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!

27 July 2023

Fritz Kitzing (1905 – 199?) bookkeeper, sex worker, shop assistant

Kitzing was born and raised with the name Fritz in the garrison town of Neuruppin, northwest of Berlin. Kitzing trained as a bookkeeper and moved to Berlin in the late 1920s. In late 1933 Kitzing was arrested on Augsburger Straße while in female clothing and charged with prostitution under §361/6 (which dealt with female but not male prostitution) which led to four weeks in jail and then six months in the Rummelsberg workhouse as “protective custody”. Kitzing managed to escape 16 March 1934 while en route to the dentist, and with family help made it to England. However an arrest in London for prostitution led to deportation back to Berlin, although not to re-imprisonment.

Fritz, realising the political situation, was now mainly wearing male clothes. However in June 1935 it was alleged that while walking in female dress near Kurfürstenstraße, he met a Sturmabteilung (SA) man, Herman Rank, out of uniform, and made a pass. Kitzing admitted being gay but denied solicitation. Simply being gay was not a crime up to that point but the Nazi government was about to change the rules. Kitzing was dismissed with a warning.

The police kept watch on Kitzing, but did not catch him in female dress. However, in July 1935 a neighbour complained to the police of a transvestite making trouble. This was taken to be Kitzing, but arrest was eluded until March the next year. A search of her apartment revealed her female clothing, which was confiscated and put in storage. After finally being arrested Kitzing was obliged to dress in the stored clothing and be photographed. 

The police wrote to the Gestapo that “It would be a great service to the public—and even to these morally depraved people themselves—if we sent Kitzing to a concentration camp”. Despite this, Kitzing’s family, especially the brother Hans Joachim, continued to be supportive. Kitzing served five months in the Lichtenburg camp, and was then transferred to Sachsenhausen, before being released in April 1937.

In March 1938, a fellow inmate from Sachsenhausen recognised Kitzing although she was then dressed as female, and informed the police, who told the Gestapo who made an arrest. They discovered letters to friends in London describing conditions in Sachsenhausen. Kitzing was accused of distributing “atrocity propaganda”. He, as were many others, was compelled to enlist in the Wehrmacht, and was in occupied Belgium for most of WWII. 

Afterwards he returned to West Berlin and worked in an antique shop. Kitzing lived until the 1990s. The brother Hans Joachim, a writer, was a war correspondent in Rostov. He never returned from the war.

  • Andreas Sternweiler. “Er ging mit ihm alsbald ein sogenanntes ‘Festes Verhältnis’ ein: ganze normale Homosexuelle”in Joachim Müller & Andreas Sternweiler, eds. Homosexuelle Männer im KZ Sachsenhausen. Berlin: Rosa Winkel, 2000: 58-78.
  • Clayton J Whisnant. Queer identities and politics in Germany : a history, 1880–1945. Harrington Park Press, 2016: 231
  • Jennifer Evans & Elissa Mailänd. “Cross-dressing, Male Intimacy and the Violence of Transgression in Third Reich Photography”. German History, 39,1, June 2020: 2-10, 19, 22-4.
  • W Jake Newsome. “Fritz Kitzing”. LGBTQ+ Stories from the Holocaust, Online.
  • Jennifer V Evans. The queer art of history : queer kinship after fascism. Duke University Press, 2023: 36, 92-7.
  • Joanna Ostrowska. “Non-heteronormative victims of the Nazi regime” 39-45 Chronicles of Terror. No date: 3. Online.
  • Jennifer Evans summarises Kitzing’s story in Twitter/X.

Whisant assumes that Kitzing was a trans woman in the modern sense.   Evans expresses caution in doing so:
"And yet, using Kitzing’s images as ‘proof ’ of homosexual or trans persecution carries the risk of freezing the historical subject in an identity that is not in line with other ways of seeing him. Similarly, viewing Kitzing solely as a male to female transperson, alienated from self and society, belies the fact that he may not have understood himself in these terms. Placing Kitzing within either of these two identity categories cuts him off from other, perhaps simultaneous, identities with which he may have moved through Nazi Berlin. As Jin Haritaworn warns, there is an epistemological side effect to reducing ‘queer’ to an identity category for emancipatory projects.‘Queering up’ for purposes of inclusion has the potential to homogenize dissonance anew. "

Kitzing never applied for a Transvestitenschein.  She may have had a female name for herself, but it is not recorded.

Evans incorrectly claims that Hirschfeld had coined 'transsexual' and, despite her paragraph that I have just quoted, uses it re Kitzing.   See my Did Hirschfeld coin the word and concept ‘transsexual’?

20 July 2023

Elisa (? - 1980) travesti boss

During the 1970s travesti sex workers in Brazil became more accepted by some members of the public if not by the police, and along with that there were two other developments:

1) the injection of silicone rather than the more dangerous oil or paraffin to feminise the body. Such pumping (bombadas) was first done in New York by competent doctors such as Dr David Wesser, but a few years later was being done by non-doctors (such as Jimmy Treetop in New York).

2) A few Brazilian travestis had managed to get to Paris, and returned rich enough to buy not one but two or more apartments. The first was almost always for their mother: a casa da minha mãe. Then greater numbers went. At the peak of the migration there were – for a short while – special charter flights for travestis. It was estimated that of 700 prostitutes in France, 500 were from Brazil – and they had taken over the main prostitution venues in Paris’ Bois de Boulogne. They were treated somewhat better than in Brazil – they were addressed as Madame or Mademoiselle, but they were still living on the margin, subject to violence and having to pay both the police and for a place to stand. The French prostitutes’ union protested their presence, accusing them of unfair competition in that as illegal immigrants they did not pay taxes.

Elisa had been able to afford to be pumped in New York. She learned how to do it, and after buying silicone in New York, she set up in business in Paris. She also controlled the prostitution ‘stands’ and was known as the Pigalli Queen. If a Brazilian sex worker did not accept her terms, she was able to get the worker deported. 

Competition came from Claudia, who was also a bombadeira, who sourced her silicon in Paris and had cheaper prices. Elisa put a lot of pressure on Claudia, to get her to leave France. Threats and violence mounted until Claudia killed Elisa.

After the murder, many rivalries, envy, scandals, and threats surfaced among the immigrant travesti sex workers themselves. At the same time, the pressure from the French authorities grew: between 1980 and 1984, expulsions were multiplied because of irregularities in their visas. Migration of Brazilian travestis to Italy and other European countries commenced.

  • Joao S Trevisan translated by Martin Foreman. Perverts in Paradise. Gay Men’s Press, 1986: 165.
  • Don Kulíck. Travesti : Sex, Gender, and Culture among Brazilian Transgendered Prostitutes. Univeristy of Chicago Press. 1998: 178, 217.
  • Julieta Vartabedian. Brazilian Travesti Migrations: Gender, Sexualities and Embodiment Palgrave Macmillan, 2018 : 89, 197.


No surname is given by either Vartabedian or Kulíck. Vartabedian has no entry in her index for any Elisa. Kulíck has an index entry for a different Elisa, but not this one.

Vartabedian writes: “During the beginning of the 1970s, the first ‘pumped up’ (bombadas) travestis did it in the United States, in New York, with the practitioner Wesser.” Apparently she did not know that Wesser was a doctor, even though I wrote of him two years before her book came out.

Was there a murder trial? What happened to Claudia afterwards?

The practice of pumping silicone spread across Brazil and south America during the 1980s. In 1983 there was a sort of epidemic in São Paulo where many travestis were dying painfully after industrial silicon was sold as filtered silicone. (Trevisan p165).

Here is a clipping from the Sunday Mirror 13 July 1980 about travesti sex workers in the Bois de Boulogne which says nothing about Elisa or even that most of them were Brazilian.

Health warning:   estrogen is far better than silicone for feminisation.

13 July 2023

Jenny O. Hushler (1862 - 1953) embroiderer, book seller.

(this article was previously of Jenny O.   However the discovery of her obituary gave us her surname.  Originally post 4/2/2015)

Hushler was born in Vorarlberg, Austria. Hushlet's father, a gamekeeper and horn player, died when Hushler was 5, of consumption, and his mother 1½ years later. Hushler was still wearing a dress after his brother, two years younger, had switched to trousers. The aunts who took in the orphan did not permit him girls' clothing except at Shrovetide (Mardi Gras).

After a few years in an orphanage of the Sisters of Mercy, Hushler stole some clothes from a girl of the same size and took her certificate of domicile and ran off to Switzerland, where she found work as a nanny, and taught herself embroidery. When she was 16, a man tried to force himself on her and denounced her as a 'hermaphrodite'.

Hushler moved to France and found work as an embroiderer. She also worked for a while as a man after a friend's boyfriend threatened to report her to the police. In 1882 Hushler emigrated to New York, and again worked as an embroiderer. A co-worker forced himself on her, and discovering her body, used threats of calling the police to make her an involuntary sex partner. One day when he was away Hushler dressed as a man and fled to Milwaukee and worked in a timber-yard and as a cook.

In 1885 Hushler arrived in San Francisco, where cross-dressing had been a crime since 1863. As a man Hushler became an itinerant bookseller using the name John, invested in property and began traveling for German newspapers. Indoors Hushler, as a woman, helped with children, and provided accommodation for dance-hall women.

In 1905 Hushler  wrote to the new German magazine Mutterschutz (Mother Protection) enclosing an article re feminine boys and men:
"If he is raised as a girl, then he will lose all doubt and will be more stable in his girlishness, so that he will then never will ever want to become a man; if he forced to behave as a boy, then he will feel destroyed and will yearn for the time when he can make a living as maid or something like that".
Despite that Mutterschutz advocated the equality of illegitimate children, legalization of abortion, and sexual education, it was not ready for this, and did not reply. Hushler then wrote to Magnus Hirschfeld enclosing the rejected article. They corresponded.  Jenny is Case 13 in the 1910 Die Transvestiten.  She provided photographs for the 1912 supplement to Die Transvestiten.

++ In 1922 Jenny moved to Mississippi, to the village of Waynesboro, population 700, 30% white.   She was quite accepted, her gender unquestioned, regarded as a spinster recluse.   She died there 31 years later at the age of 91, and only in preparation for burial was her gender history revealed.
  • Magnus Hirschfeld. Die Transvestiten; ein Untersuchung uber den erotischen Verkleidungstrieb: mit umfangreichem casuistischen und historischen Material. Berlin: Pulvermacher, 1910. English translation by Michael A Lombardi-Nash. Tranvestites: The Erotic urge to Crossdress. Buffalo: Prometheus Books.  1991: s. 1991: Case 13: 83-93.
  • Magnus Hirschfeld & Max Tilke. Der erotische Verkleidungstrieb (Die Transvestiten). Illustrierter Teil. A. Pulvermacher, 1912: plate XXII.
  • "Lived as Woman; Buried as One".  Humboldt Standard, March 23, 1953. 
  • Clare Sears. Arresting Dress: Cross-Dressing, Law, and Fascination in Nineteenth-Century San Francisco. Duke University Press, 2014: 74, 76, 78-80.

Thanks to researcher Kyle Phalen for finding the obituary.

If born a century later Jenny would, quite likely, have been an early transitioner. She did as much as she did without estrogens, and probably had no way to find out that there were cities others than San Francisco that did not have such anti-cross-dressing laws.

09 July 2023

Gert-Christian Südel (1951-2014) pioneer activist

Südel was raised in Hamburg. It just so happened that the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg was relatively accepting of trans persons compared to the rest of West Germany. In Bavaria, for example, it was a legal requirement that the photos on the identity card and passport had to clearly match the gender entry; however Hamburg's state law required only a recent photo even it deviated from their registered civil status. In 1959 Hans Giese (not known to be related to Karl Giese) moved his Institut für Sexualforschung to Hamburg, and integrated with the Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf - albeit without receiving funding. Support for trans persons was provided at the Institut. As early as 1953 Giese had co-published „Zur Phänomenologie des Transvestitismus bei Männern“. Hamburg also contained the Reeperbahn in its Sankt Pauli district, an area of nightclubs and brothels including some travesti bars where trans persons who were elsewhere refused employment could find work.

Gert-Christian Südel knew early that he was trans, and from age 15 he was exploring the trans section of the Reeperbahn, where, despite being underage, he was welcomed by the staff. He learned a lot by talking to others. He passed this on to his school-friend Tommy, who later became aware of his own trans nature. In 1968, when he was 17 Gert-Christian founded Arbeitskreis TS (TS Working Group) which met in his parents house and inn – the first such group in post-WWII Germany. Südel was undergoing therapy with the sexologist Volkmar Sigusch, who was then with the Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf. Südel complained about the lack of information, and Sigusch gave him access to the clinic’s library, particularly to medical journals about transsexuality. Sigusch also referred his other trans clients to Arbeitskreis TS. The group was mainly a social evening, but also offered photography workshops to give feedback on one’s image, and gave advice re shopping and which doctors were supportive. Südel’s parents were initially skeptical, but welcomed the group. The neighbours became curious, but then accepted, and even socialised with the group. They especially directed newcomers to find the Südel inn. Sometimes Gert-Christian arranged for a trans woman to have a short-term job at the inn.

With performer Holly White

In 1968 a judgement of the Schleswig-Holstein Regional Social Court classified transvestites and transsexuals as unfit for placement; In 1972 a decision of the Federal Court of Justice considered gender reassignment surgery to be an immoral intervention. The accusation of immorality could be avoided only if a medical opinion attested to a risk of suicide. Südel wrote to the federal ministries protesting that these judgements were unreasonable.

By 1970 the US trans performer Angie Stardust was living and performing in Hamburg, and became a friend of Südel. Stardust and Ramonita Vargas had small parts as transvestites in the 1970 exploitation film Inspektor Perrak greift ein. Shortly after the film was released, Südel was in the hospital of the Hanover Medical School where he was visited by one of the actresses – who was treated as a star.

In 1972 Arbeitskreis TS was formally incorporated as Interessengemeinschaft für Transsexuelle und Transvestiten, and included contacts he had made all over Europe.

From 1973 Volkmar Sigusch became a professor at the Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main, and there founded his Institute for Sexology.

In 1975 Südel gave a lecture on transsexuality in a political education class at a Hamburg school. He also regularly distributed his information pamphlets in public places such as bars, cafés, clubs and discos. He made enough of a stir that newspapers and radio stations interviewed him. He collected signatures for a petition entitled "Did you know ...?", towards an amendment of the Personal Status Act so that first names could be changed. In November 1977 he gave a speech at the federal conference of the Social Democrat Party, and complained about the lack of change in the civil status system despite the fact that on 10 June 1976, the Bundestag had unanimously adopted an motion by the SPD politicians Claus Arndt and Rolf Meinecke, which called on the federal government to draft a law according to which persons who had undergone hormone administration and gender reassignment surgery should be allowed to change their personal status.

Finally the Transsexuellengesetz TSG (Transsexual Law) was passed in 1980 by the West German Bundestag permitting the required legal changes (with a few restrictions).

Around this time Südel’s relationship broke up. He stopped working with the association that he had founded, and retired as an activist – his contribution to the TSG being his major accomplishment. He already had Mormon friends, and he became increasingly involved with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

In his later years, Gert-Christian Südel lived in Bern, Switzerland. In Spring 2014 he hosted Niki Trauthwein. She video-interviewed him for 8½ hours, and he gave her two plastic bags containing the documents of his life. He died of an illness later that year, and Trauthwein published her biography of him in 2020.

  • Hans Bürger-Prinz, Heinrich Albrecht, Hans Giese. Zur Phänomenologie des Transvestitismus bei Männern. Stuttgart : F Enke Verlag, 1953.
  • Alfred Vohrer(dir). Inspektor Perrak greift ein. Scr: Manfred Purzer, with Horst Tapperet as Konnissar Perrak, and Ramonita Vargas and Angie Stardust. West Germany 84 mins 1970. Perrack of the Hamburg police investigates the murder of a trans sex worker. IMDB.
  • Niki Trauthwein. „Wege aus der Isolation: Emanzipatorische Bestrebungen und strukturelle Organisation in den Jahren 1945 bis 1980“. In Auf nach Casablanca? Lebensrealitäten transgeschlechtlicher Menschen zwischen 1945 und 1980. Landesstelle für Gleichbehandlung − gegen Diskriminierung (LADS), 2018.
  • „Der trans Pionier Gert-Christian Südel“. Stinknormal, 3.April 2019. Online.
  • Niki Trauthwein. Peter Pan in Hamburg: Gert-Christian Südel: Transpionier, Aktivist und Überlebenskünstler. LIT Verlag, 2020.
  • „Ein Buch für den deutschen Transpionier!“. de, 14.Mai 2020. Online.