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30 June 2021

Lauraine Lee (1942 - ) & Lennette Lee (1947 - ) Minnesota pioneers

Lauraine and Lennette, siblings from a small town in Minnesota, after years of frustration and torment at having to pretend to be men, were saving in the hope of going to Dr Burou in Casablanca, when at the end of 1966, the Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis announced a research program for transsexuals including surgery. Of course they both applied. After a battery of psychiatric tests, they were accepted and after six months on female hormones had surgery in 1968. Lenette had to wait an extra six months until she turned 21. There were post-operative complications that required extra surgeries. There was pain but they were accepted by their family. 

It was Lenette who first married. She had told her husband of her transformation before the wedding, and that was not an issue. However the marriage broke up after 14 months for financial reasons. Lauraine moved to St Paul and for a while worked as a cashier/secretary where she had previously worked before transition. In 1970 Lenette was working as a beautician. 

In 2015 Lauraine commented on the article about them in Transas City. She was then 73 and had been married to the same man for 41 years, and Lennette had had a similar long-lasting second marriage.

  • “Brothers Made Sisters in Rare Sex Operation”. Boston Record American, 28 July 1970: 5. Online.
  • “Half-sisters who used to be half-brothers”. Daily Mirror, July 28, 1970. Online.
  • Don Spavin. “Brother Now Sisters and Living in ‘Torment’ Ends”. Aberdeen, SD, American News, August 16, 1970. Online.
  • Una Nowling. “Lenette and Lauraine Lee, 1970”. Transas City, 2015. Online.

The newspaper articles from 1970 spell Lennette with one N, however Lauraine in 2015 spells it with 2 Ns.


  1. Yay! I love that you've added Lenette and Lauraine. I have the original July 28, 1970 8x10 newswire photo in my QPA Queer Photo Archive but don't have the scan done yet (will try to remember to come back and share it when I do). Some of the others are up on my website:

  2. The photograph is also available on Transas City.


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