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10 September 2023

Latina Seville (1940 - ) performer

The boy who later grew up to be Latina Seville was pretty and grew neither body nor facial hair, and because of this was called ‘fruit’ or ‘queer’ at school, often by the same bullies who made passes when they were alone. 

Age 16 having dropped out of school and gone to New York, she became Latina Seville, found work as a female impersonator, and lived fulltime as female. She was recruited by the Jewel Box Revue, and with them travelled across the USA. As also happened at Le Carrousel in Paris, conversation among the Jewel Box performers often drifted to discussions about sex changes, especially with Dr Borou in Casablanca. 

She often felt lonely and had difficulties relating to men, and thought that it would be easier as a completed woman. She wrote to Dr Burou giving a complete medical history. He accepted her and gave her a date in July 1963 – she was then 22. She saved up, got a passport and went. 

The bill was $2,500. She was told no sex for six months after the operation. She recuperated at her mother’s, and practiced Flamenco dancing. Under the impression that being post-op she could no longer work as a female impersonator, she became a stripper with a Flamenco opening. This went well and her salary doubled and then tripled. But she could not handle the men who were pushy about making passes. 

After six months she had a close male friend make love to her, but experienced no pleasure. She thought that perhaps she still thought like a man, and started seeing psychiatrists who advised that she adjust to herself.

At age 25 she wrote an account of herself for the National Insider, saying that she wanted to be a man again. As they often did, the National Insider recycled her article in a book later that year as a supplement to Abby Sinclair’s autobiography and an essay by Carlson Wade mainly about eunuchs and castratos.

She was not heard of again.

  • Latina Seville. “I Want to be a Man Again”. The National Insider, 6,7, Feb 14 & 6,8 Feb 21, 1965.
  • Latina Seville “I Want to be Male Again” in Abby Sinclair, George Griffith, Carlson Wade & Latina Seville. I Was Male. Novel Books. 95 pp 1965.
  • Liam Oliver Lair. Disciplining Diagnoses: Sexology, Eugenics, and Trans* Subjectivities. PhD thesis, University of Kansas, 2016 : 147n95.

Remember this is 1963-5.   The amount of information available to prospective trans women was miniscule compared to what we have today.  Obviously she did need advice from someone who had already transitioned.   She also needed advice from women (cis or trans) on how to handle pushy men.  

Do women think differently than men do?  She writes: "Maybe this is because I still think like a man.  I know what they are thinking, I know what they want from me.  Many guys have asked me how I got so hip, how I know just what they're going to say before they say it."  This is learned anticipation.  There are many cis women who can do it - especially prostitutes, but not only prostitutes.

If you are not the party type, or not good at socializing, and end up feeling lonely, a gender change will not change that.

$2,500 in 1963 is almost $25,000 today.

1 comment:

  1. Some believe that when they transition, their problems will go away. This is not true. I believe there needs to be post -op counseling.


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