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!

21 November 2021

Gillian Cox(1938-1984) mycologist

Cox was born as Geoffrey Frank Laundon, and earned a BSc in Botany at the University of Sheffield in 1969. This led to being a mycologist at the Commonwealth Mycological Institute at Kew in London. 

Laundon specialized on rust fungi (then known as Urediniomycetes; now as Pucciniales). Rusts are considered among the most harmful pathogens to agriculture, horticulture and forestry. Rust fungi are major concerns and limiting factors for successful cultivation of agricultural and forest crops. White pine blister rust, wheat stem rust, soybean rust, and coffee rust are examples of notoriously damaging threats to crops. Laundon soon became well-known in the field for thorough, careful work on the class, first publishing new taxa in 1963.

In 1965 the Commonwealth Mycological Institute published Laundon’s book, The Generic Names of Uredinales. This was reviewed in the Transactions of the British Mycological Society

“Nomenclature at best is a tedious business for many of us, but until a better system is invented the best we can do is to have a set of names whose basis is firmly established. Mr Laundon has done this service for the generic names of rusts nobly.”

Among Laundon’s most important contributions was a new system of spore terminology published in 1967 - this was controversial at the time but was generally accepted later. 

In 1963 Laundon married Margaret Cox and they had three children. In 1965 they emigrated to New Zealand, where Laundon became mycologist at the Plant Health & Diagnostic Station at Levin, and continued to research the taxonomy and nomenclature of rusts. Laundon was an active member of the International Association for Plant Taxonomy and was on the Special Committee for Fungi and Lichens for a number of years. 

myrtle rust infections in NZ

Laundon was the first to realise there were two species involved when the poplar rusts were first found in New Zealand in 1972, a claim not verified until samples of the spores were examined with an electron microscope.

By 1977 Laundon had transitioned as Gillian. She was supported in this by her wife and children. She was initially involved in Hedesthia, the then major New Zealand trans group, but it was mainly oriented to transvestites. Gillian, using her wife’s surname, in 1976 set up Transformation, which was more focused on transsexual issues. Gillian and Margaret produced several information leaflets and fielded questions from transsexuals, interested public and professionals alike, seeking to aid and educate as many people and groups as they could. 

She placed an announcement in the New and Notes section of the Taxon journal: 

“Mr G. F. Laundon of the Plant Health & Diagnostic Station, Levin, New Zealand has changed sex as from the 22nd Jan. 1977 and is now known as Miss Gillian Laundon. She continues her work in plant pathology, mycology and nomenclature.” 

Actually she had become Gillian Fiona Laundon, which enabled her to take advantage of the practice of Onomastic Occlusion, that is to continue to publish professionally as “G F Laundon”. 

However at work some staff strongly opposed her using female toilets. She was restricted to only one toilet and threatened with disciplinary action if she used another. However she was supported by other colleagues including her controlling officer who wrote to the State Services Commission (SSC) on her behalf in order to suggest that guidelines be set up so that “transexuals be treated consistently in the public service”. She was supported by Leone Neil, also a Hedesthia member and public servant. By 1978 Laundon had won her case and was free to use whatever facility she pleased. 

However, the SSC did not implement any guidelines, and discrimination was still rife in the public service. In 1979 Laundon wrote in support of a trans woman in another department who was to be subjected to a vote by her colleagues over whether she should be able to use the female toilets.

Over her career Laundon collected at least 211 specimens and identified 539 that are in formal herbaria or culture collections. The species Phoma laundoniae is named in her honour.

Professional publications by G F Laundon:

  • “D.B.O. Savile, ,Collection and Care of Botanical Specimens Publication 1113 (1962) Canada Department of Agriculture, Research Branch,Ottawa xii + 124, 13 text-figures. Price: $2.00”. Transactions of the British Mycological Society, 46, 1, 1963.
  • “Uredopeltis (Uredinales)”. Transactions of the British Mycological Society, 46,3, 1963.
  • “Angusia (Uredinales)”. Transactions of the British Mycological Society, 47,3, 1964.
  • The Generic Names of Uredinales, Mycological Papers, No. 99. Commonwealth Mycological Institute, Kew, 1965.
  • “Terminology in the rust fungi”. Transactions of the British Mycological Society, 50, 2, 1967.
  • Review of “Malgolm Wilson, D.M. Henderson, British Rust Fungi (1966) Cambridge University Press”. Transactions of the British Mycological Society, 50, 2,1967.
  • “The taxonomy of the imperfect rusts”. Transactions of the British Mycological Society, 50, 3, 1967.
  • “Rust Names Attributed to Léveillé”. Taxon, 16, 3, 1967.
  • “A cold method for preparing dried reference cultures” Transactions of the British Mycological Society, 51, 3-4, 1968.
  • “The Status of Some of Persoon's Uredo Names”. Taxon, 17,2, 1968
  • “(319) Proposal to Delete the Generic Name Nigredo Persoon ex Roussel (1806) as a nomen rejiciendum of Uromyces (Link) Unger (1833) (Fungi)”. Taxon, 19, 6, 1970.
  • “The Lectotype for Uredo”. Taxon, 19,6, 1970.
  • “Records of fungal plant diseases in New Zealand”. New Zealand Journal of Botany, 8, 1, 1970.
  • “Additions to the rust fungi of New Zealand — 5”. New Zealand Journal of Botany, 8, 3, 1970.
  • “A new reinforcement for sealed fluid microslide mounts”. Transactions of the British Mycological Society, 56, 2, 1971.
  • “Records of Fungal Plant Diseases in New Zealand — 2”.New Zealand Journal of Botany, 9, 4, 1971.
  • “Delimitation of aecial from uredinial states”. Transactions of the British Mycological Society, 58, 2, 1972.
  • “Records and taxonomic notes on plant disease fungi in New Zealand”. Transactions of the British Mycological Society, 60, 2, 1973.
  • “Uromyces fallens and U. trifolii-repentis in New Zealand”. Transactions of the British Mycological Society, 61, 1, 1973.
  • “Proposals in Regard to the Emendment of Author Citations”. Taxon, 23, 5-6, 1974.
  • “Botryosphaeria obtusa, B. Stevensii, and Otthia spiraeae in New Zealand”. Transactions of the British Mycological Society, 61, 2, 1976.
  • “A new name for a New Zealand Phragmidium”. Transactions of the British Mycological Society, 67, 1, 1976.
  • “Peridermium (Fungi)”. Taxon, 25, 1, 1976.
  • “New host records of plant disease fungi in New Zealand”. New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research, 21, 4, 1978.
  • “New plant disease record in New Zealand Uromycladium simplexon Acacia pycnantha”. New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research, 21, 4, 1978.
  • Phoma rumicicola nov., a cause of leaf spots on Rumex obtusifolius”. New Zealand Journal of Botany, 18, 4, 1980.

Other publications:

  • D M Henderson. Review of “G F Laundon. The Generic Names of Uredinales Mycological Papers, No. 99”. Transactions of the British Mycological Society, 48, 4, 1965.
  • Gillian Cox, ‘Friends,’ S-E-L-F,12, November 1976:
  • Gillian Cox, ‘Information service for transexuals,’ The Public Service Journal, 64, 6 July 1977:
  • Gillian Cox, ‘TransFormation Report 1977,’ Trans-Scribe, 1, 17, February 1978:
  • Gllian Cox, , ‘Prejudice against transexuals,’ The Public Service Journal, 66, 11 December 1979:
  • Gillian Cox. ”The Bible Says” and “Telling Your Secret”. Gender Review, 10, February 1981. Online.
  • J R Laundon (brother). “Geoffrey Frank Laundon”. Taxon, 34,1,1985.
  • Geoffrey C Ainsworth edited by John Webster & David Moore. "Laundon (Geoffrey Frank (from 22 Jan 1977 Gillian Fiona)". Brief Biographies of British Mycologists.  British Mycological Society, 1996. Online
  • Will Owen Hansen, “Every Bloody Right To Be Here” Trans Resistance in Aotearoa New Zealand, 1967-1989.MA Thesis, Victoria University of Wellington, 2020: 3, 42, 44, 54, 72-3, 95,
  • Isabel Douglas. “LGBT History Month: Gillian Cox”. Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, February 16, 2021. Online.


18 November 2021

Elke Mackenzie (1911 - 1990) lichenologist

Elke Mackenzie was born in London and raised in Scotland, and was given the name Ivan Mackenzie Lamb. Lamb did a B.Sc. in Botany at Edinburgh University and, with a scholarship from the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, did further research at the universities of Munich and Würzburg. 

Lamb was employed as an assistant keeper at the British Museum in 1935, and was mentored by the recently retired pioneering lichenologist Annie Lorrain Smith who had worked in the museum’s cryptogamic herbarium 1892-1933, but who had to be paid from a special fund because officially the museum did not employ women. Lamb became especially interested in the lichen flora of the Antarctic, as it was comparatively unknown, and began studying early British, French, and Belgian Antarctic collections in Turku, Finland and Paris. While in Finland Lamb met and married a Finnish woman. Their first child was born in London during the Blitz, and Lamb was granted the degree of Doctor of Science from Edinburgh University in 1942 with a monographic thesis dealing with the hypothesis of the previous movement of the continents of the southern hemisphere based on studies of the Antarctic lichen flora. 

Lamb took a leave of absence from the British Museum in 1943 to join Operation Tabarin, a secret Antarctic expedition organized by the Admiralty on behalf of the Colonial Office to assert British sovereignty in the Antarctic Peninsula and the Falkland Islands Dependencies against Chilean and Argentinian claims, and against possible German naval actions. Lamb served in Antarctica from 1944 to 1946 as a cryptogamic botanist, but he assisted in the construction of bases at Port Lockroy and Hope Bay, which involved person-hauling and dog-sledging 800 miles.

Andrew Taylor in his account of the years in the Antarctic writes: 

“Dr. I. Mackenzie Lamb … in my opinion, possessed the best scientific mind of any of us. Subsequent events probably threw me into closer contact with Lamb than any other individual in our party. A diligent worker as well as a modest and courteous gentleman, he was one of the most unselfish characters I have ever met. It was a privilege to know him so well. Possessing a humour that at times approached elfishness, he was a most sincere and earnest person. Both logical and imaginative, he possessed a realism that did not allow any histrionics or dramatics to warp his steady judgment.” (p24)

Taylor comments on Lamb’s scientific studies, done in addition to the other duties at the base. 

“To most people, for example, the study of the botany of such a region would seem a most uninspiring prospect. To Lamb, a specialist in the study of mosses and lichens, it was an exciting challenge. All can recognize the moss that carpets the forests and climbs up the bases of the trunks of the trees in temperate regions. Perhaps few of us have noticed the lichen—or we pay scant attention to it. Prior to my meeting Lamb, I confess that I never more than casually noticed them, (p113) …Lamb’s diligence and persistence rewarded him with a large collection of lichens gathered from the various localities we visited on Wiencke Island, as well as those collected in the course of his ecological studies of Goudier Islet. Many of the species he collected were new to the Graham Land area, others were new to the Antarctic, and he found a few which were new to science. In addition, he highly prized a few blades of grass that he discovered in a crevice between the rocks of the rookery. His interest also included mosses as well as a variety of marine algae and flora. These specimens were not easily found, but one is amazed at the diversity and luxuriance of some of the growths that the cold rock-faces of the country support. (p114)”

In 1947 Lamb, with wife and child, took a teaching position at the Instituto Miguel Lillo at the Universidad Nacional de Tucumán in northwest Argentina. Lamb built up a collection of lichens, adding Argentinian and Brazilian specimens to those from Antarctica. One field trip ended in disaster when on returning via a mountain pass the wind was so intense that the strings came untied and the new specimens and their annotations were scattered over the mountain. 

In 1950 Lamb was offered a position as cryptogamic botanist at the National Museum in Ottawa. Perhaps because of the cost of moving it from Argentina, Lamb sold the herbarium (3,200 specimens with annotations) to the Museum, and either sold or donated an annotated library on the subject. 

Lamb left Ottawa on short notice in 1953 when  offered the Directorship of the Farlow Library and Herbarium at Harvard University. Unfortunately the Farlow had been inoperative for some time, there was no staff, not even janitorial, and there was a large backlog of unanswered correspondence. However the collection did include 1,400,000 specimens, including approximately 75,000 types, of lichenized and non-lichenized fungi, bryophytes, diatoms and algae. Mrs Lamb helped out with work at the Farlow. Lamb directed the Farlow Library and Herbarium for almost twenty years, extending an interest to algae and marine phycology as well as lichens, and trained in scuba diving for a return to the Antarctic to obtain marine specimens.

In the 1960s the Lambs experienced family and personal crises possibly resulting from feelings of gender incongruence. Mrs Lamb ran up debts in her husband’s name. Lamb started living in the Farlow, and at one point was taken to the University Infirmary with a stay of three weeks. Afterwards Lamb obtained a legal separation from Mrs Lamb. A psychiatrist advised a consultation with “a specialist in New York City in resolving a torment that left him uncomfortable with his gender” (presumably Harry Benjamin).

This was during the final stages of the Antarctic project. Lamb decided on transition, and also dropped her surname, taking her middle name, Mackenzie as her new surname and Elke as her personal name. She applied for a legal name change, new social security number and passport. Publications by Lamb started to acknowledge the technical assistance of Miss Elke Mackenzie. Elke also joined a theatre troupe directed by Laurence Senelick, the historian of theatre and drag performance.

Harvard arranged sabbatical leave in 1971 followed by a total disability retirement (Elke was only 60). Mackenzie turned to translating German botanical text books into English, and for some years lived in Costa Rica, building a house there. She returned to Boston in 1980, living for a while with her daughter. She took up carpentry and started to make furniture. However in 1983 she experienced weaknesses in her legs and was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). She died age 78.

Laurence Senelick’s The Changing Room, sex, drag and theatre has the following dedication: 

“This book is dedicated to Elke Mackenzie, whose transformation taught many who enjoyed transvestism on stage to appreciate transsexualism in life”.

Mackenzie’s original surname was assigned to two genera, Lambia and Lambiella, and several species.

The list of species includes:

Buellia lambii

Neuropogon lambii

Parmelia lambii

Placopsis lambii

Verrucaria mackenzie-lambii

The name was also assigned to Cape Lamb on Vega Island, close to the most northerly point in Antarctica.


Note: Cryptogams are algae, lichens, fungi, mosses, and ferns. They differ from trees and plants in not having flowers or seeds. Their reproductive apparatus is hidden.

Some comments on other accounts:

Turku, Finland is not Turkey. Mrs Lamb was Finnish.

Lamb/Mackenzie could not be “diagnosed” with “gender dysphoria’ before 1971, because Norman Fisk did not propose the term until 1973. She was probably told she was Transsexual.

Surely “Disfonia Syndrome” is a misprint.

While Lamb met and was influenced by Annie Lorrain Smith, she did not direct or supervise him, as she retired in 1932 (age 77) and Lamb did not start at the British Museum until 1935.

There is no Instituto Lilloa in Tucamán or anywhere else. There is there the Instituto Miguel Lillo, and its journal is named Lilloa, to which Lamb frequently contributed.

After transition Mackenzie continued publishing as I M Lamb (for consistency).   Where she is referenced on other lichenologists' work it is as I M Lamb.   WorldCat has changed her name to Elke Mackenzie in its catalogue, but not of course in the actual publications.   Any lichenologist reading up on her work needs to know both names.  

Many trans persons retain the same surname.   The decision to change it is in addition to transitioning.  To refer to her as Mackenzie is ironically to use one of her male first names.


Publications by Lamb/Mackenzie:

  • “Lichenological notes from the British Museum herbarium.-I”. Journal of Botany74, 1936.
  • “Lichenological notes from the British Museum herbarium.-II”. Journal of Botany76, 1938.
  • “A new cephalodiate Lecidea from Japan”. Journal of Japanese Botany14,1938.
  • “Lichenological notes from the British Museum herbarium.--III “.Journal of Botany 77, 1939.
  • “What is Lecidea pringlei Tuckerman?”. The Bryologist, 42, 1939.
  • “A review of the genus Neuropogon (Nees & Flot.) Nyl., with special reference to the antarctic species”. Journal of the Linnaean Society of London, Botany52, 1939.
  • “Lichens from east Greenland collected by the Wager Expedition, 1935-36”. Nyt Magazin for Naturvidenskaberne 1940.
  • “The lichen genus Placopsis in Tristan da Cunha. Results of the Norwegian Scientific Expedition to Tristan da Cunha, 1937-1938”, 3, 1940. Norske videnskaps-akademi, Oslo.
  • “Lichenological notes from the British Museum herbarium.-IV. Rhizocarpon sect. Catocarpon in the British Isles”. Journal of Botany 78, 1940.
  • “Lichenological notes from the British Museum herbarium.--V”. Journal of Botany 79, 1941.
  • “A lichenological excursion to the west of Scotland”. Transactions of the Botanical Society, Edinburgh33, 1942.
  • “A monograph of the lichen genus Placopsis”. Lilloa13:1947.
  • “Further data on the genus Neuropogon”. Lilloa 14, 1948.
  • "New, Rare or Interesting Lichens from the Southern Hemisphere". Lilloa 14,1948.
  • “Antarctic pyrenocarp lichens”. Discovery Reports25, 1948.
  • “La importanciade los liquenes como indicadores fitogeographicos en el hemisferio austral”. Lilloa 20, 1949.
  • “On the morphology, phylogeny, and taxonomy of the lichen genus Stereocaulon”.Canadian Journal of Botany, 29, 1951.
  • “Biochemistry in the taxonomy of lichens”. Nature, 168, 1951.
  • “New, rare or interesting lichens from the southern hemisphere. II.” Lilloa, 26, 1953.
  • “Lichens of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia” Annual Report of the National Museum of Canada, Bulletin, 132, 1954.
  • “Studiesin frutescent Lecideaceae (lichenized discomycetes)”. Rhodora, 56, 1954.
  • “New lichens from northern Patagonia, with notes on some related species”. Farlowia, 4, 1955.
  • “Codex Lichenum”. Taxon, 5, 1956.
  • “Compsocladium, a new genus of lichenized ascomycetes”. Lloydia 19, 1956.
  • “Symbiosis: Part II. The remarkable lichens”. Natural History,47, 1958.
  • “La vegetaci6n liquénica de los Parques Nacionales Patag6nicos”. Anales de Parques Nacionales, 7, 1959.
  • “Lichens”. Scientific American,201(4), 1959
  • “Two new species of Stereocaulon occurring in Scandinavia”. Botaniska Notiser 114, 1961.
  • with Alexander Zahlbruckner. Index nominum lichenum inter annos 1932 et 1960 divulgatorum. Ronald Press Co, 1963.
  • "Antarctic Lichens. I. The Genera Usnea, Ramalina, Himantormia, Alectoria, Cornicularia". British Antarctic Survey Scientific Reports,38, 1964.
  • “The Stereocaulon massartianum assemblage in East Asia”. Journal of Japanese Botany,40, 1965.
  • “Die Gattung Stereocaulon, Lichenes, Stereocaulaceae. (Flechten des Himalaya 3)”. Khumba Himal: Ergebnisse des Forschungsunternehmens Nepal Himalaya 1,
  • Chemotaxonomy in the lichens. International Lichenological Newsletter 1(3), 1967.
  • with A. Henssen. “The Genera Buellia and Rinodina”. Antarctic lichens, 2.; Scientific reports (British Antarctic Survey),61, 1968.
  • “The species of Stereocaulon with protosacculate cephalodia”. Journal of Japanese Botany,43, 1968.
  • Antarctic terrestrial plants and their ecology, pp. 733-751. In M. W. Holdgate (ed.), Antarctic Ecology, 1970.
  • “Stereocaulon arenarium (Sav.) a hitherto overlooked boreal-arctic lichen”. Occasional Papers of the Farlow Herbarium of Cryptogamic Botany2, 1972.
  • With W. A. Weber, H. M. Jahns& S. Huneck. “Calathaspis, a new genus of the lichen family Cladoniaceae”. Occasional Papers of the Farlow Herbarium of Cryptogamic Botany4: 1972.
  • Stereocaulon Sterile (Sav) and Stereocaulon Groenlandicum (Dahl) Two More Hitherto Overlooked Lichen Species.Harvard, 1973.
  • “Further observations on Verrucaria serpuloides the only known permanently submerged marine lichen”. Occasional Papers of the Farlow Herbarium of Cryptogamic Botany6, 1973.
  • “The lichen genus Argopsis”. Fr. Journal of the Hattori Botanical Laboratory, 38, 1974.
  • With A. Ward. “A preliminary conspectus of the species attributed to the imperfect lichen genus Leprocaulon”. Journal of the Hattori Botanical Laboratory, 38, 1974.
  • With S Huneck. “I'-Chloropannarin, a new depsidone from Argopsis friesiana: notes on the structure of pannarinand on the chemistry of the lichen genus Argopsis”. Phytochemistry, 14, 1975.
  • With D J Galloway & G C Bratt. “Two new species of Stereocaulon from New Zealand and Tasmania”. . Lichenologist, 8, 1976.
  • “Structurally unusual types of cephalodia in the lichen genus Stereocaulon (subgen. Holostelidium)”. Journal of Japanese Botany51, 1976.
  • “A conspectus of the lichen genus Stereocaulon (Schreb.) Hoffm”. Journal of the Hattori Botanical Laboratory, 43, 1977.
  • “Keys to the species of the lichen genus Stereocaulon (Schreb.) Hoffin”. Journal of the Hattori Botanical Laboratory44, 1978.
  • edited by S. Haddelsey & R. Lewis-Smith, The Secret South: A Tale of Operation Tabarin, 1943–46. Greenhill Books, 2018.

By Others:

  • David James. That Frozen Land.The Falcon Press, 1949.
  • Andrew Taylor, . “Dr. Ivan Mackenzie Lamb.” Polar Record26, 159, 1990: 343.
  • Geirge A Llano. “I. Mackenzie Lamb, D.Sc. (Elke Mackenzie) (1911-1990)”. The Bryologist,94, 1991.
  • Vernon Ahmadjian. “Obituary: Ivan Mackenzie Lamb (Elke Mackenzie) (1911-1990)” Lichenologist, 23,1,1991.
  • “Lamb, Ivan Mackenzie (1911-1990)”. JSTOR Global Plants. Online.
  • Geoffrey C Ainsworth edited by John Webster & David Moore. "Lamb (ivan Mackenzie (Elke Mackenzie Lamb)" Brief Biographies of British Mycologists.  British Mycological Society, 1996. Online.
  • Laurence Senelick. “Dedication”. The Changing Room: sex drag and theatre. Routledge, 2000.
  • Andrew Taylor edited by Daniel Heidt & Whitney Lackenbauer. Two Years Below the Horn: Operation Tabarin, Field Science and Antarctic Sovereignty, 1944-1946.Universiy of Manitoba Press, 2017.
  • Sabrina Imbler. “The Unsung Heroine of Lichenology”. JSTOR Daily,Sepember 26, 2020. Online.
  • Isabel Douglas. “LGBT History Month: Elke Mackenzie”. Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, February 1, 2021. Online.

Wikipedia(Elke Mackenzie)

Wikipedia(Operation Tabarin)

13 November 2021

Torai Masae (1963 - ) activist

Torai Masea was raised in Tokyo.  He completed transition to male with surgery in the United States in 1987 and 1989. 

In 1987 he had appeared as a trans man on television and in magazines, which resulted in hundreds of letters, and replying became too much work. On his trip to the US in 1989 he found Louis Sullivan’s FTM Newsletter. In 1994 he founded FTM Nippon and with it a newsletter. He quit his job in that the job and running FTM Nippon were too much. However it took most of his savings, at a time when he had not paid off his surgery debt. He was also looking after his sick parents. Other trans men sent in material, and it was published in the newsletter and he then created FTM Nippon Press to publish books by them pseudonymously. 

He translated books by Jamison Green and published them with permission. 

In May 2001 he led a group of transsexuals who filed lawsuits in four family courts to have their family register details changed, with success in 2004. 

He is the author of several books on transsexuality.

  • Torai Masae.「男から女になったワタシ」 [I Who Have Become a Man from a Woman]. Seikyu-sha, 1996.
  • Andrew Matzner.“FTM in Japan: Interview with Masae Torai”. TG Tapestry. 91, Fall 2000. Online.
  • Hiroshi Matsubara. “Sex change no cure for torment: Surgery an option but transsexuals still face legal walls”. The Japan Times,Jun 20, 2001. Online.
  • Torai Masae “Japan: A Sexually Unique Country”. In Tracie O’Keefe& Katrina Fox (eds). Finding the Real Me: True Tales of Sex & Gender Diversity. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003:68-75.
  • Torai Masae.「男の戸籍をください」 [Register Me as a Man]. Mainichishinbunsha, 2003.
  • Mark McLelland. Queer Japan from the Pacific War to the Internet Ag Rowman & Littlefield 2005: 207.
  • Mark McLelland. “From the stage to the clinic: changing transgender identities in post-war Japan”. Japan Forum,16,1, 2004: 16.

10 November 2021

1947 police raid resisted

The raid and the fightback at the Stonewall tavern, New York 27-8 June 1969 is now iconic.  Many histories also mention previous police raids on trans/gay/queer venues: Cooper's Doughnuts May 1959, Dewey's Lunch Counter April 1965 and Compton's Cafeteria August 1966.

There were of course a lot more, even in the US. I compiled a list some years back of such raids from 1726 onwards.  But there was an important one that I missed.  The first police raid on a queer venue after WWII.  


Ueno Park had long been a center for the sex trade, given its proximity to Yoshiwara, the traditional pleasure quarters of old Edo.  Ueno was also the main rail terminal for trains serving the north of Japan, and immediately after the war it became a temporary home for people being repatriated from overseas to the provinces or returning to Tokyo from the countryside, where they had fled to avoid the air raids during the closing months of the war. While extreme poverty among this population no doubt drove many women (cis and trans) and some men to prostitution in an effort to survive, it seems that Ueno had long been a site of male prostitution. 

At this time the trans sex workers (Dansho) mainly wore the traditional kimono.

1947 November 22: Police raid on the trans prostitutes in Tokyo’s Ueno Park.  This was motivated not so much by the fact that these were trans prostitutes as by the fact they were seeking customers outside the designated red-light zones. 

Mark McLelland explains what happened:

"At around 7 pm on the previous evening, the superintendent of the Metropolitan Police had gone to inspect the effectiveness of the curfew that had been declared in Ueno Park to deter the lively prostitution scene that had developed there. At the back of the Shimizu-do- (a temple building), he, and his accompanying entourage of journalists, encountered a group of men dressed in women’s attire. When the journalists and camera crew started taking pictures of the men using a flash, the cross-dressers started attacking them in an attempt to take the cameras. The  superintendent and his men fled the scene in fear, but later returned to the  Shimizu-do- with reinforcements, not only to discover that the cross-dressed men were still there but that their number had increased to more than ten. The cross-dressers once again demonstrated their “masculine nature” (dansei no taisei) and began to beat up the camera crew. Then, they started hitting the superintendent who once again fled. Although the cross-dressers were finally subdued and arrested when 15 reinforcement police arrived, all things considered, the police came off looking rather inept if not outright incompetent in their handling of the incident. (p156-7)"

The incident was widely reported in the press, especially the scandal magazines, and was turned into a novel.

  • Sumi Tatsuya. Dansho no mori (男娼の森 / Grove of Male Prostitutes). Hibiya Shuppansha, 1949.  A novel about Ueno Park’s trans prostitutes.
  • “Dansho¯ zadankai: mondai no kokuhaku, (Confessions of a Problem: A Roundtable Discussion with Male Prostitutes)Oke, 2, 5, August 1949. English translation by Wim Lunsing as Chapter 5 of  Queer voices from Japan: first person narratives from Japan’s sexual minorities.     Some of the trans women involved at Ueno Park are interviewed by a journalist.
  • Mark Mclelland. Love, Sex, and Democracy in Japan during the American Occupation. Palgrave MacMillan, 2012.