This site is the most comprehensive on the web devoted to trans history and biography. Well over 1700 persons worthy of note, both famous and obscure, are discussed in detail, and many more are mentioned in passing.

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

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

28 February 2021

Diana Thomas (1959 - ) journalist, editor, novelist

David Thomas Senior, UK diplomat, was posted in Moscow when his son was born.  The boy partly grew up in Havana and Washington, DC on later postings, and then had an elite education at Eton (paid for by the Foreign Office) and Cambridge (where he first spoke to psychiatrists about gender incongruity).  He married and they had three children. In his twenties he wrote young-adult books under the name David Churchill, while establishing himself as a journalist as David Thomas. He was Young Journalist of the Year at age 24, a magazine editor at 25 and in 1989 the youngest ever editor of the 150-year-old Punch magazine where he stayed for three years.  While there he edited a best-of anthology from the magazine. 

In 1993 he published Not Guilty - The Case in Defense of Men, which he regarded it as an examination of masculinity, and how men are oppressed thereby - however some took it as an attack on feminism.  After discussing machismo and the rise in plastic surgery for men, he writes

“This should come as no surprise. Homosexuals are pioneers for the male sex. They experiment with attitudes and lifestyles that may take decades to reach the straight community. Gays are to straights as California is to Arkansas.”  

It moves on to a section called “Frocks Away” (p104-8) in which he discusses drag parties at Mick Jagger’s house, Bohemian Grove drag events for the super elite, Paris is Burning, drag star Lypsinka being featured in Vanity Fair in November 1992 and in Esquire magazine, Wigstock, and a survey that showed that only 2% of women accept cross-dressing from their male partner, while female cross-dressing is repeatedly common in fashion.  

 “A woman has to retain only one or two visible elements of femininity in order to keep her gender identity intact. … For men, the opposite is true. It takes only one or two non-masculine elements to intrude upon a man's appearance for his whole identity to fall apart. He may be six feet six, bearded, and wearing combat boots on his feet, but if he's got a skirt around his waist, he's no longer a man in the eyes of the world. Once again one should note the extreme fragility of masculinity in the face of any threat to its conventions.”  


“Transvestism is an unlikely mast upon which to fly the banner of men's liberation. The right to put on a dress is not one for which most of us would man the barricades. But it illustrates two typical processes in society's treatment of men. The first is that we drastically limit male freedom of action by drawing rigidly defined boundaries around the perimeters of acceptably masculine behaviour. The second is that we then classify any action outside these boundaries as either criminal or, in this case, perverse. Neither of those processes applies to women, whose femininity is in no way compromised by the clothes they choose to wear, any more than it is by the job in which they choose to be employed.”   

“Why are inappropriate clothes such a threat to male self-image? Perhaps our response is a sort of metaphor for the limitations that are placed upon male behavior as a whole. In the reasons why transvestism should be feared by the many, and desired by the few, lie many of masculinity's most delicate hidden secrets—secrets that relate to all men, even if they've never, in their wildest nightmares, dreamed of wearing a dress.”   

He follows this with a report on a visit to the Manchester branch of Stephanie Lloyd’s Transformations where married man “Samantha” says “I’d like to bonk” while being dressed in a tartish fashion.

Two years later he published Girl, a forced femininity novel about a man in hospital for a minor operation who awakes to find that there has been some confusion and he has had a vaginoplasty.

From 2007, as if he had never written Not Guilty,  Thomas wrote a series of masculine thriller novels under the name Tom Cain featuring Samuel Carver, an assassin who makes his killings look like accidents.  In 2015 he revived the David Churchill name and wrote a trilogy about William the Conqueror, as well as two other thrillers as David Thomas.  From 2016 he has written three Wilbur Smith novels using Smith’s characters and situations.  One of these as Tom Cain and two as David Churchill.  

In 2019 Thomas announced that she was now Diana, and has written a column in the Daily Telegraph about her experiences in transition.  She was due to have completion surgery in 2020 but of course this was delayed because of the Covid pandemic. Her 87-year-old father succumbed to Covid.  In 2021 she went to a private hospital for an enucleation of the prostate.  She estimates that transition (including facial surgery) has cost £40,000 funded by a house sale and cashing in a pension.   

Books by Tom Cain

  • The Accident Man. Bantam/Corgi, 2007.
  • The Survivor (US title: No Survivors).  Bantam/Corgi, 2008.
  • Assassin.  Bantam/Corgi, 2009.
  • Dictator.  Bantam/Corgi, 2010.
  • Carver.  Bantam, 2011.
  • Revenger.  Corgi, 2012.
  • Wilbur Smith with Tom Caine.  Predator.  Harper Collins, 2016.  

Books by David Churchill

  • Its Us and the Others. HarperCollins Juvenile Books, 1979.
  • The Silbury Triangle.Heinemann, 1979.
  • A Focus for Writing. Heinemann, 1980.
  • Fishing Forever. Merlin Unwin, 1999.
  • Devil (Leopards of Normandy 1).Headline, 2015.
  • Duke (Leopards of Normandy 2).  Headline, 2017.
  • Conquerer (Leopards of Normandy 3).  Headline, 2018.
  • Wilbur Smith with David Churchill. War Cry. Harper Collins, 2017.
  • Wilbur Smith with David Churchill. Courtney’s War. Zaffre, 2019.

Books by David Thomas

  • David Thomas with Ian Irvine. Bilko: The Fort Baxter Story.  Vermilion/Hutchinson, 1985.
  • Pick of Punch. HarperCollins, 1991.
  • Not Guilty - The Case in Defense of Men.  William morrow & Co, 1993.
  • Girl.  Penguin, 1995.
  • Beggars, Cheats and Forgers: A history of frauds through the ages. Pen & Sword History, 2014.
  • Blood Relative. Quercus, 2011.
  • Ostland. Quercus, 2013.


  • “Punch Editor David Thomas”.  In Pictures,01-06-1989.  Online.
  • "Tim Dowling talks to David Thomas".BBC. 24 November 2014.Online.
  • Manuela Svoboda & Petra Zagar-Sostaric. “How much Artistic Freedom is permitted when it comes to Language? - Analysis of a Crime Novel”.  European Journal of Social Science Education and Research, 5,2, 2018,  Online.
  • David Thomas.Media: “The dirty world of Mr Punch: Punch is fighting back by hitting below the belt. It may be hurting, but is it working?”.  The Independent, 23 October 2011.   Online.
  • Julie Bindel.   “What women really want? You’ve got no idea”.  UnHerd, August 6, 2021.  Online.  
  • Jane Gordon.  “ ‘Call me Diana’: Our columnist David Thomas reveals her new life and look”.  The Telegraph, 14 March 2020.  Online.  
  • "David Thomas obituary". The Times, May 04, 2020.  Online. (father)
  • Charlotte Metcalf.  “Conversations At Scarfes Bar: Diana Thomas”  Country & Town House,  Online.
  • Diana Thomas.  “Ex-Cambridge University rower and married dad DIANA THOMAS spent six decades as a man... So why does she say trans militants are only stoking intolerance?”.  Daily Mail, 19 February 2021.  Online.  

EN.Wikipedia     LoveReading    Linkedin    Daily Mail articles     Diana Thomas at the Telegraph   Muck Rack    Amazon Author Page (Thomas)    Amazon Author Page (Cain)     Amazon Author Page(Churchill)    


'David Thomas' is a rather common name, and there are several who have written books.  There is no definitive list of Thomas's writings and so the list above is tentative. 

I have added the non-fiction books to my Writings on other Topics.

17 February 2021

Trans Scotland - a Timeline: Part III - after the GRA

Part I: to to the Wolfenden Report

Part II: to the Gender Recognition Act 

Part III: after the GRA


The wife of Edinburgh resident Jo Clifford died. Despite being grief-stricken, Clifford was now able to make the decision to transition.



Edinburgh native James Morton was 24 years old when his employers realized he was trans after he applied for a pension scheme requiring him to provide a birth certificate. A data protection error outed him to colleagues, who began asking Morton about his private parts and "made offensive jokes at my expense”.






Nicole Dolder was co-founder of the Edinburgh theatre group, The Luvvies, and her first part was as Mrs Madrigal, the trans landlady in Tales of the City.

Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006 gave same-sex bidie-ins (cohabiting and not registered as civil partners) the same legal rights as mixed-sex bidie-ins (cohabiting and unmarried) with the exception of adoption rights, which were granted in subsequent the next year.


Adoption and Children (Scotland) Act 2007 allows joint adoption by same-sex couples.

Scottish Transgender Alliance was formed, led by James Morton and was funded by the Scottish government.


Nicole Dolder. The Luvvies presented her play Painted Eggs, based on her own experiences as a transsexual.

Sex Discrimination (Amendment of Legislation) Regulations 2008 extended protection from discrimination on grounds of gender reassignment by banning direct discrimination and harassment by most providers of goods, facilities and services in the UK.


Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009. Definition of ‘consent’ to sexual activity and ‘rape’ were now applicable to men and trans women, and the Act introduced a statutory offence of rape with an object (previously, this would be classed as indecent assault, a less severe crime). It also abolished the old 'homosexual offences' of sodomy and gross indecency, and amended sexual offences law to avoid discrimination in terms of gender and sexual orientation.

Offences (Aggravation by Prejudice) (Scotland) Act 2009 allowed for non-binary persons with the wording “any other gender identity that is not standard male or female gender identity”.

Jo Clifford. Jesus, Queen of Heaven. The play was staged at the Glasgay! Festival  It portrayed Jesus as a trans women, with Jo playing the role herself. It was strongly condemned by various churches, which resulted in the sale of all remaining seats. It has since gone on to international success.

Transformance, a performance of stories from transgender lives, was directed by Jo Clifford and staged at the LGBT Centre in Glasgow.

Mark Ravenhill directed A Life in Three Acts, in Edinburgh. The Life of Bette Bourne.


Jo Clifford. Sex, Chips and the Holy Ghost, which features a transsexual nun and a gay priest.


Paris Green, in the early stages of transition, and two others were convicted of murdering a fourth after a petty disagreement. Green, sentenced to 18 years, was sent to Cornton Vale prison for women, the only such prison in Scotland. It was also announced that transgender surgery would be arranged for Green on the NHS, which would have to be in England. The victim’s family, supported by some politicians, objected that Green should lose her right to transgender surgery as part of her punishment. Soon Green was found to be having sex with other inmates, and after warnings was moved to the women's section of Edinburgh's Saughton Prison.

Scientist Kate Stone, while on a new-years break near Fort William, was chatting with friends after returning from a ceilidh when she was attacked and gored in the throat and chest by a stag that had gotten into the fenced garden. Kate was airlifted to the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow, where she was put into an induced coma. She survived.

Chris Wilson, Edinburgh, was convicted of ‘obtaining sexual intimacy by fraud’ for not telling his girl friend that he was trans, was put on the sex offenders register and was facing jail time.

River Song barred from women's toilets in St James shopping centre, Edinburgh. The same happened to Hannah Leith at the Paisley Centre.


NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde erroneously revealed 86 email addresses of trans clients by not using the BCC (blind copy) feature.

Scottish activists began a Equal Recognition campaign calling for a self-recognition process, and open to non-binary recognition.

Amanda McKay, ex-soldier, ex-cop, Glasgow, 51, transitioned.

  • Andrew Smith. A neuropsychological exploration of autistic traits in a transgender population.D Clin Psy thesis, University of Glasgow, 2014. PDF.
  • J K Rowling writing as Robert Galbraith. The Silkworm. Sphere, 2014. The woman who attacks the detective is revealed as trans.


Michelle McDonagh, 54, Edinburgh, pub manager and ex-Hell's Angel rocker, began transition after dying wife urged her to be herself.

Sandra MacDougall, then 63 and having moved to Glasgow, was in the news in that her pension had been suspended because she did not have a Gender Recognition Certificate and had not reached the male retirement age. However after her story was in the press, her pension was restored. Newsarticle.

Free Pride, Glasgow, first banned drag queens for being ‘offensive’ but then admitted their mistake and will now welcome any performers of any gender.

Sarah Franken performed at Edinburgh Fringe, just before reverting back to being Will Franken.

  • Ben Walters. "From Christ to Lou Reed: the Edinburgh fringe shows celebrating trans life". The Guardian, 29 July 2015. Online
  • Sophie Xeon.Product. 2015. CD compilation album of singles by the Glaswegian electronic musician.


Philippa York, in a statement in Cycling News, confirmed that she was previously the cycling champion Robert Miller.

October: Sophie Xeon. “It’s Okay to Cry”. Single. The first time her voice and image were used in a release, with Sophie appearing nude from the bust up against a backdrop of clouds. This was widely interpreted as a coming out announcement as a trans woman.

Sandra MacDougall was featured again in the Daily Record, which led to 100s of messages of support. LGBTNation.

Drag king artist, writer and educator Diane Torr, raised in Aberdeen, who had achieved fame in New York’s drag-king scene, and was also a visiting lecturer at Glasgow School of Art, died in Glasgow age 68 of a brain tumour.

Against a background of growing transphobia in the English press, Scotland's government launched its own consultation on the issue of gender recognition. A coalition of Scottish women's organizations -- including Engender, Scottish Women's Aid and Rape Crisis Scotland -- welcomed the law's reform saying that they "do not regard trans equality and women's equality to be in competition or contradiction with each other." They added that refuges had already been providing "trans-inclusive services" for the past six years, which "has not given rise to any concerns or challenges".

While The Times ran a lot of anti-trans stories in its English edition, many of them were filtered out from the Scottish edition.


Sophie Xeon.  Oil of Every Pearl's Un-Insides, 2018. CD.

Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Act 2018. Legislation to increase women’s presence in government agencies and public commissions. Some cis women took objection to the clause: “The Act does not require an appointing person to ask a candidate to prove that they meet the definition of woman in the Act” in that such would constitute self-definition.


Katherine O’Donnell, night editor at The Times Scottish Edition, made redundant after the Scottish Office was closed, and turned down offer to relocate to London. She sued claiming discrimination and a “toxic environment for trans people” at the newspaper. The employment tribunal ruled in favour of the newspaper. Guardian.

  • Morgan Holleb. The A-Z of Gender and Sexuality: From Ace to Ze. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2019. Holleb is a trans immigrant from Colorado living in Glasgow. Review.
  • Grant Anderson. Non-Conforming Gender Geographies: a longitudinal account of gender queerness in Scotland. PhD Thesis University of Glasgow. Online.


James Morton stepped down as manager of Scottish Transgender Alliance.

Sinead Watson regretted her double mastectomy three years before and five years on male hormones, and has returned to living as female.

Edinburgh novelist, J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, objected to the term ‘people who menstruate’, and when accused of being a TERF wrote an essay about how she is a survivor of domestic abuse and sexual assault from a cis man.

J K Rowling writings as Robert Galbraith. Troubled Blood. Sphere Books, 2020. A disappeared woman is believed to be the victim of Dennis Creed, “a transvestite serial killer”.


January: Sophie Xeon died after a fall from a roof in Athens, age 34.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said transphobia should be treated with zero tolerance in the same way as racism or homophobia. She would move to a self-declaration model removing the need for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, and lower the age for applying for a gender change to 16. However 15 senior SNP politicians objected. The Green Party backed the proposed changes with the party's co-leader, Patrick Harvie, claiming that transphobia has grown worse in Scotland because of Ms Sturgeon's failure to turn "words into actions".

SNP MP Joanna Cherry removed as the Party’s home affairs and justice spokesperson after she expressed concerns about gender issues.

The Court of Sessions considered whether expanding the word ‘women’ to include trans women was discriminatory with reference to the 2018 Act.


The following were consulted:

16 February 2021

Trans Scotland - a Timeline: Part II - to the Gender Recognition Act

Part I: to to the Wolfenden Report

Part II: to the Gender Recognition Act 

Part III: after the GRA


Ewan Forbes (pdf) was to assume the Baronetcy after the death of his elder brother. His cousin, John Alexander Cumnock Forbes-Sempill, contested the inheritance on the grounds that Ewan was female. A two-year court battle ensued, first in the Scottish Court of Session where Dr Charles Armstrong gave evidence that Ewan was intersex, and then the case went to the Home Secretary (the future Prime Minister), James Callaghan. A letter from Ewan’s sister was produced to the effect that he was female, but Ewan’s wife testified that they had normal intercourse. The Session judge decided that Ewan was “predominately male”, though intersexed. Callaghan, after consulting with the Lord Advocate, directed that Sir Ewan Forbes (he had dropped the ‘Sempill’) should be entered in the Roll of Baronets as The 11th Baronet of Craigievar and The 20th Lord Sempill, Sir Ewan Forbes of Craigievar. All public records of these events were removed, although some knowledge survived in newspaper archives. The case was deliberately not made available as a legal precedent – in particular April Ashley’s barrister in Corbett vs Corbett 1970 was forbidden to mention it. More


Sexual Offences Act enacted in England and Wales (but not Scotland or Northern Ireland), decriminalising male homosexuality in private between consenting adults over 21.

The closing sessions of the in camera Ewan Forbes case took place as the UK Parliament was debating the Sexual Offences Act. If the case had been allowed as legal precedent, there would have been a paired advance of gay and trans rights together.


May: Formation of Scottish Minorities Group (SMG).

Virginia Prince, visiting the UK, visited Beaumont Society members in Scotland.


Bobby MacKenzie, from a small Scottish fishing village, was in London and living as female.


Scottish Minorities Group launched Edinburgh Gay Switchboard.


The first International Gay Rights Conference was held in Edinburgh, leading to the formation of the International Lesbian and Gay Association in 1978.

Scottish Minorities Group bought 60 Broughton Street to set up a gay centre in Edinburgh, with a café, information centre, meeting rooms and befriending service.

Lindsay Kemp opened Flowers, a mime and music show based on Jean Genet's Our Lady of the Flowers at the Edinburgh Festival. Kemp played Divine, the trans character.


Dr Martin Whittet in Inverness was willing to treat trans men and women. Word got out and trans persons from Newcastle, Leeds and Manchester (including a young Stephen Whittle) drove north for a consultation.


In Glasgow, 534 Sauchiehall Street became Britain's first named Gay Centre.


Scottish Minorities Group (SMG) became Scottish Homosexual Rights Group (SHRG).


Sandra MacRae, lawyer, who had been Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) candidate in Edinburgh 1966, 1970, 1973, left wife and job, and transitioned. In 1979 Sandra joined the legal services department at Inverness District Council.


Scottish Homosexual Rights Group (SHRG - previously SMG) opened a Gay Club on Queens Crescent.

Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 1980, brought Scots law on male homosexuality into line with English law. It was decriminalised if in private and both parties over 21.


Lavender Menace – Scotland’s first LGBT bookshop – opened on Forth Street.

Scottish TV/TS Group started social support meetings in Edinburgh.


Sandra MacRae, lawyer, had surgery in Glasgow in 1984. She held posts with Angus District Council and with the Ethnic Minorities Law Centre in Glasgow. She worked in private practice in East Calder before returning to Dundee to set up Alexandra MacRae & Co. She specialised in immigration law and working for ethnic minority groups.

  • Ian Banks. The Wasp Factory. Macmillan, 1984. The first published novel by Banks. Told in the first person by Frank Cauldhame, who lives on a Scottish island with his father. The younger Frank was told that he had lost his genitals when attacked by a dog. He also killed three relatives. At the end of the book Frank discovers that he had been born female and his father had been feeding him male hormones. Wikipedia.
  • Ewan Forbes. The Aul' Days.Aberdeen University Press, 1984. An exercise in nostalgia.


Robert Miller, one of Britain’s most successful cyclists, raised in Glasgow, won one prize after another in the Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia, the Vuelta a Espana etc. See 2017.


The all-girl singing group Fascinating Aida performed at the Edinburgh Fringe, and Adèle Anderson was read, which led to her being outed in the press. However the other members of the group were very supportive.

Ruby Todd, a co-ordinator of the Scottish TV/TS Group was in the press in that he was refused access to buses in that when dressed femme he did not match the photograph on his his bus pass. More.


Claudia, one-time opera singer from Glasgow, was referred by Russell Reid and had surgery in London.


Bobby MacKenzie, still in London, had been suffering from Huntington’s Chorea since 1978. She chose to end her life at the age of 38.


Section 28 (2A in Scotland) passed by the Thatcher government prohibited the 'promotion' of homosexuality or transgender by local authorities, which then included schools.


Lily Savage, drag comedian, at the Edinburgh Fringe posed with firemen after setting off the alarms, was then on front page of the papers, and went on to make the shortlist for the Perrier Award.


January: Scottish TV/TS Group launched its newsletter, Tartan Skirt, edited by Anne Forrester.

Sandra MacRae  was the SNP candidate in Glasgow Provan election in 1992, taking 21.7% of the vote and coming second to Labour.


Stuart Lorimer, future consultant psychiatrist at Charing Cross Gender Identity Clinic, graduated from Aberdeen Medical School.


The first Scottish Pride March held in Edinburgh. This was then an LGB event. However the organisers began consulting with trans people.

Glasgow LGBT Centre was opened on 4 November on Dixon Street.

October: Last issue of the Tartan Skirt, No 16 edited by Anne Forrester. She was succeeded by Julia Gordon.

Julia Gordon ran a trans support group in Inverness, and also worked with the LGBT charity Reach Out Highland.

  • Val McDermid. The Mermaids Singing. Harper Collins, 1995. A detective novel. The serial killer is revealed to be a trans woman who kills men that do not return her affection. Wikipedia.


Bette Bourne, drag performer, delivered the Alasdair Cameron Memorial Lecture, Glasgow University,

The Second Scottish Pride held in Glasgow. It finished with a festival on Glasgow Green.

The Sex Offenders Bill (UK) 1996 to set up a sex offenders registry. As originally written gay and bisexual men would have been included for consensual sex when heterosexual men with the same age disparity would not. Campaigners in London had succeeded in getting this section removed from the English part of the bill. It was noticed only just in time that the same removal from the Scottish section had not happened. This required LGBT activists to quickly learn how to lobby.


Sandra MacRae  disappeared and it transpired that £18,000 was missing from her law practice. After seven weeks she was arrested at King's Cross Station, London, and appeared and was arraigned in Dundee. She admitted to embezzling money from a client's account in order to pay her Dundee firm's debts. She was struck off and later sentenced to 15 months. She then made history as the first trans woman in the UK to be sent to a women's prison. She served the time in the women's wing at Craiginches Prison, Aberdeen.

The Third Scottish Pride held in Edinburgh. Trans people were fully involved this time.

Pride Scotland included a workshop on trans inclusion. Julia Gordon from Inverness attended as part of Reach Out Highland. Agreement was reached that Equality Network should be created.


Eight performance pieces at the Tramway, Glasgow, included Diane Torr’s Mr EE in Bull.

  • Jackie Kay. Trumpet. Novel about Scottish jazz musician Joss Moodywho is found on his deathbed to be female-bodied, a secret known only to his wife Milly. Trumpet wins the Authors' Club first novel award and the Guardian fiction prize.


Following a referendum, and the Scotland Act 1998, a devolved Scottish Parliament/ Pàrlamaid na h-Alba; was established in Edinburgh, and members elected.

Equality Network produced a manifesto for the new Scottish Parliament calling for legal gender recognition and gender identity non-discrimination policies.


Jackie McAuliffe, London sex worker and pianist, was featured in a panel discussion Genetically Modified Fame at the Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival. She received hundreds of letters, many from other transsexuals.

LGBT activists campaigned to repeal Clause 2A (Section 28) which prohibited discussions of gay and trans topics in schools and anywhere at local government level.  A Keep the Clause counter campaign, backed by the Daily Record (Scotland’s best-selling newspaper) and the Roman Catholic Church, put homophobic billboards all over Scotland, and Brian Souter of the Stagecoach Group (Britain’s largest privately owned public transport company) provided £1 million for a postal poll re the Clause. Fewer than a third of voters returned the poll form, although of them 87% voted to keep the Clause..

Most Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) regarded the poll as invalid, and voted that Clause 2A (Section 28) be repealed in Scotland as part of the Ethical Standards in Public Life etc. (Scotland) Act 2000: only Conservative MSPs voted against repeal. It took three more years for Section 28 to be repealed for England and Wales.

The LGB activist organisation, Stonewall, opened a Scottish office. It was made clear that being LGB only was not acceptable in Scotland, and so Stonewall Scotland was LGBT inclusive from the start. This was not so of the English Stonewall for another 15 years.


Sandra MacRae appeared in court again and was sentenced to three years when another embezzlement of almost £100,000 came to light. It was taken from an elderly client before her death, and then from the estate. Shares had been sold, and the proceeds put into accounts in MacRae's name. This time she was jailed for three years.

The Convention Rights (Compliance)(Scotland) Act complies with the European Convention on Human Rights and repeals the law that had criminalised gay sex where more than two people are present. The repeal was enacted 2 years later in the rest of the UK.

Singer Song-writer Simon Ruth de Voil set up Scotland’s first trans youth group.


Jo Clifford's first play about being transgender, The Night Journey.

Diane Torr, male impersonator and coach who had grown up in Aberdeen, put on a Man for a Day workshop in Glasgow.

Sandra MacDougal had transitioned in 2000. Previously MacDougall had been with the army in Northern Ireland, and was featured in several newspapers in 2002 when her transition was not going very well, and she was suffering abuse from people in the small town in Ayrshire where she lived. Lynn Conway included Sandra in an article, still available, on transsexual regrets. See 2015.


ILGA (International Lesbian and Gay Association) Europe conference in Glasgow is the biggest ever.

Pride Scotland went bankrupt. That year’s and subsequent prides were organised by Pride Scotia.

Diane Torr presented another Man for a Day workshop in Glasgow


Helen Savage, vicar and wine expert, from Northumberland, completed transition as a patient at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

Claudia, who had surgery in 1986, was now expressing regrets. She was featured with a full-page photograph in David Batty’s article on detransition. “Mistaken identity”. The Guardian, 31 July 2004.

Gender Recognition Act (UK) was passed, Birth registration is a devolved matter, so Scotland could have chosen to pass its own gender recognition legislation. However the then Scottish government, a Labour-Lib Dem coalition preferred to accept the UK legislation. Input was taken from Scottish civil servants and from The Equality Network. The latter called for a non-medicalised self-declaration, but this was rejected.

15 February 2021

Trans Scotland - a Timeline: Part I - to the Wolfenden Report

Part I: to to the Wolfenden Report

Part II: to the Gender Recognition Act 

Part III: after the GRA


The prince of Rheged/Strathclyde, Owain Mab Urien, was to make a dynastic marriage with Teneu of Gododdin/Lothian, and they had a child who became Saint Mungo. However Owain, who was apparently trans, was not interested in marriage.


James Stuart, king of Scotland 1567-1625, and of England 1603-25, is taken by many historians to be gay because of his interest in young men. Certainly his reign was one with only a few prosecutions for sodomy. He wrote a book on demonology that is quoted in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and sponsored a translation of the Christian Bible that became canonical.

Unlike England, there was no Buggery Act in Scotland. Those who were charged were so because of what it says in Leviticus.


Double prosecution and execution of John Swan & John Lister of Edinburgh for consensual sodomy. They were smith and servant of the same master.


Michael Erskine was accused of witchcraft and sodomy, convicted of the latter and executed,


Gavin Bell tried for sodomy. After this there were no other Sodomy prosecutions until the 19th century.


Stephen Evison, a soldier was discovered to be female during the Parliamentary occupation of Scotland during the Civil War, and was identified as Anne Dymoke, from a distinguished family in Lincolnshire. She and her lover, John Evison, having no means of support, had entered service as two brothers. They then took a sea voyage during which John was drowned. Knowing not what else to do, Stephen then enlisted giving his name as John. (Frazer p225)


The Acts of Union/Achd an Aonaidh uniting England and Scotland. Initial Scottish proposals in the negotiation over the Union suggested a devolved Parliament be retained in Scotland, but this was not accepted by the English negotiators.


The Beggar's Benison club founded in Anstruther, Fife. Members celebrated male sexuality, drank from phallic-shaped goblets and were initiated through collective masturbation rituals. An Edinburgh chapter opened in 1766. The clubs continued until 1836.


Charles Edward Stuart, aka Bonnie Prince Charlie, was on the run after the failure of the Jacobite uprising and the defeat at the Battle of Culloden, the last battle fought in Britain.  The rumour was put out that he passed himself as Betty Burke, an Irish maid.


John Fubbister, from Orkney, went to Rupert’s Land (now western Canada), and worked for the Hudson Bay Company as a labourer.


John Fubbister outed as Isabel Gunn after giving birth.


James Barry, at the age of 14 went to the University of Edinburgh Medical School to enroll as a student. He graduated in 1812 with a thesis on the hernia of the groin, which, as was normal at the time, he wrote and defended in Latin. The following year he passed the Army Medical Board exam and became the medical surgeon that he would remain for the rest of his life. See 1865.


John Trott was convicted of attempted sodomy, the first Scottish case since 1645. After that sodomy cases became regularly prosecuted.


David Lyndsay wrote a variety of short stories, essays and poems which were published in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine and elsewhere between 1821 and 1828. Collections of fiction were also published as books: Dramas of the Ancient World, 1822 and Tales of the Wild and the Wonderful, 1825.


  • Walter Scott. Redgauntlet. Archibald Constable  & Co, 1824.  Androgynous protagonist is kidnapped and forced into woman’s riding outfit.  Wikipedia.


David Lyndsay, had been raised as Mary Dods, the illegitimate daughter of George Douglas (1761-1827), the sixteenth Earl of Morton, lord lieutenant of Fifeshire and of Midlothian, Lord High Commissioner of the Church of Scotland. Lyndsay took the name Walter Sholto Douglas when father died. Douglas married the pregnant and abandoned Isabelle Robinson. Their friend, Mary Shelley, helped them to get passports and Mr and Mrs Douglas moved to Paris.


Walter Douglas was in debtors' prison. He declined both physically and mentally, and he died a year later.


A legal text dated 1832 added a then recent case in which a man, on confession to two acts of sodomy out of nine initially charged, was transported for life.


David Gray (1838-61) poet from Kirkinilloch died of consumption after a failed attenpt to make it in London. His close friend Robert Buchanan described him thus: “…there was in Gray’s nature a strange and exquisite femininity – a perfect feminine purity and sweetness. Indeed, till the mystery of sex be medically explained, I shall ever believe that nature originally meant David Gray for a female; for besides the strangely sensitive lips and eyes, he had a woman’s shape – narrow shoulders, lissome limbs, and extraordinary breadth across the hips. ”


James Barry
Scottish military medical surgeon James Barry died in London and at the layout out of his body was identified as female-bodied.


In Kirknewton, east of Edinburgh, John Campbell married Mary Ann, pregnant and already the mother of two.


The Edinburgh Seven, the first group of women admitted to study medicine at a British university had been admitted in 1869. They received obscene letters, were followed home, had fireworks attached to their front door, mud thrown at them. This culminated in the Surgeons' Hall riot on 18 November 1870 when the women arrived to sit an anatomy exam at Surgeons's Hall and an angry mob of over two hundred were gathered outside throwing mud, rubbish and insults at the women. Influential members of the Medical faculty eventually persuaded the University to refuse graduation to the women by appealing decisions to higher courts. The courts eventually ruled that the women who had been awarded degrees should never have been allowed to enter the course. Their degrees were withdrawn.


Smallpox epidemic in the Glasgow area. John Campbell attended his landlady when she fell ill. When the doctor called, he insisted that John needed to be admitted to the infirmary. John agreed only if he were to remain fully clothed. The doctor pressed, his suspicions aroused, and John admitted that he was Marie Campbell. In Kirknewton, parish authorities had sought Mary Ann’s husband. She had admitted that her husband was a woman, but as her children were not John’s her character was questioned and her claim dismissed. On hearing the news from Renfrew, it was decided that Mary Ann and a Will Waddel, a witness to the marriage, should accompany the Inspector of the Poor to Renfrew. John Campbell was charged with contravening the Registration Act, and shortly afterwards disappeared. He arrived in New York and gave his name as Murray Hall from Govan, Glasgow. He became a major figure in Tammany Hall politics.


A peak in the number of sodomy cases in Scotland prosecuted with 22 High Court prosecutions (many more cases short of sodomy were to appear before the country’s sheriff courts), with sentences ranging from 1 year to 15 years.


Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885, commonly known as the Labouchere Amendment made "gross indecency" a crime in the United Kingdom. In practice, the law was used broadly to prosecute male homosexuals where actual sodomy could not be proven. The first legislated prescription of homosexuality in Scotland.


Removal of death penalty for Sodomy. England had done so in 1861. Scotland was the last country in Europe to remove it.


August: William Sharp published what became the only issue of the Pagan Review, in which he, under a set of pen names, argued for the establishment of a neo-paganism which would abolish gender inequality. The review was received negatively; among other things, critics wrote that its paganism was far removed from the pagan writings of the ancient world.


Fiona Macleod joined the circle of writers in the Celtic Revival. The poet W B Yeats welcomed her writings, unlike those of William Sharp.


Scottish emigrant Murray Hall died in New York and was found to be female-bodied.


Hector MacDonald (1853-1903), son of a crofter who rose to Major-General, KCB, DSO, was accused of sexual activity with young men in Ceylon and shot himself. He was discovered to have a secret wife and son. He had seen her only four times in nineteen years of marriage. He remains a hero in Scotland: a 100ft memorial was erected in 1907.


William Sharp (1855-1905), poet and biographer from Paisley, died in Sicily, and was found to be also the author of the prose and poetry published under the name of Fiona Macleod.


Frederick Alexander Macquisten KC the Unionist MP for Glasgow Springburn proposed a new clause to Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act. He wanted to include female same-sex sexual acts. The House of Commons agreed that both heterosexual marriages and the mental health of women were at risk, so the matter was passed to the House of Lords… who disagreed. They argued there was not enough research into the subject, meaning prosecution was unlikely. They also argued there’s not much public knowledge of the existence of female same-sex relationships. The amendment did not pass into law.


George Buchanan, MP for Glasgow Gorbals, in a House of Commons debate on blackmail commented:

“They were without dress, or any male attire, but with tight fitting jackets; and all that; with their hands finely chiselled – far more finely chiselled than, say, the hands of my wife; who called each other by female names, used the scents common to women, and even painted.They were known to the police”. Despite the almost complete silence in Scottish papers on such subjects, he wished for further suppression: “My own feeling is that I would go almost to the extent of suppressing accounts of such cases: No man who was brought up in the strict Presbyterian circles, in which most of us were brought up, wishes to see or read that sort of thing, or cares to think that his children or relatives, particularly the young folk, would know anything of the sordid and cruel details of some divorce cases.”


  • Masculine Women Feminine Men.A popular ditty: “It’s hard to tell ’em apart today And say…/You go and give your girl a kiss in the hall/But instead you find you’re kissing her brother Paul/Mama’s got a sweater up to her chin, Papa’s got a girdle holding him in…/Sister is busy learning to shave,/Brother just got a permanent wave,/It’s hard to tell ’em apart today! Hey, hey!”


Norma Jackson was briefly in Edinburgh before being arrested in Blackpool later that year, and becoming Britain’s most famous trans person at that time.


William Merrilees of Edinburgh CID made his name by arresting homosexuals, particularity effeminate prostitutes. He had been part of the crackdown on the Kosmo Club in 1933 which was aimed at female prostitution, The next year they targeted Maxime's Dance Hall aiming at both male prostitution and consensual male sex. Merrilees affected a lisp and a gay walk to get into cruising grounds and the Russian baths. He was part of a raid on a gay brothel where men cross-dressed and wore make-up. He was later promoted and became Chief Constable of the Lothians and Peebles Constabulary (which includes Edinburgh).


Patrick Clarkson, future sex-change surgeon, graduated MRCS from Edinburgh University.


Leo Wollman, future New York sexologist, completed his medical education in Edinburgh. Over his lifetime he treated 2,800 trans persons.


Elizabeth Forbes-Semphill graduated in medicine from University of Aberdeen.


Ewan Forbes (previously Elizabeth Forbes-Semphill) petitioned the court under section 63 of the Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages (Scotland) Act 1854 to enter in the Register of Corrected Entries substitutions of his name and sex. It was argued that subsequent examination had found Forbes to be male. The request was granted, based on his oath and medical evidence. A few months later, he married Isabella Mitchell, his housekeeper.


Eric Crichton, the future South African sex-change surgeon, became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.


Ewan Forbes assumed management of the family estates for his brother.


A trans woman, whose name we do not know, neither her real name, nor her pre-transition name. She is referred to as ‘X, Petitioner’. X had been born in 1907, married in 1939 and fathered two children, They separated in 1945. X then sought to live as a woman and had undergone some physical changes to that end (details are not provided, nor where she went for surgery: Copenhagen? Casablanca?) She petitioned the court under section 63 of the Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages (Scotland) Act 1854 to have her birth certificate amended, allowing her to be re-registered as female. The petition was refused. The court acknowledged that the petitioner had undergone reassignment surgery, displayed obvious and consistent femininity. But although Sheriff-Substitute Prain noted that any attempt to make the petitioner live as a male again would, in all likelihood, have serious consequences, he concluded that: The doctors are careful to stress that this is not a case of hermaphroditism, but is a genuine case of the very rare condition of transsexualism. … it is however stated that skin and blood tests still show X's basic sex to be male and the changes have not yet reached the deepest level of sex-determination.

November: Frank Little, Rosythe, who headed a naval electronics research team, announced that “his” sex was changing and that “he” will live “his” life outside work as a woman. His boss had asked for a statement to bring the matter into the open. Mrs Little sat by “his” side. “My biological and psychological systems began to change, and about 10 months ago I began to go out with my wife dressed as a woman. I became terribly unhappy as a man and just normal as a woman.” Little’s choice of a female name was not given. The press lost interest after the first announcement, and there was no follow-up.

The report of the Wolfenden committee, which had been looking into the law on homosexuality and prostitution, was published, with the recommendation that sex between two consenting male 21 or older in private should no longer be an offence.. A Daily Record poll in 1957 indicated that 85% of Scots surveyed opposed the recommendations of the Wolfenden Report. Around the same period in 1957 a poll conducted by the Daily Mirror, south of the border, showed a much more even split where 51% opposed decriminalising homosexuality.

James Adair OBE, a former Procurator Fiscal of Glasgow and Edinburgh, had sat on the Wolfenden committee and formed the only dissenting voice. His minority report was printed in The Scotsman on 5 September 1957. He addressed The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland as a commissioner from the Presbytery of Glasgow and urged the assembly to disapprove of what was suggested by the Wolfenden committee regarding any amendment to the law in Scotland.

Wolfenden Report's recommendation on homosexual law reform was rejected by General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

The ruling Conservative Party in London chose to do nothing about the recommendations re homosexuality, although those re prostitution were incorporated in the Street Offences Act 1959. Those re homosexuality did not become law until 1967 when the Labour Party was in power. Even then Scotland was excluded as per the wishes of James Adair and the Church of Scotland. Northern Ireland was also excluded. The changes were finally effected in Scotland in 1980.


The following were consulted:

11 February 2021

Pyander, a transvesting ingle in 1599

  • Thomas Middleton
     Thomas Middleton.“Satire 5 - Ingling Pyander” in MicroCynicon: Six Snarling Satires. 1599.

A work of poetic satire by the English playwright who was then 18. Later he wrote plays and other
poems, many of which include gender swapping plots, and sex between men.

“Ingle” was used in different ways in the 16th and 17th centuries, but more often than not it was a term for what we would call queer. It was especially applied to pretty young men who might be kept or might be whores. The terms “catamite” and “ganymede” were near synonyms. The verb form, ‘to ingle’ usually means to have anal sex with an ingle, or for an ingle to have sex. Some ingles transvested.

In recent decades, Middleton’s poem has become a topic for theses and books, and is used by some writers to argue that transvesting ingles were common on the streets of London in the 1590s. While Middleton used female pronouns for Pyander, none of the modern commentators do. Nor do most of them seem to have read anything about trans sex workers for comparison. Certainly no trans person seems to have commented on Pyander.

This essay will be a survey of the major writing about Pyander. Are they cisplaining? Did Middleton base his poem on an actual person? What is the order of events in the poem? Poetry, of course, is harder than prose to pin down. Poetic License is a term coined to excuse poetry.

Excerpts from the poem

The 5th satire is a 99-line poem. Click for the full poem).

The most relevant lines are:

The still memorial, if I aim aright, Is a pale chequer'd black hermaphrodite.

Sometimes he jets it like a gentleman,

Other whiles much like a wanton courtesan;

But, truth to tell, a man or woman whether,

I cannot say, she's excellent at either;

But if report may certify a truth,

She's neither of either, but a cheating youth. (lines 21-8)

Of beauty's counterfeits affords not one

So like a lovely smiling paragon,

As is Pyander in a nymph’s attire

Whose rolling eye sets gazers hearts on fire,

Whose cherry lip, black brow, and smiles procure

Lust-burning buzzards to the tempting lure.

And suffer not Pyander's sin appear?

I will, I will. Your reason? Why, I'll tell,

Because time was I lov'd Pyander well;

True love indeed will hate love's black defame,

So loathes my soul to seek Pyander's shame. (lines 31-42)

I spied Pyander in a nymph's attire:

No nymph more fair than did Pyander seem,

Had not Pyander then Pyander been;

No lady with a fairer face more grac'd,

But that Pyander's self himself defac'd;

Never was boy so pleasing to the heart

As was Pyander for a woman's part;

Never did woman foster such another (lines 63-70)

That force perforce I must Pyander prove:

The issue of which proof did testify

Ingling Pyander's damnèd villany.

I lov'd indeed, and, to my mickle cost,

I lov'd Pyander, so my labour lost (lines 75-9)

Trust not a painted puppet, as I've done,

Who far more doted than Pygmalion:

The streets are full of juggling parasites

With the true shape of virgins' counterfeits:

But if of force you must a hackney hire,

Be curious in your choice, the best will tire;

The best is bad, therefore hire none at all;

Better to go on foot than ride and fall. (lines 92-9)

(Note: ‘hackney’ was a 16th century term for a whore, in that like a hackney carriage she could be hired.)


The archbishop of Canterbury and the bishop of London issued an order prohibiting the printing of any satires whatever including this one. They required that the published satires of Thomas Middleton, Joseph Hall, John Marston, Thomas Nashe, and others be burned. This was done 4 June 1599 in a Bonfire at the Stationers’ Hall.

The history of the late 16th century and indeed the whole of the 17th century records very few male-born persons in female attire except on the stage where boy-actresses played all the female parts until 1672. There were of course plentiful female-born persons discovered and even arrested in male attire: “female husbands”, those seeking a man’s wage and so on (and the interesting question is which of them should we regard as trans in the modern sense?).

One of the very few mentions of a male-born person transvesting is this poem of Middleton’s. The poem is designated by Middleton as satire, and taken so by the bishops who burnt his work. The obvious question is: is Pyander based on a real-life person or incident in the street, or is she just a poetic fiction?

Alan Bray

The gay historian, Bray, in his pioneering Homosexuality in Renaissance England, 1982, compares Pyander to the mollies of the early 18th century.

“Transvestism of this kind [18th century] had a function crucially different from that of Elizabethan or Jacobean London. Transvestism itself was not new, as one can see from the extensive contemporary description of it in Thomas Middleton's Micro-Cynicon published in 1599; but the significance given to it a century later was radically different. … Transvestism was as common in Elizabethan London as it was to be a century later, but there are sharp differences between transvestism in the two periods; and one of them is present in Middleton's reference to the streets as the haunt of transvestites. Transvestism in the eighteenth-century molly houses was something that took place behind closed doors: it had nothing to do with the streets. The transvestism Thomas Middleton is describing was intended to deceive: that of an eighteenth-century molly house was not; it was quite obviously a man dressed in women's clothes. What then was its purpose? The answer is in the other major difference between Middleton's tale and the conditions of the eighteenth century: Middleton's tale is not concerned with homosexuality. The whole point of the story is that the transvestite was trying to avoid sexual intercourse so as to avoid being discovered. His motives were apparently mercenary, leading to the suggestion - which is probably the best explanation of the sexual ambiguity of the story - that Middleton looked on transvestism as a vice in its own right.”

“extensive contemporary description”? One reference in a satirical poem?

Bray was writing, and pioneering, in 1982, so I don’t want to be too critical. However later academics criticise the uncritical use of 20th-century terms as ‘presentism’. Nobody in 1599 would understand words such as ‘transvestism’ (which did not come into English use until the late 18th century, taken from Italian and French usage) and ‘homosexuality’ (coined in the late 19th century). The verb form ‘transvesting’ is noted in dictionaries as first being used in 1652, and presumably was used verbally before anyone wrote it down. So it would be more suitable. Middleton used the verb term ‘ingling’: Bray is aware of the word, but does not use it.

“Middleton's tale is not concerned with homosexuality. The whole point of the story is that the transvestite was trying to avoid sexual intercourse so as to avoid being discovered. His motives were apparently mercenary”.

This is a very problematic sentence. Some 21st century trans prostitutes regard themselves as gay, some as transgender, some as both, some otherwise. Is it not likely that such a person would deliver sex if the man indicated that he wanted such, but flip to a simple demand for money if not? Of course it is not “concerned with homosexuality”. Neither party has such a concept. Bray does not seem to understand how a transvesting ingle or a modern trans sex worker needs to be adaptable, nor what her motivation would be.

Note that Bray uses male pronouns for Pyander, despite the fact that the narrator uses female:

“But, truth to tell, a man or woman whether,

I cannot say, she's excellent at either;

But if report may certify a truth,

She's neither of either, but a cheating youth.”

Secondly Bray does not make any allowance for the narrator (Middleton?) rewriting the encounter to diminish his interest in having sex with an ingle. Nor that he declares that he had loved her. Is he a reliable narrator?

It is surprising that Bray who was a GLF activist who must have met trans women in London in the 1970s does not even consider that Pyander could be trans.

Bray is cited by all the writers below.

Marjorie Garber,

Garber, a decade later, sort-of summarised what Bray had to say.

“During the period 1580 to 1620, as we have already noted, some women as well as men cross-dressed publicly in London, whether for fashion, for comfort, for pleasure, as a stratagem that facilitated theft of other crime, or as a cultural sign of their social position, high or low.”

She concludes that Pyander

“is not, or not self-evidently, a homosexual but rather a trickster seeking to rob his unwary partner”.

Like Bray she uses male pronouns, is disinterested in any dissimulating done by the narrator and that the narrator says that he loved her.

Rictor Norton

The gay historian, Norton, writing at the same time as Garber, sees through the narrator.

“The author for a time ‘loved Pyander well’, but stung by the pricks of conscience, and the fact that Pyander spent all his money and then deserted him, he repents, and confesses his sin by writing this ‘snarling satire’. This may well be a completely fictional creation based more upon Juvenal’s Satires than upon life in London, but the author seems to expect his readers to recognise such characters as Pyander.”

Norton avoids pronouns for Pyander. He reads in the poem as Bray and Garber did not, that the narrator had taken Pyander as a mistress, until his money ran out and she left. This is completely different from seeing her as a trickster. A cis female mistress may have done likewise without being put down as a trickster.

Bruce Smith

Smith writing two years after Norton had seen it differently:

“The spiral of power and pleasure that locks the satirist and the satirized in a furious embrace is especially tight.” The Author “owns up himself to the vices he lambastes in others”. Because the narrator “actually participated in what he writes about, however, the emphasis falls not on the cozener but on the cozened. What we see from that subjective vantage point is a jolting discrepancy between appearance and reality.”

Again no consideration that Pyander might be trans.

Michael Shapiro

Shapiro, writing four years after Norton, comments:

“There is far less evidence of male cross-dressing in the early modern period than there is of women wearing male apparel, either in literature or in life. … Some English literary works allude to male cross-dressing. The fifth satire of Middleton’s Microcynicon (1599) features Ingling Pyander, a male transvestite posing as a female prostitute … Perhaps such literary figures were modelled on actual male transvestites, but I know of no corroborating non-literary evidence.”

Again the statement that the narrator had taken her as a mistress is ignored, but he makes the important point that there is no evidence of such persons in real life.

Herbert Jack Heller

Heller, a year later, starts by pointing out the unusual narrator. The satire “differs from the other five satires by the involvement of the narrator in the situation he describes. It is unclear whether there is a single narrator or several in Microcynicon, but in the previous four satires, the narrator is an observer, not a participant.” He again sees the narrator as a victim: “His complaint is that he had fallen in love with Pyander, unaware that ‘she’ is a cross-dressing boy”. However. like Smith he sees the poem “implicates its narrator, perhaps more so than even Pyander himself. Any confusion the narrator can raise about Pyander's sex or activities might also serve to diminish the reader's sense of his own culpability. But the narrator is not exonerated.” And even “ while the narrator considers Pyander's parentage, we quickly learn that he is the son of a prostitute that even the narrator has consorted with”.

Heller addresses the unreliability of the narration: “The narrator does not indicate whether his sexual union with Pyander occurred just after they met in the street, or how long it was until ‘So far entangled was my soul by love,/ That force perforce I must Pyander prove’ (74-75). But however long this took, the narrator would have us believe that he always took Pyander for a woman.” Except that he also says: "Sometimes he jets it like a gentleman,/ Otherwhiles much like a wanton courtesan " (23-24), and what are we to make of "time was [he] loved Pyander well ”(40)? Which would imply passage of time between their first meeting and the narrator complaining that he has been cozened

Which is how Norton (not mentioned in Heller) had presented it.

But why quotation marks around ‘she’?

Dimitris Savvidis

Savvidis, 14 years later than Heller, but unaware of his thesis/book and of Norton’s comments, returns to Bray’s model:

“the potential client is deceived by the transvestite prostitute, who manages to lure him to an act that did not match with what the client had in mind. Middleton’s hermaphrodite has a different service to offer, not so much an offer that involves the sexual act per se but a different aesthetic of the sexual experience”.

He also thinks that the narrator actually takes Pyander to be a cis woman. However he rejects Bray’s assumption that they did not have sex - after all one of the meanings of the verb ‘to ingle’ is to have anal sex.

Randolph Trumbach

Trumbach finds yet another reading:

“Middleton bitterly tells of a man who has fallen in love with a boy he then encounters ‘ingling’ or whoring in the street dressed in ‘a nymphs attire’”.

This removes Heller’s quandary of how long is the period from the encounter in the street to the end of their affair, in that for him the street scene comes after, not before.


Trumbach and Norton are the only two writers here who have some idea of what it was to be a transvesting ingle.

None of these writers use the word ‘transvesting’. It has fallen out of use, but it is period appropriate and is easily understood.

Most of the writers refuse female pronouns for Pyander - to the point of rudeness.

It is noteworthy that the authors who assume that Pyander was based on an actual person, do not put her name/pseudonym in their index, as they thereby should.


  • Alan Bray. Homosexuality on Renaissance England, Columbia University Press, 1982:87-88.
  • Majorie Garber. Vested interests: Cross-Dressing & Cultural Anxiety. Rutledge, 1992: 29-30.
  • Rictor Norton. Mother Clap’s Molly House: The Gay Subculture in England 1700-1830. GMP, 1992: 19.
  • Bruce R Smith. Homosexual Desire in Shakespeare’s England: A Cultural Poetics. The University of Chicago Press, 1994: 181-2.
  • Michael Shapiro. Gender in Play on the Shakespearean Stage: Boy Heroines & Female Pages. The University of Michigan Press, 1996: 29.
  • Herbert Jack Heller, Penitent Brothellers: Grace, Sexuality, and Genre in Thomas Middleton's City Comedies. PhD thesis, Louisiana State University, 1997: 180-7. Online.
  • Dimitris Savvidis. Male prostitution and the homoerotic sex-market in Early Modern England. PhD Thesis, University of Sussex, 2011: 31-2, 101-7. Online.
  • Randolph Trumbach. “From Age to Gender, c1500-1750: From the adolescent male to the adult effeminate body”. In Sarah Toulalan & Kate Fisher (eds) The Routledge History of Sex and the Body.Routledge, 2013: 129.