, 1940.
  • Lyle Saxon, “Masking Events Bring Prizes to Hundred Here,” The Times-Picayune, Box 15, Folder 7, Lyle Saxon Collection, LaRCTU, newspaper clipping missing date.

1942

A comprehensive criminal code revision was passed, reducing the maximum penalty for sodomy to five years' imprisonment, adding a fine of 2,000 dollars and making the hard labor provision optional.

Mid 1940s

After stints at various clubs in the mid-1940s, trans performer Patsy Valdalia joined the Dew Drop Inn, which was developing as New Orleans’ premier black club, and stayed for over 25 years as emcee, resident singer, waiter and bartender. She often performed with Bobby Marchan, and also hosted the New Orleans Gay Ball every year at Halloween.

1945

Gay writer Truman Capote who had been born in New Orleans, returned and wrote his first major work, Other Voices, Other Rooms (which has one trans character).

1946

The future Reed Erickson was the first woman to graduate from Louisiana State University in mechanical engineering.

1947

Robert Tallant wrote several popular histories of New Orleans. In his 1947 book he discusses the ancient roots of Mardi Gras and wonders how many krewe members were aware of how it was based on transvesting and same sex desire.

  • Robert Tallant. Mardi Gras … As It Was. Pelican, 1947.

1948

The future Charlotte McLeod had served three months in the US Army before being medically discharged with a 4-F rating. McLeod found doctors sympathetic to the idea of a sex change, but they apologized that the US laws re Mayhem would not permit such surgery. McLeod was advised to “find such little happiness as I could in life by going to one of the ‘colonies’ that abound in our large cities”. In 1948, McLeod moved to the French Quarter in New Orleans, but did not fit in the gay world either. He did find work as a bookkeeper for $75.00 a week (a good wage at the time). He tried Boston for a while, but returned to New Orleans.

The Wonder Club was destroyed by fire, but was quickly rebuilt. Female impersonator Jimmy Calloway came from Birmingham, Alabama to perform briefly.

1949

The Wonder Club was renamed the Club My-O-My. Pat Waters became the manager.

Little Richard was touring as Princess Lavonne in a red dress, but because one leg was longer he couldn’t wear heels.

1950

Jimmy Calloway returned as Club My-O-My’s MC, and stayed until closure in 1972. All performances, singing by the performer and the orchestra were live. Recorded music and lip-synching were unthinkable. The Club was restricted to white performers and customers.

1951

The owner of the building that contained Café Lafitte died and it was sold. The bar reopened but was no longer gay-friendly. The owners of the bar who had been unable to afford to buy the building, opened further down the street as Café Lafitte in Exile. However you were discouraged if not male and white. There was a rule that that women had to wear a dress. Lesbian Clay Latimer had no problem because “they thought I was a boy”.

  • “Curb Advocated on Homosexuals: Crackdown to Save Young Persons Demanded”. Times-Picayune, 28 April 1951.

1953

McLeod, at age 28, read about Christine Jorgensen and her operation in Copenhagen. McLeod quickly packed, and went to Tennessee to tell father. With apparent parental approval, McLeod continued to New York and quickly took ship to Denmark using a minor inheritance from a grand aunt, sailing on the MS-Maasdam.

Bobby Marchan organized a troupe of female impersonators and they were booked at the Dew Drop Inn in New Orleans. He stayed and rented a room at the Dew Drop, where he started performing with Patsy Vidalia.


 ------------------

The following were consulted

·       James T Sears.  Rebels, Rubyfruit and Rhinestones: Queering Space in the Stonewall South.  Rutgers University Press, 2001.

·       Roberts Batson.  “New Orleans”.  GLBTQ, 2004

·       Albert J Carey. “New Orleans Mardi Gras Krewes”.  GLBTQ, 2004.     Scott S Ellis.  Madame Vieux Carré.  University Press of Mississippi, 2010.

·       Jelisa Thompson.  You make Me Feel: A Study of the Gay Rights Movement in New Orleans. BA Thesis. The University of Southern Mississippi, 2011.

·       Frank Perez & Jeffrey Palmquist.  In Exile: The History and Lore Surrounding New Orleans Gay Culture and Its Oldest Gay Bar.  LL Publications, 2012.   

·       Howard Philips Smith.  Unveiling the Muse: The Lost History of Gay Carnival in New Orleans.  University Press of Mississippi, 2017.

·       Ryan Pretcher.  Gay New Orleans: A History.  PhD Thesis.  Georgia State University, 2017. 

Trans Legends on New Orleans    History of Drag Culture in New Orleans    LGBT+ Archives of Louisiana  


16 November 2020

The erasure of Autogynephilia

I have previously written about Autogynephilia, and developed a chronology of its major events and persons up to 2010. 

The Autogynephilia syndrome and meme was a major brouhaha in the early 2000s, especially after Bailey’s The Man Who Would Be Queen was published in 2003. While many dismissed the concept as pseudo-science, it came to dominate discussions of typology of trans women to the extent that alternate discussions of such typologies were drowned out. While there is an intuitive difference between early transitioners and those who first became husbands and fathers before transitioning, the model as laid out by Freund, then Blanchard and then Bailey aligns each type with a sexual orientation (a mistake earlier made by Harry Benjamin), erases late transition androphiles and early transition gynephiles, insists on referring to heterosexual trans women as ‘homosexual’ and defines the gynephilic late transitioners as ‘fetishistic’ (again a mistake made by Harry Benjamin). The Clarke Institute (later CAMH) in Toronto is especially identified with the syndrome as Freund and Blanchard had top positions there. And, like it or not, the history of trans in North America in this century cannot be told without reference to the debate over Autogynephilia.

However there are writers, both trans and cis, who leave out what we would expect here, even though many of them quietly put Bailey’s book in their bibliography or further reading while saying nothing about it in the text.

This article discusses writings that nevertheless:

  1. distinguish two types of trans women, such that the reader would expect a discussion of how this is similar to or different from the concept of Autogynephilia – but this is not discussed;
  2. discuss the Clarke Instritute/CAMH, particularly the GIC, but say not a single word about Blanchard or Autogynephilia;
  3. retell the histories of US/Canadian trans persons and politics in the 21st century but say not a single word about Blanchard or Autogynephilia.

The writings in question are indented to the Right.

The basic events of the Autogynephilia debate are here (not indented) to give a context.

1985. 

Betty W. Steiner (ed) Gender Dysphoria: Development, Research, Management. The first book from the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry in Toronto. The full model HSTS-Autogynephilia is explained by Kurt Freund, although at this stage without the word ‘autogynephilia’.

1989

Ray Blanchard. “The concept of autogynephilia and the typology of male gender dysphoria”. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 177, 616-623. 

1990

Ray Blanchard & Betty W. Steiner (eds.). Clinical management of gender identity disorders in children and adults. A followup to the 1985 book.

1994

Betty Steiner and her husband die from fumes from car running in their garage. 

Ray Blanchard on the gender dysphoria sub-working group for the DSM-IV, 1994.

1995

Kurt Freund retires, and Ray Blanchard becomes Head of Clinical Sexology Services at the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry. 

Viviane Namaste wrote a report “Access Denied” funded by Health Canada to do needs assessment for trans persons in Toronto. Of her sample of 33, 19 were enrolled at the Clarke GIC. The trans academic also visited the Clarke and spoke to some of the staff. There is no mention of Blanchard, Autogynephila or the 1985 book.

1996

Kurt Freund, suffering from lung cancer, takes his own life.

1998

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is formed from a merger of the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry, the Addiction Research Foundation and the Queen Street Mental Health Centre.

2000

Ray Blanchard. “Autogynephilia and the Taxonomy of Gender Identity Disorders in Biological Males”. International Academy of Sex Research. Paris 2000. 

Viviane K. Namaste. Invisible Lives: The Erasure of Transsexual and Transgendered People. Again, neither Blanchard nor autogynephilia mentioned in discussion of CAMH GIC.

2002

The CAMH GIC awarded a Presidential Citation from Div 44 of the American Psychological Association. Ray Blanchard accepted the award on behalf of CAMH.

2003

Michael BaileyThe Man Who Would Be Queen: the science of gender-bending and transsexualism. The popularization of Blanchard’s ideas.

Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association (HBIGDA), the professional organization for service providers criticizes the Bailey book.

Ray Blanchard resigns from HBIGDA, calling its criticism ‘appalling’.

Andrea James and Lynn Conway set up web pages to alert trans women about Bailey’s book.

Anjelica Kieltyka complains about how she was misrepresented in Bailey’s book.

Willow Arune and others start Autogynephilia Yahoo group.

Deirdre McCloskey. "Queer Science: A data-bending psychologist confirms what he already knew about gays and transsexuals". Reasononline. November. https://reason.com/2003/11/01/queer-science-2/

2004

Joan Roughgarden writes open letter to the National Academy. "I wonder if many psychologists fully grasp the image some of their colleagues are projecting---psychology as a discipline without standards, nourishing a clique of dumbly insensitive bigots. These psychologists don’t seek to help people, but to dominate them by controlling the definition of normalcy. Their bogus categories and made-up diseases are intended to subordinate, not to describe."

Lambda Literary Foundation nominated Bailey’s book as a finalist in the transgender category.

Christine Burns initiates an online petition which gathers thousands of signatures in just a few days, and the nomination is withdrawn

Jim Marks, Executive Director of Lambda Literary Foundation resigns.

J Michael Bailey steps down as Chair of Psychology at Northwestern.

Kiira Triea sets up transkids.us with Jennifer Ross for Homosexual-Transsexual women (Blanchard's term for heterosexual trans women). Bailey immediately links to the site.

Ray Blanchard. “Origins of the Concept of Autogynephilia”. Feb. Archive.

Ray Blanchard quoted: “A man without a penis has certain disadvantages in this world, and this is in reality what you're creating”. Jane Armstrong. “The Body within, the body without”. The Globe and Mail, 12 June 2004, p. F1. 

2005

Ray Blanchard. “Early History of the Concept of Autogynephilia. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 34.

Alice/Richard Novic. “The Two Types of Transwomen”.

https://www.aliceingenderland.com/twotypesoftranswomen. "In my eye, we MTFs come in two varieties: started-out-straight and started-out-gay.”

2006

Melanie Anne Philips apologized to customers of her voice instruction in that she now realizes that for many it cannot work: “out of all those who have sex reassignment surgery, only a very few have female minds. All the rest, no matter how feminine they have become, have male minds – they don't just think like men, then think as men”.

Philips has two children, and is gynephilic. She definitely avoids any mention of Autogynephilia.

2008

Susan Stryker. Transgender History. The trans academic makes no mention at all of the Blanchard binary and the upsets that it has caused among transsexuals. However Bailey’s book on the topic is quietly found in the book’s further reading section.

2010

Anne Vitale. Gendered Self: Further Commentary on the Transsexual Phenomenon. Trans therapist Anne Vital proposes a typology of three types with Gender Deprivation Anxiety Disorder (GEDAD) of whom the third approximates Blanchard’s Autogynephiles. She treats this deprivation, not a person’s gender identity. Many readers regard her typology as a humane improvement on Blanchard’s. The citation notes to her book include both Blanchard and Zucker, and the reading list on her website includes the Clarke Institute’s 1990 book, Clinical Management of Gender Identity Disorder in Children and Adults. However there is no mention of Blanchard in the text, and thus neither acceptance nor rejection of the inevitable notion that her 3 categories are a rewrite of Blanchard’s.

2012

Darryl Hill. Trans Toronto: An Oral History. Hill does have a short summary of autogynephilia, but refers to Blanchard only once in passing and then by his surname only; only his late 2005 paper is listed and Bailey is not mentioned at all.

2014

Dana/Thomas E. BevanThe Psychobiology of Transsexualism and Transgenderism: A New View Based on Scientific Evidence. Bevan, late transition, two wives, two daughters, writes: “it is clear that the concept of Autogynephilia is not well defined and cannot be easily operationalized. For this reason alone, it does not constitute a scientific theory”. However she writes as if Autogynephilia is being considered as a, or even the, cause of transsexuality rather than as a second type of transsexuality with a different etiology. She does not mention Michael Bailey’s 2003 book, The Man Who Would Be Queen. She does mention – actually she cites – Bailey with reference to twins, sexual orientation, and sibling order. But she totally ignores his book on Autogynephilia.

Will Rowe “Auditioning for Care” in Dan Irving & Rupert Raj (eds). Trans Activism in Canada: A Reader. This is the major discussion in the book of Toronto’s CAMH, the ground zero of autogynephilia. He writes of the "incredibly transphobic history of CAMH's GIC". He interviewed four trans men about their current experiences with the CAMH GIC. For an earlier period, the 1990s, he relies on Namaste's writings only. Namaste, as per her usual approach, never told us whether she was actually a patient at CAMH, although, as she lived in Ottawa and then Toronto while she transitioned, she quite likely was. No other trans women or other earlier patients are cited or discussed. It is particularly odd in Rowe's account that there is no mention of autogynephilia, and no mention of Blanchard.

2020

Barry Reay. Trans America: A Counter-History. Reay cites the title of Steiner’s 1985 book as an early usage of the term “Gender Dysphoria”, but says nothing at all about its contents. There is no mention at all of Autogynephilia, nor its proponents, nor of those who rallied against it. While this recent book continues until almost now, it also erases HBS and Cross-Dreaming.

Note also that the EN.Wikipedia article on CAMH says nothing at all about Steiner, Freund, Blanchard or Autogynephilia.

10 November 2020

Colin Markland (1929 - 2012) sex-change surgeon

Colin Markland, whose father owned a butcher’s shop in Bolton, Lancashire, won local and state scholarships to Bolton Grammar School and Cambridge University (Caius College) and trained medically at Westminster Hospital.

At age 24 he started a general practice in a small Canadian town near Windsor, Ontario with office hours twice daily, house calls, surgery, obstetrics, local hospital staff, even serving as the township medical officer. After six years he started a urology residency at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, followed by a year as a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Renal Research Unit, Leeds University in the early days of organ transplantation. After being Assistant Professor at the University of Iowa he became an Associate Professor of Urology, University of Minnesota Medical School in 1964 where he worked in neurovesical dysfunction, along with the challenges of resident training. He ran a Graduate Trainee Program in Urology, with research interests involving radical cancer surgery, pediatric urology, neurologic vesical dysfunction and renal function after ischemia.

The Gender program opened at the University of Minnesota Medical School, shortly after the similar program at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. The first Minnesota operation was done secretly but the press found out anyway. The program opened officially in December 1966. Dr Donald Creevy, the head of the urology department was in his late 60s and disinterested in such a new development. He delegated to Markland who was pleased to be given such a challenge, and became the chief surgeon on the program, sometimes assisted by Daniel Merrill who later wrote a book about the operations. Markland was under the incorrect impression that Christine Jorgensen’s operations in Copenhagen had included vaginoplasty, although it was noted that the Danish physicians had not described how to do one. But Markland, having to innovate, had given much thought to the procedure drawing on his experience doing perineal prostatectomy where the surgeon must develop a space between the urethra and prostate above and the anus and rectum below to expose the prostate gland – this is the space where the neo-vagina is formed. He intended to use the inverted penile skin to line the neo-vagina, but found it insufficient. He supplemented it with a skin graft from the right buttock. The details of Dr Burou’s penile inversion method did not become available until some years later.

The first two-dozen operations where financed by the state as a research program. Up to closure at the end of the 1970s, 41 trans women were operated on, and later 8 trans men also. This from the 300+ applications that the Clinic received each year. The most famous patient was the Mexican dancer, Shalimar.

In 1969 Creevy retired. Markland hoped to gain his position as head of the Urology Department, but Elwin Fraley, who had been junior to Markland at Massachusetts General, was appointed instead. As Fraley puts it: “Colin decided to be helpful rather than an adversary, as too often happens in these situations”.

In 1971 the Erickson Educational Foundation announced that the National American Urological Association had presented an award to Markland for a film referred to simply as “the University of Minnesota Transsexual Research Project Movie,” which he had screened at the annual meeting of the American College of Surgeons. The film followed Minnesota’s gender identity clinic five-year treatment program, giving what the newsletter called “an interim report on how well the total project is faring” and reviewing “surgical procedures and results” of its twenty-five “male [-to-female] transsexuals.

Markland gave a paper based on his work at the September 1971, Second International Symposium on Gender Identity, Elsinore, Denmark.

In 1974 Markland used bowel segments. This was the first intestinal vaginoplasty done on a trans woman (apart from Charles Wolf in 1942). This procedure was quickly adopted by Dr Laub at Stanford. John Brown also offered it later in his career, but with less satisfactory results.

Markland had lost interest in doing transsexual surgery by 1975, and passed the task to Merrill and others in the department who used his techniques.

Fraley, the Urology Department head and a political conservative, did not like the concept of sex-change surgery and questioned it repeatedly. Finally he closed it in 1979, shortly before the similar program at Johns Hopkins was also closed.

Markland spent a year as Fulbright scholar professor in Burma, followed by three years at Louisiana State University as chairman of a new training programme. After a midlife crisis he was professor at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, where he stayed until retirement. Afterwards he acquired a 47 foot Wellington cutter, sailed two years from Newfoundland to South America, and several Atlantic crossings. He regarded the US Coast Guard Captains license the toughest exam ever.

Colin Markland died of a heart attack at age 83.

  • Colin Markland. “Testicular Tumors”. Current Problems in Surgery, 5, 9, 1968. 
  • Colin Markland & Daniel Merrill. “Accidental Penile Gangrene”. The Journal of Urology, 108, 1972.
  • “Symposium Highlights” and “Genetic Females, Too”. EEF Newsletter, 4,4, Winter 1971. Online.
  • “Minnesota Film Honored,” EEF Newsletter2, Summer 1972: 3. Online.
  • Colin Markland. “Complications in male transsexual surgery”. In Donald Laub & Patric Gandy (eds) Proceedings of the Second Interdisciplinary Symposium on Gender Dysphoria Syndrome, Palo Alto, Stanford University Press, 1973.
  • Colin Markland & Donald Hastings. “Vaginal Reconstruction using Cecal and Sigmoid Bowel Segements in Transsexual Patients”. The Journal of Urology, 111, 1974.
  • Colin Markland & Donald Hastings. “Vaginal Reconstruction using Bowel Segments in Male-to-Female Transsexual Patients”. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 7, 4, 1978.
  • Colin Markland & Donald Hastings. “Post-Surgical Adjustment of Twenty-Five Transsexuals (Male-toFemale) in the University of Minnesota Study”. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 7, 4, 1978.
  • David M Brown, Colin Markland & Louis P Dehner. “Leydeig Cell Hypoplasia: A Cause of Male Pseudohermaphroditism”. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 46, 1, 1978.
  • Colin Markland. “ ‘Red Alert!’ Accidental Penile Necrosis”. JAMA, 244, 11, 1980.
  • Margaret Dierdre O’Hartigan. Chrysalis, 2, 3, Spring 1996. Online. 
  • “Obituaries: Alan Colin Markland”. BMJ, 2012;345:e7448. 
  • “Obituaries: Alan Colin Markland”. ObitTree, September 2012. Online.
  • Daniel C Merrill. Trapped: The true stories of Shalimar, Linda and Jackie – transsexuals who believed they were female born in a male’s body. Xlibris, 2012: ix, 23, 26-7, 30-2, 35-6, 49, 51, 54-5, 82. Excerpt
  • Elwin E Fraley. Teaching Surgeons’ Hands to Heal: A Urological Surgical Chairman’s Chronicle: The History of the Department of Urological Surgery, University of Minnesota 1969-1993. Author House, 2014: 9, 53, 77, 140.

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

Merrill in his book writes: “It also is clear that he [Markland] has no recollection of my contribution to the project other than as an assistant in some of the procedures he performed. Specifically, Dr. Markland believes that it was his idea to use the sigmoid colon to form a neovagina for our male transsexual patients. I expect that, when all is said and done, it is not at all that important whose idea it was to form a neovagina out of a segment of large intestine. It is important, I think, to document that this innovative approach to the problems inherent in the formation of a neovagina were first employed by surgeons of the division of urology at the University of Minnesota.” p49

And “I contacted him recently to fill in some of the blank spots in the narrative I was writing for this book. Dr. Markland indicates that he lost interest in the project because the transsexual patients were very demanding and because he received no compensation for the complicated and laborious surgical procedures he performed on them.” p49

Merrill claims that Shalimar was the first trans patient in the Minnesota program after it formally opened - however he also says that he fictionalized his account..