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08 May 2024

Annette/Sheldon (1931-1971) businessman, engineer

Sheldon was raised in Idaho, grew to 6’2’’ (1.88m) and served in the military as a Marine sergeant. Sheldon had been cross-dressing since early childhood, with an initial emphasis on shoes. He married but did not tell his bride, Gail, of his cross-dressing until two months afterwards. She did not understand, but allowed him to ‘dress-up’. He over-did it and Gail was afraid of friends finding out. So, Shelden quit doing so but fell into periods of deep depression – which led to Gail consulting the family doctor. 

The doctor called Sheldon in for a talk, and referred him to a psychiatrist in another city. This doctor advised that his feminine side not be pushed aside. Sheldon worked with his wife on finding a balance. She suggested the name Annette. Annette needed a place to go to, and they confided in two couples who were close friends and Annette was accepted – although they still referred to her as Sheldon and treated her as a man, even when they went to a restaurant as a foursome. Annette and her wife also went to costume dances and to movie theatres. 

On the psychiatrist’s advice Sheldon wrote to his mother, explaining his hobby and enclosing photographs. She wrote back "you do make a snappy looking gal", and remembered the child Sheldon in dresses.

This was only a few years after the 1955 “Boys of Boisie” homosexual scandal and witch hunt in the Idaho state capital, when adult men loving other adults were accused of paedophilia.

Sheldon was an engineer and business manager, and was appointed to a position in the Lewiston city council.

Annette sent an account of herself with photographs to Virginia Prince’s Transvestia newsletter. 

Transvestia #5 1960 featured its first cover girl. Potential cover girls were asked to supply several photographs and a personal history, and were requested to pay for their page of photographs. The first such was Annette of Idaho. A year later, issue #10 contained supportive letters from Sheldon’s wife and mother.

Word spread about Sheldon being Annette. He even passed around photographs of Annette at the city offices. Annette never passed himself off as a woman; on meeting strangers he always mentioned that he was a man. Some refused to believe it. Once at a party, a young man, making a play for Annette, had it confirmed again that Annette was a man and grabbed her wig in fury. Not a wise move against an ex-Marines sergeant.

In 1962 Donald Wollheim/Darrell Raynor, planning a business trip to the US Northwest, used the Transvestia mail forwarding system to contact Annette, and was duly invited to visit. Raynor flew to the Lewiston airport where he was picked up by Sheldon. Raynor described the home where Annette/Sheldon lived with Gail, two children and his mother: 

“Imagine then that on the outskirts of this town there suddenly rises one single hill, a hill that looms above the city and dominates it. Imagine that on top of this solitary hill, there is a grove of trees, the only such orchard to be seen for miles around. Within this grove of trees there is a ranch-type, sprawling house, surrounded by lawns, concealed from view by the encircling green arbors. This was Annette’s house, as perfect a home for a cross-dresser as can be imagined. Complete privacy, open air, beauty against the drabness and sereneness of the land.”

The next year, using his femme name of Doris, Raynor wrote an account of the visit for Transvestia. This first draft was reworked as Chapter 10 of Raynor’s 1968 book.

Sheldon, after much consideration, started his own business, including a car-wrecking yard. He also invented a mobile car crusher designed to pick up abandoned cars and compress them into a cube of scrap metal on the spot. 

Most years Annette invited members of Virginia Prince’s FPE and others to her home with an overflow to a local motel if needed. She spoke to the local police officials explaining what transvestism is and promising to be “the model of discrete behavior, conducting herself as a lady should and drawing no public attention to herself” (Maureen).

In 1968 Katherine Cummings and most of the Seattle Chapter went. Virginia drove up from Los Angeles. Cummings observed that Virginia managed to alienate most of the wives by telling them that she was just as female as they were. (Cummings: 185).

The 1970 event was written about by Virginia (Transvestia 62) and by Maureen (Transvestia 63).

Only a few months later, Sheldon died of a sudden heart attack at age 39. There were several fond rememberings in Transvestia # 68. 

1971 was also the year that a new Idaho criminal code repealed the anti-sodomy laws dating from 1864. However strong opposition from the Mormon and Catholic churches and Republican Party led to a reinstatement of the anti-sodomy laws just one year later.

  • “Miss Annette – Our COVER GIRL of the Month”. Transvestia, 1.5, 1960: Cover, 3-13. Online.
  • “My son is a Transvestite” and “My husband is a Transvestite”. Transvestia, 2,10, Aug 1961: 68-73. Online.
  • Darrell Raynor writing as Doris. “Visit to a Happy Man”. Transvestia 2, 20, 1963:32-4. Online.
  • Virginia Prince. “Travelling Saleslady”. Transvestia, 2,62, 1970 :65-6. Online.
  • Maureen. “Weekend Women”. Transvestia, 2, 63, 1970: 73-80. Online.
  • “In Memoriam”. Transvestia,2, 68, 1971 :26-31,
  • Darrell G Raynor. A Year Among the Girls. Lancer Books, 1968: Chp 10, 76-83.
  • Katherine Cummings. Katherine’s Diary: The Story of a Transsexual. Beaujon Press, Revised edition, 1993: 104-5, 185.
  • Robert S Hill. As a man I exist; as a woman I live’: Heterosexual Transvestism and the Contours of Gender and Sexuality in Postwar America. ‘PhD Thesis, University of Michigan 2007: 1-6, 9, 44, 92-3, 147n28, 238, 354-62.
  • Sophie McMahon. “Finding Annette: Uncovering Trans History in Idaho, 1950-70”. Outhistory, 2023. Online.


McMahon makes no mention at all of the books by Cummings and Raynor nor the thesis by Hill that discuss Annette. She uses Raynor writing as Doris –but ignores Raynor’s book.

McMahon writes: “I try and picture Annette sitting cross legged at the kitchen table reading articles such as these that condemn homosexual life, and then taking off her long white dress and earrings and going out into the world as a man named Sheldon, knowing that she could likely face similar levels of anger and villainization if people knew about her secret life as a woman.” Surely this misses the point. Annette/Sheldon – remarkably – was by force of personality, social skills and self-confidence able to be semi-out as trans in the 1960s– even in the city council – in a state noted for its homophobia.

Darrell Raynor writing as D Rhodes in Turnabout #3 1964 contributed “Overs and Unders” in which he proposes two kinds of male heterosexual transvestites, of both of which he says: "The ‘Overs’ first fixate on shoes, the ‘Unders’ first fixate on under garments".  In this scheme Annette would be an ‘Over’, and was probably in his mind as he wrote.

The major book on the homosexual panic in 1955 Boise is John Gerassi’s The Boys of Boise: Furor, Vice and Folly in an American City, 1966, in which he proposes that the investigation began as a means for the wealthy elite of Boise to assert and maintain economic control of the city and the state. He asserts that a gay millionaire known as "The Queen" was the target of the probe, although he was never charged. This person is still anonymous almost 70 years later – “the name itself carries the name of one of the big huge families in America, entrepreneur families dating back a century”. Other men with less money, clout and access to lawyers were charged instead, some being sent to prison – one was given a life sentence. Collateral damage!!

Of course Annette/Sheldon – like Virginia Prince – maintained that transvestites were not homosexual. However this perception was not common in the general public or in most police forces.

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