British trans women up to 1964
The corresponding list of British trans men would of course be a lot longer and go back to the 17th century if not earlier. It was a lot more difficult for trans women to pass until external hormones became available in the 1940s. Transitions could be only social until the 1950s when male-to-female surgery became available for a few, for those with luck, pluck or the right connections. Yes, some gender surgeries had been done in Germany and the Soviet Union in the 1920s and 1930s.
The following list comprises trans women who transitioned and would have stayed so if death or arrest by police had not happened. This list does not include stage performers unless living as female full-time offstage, and does not include oscillators. So no Fanny and Stella, nor Gladys Shufflewick, nor Ron Storme.
This is of course a list of those that we know about. There are certainly at least as many again who were not reported in the press. John Randell discussed 61 cases in his 1960 MD thesis summarising his first 10 years working with trans persons. Many of these must have socially transitioned even though they realised that Randell's obduracy would prevent them from being approved for surgery. We know that he did approve Ina, Terri and Gloria - and there must be others. Likewise Dr Burou in Casablanca performed over 3,000 operations on trans women from 1956 onwards, but we can name barely 30 of them.
Lavinia Edwards: social transition 1825.
Mary Mudge: social transition 1850s.
Norma Jackson: social transition 1931.
November 1945: an unnamed serving Sergeant (a full-time soldier and not a conscript) assigned to Hamburg was allowed to travel to Denmark for male-to-female surgery, after extensive medical evaluation by the Medical Officer and a psychologist.
Dorothy Medway: social transition 1945, surgery late 1953.
Betty Cowell: social transition 1950, surgery 1951.
X, unnamed Scots woman, having undergone surgery, petitioned in 1957 to have her sex corrected on birth certificate etc. as Ewan Forbes had done two years earlier, but was refused.
Georgina Turtle: surgery 1957, social transition 1957.
April Ashley: social transition 1956, surgery May 1960.
Victoria Dolling, 1958
Ina Barton: social transition 1960, surgeries completed 1962.
Terri Rogers: surgery 1962.
Gloria Greaves: surgery 1964.
US Trans Women up to 1966
As in the British list, the criteria for inclusion here are either surgery or living full-time and often both.
Sophia Gibons social transition by 1860, and continued to her death in 1885.
Mrs Noonan, previously Mrs Clifford and then Mrs Nash - social transition before 1868, and continued through three husbands to her death in 1878.
Peggy Yule social transition at age 15 in 1875, and continued to her death in 1965.
Elizabeth Berger social transition at age 9, and continued until outed at age 57 in 1931.
Frances Anderson social transition before 1890, and continued until death in 1928.
Georgia Black social transition in 1921, and continued so until her death in 1951.
Elsie Marks, the Cobra woman who did a snake act, social transition in the 1920s, was married and lived so until her death in 1946 after being bitten by a rattlesnake.
Charlotte Charlaque social transition 1920s, surgery in Berlin 1929-30.
Mary Baker social transition in 1927, and worked as a waitress, laundress, chorine, nurse. She was also married. However in 1937 she was arrested for making "improper advances" on an undercover policeman in Brooklyn.
Clarabelle, the queen of Los Angeles’ Bunker Hill, lived full-time as female in the 1930s. Her story has been lost. She was succeeded by Wilhemena and then Carioca (who later died on an operating table in Calexico) of whom we know even less.
Josephine Montgomery social transition in the 1930s. This went well until she was arrested and convicted of strong-arm robbery in 1950. (Bullough p567)
A woman, who had been born with the name William Richeson, had been married for six years before being outed in 1937. Her husband was completely surprised. (Bullough p567)
Adele Best. Vern Bullough tells us “Mrs. Adele Best lived as a woman for 54 years with no one the wiser, including apparently, at least according to her own testimony, her three husbands”, but gives no dates. (p567)
Barbara Wilcox had social transition before 1941, surgery 1956
Louise Lawrence social transition 1944.
Hedy Jo Star social transition 1945, surgery 1962.
Caren Ecker social transition 1940s, surgery 1953
Pussy Katt surgery 1945 in Mexico.
Sally Barry had social transition in the 1940s, surgery 1953-8.
Carla Sawyer social transition 1949, surgery 1957?
Mrs Cox social transition circa 1950, outed and charged in 1958.
Christine Jorgensen surgery 1951-2 and 1969, social transition 1952
Charlotte McLeod surgery and social transition 1953
Dixie MacLane social transition 1953, surgery 1955.
Janet surgery 1953 (Benjamin p137)
Tamara Rees social transition 1952, surgery 1955 in the Netherlands.
Annette Dolan social transition 195?, surgery 1954.
Patricia Morgan social transition mid 1950s, surgery in 1961 with Elmer Belt.
Agnes social transition 1956, surgery 1959.
Gayle Sherman social transition 1956, surgery late 1960s?
Clara Miller surgery and social transition 1957
The person previously called William O’Connell - surgery 1960 (Benjamin p74-81)
Beverly-Barbara social transition 1958, surgery 1968.
Betty social transition 1961, surgery 1962.
Paula Neilsen surgery 1963.
Elizabeth Hughes surgery 1963 (Transvestia #24, December 1963)
Abby Sinclair surgery 1963 in Casablanca.
Judy Bowden social transition 1965, surgery 1971.
Harriet/Ava surgery 1965 in Europe, later became a wife. (Benjamin p83)
The unnamed actor whose photograph is in Benjamin’s book. Surgery before 1966.
Phyllis Avon Wilson social transition 1960s, surgery 1966 (the first at Johns Hopkins)
Désirée social transition and marriage in 1960s, murdered by her husband.
- Harry Benjamin. The Transsexual Phenomenon. Warner Book, 1966, 1977.
- Vern Bullough. “Transsexualiism in History”. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 4,5, 1975.
- Leslie Feinberg. Trans Gender Warriors.Beacon Press, 1996.
- Roberta Perkins. “Famous Trannies” Polare 13, September 2015.