This site is the most comprehensive on the web devoted to trans history and biography. Well over 1100 persons worthy of note, both famous and obscure, are discussed in detail, and many more are mentioned in passing - especially in the year-end summaries (see links in right sidebar.)

There is a detailed Index arranged by vocation, doctor, activist group etc.

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 page. There is also a search box at the top left. Enjoy exploring!

27 April 2015

Anton Prinner (1902 – 1983) artist, sculptor

Anna Prinner was the only daughter of four children of an accountant father and a pianist mother. She studied at the University of Fine Arts School in Budapest. In 1926 two of Prinner's paintings were by error hung in the Fine Arts Museum and were a great success.

Prinner moved to Paris in 1927, taking a male name and from then wearing male clothes, a beret and smoking a pipe. Picasso would greet him as "Monsieur Madame". Anton had a constructivist period from 1932, and a figurative period from 1937. He did his first wooden sculpture in 1940, a medium that he so made his own that Picasso called him the "petit pivert" (little woodpecker). Himself only 1.5 metres, he carved statues up to five metres high.

Anton spent most of the German occupation in hiding. In 1950 He settled in Vallauris, close to Antibes and to Italy, as had Picasso. He made ceramics and sculptures, including esoteric statues and protective deities. After 1954 Prinner discovered a passion for ancient Egypt and esotericism. He did an androgynous female Pharaoh, and a female Buddha.

However, exploited by the owner of the studio and robbed by others, he abandoned sculpture. He wrote in an autobiography: "Je veux faire des choses qui ne plaisent à personne pour éviter qu'on ne me vole" (I want to do things that please nobody, so that I will not be robbed).

He returned to Paris, and to painting, in 1964, and was exhibited. However he died in poverty at age 81. Prinner never returned to Hungary except for a quick visit in 1930, and never discussed his gender change.
  • Anton Prinner. Le livre des morts des anciens Egyptiens.. 1948.
  • Anton Prinner. La femme tondue. Paris: APR, 1946.
  • Anton Prinner & Lionel Le Barzic. Le Tarot ésotérique et poétique de Prinner: et le développement scientifique, poétique, anecdotique de la cartomancie. [S.l.]: Édition Aujourd'hui, 1976. Anton Prinner,. Anton Prinner, 1902-1983. Paris: Binoche et Godeau, 1985.
  • Anton Prinner & Philippe Rollet. Anton Prinner: (1902 - 1983); [cet ouvrage est édité à l'occasion de l'Exposition Anton Prinner, présentée au Musée de l'Abbaye Sainte-Croix des Sables d'Olonne du 1er juillet au 1er octobre 2006 et à l'Institut hongrois de Paris en 2007]. Paris: Editions du Panama, 2006.
  • Anton Prinner & Benoît Decron. Anton Prinner: [exposition présentée au Musée de l'abbaye Sainte-Croix des Sables d'Olonne du 1er juillet au 1er octobre 2006 et à l'Institut hongrois de Paris en 2007. Paris: Panama, 2006.
  • Cserba Júlia. "Anton Prinner különös világa". Artmagazin, 2007/2:78-80.
  • Florence La Bruyere. "Anton Prinner, entre mystère et ésotérisme: Le musée Ernst de Budapest rend hommage à l'enfant du pays, qui se choisit un prénom masculin". Libération Culture, 7 mai 2007.
  • "Déplacements à l’abbaye Sainte-Croix". Animula vagula, 25.01.2008.
  • Gál-Szende Gabriella. "Egy nő, akinek elhitték, hogy férfi". Folium Verde, február 15, 2015.
FR.WIKIPEDIA     L'AgoradesArts     CriticalLapok

25 April 2015

Lucy Lawson (Hicks) (Anderson) (1886 - 1954) cook, madam

Tobias Lawson was born in Waddy, Kentucky. By the time she started school, she was insisting on wearing dresses, and called herself Lucy. Her mother took her to a physician and was advised to raise the child as a girl.

Lucy Lawson left school at fifteen, and worked as a domestic servant. In her twenties, Lucy moved to Pecos, Texas and worked in a hotel for a decade. In 1920 Lucy married Clarence Hicks in Silver City, New Mexico, and then moved to Oxnard, California.

Mrs Hicks worked as a cook and nanny, in particular for the Donlon family. She won prizes in cooking competitions. She saved her money and purchased a downtown property. In 1929 she divorced Mr Hicks. There was less work available during the Depression years, and by the Second World War, Lucy was running a bordello, and was frequently arrested for being a madam.

One of her girls contracted a venereal disease, and the entire house was medically examined, which led to the discovery that Lucy was male-bodied. In 1944 Lucy married Reuben Anderson, a soldier stationed in New York.

In 1945 Mrs Anderson was convicted of perjury in that in applying for a marriage license she had sworn that there were “no legal objections to the marriage". She was sentenced to ten years probation. Challenging the doctors who had proclaimed that she was male, She insisted: “I defy any doctor in the world to prove that I am not a woman. I have lived, dressed, acted just what I am, a woman".

In 1946 both Lucy and Reuben were convicted and imprisoned for fraud in that Lucy had received payments as the wife of a soldier. After release Lucy attempted to return to Oxnard, but the local police chief warned her to stay away.

Lucy Anderson spent the remainder of her life in Los Angeles until her death in 1954, at age 68.

* not the parliamentarian

It is very noteworthy that a doctor in the 1890s suggested that a trans girl actually be raised as a girl.

Lucy was quite a woman. She was 58 when Reuben married her.

There is no mention of whether Lucy was allowed to sell her house in downtown Oxnard, or was otherwise compensated for its loss.

Was she sent to a women's prison?
p89 of Oxnard: 1941-2004.

23 April 2015

Tommy Vasu (191? - 1965) bar owner

Tommy Vasu was the first known lesbian to legally own a bar in San Francisco, possibly using the money she made managing the sex work of a number of her girlfriends.

She ran Tommy's Joint at 299 Broadway from 1948 to 1951. Tommy usually dressed in men's double-breasted suits, ties and a fedora hat. She kept her hair short and went with hookers. She also ran the parking lot across the street, ran around with gangsters and drove a Cadillac convertible. Prostitutes and lesbians, artists, bohemians and queers mixed in the bar. In June 1949 the police raided and eight women were charged with vagrancy.

Later she ran Tommy's Place at 529 Broadway from 1952 to 1954, across from the then new City Lights Bookstore. In 1954 the bar was closed by the vice Squad. Two of the bartenders were charged with serving minors, and then some heroin, probably planted, was found in the ladies' toilets. Tommy lost her license and one of the bartenders was convicted.

She still ran the parking concession. In the late 1960s she had a expensive blond girlfriend who was on heroin. And Tommy became a dealer to supply her needs. She was busted in 1969 and served five years in the California Correctional Institution at Tehachapi.

She was murdered shortly afterward.

21 April 2015

Harry Benjamin's Other Books

The NO.WIKIPEDIA (Norwegian) page on Harry Benjamin gives his published works as:

The second item, Better sight without glasses, has also been claimed by Gallus MagAndrea James, gave the same bibliography, but has now removed it:

I have already explained that there was another Harry Benjamin, a British naturopath and Gurdjieffian.

The sexologist Harry Benjamin (1885-1986) wrote four and only four books:
  • Harry Benjamin. In Time--We Must Accept. Los Angeles: Mattachine Review, 1957.
  • Harry Benjamin & Robert E.L. Masters. Prostitution and morality: a definitive report on the prostitute in contemporary society and an analysis of the causes and effects of the suppression of prostitution. Julian Press, 1964.
  • Harry Benjamin. Nature and Management of Transsexualism: With a Report on Thirty-One Operated Cases. Seattle, Wash.?: s.n, 1964.
  • Harry Benjamin. The Transsexual Phenomenon. Julian Press, 1966. Warner Books Edition 1977.
The first and third books are almost impossible to find, as difficult to find as the books by Angela Douglas. However the second is easily available on the second-hand market.

For some reason both Andrea James and NO.WIKIPEDIA did not mention any of Benjamin’s actual books other than the 1966 one.

Let us have a look at the second book, Prostitution and morality, by Harry Benjamin & Robert E.L. Masters.

It is not usually mentioned that Benjamin had an ongoing interest in prostitution. However as the back flap says:

Harry Benjamin, M.D., sexologist, endocrinologist, and geriatrician has been for decades an internationally recognized authority on sexual problems. His first article dealing with prostitution appeared more than 30 years ago [ie in the 1930s]. Since that time he has published many additional articles on the subject. His thinking about prostitution has been enriched by personal discussions of the problem with such men as Havelock Ellis, Magnus Hirschfeld, and Alfred Kinsey; and by a correspondence with René Guyon.

The second author Robert E L Masters (not to be confused with William Masters who investigated sexual responses) wrote a number of books on sex and the mind (Amazon).

The back flap concludes: “Another Benjamin-Masters collaboration, on the subject of transsexualism and ‘change of sex,’ is presently in progress". As we know it did not come out as a collaboration.

In his Preface, Benjamin explains that he was incensed by the February 1931 murder of New York prostitute Vivian Gordon, whose murderer was never convicted. This started his involvement with and his being an advocate for the decriminalization of prostitution.

Some prostitutes are, of course, trans women. This comes up three times in the book.

In chapter 5: Varieties of Prostitution and Prostitutes, includes a section "A new kind of prostitute". Benjamin explains that he has had "extensive first-hand clinical experience with such cases for many years, and employed the term 'Transsexualism' now widely used". He explains the basics, and that "many of the products of sex conversion emerge as extremely attractive 'females' " [note the quotations marks]. He cites Coccinelle, April Ashley and Hedy Jo Star as examples who were attractive. Of his 108 mtf cases at that date, 15 were earning their living as prostitutes, and another 15 were doing it part-time. Benjamin thinks that reassurance that one is actually a female is sought in coitus, and that once this reassurance is acquired, she may settle down to a more normal existence. An even better proof of femininity is being married, "and this factor tends to limit the duration of period of harlotry". He also considers non-operated transsexuals who are saving for the operation. These "will not allow coitus". (page 165-8)

Chapter 10: Homosexual Prostitution, quickly mentions transvestite prostitutes in the Middle and Far East, and cites Kraft-Ebing on urnings who use female coquetry. "The imitation of feminine peculiarities is spontaneous and unconscious in congenital and in some acquired cases of antipathic sexual instinct". (page 288)

Later in the same chapter there is a section "Female impersonators". Benjamin notes that transsexual prostitutes are very considerably outnumbered by homosexual transvestite prostitutes, some of whom work in nightclubs as female impersonators where they make contacts with the patrons of the club. He estimates that 10% of the impersonators were transsexuals, 30% bi- or heterosexual, and 60% homosexual. He also regards the customers of trans prostitutes as homosexual or bisexual – "some are probably latent homosexuals who are able more or less to pretend that the impersonator is genuinely female". Benjamin makes a contrast: "There is a large psychological gulf separating the homosexual transvestite from the transsexual – a gulf utterly ignored by some 'scientific' writers on the subject … and members of the two groups often share an intense dislike for one another'. (page 305-9)
Benjamin would seem have adjusted his opinion somewhat between this 1964 book and The Transsexual Phenomenon in 1966. There 'fetishistic transvestite' and 'true transvestite' are described as Kinsey 0-2 only. Thus the 'homosexual transvestite' who is acknowledged here, disappears. There are several references in The Transsexual Phenomenon to Virginia Prince, and it would seem that was the period when she influenced him. The non-performing, non-prostitute gay transvestite is quite invisible in both books.

One of Benjamin's patients was Patricia Morgan who started as a male prostitute, became a transvestite prostitute, had surgery from Elmer Belt in 1961, and continued as a female prostitute. Perhaps Benjamin should have listened more attentively to what Morgan had to say. In her very being she refutes his simple distinction between the homosexual transvestite and the transsexual.

Male homosexuals are attracted by masculine persons and masculinity. Recent studies have shown that men attracted to trans women are a type of heterosexual man. Benjamin, despite his insight elsewhere, fails to comprehend this.

There is no mention of trans men (ftm) prostitutes. They do exist.

Benjamin seems to be too focused on attractive trans women. Many trans women are not attractive enough to work in nightclubs and/or do not pass. Many of these are unable to obtain other kinds of work, and are compelled to turn to prostitution to survive. They may also be compelled by the state refusing to re-issue personal documents which are required when obtaining work. There is no mention of this.

The EN.WIKIPEDIA bibliography for Harry Benjamin, which fails to note which are books and which are articles, claims that Benjamin wrote only the Introduction to Prostitution and Morality. Actually the Introduction was written by Walter C. Alverez.

18 April 2015

Léo Kret (1983 - ) musician, councillor.

Kret of Pernambués, Salvador, Bahia, was talented even as a child, and came to the attention of television personality, Clodovil Hernandes, who arranged years of training. Kret became a dancer and funk singer in the band Saiddy Bamba.

During transition she ran for Salvador council in 2008 for the Party of the Republic, and despite being the most harassed candidate by the press she came fourth highest in the vote. She was still legally male under Brazilian law, and was expected to wear a suit and tie and use the men’s toilets.

However in November 2009 Léo won a ruling in the Civil Registration Court recognizing her identity. During her three years in office, councillor Kret worked on the committees for citizens' rights, repairs and economic development and tourism. Despite this, in 2012 she was not re-elected.

She has now returned to singing and formed the group Léo Kret & As Novinhas.
PT.WIKIPEDIA    Desciclopedia    Camara Municipal de Salvador

15 April 2015

Helen Wong ( 1973 - ) actress

Wong was born in Guizhou, China, grew up in Hong Kong, emigrated to the United States at age 17, and lives in Los Angeles.

While doing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the University of Southern California and working as a female impersonator, Wong was persuaded by a friend, Annabel Chong, to do porn acting.

Chong set a world record in 1995 for the number of men she had sex with on camera. She was never paid for the role, and the resulting video ran into legal problems. A documentary about the making of that film was made in 1999: Sex: The Annabel Chong Story. Wong appeared in his male persona as Chong's friend (Walter L. Williams also appeared in his professional role as an anthropologist).

Using the professional name, Allenina, Wong has worked as a model, actress, dancer and film director. In addition to porn she has appeared on television dating shows as an out transsexual. She was also in National Lampoon Presents Lost Reality, 2004.


12 April 2015

Aase Schibsted Knudsen (1954 - ) media academic

Knudsen was born in Fumes, Norway, and did a BSc Electronics Engineering at Gjøvik University College, 1979 and a PhD in media production at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm with a BSc.

Since 2007, when she was in the middle of transition, Knudsen has been a professor at The Norwegian Film and Television School, Lillehammer University College. In 2009 Aase came out in the press and on television to educate the Norwegian public about transsexuality.

Since 2010 she has been on the Trans Policy Committee of Landsforeningen for lesbiske, homofile, bifile og transpersoner (LLH). She is also a guitar and bass player.


09 April 2015

Alessandra di Sanzo (1969 - ) actress.

Alessandro di Sanzo was born in Gattico, Piermont, but later the family moved to Rome.

di Sanzo was an apprentice hairdresser when recruited by an agency to audition to play a trans teenager in reform school in Mery per sempre (Forever Mary), 1989. di Sanzo was chosen, and again played the same part in the sequel, Ragazzi fuori, 1990, and then played variations on similar characters even after she herself transitioned.

Alessandra also acted on the stage, and recorded songs.

In 1994 she was hired by the fashion designer Egon von Furstenberg and had to walk the catwalk in a bridal dress. The Church took umbrage as she is a known transsexual, however the event provided publicity.

More recently Alessandra has been living in Bologna with her brother doing voice dubbing on cartoons. She still does acting, and was most recently in Ragazzi della notte, 2011.


    07 April 2015

    Liu Shi Han 刘诗涵 (1989 - ) model

    Liu was raised in Changsha 長沙; Hunan.

    After graduating from Hunan Mass Media Vocational Technical College, Liu performed as a professional pole dancer and with a boa constrictor for three years, saving madly for surgery.

    Afterwards Shi Han moved to Beijing and obtained modelling gigs for magazine, websites and online games. In late 2010 Shi Han confirmed, on her blog, that she had had transgender surgery.
    我确实做过变性手术。我只想隐姓埋名做一个普通人。可匿名者就是不肯放过我。要公开我的隐私曝光我不能生BB的事实在媒体大众面前。现在,我承认了。不用逼我,我会自己慢慢说出真相。与其让别人一而再中伤我,不如自己坦诚面对一切。(“I did have transsexual surgery. I just wanted to hide my identity and be an ordinary individual. But an anonymous person just wouldn’t let me go, making my privacy public and exposing to the media and public the fact that I can’t give birth to babies. Now, I admit it. No need to push me. I will slowly reveal the truth. I’d rather honestly face all this than allowing others to slander me.)”
    A few television channels picked up on the story and Shi Han was interviewed and small documentaries made about her. While before her confirmatory posting she had been bothered by text messages from rich men and directors, asking her to be the man's mistress, such messages quickly stopped.

    Liu Shi Han is recognised and respected as China's first transsexual model.
    Top 10 transsexual entertainers in Asia      Red Flava

    05 April 2015

    Micheline Anne Montreuil (1952–) lawyer

    Montreuil was born in Québec City where the family has lived since 1627. After studying law in industry, administration and education, Montreuil competed to be federal Liberal Party candidate in 1984 in Langelier riding, Québec City.

    Montreuil transitioned as Micheline in 1986.

    She was a candidate for Québec City council in 1993. From 1997-2002 she fought a legal challenge to the Registrar of Civil Status of Québec which wouldn’t change her legal name, although she had already changed her passport and other federal documentation. Her request to change her name was finally accepted in 2002.

    In 1998 she failed to get a job at the National Bank and claimed that this was because of her gender history. The Bank argued that she was ‘overqualified, condescending and self-centered’ but was ruled against by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.

    In 2003, as a big media event at the Quebec City Palais des Arts, she was married to lawyer and author Michèle Morgan.

    In 2007, after many years on New Democrat Party committees she was acclaimed as the NDP candidate for Québec (Langelier, which had been renamed), with the approval of party leader Jack Layton. However she was later dropped, with the reason given that her language in interviews was 'too strong'.

    In 2007 she also won a grievance against the Canadian Forces which turned her down as a grievance officer on the grounds that there wasn’t enough work in French. The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal awarded her $40,000.

    She has since worked as a lawyer at the Conseil de la justice administrative and teacher of ethics and law at the Université du Québec à Rimouski. She is also a lawyer in private practice.    EN.WIKIPEDIA

    30 March 2015

    25 trans Europeans who found their destiny in North America

    See also 22 trans Americans who found their destiny in Europe
    1. Charles Hamilton (171? - ?) quack doctor in Somerset, inspiration for Henry Fielding's The Female Husband, moved to Philadelphia. GVWW
    2. Frenchy Vosbaugh (1827 – 1907) from France, became male when moved to US. Opened restaurant in Trinidad, Colorado. GVWW
    3. Murray Hall (1841 – 1901) from Govan, Scotland, became Tammany politician in New York. GVWW

    4. Albert Cashier (1844 – 1915) from Clogherhead, County Louth, fought in US Civil War, then labourer in Illinois. GVWW   EN.WIKIPEDIA

    5. Emma Becker (184? - ?) from Germany, became cook to Theodore Roosevelt, until arrested while drunk and outed. GVWW
    6. Fanny Park (1848 – 1881) from London, performer, featured in the 1871 homophobic show trial in London, moved to New York but without success on the stage. GVWW   Amazon
    7. Stella Boulton (1849 - ?) from Peckham, London, performer, featured in the 1871 homophobic show trial in London, became a pioneer of glamour drag on the New York stage. GVWW Amazon

    8. Jean Bonnet (1849 – 1876) born in Paris, frog catcher in San Francisco, murdered protecting a woman. GVWW Amazon

    9. Jenny O. (1862 - ?) from Voralberg, Austria, became a bookseller in San Francisco. Featured in Hirschfeld's book. GVWW
    10. Alfred Taylor (1862 - ?) co-defendent with Oscar Wilde in 1895. Afterwards emigrated to Chicago. GVWW
    11. Carla van Crist (189? - ?) from Berlin, taken to San Francisco. Returned to Berlin for surgery in Hirschfeld's Institute, 1931. Voice coach, actress in New York. GVWW
    12. Cynthia Conway (1916 – 2009) Emigrated from UK as a child, became a scientist in San Diego, than a doctor in Berkeley, transitioned in her 70s. GVWW.
    13. Susan Huxford (1921 – 2009) From Portsmouth, school teacher in Hamilton, Ontario, ran FACT. GVWW

    14. Dawn Langley Simmons (1922 – 2000) from Sussex. In New York and then Charleston became celebrity biographer, wife and mother. GVWW    Amazon

    15. Erica Rutherford (1923 – 2008) artist, born in Edinbugh, raised in Portsmouth, settled in Prince Edward Island. Xtra   CBC    Amazon
    16. Guilda (1924 – 2012) from Paris, drag star, artist, settled in Montreal. GVWW   Xtra
    17. Angela Morley (1924 – 2009) musician from Leeds, settled in Scotsdale, Arizona. GVWW EN.WIKIPEDIA

    18. George Maciunas (1931 – 1978) from Lithuania, founder of Fluxus art movement in New York. EN.WIKIPEDIA
    19. Brenda Lana Smith (1933 - ) from UK, became Honorary Danish Consul in Bermuda, and later Christine Jorgensen's flatmate. GVWW

    20. Stephanie Castle (? - ) from UK, ship owner, real estate developer, Vancouver activist. UVic TG Archives

    21. Paul Whitehead/Trisha Van Cleef (1945 - ) from Dartford, Kent, artist, especially of album covers, settled in Los Angeles. GVWW    EN.WIKIPEDIA

    22. Diane Torr (1948 - ) performance artist, raised in Aberdeen, became integral part of New York drag king/FTM scene. EN.WIKIPEDIA    Amazon

    23. Gernesis P. Orridge (1950 - ) musician, poet, occultist, born in Manchester, raised in Solihull, fled UK to escape religious persecution in 1992, settled in New York. GVWW EN,WIKIPEDIA

    24. Jack Halberstam (1961 - ) raised in Nottingham, followed father to US, became academic in San Diego, promoted Female Masculinity. GVWW   EN.WIKIPEDIA

    25. Kristen Paget (197? - ) from UK, software security consultant in Silicon Valley GVWW

    27 March 2015

    Madeleine Pelletier (1874–1939) Part II: doctor and activist

    Continued from Part I.

    From 1905 Dr Pelletier eked out a living as a local doctor, a doctor for the post office and was the first woman to become the doctor for the welfare department.

    She always wore her hair short and wore male clothing, but refused to apply for a permission de travestissement. She considered that female clothing represented slavery. Being short and fat she did not pass well. Sometimes she had to walk fast to escape public taunts. She was known to carry a revolver in her pocket. She would shout, use slang and go to places where women were not supposed to go.

    She was an active feminist and socialist. From 1905 she was on the national council of the French Socialist Party, and represented it at most international congresses before the war. However the socialists made fun of her at meetings and pretended not to recognize her in the streets.

    In 1906 she became secretary of La Solidarité des femmes, and published La suffragiste. In 1910, forty women attempted to run in the election, Pelletier in the 8th Arrondisment in Paris as the Socialist candidate, but all their candidatures were rejected.

    Pelletier was strongly in favour of birth control and abortion and wrote for Le Néo-Malthusian. She posited the right of a woman over her own body as an absolute right. She argued against the Natalists for whom a high birthrate was a patriotic duty, and against the Communists for the freedom of the individual. She argued that women had just as much right as men to sexual pleasure, and for that contraception, including abortion, was necessary.

    A police report (she remained an object of police surveillance throughout her life) described her as 'tribad', but it seems that she was celibate. She regarded sex with men as part of the oppression of women, and expressed contempt for feminists who wanted to remain feminine. On occasion she even rejected sex as a degrading animal activity, an attitude shared with bourgeois women on the National Council of Women.

    She proposed two categories of women: the superior kind who are totally independent including sexually; and the others. Feminists said that all that was against nature and an injury to feminism. Anti-feminists mocked her as showing where feminism leads – she confirmed their fears. She would say that her dress said to men that she was their equal, and that she liked to externalize her ideas. That whoever is truly worthy of liberty doesn't wait for someone to give it, but takes it.

    She advocated for the virilization (her coining – she liked provocative and polemical words) of women: not just access to education, work, art or writing, but also to duelling, military service and militant chastity.

    In 1913 she wrote: "Ah que ne suis-je un homme ! Mon sexe est le grand malheur de ma vie (Ah, why am I not a man! My sex is the great misfortune of my life)".

    In 1914 she put out a pamphlet proclaiming the right to abortion, and afterwards did abortions in her office.

    During the Great War Pelletier worked for the Red Cross treating the injured from both sides, and attended pacifist meetings. On one occasion in Nancy, a crowd took her as a German spy because of her strange appearance. In 1916 she wrote: "Du soleil, il y en a peu dans ma vie. Le monde n'aime pas les femmes qui se distinguent du troupeau; les hommes les rabaissent, les femmes les détestent. Enfin, il faut se résigner à ce que l'on ne peut empêcher et je ne donnerais tout de même pas ma place contre celle d'une brebis bêlante (There is little sunshine in my life. The world does not like women who stand out from the herd, men belittle them, women hate them. In the end, we must resign ourselves to what we can not help and I would not change places with a bleating sheep.)"

    She joined the French Communist Party when it was founded in 1920, and the next year visited the Soviet Union, despite that being illegal at the time. To do that she had to wear female clothing and a wig: it was like being a transvestite. On return she wrote Mon voyage aventureux en Russie communiste. However she left the Party in 1926. Afterwards she was an anarchist.

    In 1937 she had a stroke which left her partially paralyzed.

    In 1939 Dr Pelletier was arrested for practising abortion, denounced by the brother of a patient who was also the father of the foetus. She was incarcerated in the Perray-Vaucluse asylum where she had trained, and as the new war started she was forgotten. Her health deteriorated and after eight months, still incarcerated, she died at age 65.

    A note on fashion.   Women born in the 1870s experienced a somewhat one-off chagrin.   All through their youth, their courting, and their motherhood, they were expected to wear ankle-length skirts, and then in the 1920s, when they were well into middle-age, skirts were shortened.   A serious case was made against women's clothing before the great war.  The long skirts combined with corsets  could be quite dangerous impeding the wearer from escaping from fires, tram accidents etc.  But Pelletier's dislike for female clothing continued through the 1920s and until her death.  She would certainly not take advantage of the new freedoms whereby women showed their legs.  She considered the practice of a low decolletage, that is plunging necklines, in pre-1914 dress as 'servile'; showing one's legs as well was even worse.

    Obviously Pelletier is some kind of gender variant, but she eludes our 21st century categories.   Social constructions like non-binary, gender queer or female masculinity were not available during her lifetime, and so she could not use them. 

    Christine Bard comments “On peut penser qu'en étant assimilée à l'homosexualité, l'étrangeté de Madeleine Pelletier devient soudain plus familière (One might think that being equated with homosexuality, the strangeness of Madeleine Pelletier suddenly becomes more familiar)”p246, and then “Sur le plan personnel, elle est très proche des transgenres d'aujourd'hui (On a personal level, she is very close to today’s transgender) p247“ but does not pursue this idea.  A proper discussion of Pelletier’s place in trans history is yet to be written.

    Jack Halberstam in his seminal Female Masculinity, discusses the rich British and US expatriates in Paris in the 1920s, but pays no attention to to native Parisians.  Radcliffe Hall was rich and did not have to work, and could be dismissed as merely playing at masculinity.   Pelletier was born in the slums, and by her intellect and hard work became one of the first female-born doctors.   Halberstams’s notion of female masculinity is severely deficient in that persons like Pelletier are not included.

    There has become an industry of many books about the rich lesbian expatriots in Paris in the 1920s.  I checked several of them, and again and again there is no mention of native  working-class Parisians such as Pelletier.

    There is no mention, in any of the sources that I consulted, of Pelletier’s reaction to the news that a fellow Parisian resident, one Einar Wegener, went to Dresden and became Lili Elevenes, or that in 1912 a Berlin surgeon had done gender surgery on a trans man.  As a doctor Pelletier must have been aware of these developments.   Nor is there any mention of her reaction when the exiled Magnus Hirschfeld came to live in Paris in 1933. 

    Why did I stick with female pronouns?   There is no indication that Pelletier wanted otherwise, but there is also the fact that Pelletier never took a male name – at least none is reported.   See also Mathilde de Morny

    Publications by Madeleine Pelletier
    • Prétendue dégénérescence des hommes de génie. Paris: l'Acacia, 1900.
    • L'Amour et la maternité. Paris: la Brochure mensuelle, 1900.
    • "Recherches sur les indices pondéraux du crâne et des principaux os longs d’une série de squelettes japonaises". Bulletins de la Société d’Anthropologie de Paris, 15 nov.1900, 514–29.
    • M.Pelletier & P. Marie. "Sur un nouveau procédé pour obtenir l’indice cubique du crâne". Bulletins de la Société d’Anthropologie de Paris, 1901, 2, 188–93.
    • "Contribution à l’étude de la phylogénèse du maxilaire inférieure". Bulletins de la Société d’Anthropologie de Paris, 1903, 3, 537-45.
    • L'association des idées dans la manie aigüe et dans la débilité mentale. Faculté de médecine de Paris, 1903. Reprinted Paris: Rousset, 1903. Reprinted as Les lois morbides de l'association des idées. Paris: Jules Rousset, 1904.
    • "L’écho de la pensée et la parole intérieure". Bulletin de l’Institut Général Psychologique, (Séance du 6 mai), 440–73, 1904.
    • "La prétendue infériorité psycho-physiologique des femmes". La Vie Normale, , 1 (10), 1–6, 1904.
    • Admission des femmes dans la Franc-maçonnerie. Paris: [s.n.], 1905.
    • L'idéal maçonique. Paris: [s.n.], 1906.
    • La femme en lutte pour ses droits. Paris: V. Giard et E. Brière, 1908.
    • Idéologie d'hier: Dieu, la morale, la patrie. Paris: V. Giard & E. Brière, 1910.
    • Les Tendances actuelles de la maçonnerie. Paris: aux bureaux de l'"Acacia, 1910.
    • Dieu, la morale, la patrie: idéologie d'hier. Paris: V. Giard et E. Brière, 1910.
    • L'émancipation sexuelle de la femme. Paris: M. Giard & E. Brièr, 1911.
    • Philosophie sociale. Les opinions--les partis--les classes. Paris: M. Giard et Brière, 1912.
    • Justice sociale? Paris: M. Giard et E. Brière, 1913.
    • L'éducation féministe des filles. Paris: M. Giard & E. Brière, 1914.
    • L'Individualisme. Paris: Giard-Brière, 1919.
    • "In anima vili", ou Un crime scientifique: pièce en 3 actes. L'Idée Libre (Paris. 1911). Conflans-Sainte-Honorine: "l'Idée libre, 1920.
    • Mon Voyage aventureux en Russie communiste. Paris: Marcel Giard, 1922.
    • Supérieur! Drame des classes sociales en cinq actes. [Paris]: a. Lorulot, Conflans-Honorine, 1923.
    • L'âme existe-t-elle ? Paris: Groupe de propagande par la brochure, 1924.
    • Capitalisme et communisme. Nice: impr. de Rosenstiel, 1926.
    • Le travail: ce qu'il est, ce qu'il doit être. Paris: Groupe de propagande par la brochure, 1930.
    • Une vie nouvelle: roman. Paris: E. Figuière, 1932.
    • La Femme vierge, roman. Paris: V. Bresle, 1933.
    By Others:
    • Charles Sowerwine. ‘Madeleine Pelletier (1874–1939), femme, medecin, militante’, L’Information Psychiatrique, 9, 1988: 1189–1219.
    • Claudine Mitchell. “Madeleine Pelletier (1874 - 1939): The Politics of Sexual Oppression”. Feminist Review, 33, Autumn 1989: 72-92.
    • Felicia Gordon. The Integral Feminist--Madeleine Pelletier, 1874-1939: Feminism, Socialism, and Medicine. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1990.
    • Marie-Victoire Louis. “Les analyses de Madeleine Pelletier sur la sexualité et la prostitution”. Site de Marie-Victoire Louis, 01/12/1992.
    • Joan W. Scott. “The Radical Individualism of Madeleine Pelletier” in Only Paradoxes to Offer: French Feminists and the Rights of Man. Harvard University Press, 1997: 125-160.
    • “Madeleine Pelletier: Médecin psychiatre, journaliste, romancière et militante suffragiste (1874-1939)”. Tetue, 8 mars 2003.
    • Felicia Gordon. “Convergence and conflict: anthropology, psychiatry and feminism in the early writings of Madeleine Pelletier (1874—1939)”. History of Psychiatry, 19,2,June 2008 19: 141-162
    • Felicia Gordon. “Publicity and Professionalism: Madeleine Pelletier (1874 - 1939) and Constance Pascal (1877 - 1937)”. Modern & Contemporary France, 17,3, August 2009: 319-334.
    • Christine Bard. Une histoire politique du pantalon. Éd. du Seuil, 2010: Chapitre viii.
    • “Madeleine Pelletier 1874-1939: Féministe d’avant-garde”. Divergences, 23 mars 2012.
    • “Madeleine Pelletier: Médecin psychiatre, journaliste et éditrice, militante suffragiste, romancière (1874-1939)”.

    25 March 2015

    Madeleine Pelletier (1874 - 1939) Part I: psychiatrist

    Anne Madeleine Pelletier was born into a poor Parisian family. Her parents had a small fruit and vegetable shop. Her father, who also was a cab driver, had radical anti-clerical views. However, her mother was religious and a royalist. They lived in a squalid one-up-one-down house. Madeleine was shunned at convent school in that she was lice-infested.

    As a teenager she attended feminist and anarchist groups. Despite this, the City of Paris granted her a scholarship and in 1897 at 23 she passed the baccalaureate in philosophy and literature. From 1898 to 1903 she studied at the Faculté de Médecine.

    She joined the gender inclusive Le Droit Humain Freemason lodge, where she met feminists, socialists and anarchists. It offered a forum that enabled women to gain experience in debate and public speaking.

    She also met prominent members of the Société d’Anthropologie de Paris (SAP) and attended SAP meetings. Here she studied the relationship between skull size and intelligence as pioneered by Paul Broca. She published four articles in the Bulletins de la Société d’Anthropologie de Paris on craniometrical measurements. The most significant of these was a study of Japanese skeletons, demonstrating that the alleged superiority of male over female skeletal development was illusory. Later she attacked the idea that women are less intelligent because of their skull size.

    While still a medical student, 1901–02, Pelletier worked as interne suppléante in an asylum controlled by the medical faculty and thus avoided the required competitive examination that excluded women by law. At the end of this period, Pelletier became notable for her successful campaign to allow women to sit the public examination for the post of psychiatric intern. This done she took the examination in 1903 and passed coming sixth out of eleven candidates. She was then the first woman to work as an intern in state asylums, in her case in the Perray Vaucluse asylum.

    Pelletier's doctoral dissertation, L'association des idées dans la manie aigüe et dans la débilité mentale, (The association of ideas in acute mania and mental illness) was awarded the almost unheard-of commendation of ‘extrêmement satisfaits', and as a publication went into two editions, and was reviewed in the prestigious Revue Philosophique, albeit negatively by Joseph Rogues de Fursac who was concerned that by eliding normal and abnormal states, Pelletier down-played what he considered the definitive role of heredity.

    One of the papers that she wrote while an intern was ‘La prétendue infériorité psycho-physiologique des femmes’ (The supposed psycho-physiological inferiority in women) wherein she unpicks the anti-woman prejudices found in writings by prominent psychologists and anthropologists. As Gordon summarises: "To some extent, Pelletier accepts that women’s present subordination constitutes an adaptive failure, or rather is a sign of enforced adaptation. When women are accused of lacking a sense of honour, of being manipulative, vain or self-seeking (qualities not unknown in men), it is because these very qualities are weapons in the struggle for survival".

    Dr Pelletier 1906
    Altogether Pelletier published twelve journal articles in this period; three discuss auditory or tactile hallucinations, three others are clinical, anatomical or therapeutic studies. Working in the asylum, Pelletier wore her hair short and adopted mannish jackets. This caused no problems with the patients, but elicited negative reactions from the male interns.

    To become a qualified psychiatrist it was necessary to pass the concours d’adjuvat. As with the examination for public intern, women were barred from sitting. Pelletier applied in January 1906 and was turned down. She thereupon applied for a dérogation (dispensation) assuming that as usual the bureaucracy would move slowly but she would be allowed in the next cycle in 1908. However permission was granted immediately, leaving her only one month to prepare for the exam. She gained only 26 points, but 30 were needed. She was awarded only 6 out of 10 for publications despite her impressive dissertation and her twelve journal articles. She was not allowed to re-sit the exam as the decreed age limit was 32.

    This was an enormous blow to her ambitions, but she was still a doctor. She had already said: "Si j'avais des rentes, même petites, je prendrais un état civil masculin et ferais mon chemin soit dans une science, soit dans la politique ; c'est faisable" (If I had an income, however small, I would take a man's civil status and make my way in a science or in politics; it is feasible). However she needed a source of income.

    Continued in Part II.

    23 March 2015

    Jennifer Fox (193?–?) performer

    Jennifer Fox, a Las Vegas stripper and showgirl, was preparing for genital surgery in 1968. She was advertised as “The Myra Breckinridge of Burlesque” and “Isn’t He or Isn’t She?"

    Surgery over, Fox opened at the Gay 90s Club in North Las Vegas on October 5, 1970. The advertisements were sensational and exploited Jennifer’s surgery—which was a marketing ploy Fox herself approved: "I didn't let the public know about it at first. I continued to build my name as a stripper. ... We decided to advertise [my surgery] as a special attraction. And it worked. It's been good for business."

    Two years later, Jennifer opened at the Hippodrome Theatre in Circus Circus in Ann Corio’s Best of Burlesque.
    Burlesk    Burlesk     DivaHollywood

    21 March 2015

    Edward Sagarin (1913 – 1986) sociologist

    Edward Sagarin was the youngest of eight children born in Schenectadty, New York to Russian-immigrant Jewish parents. His mother died in the 'Spanish' Influenza epidemic in 1918, and his father remarried and moved the family to New York City. After high school, Sagarin spent a year in France where he met André Gide, the author of Corydon.

    Despite his interest in men, he married and they had one son. After a variety of jobs Sagarin established himself in the cosmetics industry and became an expert on the chemistry of perfumes. In 1951, just three years after Alfred Kinsey's Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, Sagarin published the ground-breaking book, The Homosexual in America: A Subjective Approach, using the pen-name of Donald Webster Cory (constructed from Gide's Corydon – Gide died in 1951). This was the first non-fiction book to describe what it was like to be homosexual in the US at that time, and argued boldly for homosexual rights. The book was reprinted seven times in hardback, translated into French and Spanish, and issued as a mass-market paperback in 1963.

    Sargarin's employer somehow found out that he was the author, and fired him. Nevertheless, several more books on the topic were issued under Cory's name.

    From 1955 Cory was active in the New York branch of the Mattachine Society.  In 1958, Sagarin returned to college. He completed a BA at Brooklyn College in the same class as his son. He followed this with an MA thesis on 'dirty words', which was published as a book, and the author photograph outed him to members of the Mattachine Society as the same person as Cory. He went on to do a PhD at New York University in sociology.

    He became associated with the psychologist Albert Ellis, and co-wrote books on incest under his own name. Donald Cory and John LeRoy (a sex partner whom he helped out financially) issued The Homosexual and His Society which claimed that there is no such thing as a 'well-adjusted homosexual', and also discussed hustlers, and challenged the then common assumption that homosexuals were security risks.

    Sagarin was increasingly at odds with the new activists in the Mattachine Society including LeRoy who were advocating for civil rights and liberation for homosexuals. In 1965, after a bitter fight for control. Sagarin quit the Mattachine Society. The conflict, expressed with some bitterness, appears in his PhD thesis, Structure and ideology in an association of deviants, that he submitted in 1966.

    He secured an academic position at the Baruch College campus of the City University of New York, where he became known as an excellent teacher, and a specialist in deviancy.

    In 1968, he wrote a paper "Ideology as a Factor in the Consideration of Deviance" for The Journal of Sex Research, in which he made the commonplace observation that scientists are not always as objective as they should be. In the section he named "Normal Necrophiles and Transsexuals", he quotes Harry Benjamin finding "no evidence of serious mental illness", and replies:
    "Benjamin describes a condition in which 'the male speaks of his female counterpart as of another person,' but to label this schizophrenia would constitute social condemnation, rather than diagnostic realism" and "One need only read the case histories, written by Benjamin or his collaborators, to note how disturbed are the patients".
    The Journal allowed Benjamin to reply:
    "My criticism of Sagarin's contribution is that his own ideology leads him to draw unwarranted conclusions in some (not all) instances, and his tendency to generalize too much".
    Sagarin worked with George L. Kirkham, another sociologist who had worked as a policeman in the cause of research. They produced a paper that was reprinted in Saragin's 1969 book, Odd Man in; Societies of Deviants in America, mainly about Change: Our Goal (COG), the San Francisco transvestite/transsexual group and its then unique experiment of co-operation with the police force via the efforts of Officer Elliot Blackstone (whom they do not mention or name). Sagarin & Kirkham fail to see this as a step forward, and in what is closer to journalism than to sociology deride the COG members as fantasists.
    "Transsexuals may be divided into two groups: those who have had sex reassignment surgery performed, and those who desire it. The former generally prefer not to mingle with the latter. Convinced (or hoping to convince themselves) that there is no difference between a man-made and a 'God-given' vagina, they view themselves as real girls who can share nothing with men who only wish to become women. ... the second transsexual category – those who desire sex reassignment surgery – is harder to define. It consists of people (for the moment, call them homosexuals) who live in the fantasy world of attempting to accept, and of forcing the acceptance of, the view that they are members of the other sex." (p119) "In the case of the transsexual, this self-image is doubly unacceptable: on the one hand, he suffers from being labeled homosexual, and on the other from being ultrafeminate." (p 122) "In fact, the transsexuals are constantly faced with the problem of explaining the presence in their midst of individuals who are clearly either neurotic or psychotic." (122)
    In 1975 Sagarin reviewed Being Different: The Autobiography of Jane Fry, edited by Robert Bogdan. He starts by attacking Bogdan's normal politeness in using female pronouns for Fry:
    "There had been (and at the time of writing this had remained the case) no sex-reassignment surgery, so that we are dealing with an anatomic male who claims to be a woman trapped in a man's body. For scientific purposes, no question can arise as to the gender: this is a male, and the words 'she' and 'her' constitute a travesty, a playing of the game of someone deeply disturbed."
    Sagarin justifiably points out a silence in Bogdan's commentary:
    "Nonetheless, unbeknown to Bogdan and probably to Jane Fry as well, there will be found here some of the most penetrating descriptions of transsexuals in the literature. No one has portrayed these people with as much contempt as has Fry: his hatred and anger know no bounds. The scene is a doctor's office in Brooklyn (the name has been changed, but most readers of this journal will recognize the people – [Dr Wollman's almost certainly]), and those present are described by Jane as a bunch of screaming, catty drag queens not the sort of a person that he would ever associate with or want to be linked with. I wonder what Bogdan would have said had this reviewer written the description of that scene?".
    Through the early 1970s Sagarin became a noted critic of the gay liberation movement, while at the same time pursuing an active sex life with hustlers whom he met in Times Square and similar places. He argued for decriminalization, but at the same time characterized gays and trans persons as pathological and disturbed.

    In 1974 he attended the convention of the American Sociological Society in Montreal. In a panel on "Theoretical Perspectives on Homosexuality," he proceeded to attack the liberationist scholarship as special pleading. Also present was Laud Humphreys, likewise a married homosexual who had come to academia late in life. Humphreys slyly referred to Sagarin a few times as Dr Cory, which resulted in Sagarin withdrawing. He then avoided controversies about gay topics.

    Edward Sagarin died of a heart attack at age 73.
    • Edward Sagarin. The Science and Art of Perfumery. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc, 1945.
    • Donald Webster Cory. The Homosexual in America: A Subjective Approach. New York: Greenberg, 1951.
    • Sagarin, Edward. The Anatomy of Dirty Words. MA thesis, Brooklyn College, 1962. L. Stuart, 1962.
    • Donald Webster,Cory & John P. LeRoy. The Homosexual and His Society; A View from Within. New York: Citadel Press, 1963.
    • Edward Sagarin. Structure and ideology in an association of deviants. PhD thesis New York University, 1966. Arno Press, 1975.
    • Edward Sagarin. "Ideology as a Factor in the Consideration of Deviance". The Journal of Sex Research, 4,2, May 1968: 84-94.
    • Harry Benjamin. "Comments to E. Sagarin's Article". The Journal of Sex Research, 4,2, May 1968: 95.
    • George L. Kirkham & Edward Sagarin. "Transsexuals in a Formal Organizational Setting". The Journal of Sex Research, 5,2, May 1969: 90-107.
    • Edward Sagarin. Odd Man in; Societies of Deviants in America. Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1969.
    • Edward Sagarin. "Typologies of Sexual Behavior". The Journal of Sex Research, 7,4, November 1971: 282-8.
    • Edward Sagarin. "Review of BOGDAN, ROBERT. Being Different: The Autobiography of Jane Fry. The Journal of Sex Research, 11,2, May 1975: 163-4.
    • Martin Duberman. "The 'father' of the homophile movement'. Harvard Gay and Lesbian Review, 4,4, 1997: 7-14.
    • Stephen O. Murray. "Donald Webster Cory (1913 – 1986)". In Vern Bullough (ed) Before Stonewall: Activists for Gay and Lesbian Rights in Historical Context. Routledge, 2002. Online at:
    • James T. Sears. Behind the Mask of the Mattachine: The Hal Call Chronicles and the Early Movement for Homosexual Emancipation. Harrington Park Press, 2006: 356-7, 374n15n20, 378n55, 397, 407n59, 529
    • Rick Valelly. "The Conflicted Gay Pioneer". The American Prospect, October 8, 2013.
    • Barry Reay. "The Transsexual Phenomenon: A Counter-History". Journal of Social History, 47,4, Summer 2014: 1047.
    EN.WIKIPEDIA   GLBTQ   WorldCat(Sagarin)   WorldCat(Cory)