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Will Franken (1973 - ) comedian

​Will Franken was raised in Sedalia, Missouri, with a “hyper-masculine” father who had been with the US military in Vietnam. His sisters dressed him as a girl, which he enjoyed. He learned to become a comedian. When he got his first car he was thrilled that he could drive to another town to buy women’s clothing. Then father discovered a pair of women’s shoes which led to a confession and being called a ‘faggot'.

Will did a degree in English with a specialization in Restoration and 18th century literature, and afterwards taught high school in New York City while pursuing an acting career. He developed comedy routines inspired by Monty Python and Kids in the Hall.

He lived in San Francisco from 2002, and lived as Sarah for three months, but still gigging as Will. It was disconcerting that Sarah was addressed as 'sir'. Sarah got married to a woman:
“We each had three bridesmaids”.  
However Will was gaining recognition as a character comedian:
“I was more obsessed with my career at that point and felt being out as transgender would limit me”. 
While in San Francisco, Franken was awarded "Best Comedian" of 2005 by the SF Weekly and "Best Alternative to Psychedelic Drugs" by the SF Bay Guardian. He later made a television debut on BBC America's “The World Stands Up,” a showcase of UK, American and Australian comedians.

There was a Wikipedia Page for “Will franken” (small f) created in 2006. He was divorced in 2007.

In 2013 Will emigrated to England, at first living in North London, and becoming known on the comedy circuit.

At the age of 42, Franken moved to Bethnal Green, and, as Sarah, started to make new friends. Initially she had a rule that she was Will on gig days, and otherwise Sarah, but then worked up the courage to perform as Sarah. As Franken was known for switching from character to character while performing, it was hard to persuade audiences that Sarah was not just another character:
'Hello, I'm Sarah and I'm going to do some character comedy for you tonight. And this is not a character by the way... It's the first time I've ever come on not in character.' 
Overall Sarah’s gigs went well. The Guardian ran a story on her, which caused a ripple of publicity and enquiries from various media.  She – 6’5”(1.96m) - did get negative comments in the street, but in many cases was able to use the incidents as material for her show.

Franken’s mother found out from Facebook, and left a comment about God’s condemnation. Sarah deleted her from Facebook.

She never started on oestrogen.

Overall Franken’s act did not change:
“In fact, in many ways, being Sarah allowed me to get across some necessary conservative perspectives quite foreign to the artistic milieu. … As always, I defended free-market capitalism and argued against the proliferation of radical Islam—although at first with considerably less expletive-laden shouting than I would have engaged in as Will.” 
However after seven months Franken reverted. As Will/Sarah was to some extent a public figure, he wrote an essay, “Seven Reasons for Will's Return”. He summarized it in The Independent:
“My exasperation at public abuse, the disarming prospect of no longer attracting females, and a lingering resentment to what I perceived as an oversight of my comedy in favour of the identity politics du jour: transgenderism… I was frightened, angry, lonely, confused – and, perhaps worst of all, bored. Utterly bored with the topic of transgenderism”. 
Will received a number of negative comments that criticised him more for his reversion than for his political opinions, and – as he responded in an article for The Federalist:
“Unwittingly, I have become a threat to a prewritten collective narrative. My choice to live again as a man implies there may be others for whom the trans lifestyle is a choice. Perhaps the fear and anger emanating from the activists is twofold. On the personal level, there’s a fear among some in the trans community who are likewise uncertain about their own decision and are reticent to address the personal responsibility of choice that is part and parcel of that uncertainty. … Especially if loose cannons like myself keep making up their own minds about what do with their own lives. Choice is rebellion. Choice is rock-n-roll”
The Wikipedia page was removed in December 2018 for lack of notability.

·                 “Will Franken is Drugs Without Having to Hit the Bottom: Recovery Comedy Interview”. Recovery Comedy, May 22nd, 2012. Online.

·                 Ralph Jones. “Comic Sarah Franken: why I became a woman after 40 years of fear”. Guardian, 15 July 2015. Online.

·                 Megan Boyanton. “Comedian Sarah Franken on being transgender, spiritual and ready to rock ‘n’ roll”. PinkNews, 24thJuly 2015. Online.
·                 Kieran Gilbert. “Transgender comedian thrives on laughter to beat fear, abuse”. Daily Mail, 9 August 2015.  Online.
·                 Alice Jones. “Transgender comedian Sarah Franken on performing her first show at the Edinburgh Fringe”. Independent, 10 August 2015. Online. 

·                 Bruce Dessau. “Exclusive: Will Franken On Changing Back From Sarah To Will”.  Beyond the Joke, 23/12/2015.  Online.
·                 Will Franken. “Why I began living as a woman - then decided to transition back”. Independent, 28 Dec 2015. Online.

·                 Will Franken.  “What Life As A Transgender Woman Taught Me About Progressives”.  The Federalist, Match 7, 2016.  Online.


If you must read the negative comments see the 28/12/2015 Independent article.

There are various videos of Franken performing at WillFranken.Com and on YouTube.  ​

The Rushmore, 1965

In Barry Miles' biography of William Burroughs we find the following re a trip to London in 1965.

"Bill moved into the Hotel Rushmore at 11 Trebovir Road in Earl’s Court, where Ian Sommerville had been living while Bill was in New York. The rooms were laid out like a ship’s cabin with a bed, cupboards, and shelves arranged for maximum efficiency. It was another hotel that began life as a porticoed Regency row house and was later converted into a rooming house. It was bought by Jeffrey Benson, an antiques dealer and interior decorator who was a close friend of John Richardson’s, the art critic. Benson didn’t know what to call it because it was so drab and ordinary-looking. Richardson had a musicologist friend named Robert Rushmore, whom Benson thought was the most boring person in the whole world, which gave Benson an idea. “It’s really drab, dear, just how drab can you get? The Rushmore, we’ll call it the Rushmore.” There was a circle of transvestites known as “the Maids” who all lived at the Rushmore. They were called Babs, Carlotta, and Scotch Agnes. There was no bar, but Benson ran a sort of salon in his parlor, featuring the Maids. Christopher Gibbs knew the Rushmore well. “Jeffrey Benson was always referred to as Madame. And Madame’s acquaintanceships were always very wide and varied. And Madame was always the same, in sort of half drag, very painted up, falsies. Very sure of what he thought was the best kind of life to lead.” One of the regulars at the salon was April Ashley, who in those days, before her operation, was known as Mental Mary."
  • Barry Miles.   Call Me Burroughs: A Life.  12Twelve, 2014:444. 

There is no confirmation of any of this in either of April Ashley's two autobiographies.  The comment cannot be true of her in 1965 in that she had had surgery with Dr Burou in May 1961.

Lydia Dreams (1869-1949) ventriloquist and painter

Lydia Dream was a female impersonator ventriloquist  who played a nurse using her dummy for a patient.  She was active in the early decades of the 20th century.

Her male persona, Walter H Lambert was also a talented painter. The best known painting was Popularity, 1903, a canvas 13' by 5’6” (4 x 1.68 m) which depicts 226 prominent music hall artists.  It is situated at the junction of Lower Marsh and Waterloo Road, London, which was known in the profession as Poverty Corner where unemployed artistes gathered. In 1908 it was put on show at the Vaudeville club, but in 1914 when the owner of the painting died, it was sold for £140.  It is now in the Museum of London.

  • Michael Kilgarriff. Grace, Beauty & Banjos: Reculiar Lives and Strange Times of Music Hall and Variety Artistes. Oberon Books, 1998: 92.
  • “Walter Lambert's 'Popularity' - A vast painting depicting the Music Hall Stars of the early 1900s”.  Arthur Lloyd.co.uk. Online.

Liz Eden and Dog Day Afternoon: Part I - Two Weddings and a Bank Robbery



Trigger warning. This 3-part article contains quotations from John Wojtowicz, the major protagonist. The quotations contain frequent misgenderings, and in the latter 2 parts traditional English swear words.  Caveat Lector.

I wrote a short account on this topic 12 years ago, August 2008.   More information became available in the intervening years, so here is the revised version.

Part I: Two Weddings and a Bank Robbery
Part II: Imprisonment, the Movie and one more wedding
Part III: Release, a final wedding and afterwards (and Bibliography)

228 West 10th St today
Liz Eden (1945 – 1986), “Jewish, English, German, and a Leo” as Wojtowicz put it, was raised with the name Ernest Aron in Ozone Park, Queens, New York. She was at the Stonewall riots. In 1971 she was in transition and living in a rooming house, 228 West 10th Street at Hudson in Greenwich Village in Manhattan – the building was only a short walk from what had been the Stonewall Inn.  Another resident was  Holly Woodlawn.

John Wojtowicz (1945 – 2006), a New Yorker of Polish and Italian descent, had met a cis woman, Carmen Bifulco, in early 1966 - both working in a Chase Manhattan bank, they went on the same employee ski trip in Massachusetts.  They were quickly engaged, but he was drafted.  He had his first gay experience while in base camp. He was also deeply affected when he was one of only a few survivors of a rocket attack on his base in Vietnam. On his return home in 1967, John and Carmen married and had two children. However in 1969, he walked out on her “the day a man walked on the moon.” The couple had been at a baseball game and “Johnny” left early. When she arrived home with their 8-month-old girl, the apartment had been cleared out. Even the baby’s crib and stroller were gone. A $10 bill was on the table. Cab fare, she said, to get to her mother’s house.

John became a regular on the gay scene, and especially at the Firehouse, the headquarters of the Gay Activists Alliance( GAA) from May 1971. He used his mother’s maiden name and was known as Littlejohn Basso.
“I was a member of the entertainment committee, so I would meet and greet new gay people coming into the scene. I could have sex with them quicker than anybody else, because they were just coming out.”
Mike Umbers was the landlord of StarHouse, and owner of the nightclub, Christopher’s End. With fellow associate Ed Murphy, also in the Gambino crime family, Umbers ran a prostitution ring pimping underage boys to wealthy pedophiles. Wojtowicz/Basso became Umbers' source for what was happening in GAA. He also went to GAA dances and told customers that there was more action at Christopher’s End.

The gay journalist, Arthur Bell, wrote of Wojtowicz/Basso:
"pleasant, spunky, a little crazy, and up front about his high sex drive. Once, during a Firehouse dance, he balled with a guy on a mattress in the basement.” 
Randy Wicker, activist and journalist said that many GAA members regarded him as a “crazy, obnoxious, unlikable bisexual”. Even before meeting Liz, he had asked if he could be married at the Firehouse. This prompted a debate as to whether marriage is good for gay liberation.

On 29 June 1971, two days after the Second Christopher Liberation Day, the Italian-American Civil Rights League which argued that the Mafia did not exist (and was run by Godfather Joe Colombo) held its second annual public rally at Manhattan’s Columbus Circle. Colombo was being filmed by an African-American, Jerome Johnson, who then pulled out a gun and shot Colombo – leaving him paralyzed. Johnson was immediately shot dead by someone who quickly disappeared despite a heavy police presence. Johnson had been employed by Mike Umbers to make pornographic films, and Johnson’s last known address was 180 Christopher Street, upstairs above the Christopher’s End bar.

In July 1971 Umbers confronted Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) in that they had not paid three months' rent for a rundown property that he owned. He threatened violence, but settled for eviction. Christopher’s End was raided Thursday the 15th, and again on Sunday the 18th. Arthur Bell wrote about Umbers’ influence in straight and gay pimping and in the gay bar scene in The Village Voice, 22 July, and shortly afterwards GAA organized a protest campaign outside Christopher’s End. Wojtowicz/Basso had become out of favor at GAA as it became known that he was associated with Umbers – and he even turned up at the demonstration holding a sign supporting Umbers.

Wojtowicz/Basso was one of the GAA activists whose protests were included in the credits sequence for the 1971 blaxploitation film Shaft. He was also in the zap of the office of the city clerk towards the goal of issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. John Wojtowicz met Liz Eden at the Feast of San Gennaro (19 September 1971), a few days later.

Liz and John
When the question of John marrying Liz came up, GAA, thinking of Liz as a man, decided that ‘drag’ and fake Catholicism would constitute a freak show. John and Liz approached the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) but they would not permit what they considered to be “drag”. The ceremony was held in Liz’s rooms at 228 West 10th St in a Catholic ceremony on 4th December 1971 – by an ordained priest, newly back from Rome whom Liz met through a friend. He was  later defrocked. Randy Wicker was there, as was John’s mother Theresa, and Liz’s father. Drag Magazine covered the event; and, a novelty at the time, it was recorded on a video camera – one of the first available – for the GAA library. The wedding was even featured on the Walter Cronkite CBS evening television news. The bridesmaids were gay men, and lesbians were in tuxedoes. Arthur Bell estimated that the wedding had cost $2,000. It was marred only by John referring to Liz as ‘Ernest’ and ‘he’.

By April they were living apart. Liz wanted to go for completion surgery, but neither of them had the money.

Whether for the wedding or otherwise, Wojtowicz apparently owed money to the Gambino crime family, probably directly to Umbers.

The New York Times (Aug 26, 1971) later reported: “five men, including Wojtowicz, began planning the robbery last April, but that two of the men later bowed out. Wojtowicz was pressed to carry out the robbery by the underworld figure, who owns Greenwich Village bars and is involved in pornography… Wojtowicz owed the gangster money”.

As John later wrote of Liz:
“I was unable to obtain the funds for his birthday on 8/19/72 and so, on Sunday, 8/29, he attempted suicide while I was out of the house. He died a clinical death in the hospital but was revived. While I went to get his clothes, he was declared mentally sick and sent to the Psychiatric Ward of Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, NY. I went to see him and I tried to obtain his release on 8/21, but was told he would not be released and would stay there for a long time until he was cured.” (Wojtowicz, 1977) 
On another occasion John said:
“But [Ernie] kept trying to kill himself. So then I finally said to him, “Alright, I’ll try and get the money for your birthday,” which was August 19th, which is the same as [Bill] Clinton’s. So I did something to get the ten thousand he needed to get the sex change. And what happened is, the person that was supposed to deliver the money for his birthday party took off with the money. So then the next morning he took an overdose. … they had him in the prison psychiatric ward. He said he didn’t want to be there. I talked to the doctors, and they said, “He’s gonna be here for years, because he wants to chop his dick off, and he’s whacked out.” (Photos-Wojtowicz, 2003: 52-3.)
Wojtowicz recruited associates that he knew from gay bars to help rob a bank: Bobby Westenberg and Salvatore Naturale. He had met Sal, who had been in and out of institutions since age 11, at Danny’s, a bar at 140 7th Ave, and moved him into his apartment. The night before in a hotel room Wojtowicz very pushily had sex with Bobby. Sal wanted to do so also but was rejected. The next day, August 22, 1972, they went to see an early showing of The Godfather in a Times Square cinema. They then set off to rob a bank. At the first one a gun was dropped and went off, and they fled. At the second they ran into one of their mothers’ best friends, and they fled. At a third they crashed into another car and they fled.

They then attempted to rob a Chase Manhattan Bank branch at 450 Ave P, in Flatbush, Brooklyn, just before closing. Westenberg ran off at the last minute when he saw a police car nearby. Wojtowicz and Naturale held the bank employees hostage. The bank branch had less money than they hoped for, but they did get $38,000 cash and $175,000 travelers’ checks.

The bank manager was able to indicate to another branch by giving a wrong answer to a question on
the crowd across the street
the phone that something was wrong.  The police were called. The media arrived.

Wojtowicz gave his reason as paying for his lover’s sex change, and admitted being homosexual. A gay and lesbian contingent from Manhattan arrived shortly afterwards to cheer him .

The cops had Liz brought to the scene. Supposedly she knew nothing about the heist, although Wojtowicz had talked to her about it. She later told Arthur Bell that she had taken the pills hoping to stop him from doing the robbery. There was talk of exchanging her for a hostage, but that never happened.

While Wojtowicz did most of the talking and was obviously the lead robber, the police were actually more concerned about Naturale who, although he was only 18, had a criminal record.

Arthur Bell, the Village Voice journalist, phoned the bank and Wojtowicz answered. The story that he told Bell was that he had spoken to a Chase-Manhattan executive in Danny’s, the same bar where he met Sal. The executive had given a date when the Flatbush branch would receive a shipment of over $200,000 in cash that could be easily taken. Bell understood that Wojtowicz had shared his plans with Mike Umbers who supplied guns in exchange for 50% of the take. The problem was that the delivery had been at 11am and the robbers did not arrive until closing time.

Carmen had taken the children to Rockaway Beach for the day. She had heard something on the radio about “an admitted homosexual” robbing a bank, but paid it no mind. Back home a neighbour called to say that her husband was robbing a bank. She watched the situation on television a while. Then took a tranquilizer and went to bed.

The standoff lasted 14 hours and was continuously played on local television – where it even pre-emptied coverage of Richard Nixon’s acceptance speech at the Republican national convention.

After negotiations, at 4 am the next day, a bus took Wojtowicz and Naturale, together with seven hostages and an FBI driver to Kennedy Airport. Wojtowicz and Sal thought that they were about to get a flight to Europe. Then when a code phrase was uttered, the driver turned and shot Naturale, the supposedly more dangerous robber – he died soon after. Wojtowicz was taken into custody.


Ancestry.com says: Wojtowicz (Polish) is a patronymic from the personal name Wojciech (or Voytek), which in turn is from wójt ‘village headman’ (see Wojcik).

EN.Wikipedia(Wojtowicz) says “from Volhynia (plural form: Wojtowiczowie) was a part of the nobility of Poland (the family's roots were probably in the Lithuanian-Ruthenian nobility). The village of Wojtowice of Ostróg County in Volhynia is the origin of this house.” While it lists prominent members of the family, it does not include John.

228 or 250 West 10th Street? Most accounts say 250, but the address on the wedding invitation as printed in Drag Magazine says 228. It may be that John lived at 250 and Liz at 228, but I could not find a clear statement to that effect.

If, in fact, Wojtowicz had been informed by a bank executive, and had been planning for months to rob a specific bank, why then was it only the fourth bank that they attempted to rob on that day?

Further information about Salvatore Naturale:  He was also known to the police as Donald Matterson, and had been arrested under that name for possession of narcotics and burglary tools five months before the Dog Day Robbery.  His intention was to use the proceeds to finance his two sisters’ removal from foster care and removal from their alcoholic mother.

Wojtowicz, in his interview with Photos claimed (p48): “it’s the first gay, public drag wedding in American history”.  Okay, ‘drag’ is the wrong word, and Wojtowicz is no historian, but let us mention:

Drag marriages: 

1886 Charlesand Anna Ryan, Grand Rapids Michigan.
1935 Jean Acker and Vernon Long at the Cabin Inn, Chicago
1950 Jackie Starr and Bill Scott, Seattle

Trans women marriages: 

1912 Frances Thompson and Frank Carrick, Indiana
1955 Tamara Rees and James Courtland, Los Angeles
1959 Charlotte McLeod and Ralph Heidal, Miami
1969 Dawn Langley Hall and John-Paul Simmons, Charleston, South Carolina

Some of the US gay histories that mention GAA and the Firehouse, but have not a word about either John Wojtowicz or Liz Eden:

·        Martin Duberman. Stonewall, 1993

·        Charles Kaiser.  The Gay Metropolis, 1997

·        David Carter. Stonewall, 2004

·        Lillian Faderman.  The Gay Revolution, 2015

Liz Eden and Dog Day Afternoon: Part II - Imprisonment, the Movie and one more wedding

Trigger warning. This 3-part article contains quotations from John Wojtowicz, the major protagonist. The quotations contain frequent misgenderings, and in the latter 2 parts traditional English swear words. Caveat Lector.
Part I: Two Weddings and a Bank Robbery
Part II: Imprisonment, the Movie and one more wedding
Part III: Release, a final wedding and afterwards (and Bibliography)

A month after the robbery there was an extensive write up in Life magazine, “The Boys in the Bank”, which prophetically described John Wojtowicz as having “the broken-faced good looks of an Al Pacino or Dustin Hoffman”.

Arthur Bell’s investigation of claims that Wojtowicz had been set up by the Gambino family brought bomb threats to the Village Voice. At Gay Activist Alliance (GAA) meetings
“conservative and radical gays debated over whether Wojtowicz was a counterrevolutionary lumpen adventurer victimized by the mob or a proud gay superfly caught in an act of righteous expropriation, but the debate was inconclusive.” (Holm, 1976)
A bartender friend of Sal Naturale asked GAA to help fund a burial.  They declined and Sal was interred in the gigantic pauper burial site on Hart Island off the Bronx coast (which contains over a million corpses).

While in The Bayview Correctional Facility, 550 West 29th St, John Wojtowicz wrote a will in which he allotted a portion of the proceeds from his life insurance to pay for Liz Eden’s operations.

Warner Brothers wanted to turn the Life magazine article into a film.
“They came down to make the movie deal when I was in prison, and I told them, ‘I’m not making no movie, ’cos you’re gonna make me look ridiculous.’ So they brought Ernie down from the nut house, and they brought me in and let me fuck him in the warden’s office, at the old federal prison on West Street in the Village. They brought him down there, and Ernie had the paper, and he said, ‘Sign the paper.’ I said, ‘I ain’t signing that paper.’ He goes, ‘Well, don’t you want me to have the sex change?’ I go, ‘Yeah.’ He says, ‘Well, if you sign this, they’re gonna take me outta the nut house, I’m gonna get the sex change. And I’ll come and see you.’ And I says, ‘OK, let’s fuck.’ And he goes, ‘What do you mean?’ I said, ‘Well, we’ll seal the deal with a fuck.’ So the warden left, you know, and we stayed in there, and we got down. In fact, I fucked him on the warden’s desk.” (Photos-Wojtowicz, 2003: 61)
Wojtowicz mug shot
Wojtowicz thinking that he had a deal pleaded guilty. He had sold his story for $7,500 and 1% of the net profit, but he had to sue (from prison) to get it. Liz was to get $2,500 for the operation. She returned to the West 10th Street apartment. However, with the publicity about the film, the landlord realized who she was and evicted her.  She found a place in a gay rooming house in Brooklyn.

Wojtowicz was sentenced to 20 years, and placed in a federal penitentiary at Lewisburg. Pennsylvania.

As Carmen and John were still married, she visited him in prison. She was not pleased to encounter Liz Eden, also visiting. However the two somewhat became friends. Carmen called her when she had an orchiectomy with Dr Benito Rish in Yonkers in November 1972. She had a vaginoplasty the following March.
“He got out of the nut house . . . [but] they only gave him some of the money for the operation, not enough. So I had to have my mother and my wife [Carmen] give him more money. I signed the paper in November of ’72.”. After the operations Liz came to see John one last time, and explained that the doctors had told her to break off with him, and go somewhere else to be a woman. (Photos-Wojtowicz, 2003: 61-2).
John then attempted suicide, the evening before he was to be sentenced.

The working title of the film was, like the Life magazine article, Boys in the Bank, a riff on the successful pre-gay-lib gay drama, Boys in the Band, 1970. Director Sidney Lumet did not like this, and wanted something that suggested a hot, stuffy day near the end of summer. Thus it became Dog Day Afternoon– although without accuracy in reference to the rising of Sirius at the hottest days of summer. However the film was shot in late autumn, and the actors had to chew ice cubes so that their breath would not be seen. Sidney Lumet, the director was quoted as saying that Pacino was at risk because “no major star that I know of had ever played a gay man”.
The trans component in the film is quite small. The Liz-John wedding is not shown. The lover, Leon (=Ernest, and played by Chris Sarandon, Susan’s then husband), who appears for only a few minutes, is presented as a mid-70s gay stereotype, who has been informed by the shrinks that he is a woman trapped in man's body. He does not seem to be too happy with this conclusion. Despite its dubious portrayal of Leon, the film was much applauded for featuring a sympathetic, fully-rounded bisexual male. There is no mention of mafia contacts. Wojtowicz may, as Life Magazine said, have resembled Al Pacino, but the connection was secured as Pacino was cast as Sonny Wortzik (=Wojtowicz). Wojtowicz afterwards became known as the Dog because of the film. John Cazale, who had starred with Pacino in the TheGodfather films, was cast as Salvatore despite being 37 rather than the real Sal’s 18. The film Sal insists that he is not gay – in contradistinction to the real one. Sal is the only character in the film to have the same name as the corresponding real person.

Wojtowicz commented on the film:
“Well, they never tell you I was against him having the operation all along. And the only reason I decided to let him have the operation was because I wanted to save his life. Therefore, saving his life was the number one thing, and as long as you’re trying to save somebody’s life, whatever you’re doing’s not wrong. And I loved him enough to do that. That never comes across in the book or the movie. It’s just like, they make fun of my fat wife, Carmen, and they [implicitly] say, well, if you had a wife that was fat and had a big mouth, no wonder you went with the drag queen. But that’s a lie. I didn’t go with the drag queen because my wife was fat or ugly. To me, my wife was beautiful. And I like big women! ’Cos I like the Sophia Loren/Elizabeth Taylor type. The reason I broke up with my wife is because of our in-laws, and because I’m what you call an old-fashioned Italian: I’m the boss. Her parents would always interfere with us, and she would always take the parents’ side over me. And that’s what led to the breakup. …  And [Sal] was gay, not like the movie tells you. He never said, “Tell them there ain’t two homosexuals in there,” ’cos he was a chicken hawk. He liked young guys and he had an apartment in the Village and he used to bring kids up there.” (Photos-Wojtowicz, 2003: 54, 57.)
Pacino took the film to Lewisburg Penitentiary before the official release intending to introduce the film. However the warden initially refused to allow the film to be shown even though Warner Brothers were offering it without cost. Wojtowicz made a fuss, and was supported by gay and straight newspapers on the outside, and the warden relented. However several of the other inmates after seeing it took the film to be saying that he had sold out Sal. Wojtowicz was subsequently beaten up and his cell set on fire. He had to be moved to a different prison.

Carmen visited him in the prison hospital. An attendant said to her: “Oh, you’re the other wife”, and she was informed that Liz was listed as next of kin. That was it. She went to see a divorce lawyer.

Carmen Wojtowicz sued Warner Brothers for invasion of privacy and unauthorized used of her and her children’s names and portraits.

Liz Eden sued Warner Brothers for libel and they settled out-of-court. Word was that Liz received somewhere between $25,000 and $50,000. For a while she had an agent and there was talk of a book deal, a nightclub act and even a discotheque to be called ‘The Garden of Eden’.

Wojtowicz started an affair in prison with George, a jailhouse lawyer, black, Irish and Jehovah’s Witness. They were married in the prison yard by a Jesus Freak. George got Wojtowicz’ sentence reduced and he was released in November 1979, but was then returned for parole violations such as still seeing George.


$2,500 in 1975 is $14,500 now.

It was standard practice at the time for sex-change doctors to tell their patients to break off all gay contacts and go live somewhere where their prior self was not known.

While Wojtowicz was not in any way co-ordinating with the heliacal rising of Sirius, the date of the rising has moved – because of the precession of the equinox – from 19 July at the time of the Caesars to the third week of August now.  If you are 50° north or more, it is on 21/22 August.

“no major star that I know of had ever played a gay man”. Presumably Lumet, although in the film-biz had not heard of Dirk Bogart in Victim, 1961. However this was a New York film being edgier than anything from Los Angeles.

Sidney Lumet has made many great thrillers and crime films, and is known for his social concerns and depictions of minorities, however the gender variant persons in his films are either minor or get killed: a mannish lesbian briefly glimpsed in The Group, 1966; Jack Doroshow (Sabrina) in mufti in The Anderson Tapes, 1971; heterosexist female impersonator, Gypsy Haake has a cameo in The Morning After, 1986; International Chrysis' character is killed, and the other trans women are humiliated by Nick Nolte's bad cop in Q & A, 1990.

Liz Eden and Dog Day Afternoon: Part III - Release, a final wedding and afterwards (and Bibliography)


Trigger warning. This 3-part article contains quotations from John Wojtowicz, the major protagonist. The quotations contain frequent misgenderings, and in the latter 2 parts traditional English swear words. Caveat Lector.

Part I: Two Weddings and a Bank Robbery
Part II: Imprisonment, the Movie and one more wedding
Part III: Release, a final wedding and afterwards (and Bibliography)

John Wojtowicz gave Carmen a yellow rose on her anniversary, and Liz a red one on hers.

The divorce of Carmen and John was finalized in 1983. Carmen reverted to her maiden name, and while working three jobs, put herself through college. She became an education associate for children with special needs.

Liz Eden was in a hit-and-run incident coming out of a gay bar late one night. She was rushed to St Clare’s Hospital in Hell’s Kitchen and they put pins in to save her leg. However apparently the blood transfusion was HIV+, and after a while and a couple of sicknesses Liz was confirmed to have AIDS.
One time while out, Wojtowicz and Liz were interviewed by gay film buff Vito Russo on his Our Time television show. Wojtowicz was still referring to Liz as ‘Ernie’ and Liz became quite infuriated.

Liz moved to Rochester, NY, and was said to be remarried. Liz died in September 1987 of Aids-related pneumonia – she was 41.

         John and his mother
Finally out for good, Wojtowicz returned to living with his mother and his developmentally disabled brother Tony in Brooklyn.

Despite claims that he was paid $100,000 or 1% of the profits of the film which took in over $50 million on a budget of $1.8 million, he received very little of it apart from the $2,500 that went to Liz for the operations. The New York State Crime Victims Compensation Board diverted tens of thousands to the hostages, and contested against Wojtowicz receiving anything right up to his death. Sometimes he was on welfare. Sometimes he worked at minimum wage jobs.

John was married for a fourth time to Chiclets, a 17-year-old trans woman. She was viciously beaten by a group of transphobes in the Village. They dumped her in New Jersey. She was in a coma for a month before dying.

Pierre Huyghe, the French artist, was doing a series of dual screen presentations combining a real event, its fictional remake and a first-person recollection of the original. He was intrigued by the Dog Day Afternoon scenario. In 1999, he travelled to Brooklyn and knocked on doors until he found Wojtowicz at his mother’s house. He invited John to go to Paris to re-enact the events. A copy of the bank as in the film had been built in a studio in a Paris suburb. This could not be done in the US as Wojtowicz did not own the copyright. The resulting film, The Third Memory, 2000, opens with the standard FBI warning against copyright infringement, with a voice-over:
“I tell the FBI to go fuck themselves. . . . It’s been twenty-eight years since I’ve been fighting Warner Brothers to try and get my money back. They keep giving it to the hostages while I’m a millionaire living on welfare. My name is John Wojtowicz; I’m the real Sonny Worcek and I’m the one that you see in Dog Day Afternoon.” 
It was shown at Huyghe’s first solo exhibition in New York. As Barikins’ book on Huyghe says:
“As Huyghe’s film demonstrates, neither Wojtowicz’s ‘self’ nor the details of his story are or were ever entirely his own. Not only was Wojtowicz’s original conception of the robbery influenced by Al Pacino’s performance in The Godfather (1972) (which he and his partners viewed on the morning of the bank robbery as a kind of motivational manual), but Pacino’s interpretation of the character later affected Wojtowicz’s reenactment of the siege.”
In 2005 there was the Australian film, Based on a True Story, which is mainly a study of the 1975 film combined with phone calls to Wojtowicz where he asks for money for further co-operation.
Instead he co-operated with Allison Berg & Frank Keraudren, local film makers who spent 10 years recording him and the other people in his story. It was released in 2013 as The Dog.

Wojtowicz died in 2006 of cancer, age 60. As he deteriorated, his brother Tony, despite his own disability, stepped up to become John’s carer. John was cremated and did not have the military funeral that he had hoped for.


  • Sidney Lumet (dir). Dog Day Afternoon. Scr: Frank Pierson, from the magazine article by P.F. Kluge & Thomas Moore, with Al Pacino as Sonny Wortzik, John Cazale as Sal, and Chris Sarandon as Leon Shermer (roughly based on Liz Eden). US 124 mins 1975. Oscar for best screenplay; Sarandon was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar. Top grossing film of the year. The shooting script is online at: Archive.
  • Pierre Huyghe (dir). The Third Memory. With John Wojtowicz as himself. US 10 mins 2000. A short documentary re-enacting the “Dog Day Afternoon” bank holdup.
  • Walter Stokman (dir & scr). Based on a True Story. With John Wojtowicz and Sidney Lumet, with photos or clip quotes of Liz Eden, Al Pacino, John Cazale & Chris Sarandon. Netherlands 75 mins 2005.
  • Allison Berg & Frank Keraudren (dir). The Dog, with John Wojtowicz, Liz Eden, Carmen Bifulco, Randy Wicker. US 101 mins 2013.


  • Atthur Bell. “Mike Umbers: The Emperor of Christopher Street”. The Village Voice, July 22, 1971. Online.
  • “Here Comes the Bride”. Drag: the magazine about the Transvestite, 2, 6, 1971: 9-12. Online.
  • Paul Meskil. “An Insider Is Sought in Bank Holdup: FBI Agent Kills Bandit at JFK And 2d Thus is Nabbed”. Daily News Aug 24, 1972..
  • “A Mobster is Linked to Bizarre Holdup”. The New York Times, Aug 26, 1972. Online.
  • Arthur Bell. “Littlejohn & the mob: Saga of a Heist”. The Village Voice, August 31, 1972, XVII, 35. Online.
  • “News”. Drag: Now! America’s No 1 Magazine about the Transvestite, 2, 8, 1972: 4, 6. Online.
  • P.F. Kluge & Thomas Moore. "The Boys in the Bank". Life Sept 22, 1972, vol 73 (12). Online.
  • “News”. Drag: The International Transvestite Quarterly, 5,17, 1975: 9. Online.
  • “Gay Bank Robber’s Real Wife Sees Movie – and Red”. Drag: The International Transvestite Quarterly, 6,24, 1975: 3, Online.
  • John Wojtowicz. “Real Dog Day hero tells his story”. Unpublished article written from prison for the New York Times in 1975, later reprinted in Gay Sunshine: A Journal of Gay Liberation, No. 29/ 30, Summer/Fall, 1976, and then again in Jump Cut, no. 15, 1977, pp. 31-32. Online at: www.ejumpcut.org/archive/onlinessays/JC15folder/RealDogDay.html.
  • Eric Holm. "Dog Day Afternoon, Dog day aftertaste". Jump Cut, 10-11. 1976:3-4. Online.
  • Fredric Jameson, “Class and Allegory in Contemporary Mass Culture: Dog Day Afternoon as a Political Film” College English 38, April 1977: 854.
  • “Elizabeth Eden, Transsexual Who Figured in 1975 Movie”. The New York Times, Oct 1, 1987. Online.
  • Holly Woodlawn with Jeff Copeland. A Low Life in High Heels: the Holly Woodlawn Story. Martin's Press,1991. Harper Perenniel Pb. 1992: 111-2.
  • Lisa Photos “The Dog and the Last Real Man: An Interview with John S Wojtowicz”. Journal of Bisexuality, 3,2, 2003: 43-68.
  • Jefferson Cowie.  Stayin’ Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class. The New Press, 2010: 200-5.
  • Michael Schiavi. Celluloid Activist: The Life and Times of Vito Russo. University of Wisconsin Press, 2011: 85-6, 218.
  • Emily S Rueb. “A Wife Recalls Her Estranged Husband’s 1972 Failed Bank Robbery”. The New York Times, August 22, 2012. Archive.
  • John Strausbaugh. “Liz Eden’s White Wedding”. The Chiseler, 2012. Online.
  • Amelia Barikin. Parallel Presents The art of Pierre Hutghe. The MIT Press, 2012: 116-121, 138.
  • Sean Manning. “7 Fascinating Things You Didn't Know About the Real Dog Day Afternoon”. Esquire, Aug 8, 2014. Online.
  • Larry Getlin. “The bizarre true story that inspired ‘Dog Day Afternoon’ “. New York Post, August 3, 2014. Online.
  • Sam Roberts. “‘The Dog’ Who Had His Day on Film”. The New York Times, Aug 4, 2014. Online.
  • David Ehrenstein. “The wild Inside story of ‘The Dog’: How one failed bank robber shaped LGBT history”. Salon, Aug 6, 2014. Online.
  • Cynthia Fuchs. “'The Dog' from ' Dog Day Afternoon' Would Do It All Over Again, Hell Ya”. Pop Matters, 08 Aug 2014. Online.
  • J R Jones. “Revisiting the Brooklyn bank robbery that inspired Dog Day Afternoon: The Dog tells the sad story of a man trapped by his criminal past”. Chicago Reader, October 01, 2014. Online.
  • Gina Dimuro. “The Real Story Of John Wojtowicz And The Bank Robbery That Inspired ‘Dog Day Afternoon’ “. Allthatsintering.com, June 27, 2018. Online.
  • Emily S Rueb. “A Botched Robbery That Went Hollywood”. The New York Times, August 22, 2018. Online.
  • Phillip Crawford Jr. “Real Life Mafia Story Behind Dog Day Afternoon Movie”. Reddit.com/r/Mafia, April 2020. Online.

FindaGrave(Liz)   FindaGrave(John)    IMDB(John)     IMDB(Dog Day Afternoon
IMDB(The Dog)    EN.Wikipedia(Liz)     EN.Wikipedia(John)     EN.Wikipedia (Salvatore) EN.Wikipedia(Dog day Afternoon)    EN.Wikipedia(The Dog)     Military.Wikia(John)   NNDB(John)      New York Times Slide Show      Getty Stock Images


The FindaGrave site for John lists only his first spouse as such, although two others are mentioned in the text.

The Wikipedia page on Liz states that Liz had a second marriage, but does not give a source.

Peggy Yule (1860-1965) circus performer


Minette tells us:
“When I was in the carnival, all the queens were mad for Peggy Yule. She was magic and they always talked about her. She left home in 1875 when she was 15 and ran away with the carnival. She traveled in a covered wagon. Peggy lived in drag and became a real woman as much as she could, not so easy then. She probably used the depilatory wax. And she had long hair, so long she could sit on it, dyed red. Oh, it was gorgeous from what the queens said, and she worked right up to the end. She lived to be 106, and she could hardly walk at the end. But she had a boa constrictor this big around, and she would pull herself up on the boa constrictor and she could cooch up a storm. She could hardly move her feet but she could cooch up a storm, and she was 96 or 98 then. The last few years she couldn’t pull up and cooch anymore, so she worked on a chaise lounge and did fortunes.
“Peggy always had a place in the show because she was very well loved. Peggy was always willing to stake people and she was very faithful, so there were people she knew in her old age that were ride boys when she met them and now owned the show. When she finally retired they couldn’t get Peggy into the house — I suppose the central heating would get to her — so she lived out back in a truck. She was a legend among the queens, Peggy Yule.”

  • Minette, edited by Steven Watson. Recollections of a part-time Lady. New York: Flower-Beneath-the-Foot Press 1979: 48

Bobbie Kimber (1918 – 1993) ventriloquist, miniatures painter

Birkenhead, 1938, with Eddie

​I wrote an initial version in September 2008.

Ronald Victor Kimberley was born in Edgbaston, Birmingham. As a teenage aspiring variety artist he appeared with an all-male cast in Weston-super-Mare in 1935. The ‘leading lady’ quit, and Kimberley being the youngest was given her parts, and ended up doing his vent act without time to change. This went well, and as there was a surplus of male ventriloquists, although very few female ones taking the stage, he took the name Bobbie Kimber and started a stage career at the Theatre Royal, West Bromwich where he was paid £3 10s, but was also ‘given the bird’, that is booed off-stage. However he persevered with warm applause but little national recognition. His dummy at that time was Eddie, known for his infectious laugh. They appeared on television as early as 1939.

Kimberley was in the Army during World War II where he was a Sergeant assigned to do Service entertainments. There he met Janet, ten years older, who was touring with her parents in a family act. They married in 1941. They had a daughter Christine in 1949.

Augustus Peabody
During the war Kimber had  acquired a new dummy, Augustus Peabody. The act then was very successful and Bobbie and Augustus appeared in the major London theatres, including a Royal Variety Show at the London Palladium in 1947. In 1952 Augustus was given the job of announcing the acts for television’s Music Hall, assisted of course by Bobbie Kimber. They also appeared on radio. The Times commented in a review: 'Miss Bobbie Kimber is at once the triumph and surprise of the evening'.

Bobbie was at that time a tall glamorous brunette – she was 6 ft and 14 stone (1.83 m, 89kg), and had grown out her own hair (pinned under a hat when in male mode). Most members of the public, and even theatre critics took her to be a woman, as they did with Mrs Shuttlewick, although some viewers would phone the BBC switchboard enquiring: is it a man or isn't it?

However Kimber was reasonably open about his sex. He appeared in Pantomime as early as 1945 when she was one of the Ugly Sisters in Cinderella at the Regal Theatre in Edmonton, which was broadcast on the BBC - that is, she was playing a Dame part and therefore was implicitly a man.
In December 1946 Kimber wrote an article for the trade magazine, The Stage. He acknowledged that he had been preceded as a female impersonator ventriloquist by Lydia Dreams.

In mid-December 1952, the Daily Mirror ran a front-page story
“Biggest B.B.C. Hoax is Out: “Five million viewers watched TV Music Hall on Saturday Night ... And once again Britain’s TV audience was hoaxed into thinking it was watching a woman. But it was not. For Bobbie Kimber is a man – married eleven years with a daughter of four.”
Bobbie pointed out that “I’ve always been careful to see that the B.B.C. never used any pronouns about me – just Bobbie Kimber, no ‘he’ or ‘she’.”

Gilbert Harding (1907-1960), the closeted-gay television personality phoned a top BBC executive to complain, and then attacked Bobbie in a magazine article: “Is Bobbie Kimber He, She or It?” The BBC contract was up for renewal, but was not taken up, and Kimber only rarely worked for the BBC again, despite many viewers writing in to ask what had happened to Augustus Peabody.

Hannen Swaffer (1879-1962), theatre critic who had written him up as a woman, snubbed him after that.

This was followed by a small article in The Stage:
“Recent Press comments about the sex of Bobbie Kimber the ventriloquist have succeeded only in raising faint smiles among his professional colleagues, who have always been aware of Mr. Kimber’s masterly female impersonation.” 
Kimber remained in demand but was now working as a known female impersonator – and even took to removing a wig at the end of the act.

However by the 1960s gigs had dried up. For a while he ran a pub, but both he and Janet drank too much of the merchandise. Later he drove lorries, and then London Transport buses.

Bobbie returned for a sold-out Cavalcade of Drag Music Hall in April 1969. Augustus was revamped with longer hair, and a moustache - which was fashionable at that time. In January 1972 Bobbie and Augustus appeared on the amateur talent show Opportunity Knocks, which led to a flurry of letters from old fans, and enquiries from agents.

On the 2 February the Daily Mirror ran a positive article on Bobbie, “Geared Up for a Comeback”, written by Clifford Davis, the same journalist who had denounced Bobbie twenty years before. This time he wrote her up as a female impersonator.

But then only 13 days later, the sister publication, the Sunday Mirror, ran the first of three three-page spreads written by Bobbie revealing that she had had transsexual surgery two years before, but not told her wife and daughter until December 1971. “They see me go out to work five days a week dressed as a woman. But at weekends – to please my wife – I dress as a man.” She did not change her driving licence or passport. “My family means everything to me. And this is why, even after my sex-change operation, I am not prepared to register as a woman. This would ruin my marriage completely, and after all we have been through, I love my wife more than ever. She wants me as a man – and for her I stay as one, at least at weekends.” Of her earlier years she wrote: “But my happiness as a man [after marriage] was short-lived. I found myself fighting a constant inner desire to become a woman. … I also started to change physically. Over the years my male parts began to shrink. My chest began to fill out developing into full breasts. The Army discharged me for ‘ceasing to fulfill physical requirements’. … Yet never in my life have I taken any kind of hormone treatment.” In late 1969 Kimber was playing a two-week engagement at the Mediterranean when she was invited to dine by a rich Moroccan who then made a pass. She confessed her sex, and surprisingly the man said: “You know, you really should be a woman. In my country, this can be done quite easily. Would you like me to arrange it?” She agreed and was flown to Casablanca, and was operated on by Dr Burou in January 1970. Bobbie first confided her change to a woman friend, Rene, who ran a pub in Yorkshire. Rene took her shopping in Leeds, and schooled her in the ways of women.  From June to October 1971 Bobbie lived alone in Blackpool where she found work as a toy demonstrator and some weekend and evening work as a ventriloquist. Then she worked as a barmaid until it became apparent that she was allergic to the detergent used to wash the glasses.  During this time she dated a man, and got to the point of cooking for him, but not sleeping with him.

Bobbie placed a half-page advert in The Stage newspaper in late March 1972 , referencing “the Sunday Mirror’s Sensational ‘He & She’ Story”, and was booked by clubs in Sheffield and Barnsley, Nottingham and Manchester, usually as the star attraction. Sidney Vauncez, writing in The Stage said “he has certainly come back with a bang”.

A fellow performer commented:
“I worked in a Revue with Bobbie Kimber at The Devonshire Music Hall, Manchester in the early 70s. She had shoulder length natural greying hair and always dressed as a woman. This was after the News Article about her being Transgender that had regenerated interest in her as a performer. She was like a very nice, polite middle aged woman and in no way flamboyant or brash like the stereotype Drag Act. She did tell me that she was the only person to appear at the London Palladium both as a male and later as a Female. She was very professional, a terrific Vent' and a lovely person.”  
Later in the 1970s the gigs again ran out, and for a while Bobbie worked at a hardware factory in Shoreditch.  Unlike in the 1960s she worked as female and was accepted as such.

Bobbie was also a fine painter of landscape miniatures.

Janet died in 1985, and was described on the death certificate as the wife of Roberta Kimber. Bobbie lasted another eight years, with some assistance from the Entertainment Artistes Benevolent Fund. On her death bed it was discovered that Bobbie never did have a surgical sex change.

*Augustus Peabody was not the US Congressman Augustus Peabody Gardner.

  • Bobbie Kimber. “Impersonation”. The Stage, 5 December 1946: 5.
  • Clifford Davis. “Biggest B.B.C. Hoax is Out”. Daily Mirror, 15 December 1952: 1.
  • “Bobbie Kimber’s Impersonation”. The Stage, 1 January 1953: 3.
  • “Augustus Made Bobbie’s Name”. Portsmouth Evening News, 14 August 1953: 13.
  • Roger Baker. Drag: a history of Female Impersonation on the Stage. A Triton Book. 1968: 189.
  • Ellis Ashton. “Music Hall Miscellany”. The Stage, April 10 1969: 6.
  • Clifford Davis. “Geared Up For a Comeback”. Daily Mirror, 2 Feb 1972.
  • Bobbie Kimber. “He She: Five days a week I am a woman. At weekends my wife wants me as a man“. Sunday Mirror, 13 February 1972: 10-12.
  • Bobbie Kimber “He buys his first dress as a woman; She has a close shave in a girl’s bedroom”. Sunday Mirror, 20 February 1972: 10-12.
  • Bobbie Kimber “He gets his first marriage proposal as a SHE; tells of his life as a man – and a woman”. Sunday Mirror, 27 February 1972: 10-12.
  • Jan Kimber. “Our Incredible marriage”. Sunday Mirror, 27 February 1972: 12.
  • Sidney Vaunces. “Light Entertainment”. The Stage, 18 May 1972: 3.
  • Kris Kirk & Ed Heath. Men in Frocks. GMP, 1984: 28
  • Anthony Slide. Great pretenders: a history of female and male impersonation in the performing arts. Wallace-Homestead Book Co., 160 pp. 1986: 50.
  • Patrick Newley. “Obituaries: Bobbie Kimber”. The Stage, April 29 1993: 41.
  • Michael Kilgarriff. Grace, Beauty & Banjos: Reculiar Lives and Strange Times of Music Hall and Variety Artistes. Oberon Books, 1998: 146.
  • www.christinekimberley.info.
  • Richard Anthony Baker. Old Time Variety: An Illustrated History. Pen & Sword Books Ltd, 2011:
  • Oliver Double.  Britain Had Talent: A History of Variety Theatre. Red Globe Press, 2012: 187-8.


Born 1918 or 1920? In interviews Bobbie said 1920, but also that he was 17 in 1935 when he first appeared on stage.

The social construction of femininity circa 1970. Rene advised: “Always make your own bed and tidy your own room. This is something that women guests always do – but never men. … Don’t get into heated arguments over foreign affairs, politics, football matches or things like that”. Bobbie already knew to hold her cigarette upwards so that the smoke rises. “This stops too much nicotine staining your fingers.” “I’ve had to give up pints of beer and confine myself to the odd sherry or gin. And when I drink as a woman I have to remember to sip – not to down the lot in one big swallow.”

The February 1972 articles are written by Bobbie and this in the first person. However the captions to the pictures are presumably by a sub-editor and use male pronouns.

From a 21st-century perspective, it seems rather odd that ventriloquists as well as gender impersonators were booked on the radio, where they could not be seen – but audiences were required to have more imagination those days, and the broadcasts were supplemented by live appearances and media reports.

Kimber had a career bounce after being denounced in 1952.   I assume that the writing of the Sunday Mirror articles in 1972 was an attempt to repeat that, and in fact did produce another career bounce.  While she apparently lied about having surgery, she apparently did start living almost full-time as female, and as such should be regarded as transgender as well as a female impersonator earlier in life.

My initial 2008 version was mainly based on Roger Baker’s Drag: a history of Female Impersonation on the Stage which was published in 1968, and thus before the 1972 articles in the Sunday Mirror.   In his posthumous second edition, Bobbie Kimber has been removed, and so he did not discuss the later developments.

Bobbie’s daughter Christine added comments – see below.  She insisted that
“He arrived at the theatre as a man and left as one. He didn't reveal himself at the end of his act either because it served him better to have people think he was a woman. There weren't many female vents in those days and the range of his voice made it exceptional for a woman. It gave him a professional edge. It was a gimmick - all part of the game.” 
This would well fit the period before 1952, but after that he was perceived by the public as a female impersonator. After her revival in the early 1970s it seems that Bobbie was mainly living as a woman – at least five days a week. Apparently she told some, as she had written for the Sunday Mirror, that she had had the operation, and others just assumed that she was a woman.

www.christinekimberley.info no longer seems to work.  I suspect an outdated Flash plugin.

I was unable to find a web page of Bobbie’s  miniatures, nor a video of her performance.


The Reader Comments to the original posting:

Anonymous said...

As the daughter of Bobbie Kimber (his only child now aged 61) I don't find it hard that vents etc were booked for radio. In those days most radio was recorded live from theatres and readio audience heard the laughter from the live audience. Not everyone could get to or afford to got to the theatre and radio was a far more widespresd and popular form of entertainment. And of course all the acts recorded were well known through news paper reviews, magazines, live appearances and the charity work the did.
Anonymous said...
As the daughter Christine Kimberley now aged 61) of Bobby Kimber who worked as a female impersonator and ventriloquist I find it strange to read 'outed himself as a man in 1952' Dad never 'outed himself' he was always a man.The press found out that he was a man and had a field day - that's all. He was good at his job - he worked at it like any male impersonator impersonating a man today. Fact is he was so good at it he fooled a lot of people for a long time.
Zagria said...
Thank you for your comments, Christine. Is your father still alive? Was his secret known to the other performers, or did he arrive at the theatre already dressed as female?

I might well have had written 'outed himself', but actually I did not. The details in Baker and slide are very brief. What a shame that Bobbie Kimber was removed from Baker's second edition.
christine kimberley said...
From Christine Kimberley, daughter of Bobbie Kimber. My Dad died on the 8th of April 1993.To answer your questions: Other performers did know that he was a man. He only dressed as a woman to do his act or for publicity shots and charity appearances and things like that. All his friends knew he was a man. He arrived at the theatre as a man and left as one. He didn't reveal himself at the end of his act either because it served him better to have people think he was a woman. There weren't many female vent's in those days and the range of his voice made it exceptional for a woman.It gave him a professional edge. It was a gimmick - all part of the game. He went to great lengths to study women's body language and mannerisms. Again, in those days there were far more distinctions in the way men and women behaved and carried themselves than there are now. At one point he even had some special corsets made (or as he would say 'constructed' such was the work involved) to give him more curves in the right places. His hands were his only worry but fortunately he could hide them behind his dolls.
This is how it all began: When he first started out as a ventriloquist in his late teens, in the late 1930's, he was working in a seaside town in a summer show. Because the back stage facilities were so bad the town council wouldn't allow any women performers in the show. The boss didn't like this and said that to get round it, one of the performers would have to dress as a woman. Dad was the youngest, and newest member of the company.....so....then one night something went wrong with the running order and Dad didn't have time to change out of his female costume back to male clothes - so - he just grabbed his dolls and went on stage. From there he realised he was on to something and, being the artist he was he put as much work and effort into learing to deceive with his looks as he had put into doing the same with his voice. Voila! Warm regards, Christine.
Pebbles said...
I dont know who "Christine" is but Im afraid I really dont think this is Bobbie's daughter. I knew Bobbie, his wife and daughter in the 70s and Bobbie did not dress as a woman just for his shows and his real daughter Christine would know that!

Bobbie dressed as a woman ALL the time and was thought of as a woman which is how she wanted it. She had spoken often to my husband and I about her operation to become a woman. Her real daughter spent many a time with myslf and my husband and other friends with Bobbie and her mother, with Bobbie dressed in women's clothes. If you ask anyone in the Stoke Newington area, where they lived, about Bobbie they will tell you the same, Bobby was NEVER seen in men's clothes.
Zagria said...
//www.christinekimberley.info now contains lots and lots of photographs of Bobbie Kimber and promises that his autobiography with be added soon. Enjoy.
Anonymous said...
Pebbles. Oh yes I am Bobbie's daughter. I have no idea who you are and would really appreciate your full name - then I might remember spending many hours with you. Bobbie's story was very complicated, believe me, and I have no desire to wash dirty linen in public. You may never have seen Bobbie out of womens clothing but I did. The big tabloid spreads in the 70's did not tell the whole truth - far from it.
Please contact me through my website where you will see part of my collection of photo's of my Dad - and me as a little girl with my family.I also have some unpublished snaps you might like to see if, like me, you are who you say you are. I post my comments as anonymous because I can never get the URL thing to work.
Robert G said...
I was lucky enough to work with Bobbie in the 1970's when we were both employed by a Hardware Factor in Shoreditch. Although she called 'Herself''Robbie' at the time, we didn't know her past, eventhough there were rumours about her gender, she dressed as a Woman and was accepted as so and used the Ladies Loo along with all the other women. There was also some talk of her past celebrity status and that she once performed on the same bill as Laurel and Hardy at the Paladium,but, she never mentioned this herself and very much kept herself to herself, except did say she was going to visit her daughter now and again. She was also a fine artist and spent a lot of time (while she was at work) painting miniture Landscapes and I'm proud to say that she actually gave me some of these paintings and I still have them today. However, it wasn't until years after I left that company,that I came across a man who once worked as a stage hand at the Paladium, who said he had met Laurel and Hardy,so when I mentioned Robbie, he told me hew knew 'Him' well, which was a shock to me, as I was young at the time and didn't understand such things. Anyway, If Christine, requires any further information from the time I worked with her Father, please don't hesitate to contact me at bgsky@supanet.com.
Pebbles said...
Thank you Robert for confirming what I said. Bobbie came to my wedding with the woman he had been married to, who was still her wife. I'm appalled how her daughter now seems ashamed of her father. Both Bobbie and her wife came to my wedding and BOTH wore women's clothes and Bobbie was a guest, she wasn't working, and didn't bring her dolls.
Broken Sword said...
I lived in Stoke Newington in the 80s and was a friend of Bobbie's I agree with all that Pebbles wrote. I spent many afternoons with Bobbie admiring her paintings (she painted exquisite miniatures) and chatting about the old days of variety theatre.
Patrick said...
I worked in a Revue with Bobbie Kimber at The Devonshire Music Hall, Manchester in the early 70s. She had shoulder length natural greying hair and always dressed as a women.This was after the News Article about her being Transgender that had regenerated interest in her as a performer. She was like a very nice, polite middle aged woman and in no way flamboyant or brash like the stereotype Drag Act. She did tell me that she was the only person to appear at the London Palladium both as a male and later as a Female. She was very professional, a terrific Vent' and a lovely person.

John Talbot divorced 1967

In 1961 John David Talbot married a widow, Mrs Eileen Poyntz, matron of an old people’s home in Brighton, Sussex. Eileen, now Mrs Talbot, realized that John was anatomically not the man she expected – but continued to live with him for a year.

Five years later she filed for divorce. The judge in the case, Justice Ormrod, declared that John Talbot was a woman, and immediately granted a decree nisi of nullity. John Talbot did not contest the petition and was ordered to pay the costs.

  • Talbot (otherwise Poyntz) v Talbot, (1967) 111 S.J. 213.
  • “’Husband’ was a woman”. Liverpool Echo, 27 February 1967: 14.
  • “’Husband’ turned out to be a woman!”. Reading Evening Post, 27 February 1967: 1.
  • Stephen Cretney. “The Nullity of Marriage Act 1971”. The Modern Law Review, 35,1, 1972: 57n4.
  • Christopher Hutton. The Tyranny of Ordinary Meaning: Corbett v Corbett and the Invention of Legal Sex. Palgrave MacMillan, 2019: 74, 83.

There seems to be a small confusion as to whether Justice Ormrod in this case is the same Justice Roger Ormrod (1911-1992) as in Corbett v Corbett. Cretney and Hutton write as if they are the same. EN.Wikipedia(Timeline_of_LGBT_history_in_the_United_Kingdom) says that the Justice was Benjamin Ormerod (1890-1974)– but is alone in this claim.

Hutton says p83: “Whereas in Talbot, Ormrod had in effect brushed aside the (non-)marriage, in Corbett he felt obliged to deploy the full range of medical and legal argumentation”.  Surely a pertinent difference was that April Ashley (Mrs Corbett) had had confirmation surgery but there is no suggestion that John Talbot had also.

The Inner Temple Library booklet Transgender Law: A Short History, Online, quotes Justice Ormrod as saying re Talbot v Talbot: “Marriage is a relationship which depends on sex, not gender”.  However this sentence is actually taken from his Judgment (p19) on Corbett v Corbett.

Several sites (example, example, example, example) repeat the Ormrod sentence assigned to Talbot v Talbot and actually add that he thereby ruled that transsexuals were not permitted to marry under British law. However as John Talbot apparently had not had surgery this was not so. Nor was Talbot v Talbot cited as a precedent in later cases.

More on Angela Douglas


 I have previously discussed Angela Keys Douglas:

There is a new biography on Morris Kight, the long-time gay activist in Los Angeles (EN.Wikipedia) which contains extra information on Angela Douglas.

  • Mary Ann Cherry. Morris Kight: Humanist, Liberationist, Fantabulist. Process, 2020: 152, 161-4, 227, 294-6.

Kight did pioneering work in gay activism from the late 1950s onward, and was a co-founder of several enduring organizations. However he did tend to exaggerate his work. As Cherry reports:

“In 1994, Kight said: 'Transgender is very real. Whatever that may be, that’s transvestites, cross-dresser, male/female trans—female to male. And there’s transvestite heterosexuals, male to male, female to female. I created "transgender." I’ve been recreating the language, and that’s one of the terms. First, I tried "transpeople," and that didn’t fly. Then I created "transgender," and that flew, and it’s now in the language. I think that’s appropriate.' Kight frequently took credit for the creation of nomenclature." (p162)”

       (See my 6-part series on the history of the word 'transgender' which does not mention Kight at all). 

By 1970 Kight was acquainted with Angela Douglas, who was then using the name Douglas Key and was a writer for the Los Angeles Free Press. Comments from activists described Key: 

“I remember one member named Doug who was an attractive, masculine, muscular young man who always wore a dress to the meetings. Sexual attraction was always a feature of these get-togethers." (p161)


“A pre-op trans white guy who was very male and loud. A royal pain in the ass—had male privilege written all over him. The women did not want him in their group. He was upset that Morris made some funny comment about ‘transsexuals need to learn how to keep their seams straight,’ referring to Key’s inability to keep facts straight." (p161)


“Key, a pre-op transsexual, was still writing under the name ‘Douglas Key’ in 1970 and may have had a hormonal reaction to gay lib. Key reported thoroughly on GLF meetings, gatherings, schedules of upcoming events, and wrote eyewitness accounts as well as editorials. Key, who was not homosexual, pushed for the inclusion of ‘trannies’ in the gay movement; it was not an automatic love-fest. Transsexuals and transvestites were not guaranteed the understanding and acceptance in a room full of out-of-the-closet gays and lesbians." (p161)

In February 1970 Los Angeles was hosting the Western Homophile Conference. Key wrote: 

“Attempts to obtain the use of the Masonic temple were crushed when temple officials discovered ‘homophile’ was not ‘hemophilia’ and rejected the WHC request.”

Key was generally considered disruptive and difficult. Key’s reports almost always mentioned ‘transvestites’ within the movement, and often violent reactions from ‘gaylibbers’. She also made it news when Virginia Prince spoke at GLF.

Cherry writes that Kight:

“respected the way Key used his byline to advance his personal agenda. Key compared gender re-identification issues with homosexuality. Most homosexuals did not agree that the two were the same, acknowledging that transsexual is not homosexual. The gay movement had never before embraced gender issues—role-playing, yes. But not gender. . . Key instigated what was perhaps the largest 'ripples of discontent' in the early movement when he reported that 'transvestites and transsexuals have come to the conclusion that the Gay movement is not valuable to their manifestations.' Key pushed it at GLF meetings for quite a few months and the tension mounted on both sides of the 'discussions'.”

GLF member Craig Hansen spoke with Connie Vaughn, a transsexual member of the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) who expressed an opinion that Key was not a real transsexual but did have a severe gender identity problem complicated by paranoid fantasies.

Key spoke of the end of GLF, and several times published that she was quitting the organization, but was back the next week, until one week she was not. The Advocate reported: 

“Sunday was orderly and amiable. Key was not present”.

Cherry says that Kight recognized that Douglas was a pioneer in her cause, that of transgender rights, which was a difficult battle, but that 

“Angela probably did not possess the right temperament to achieve the goal”.  

Shortly afterwards Douglas left Los Angeles, and via Chicago, New York and Atlanta ended up in Miami. She frequently wrote to Kight. In an early letter, Douglas wrote that she had befriended the local MCC pastor for 

“desperately needed assistance … I am a physical wreck—horrid leprous sores on my feet and legs. The sun, air and cleanliness of the city is curing me quickly.”

She had ups and down: “I am really quite the lesbian now, very well accepted as such by most gay sisters and I am most happy about this” but later ““No money and I’m living on the street. Where are the so-called brothers and sisters? Bullshit....”

Later she wrote:  

"It is so hard to be a woman, so hard, & I am proud to be even a partial one. Inside me, I am a woman; my exterior is beginning to match the inside. It seems you understand me better now—I miss all of you, of course, very much. You are all such a big part of my life. Yes, freedom, Morris, freedom to be a man or a woman, to be gay, to be straight whatever.”

Cherry mentions Douglas’ surgery with Butcher John Brown – although she gives the year as 1976. 

Afterwards Douglas returned to Miami and mailing and phoning Kight. Cherry says 

“She had become more mentally unhinged; her letters demonstrate a constant emotional pendulum swinging from lonely and distraught to sociable and manic”. 

The phone calls degenerated into death threats. According to Cherry, by 1984 Kight had become aware that Douglas using the birth name of Douglas Czinki was communicating with the Secret Service and had named Kight as a Libyan agent. 

After Douglas won a substantial sum on the Florida lottery in 1991, Kight heard no more from Douglas, not even after she squandered the money was again impoverished.


As I have mentioned before, as Douglas was gynephilic, why did she not attend meetings of Virginia Prince's organization?

Cherry’s book is based on a personal acquaintance with Morris Kight and access to his papers. Her end notes do include Douglas’ writings for the Los Angeles Free Press, but offer no way to connect the quotes in the main text to a particular piece.

In addition to my own writings, The major writings about Angela Douglas are:

  • Kay Brown. "Angela Keyes Douglas". Transsexual, Transgender, and Intersex History. 1998. Archive
  • Joanne Meyerowitz. How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States. Harvard University Press. 2002: 236, 237-241, 257, 271, 333.
  • Mark Hinson. "Angela's ashes: Farewell to a wild pen pal". Tallahassee Democrat, August 24, 2007. Reproduced.
  • Susana Pena. "Gender and Sexuality in Latina/o Miami: Documenting Latina Transsexual Activists". In Kevin P. Murphy & Jennifer M. Spear (eds). Historicising Gender and Sexuality. Wiley-Blackwell, 2011: 755-772.

Cherry apparently consulted none of these. There is no mention of Douglas as a musician; no mention of the controversial letter to Sister magazine in 1977.

The letter was just after her unsatisfactory surgery with John Brown. Every other source gives the date as 1977. Cherry say 1976 but gives no reason for disagreeing with the others.

Twice in Cherry’s book there is reference to an anonymous source: Douglas “was described by a prominent Professor of Gender Studies as ‘A really important figure in the gay lib history of Los Angeles’ “ (p181) and “One prominent historical researcher also described her as ‘a really important figure in the gay lib history of Los Angeles’ “ (p294). The end notes contain a letter from Susan Stryker, PhD, so she is presumably the ‘prominent’ source – why not just name her in the text?

Stryker’s 2008 “primer text” for undergraduates, Transgender History, contains one and a half pages on Douglas, but also is not referenced, even though it is one of the very few sources to mention Kight and Douglas together.

Margaret Branch (1912 - 1997) social worker


In 1936 the young Margaret Johnson was an ambulance driver in the Spanish Civil War, and then she was in Prague in 1938 after the German invasion, where she helped Jews and other refugees escape into Poland. During WWII she was in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, and was sent to France to work with the Resistance – however she was caught and tortured by the Gestapo until a bribe got her out.

From September 1941 she was Assistant Labour Manager at the Royal Ordinance Factory at Swynnerton south of Newcastle-under-Lyme, and took her husband’s name when she married Mr Branch – but the marriage did not last. From 1943 she was a journalist for a while in London.

In 1945 she went to West Germany working for the UN’s Relief and Rehabilitation Administration  (UNRRA), where she met Camilla Ruegg who became her life partner. Margaret went to Switzerland to study with the renowned psychiatrist Carl Jung. January- March 1955 she attended a course in Mental Hygiene at Dalhousie Medical School in New Brunswick.

By the 1960s she was a psychiatric social worker at Guy’s Hospital in London. She worked in children’s therapy and she and Ruegg founded the National Association of Gifted Children, and worked also on the BBC TV 'Lifeline'& 'Face-to-Face', Series.

By the late 1960s she was working at Guys liaising with trans and intersex people – of whom the best known is Peter Sterling. She gave a paper on her work at the First International Symposium on Gender Identity, London, 25-27 July 1969, and again at the Second at Elsinore, 12-14 September 1971. 

Margaret in 1966
Later she worked as a counsellor for all LGBT individuals , and appointments co-ordinator at the Albany Trust, and worked on the Gay Bereavement Project helpline in 1980.

  • “News”. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 46,2,February 1955: 91.
  • Margaret Branch & Aubrey Cash. Gifted Children. Recognising and Developing Exceptional Children. Souvenir, 1966.
  • Margaret Hall. “Too clever .. the boy they put into the dunces’ class”. Daily Mirror, 1 April 1966: 7.
  • Sheila McGregor. “Unmasking high Intelligence”. The Birmingham Post, April 20, 1966: 4. Review of Gifted Children.
  • Margaret Branch. “Social Aspects of Transsexualism”. First International Symposium on Gender Identity, London, 25 July 1969.
  • Margaret Branch. “The Role of the Psychiatric Social Worker in the Rehabilitation of Transsexuals. Second International Symposium on Gender Identity, Elsinore, 13 September 1969.
  • Peter Stirling. So Different: an Extraordinary Autobiography. Simon & Schuster, 1989.
  • Antony Grey. Quest for Justice: Towards Homosexual Emancipation. Sinclair Stevenson, 1992: 218.
  • Callum Burroughs. “The spy who went on to become a therapist at Guy’s”. Southwark News, March 17, 2016: 22. Online
  • “In Search of a Remarkable ‘Rose’ “.The Stone and Eccleshall Gazette, 22 August 2016. Online.


Ed Knox, a relative of Camilla Ruegg, has been working on a much anticipated biography for some years now.

The Bible and what could be taken as transgender


I remember, many years ago, a simple pamphlet put out by the LGBT church, MCC. Its title was What the Bible says about Homosexuality or something like that. The inside pages were blank, because – despite irrational claims and bad translations – the bible does say nothing on the subject.

So, likewise, I could have left this article equally blank. However there are several verses therein that have been taken out of context and proposed as saying something about us. 

All translations from the King James Bible.

Genesis 1:27

“And God [Elohim אֱלֹהִים] created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”

Fran Bennett comments: “God created humankind in the divine image … both male and female 

Fran Bennett

(Genesis 1:27). So God as Creator is both father and mother. God is both male and female. God is fully androgynous……God is therefore trans-gender if you will… “

This account inspired much speculation in Midrash and Kabalistic texts, many of which compared this created androgyne with that in Plato's Symposium

The word Elohim is plural and some read it as a group of gods, both male and female.

On the other hand, others argue that birth gender is here a fundamental given and such as the Evangelical Alliance argue that "the individual who claims ontologically to be a 'woman trapped in a man's body' (or vice versa) is fundamentally mistaken given the biblical assertion of the primacy of the physical."

Genesis 2: 21-2

Adam is created first, but needs a partner. 

“And the LORD God [YHWH יְהֹוָה ] caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.” 

This of course makes Adam a male mother. Traditionally Eve is taken to be the left side of the fusion, the same side as Parvati fused with Siva. This tradition was preserved through millenia and the fake circus hermaphrodites almost always put the female on their left.

As Jesus was considered the second Adam, as Adam was androgynous, so Jesus was also said to be androgynous.

Exodus 3.14

“And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM”. 

A perplexing verse in the Torah in that the word translated as ‘god’ is Elohim אֱלֹהִים , who here is taking the name Yahweh (YHWH יְהֹוָה ) a competing god name. The two god names have been used to separate the J-text from the E-text in the analysis of separate traditions in the Torah.

Anyway what we have here is an ycleptance, a self naming and naming being accepted by others. Such self naming is an important process during Transition when a new name is taken and accepted by others.

I am that I am” is the standard English translation of the name Yahweh. This resembles but is not the same as “I am what I am” as per Greta Garbo, Popeye, the Village People, a song in the musical version of La Cage aux Folles and a defiant cry from many who are queer.

Deuteronomy 22:5

“The woman shall not wear that which pertains to a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment, for all that do so are an abomination to the Lord your God.”

The odd thing is that this injunction comes right after a series of sensible advice about how farmers should help each other – mainly that strayed animals should be returned. This is then interrupted by the one-verse no-drag imperative, and then more sensible farming advice. This in turn is followed by some more how-to-dress imperatives, of which the major is verse 11

“Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, as of woollen and linen together”

which presumably would include cotton-polyester and most clothing on sale today.

Deuteronomy 23:1-3

“He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD. 

A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the LORD. 

An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the LORD for ever.”

So, no transsexuals in the congregation then. Not to mention certain medical conditions that cis persons may be afflicted with.

2 Kings 9:30-36

A rebellious army commander, Jehu, having murdered his king, intends to kill the king's mother, Jezebel, who had stood up for religious diversity against the monolatrous Yahwists:

"And he lifted up his face to the window, and said, Who is on my side? who? And there looked out to him two or three eunuchs. And he said, Throw her down. So they threw her down: and some of her blood was sprinkled on the wall, and on the horses: and he trode her under foot." 

Jeffrey McCall identifies ‘eunuchs’ with LGBT persons. “The Lord spoke to my heart that eunuchs born that way are those who were set apart by God from the womb to minister to God. They are to continually minister to his heart, and He to them. They were set apart not to be touched by any other humans. They were not created for marriage and the typical family life.” See also Isiah 56:4-5 and Matthew 19:12. 

Isiaah 56:4-5

"For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant; Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off."

However, compare Deuteronomy 23:1 above.

Matthew 6:6

The prologue to the Lord’s Prayer: “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly”.

An invocation, particularly in Pentecostalism that queer persons should stay in the closet. This works only in the King James translation.

Matthew 19:12

“For there are some Eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.”

Mark 9:47

“And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire”

This is the title of Calpernia Addams’ autobiography. 

I Corinthians 1:27-8

“But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 

And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea”

The chosen text by Paula Nielsen to accompany her transition.

Galatians 3:28

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

There is lots of controversy about the so-called Pauline epistles. More conservative believers accept 13 Pauline epistles; most scholars designate only 7 as authentic; more radical scholars see them all as being written by Marcion and his school. 

While some use this verse as a foundation for Christian Socialism, it is certainly not consistent with other verses attributed to Paul where slaves are told to obey their masters and preaching in church is reserved to male persons.

Certainly when Christians took power in the Roman Empire in the 4th century there was no move for either gender equality or for the abolition of slavery.


  • Helen Savage. Changing Sex? Transsexuality and Christian Theology. University of Durham Phd, 2005. Online
  • Robert M Price. Holy Fable Volume I; The Old Testament Undistorted by Faith. Tellectual Press, 2017.
  • Richard Elliott Friedman. The Bible with Sources Revealed: A New View into the Five Books of Moses. Harper Collins, 2003.

Trans London in the 1960s: part 1 - 1960-3

Part I: 1960-3
Part II: 1964-7
Part III: 1968-1970

The 1960s in Britain were a time of considerable change. The Britain that had been before WWII was finally being shaken off, and changes – at first small – were accumulating. Drag performance was a bubble of freedom where trans women too oppressed to go elsewhere could express themselves. The attitudes expressed in drag where very different to what they would become in the next century. The old sexual intolerance, that of aversion therapy, blackmail, entrapment, hypocrisy, etc. started to give way and by the end of the decade we had Swinging London, an incredibly prolific music scene and Gay Lib. However aristocratic privilege was taken to be in conflict with general rights for trans people, and the Corbett v Corbett show trial at the end of the decade legally shackled trans people for the ensuing 30 years.   London – well before anywhere in the US - already had a Gender Identity Clinic at Charing Cross Hospital, but it was not called that, and reactionary opinions were common there as elsewhere.

The legal situation.

Buggery or Sodomy had been a capital offence since the Buggery Acts of 1533, 1548 and 1558 – the last men hanged for Sodomy met their end in 1835. The Offences Against the Person Acts of 1828, 1861 and 1956 retained Sodomy as a crime, but it was no longer a capital offence. 

There was no law against Lesbianism. 

The 1870 trial of Boulton and Park/Fanny and Stella had established that there was no English law against cross-dressing as such. However those doing so were often charged with Disturbing the Peace, which was an offence under English Common Law which gave police officers very free scope. Cross-dressing ‘men’ would often be fined, imprisoned or, in earlier times, put in the pillory, probably because cross-dressing was commonly conflated with sodomy; cross-dressing ‘women’ were usually just cautioned or reprimanded.   

The Labouchère Amendment, 1885, introduced a new offence of ‘gross indecency’ whereby gay men could be prosecuted even when sodomy could not be proven. Oscar Wilde in 1895 and Alan Turing in 1952 had been convicted of ‘gross indecency’. Cross-dressing could be taken as evidence of such.

There had been an attempt in 1921 to expand the 1885 law to cover women as well. It was passed in the Commons, but defeated in the Lords, and the attempt was not repeated.


At the beginnings of the 1960s, there were very few places where visible cross-dressing was accepted.  The three major gatherings where one could do so without the police interfering were the northern resort town of Blackpool at Easter, and in London the Vic-Wells Costume Balls (Old Vic and Sadler's Wells) although it had signs posted saying "No Drag Allowed", and also the Chelsea Arts Ball, which had a similar sign – although people had been cross-dressing for it since 1926.  

Chelsea Arts Ball 1926

The last molly house, that of Stella Minge, was still going in Silvertown, Newham.  Stella, who had been in the merchant navy, was known for her frequent Friday night parties that often lasted until Sunday or even Monday. Stella, a queen herself, often encouraged younger queens, and her place was generally known among sailors, straight as well as gay, as the place to go when in London. Police officers often stopped by because of the noise complaints, but individually would come back when off duty to join in the fun. Sometimes it was raided.

That is unless we regard the Elm Guest House near Barnes common as the last molly house.  However it was a very different kind of molly house, in effect a boy brothel rather than a place for adults to be free in gender expression and same sex activity.

In 1954, after a number of high-profile – and therefore exemplary - convictions of gay men, a change of direction had been needed and John Wolfenden, Vice Chancellor of the University of Reading, was invited to set up a Royal Commission into homosexuality and prostitution.   This was partly at the urging of the bisexual Robert Boothby, then a Conservative MP (and the long-time lover of Dorothy, wife of Harold Macmillan, who became Prime Minister in 1957).  The Wolfenden Report was published later in 1957, and sold 5,000 copies within hours.  Its recommendations on prostitution were quickly acted on and were included in the Street Offences Act, 1959.  The Government used the excuse that the recommendations re homosexuality were “in advance of public opinion”.   A full decade would pass before they were enacted.  For the first seven years, Parliament having refused to act on the recommendations, the implicit message to the police was that homosexuality was not to be tolerated, and things got worse for all LGBT persons.

There was very little pub drag before 1960 except for a few tolerant, mainly straight, pubs in the East End, such as the Bridge House in Canning Town (just north of Silvertown).  The Bridge House in later decades became a heavy metal/punk/goth pub, and the first pub with its own record label.  Another was the Duke of Cambridge pub in Islington, where drag artists had been appearing since the mid-1950s. And in Chelsea the Gateway, London’s best known lesbian bar, which attracted cross-dressing and butch lesbians. 

The Gateway in the early 1950s

Diamond Lil and Maisie
 - Lil lived as female and Maisie dressed for the stage - were a couple who lived in Hackney, London, and were accepted by their neighbours.  They had performed as a drag duo since WWII at various East End venues, particularly the Royal Oak in Columbia Rd, Hackney.  They were still performing into the mid-1960s.

Female impersonator Chris Shaw and his pianist Peter King had a successful double act in the 1950s. In 1959 they had started King Shaw Productions with an office in Bond Street. They produced all-male variety shows, drag acts and fancy dress balls. In the early 1960s Chris performed at the Hoxton Music Hall (1890 – 1987).

Georgina Turtle, the dentist who had had completion surgery in 1957, moved to Hove, Sussex in April. She finally obtained a revised birth certificate in July, but had to supply medical reports along with affidavits from three doctors Kenneth Walker,A.P. Cawadias and her father. Mr Clarkson, the surgeon, was also obliged to provide a report of her anatomy and Georgina had to provide written assurances that she had never been married or been capable of functioning as a male.

The press discovered Georgina, her home was besieged and the phone never stopped ringing. She agreed to an 'exclusive' with The News of the World, and was paid £100. A local paper gave the name of her road and stated that she intended to start a dental practice. This led to difficulties with the General Dental Council, which in those days was very strict against advertising. Turtle threatened to sue the newspapers, apologised to the Council, and was given a reprimand.  Letters started to come from all over the world, from transsexuals and those who might be. Georgina sat up long hours answering them, and at weekends received the writers personally.  Turtle knew most of the London consultants, especially John Randell and Kenneth Walker, and they referred patients to each other.

12 May. Toni April had surgery with Dr Burou in Casabalnca.   Shortly afterwards she returned to England, and chose the name of April Ashley.  “I could do nothing about my birth certificate….although people could have their condition biologically explained, medically diagnosed and successfully treated, their transition from one sex to the other had not taken place in the eyes of the law.  For £13 , I became April Ashley.”  (The First Lady p139-140)

April Ashley was quickly able to build a career as a model; clothed, in underwear and nude.  She was in demand and booked months in advance.

18 November.  Arthur Corbett, the heir to the Rowallan Baroncy and a closet transvestite had seen Toni April, a star performer at Le Carrousel in Paris. He used his contact with Louise Lawrence to get in in touch with April via Les Lee, a fellow performer at Le Carrousel. 

Surgeon, Harold Delf Gillies, age 78, suffered a cerebral thrombosis while operating.   He died in hospital a month later.   He had repaired thousands of servicemen in both World Wars, and developed ‘flap surgery’ where a flap of skin is moved to another part of the body to help healing. Flaps were later rolled into tubes, from which a penis could be fashioned. He had done two, but only two, transsexual operations: on Michael Dillon 1942-6, and Betty Cowell in 1951.  He had then been called to the general Medical Council to explain himself.

John Randell, from Glamorganshire, himself a closeted tranvestite, was Physician for Psychological Medicine at Charing Cross Hospital, where he worked with transvestites and transsexuals.  He used the data from this for his MD thesis.  Through the coming years he would see 50 cases a year – however fewer than 10% were approved for surgery and only a third of those had vaginoplasty.

Victor Barker had been pilloried in the press in 1929 when he was convicted of wilfully causing a false statement to be entered in a register of marriage when he took a wife.  In the late 1950s he suffered from Parkinson’s Disease.  In 1960 he sank into a coma, and later died.   He was buried in the grounds of the local parish church in Suffolk, in an unmarked grave. He was 64.

The future Jan Morris won the George Polk Memorial Award for Journalism.

Canadian Jean Fredericks moved to London.  After a straight role in a West-End musical and at the Edinburgh Festival she concentrated on a drag act doing mock-opera.

Mrs Gladys Shufflewick, known to some as Rex Jameson, Dame Comedian, had been drinking more and more, and betting on horses, and by 1960 was bankrupt.

Ernest Thesiger who had played drag and female parts in the 1930s was awarded a CBE.

At the Rome Olympics, two British female athletes were accused in the press of being men.

Roger Ormrod was appointed a judge in the Probate, Divorce and Admiralty division.

R v Penguin Books Ltd.  Following the publication of a full unexpurgated edition in 1960 of Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D H Lawrence, Penguin Books was prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act 1959, which had been introduced in Parliament by Roy Jenkins and included the notion of ‘literary merit’.  Penguin argued successfully that the book did have literary merit and brought in novelists and professors of literature to so testify.   The success opened up a much greater degree of freedom for publishing in the UK.

  • John RandellCross Dressing and the Desire to change Sex, MD Thesis, University of Wales, 1960. Discusses 61 mtf and 16 ftm cases. This was one of the first higher degree theses in English on transsexuality.
  • Lobzang Jivaka. Growing Up into Buddhism. Maha Bodhi Society of India, 1960.  Written by the pioneer trans man Michael Dillon.
  • Gerald Thomas (dir). Carry on Constable.  Scr: Norman Hudis, with Charles Hawtrey as PC Timothy Gorse and Kenneth Williams PC Stanley Benson.   UK 86 mins 1960.   Roger Lewis, Hawtry’s biographer, says of this cheaply made comedy film in which the constables are in cod drag: “where Williams has to have trouble balancing on his high-heeled shoes, Hawtrey’s feminine carriage is perfection – it’s not over-done.  You realize with a smile that he is completely in his element”.   Hawtrey had played female leads in West End Theatres during WWII, but work had dried up in the 1950s.
  • Diana Dors. Swinging Dors.  LP 1960. Arranged by Wally Stott (the future Angela Morley). 



April in Road to Hong Kong

31 July: April Ashley obtained a small part in the Bob Hope-Bing Crosby film, The Road to Hong Kong, partially filmed at Shepperton Studios.   Hope remembered her as a Le Carrousel performer in Paris and Juan-des-Pins, but said nothing publicly.   Crosby kept singing ‘April in Paris’ when April was around. 

27 August:  The People ran an article on the decadence of Rome and its Dolce Vita.  They included a street photograph of April Ashley and Kiki Moustique from a few years before – without naming them, but claiming that they were male ballet dancers.

The People journalist Roy East, having followed up claims that one of the woman in the 27 August photograph was April Ashley, and having paid someone £5 for a tip-off, checked her modelling profile, and then accosted her at her flat in Kensington, and bullied her until he got her story.   Arthur Corbett went to see the editor, and also a friend of his tried to get the story killed.   However this only made the editor convinced that the story was worth running. 

19 November.  The People printed the story "'Her' secret is out", repeating the photograph from 27 August.   East ended his article with: “One thing I know. April Ashley has had the courage to be frank about her two lives.  It is a courage to be admired”.   This led to closer press attention, and April lost all her modelling work. 

Ina Barton was accepted at Charing Cross Hospital for surgery.  Her friend April Ashley commented:  “They insist on lengthy intervals between each stage and use skin grafts from the legs which leave tell-tale scars on the thighs. So much messier than Dr Burou's technique. But her doctor, John Randell, was very solicitous for her well-being and wrote her letters which began, 'My dearest Galatea...'”.

April Ashley left for Spain with Arthur Corbett.

Ron Storme worked in risqué shows including the Gaiety Box Revue fronted by the gay comedian Larry Grayson. Storme was skilled at costume making, and made outfits for many London drag acts. He was often en femme at private parties, and out on the town – at a time when such off-stage behaviour was unheard of among female impersonators.

Molly Millbury, age 16, had started to go out in female clothes.  The police picked her up, exhibited her at the police station.   Her parents came to pick her up, and she was then sent to a psychiatrist.   She did not complete transition until 2000. (Dickinson: 52-3, 248-9).

John David Talbot married a widow, Mrs Eileen Poyntz, matron of an old people’s home in Brighton, Sussex.   Eileen, now Mrs Talbot, soon realized that John was anatomically not quite the man she expected – but continued to live with him for a year.   They divorced in 1967.

Karoly Hajdu, the future Charlotte Bach, took the name of Michael Karoly and took a course in hypnotherapy. He never graduated but set up in business as a hypnotherapist anyway. He also was taken on as a psychology lecturer at the Stanislavsky Studios in Knightsbridge, and wrote a column on psychology for Today magazine. He was also commissioned by Paul Elek, a Hungarian, to write a book on hypnosis. The book, the only one of his ever published, includes an early explanation of the joys of cross-dressing, and many of the patients in the book are aspects of himself.

Arnold Lowman (Virginia Prince) and his wife Doreen visited her relatives in England, and Virginia used the trip to contact some English transvestites.

4 December.  The contraceptive pill became available for the first time on the NHS, but generally only for older married women who already had children.  Health Minister Enoch Powell announced the decision in the House of Commons.

  • Michael B. Karoly. Hypnosis. Elek,   
  • Claus Overzier (ed). Intersexuality.  Academic Press, 1961.
  • “Sex-Change Girl Barbara Plans Gretna Wedding”. The News of the World, 13 August 1961. Online. Barbara Buick on a trip to England.
  • Ronald Handyside. “Wickedest Street in the World”.  The People, 27 August 1961.  Included a photograph of two women being ejected from a hotel with the caption; “You never dare to take things at their face value on the Via Veneto.  The ‘girls’ that this rich industrialist thought that he was getting along with both turned out to be MALE BALLET-DANCERS … one of them British”.  They were actually April Ashley and Kiki Moustique a few years before.
  • Roy East. "'Her' secret is out". The Sunday People, 19 November 1961. The first outing of April Ashley.  April had been identified in the photograph in August, and Roy East pursued her until he got a story.

  • Basil Dearden (dir). Victim. Scr: Janet Green & John McCormcik, with  Dirk Bogarde as Melville Farr.  UK 96 mins 1961.   A bisexual barrister stands up to the homophobic blackmail that was possible because being gay was illegal.  The first UK movie to be sympathetic to LGBT persons.  Wikipedia.  Dirk Bogarde, up till then a matinée idol, positively transformed his career with this film.    Following the decision in the Lady Chatterley’s Lover trial the previous year, freedom of discussion was being widened.
  • John Blofeld. City of Lingering Splendour: A Frank Account of Old Peking's Exotic Pleasures. Shambala. 1989 (1961): chp 5 tells of Aleksandr Mikhailovich, a Russian ex-patriate woman in Beijing who changed into a man in the mid-1930s.
  • Roy Castle. Castlewise.  LP 1961. Arranged by Wally Stott



The engagement of Georgina Turtle and Christopher Somerset was announced in the Court and Social Page of the Daily Telegraph, and they were married in a church wedding in Westminster. Photographs of their wedding appeared on the front page of all editions of the Evening Standard. They were also featured in most of the Sunday newspapers, and when they arrived in Paris for their honeymoon, they found that they were on the front page of Le Journal du Dimanche.

April's autobiography in the News of the World

6 May – 10 June:  April Ashley’s autobiography as written by journalist Noyes Thomas appeared weekly in The News of the World.  An inspiration to a generation of trans girls. 

April Ashley and Ina Barton were sharing a flat in South Kensington.   Ina went to Spain with April. On a previous trip they had gotten into a drunken slap fight about who was to drive. This time April did drive, but Ina freaked out when April mentioned that she’d never taken a test and didn’t have a license. In the commotion they went over a small cliff.  Later when Ina’s surgeries were complete, April took her to Jersey for a week. They rented bicycles. On the second day Ina fell heavily on the cross bar and her vulva was enlarged. She left immediately and returned to London to see her own doctor.

Ventriloquist Terri Rogers had transgender surgery at Charing Cross Hospital.

Gloria Gold, 27, was incarcerated in a mental hospital and subjected to electro-shock aversion therapy while in female clothes and attached to a Penile Plethysmograph. She realised that the only way to escape was to lie that the ‘treatment’ had actually worked.  This put off her transition until twenty years later.  (Dickinson: 52, 54, 74-6, 219, 248)

The future Peter Stirling, who had left her husband and child in Australia, arrived in London and found a flat and a job in shoe retailing. She was able to talk herself into becoming a patient at the Endocrine Clinic, Guy’s Hospital, London, where her primary contact was social worker Margaret Branch.  Stirling was told that her chromosomes were 47 XXY, and she was becoming more male and that if she had waited another couple of years, she would not have been able to have a child. They explained that this extra chromosome altered her hormones. They proposed surgery and hormones to turn her into a man, but they would not start doing this until she was divorced from her husband.

Ron Storme and husband George became known for their parties at their home in Putney which were said to attract name guests such as the spy Kim Philby, lesbian singing star Dusty Springfield and the gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray.  

James Morris resigned from The Guardian and became a freelance writer.  Morris investigated transsexualism. One winter evening in Ludlow he found a half-price copy of Lile Elvenes (Elbe)'s Man into Woman, and "with what agonies of embarrassment" bought it. Morris also read Robert Stoller, and an unspecified account of Charlotte D'Eon.  "I trod the long well-beaten, expensive and fruitless path of the Harley Street psychiatrists and sexologists, one after the other, getting their names from their published works, or being passed from one to the other. None of them in those days, I now realize, knew anything about the matter at all, though none of them admitted it."

Michael Dillon died.   The first trans man to obtain completion surgery, he had fled to India in 1958 to escape attention by the press.   He converted to Tibetan Buddhism and took the name Lobzang Jivaka.  His health failed and he died in Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh,  age 47.  He published two books on Buddhism in his last year.

Jeremy Wolfenden, son of the chairman of the Wolfenden Report and the Daily Telegraph correspondent in Moscow where he had befriended gay defector Guy Burgess, was photographed at his hotel by the KGB in bed with a man. 

Gay man John Vassell was sentenced to 18 years for spying for the Soviet Union. He served 10.   This briefly  embarrassed the Harold Macmillan government, but was soon eclipsed by the more dramatic Profumo Scandal in 1963.

Cis actor Wilfred Brambell (Steptoe & Son; A Hard Day’s Night) was arrested in a toilet in Shepherds Bush for persistently importuning.  He was given a conditional discharge.

George Brinham, a former chairman of the Labour Party, had been murdered at home by an 18-year-old Lawrence Somers.   Brinham asked for a kiss; Somers responded by hitting him with a wine decanter several times.  He then dragged the body into the bedroom, and attempted to make it look as if a burglar had done it.  However he left his coat and gloves behind and was soon arrested. 

Wally Stott arranged UK Eurovision Song Contest entry, “Ring-A-Ding Girl" sung by Ronnie Carroll.

Vita Sackville-West who had cross-dressing adventures at the end of WWI, and who was the model for Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, died at age 70 of stomach cancer.

  • Oxford English Dictionary: ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ are no longer synonyms: ‘gender’ refers to social and cultural aspects, and ‘sex’ to the biological.
  • Lobzang Jivaka. Imji Getsul An English Buddhist in a Tibetan Monastery. Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1962.
  • Lobzang Jivaka. The Life of Milarepa: Tibet's Great Yogi. Murray, 1962.
  • Norman Panama (dir). The Road to Hong Kong, with Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Joan Collins and a very small part by April Ashley.   UK 91 mins 1962.  Ashley’s credit in the film was removed (although Dean Martin, Peter Sellers, Frank Sinatra and David Niven were also uncredited). 
  • Noyes Thomas writing as April Ashley. “My Strange Life”. The News of the World. 6 May 1962.
  • Noyes Thomas writing as April Ashley. "Goodbye M'sieu, hello Mamsells, the doctor said". News of the World, 13 May 1962.
  • Noyes Thomas writing as April Ashley. "Roman Scandal – hotel throws us out". News of the World, 27 May 1962.
  • Noyes Thomas writing as April Ashley. "The Operation". News of the World, 3 June 1962.
  • Noyes Thomas writing as April Ashley. "There, in a crowded pub, Arthur told me he loved me". News of the World, 10 June 1962.
  • James Clavell. King Rat.  Martin Joseph, 1962.  A novel about the Japanese POW camp at Changi, Singapore where Clavell was interned for three years.  A secondary character was Sean Jennison, a fighter pilot.   He is selected to play female parts in the camp theatricals because he was one of the youngest men present and because he shaved only infrequently.   Initially very resistant, Jennison comes to identify with the part and, after growing his hair, starts to live as a woman full- time.  When the camp is liberated, Jennison cannot adjust, and – in female clothing – walks into the sea and dies.  Review.


Philip Larkin’s poem, “Annus Mirabilis”:

Sexual intercourse began
In nineteen sixty-three
(which was rather late for me) -
Between the end of the Chatterley ban
And the Beatles' first LP.

23 January.  Top British spy, Kim Philby, fled to Moscow, although it was not officially confirmed until 1 July.  Unlike his two fellow spies, Donald Mclean and Guy Burgess, who had fled to Moscow in 1951, Philby was neither gay nor bi.

The Conservative Government of Harold Macmillan was greatly and further embarrassed by the heterosexual Profumo Scandal, wherein the Secretary of State for War had been having sex with the same mistress, Christine Keeler, as a Soviet naval attaché.  Keeler had been introduced to both by Stephen Ward an osteopath and socialite.  In March Profumo denied impropriety in a statement to the House of Commons, but admitted all a few weeks later and resigned as a Minister and as an MP. In June, Tom Denning, a senior judge was asked to conduct an enquiry. He published it in September, and 105,000 copies were sold.  Ward was the only person charged – with living off immoral earnings – and killed himself during the final stages of his trial.  Macmillan resigned as Prime Minister ‘on health grounds’ in October. 

It was an open secret that Ernest Marples, the Minister of Transport, engaged prostitutes, however he was not involved in the Profumo Scandal.  Tom Denning investigating the Profumo scandal, also investigated rumours about other ministers.  His investigation was close to its conclusion when on 9 July a woman using the name Mrs Ann Bailey, but sometimes Mrs Smith, came forward. She explained that she was a full-time prostitute and had for a long time been paid by Marples. She described how he bought women’s clothes and wore them when he met her. She described his further tastes of which, she said, ‘whipping was the least sickening’.   It was felt that this very much exposed Marples to a risk of blackmail. It was also felt that Bailey had been encouraged to approach the Denning inquiry by a national newspaper so that once her evidence was authenticated and published in Denning’s report, the newspaper would be clear to pay her and publish the story. 

Several of the medical men in London had suggested to Georgina Somerset that she write her autobiography, but what she did produce was a study based on those transsexuals who had contacted her. This involved a detailed knowledge of 30 of the transsexuals (one of whom was the future Jan Morris) and lesser knowledge of 100 others. The book was published in 1963, under her maiden name, as Over the Sex Border, with a Foreword by Kenneth Walker.  This was three years before Harry Benjamin's book, and thus is the first ever on the topic.  She says that she is not a transsexual, and that surgery should be only for intersex persons and those transsexuals under 25 who have never married or had children.  "Less than a few percent of transsexuals are true or primary transsexuals. These are generally the lonely, sensitive, asexual types of transsexual" (p82).  She refers to trans women as male transsexuals.  "The sad part is that, however permissive society becomes, these cases will always have to accept that biologically and organically they are really no more than feminised males or masculinised females, and will forever remain, regardless of their altered anatomy, of the male or female sex to which they were born. (72)".  However she does balance this with:  "There are still some to-day known to me of that era who were repeatedly turned away, heartbroken and suicidal, and yet who have managed to struggle on trying to do 'the right thing' and maintain the respect of society. For them the magical dream of being a young girl has gone for ever – they never wanted to be old women! They banged at the door and it creaked a little, making it easier for the next, but they themselves never 'made it' through. It is these less fortunate unknowns, not just the well-known cases, that transsexuals have to thank to-day for the recognition given to the syndrome. (p97)"

S vs S 1962.  A woman [possibly intersex] with a defect of the vagina was held to be a woman in that her chromosomes, gonads and genitals were concordant, and the court declined to annul the marriage.

10 September. Arthur Corbett and April Ashley were wed in Gibraltar, April thereby becoming Lady Corbett, Arthur being the heir apparent to the Rowallan Baroncy.  April’s passport was sufficient for identification. 

Norman Hartnell, couturier to three Queens and half the aristocracy, and closet transvestite, had made the mistake of promoting his husband, George Mitchison, to general manager of the firm.  Mitchison was extravagant and incompetent, and the firm sank into debt.  In 1963 Hartnell had to sell his beloved house. 

The future Christine Goodwin, bus driver, married and father of four, underwent aversion therapy which led to repression of being trans for over twenty years.

Michael Karoly– the future Charlotte Bach - was charged at Knebworth with a breach of the peace after being arrested dressed as female. He separated from his wife, founded Divorcees Anonymous and seduced several of the women who attended. After a denouncing article in the Sunday People, both his hypnosis patients and members of Divorcees Anonymous stayed away.

Wally Stott arranged the UK Eurovision Song Contest entry, “Say Wonderful Things” sung by Ronnie Carroll.

Kenneth Tynan, drama critic, closet transvestite and spanking enthusiast, was having an affair with April Ashley’s flatmate.  He also became literary manager at the newly founded National Theatre, in those days located at the Old Vic Theatre in Waterloo.

At the trial of Lawrence Somers for murdering George Brinham, the accused used the gay panic defense, the judge directed the jury to a verdict of not guilty: "...this man attempted to make homosexual advances... I think that is about as clear a case of provocation as it is possible to have".  Somers was found not guilty of all charges despite his excessive reaction, his tampering with the scene, attempting a cover-up and failing to report a death.

  • Georgina Turtle. Over the Sex Border. Victor Gollancz, 1963. A study based on those transsexuals who had contacted the author. This involved a detailed knowledge of 30 of the transsexuals and lesser knowledge of 100 others. 
  • CJ Dewhurst & RR Gordon.  “Change of Sex”.  The Lancet, 2, 7 December 1963. 19 successful late reassignments of hermaphrodites (up to 33 years). 
  • Ian Berg, Harold Nixon & Robert MacMahon. “Change of Assigned Sex at Puberty”. The Lancet, 2, 7 December 1963. Two article refuting Money’s position that gender changed must be done by 30 months.
  • James Morris. Coronation Everest. Faber and Faber, 1963.
  • Lionel Crane. “How to Spot a Potential Homo”.  Sunday Mirror, 28 April 1963: 7.  The KGB had identified John Vassell, so why not MI5?  On the homophobic assumption that all gays are security risks, a list of stereotypes: middle-aged, unmarried with a strong affection for his mother; fussy dresser; over-clean; adored by older women; drinks alone while looking at other men; etc.
  • Derek Ive. “The strange facts about ‘Divorcees Anonymous’ and the bashful Mr K who runs it”.  The People, November 10, 1963: 6.  Michael Karoly (Charlotte Bach)’s last attempt to be cishet.



  • Georgina Turtle. Over the Sex Border. Victor London: Gollancz. 319 pp 1963.
  • Gillian Freeman: The Undergrowth of Literature. Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1967.
  • Duncan Fallowell & April Ashley. April Ashley's Odyssey.Jonathan Cape, 1982. London: Arrow 1983. Online.
  • Kris Kirk with photographs by Ed Heath. Men In Frocks. London: Gay Men's Press 1984.
  • Peter Stirling. So Different: an Extraordinary Autobiography. Simon & Schuster 1989.
  • Alkarim Jivani. It’s Not Unusual: A History of Gay Britain in the Twentieth Century. Indiana Press, 1997.
  • Roger Lewis. Charles Hawtrey 1914-1988: The Man Who Was Private Widdle. Faber and Faber, 2001.
  • Rose Collis. Colonel Barker's monstrous regiment: a tale of female husbandry. Virago, 2001.
  • Pierre-Henri Castel. Chronologie et bibliographie représentative du transsexualisme et des pathologies de l'identité sexuelle de 1910 à 1998. 2003. Online.
  • April Ashley with Douglas Thompson. The First Lady. Blake, 2006.
  • Patrick Newley. The Amazing Mrs Shufflewick: The Life of Rex Jameson. Third Age Press. 2007.
  • Tommy Dickinson. ‘Curing Queers’: Mental nurses and their patients, 1935-74. Manchester University Press, 2015.
  • Michael Bloch. C10set Queens: Some 20th Century British Politicians. Abacus, 2015.
  • Michael Pick. Norman Hartnell. The Biography. Zuleika, 2019.
  • Haydon Bridge. “The Mysterious East: East London has generally kept its gay history secret … until now”. QX London Gay History. Online.
  • Haydon Bridge. “Go West, Young man: Pretty and fashionable – West London is just like the gay men who’ve lived there!”. QX London Gay History. Online.
  • Haydon Bridge. “Northern Exposure: For London’s newest gay village and most famous cruising ground head north …” QX London Gay History. Online

Trans London in the 1960s: part II - 1964-7

Part II: 1964-7
Part III: 1968-71


Gloria Robinson completed surgical transition and became the wife of Brian Greaves.

Dr Shan Ratman from Singapore studied at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School in London where he earned MRCOG and FRCS in 1964. He then became Professor and Head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Singapore. By the end of the decade he performed his first sex-change operation, and then ran a gender identity clinic for 25 years, in which over 300 operations would be performed.

The Future Carolyn Mercer spoke to the family doctor about feeling as if in the wrong body but was told “Stop bothering your mother”. The vicar arranged a referral to a psychiatric hospital where Mercer was subjected to ‘five or six’ sessions of electric shock aversion therapy while seeing pictures of women’s clothes. It took 40 years to get over that experience.

James Morris was in New York and visited Harry Benjamin, who advised him that a change of body must be a last resort, and that he should try working life as a man. Shortly afterwards Morris obtained an appointment with a London endocrinologist who said: "What it would do to your personality or your talent, we cannot say. It is a grave decision to take, but it must be your own. You do know what you are doing?" Morris returned to Venice with a box of oestrogen tablets, but considered the advice of both men and flushed them down a lavatory. However he did take a subsequent prescription from Dr Benjamin.

After the George Brinham murder and subsequent trial, it was felt by the judicial authorities that persecution of gay men should be toned down. The Director of Public Prosecutions issued instructions to police forces that in cases involving consenting adults in private no prosecution should be initiated until an opinion had been obtained from the Director. It was noted that his boss Peter Rawlinson, the Solicitor General 1962-4 – who had survived the Vassell and Profumo scandals although they happened on his watch – had, despite being Catholic, previously been a defence barrister who had defended accused gay men. The story was leaked by the London Evening Standard in July 1964.

Also in July, The Daily Mirror ran a story about a Peer and a gangster (both unnamed) implying a sexual relationship. They were named by the West German magazine Stern as Robert Boothby and Ronnie Kray. Both Tom Driberg, a Labour MP and ex-chairman of his Party, and Robert Boothby, previously a Conservative MP and since 1957 in the House of Lords, were sexually interested in young men, and that interest had led to associations with the Kray twins, the most notorious of the East End gangsters. Boothby was in France when the story broke. The Conservative government was alarmed and feared a new Profumo scandal on the eve of the up-coming election- but had no idea what to do. However the Labour Party leaders – who wisely had not made capital from the Profumo affair a year earlier - were concerned that the story would spread to include Driberg. Boothby went from considering suicide to threatening to sue the Sunday Mirror. Labour put pressure on Cecil King the owner. The Mirror sacked its editor, apologized and paid Boothby £40,000 [over £800,000 today]. Other papers stopped covering the Krays and their criminal enterprises for 3 years – as also did Scotland Yard. 

The General Election of 15 October 1964 returned the Labour Party to government, after 13 years of Conservative rule. Both Labour and Conservative had chosen new leaders in 1963. The Conservatives had chosen Alec Douglas-Home a 61-year-old aristocrat who seemed out of touch, while Labour elected 48-year-old Harold Wilson who promised to modernise the country. Labour won a narrow majority. They would later pass a series of social reforms, but not immediately.

Anthony Storr, psychiatrist, published a book called Sexual Deviation which sold quite well, and strongly influenced thinking in the English-speaking countries. Quite possibly, from the internal evidence, Storr thought that he was writing a liberal book, an intelligent mix of common sense and psychoanalysis, a plea for compassion rather than condemnation of the poor perverts. His chapter on transvestism follows immediately on his chapter on fetishism, and it is presented as a variation thereupon. He repeats the common misconception that transvestites dress usually to masturbate. This false premise also leads to his conclusion that there are no female transvestites and that female cross-dressing is of a completely different nature. He gives the standard psychoanalytic interpretation of transvestism as follows: “The homosexual man replaces his love for his mother by an identification with her: the fetishist refuses to acknowledge that a woman has no penis. The male transvestite assumes both attitudes simultaneously. He fantasies that the woman possesses a penis, and thus overcomes his castration anxiety, and identifies himself with this phallic woman.”  He does note that for ’normal’ men, the desire to dress as female is widely catered for vicariously in public entertainment. He discusses that there are also "men" who seek an operation to “change their sex”. This is possible for anatomical hermaphrodites, but “this is very far from changing the sex of an individual with normal organs, and such an operation is of course impossible”. The word “transsexual” is not used at all. Those who express the “delusion” of becoming the opposite sex “are invariably psychotic”.  Female cross-dressing is merely a part of lesbianism which is merely the normal schoolgirl crush for another female extended into adulthood because of a shortage of men or because of emotional immaturity.

20 November: John Randell from Charing Cross Hospital gave a paper at the Royal Medico-Psychological Association in London on aversion therapy for homosexuality. He had intended to include a film on the topic but was advised that it might constitute obscene material, and so did not do so.

The wife of Michael Karoly (the future Charlotte Bach) died of a severe uterine haemorrhage that erupted while she and her new lover were on holiday in Germany. It then came out that she had embezzled thousands of pounds from her employer. Her son Peter died in a road accident a few weeks later. In shock Michael retreated into his wife's flat, avoided all contact and took lots of photographs of himself in his wife’s clothes.

Commercially successful female impersonator, Danny La Rue opened his own club in London’s West End. La Rue was the most successful drag artiste in Britain, and among Britain’s highest paid performers in the 1960s. His act emphasised that he is a man in drag with giveaway comments, and, in the old tradition, his wig came off at the end.

Through the 1960s the number of pubs doing drag increased. Roy Alvis had been in the forces drag shows after WWII, but when that dried up in the mid-1950s he became a meat porter at Smithfield Market. He returned to doing drag, although he was arrested by the police for doing so more than once.  Alvis and O'Dell are credited with being the first act to mime to records – they chose Susan Maughan singing Bobby's Girl, a 1962 single that went to number 3 in the UK. Alvis and O'Dell were then one of the hottest acts in town -- until every other drag performer got a tape recorder.

Gay men had started going to drag shows in straight pubs in that that was a good way to meet other gay men.

The show Sh..' at the New Century Theatre in Notting Hill Gate featured Douglas Druce's impressive imitation of the Queen for one night only. The Lord Chamberlain oversaw theatrical censorship. The incumbent of the office, Cameron Cobbold, previously Governor of the Bank of England, actually appeared in person the next night to ensure that Druce’s scene was removed. 

The Lord Chamberlain also did not approve of any drag shows in general. Chris Shaw managed to get small all-male reviews at Kent House in Hammersmith staged by disguising them as Old Tyme Music Hall.

Mrs Shufflewick recorded her appearance at the Waterman’s Arms in the Isle of Dogs, and it was issued as an LP, Look in at the Local. This led to a career bounce. She also appeared in West End Shows; did some pantomime, and a season at Butlins Holiday Camp where she had to constrain the natural bawdiness of the act for the family audience. However she then started working the northern working men clubs where the bawdiness was encouraged. She lived in a run-down flat in Kentish Town, London where she kept scrap metal in the bath, and was proud of the fact that she had not had a bath in over 25 years.

Heterosexual drag queen Keith Moon became the drummer in The Who. As his personal assistant put it: Moonie 'frequently takes it into his head to act the ginger beer, especially if he can get hold of a dress or two'.

Jane Heap, apparently a trans man who wore men’s suits etc but never took a male name, and who had run the Gurdjieff study group in London since 1935, died of diabetes at age 81.

Micky Jacob, masculine/gender queer woman actor, novelist, memoirist, died age 80.

  • Victor Knight. “The peer and the gangster”. Daily Mirror, July 13, 1964: 1. 
  • Frank Marcus. The Killing of Sister George. The play was premiered in Bristol in April and in London in June. A character in a radio soap opera is to be killed off, and the actor who plays her is belligerent. The actor is implicitly a lesbian butch.
  • Reginald Pound. Gillies: Surgeon Extraordinary. Michael Joseph, 1964. A biography of Britain’s first sex-change surgeon.
  • C N Armstrong & A J Marshall. Intersexuality in Vertebrates Including Man. Academic Press, 1964. Armstrong proposed four criteria of sex (1) chromosomal sex (2) gonadal sex testes or ovaries (3) apparent sex: external genitalia and body form; and (4) psychological sex: psychosexuality and behaviour. Normally, all four criteria indicate the same sex; if they do not, the case is one of intersex.
  • Eric Gilbert Oakley. Man into Woman: The Amazing account of a male’s change into female, with full psychological and medical Case History and Personal Analysis Questionnaire. Walton Press, 1964. Apparently a hoax biography. It is claimed that Juliet Griffiths, a big nightclub star otherwise unknown to history, had a sex change operation in Casablanca in 1950, before contracting cancer of the neo-vagina. She drowned herself at age 30. Analysis.
  • Anthony Storr. Sexual Deviation. Penguin Books. 1964.
  • Mrs Shufflewick. Look in at the Local. LP 1964.
  • Jean Fredericks. Recitals are a Drag. LP 1964
  • Susan Maughan. Sentimental Susan. LP 1964. Arranged by Wally Stott (the future Angela Morley). 
  • Harry Secombe. Film Favourites LP 1964. Arranged by Wally Stott. 


Alice Purnell, Alga Campbell from Dublin, Giselle, a US expatriate, and Sylvia Carter, members of the European chapter of Virginia Prince’s FPE, met in 1965 and agreed to found the Beaumont Society (named after the 18th century transgender pioneer). The membership numbering was started at 100 (which was assigned to Alice), and then issued back and forth from that to give the impression of greater membership. Initially there were almost as many overseas members as in the UK, with some in Malaysia, Kenya and other parts of the Commonwealth. Alice became the overseas contact person because of her French. Regional contacts were appointed but were often the only member in their region.

The Charing Cross Hospital surgeon Lennox Broster died age 77.

September: Peter Stirling was still living as a woman. She was arrested on Westminster Bridge by two police constables who assumed that she was a man in drag, an assumption quickly dropped when they arrived at the well-lit Canon Row Police Station. 

Peki d’Oslo from Le Carrousel had become Amanda and was studying at St Martin’s College of Art in London. She became acquainted with musicians Marianne Faithfull and Keith Moon. Desiring a UK passport she and April went to a pub in Notting Hill and found a Mr Lear, a Scottish architecture student, who was willing to wed Amanda for ₤50. Mr Lear was dumped right after the ceremony, but Amanda has kept his name to this day.

Jean Fredericks featured in the first issue of London Life magazine.

John Osborne's A Patriot For Me at the Royal Court Theatre, was banned because of the drag ball scene. The Theatre became a private theatre club to continue the performance. 

Kenneth Tynan, on 13 November, on a BBC late-night satirical show, was asked about sexual intercourse on the stage and replied: “Well, I think so, certainly. I doubt if there are any rational people to whom the word 'fuck' would be particularly diabolical, revolting or totally forbidden. I think that anything which can be printed or said can also be seen." This was the first speaking of 'fuck' on British television. The BBC issued an apology, there were four separate censure motions in the House of Commons and Christian morality campaigner, Mary Whitehouse, wrote to the Queen that Tynan should have "his bottom spanked" (which of course he would have enjoyed).

Chris Shaw performed in the West End in The It Girl for six months.

The Black Cap pub in Camden had been first licensed in 1751 and was originally called the Mother Black Cap, after a local witch. By 1965 the Black Cap was a well-known gay pub.

The Lord Ranelagh pub in Earl’s Court had been encouraging local transvestites to come and perform. This evolved into the Queen of the Month contest. This continued until May 1965 when the show was denounced in the News of the World. This resulted in the pub being so crowded that the audience spilled out onto the pavement, and the police closed the show. The pub was later renamed The Bromptons. 

Julian and Sandy” was a regular in the BBC radio comedy show Round the Horne, starting with episode four of the first series and continuing to the end of the fourth and last in 1968. Their use of a simplified Polari (the gay underground argot) identified the characters as gay to those in the know, and introduced Polari to a mass audience for the first time. 

William Burroughs on a trip to London stayed at Hotel Rushmore at 11 Trebovir Road in Earl’s Court. There was a circle of transvestites known as “the Maids” who all lived at the Rushmore. They were called Babs, Carlotta, and Scotch Agnes. There was no bar, but Benson ran a sort of salon in his parlor, featuring the Maids. The owner, Jeffrey Benson, was always referred to as Madame. And Madame’s acquaintanceships were always very wide and varied. And Madame was always the same, in sort of half drag, very painted up, falsies. Very sure of what he thought was the best kind of life to lead.

In December Roy Jenkins was appointed Home Secretary. He would hold the position until November 1967. During these two years he oversaw as direct government policy or by encouraging a private member's bill several important social reforms: the end of capital punishment, the legalisation of abortion, the implementation of the Wolfenden recommendations re homosexuality, the end of flogging in prisons, no-fault divorce, the end of the Lord Chamberlain’s censorship of the theatre, the ban on racial discrimination in employment – the last three were passed as legislation under his successor as Home Secretary, James Callaghan.

  • R. B Ball. Transsexualism. M.D. Thesis, University of Newcastle upon Tyne. 1965. Ball started as an assistant to CN Armstrong. His first trans patient was an Australian living in England, who had a brief, moderately successful career as an entertainer and then settled down to domestic anonymity.
  • JC Baker. “Behaviour therapy for transvestism”. British Journal of Psychiatry, 11, 1965. 
  • “This show must not go on”. News of the World, May 1965. A denunciation of the The Lord Ranelagh pub in Earl’s Court.
  • Bryan Forbes (dir & scr). King Rat. Based on the novel by James Clavell, with George Segal, Tom Courtenay, James Fox. UK 134 mins 1965. The episodes featuring Sean Jennison who plays women in the POW camp theatre and comes to identify as a woman were in the script from the beginning, but at a late stage, Columbia Pictures executives finally realized that they were present, and Sean was completely removed from the film.
  • Terence Young (dir) Thunderball. Scr: Richard Maibaum & John Hopkins, based on the novel by Ian Fleming, with Sean Connery as James Bond and Rose Alba/Bob Simmons as Madame Boitier. UK 130 mins 1965. In the opening segment Bond attacks the widow of a Spectre boss, but as the fight develops it becomes apparent that it is the husband in drag. This is a casting cheat in that a woman plays the part until the fight starts and is then replaced by a man in a similar dress.
  • Gerald Thomas (dir). Carry on Cowboy. UK 93 mins 1965. With Richard O’Brien as a stunt rider (uncredited)


After an initial meeting in Hampstead, the first full meeting of the Beaumont Society was held in Southampton in 1966 with 12 in attendance including two wives.

David Burgess who had been born in Castleford, West Yorkshire and educated in Skipton, went to Cambridge in 1966. Then he became a lawyer in London working for immigrants and trans persons. Burgess would also be known as Sonia. 

The future Alice Purnell, a co-founder of the Beaumont Society, had been attending the Charing Cross Hospital Gender Clinic under the care of Dr Randell, and was offered surgery. However Purnell married a second wife instead.

Michael Karoly (the future Charlotte Bach) was charged with 13 offenses of obtaining credit under false pretences, and trading as a psychologist without disclosing that he was an undischarged bankrupt under another name. He was jailed for three months.

9 April 1966. A two-page summary of the then professional view of transsexuality was published in the British Medical Journal in 1966, just a few months before Harry Benjamin’s The Transsexual Phenomenon, and three years after Georgina Turtle's Over the Sex Border (which is not mentioned). “The sincerity and conviction with which these people describe their predicament has inclined many physicians who have studied the disorder to regard transsexualism as an inborn tendency, but the men patients show no chromosomal abnormality and in every possible measure are anatomically and physiologically male. … Psychotherapy is at best supportive for these patients, behaviour therapy of unproved value, and the indications for surgical operation often based on opinion rather than facts. Many transsexual men achieve a real sense of contentment for the first time if, despite the social and administrative problems, they can live and work as a woman. … Some maintain that operation is the most effective means of treatment available, yet the evidence is by no means clear.” 

In the House of Commons Conservative MP Humphrey Berkeley introduced a bill to legalise male homosexual relations along the lines of the Wolfenden report. Berkeley was well known to his colleagues as a homosexual, and was unpopular. His Bill passed a second reading by 164 to 107 on 11 February, but fell when Parliament was dissolved soon after. Unexpectedly, Berkeley lost his seat in the 1966 general election, and ascribed his defeat to the unpopularity of his bill on homosexuality.  He later became a candidate for the Labour Party.

The Labour Government whose majority had been reduced to only 2 after a by-election, called a snap election for 31 March, and was returned with a majority of 98. 

Richard Green who had worked with John Money and Robert Stoller, was awarded a one-year fellowship at the Maudsley Hospital London. He became friends with Yoko Ono, and part of his anatomy appears in her film, Bottoms. He also socialised with John Randell: Green later commented: “He had a home and family in North London. But he also had a flat in Central London. One evening, as we were preparing to go out for drinks and dinner at his club, he went to the wardrobe to get his coat. There were many dresses on hangers. 'A woman stays here sometimes' he explained. I thought he had a mistress. I did not realize that they were his dresses."

Entrepreneurs Ray Jackson and Eric Lindsay had taken over Annie’s Room, a nightclub in Russell St. They contracted with prominent female impersonator Sonne Teale that she would have a third share in a new club to be called Sonne Teale’s. While renovations were being done to the building, Sonne headlined in a Carrousel tour of Japan. However she and three other performers were killed in a plane crash leaving Tokyo on 4 February.  Jackson and Lindsay were devastated, but were able to recruit Ricky Renée who had been working at the Chez Nous in Berlin for some years, having made Berlin his home. Lindsay phoned and offered the same deal to Ricky that Sonne would have had. Ricky accepted.

King Shaw productions started the drag shows at the Vauxhall Tavern in south London; they put on Holiday Showboat at The Playhouse Theatre in Jersey for three years; they organized drag balls at various London town halls.

Last Exit to Brooklyn, a US novel by Hugh Selby Jr, with several trans characters was published in the UK in January 1966. It sold 14,000 copies. Blackwell’s Oxford bookshop complained about its contents, but no action was taken. Cyril Black, Conservative MPP for Wimbledon, brought a private prosecution at Marlborough Street, and all copies within the jurisdiction of the court, roughly Soho, were to be seized. It turned out that no bookseller in the area had a copy but three were found at the publisher and taken. The book continued to be published and sold everywhere else in Britain, so the public prosecutor did bring criminal charges under Section 2 of the Obscene Publications Act of 1964. The jury was all male – because women "might be embarrassed at having to read a book which dealt with homosexuality, prostitution, drug-taking and sexual perversion”. After a nine-day trial, a guilty verdict was returned on 23 November. The judgement was appealed in 1968.

  • Hugh Selby Jr. Last Exit to Brooklyn. Calder & Boyers, 1966
  • “Transsexuality”. British Medical Journal, 9 April, 873,1 1966. Online.
  • Georgina Turtle. “Transsexuality”. British Medical Journal, 9 July 1966: 116. Online
  • “Sex change”. Horizon, BBC, 24 October 1966. The program was prompted by the withdrawal of the Press sisters from international athletics. This was the first appearance of a "sex changeling" person on a medical program on British television. Georgina Somerset was invited following her letter to the British Medical Journal. She gave up a day in her surgery, cancelling a full appointment book, to go to Television Centre, and gave a forty-minute filmed interview. However only a minute of her interview was broadcast, and she was afterwards informed that she had said more than the BBC was prepared to screen.
  • Colin Spencer. Poppy, Mandragora and the New Sex. Anthony Blond, 1966. Described variously as a ‘larky romp’ and a ‘satirical black comedy’ . The evil Dr Berriman uses rare plants to intensify the effect of female hormones. He gives this treatment to gay men released from prison, and marries then off to the upper classes. An English Myra Breckinridge that came out two years earlier. Review. Review of Spencer’s autobiography 45 years later.

  • Chris Shaw & Arthur Oates. A Pictorial History of the Art of Female Impersonation. King-Shaw Productions. 1966.  Online
  • Bill MacIlwraith. The Anniversary. With Mona Washbourne as Mrs Taggart and James Coussins as Henry. The play, after first being performed at the Theatre Royal, Brighton had a long run at the Duke of York's Theatre in the West End. A dysfunctional family in the construction business. We are told that Henry is a transvestite, but never see him in a dress, but we do see him stealing female underwear from washing lines. 
  • Guy Hamilton (dir). Funeral in Berlin. Scr: Evan Jones based on the novel by Len Deighton, with Michael Caine as Harry Palmer. UK 102 mins 1966. The film features several symbolic gender swaps, and has scenes in a Berlin drag bar, Chez Nous, which if you were there at the right time featured Coccinelle, Capucine, Sonne Teal, Ricky Renée, Amanda Lear, Tobi Marsh – but none of these were in the film: the trans women in the film are very obvious.
  • Peter Glenville (dir). Hotel Paradiso. UK 98 mins 1966. With Douglas Bing, a female impersonator who did the first drag show on television in March 1938, in a straight role.
Have you seen your mother, Baby
  • September - The Rolling Stones 'Have You Seen Your Mother Baby, Standing in the Shadow?'.  a 45 single.  The band dressed in drag as World War II army nurses for the photograph that accompanied the single.
  • The Who. “I’m a boy”. August 1966. A 45 single from the never completed opera, Quads, set in a future where parents choose the sex of their children. A mistake is made and a boy is being raised as a girl, and his objections to his parents are being ignored.
  • Harry Secombe. Italian serenade. LP 1966. Arranged by Wally Stott. 


Justice Ormrod declared that in the case of Talbot (otherwise Poyntz) v. Talbot the husband, John Talbot, was a woman and that their marriage was not permitted under British law.

MP Leo Abse introduced the Sexual Offences Bill 1967 as a Private Member's Bill supported by the Home Secretary Roy Jenkins.

The Abortion Act passed legalising abortions on certain grounds by registered practitioners, and regulating the tax-paid provision of such medical practices through the NHS. The bill was introduced as a Private Member’s Bill by David Steel, a Liberal MP, and supported by the Home Secretary Roy Jenkins.

The soon-to-be Charlotte Bach placed an advert in the New Statesman claiming to be a psychologist seeking transvestites, and got a dozen replies. One was from the person who would transition as Della Aleksander, but who at that time was a novice. Michael Karoly (Bach’s male persona) acted as male escort for several of his new contacts, and started a book, Man and/or Woman: A Comprehensive Study of the ‘Tammuz Complex’ (Transvestism), using the anecdotes of his new contacts. He also started to go out dressed as Charlotte. At the same time, as Michael, he took his last female lover. Through Della, Charlotte was able to obtain female hormones, although she persuaded herself that living as a woman in itself altered her hormones. Her method of coping with being read was to engage the person in conversation, and to repeat the story of how her husband and son had died. From 1968, Charlotte was more or less living full-time as female. The major exceptions were signing on for unemployment pay, and Michael the psychologist’s one paying client.

The future Anita Verig Sandor had come to the UK during the 1956 Hungarian Uprising and had tried, as society said that he should, to live as a man. As such he had married a French women, and they had two sons. They were divorced in 1967, with the wife retaining custody of the children. Anita returned to living as a woman.

The future Rachel Webb consulted with the Maudsley Hospital in London and started taking female hormones. However he married a woman, they had two children and he stopped taking the hormones. Webb did not restart until 1978.

The future Janine Roberts was ordained, and started a B.Sc in sociology at the London School of Economics.

Chris Shaw did a tour of South Africa and Rhodesia called Boys Will Be Girls. He fell in love with a Rhodesian man, sold his half of the agency and his house in London. He opened a nightclub in Salisbury (now Harare) and brought out top cabaret acts from the UK. However as the struggle for Zimbabwean independence developed, Chris moved to Cape Town in South Africa,

Michael Karoly wrote to the prominent female impersonators Danny La Rue and Ricky Renée for advice on cross dressing.

Gillian Freeman published a pioneer survey of pornography and some other literature, such as it was at the time: The Undergrowth of Literature. It includes two chapters on trans topics. The transvestite chapter is based mainly on Turnabout (New York) and Justice Weekly (Toronto) and forced femininity fiction. The transsexual chapter includes the British Medical Journal April 1966 summary of the condition, Geoff Brown’s novel I Want What I Want, and the stars at Le Carrousel, although there is no mention at all of April Ashley or of Dr Burou or of the Charing Cross clinic.

The Sexual Offences Act 1967, decriminalised homosexual acts between two men over 21 years of age in private, excluding the armed forces and the merchant navy, and hotel rooms were not ‘private’ for the purposes of this Act.  It was debated 4 July, and received Royal Assent on 27 July.  Enoch Powell and Margaret Thatcher were among the MPs who voted for it, a coalition of left-wing libertarians and right-wing libertarians.  Passage of the Act was followed by a surge in the number of arrests for 'indecency between males' where the restrictions were not observed . Although transsexuality or change of sex was not mentioned in either the new Wolfenden Report or in the Act, it was thought and said by some that sex changes were now legal.

From May to December an in-camera case in Scotland was taking place at the same time which should have established the rights of transsexuals to be registered as their target sex, and as such would have been an obvious supplement to the Sexual Offences Act. However almost all information about the case was kept secret and there were no press reports of the conclusion. See Callaghan and Ewan Forbes December 1968.

  • John Berger and Jean Mohr. A Fortunate Man; the Story of a Country Doctor. Writers and Readers Publishing Cooperative 1967:56. The doctor had been called because a housewife was bleeding from below. The doctor is surprised to find male organs when he examines her, but as they are irrelevant to the condition, nothing is said of them. The trouble is severe piles.
  • Pink Floyd. “Arnold Layne”, written by Syd Barrett. 45 single, Columbia, 1967. About a closeted transvestite who steals women’s underwear from clothes lines. Wikipedia
  • David Palmer (the future Dee Palmer) for the first time produced an LP, Nicola, by Bert Jansch.
  • Gillian Freeman: The Undergrowth of Literature. Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1967, Panther 1969. 
  • Ricky Renee’s Club London closed.
  • Quick Change Artist. 3 min Pathé film, with Ricky Renee. UK 1967. Online
  • Scott Walker. Scott. LP 1967. 5 tracks arranged and conducted by Wally Stott. 
  • John Huston et al (dir). Casino Royale. UK 131 mins 1967. With Richard O’Brien as a stuntman.



  • Gillian Freeman: The Undergrowth of Literature. Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1967.
  • Kris Kirk with photographs by Ed Heath. Men In Fr London: Gay Men's Press 1984.
  • Peter Stirling. So Different: an Extraordinary Autobiography. Simon & Schuster 1989.
  • Alkarim Jivani. It’s Not Unusual: A History of Gay Britain in the Twentieth Century. Indiana Press, 1997.
  • John Pearson. “The Lords of the Underworld”. The Independent, 15 June 1997. Online.
  • Colin Wilson. The Misfits: A Study of Sexual Outsiders. Grafton Books,1988.
  • Francis Wheen. Who was Dr Charlotte Bach? Short Books, 2002.
  • Pierre-Henri Castel. Chronologie et bibliographie représentative du transsexualisme et des pathologies de l'identité sexuelle de 1910 à 1998.Online.
  • Tommy Dickinson. ‘Curing Queers’: Mental nurses and their patients, 1935-74. Manchester University Press, 2015.
  • Michael Bloch. C10set Queens: Some 20th Century British Politicians. Abacus, 2015.
  • Zoe Playdon. “Who’s Offensive Now? Trans law at the time of the Sexual Offences Act. SEXing the Past. 3-5 March 2017. 
  • Haydon Bridge. “The Mysterious East: East London has generally kept its gay history secret … until now”. QX London Gay History. Online.
  • Haydon Bridge. “Go West, Young man: Pretty and fashionable – West London is just like the gay men who’ve lived there!”. QX London Gay History. Online.
  • Haydon Bridge. “Northern Exposure: For London’s newest gay village and most famous cruising ground head north …” QX London Gay History. Online.

Trans London in the 1960s: part III - 1968-1971

Part I: 1960-3
Part III: 1968-71
Part IV: comments


After a long wait, during which Peter Stirling had worked as a female bus conductor and a store detective, her divorce became final, she had her hysterectomy, started taking male hormones, started wearing male clothes. He took the name 'Peter' which his mother had said would have been his name if born male. The hospital arranged for a national insurance card, medical card and tax form in his new name, and also arranged for the Australian High Commission to issue a new passport, but the High Commission informed them that birth certificates were never altered. Mrs Branch commented: “[This] I think is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard! It's a pity you weren't British, there would be no hassle here.” Peter married co-worker Jennifer in an Anglican Church.

Private Eye magazine jested that if Morris were invited to a function 'dressed informally', it was Jan who was expected. With the support of wife Elizabeth, Morris lived as a woman in Oxford, but travelled the British Empire androgynously, sometimes being taken as male, and sometimes as female. Jan was issued a new passport 'without any indication of sex at all'. Word of course got around. Morris' old tutor at Christ Church College had heard from a colleague at Harvard before being told directly. Some in London knew of Jan but others only of James. At their other home in Pwllheli, Gwynedd in North Wales, Jan and Elizabeth presented as sisters-in-law to explain why two women had the same surname.

Despite having completed transition, ventriloquist and magician Terri Rogers appeared in the drag review Boys Will be Girls at the Theatre Royal Stratford East.

Jean Fredericks and Ron Storme started to organize five or more drag balls a year in London, mainly at the Porchester Hall. Legend has it that gangsters, the Krays, had suggested what turned into the drag balls.

The future Petra Henderson had a short gig as a DJ/news reader on a pirate radio station under the name Anne Kennedy.

Charlotte Bach was more or less living full-time as female.

David Palmer was introduced to the band Jethro Tull and did orchestral arrangements for them.

Grant Williams, urologist, joined the staff at Charing Cross. He would later object to transgender surgery.

27 April: The Abortion Act came into effect.

May: the Kray twins and their associates were finally arrested, and interviewed separately until one agreed to co-operate. The operation was conducted by Detective Chief Superintendent Nipper Read after a new Police Commissioner was in place, and Read insisted on conducting the entire operation away from Scotland Yard itself. The trial was in March 1969. Both twins were found guilty and sentenced to a non-parole period of 30 years – the longest sentences ever passed. Ronnie died in prison; Reggie was released in 2000 and died a few weeks later.

July: Lord Chamberlain's authority to license plays was finally abolished by the Theatres Act, 1968. The London premiere of the musical Hair was delayed until this was in effect.

December: James Callaghan directed that Ewan Forbes be entered in the Roll of Baronets. Ewan Forbes was to assume the Scottish Baronetcy after the death of his elder brother in 1965. His cousin, John Alexander Cumnock Forbes-Semphill, had contested the inheritance on the grounds that Ewan was female. The court case in May 1967 was technically in the Scottish Court of Session, although held in a solicitor’s office and no papers were filed. The result was that Forbes inherited the title and the estate. No decision or judgement was ever issued, and no Press report of the case was therefore possible. The case was then referred to the Home Secretary (the future Prime Minister), James Callaghan in London. Callaghan, after consulting with the Lord Advocate, directed in December 1968 that Ewan should be entered in the Roll of Baronets as The 11th Baronet of Craigievar and The 20th Lord Semphill, Sir Ewan Forbes of Craigievar. All public records of these events were removed, although knowledge survives in newspaper archives. The case was not available as a legal precedent – in particular April Ashley’s barrister in Corbett vs Corbett was forbidden to mention it. The Statement to the press was simply: 

"In an effort to settle the dispute Dr Forbes and his cousin agreed to make use of the summary procedure available under Section 10 of the Administration of Justice (Scotland) Act. 1933. and to petition the Court Session for a finding as to whether Mr John Forbes-Sempill was the heir-male. After evidence had been heard in Chambers the court found that- Mr Forbes-Sempill was not the heir-male."


An appeal against the ban on Last Exit to Brooklyn was issued by the writer John Mortimer and resulted in a reversal of the ruling. This, following the trial of Lady Chatterley’s Lover some years earlier, led to a relaxation in British censorship of books.

Gaiety Box Revue, produced by Jack Lawrence, with drag artists Rogers & Starr and Larry Grayson. It ran 3 months at Stratford East.

  • “Sir Ewan gets the verdict: on the roll as eleventh baronet”. The Press and Journal, December 4, 1968: 1.
  • May –The Beatles: “Ob La Di, Ob La Da“ track on the White Album. " Desmond stays at home and does his pretty face/ And in the evening she's a singer with the band."Wikipedia
  • James Morris. Pax Britannica: The Climax of Empire. Faber and Faber, 1968. Published under Jan’s male name, although she had started transition.
  • Roy Ward Baker (dir). The Anniversary. Scr: Jimmy Sangster, based on the play by Bill MacIlwraith, with Bette Davis as Mrs Taggart and James Cossins as Henry. UK Hammer 95 mins 1968. A dysfunctional family in the construction business. As in the stage version, we are told that Henry is a transvestite, but never see him in a dress, but we do see him stealing female underwear from washing lines. Wikipedia.
  • Robert Aldrich (dir) The Killing of Sister George. Scr: Lukas Heller based on the play by Frank Marcus, with Beryl Reid. US 138 mins 1968. The radio soap has become a television soap. A very British story filmed in Los Angeles. The lesbian content is much more explicit and includes scenes in the real Gateway nightclub, Chelsea. Wikipedia
  • Roger Baker. Drag: a History of Female Impersonation on the Stage. Triton Books, 1968. The performativity end of the spectrum. Features tales of impersonators who later transitioned, but also many who did not.
  • Donald Zec. “Well, there was this railwayman called Yvonne ..: Donald Zec looks at the Drag trade”. Daily Mirror, September 26, 1968: 9.
  • Quentin Crisp. The Naked Civil Servant. Jonathan Cape, 1968. Autobiography of a flamboyant gender queer, definitely not homonormative, who was flouting gender norms as early as the 1930s. The book would be filmed in 1975 and make him into a media star.
  • Scott Walker. Scott 2. LP 1968. 3 tracks arranged and conducted by Wally Stott(the future Angela Morley), including the single “Jackie” which contains ‘authentic queers and phony virgins’ and which was banned by the BBC.
  • Shirley Bassey. Love for Sale. LP 1968. Arranged by Wally Stott.
  • Jethro Tull. This Was. LP 1968. French horn and orchestral arrangements by David Dee Palmer.


January: a medical article in the doctors' weekly newspaper, Pulse International, compared Georgina Somerset to Christine Jorgensen as being transsexual, "implying that I was homosexual, would have had breast implants, electrolysis and was probably not legally married, I had no choice but to instigate libel proceedings for, indeed, all these premises were totally false". The proceedings continued for two years.

January: The photograph of the engagement of Dawn Langley Hall and John-Paul Simmons in Charleston, South Carolina was printed on the front page of the News of the World. The Wedding was international news featured in The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Express and the Sussex Express. The People paid her ₤3750 for a series on her life, and supported her claim to have been examined by a Harley Street surgeon (Dawn later said that this was Dr Elliot Phillip) who said that she had been wrongly sexed at birth and was capable of becoming pregnant. She was also on radio and television in the UK and Canada, but not in the US where her story was too hot. Margaret Rutherford enabled a blessing of their marriage in an Anglican church in Hastings, Kent.

25-7 July. The First International Symposium on Gender Identity was held at the Piccadilly Hotel. It was sponsored and organized by the Erikson Educational Foundation (EEF) and the Albany Trust. This symposium brought together various London hospitals that had trans patients, with similar specialists from other countries. Arguments arose between the team from Chelsea Women's Hospital who regarded transsexuals as a form of intersex, and the team from Charing Cross Hospital who regarded them as having a psychological disorder. The only known trans persons in attendance were Reed Erickson and Virginia Prince, both from the US. The program for the symposium reported the situation in Britain as follows: “The treatment of transsexuals has also been undertaken by specialising teams of psychiatrists, physicians and surgeons but there is as yet no permanent gender identity unit” – despite the clinic At Charing Cross Hospital having been functioning since the 1930s.

Papers given:

CJ Dewhurst Opening Address

Peter Scott (Maudsley Hospital) “Clinical Aspects and Introduction”

John Randell (Charing Cross Hospital) “Indications for Sex Reassignment Surgery”

Fred Oremland (Los Angeles) “Surgical and Psychiatric Treatment in Private Practice of Transsexuals in California”.

Margaret Branch (Guy’s Hospital), “Social Aspects of Transsexualism”

Richard Green (UCLA Medical Center) “Transsexualism and Sex Reassignment. The Diagnosis and Treatment of Gender Identity Disorders during Childhood”.

John Money (Johns Hopkins Hospital) “The Transsexual’s Female Image. Male Partners are not Homosexual”.

David Green (Manchester lawyer) “Gender Identity. Some Legal Problems”.

Zelda Suplee (EEF) and Doreen Cordell (Albany Trust) “Private problems and Public Attitudes”.


After reading about the symposium in The Times, Mark Rees contacted the Albany Trust, which passed him onto Dr Randell, at first at his Harley Street Rooms for a fee, and then at the Charing Cross Clinic on the NHS.

Della Aleksander had been a teacher in Bermuda when started taking female hormones, and was paid to resign. She had then returned to England became a patient at Charing Cross Hospital. Through Charlotte Bach she came to know the writer Colin Wilson and visited Wilson’s home. While Wilson learned much from her, he concentrated on Bach in his books, and reduced Aleksander to a footnote.

Virginia Prince visited the Beaumont Society. She visited members in Scotland and Leicester, and there was a formal dinner in London with 9 members and three wives.

November-December: the main hearings of Corbett vs Corbett. Arthur Corbett was tired of his marriage to April Ashley, and sought to have it declared void ab initio. Roger Ormrod, doctor and lawyer, presided. As Ashley had not had her birth certificate amended, she was legally male, and nullification could easily ensue. However, despite her freely admitting that she was transsexual, she was medically examined by three doctor-professors for the plaintiff and three for her defence (despite she being on legal aid). Although some of the doctors and lawyers knew about the 1965 Ewan Forbes case, Ashley’s lawyer was strictly warned that it was not to be mentioned.  In many ways the event was a show-trial to establish that the aristocrat Ewan Forbes and the commoner April Ashley were not of a kind.  

November: Dawn Langley Hall and her husband were in England, and got a lot more press attention than the concurrent Corbett vs Corbett trial.

Mrs Shufflewick was the star of an ‘adult pantomime’ in Brighton called Sinderella, but the police closed it after two nights because of complaints about the material. That year her male persona, Rex, met David, a labourer in his 30s who would stay with him until his death in 1983.

The Black Cap pub in Camden was becoming known for its drag-queen cabaret.

Petra Henderson, then 15, worked in pirate radio broadcasting on and off the Isle of Wight. She dressed as a hippy chick and on the air was Anne Kennedy, the only female on the station. During a police raid she and four others escaped in that the police found four men and a boy when they were looking for several men and a woman.

Campaign for Homosexual Equality (CHE) formed as the first British gay activist group.

The Divorce Reform Act passed. Couples were able to divorce after they had been separated for two years if they both desired a divorce, or five years if only one wanted a divorce. 

David Raven and James Court founded the Trollettes.

Danny La Rue did a Royal Command Performance.

Danny La Rue appeared in a film version of Charley’s Aunt,

Noted choreographer Frederick Ashton did his dame performance in the film Cinderella.

Cavalcade of Drag at the Horseshoe Hotel, Tottenham Court Road, 1 April, with Bobbie Kimber (returning after an absence of eight years), Roy Rolland’s Old Mother Riley, Terry Bartlett and others.

Kenneth Tynan created the stage show Oh! Calcutta! With sex and nudity (and Tony Blair's future father-in-law, Anthony Booth, in the cast), it became one of the longest running shows both in the West End and on Broadway. (The title is a bilingual pun from O quel cul t’as = ‘what a lovely bottom you have’)

Patrick Clarkson, the New Zealand surgeon had specialised in hand surgery, and did one sex-change operation, that of Georgina Turtle in 1957 - no doubt drawing on the experience of his colleague Harold Gillies. He died age 58.

  • John B. Randell. "Preoperative and Postoperative Status of Male and Female Transsexuals" in Richard Green & John Money (eds), Transsexualism and Sex Reassignment, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1969.
  • January - The Beatles “Get Back” . Single and then on the Let it Be LP. “Sweet Loretta Martin thought she was a woman/ But she was another man/ All the girls around her say she's got it coming/ But she gets it while she can”
  • July – The Beatles. “ Polythene Pam” a track on the Abbey Road album. “Well you should see Polythene Pam/ She's so good-looking but she looks like a man/ Well you should see her in drag/ Dressed in her polythene bag/ Yes you should see Polythene Pam/ Yeah, yeah, yeah”. Wikipedia.
  • July – The Rolling Stones. “Honky Tonk Women’ a 45 single. “I met a gin soaked, bar-room queen in Memphis/ She tried to take me upstairs for a ride/ She had to heave me right across her shoulder/ cause I just can’t seem to drink you off my mind … She blew my nose and then she blew my mind”.Wikipedia
  • Brigit Brophy. In Transit: An Heroicycle Novel. Evelyn Hillary, called Pat is in transit at an airport, but has forgotten which sex s/he is. Review.
  • Joseph McGrath (dir) The Magic Christian. Scr: Terry Southern & Joseph McGrath, with additional material by Graham Chapman, John Cleese & Peter Sellers, based on the novel by Terry Southern, with Peter Sellers as Sir Guy Grand and Ringo Starr as Youngman Grand. The only film that has cameos by Beatles, Goons and Monty Pythons. Famous for its uncredited sequence where the female singer being watched by film director Roman Polanski is revealed to be Yul Brynner. UK 92 mins 1969.
  • Stanley Donan (dir). Staircase, scr: Charles Dyer, with Rex Harrison and Richard Burton. UK 96 mins 1969. Wikipedia. 2 cishet stars attempt to show how liberal they are by playing an aging and bickering gay couple, one of whom is about to go on trial for dressing as female in public. Set in the East End of London but shot in Paris. 
  • Scott Walker. Scott 3. LP 1969. All but 2 tracks arranged and conducted by Wally Stott.
  • James Hill (dir). Captain Nemo and the Underwater City, with music by Wally Stott. UK 105 mins 1969.
  • Jethro Tull. Stand Up. LP 1968. String arrangements and conducting by David Dee Palmer.


January: Guy’s Hospital hosted an international convention on sex conditions. Peter Stirling was interviewed by a panel of doctors.

2 February: final hearing of Corbett vs Corbett. The decision was not rendered until a year later.

Charlotte Bach changed her name by deed poll in 1970. She started writing the enormously long Homo Mutans, Homo Luminens which presents the transsexual urge as the key to human evolution, but could not interest any publishers. She also wrote an autobiographical novel Fiona which also has never been published. Charlotte started giving weekly talks in a friend’s flat. One of her acolytes, Don Smith, produced several pamphlets on Bach’s ideas, each of which sold between 500 and 1,000 copies. She was several times invited to speak to gay and lesbian groups. She wrote to television programs and the science editors of The Times offering her assistance, but was not taken up. She wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury to advise him that god is a human invention.

Della Aleksander, who had been seeing Dr Randell at Charing Cross, had completion surgery in Casablanca instead.

Sociologist David Riddell, married and with a daughter, was a lecturer at the University of Lancaster, when he co-authored Approaching Sociology: A Critical Introduction, 1970, a work inspired by humanist Marxism, symbolic interactionism, phenomenological sociology and ethno-methodology. Two years later Riddell completed transition to Carol with surgery from Dr Georges Burou in Casablanca. She was in the clinic there the same time as Jan Morris. The revised edition of Approaching Sociology in 1972 names the co-author as Carol S. Riddell.

Wally Stott, by then a widower, met a female singer and they married in May. The second wife was a major support as Wally became Angela Morley with surgery from Dr Burou in Casablanca a few weeks after the marriage.

The Gay Liberation Front (GLF) was established at London School of Economics on 13 October. At first there was no drag. Later "It started with jellabas and kaftans and long hair and flowers ... then we discovered glitter ... and the nail varnish. Later some of us - a quarter of the men, I'd say, at some time or other - would get a nice new frock for the next Gay Lib dance. Then a few people began wearing it to meetings. It just evolved." -- Michael James.

Two old-fashioned books were published together.

  • Gilbert Oakley. Sex change and dress deviation. London: Morntide, 1970. Review.
  • Desmond Montmorency. The Drag Scene: The Secrets of Female Impersonators. London: Luxor Press, 1970.

Both books are the same size and shape, both are predominantly yellow and both have a partial title but no author on the spine. One is published by Morntide and the other by Luxor. However both Morntide and Luxor give their address as 50 Alexandria Road, London SW19. 

Oakley was the author of the hoax trans biography, Man into Woman, 1964, and several books on self confidence and psychology. He was also a stage female impersonator. Offers a typology and concludes: “From his observations, the author is convinced that the transvestite is far happier than the trans-sexual. Life is by no means so complex, so painful, or so embarrassing for them. The future is not obscured by a mist of hopefulness and doubt. The best of two worlds lies within the transvestite's grasp, for he can change from male to 'female' at will. The author concludes, therefore , that the sex-change phenomenon is wholly and completely disastrous, and that medical bodies the world over are seriously at fault in encouraging it in any way when other means of therapy are surely at their disposal to help these unfortunate people." Reaches a conclusion similar to Virginia Prince without having heard of her. He also claims in his chapter 12: "it is said that at Hammersmith Hospital alone no less than twelve sex-change operations are performed every month".

Montmorency’s book is mainly a survey of drag performers in London and abroad with lots of photographs. It lists 18 pubs in London that put on drag shows. It has an entire chapter on the theatre show Birds of a Feather. It devotes another chapter to a film made that year starring Joanna Lumley and Jeremy Lloyd for which 42 well-known drag performers were recruited for the drag ball scene. He calls the film Two Girls (presumably a working title), but it was released in 1971 as Games That Lovers Play. IMDB. However none of the 42 were credited, and the drag ball scene is far less significant in the film than Montmorency makes out.

  • Dawn Langley Simmons. Man into Woman: A Transsexual Autobiography. Icon Books, 1970. The first of her three autobiographies.
  • E. Bates. The Triple Echo. Michael Joseph, 1970. Bates had struggled with this story, of a WWII army deserter who takes a female persona on a farm run by a woman, since 1943. The novel was published in instalments in the Daily Telegraph December 1969. It was released as a film in 1972.
  • The Kinks. “Lola”. 45 single, Pye, June 1970. “Michael McGrath … used to have this place in Earl's Court, and he used to invite me to all these drag queen acts and transsexual pubs. They were like secret clubs. And that's where Ray [Davies] got the idea for 'Lola'. When he was invited too, he wrote it while I was getting drunk”. “Girls will be boys, and boys will be girls/ It's a mixed-up, muddled-up, shook-up world/ Except for Lola, lo lo lo lo Lola”. Went to no. 2 in UK Singles chart. Wikipedia.
  • Jethro Tull. Benefit. LP 1968. Orchestral arrangements by David Dee Palmer
  • Paul Raymond's Birds Of A Feather, drag revue with Ricky Renee, Les Lee, Barry Scott and others., ran for only 5 weeks. The British début of Les Lee from Le Carrousel
  • Jim Clark (dir). Every Home Should Have One, with Marty Feldman, and a cameo by Gladys Shufflewick. UK 94 mins. A satire about sex in advertising and prurient opposition to it.
  • Frank Pierson. The Looking Glass War, based on the novel by John le Carré, with music by Wally Stott. UK 107 mins 1970.
  • Auriol Stevens. “The sexual misfits”. The Guardian, 7 Jan 1970. Online. Actually about Betty Cowell. It accepts her claim to be intersex. “Perhaps the change is usually from male to female because, as Roberta Cowell thinks, it is much easier to live as a woman than as a man. ‘A man must prove his masculinity and go on proving it; a woman just has to be.’ She also finds that people are much nicer, kinder and more friendly to women than to men. On the other hand it is harder she thinks for a woman to work and make a living.”


2 February: Justice Roger Ormrod finally read his judgment on Corbett vs Corbett. Arthur Corbett was found that morning in a coma at his villa in Spain and thus did not attend the hearing. Ormrod redefined legal intersex status as the discordance at birth of chromosomal, gonadal and genital sex, and only then are psychological factors to be taken into consideration. The Corbett marriage was annulled; and April’s £6 a week alimony payment was cancelled. Corbett v Corbett became case law in the UK and in Australia. The correcting of birth certificates for many intersex and all transgender persons ceased, and such persons lost the legal right to be treated as their new gender – in particular to marry a person of the now opposite gender.

April Ashley rallied by opening a restaurant just round the corner from Harrods, which was an immediate sensation, and continued to run it for five years until she had a heart attack.

Ina Barton was having problems, and passed on. April Ashley commented that she: “had recently died from a combination of booze and pills. I believe an open verdict was recorded but that's splitting hairs - in effect she killed herself.”

Caroline Cossey, then 17, started living as female, and working as a showgirl and topless dancer.

Michelle Confait was working as a trans prostitute, and in 1971 was arrested for importuning and served five months in HMP Wormwood Scrubs (a men's prison) where she was protected by and provided sexual favours to Douglas Franklin – who would murder her after release.

Rachel Pollack and her wife moved to London, and Rachel became the contact person for the Gay Liberation Front TV, TS and Drag Queen Group, and soon after was joined by Roz Kaveney.



  • Duncan Fallowell & April Ashley. April Ashley's Odyssey.Jonathan Cape, 1982. London: Arrow 1983. Online.
  • Kris Kirk with photographs by Ed Heath. Men In Frocks. Gay Men's Press 1984.
  • Peter Stirling. So Different: an Extraordinary Autobiography. Simon & Schuster 1989.
  • Alkarim Jivani. It’s Not Unusual: A History of Gay Britain in the Twentieth Century. Indiana Press, 1997.
  • John Pearson. “The Lords of the Underworld”. The independent, 15 June 1997. Online.
  • Colin Wilson. The Misfits: A Study of Sexual Outsiders. Grafton Books,1988.
  • Georgina Somerset, with a Forward by Grant Williams. A Girl Called Georgina: An Illustrated Autobiography, with Study Update. The Book Guild, 1992.
  • Francis Wheen. Who was Dr Charlotte Bach? Short Books, 2002.
  • Pierre-Henri Castel. Chronologie et bibliographie représentative du transsexualisme et des pathologies de l'identité sexuelle de 1910 à 1998.Online.
  • April Ashley with Douglas Thompson. The First Lady. Blake, 2006.
  • Zoe Playdon. “Who’s Offensive Now? Trans law at the time of the Sexual Offences Act. SEXing the Past. 3-5 March 2017. 
  • Christopher Hutton.  The Tyranny of Ordinary Meaning:  Corbett v Corbett and the Invention of Legal Sex.  Palgrave Macmillan, 2019.  
  • Haydon Bridge. “The Mysterious East: East London has generally kept its gay history secret … until now”. QX London Gay History. Online.
  • Haydon Bridge. “Go West, Young man: Pretty and fashionable – West London is just like the gay men who’ve lived there!”. QX London Gay History. Online.
  • Haydon Bridge. “Northern Exposure: For London’s newest gay village and most famous cruising ground head north …” QX London Gay History. Online.

Trans London in the 1960s: Ruminations

Part I: 1960-3
Part IV: Ruminations

Revision of Birth Certificates

It is often said that in Britain before Corbett v Corbett transsexuals as well as intersex persons could get their birth certificates re-issued.

I purposely juxtaposed Georgina Turtle and April Ashley re changing of one’s birth certificate. Georgina had to supply medical reports along with affidavits from three doctors Kenneth Walker, A.P. Cawadias and her father. Mr Clarkson, the surgeon, was also obliged to provide a report of her anatomy and Georgina had to provide written assurances that she had never been married or been capable of functioning as a male. A pretty high bar that not everyone was able to meet.

April was apparently advised (incorrectly) that birth certificates were not re-issued. 

As her marriage was to Arthur Corbett, Lord Rowallan, surely he had the clout, the contacts and the money to arrange for her birth certificate to be re-issued. Or was he planning from the beginning that without the revised birth certificate, he would be able to get the marriage annulled whenever he felt like it?

On this page on the Rachel Horsham website, you can view the original and revised birth certificates of April Ashley, Michael Dillon, Robert Cowell and Georgina Turtle. And certainly Ewan Forbes had his birth certificate re-issued. Dillon and Forbes were children of titled aristocrats; Cowell and Turtle were children of prominent medical men.

We might also note the inconsistent application of the rules. Turtle had to provide written assurances that she had never been married or been capable of functioning as a male, while Cowell had been married and had fathered two children.

There was a Scottish case in 1965 wherein a trans woman designated solely as ‘X’, "a person correctly registered as a male at birth subsequently changed sex, a petition to correct an error presented under the Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages (Scotland) Act 1854 (c80) (repealed) was refused".

I fail to find that ordinary trans persons before 1970, that is those without titles, money and/or medical and legal contacts, were actually able to obtain the revised certificate by their own effort.

We know from Peter Stirling’s autobiography that his social worker at Guy’s Hospital was outraged that the Australian High Commission refused to re-issue his birth certificate. “[This] I think is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard! It's a pity you weren't British, there would be no hassle here.” Ironically that was 1968, just before Corbett v Corbett.

Can we therefore assume that up to 1970, the clinic at Guy’s Hospital usually arranged for revised birth certificates for their clients? Was that also true for the clinic at Charing Cross Hospital? I have looked but not found confirmation.

But what about those who had private surgery, maybe in Casablanca? Jan Morris tells us of her re-issued passport, driving licence etc, but no word about a birth certificate.


Aristocratic Privilege

We have in the 1960s three examples of where having to decide between good governance and the convenience of a titled person, the authorities definitely chose the latter. The fact that Macmillan, of the publishing dynasty, and many other Conservative (and a few Labour) politicians were either born or wed into the Aristocracy was obviously a factor.

  1. Ewan Forbes, 11th Baronet of Carigievar
  2. Robert Boothby, Baron Boothby of Buchan and Rattray Head
  3. Arthur Corbett, Lord Rowallan

Contraceptive pills and the decriminalisation of Homosexuality

The contraceptive pill became available in Britain in 1961, at first just for older married women who had sufficient children, then later for younger married women who wished to delay or avoid parenthood, and finally for single women who wished to have a sex life without becoming pregnant.

There were three side results from this.

  • Heterosexual sex no longer had the threat of pregnancy. Like homosexuality it could become recreational sex. Thus the objection to homosexuality that it was not procreative fell away.
  • As women became more open to recreational sex, straight men stopped having sex with gay men.
  • The pill was an available oestrogen source. Where a trans woman could not talk her way into a prescription, non-official contraceptive pills were a way to get started. 

Peter Hitchens, previously a Trotskyite radical who later became an idiosyncratic conservative, says in his book The Abolition of Britain

“Logically, there was now no difference between sterile heterosexual sex and sterile homosexual sex. In fact, in some ways, homosexuality was the purest expression of the new doctrine that sex was fun and that we should explore our bodies and experience pleasure as self-fulfillment. Nobody who believed in pre-marital or extramarital sex could object to homosexuality without serious hypocrisy. This is why the relaxation of laws on homosexuality, first proposed in the 1950s Wolfenden Report, was delayed until the 1960s. Before the pill, the liberalization could not happen because of the distaste most people felt for homosexual acts. After the pill, the governing class had to relax the laws, because they were no longer consistent with the national mood or with their own pleasures.”

That of course is an insular British point of view. The US had the pill also but did not achieve nationwide decriminalization of gay love until Lawrence v Texas in 2003 (although Illinois and Connecticut had already liberalised their laws by the late 1960s). This would make England (not Britain or the UK as Scotland and Northern Ireland were excluded) look progressive, but actually it was a laggard in decriminalisation. Similar repeals or decriminalisations had been achieved across Europe, especially in the East before the availability of the contraceptive pill:

1932 Poland

1940 Iceland (actually under UK occupation at the time)

1942 Switzerland

1944 Sweden & Surinam

1945 Portugal

1948 Poland (repeated by the new Communist government)

1951 Greece

1956 Thailand

1961 Czechoslovakia & Hungary

1963 Israel


Roy Jenkins

Hitchens, a contrarian who regrets the social reforms of the 1960s, makes Home Secretary Roy Jenkins the villain of his book, The Abolition of Britain, but also points out the hypocrisy of the Conservative Party. He quotes Jenkins: “What is particularly hypocritical about the [Conservative] Government’s refusal to act on homosexual law reform is that none of its leading members (nor those of any other major institution in the national life) apply social disapproval to conduct which, for public consumption, they insist on keeping subject to the full rigours of the criminal law.” Jenkins also admitted that there was a ‘radical wing’ of the Conservatives that was supportive of his program. By the very nature of the Conservative Party such reform could come only from Labour – however several key Conservatives such as Thatcher and Enoch Powell did vote for the decriminalisation of Homosexuality.

Later, during the 1980s rule of Margaret Thatcher, she and her cabinet blamed Jenkins’ reforms for family breakdowns, the decline of respect for authority and the decline of social responsibility. Jenkins replied by pointing out that Thatcher, with her large parliamentary majorities, never attempted to reverse any of his reforms.


Government scandals

The Conservation Government 1951-64 was beset with sex and espionage scandals:

1951 Defection of diplomats Donald Maclean and Guy Burgess to Moscow.

1951 Sarah Macmillan, youngest child of Harold Macmillan, said to be fathered by Robert Boothby, had an illegal abortion – the family considered this a lessor scandal than an out-of-wedlock birth just before the October 1951 election. It left her unable to have children.

1956 Lionel Crabb, a diver sent by MI6 to investigate a Soviet ship visiting Portsmouth, was never seen again.

1957 At the trial of Dr John Bodkins Adams, suspected serial killer, no questions were asked about his involvement in the death of Edward Cavendish, the brother of Dorothy Macmillan. Apparently to avoid drawing attention to the fact that Prime Minister Macmillan was a cuckold. 

1958 When Harold Macmillan became Prime Minister he raised Robert Boothby to the House of Lords. Dorothy Macmillan nee Cavendish (1900-66) married to Harold Macmillan from 1920, had been a lover of Boothby from 1930.  The affair was an open secret but the press chose not to mention it – not even later during the Profumo scandal.

1958 Ian Harvey, Conservative MP and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign Office was found in the bushes of St James Park with a Coldstream Guardsman. He resigned his office and his seat.

1961 George Blake arrested for spying for USSR. Sentenced to 42 years, but escaped after 5.

1962 John Vassall, spied for the USSR. Sentenced to 18 years, released after 10.

1963 Top British spy Kim Philby fled to Moscow. 

1963 Charles Fletcher-Cooke, Parliamentary Under Secretary at the Home Office was discovered to be living with a young man when the latter was stopped while speeding. Resigned as a minister but continued as MP for another 20 years.

1963 John Profumo shared a mistress with a Soviet Naval attaché. He lied to Parliament, and then resigned his office and his seat.

1964 Robert Boothby sharing rent boys with East End gangsters – hushed up by both major parties.

The Conservatives were of course hoping for a Labour Party scandal in the late 1960s in return. They thought that they had one when Marcia Williams, divorced, Harold Wilson’s political secretary, had two sons. The Daily Mail sent its political editor, Walter Terry, to see if Wilson was the father. However he was unable to do this as he himself was the father.



A synchronicity is two or more events happening around the same time without a clear causal nexus.

We had three apparent such in the 1960s. 

July 1964.

  1. After the George Brinham murder and subsequent trial, it was felt by the judicial authorities that persecution of gay men should be toned down. The Director of Public Prosecutions issued instructions to police forces that in cases involving consenting adults in private no prosecution should be initiated until an opinion had been obtained from the Director. The story was leaked by the London Evening Standard in July 1964.
  2. The Daily Mirror ran a story about a Peer and a gangster (both unnamed) implying a sexual relationship. They were named by the West German magazine Stern as Robert Boothby and Ronnie Kray.

Presumably no one in authority anticipated the Boothby-Kray dalliance when the toning down was instructed.

Incidentally, neither event is mentioned in the Wikipedia entry for July 1964.

May-December 1967

The Sexual Offences Act 1967 was debated 4 July, and received Royal Assent on 27 July. 

The in-camera trial between Ewan Forbes and his cousin John Forbes-Semphill took place May-December.

Logically they should have complemented each other, one giving a few rights to gay men, and the other recognising a gender change. However the latter was not permitted to apply in general.

It is quite likely that the authorities were pleased to accept the synchronicity.

Corbert v Corbett and Dawn Langley Simmons

November –December 1969 were the main hearings in the Corbett annulment trial, and quite fortuitously Dawn Langley Simmons and her husband arrived in England, and drew much greater press attention.


Birth Certificates and Marriage

If we accept the assumption that a marriage of a trans person is null and void if the birth certificate was never re-issued with the later name and gender, we must explain these cases:

Dawn Langley Hall Simmons. Her biographer, Edward Ball, travelled to Crowborough, East Sussex, and in the local records found two birth certificates. Both named the child as Gordon Ticehurst, the first in 1922; the re-issue in 1939 named a previously missing father, but no other changes. Despite the lack of a re-issue as female, Dawn's marriage to John Paul was never challenged on those grounds.

Peter Stirling. The Australian High Commission refused in 1968, as per standard practice, to re-issue Stirling’s birth certificate. Despite this he married his girl-friend. A few years later Peter took his English wife to Australia as his wife. Their marriage was never challenged. His only problem was that when he renewed his passport, they put sex=F. It took months, but with the aid of Guy’s Hospital he was able to get that fixed.


Intersex Wannabees

It would seem that Stirling, Turtle-Somerset and Dee Palmer actually had an intersex condition, but there is no satisfactory evidence that Cowell, Dillan, Forbes, Hall-Simmons, Ashley or Morris had such. It had been made clear even before Corbett v Corbett that courts favoured intersex persons, especially those where chromosomes, gonads and genitals were concordant see for example S vs S, 1962, and the failed petition of X in 1965. Thus the lengths that trans persons of that generation went to present themselves as intersex. That was understandable – they were not playing on a level field. What needs more attention is why 21st century writers continue to claim some of them as intersex – as they do with Lili Elevenes (Elbe) also.


  • Alkarim Jivani. It’s Not Unusual: A History of Gay Britain in the Twentieth Century. Indiana Press, 1997.
  • Michael Bloch.C10set Queens: Some 20th Century British Politicians. Abacus,2015.
  • Peter Hitchens. The Abolition of Britain. Bloomsbury, 2018.
  • Zoe Playdon. “Who’s Offensive Now? Trans law at the time of the Sexual Offences Act. SEXing the Past. 3-5 March 2017. 

Two photos of the Australian army in the 1940s


 These two photographs are found in 

  • Yorick Small.  Sex, Soldiers and the South Pacific, 1939-45: Queer Identities in Australia in the Second World War.  Palgrave Macmillan, 2015. 

Three dancers in the mid-1960s who went for completion surgery


These are only snapshots. We know no more.

Zorana Pop-Simonović (1938 - ?)

Born in  Serbia, Zorana worked as a chorus girl from 1955, and then as a belly-dancer in a night 2 club. In 1967 she was a car 3 accident,and was outed by the doctors at the hospital. Thus out, she applied to the Yugoslav 4 government to have a sex change operation. 

  • Thomas Porter. “Car Crash 6 Uncovers a 12-Year Secret…Belly Dancer is a Man!” National Enquirer, Oct. 1, 1967.
  • TVIC, 2,23, Dec 15 1973: 5. Online.
  • Ms Bob. “Tabloids and Men’s Soft Core — Part 6”. TGForum, Sep 17, 2012. Online.

Roxanne Algeria (194? - )

  • Roxanne Algeria. “The man who became a woman: America’s Top 14 Topless Star tells All! My Sex Change … Why I Did It … My Love Life”. Confidential, 15 15,1, January 1967.
  • Ms Bob. “Tabloids and Men’s Soft Core — Part 6”. TGForum, Sep 17, 2012. Online

Shalimar (194? - )

The Ranchio Escondido in Juarez, 1964

A renowned performer originally from Mexico. She took up residence in Minnesota and was able to get in the program at Minnesota University Gender Identity Clinic. Urologist Daniel C. Merrill later took three cases including Shalimar and semi-fictionalized their stories.

  • “Latin Illusion: Shalimar”. Female Mimics: Premiere Issue, 1963: 18 12-8. Online.
  • “Shalimar … Mexico, Mexico City”. 22 Transvestism Around the World, 23 Number 1, S-K Press, 1964: 52-61. Online.
  • Daniel C Merrill MD. Trapped: The True Stories of Shalimar, 27 Linda, and Jackie – transsexuals who believed they were females born in a 28 male’s body. Xlibris, 2012. 

Edgar Wales Burnham (1841 – 1918) musician


Burnham, originally known as Ellen – her mother’s name - was born in Woodstock, Vermont.  The family moved to Lawrenceville, New York in 1850, and then to Brodhead, Wisconsin in 1857.  

The father, Milo Burnham, a physician, established a medical practice, and also, as many physicians did at that time, operated a drug store.  He became a deacon of the town’s newly established First Congregational Church.  Dr Burnham, a “radical temperance man” refused completely to sell any liquor.  

Ellen, then 16, was a promising musician and organised classes in addition to horse-back riding and working in her father’s drugstore.  At age 18, she became engaged to LW Powell who had come to Brodhead as school principal, but had resigned and founded the town’s only newspaper, The Reporter.   They were married in the Congregational Church in February 1860.  Mrs Powell quickly learned the newspaper trade and the printer’s trade.  

In April 1861, as the US Civil War started, Powell volunteered for the 7th Wisconsin regiment and was was ordered to Washington.  Mrs Powell accompanied her husband.   Her somewhat masculine appearance was noted by a government detective who decided that she was a man, and therefore must be a spy. He followed her on the same train to Chicago and arrested her on an overnight stay.  Telegrams were sent to and from the Governor of Wisconsisn and Mr Powell before she was released.   Mr Powell arrived and escorted his wife back to Brodhead.   

However they had to face up to Ellen’s increasing virilization.  Ellen left alone for Chicago, while Mr Powell visited the local tailor and had a suit made.   That was then shipped to Chicago.   Powell informed Dr Burnham that Ellen was not a woman and was now wearing male attire.   An examination with a  doctor in Chicago was arranged which confirmed what Powell had said.   Finally Dr Burnham was permitted to examine his child, who was now to be known as Edgar.  

A divorce of the Powells was effected.  A position for Edgar became available at a drug wholesaler in Chicago.  Edgar was regarded as a good-looking man.  He was the organist at two churches and became engaged to the daughter of his landlady.  

In 1863 Edgar returned to Brodhead and again worked in his father’s drug store while maintaining his relationship with the fiancée in Chicago.   The drug store was popular as townsfolk flocked to see the handsome young man with an interesting past.  The Chicago engagement being over, Edgar  courted and married one of his former music students, a Miss Gertrude Everett, against the wishes of her parents.  

In 1864, Dr Burnham sold up his properties in Brodhead and moved to Waterloo, Iowa, 165 miles / 266 km west, taking his family and Edgar's wife with him.   Edgar worked again in the family drug store. Edgar had commissioned a pipe organ, an 8-stop instrument in a 9-foot case with gilded front pipes.  When it arrived in Waterloo, it was installed in the First Congregational Church where Edgar both performed and taught.   

In late 1867 someone in Waterloo, having heard something about Edgar’s past, wrote to the editor of the La Cross, Wisconsin Democrat seeking more information.  That editor published a version of Edgar’s life in January 1868.  This account contained errors such as claiming that the Powells had a child, and was republished in other newspapers in the next few weeks. In response, the editor of the Brodhead Independent published a longer and more reliable account 1 February.

Edgar taught, performed, conducted, served as church organist and eventually organized the Iowa State Conservatory of Music. He also joined the staff of the Iowa Normal School in nearby Cedar Falls (now the University of Northern Iowa) as a professor of music.  

In 1877 his father Dr Burnham financed the building of the Burnham Opera House in Waterloo which seated 1,000 people.  Edgar also became the manager of the opera house, an event organizer and the manager of a performing troupe, the Burnham Novelty Company, that featured his wife’s singing.  

While the troupe was in Minneapolis-St Paul, someone remembered the press stories from 1868, and they were retold in the St Paul Pioneer-Press in March 1882, and repeated in other papers.   The company folded later that year.  

Dr and Mrs Burnham retired and moved to Chicago.   In 1885 the opera house was sold, and Edgar and Gertrude also moved to Chicago, and then a few years later to San Diego, California, where Gertrude died age 44 in 1891.  

Edgar remarried to Teresa, an Irish woman with three children, and moved his new family back to Chicago.  His father died in 1893, and his mother six years after that.  The Waterloo Opera House was destroyed by fire in 1906. The marriage with Teresa endured.   Edgar died in 1918.  Teresa, 20 years younger, never remarried, and stayed in Chicago until her death age 87 in 1946.   

  • “HE, SHE, OR IT: A Correct Account of the Mysterious Female Man: Truth Stranger Than Fiction“. The Brodhead (Wis.) Independent, Feb. 1, 1868. Online.
  • “A Most Strange Chapter”. Vermont Transcript, Feb 7, 1868.  Online.   Online
  • “A Remarkable Case”. St Paul Pioneer Press, March 14, 1882.  Online
  • “A Strange Metamorphosis”. Dubuque Times, Mar 28, 1882.  Online.
  • “Edgar W Burnham (Obituary)”. The Waterloo Times-Tribune, May 10, 1918.  Online.
  • Frank D Myers. “The curious case of Ellen/Edgar Burnham (Part 1)”.   Lucas Countyan,  December 07, 2015.   Online.
  • Frank D Myers. “The curious case of Ellen/Edgar Burnham (Part 2)”.   Lucas Countyan,  December 08, 2015.   Online.


The Wikipedia page for Waterloo, Iowa lists around 60 notable residents, but does not include Dr Milo Burnham who financed the building of their Opera House, nor Edgar who organized the Iowa State Conservatory of Music.

The Obituary says that Edgar met his second wife in Chicago, but Myers says San Diego.   I have gone with the second.

Despite lacking a modern understanding of what happened to his body, and despite being outed twice, it seems that Edgar had a good life.

More on Robert Allen


I wrote in June 2015 about Robert Allen who was an assistant to legendary 1940s film directors Michael Powell and David Lean,  transitioned in 1944 with a revised birth certificate and married his girlfriend.  He then retrained as a radiologist.  He published an autobiography in 1954.  

See the full story at zagria.blogspot.com/2015/06/robert-allen-1914-film-maker.html

Chris 0'Rourke has contacted us to point out the back page of the Daily Mirror 30 August 1957. 

From this we learn that Robert was divorced from his first wife.  Remember this was before the Divorce Reform Act 1969 which introduced no-fault divorce.   The law then in effect was the Matrimonial Causes Act 1937 which required demonstration of adultery, desertion, cruelty etc.  In addition Robert had become a Catholic in 1951.   So the divorce is certainly not explained.  Note that the second marriage was in Congregational Church.

Colin Markland (1929 - 2012) sex-change surgeon


Colin Markland, whose father owned a butcher’s shop in Bolton, Lancashire, won local and state scholarships to Bolton Grammar School and Cambridge University (Caius College) and trained medically at Westminster Hospital.

At age 24 he started a general practice in a small Canadian town near Windsor, Ontario with office hours twice daily, house calls, surgery, obstetrics, local hospital staff, even serving as the township medical officer. After six years he started a urology residency at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, followed by a year as a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Renal Research Unit, Leeds University in the early days of organ transplantation. After being Assistant Professor at the University of Iowa he became an Associate Professor of Urology, University of Minnesota Medical School in 1964 where he worked in neurovesical dysfunction, along with the challenges of resident training. He ran a Graduate Trainee Program in Urology, with research interests involving radical cancer surgery, pediatric urology, neurologic vesical dysfunction and renal function after ischemia.

The Gender program opened at the University of Minnesota Medical School, shortly after the similar program at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. The first Minnesota operation was done secretly but the press found out anyway. The program opened officially in December 1966. Dr Donald Creevy, the head of the urology department was in his late 60s and disinterested in such a new development. He delegated to Markland who was pleased to be given such a challenge, and became the chief surgeon on the program, sometimes assisted by Daniel Merrill who later wrote a book about the operations. Markland was under the incorrect impression that Christine Jorgensen’s operations in Copenhagen had included vaginoplasty, although it was noted that the Danish physicians had not described how to do one. But Markland, having to innovate, had given much thought to the procedure drawing on his experience doing perineal prostatectomy where the surgeon must develop a space between the urethra and prostate above and the anus and rectum below to expose the prostate gland – this is the space where the neo-vagina is formed. He intended to use the inverted penile skin to line the neo-vagina, but found it insufficient. He supplemented it with a skin graft from the right buttock. The details of Dr Burou’s penile inversion method did not become available until some years later.

The first two-dozen operations where financed by the state as a research program. Up to closure at the end of the 1970s, 41 trans women were operated on, and later 8 trans men also. This from the 300+ applications that the Clinic received each year. The most famous patient was the Mexican dancer, Shalimar.

In 1969 Creevy retired. Markland hoped to gain his position as head of the Urology Department, but Elwin Fraley, who had been junior to Markland at Massachusetts General, was appointed instead. As Fraley puts it: “Colin decided to be helpful rather than an adversary, as too often happens in these situations”.

In 1971 the Erickson Educational Foundation announced that the National American Urological Association had presented an award to Markland for a film referred to simply as “the University of Minnesota Transsexual Research Project Movie,” which he had screened at the annual meeting of the American College of Surgeons. The film followed Minnesota’s gender identity clinic five-year treatment program, giving what the newsletter called “an interim report on how well the total project is faring” and reviewing “surgical procedures and results” of its twenty-five “male [-to-female] transsexuals.

Markland gave a paper based on his work at the September 1971, Second International Symposium on Gender Identity, Elsinore, Denmark.

In 1974 Markland used bowel segments. This was the first intestinal vaginoplasty done on a trans woman (apart from Charles Wolf in 1942). This procedure was quickly adopted by Dr Laub at Stanford. John Brown also offered it later in his career, but with less satisfactory results.

Markland had lost interest in doing transsexual surgery by 1975, and passed the task to Merrill and others in the department who used his techniques.

Fraley, the Urology Department head and a political conservative, did not like the concept of sex-change surgery and questioned it repeatedly. Finally he closed it in 1979, shortly before the similar program at Johns Hopkins was also closed.

Markland spent a year as Fulbright scholar professor in Burma, followed by three years at Louisiana State University as chairman of a new training programme. After a midlife crisis he was professor at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, where he stayed until retirement. Afterwards he acquired a 47 foot Wellington cutter, sailed two years from Newfoundland to South America, and several Atlantic crossings. He regarded the US Coast Guard Captains license the toughest exam ever.

Colin Markland died of a heart attack at age 83.

  • Colin Markland. “Testicular Tumors”. Current Problems in Surgery, 5, 9, 1968. 
  • Colin Markland & Daniel Merrill. “Accidental Penile Gangrene”. The Journal of Urology, 108, 1972.
  • “Symposium Highlights” and “Genetic Females, Too”. EEF Newsletter, 4,4, Winter 1971. Online.
  • “Minnesota Film Honored,” EEF Newsletter2, Summer 1972: 3. Online.
  • Colin Markland. “Complications in male transsexual surgery”. In Donald Laub & Patric Gandy (eds) Proceedings of the Second Interdisciplinary Symposium on Gender Dysphoria Syndrome, Palo Alto, Stanford University Press, 1973.
  • Colin Markland & Donald Hastings. “Vaginal Reconstruction using Cecal and Sigmoid Bowel Segements in Transsexual Patients”. The Journal of Urology, 111, 1974.
  • Colin Markland & Donald Hastings. “Vaginal Reconstruction using Bowel Segments in Male-to-Female Transsexual Patients”. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 7, 4, 1978.
  • Colin Markland & Donald Hastings. “Post-Surgical Adjustment of Twenty-Five Transsexuals (Male-toFemale) in the University of Minnesota Study”. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 7, 4, 1978.
  • David M Brown, Colin Markland & Louis P Dehner. “Leydeig Cell Hypoplasia: A Cause of Male Pseudohermaphroditism”. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 46, 1, 1978.
  • Colin Markland. “ ‘Red Alert!’ Accidental Penile Necrosis”. JAMA, 244, 11, 1980.
  • Margaret Dierdre O’Hartigan. Chrysalis, 2, 3, Spring 1996. Online. 
  • “Obituaries: Alan Colin Markland”. BMJ, 2012;345:e7448. 
  • “Obituaries: Alan Colin Markland”. ObitTree, September 2012. Online.
  • Daniel C Merrill. Trapped: The true stories of Shalimar, Linda and Jackie – transsexuals who believed they were female born in a male’s body. Xlibris, 2012: ix, 23, 26-7, 30-2, 35-6, 49, 51, 54-5, 82. Excerpt
  • Elwin E Fraley. Teaching Surgeons’ Hands to Heal: A Urological Surgical Chairman’s Chronicle: The History of the Department of Urological Surgery, University of Minnesota 1969-1993. Author House, 2014: 9, 53, 77, 140.


Merrill in his book writes: “It also is clear that he [Markland] has no recollection of my contribution to the project other than as an assistant in some of the procedures he performed. Specifically, Dr. Markland believes that it was his idea to use the sigmoid colon to form a neovagina for our male transsexual patients. I expect that, when all is said and done, it is not at all that important whose idea it was to form a neovagina out of a segment of large intestine. It is important, I think, to document that this innovative approach to the problems inherent in the formation of a neovagina were first employed by surgeons of the division of urology at the University of Minnesota.” p49

And “I contacted him recently to fill in some of the blank spots in the narrative I was writing for this book. Dr. Markland indicates that he lost interest in the project because the transsexual patients were very demanding and because he received no compensation for the complicated and laborious surgical procedures he performed on them.” p49

Merrill claims that Shalimar was the first trans patient in the Minnesota program after it formally opened - however he also says that he fictionalized his account..

The erasure of Autogynephilia


I have previously written about Autogynephilia, and developed a chronology of its major events and persons up to 2010. 

The Autogynephilia syndrome and meme was a major brouhaha in the early 2000s, especially after Bailey’s The Man Who Would Be Queen was published in 2003. While many dismissed the concept as pseudo-science, it came to dominate discussions of typology of trans women to the extent that alternate discussions of such typologies were drowned out. While there is an intuitive difference between early transitioners and those who first became husbands and fathers before transitioning, the model as laid out by Freund, then Blanchard and then Bailey aligns each type with a sexual orientation (a mistake earlier made by Harry Benjamin), erases late transition androphiles and early transition gynephiles, insists on referring to heterosexual trans women as ‘homosexual’ and defines the gynephilic late transitioners as ‘fetishistic’ (again a mistake made by Harry Benjamin). The Clarke Institute (later CAMH) in Toronto is especially identified with the syndrome as Freund and Blanchard had top positions there. And, like it or not, the history of trans in North America in this century cannot be told without reference to the debate over Autogynephilia.

However there are writers, both trans and cis, who leave out what we would expect here, even though many of them quietly put Bailey’s book in their bibliography or further reading while saying nothing about it in the text.

This article discusses writings that nevertheless:

  1. distinguish two types of trans women, such that the reader would expect a discussion of how this is similar to or different from the concept of Autogynephilia – but this is not discussed;
  2. discuss the Clarke Instritute/CAMH, particularly the GIC, but say not a single word about Blanchard or Autogynephilia;
  3. retell the histories of US/Canadian trans persons and politics in the 21st century but say not a single word about Blanchard or Autogynephilia.

The writings in question are indented to the Right.

The basic events of the Autogynephilia debate are here (not indented) to give a context.


Betty W. Steiner (ed) Gender Dysphoria: Development, Research, Management. The first book from the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry in Toronto. The full model HSTS-Autogynephilia is explained by Kurt Freund, although at this stage without the word ‘autogynephilia’.


Ray Blanchard. “The concept of autogynephilia and the typology of male gender dysphoria”. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 177, 616-623. 


Ray Blanchard & Betty W. Steiner (eds.). Clinical management of gender identity disorders in children and adults. A followup to the 1985 book.


Betty Steiner and her husband die from fumes from car running in their garage. 

Ray Blanchard on the gender dysphoria sub-working group for the DSM-IV, 1994.


Kurt Freund retires, and Ray Blanchard becomes Head of Clinical Sexology Services at the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry. 

Viviane Namaste wrote a report “Access Denied” funded by Health Canada to do needs assessment for trans persons in Toronto. Of her sample of 33, 19 were enrolled at the Clarke GIC. The trans academic also visited the Clarke and spoke to some of the staff. There is no mention of Blanchard, Autogynephila or the 1985 book.


Kurt Freund, suffering from lung cancer, takes his own life.


Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is formed from a merger of the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry, the Addiction Research Foundation and the Queen Street Mental Health Centre.


Ray Blanchard. “Autogynephilia and the Taxonomy of Gender Identity Disorders in Biological Males”. International Academy of Sex Research. Paris 2000. 

Viviane K. Namaste. Invisible Lives: The Erasure of Transsexual and Transgendered People. Again, neither Blanchard nor autogynephilia mentioned in discussion of CAMH GIC.


The CAMH GIC awarded a Presidential Citation from Div 44 of the American Psychological Association. Ray Blanchard accepted the award on behalf of CAMH.


Michael BaileyThe Man Who Would Be Queen: the science of gender-bending and transsexualism. The popularization of Blanchard’s ideas.

    Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association (HBIGDA), the professional organization for service providers criticizes the Bailey book.

    Ray Blanchard resigns from HBIGDA, calling its criticism ‘appalling’.

    Andrea James and Lynn Conway set up web pages to alert trans women about Bailey’s book.

    Anjelica Kieltyka complains about how she was misrepresented in Bailey’s book.

    Willow Arune and others start Autogynephilia Yahoo group.

    Deirdre McCloskey. "Queer Science: A data-bending psychologist confirms what he already knew about gays and transsexuals". Reasononline. November. https://reason.com/2003/11/01/queer-science-2/


    Joan Roughgarden writes open letter to the National Academy. "I wonder if many psychologists fully grasp the image some of their colleagues are projecting---psychology as a discipline without standards, nourishing a clique of dumbly insensitive bigots. These psychologists don’t seek to help people, but to dominate them by controlling the definition of normalcy. Their bogus categories and made-up diseases are intended to subordinate, not to describe."

    Lambda Literary Foundation nominated Bailey’s book as a finalist in the transgender category.

    Christine Burns initiates an online petition which gathers thousands of signatures in just a few days, and the nomination is withdrawn

    Jim Marks, Executive Director of Lambda Literary Foundation resigns.

    J Michael Bailey steps down as Chair of Psychology at Northwestern.

    Kiira Triea sets up transkids.us with Jennifer Ross for Homosexual-Transsexual women (Blanchard's term for heterosexual trans women). Bailey immediately links to the site.

    Ray Blanchard. “Origins of the Concept of Autogynephilia”. Feb. Archive.

    Ray Blanchard quoted: “A man without a penis has certain disadvantages in this world, and this is in reality what you're creating”. Jane Armstrong. “The Body within, the body without”. The Globe and Mail, 12 June 2004, p. F1. 


    Ray Blanchard. “Early History of the Concept of Autogynephilia. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 34.

    Alice/Richard Novic. “The Two Types of Transwomen”.

    https://www.aliceingenderland.com/twotypesoftranswomen. "In my eye, we MTFs come in two varieties: started-out-straight and started-out-gay.”


    Melanie Anne Philips apologized to customers of her voice instruction in that she now realizes that for many it cannot work: “out of all those who have sex reassignment surgery, only a very few have female minds. All the rest, no matter how feminine they have become, have male minds – they don't just think like men, then think as men”.

    Philips has two children, and is gynephilic. She definitely avoids any mention of Autogynephilia.


    Susan Stryker. Transgender History. The trans academic makes no mention at all of the Blanchard binary and the upsets that it has caused among transsexuals. However Bailey’s book on the topic is quietly found in the book’s further reading section.


    Anne Vitale. Gendered Self: Further Commentary on the Transsexual Phenomenon. Trans therapist Anne Vital proposes a typology of three types with Gender Deprivation Anxiety Disorder (GEDAD) of whom the third approximates Blanchard’s Autogynephiles. She treats this deprivation, not a person’s gender identity. Many readers regard her typology as a humane improvement on Blanchard’s. The citation notes to her book include both Blanchard and Zucker, and the reading list on her website includes the Clarke Institute’s 1990 book, Clinical Management of Gender Identity Disorder in Children and Adults. However there is no mention of Blanchard in the text, and thus neither acceptance nor rejection of the inevitable notion that her 3 categories are a rewrite of Blanchard’s.


    Darryl Hill. Trans Toronto: An Oral History. Hill does have a short summary of autogynephilia, but refers to Blanchard only once in passing and then by his surname only; only his late 2005 paper is listed and Bailey is not mentioned at all.


    Dana/Thomas E. BevanThe Psychobiology of Transsexualism and Transgenderism: A New View Based on Scientific Evidence. Bevan, late transition, two wives, two daughters, writes: “it is clear that the concept of Autogynephilia is not well defined and cannot be easily operationalized. For this reason alone, it does not constitute a scientific theory”. However she writes as if Autogynephilia is being considered as a, or even the, cause of transsexuality rather than as a second type of transsexuality with a different etiology. She does not mention Michael Bailey’s 2003 book, The Man Who Would Be Queen. She does mention – actually she cites – Bailey with reference to twins, sexual orientation, and sibling order. But she totally ignores his book on Autogynephilia.

    Will Rowe “Auditioning for Care” in Dan Irving & Rupert Raj (eds). Trans Activism in Canada: A Reader. This is the major discussion in the book of Toronto’s CAMH, the ground zero of autogynephilia. He writes of the "incredibly transphobic history of CAMH's GIC". He interviewed four trans men about their current experiences with the CAMH GIC. For an earlier period, the 1990s, he relies on Namaste's writings only. Namaste, as per her usual approach, never told us whether she was actually a patient at CAMH, although, as she lived in Ottawa and then Toronto while she transitioned, she quite likely was. No other trans women or other earlier patients are cited or discussed. It is particularly odd in Rowe's account that there is no mention of autogynephilia, and no mention of Blanchard.


    Barry Reay. Trans America: A Counter-History. Reay cites the title of Steiner’s 1985 book as an early usage of the term “Gender Dysphoria”, but says nothing at all about its contents. There is no mention at all of Autogynephilia, nor its proponents, nor of those who rallied against it. While this recent book continues until almost now, it also erases HBS and Cross-Dreaming.

    Note also that the EN.Wikipedia article on CAMH says nothing at all about Steiner, Freund, Blanchard or Autogynephilia.

    Trans News Orleans: Part I - the early years to news of Christine Jorgensen

    Part I: the early years to news of Christine Jorgensen
    Part II: to the two fires of 1972-3
    Part III: Activism and Legal Changes

    There were two tribes living where New Orleans was later built:

    Choctaw/Chahta: Their Two-Spirit traditions were referred to as Hatukiklanna and Hatukholba

    Chitimacha (whether or not they had two-spirit traditions is not recorded)


    La Nouvelle-Orléans (feminine) founded and named for Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, who was said to be queer.


    Capital of La Louisiane is relocated to New Orleans, from Biloxi.


    Marc Antoine Caillot of the Company of the Indies went as a shepherdess, all in white for the Carnival on Lundi Gras (the day before Mardi Gras).


    Jean Bernard Bossu wrote of the Choctaw: “They are morally quite perverted and most of them are addicted to sodomy”.


    Louisiana ceded to Spain in the aftermath of the Seven Years’ War.


    Spain ceded La Louisiane back to France as part of Napoleon's secret Third Treaty of San Ildefonso. The territory nominally remained under Spanish control.


    After failure in the attempt to suppress Haitian independence, Napoleon sold La Louisiana to the US.


    Louisiana, now in the US, enacted a criminal code copied from that of Mississippi which made sodomy subject to a penalty of life imprisonment with hard labor. The law was also applied to heterosexual acts, and was not struck down until 2003. 


    Following the colonial struggles in Haiti and Cuba, many migrated to New Orleans: 2,731 whites, 3,102 free people of color (of mixed-race European and African descent), and 3,226 slaves of primarily African descent, doubling the city's population. The city became 63 percent black.


    Largest slave revolt in US history, in the so-called German Coast, outside New Orleans, was  brutally crushed


    Louisiana became a US state.


    The Battle of New Orleans. 18 days after the end of War of 1812, news of which had not yet arrived, the US Army with their Choctaw allies inflicted a major defeat on the British Army.


    Peter Sewally/Mary Jones, a thief of African descent who normally lived in New York, visited New Orleans and transvested as was her wont.


    The Choctaw, who had allied with the 13 colonials in the session from the UK in the 1770s, and with the US against the UK in the War of 1812, and notably at the Battle of New Orleans, were forcibly relocated so that their land could be seized.


    Walt Whitman lived in New Orleans. There he wrote "Once I Pass'd Through a Populous City," a poem about New Orleans, in which he wrote "I remember only the man who wandered with me, there, for love of me."


    Ludwig von Reizenstein having fled sexual-legal problems in Bavaria, wrote an anti-slavery gothic novel in German with gay and lesbian characters, Die Geheimnisse von New Orleans, which was serialized in the Louisiana Staatz-Zeitung.


    The Mistick Krewe of Comus– the founding of the oldest of the carnival ‘krewes’ which initiated parades and balls at Mardi Gras. Into the 21st century this krewe has a prominence in the Mardi Gras parades. The costuming of the krewes provided a place for queer participants to hide in plain sight.


    Cuban-born Loreta Janeta Velasquez had been convent-educated in New Orleans and eloped to marry a young army officer. She passed as male in the Confederate forces during the US Civil War.

    During the occupation of New Orleans by northern forces, French language instruction in the schools was abolished. This was never reversed.


    The Louisiana Democrat Party passed a constitutional amendment disenfranchising all non-white citizens including those blacks who had been free and enfranchised before the Civil War. Non-whites were also excluded from juries and schools were racially segregated. A case of an arrested black man Plessy v Ferguson went to the US Supreme Court which ruled that “separate but equal” provisions were constitutional.


    The penalty for sodomy revised to 2-10 years with hard labour, but fellatio now included in the definition.


    Ellis p14

    The District, a 38-block area, was designated as the part of the city in which prostitution would be tolerated. This had been proposed by Alderman Sidney Story and the area became known as Storyville. Miss Big Nelly was the Madam of a gay brothel. The Frenchman’s was a small jazz club which was popular with trans women. The District played an important part in the evolution of early jazz, and was an area where queer persons were more comfortable.


    As the US joined in the Great War, the city was pressed to close Storyville. 


    Alcohol Prohibition was introduced via the 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act. New Orleans largely ignored it and kept on drinking.


    Pretcher, p18: “The social and sexual dynamics by which Storyville operated were still utilized by white uptown gays, but was the most beneficial for the city’s gay African-American population. Outside of nightclub acts, the most visible groups of cross-dressers in New Orleans were prostitutes. Many of these gender fluid prostitutes were of African American or mixed race and kept to the neighborhood where Storyville had once thrived. Evidence of black men in New Orleans performing in drag dates back to the 1920s. In the mostly non-white “drag balls” resembling Mardi Gras bal masques were a popular showcase for fashion and celebration. The drag balls appealed to both the gay and straight African-American community.”


    Izzy Einstein, a top prohibition officer, was sent to New Orleans and made many raids, but the drinking resumed the next weekend. 


    21st Amendment reversed Alcohol Prohibition.

    The opening of New Orleans’ first gay bar, Café Lafitte.


    Emile Morlet opened The Wonder Bar at 125 Decatur Street, featuring female impersonators. Police harassment followed. Morlet tried to get an injunction to stop the raids but city officials denied his request because his club was a “menace” to morality. 

    City ordinance 14,240, enacted March 13, prohibited cross-dressing in public except on Mardi Gras.


    Morlet moved his bar to the lakefront and renamed it the Wonder Club. Because the club itself sat on pilings over the lake and straddled the parish line, police raids were no longer a problem. The Cuban Gene La Marr was one of the stars. It was the only tourist attraction outside the French Quarter. Celebrities such Howard Hughes and Carmen Miranda were found in attendance, as were local mobsters.

    The city passed an ordinance redefining “Vagrancy” to include “loitering, prostitution, or offering to procure another for prostitution, or any indecent or immoral act”. The last phrase was used to regard even the appearance thereof as cause for arrest.


    Gay playwright Tennessee Williams moved to New Orleans where he wrote A Streetcar Named Desire in 1946.


    In a series for the Times-Picayune, journalist and book author Lyle Saxon harangued those who would not wear a costume for Mardi Gras, and discussed it as an opportunity for transvesting, and its potentials for gay men. As Pretcher (p17) summarizes: “The opportunity to exploit this dissonance made Mardi Gras an especially important and exciting annual experience for closeted gay men and lesbians. New Orleans’ social emphasis on drinking and celebrating Mardi Gras also provided a unique environment in which the city’s gay population could foster a shadow community that allowed them to socialize by means unavailable in other American cities.”

    • Lyle Saxon, “Mask and Lose Self for a Day for Mardi Gras,” The Times-Picayune, February 2, 1940.
    • Lyle Saxon, “Maskers Defy Bad Weather, Uphold Holiday Spirit to Portray Gayest Characters,” The Times-Picayune, February 7, 1940.
    • Lyle Saxon, “Masking Events Bring Prizes to Hundred Here,” The Times-Picayune, Box 15, Folder 7, Lyle Saxon Collection, LaRCTU, newspaper clipping missing date.


    A comprehensive criminal code revision was passed, reducing the maximum penalty for sodomy to five years' imprisonment, adding a fine of 2,000 dollars and making the hard labor provision optional.

    Mid 1940s

    After stints at various clubs in the mid-1940s, trans performer Patsy Valdalia joined the Dew Drop Inn, which was developing as New Orleans’ premier black club, and stayed for over 25 years as emcee, resident singer, waiter and bartender. She often performed with Bobby Marchan, and also hosted the New Orleans Gay Ball every year at Halloween.


    Gay writer Truman Capote who had been born in New Orleans, returned and wrote his first major work, Other Voices, Other Rooms (which has one trans character).


    The future Reed Erickson was the first woman to graduate from Louisiana State University in mechanical engineering.


    Robert Tallant wrote several popular histories of New Orleans. In his 1947 book he discusses the ancient roots of Mardi Gras and wonders how many krewe members were aware of how it was based on transvesting and same sex desire.

    • Robert Tallant. Mardi Gras … As It Was. Pelican, 1947.


    The future Charlotte McLeod had served three months in the US Army before being medically discharged with a 4-F rating. McLeod found doctors sympathetic to the idea of a sex change, but they apologized that the US laws re Mayhem would not permit such surgery. McLeod was advised to “find such little happiness as I could in life by going to one of the ‘colonies’ that abound in our large cities”. In 1948, McLeod moved to the French Quarter in New Orleans, but did not fit in the gay world either. He did find work as a bookkeeper for $75.00 a week (a good wage at the time). He tried Boston for a while, but returned to New Orleans.

    The Wonder Club was destroyed by fire, but was quickly rebuilt. Female impersonator Jimmy Calloway came from Birmingham, Alabama to perform briefly.


    The Wonder Club was renamed the Club My-O-My. Pat Waters became the manager.

    Little Richard was touring as Princess Lavonne in a red dress, but because one leg was longer he couldn’t wear heels.


    Jimmy Calloway returned as Club My-O-My’s MC, and stayed until closure in 1972. All performances, singing by the performer and the orchestra were live. Recorded music and lip-synching were unthinkable. The Club was restricted to white performers and customers.


    The owner of the building that contained Café Lafitte died and it was sold. The bar reopened but was no longer gay-friendly. The owners of the bar who had been unable to afford to buy the building, opened further down the street as Café Lafitte in Exile. However you were discouraged if not male and white. There was a rule that that women had to wear a dress. Lesbian Clay Latimer had no problem because “they thought I was a boy”.

    • “Curb Advocated on Homosexuals: Crackdown to Save Young Persons Demanded”. Times-Picayune, 28 April 1951.


    McLeod, at age 28, read about Christine Jorgensen and her operation in Copenhagen. McLeod quickly packed, and went to Tennessee to tell father. With apparent parental approval, McLeod continued to New York and quickly took ship to Denmark using a minor inheritance from a grand aunt, sailing on the MS-Maasdam.

    Bobby Marchan organized a troupe of female impersonators and they were booked at the Dew Drop Inn in New Orleans. He stayed and rented a room at the Dew Drop, where he started performing with Patsy Vidalia.


    The following were consulted

    ·       James T Sears.  Rebels, Rubyfruit and Rhinestones: Queering Space in the Stonewall South.  Rutgers University Press, 2001.

    ·       Roberts Batson.  “New Orleans”.  GLBTQ, 2004

    ·       Albert J Carey. “New Orleans Mardi Gras Krewes”.  GLBTQ, 2004.     Scott S Ellis.  Madame Vieux Carré.  University Press of Mississippi, 2010.

    ·       Jelisa Thompson.  You make Me Feel: A Study of the Gay Rights Movement in New Orleans. BA Thesis. The University of Southern Mississippi, 2011.

    ·       Frank Perez & Jeffrey Palmquist.  In Exile: The History and Lore Surrounding New Orleans Gay Culture and Its Oldest Gay Bar.  LL Publications, 2012.   

    ·       Howard Philips Smith.  Unveiling the Muse: The Lost History of Gay Carnival in New Orleans.  University Press of Mississippi, 2017.

    ·       Ryan Pretcher.  Gay New Orleans: A History.  PhD Thesis.  Georgia State University, 2017. 

    Trans Legends on New Orleans    History of Drag Culture in New Orleans    LGBT+ Archives of Louisiana  

    Trans New Orleans: Part II - to the two fires of 1972-3


    Part I: the early years to news of Christine Jorgensen

    Part II: to the two fires of 1972-3

    Part III: Activism and Legal Changes


    At Louisiana State University Perry Desmond found his first gay friends, but was expelled for being gay. He found a lover in Baton Rouge until his mother interfered. He then went to Southwestern Louisiana Institute (now the University of Louisiana at Lafeyette) and found another lover before being kicked out for doing so. In New Orleans he became a waiter and a prostitute, and as a kept boy started wearing female clothing full time, until his mother interfered.


    Charlotte McLeod, back from surgery in Copenhagen, took a gig in New Orleans, but found that the contract was with a strip club. “And right across the street was a very, well the nicest club on the street. No hard bumps and grinds and strips and all that kind of thing. And to get me out of the verbal contract the owner paid for me going to court. And the next thing I am sitting up in front of the judge. I never will forget, I had a great big felt cart wheel hat on. Couldn’t sit on the seat because the cart wheel hat hit the back and I had to take my hat off. I don’t know why I should remember that. In that day and time ladies wore their hats. And he released me from the contract and I went across to the Show Bar, which was the nicest club on the street.” A dancer-comedienne called Cupcake wrote material for Charlotte: “I’ve been to many places, environments strange, and then I went to Denmark, just for a little change”.

    Charlotte met Christine Jorgensen when they were both appearing in New Orleans. 

    Stormé DeLarverie, New Orleans born, became the sole male impersonator in the Jewel Box Revue. After starting with the show he began to dress in men's clothing offstage too.

      Impersonator Harvey Lee performed at Club My-O-My.

      Queer Music Heritage

      NOPD Superintendent declares homosexuals to be “Number 1 vice problem”.


      Bobby Marchan was employed by Ace Records’ Johnny Vincent who did not realize that Bobby was not a woman until told two days later.

      Leynon, from Mexico was a star at the My-O-My Club on Lake Ponchatrain. When Perry Desmond was hired for a first chance as a performer at New Orleans’ My-O-My Club in 1956, Leynon stepped in to help Desmond with make-up and costume.

      Desmond records that Leynon was viciously murdered in a transphobic hate crime in Mexico a few years later. 

      Perry Desmond was recruited for the Jewel Box Review because his size allowed him to take over the costumes of one who had left. He quit the Revue when his father was in hospital. After that he opened a beauty salon, but then performed in various drag clubs.


      The first gay 'krewe'– of the krewes that put on the New Orleans Mardi Gras celebrations –the Yuga Krewe, was founded. The first two Yuga Balls – a mixture of a drag show and a bal masque - were held in a private house on Carrollton Avenue, but the neighbors had become irate. They did not join the Mardi Gars parade.

      Candy Lee had started a career as a female impersonator at the Club My-O-My on Lake Pontchartrain. She also worked as a bartender at Bacino’s bar, and was an acquaintance of playwright Tennessee Williams, who wrote a one-act play, And Tell Sad Stories of the Death of Queens in 1958, which is said to be inspired by the life of Candy. The play’s protagonist, an interior decorator who sometimes cross-dresses, is called Candy, and is about to turn 35. Her older lover who set her up in business has left her for a younger man. Candy picks up a sailor, Karl, in a gay bar. She spends money on him, and he then beats her up and steals more. This was the first play by Williams with explicit gay characters, and was never performed during his lifetime.

      Candy was also one of the founder members of the Yuga Krewe. However she did not get on with the other members, and by the early 1960s had been banned from the balls. The word is that she called the police on the 1962 Fifth Yuga Ball.

      An agent in New York named Perry Desmond‘The South’s Most Beautiful Boy’. In 1958 he and 142 others were arrested at a big costume ball at the Manhattan Center in New York. At the same time he came down with jaundice.

      New Orleans city council created a “Committee on the Problem of Sex Deviates”.

      Section 5-66, ccs 18, 537 was added to city ordinances. “No person of lewd, immoral, or dissolute character, sexual pervert … shall be employed” in bars or restaurants. This ordinance was not repealed until 1993.

      The manager and staff (one of whom was Candy lee) of Tony Bacino’s, a gay bar, were arrested six times, the charge each time reading “Person of lewd character employed as bartender”. They applied for and were awarded an injunction and temporary restraining order, but ultimately lost the case.

      Three students at New Orleans’ Tulane University decided to” roll a queer”. At 1:30 am one of them picked up a man in the Café Lafitte in Exile. He got him into an alley, where he and the two others beat the man so badly that he died 12 hours later. An autopsy revealed that the victim had an unusually thin cranium. During their murder trial the three students argued that his thin cranium was why he died, not their beating. The all-white, all-male jury quickly acquitted them to courtroom applause. They were also charged with robbery and got six-months suspended. 


      The third Yuga Ball in 1960 was held in a jazz club, Mama Lou’s on Lake Pontchartrain, reached by a wooden walkway that proved quite difficult for those who came in high heels. William Wooley was the head window dresser at a department store on Canal St. He and his team simply borrowed stock for the Yuga ball.

      Smith p107

      One day on the street Perry Desmond met an old friend who was close to completing transition, and demanded the name of her doctor. Perry then started on hormone injections from “Dr Ritter” in New York (probably Dr Benito Rish) , and started electrolysis. She also bleached her hair. She had a nose job and silicone injections. Once she had breasts she passed easily as a woman, and went back to a mix of hooking and running a beauty salon. She gave that up to be a kept woman, but after a year of two-timing her husband, left him for the other man, Wayne.

      New Orleans chapter of the lesbian organization Daughters of Bilitis founded.


      The Krewe of Petronius legally registered as a Mardi Gras krewe. It received a charter from the state to stage a Mardi Gras ball. The krewe also hired a police detail for protection, thus making it safe from a raid or other harassment.


      The fourth and fifth Yuga Balls were held in the New Orleans suburb of Metairie in a school that had a large dance studio, and was surrounded by a wooded area close to the lake. The second gay krewe, that of Petronius, held its first ball in 1962 at the same location.

      However the Yuga Ball a week later was raided by the Parish Police. Some managed to flee, but many were arrested in what the police dubbed a ‘lewd stag party’. Those arrested had their names printed in the newspapers and thus most lost their jobs.

      Newly elected and sexually flexible District Attorney Jim Garrison made headlines with a series of vice raids in the French Quarter.


      Soon-to-be-assassination-patsy Lee Harvey Oswald returned to his birth city. He approached Jules Weiss of the gay Armeinius Krewe who was also known as Lovely Rita. Weiss let him stay in his spare room for several weeks before he moved on to Dallas. Oswald noted this kindness in his diary, and a decade later Weiss was charged with conspiracy to kill President Kennedy and fencing stolen goods.

      John Rechy published his accounts of male hustling in New Orleans and elsewhere. He had seemingly been unaffected by Garrison’s vice raids.

      After surgery in New York and at Johns Hopkins, Reed Erickson legally transitioned – a legal precedent in Louisiana. He married his first wife shortly afterwards.

      • John Rechy. City of Night. Grove Press, 1963.


      Tony Barreto-Neto ran off to New Orleans where, sometimes as a man, sometimes as a lesbian, he did a degree at Louisiana State University Medical Center while being openly gay, dropped out of graduate school, ran a gay disco, played drums in several bands, especially Original Bleus, became active on lesbian issues, was the first female co-chair of the Louisiana Gay Political Action Coalition (LAGPAC)


      Delisa Newton , nurse, jazz vocalist, had surgery and was billed in the press as ‘The First Negro Sex Change’.


      A few of the bars in the French Quarter offered drag performances, but it was strictly enforced that performers had to arrive dressed as men, and likewise to leave.

      The balls of the gay krewes were popular despite police harassment. They had problems finding places for the balls to be held. Some of the few organizations willing to rent to them were the African-American labor unions, especially the Longshoremen’s Association.


      Richard Ekins, the English future sociologist of transgender, and jazz musician, on his first visit to New Orleans encountered Joseph 'Kid Twat' Butler, bass player with the Kid Thomas Band, who had never seen such a tall, long-haired and heavily-bearded man, and bowed down proclaiming: “Here come de Lord!". The moniker stuck. Lord Richard set up his own record label, La Croix Records, and released seven LPs by both British and New Orleans musicians. The famous Kid Thomas Band recorded live in 1968 at Kohlman’s Tavern in New Orleans was one of his projects.

      State v. Young et al (1966); the Louisiana Supreme Court unanimously held that cunnilingus between lesbian partners was also criminal.


      Originally from New Orleans, Lady Java had been working in Los Angeles for two years, and was then performing and waiting at the Redd Foxx Club. She was billed as "The Prettiest Man on Earth”.

      Eddie Dame, the future Barbara de Lamere, had lost his New York boyfriend to a heterosexual marriage. After the wedding, Eddie went to New Orleans for Mardi Gras and bought a full set of female clothing. Back in New York Eddie started going out en femme. Barbara completed transition by 1982.

      Prominent gay businessman Clay Shaw was charged by Jim Garrison with conspiring to bring about the JFK assassination. New Orleans gay persons saw this as homophobic persecution.


      Perry Desmond’s father died, and she bought male clothing to attend his funeral. She opened a new beauty salon in a haunted ante-bellum house in New Orleans, and then became a self-taught astrologer, and did lots of drugs. Her business evolved into an occult shop called The Age of Aquarius. She had her fortune read two or three times every day and constantly recalculated her horoscope.


      Alice Stevenson reportedly first NO trans woman to achieve completion surgery. (Approximate year.)

      Clay Shaw reads about his trial

      The trial of Clay Shaw started during Mardi Gras. A not guilty verdict was returned by a jury that took less than one hour to decide.


      Gay Liberation Front local chapter founded. Although the group fell apart by mid-1971, in that brief span it had produced the first gay public action, a demonstration at City Hall protesting police harassment. It also published the first gay-identified publication, a newsletter entitled Sunflower, and presented the first Stonewall commemoration, a June 1971 "Gay-In" in City Park.


      Joseph Cluse from Lafayette, Louisiana, moved to New Orleans, became Joanna, performed in a nightclub and did sex work. She also did lots of drugs and drink.

      New Orleans Metropolitan Community Church founded.

      It is said that Bubbles Rose Lee of New York’s Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) was extradited to Louisiana on serious criminal charges – although there is no record of a trial.


      Club My-O-My destroyed by fire. It relocated to the French Quarter for a short wile, before closing permanently.

      First Southern Decadence. At first a private party, it has grown into one of the city's most important gay events. Guests at the original party were invited to come as their favorite Southern decadent character, real or fictional. This was repeated and became the huge annual Labor Day extravaganza called Southern Decadence, which rivals Mardi Gras in terms of the number of gay tourists it attracts. Costumes and cross-dressing are part of the celebrations.


      24 June. An arson attack at the Up Stairs Lounge, 141 Chartres Street, in the French Quarter of New Orleans. The prime suspect is a gay man who had been ejected from the bar earlier in the day. He was never charged and killed himself 17 months later. 29 died, and another 18 were injured, of whom three later died. 

      Among the dead was Reginald Adams, an Afro-American from Dallas who had been studying at Loyola University in New Orleans, initially with the aim of becoming a Jesuit priest. At the Up Stairs lounge he had met a young performer, who did drag acts, and was trying out some feminine personae. They became a couple, Regina and Reginald, one of the few inter-racial gay couples in New Orleans at that time. They were both at the Up Stairs social on the fatal night. They realized that they did not have enough money for a dinner arrangement afterwards, and, having finished her drink, it was Regina who went home to get some, and also a borrowed hat to be returned. On return she saw the building aflame.

      Marcy Marcel was a regular performer at the Upstairs, but she was fortunate in that she arrived late after watching Bette Davies in Jezebel on television.

      Another survivor was Adrian St Clair, a drag performer who went on to be the repeated winner of the Miss Drag Universe Pageant.

      The horror of the Upstairs fire was compounded by the undisguised homophobia of the time. Some churches refused to allow funerals for the victims, and some parents refused to claim the bodies of their children for burial. The tragedy, however, did motivate a handful of activists who launched another publication, Causeway, and established a Gay Crisis Phone Line.

      Marsha Delain met Rip Naquin on a trip to New Orleans. They soon moved in with each other in Baton Rouge. They started two gay publications that ultimately failed. Their third attempt was Ambush Magazine. Originally it covered Baton Rouge and north Louisiana.


      The following were consulted:

      •  James T Sears. Rebels, Rubyfruit and Rhinestones: Queering Space in the Stonewall South. Rutgers University Press, 2001.
      • Roberts Batson. “New Orleans”. GLBTQ, 2004.
      • Albert J Carey. “New Orleans Mardi Gras Krewes”. GLBTQ, 2004.
      • Scott S Ellis. Madame Vieux Carré. University Press of Mississippi, 2010.
      • Jelisa Thompson. You make Me Feel: A Study of the Gay Rights Movement in New Orleans. BA Thesis. The University of Southern Mississippi, 2011.
      • Frank Perez & Jeffrey Palmquist. In Exile: The History and Lore Surrounding New Orleans Gay Culture and Its Oldest Gay Bar. LL Publications, 2012.
      • Frank Perez. ““My O My! The Most Interesting Women Are Not Women At All!”. Ambush Magazine, March 5-18, 2013: 12. Online.
      • Frank Perez. “Killer Tricks”. Ambush Magazine, September 24 – October 7, 2013. Online.
      • Clayton Delery-Edwards. The Up Stairs Lounge Arson: Thirty-Two Deaths in a New Orleans Gay Bar, June 24, 1973. McFarland Publishing, 2014.
      • Howard Philips Smith. Unveiling the Muse: The Lost History of Gay Carnival in New Orleans. University Press of Mississippi, 2017. 
      • Robert W Fieselar.  Tinderbox: The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge Fire and the Rise of Gay Liberation. Liveright, 2018. 
      • Ryan Pretcher. Gay New Orleans: A History. PhD Thesis. Georgia State University, 2017. 

      Trans Legends on New Orleans      History of Drag Culture in New Orleans     

      LGBT+ Archives of Louisiana        QueerMusicHeritage(Club My-O-My) 

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      Trans New Orleans: Part III - Activism and Legal Changes


      Part I: the early years to news of Christine Jorgensen

      Part II: to the two fires of 1972-3

      Part III: Activism and Legal Changes


      Perry Desmond’s mother died, and wished to remember Perry ‘as you were’. Perry’s ex-lover had turned to Jesus, and kept sending her religious literature. She finally read it, and approached the Baptist Church next to the laundromat. The minister visited her at home, and she converted, and was persuaded that to God she was still a man. Perry reverted to male clothing. He (from now on) became a minister after a while, and a celebrity on the Christian circuit. He became a pioneer in the Exodus ex-gay movement.

      Travis’s Bar on Rampart Street became the drag venue after Club My-O-My closed. It sponsered a Miss Drag Universe Pageant.


      During a few weeks in the spring, five gay men were attacked and killed. The spree stopped when two black trans women tipped off the police. Sixteen-year-old Warren Harris who had been raised in a devout Baptist home was arrested. During questioning he expressed revulsion for gay men – this despite living with a trans woman. He was sentenced to three life sentences.

      The Anita Bryant crusade against gay and trans persons came to New Orleans – her first public appearance after her successful overturn of the gay rights ordinance in Miami. Perry Desmond spoke out in support, but otherwise it became the first large mobilization of gay protesters.

      Lucille Mar (born 1956) was arrested for prostitution. However a medical examination showed that she had previously been a man, and the Louisiana Law against prostitution applied only to women. The charges were dropped. 

      Faubourg Marigny Bookstore opened, the first gay/feminist bookstore in the US South.


      At Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Vicky West, the cover artist for New York’s Drag Magazine, was with a contingent organized by New York’s Lee's Mardi Gras Boutique when she met cis photographer Mariette Pathy Allen who was impressed by her posture: “who focused straight back at me. As I peered through the camera lens, I had the feeling that I was looking at neither a man nor a woman but at the essence of a human being”. As it turned out they lived 20 blocks apart in New York. They started going to parties and other events together.


      Joanna Cluse had genital surgery from Dr Biber in Colorado. Joanna met and married a loving Jewish man, but cheated on him, and then asked for a divorce. Her next fiancé dropped her when he discovered her past.

      Neil Cargile/Chenille, Tennessee cross-dresser and dare-devil pilot, landed a passenger at New Orleans, who then walked into the propellor and was decapitated.


      Regina Adams, who had escaped the Upstairs Lounge fire, became a well known performer in New Orleans, first as a drag performer, and then as a woman. In 1980 Regina legally changed her name to Regina Adams, honoring the man who should have been her husband.

      Colin Markland, previously sex-change surgeon at the University of Minnesota, was professor and Head of Urology at Louisiana State University.


      Leslie Townsend was in New Orleans. She worked as a female impersonator and a sex worker.


      Tara O’Hara had been raised by a Jehovah's Witness family in New Orleans. In the early 80s, he was working in Berlin as an English teacher. When he discovered Romy Haag's drag club he went back again and again, and started wearing drag to the club. This lead to a part in the show and he gave up both teaching and the Jehovah's Witnesses. She was in Rosa von Praunheim's 1983 film, Stadt Der Verlorenen Seelen (City of Lost Souls) along with Jayne County and Angie Stardust where they all play versions of themselves.

      Future sex-change doctor Toby Meltzer graduated with a MD from Lousiana State University, then did a four-year residency at the Charity Hospital in New Orleans.


      Perry Desmond died of a heart attack aged 48.


      Gilbertine Liveaudais was a fashionable trans woman who managed to be at the best galas, balls and soirées. She was a self described and unapologetic “quadroon”, who had been raised in the Magnolia Housing Development. She always did well in the Miss Drag Universe Pageant. She performed at Travis’s Bar. 


      Marsha and Rip Naquin-Delain moved to New Orleans. They expanded the coverage of Ambush Magazine to include the city.

      Crystal Little, ex-navy, had been oscillating for 20 years. After her mother died, she started to live openly as a woman. Her son stopped speaking to her.


      Marsha and Rip Naquin-Delain acquired the building at 828 Bourbon Street. The ground floor was the office of Ambush Magazine and Naquin and Delain lived upstairs.

      Joanna Cluse returned to LaFayette. One evening, while drunk, she crashed her car and almost killed her passengers. In 1988 she married a single father of two children. They moved to Marietta, Georgia, and she became a Christian wife and mother, and stayed off drugs and alcohol.

      Dave Parsons, punk rock author and record producer, lived in New Orleans for a while. He started performing mime and doing Charlie Chaplin impersonations. An Italian film crew found him and asked him to do Charlie at their film premier in Rome. He then ended up in Switzerland making a living as a Chaplin impersonator, and was the official Charlie Chaplin impersonator to the Chaplin family, working with them for 15 years. Dave as Donna completed transition in 2003, but died shortly afterwards.


      Marcy Marcell, who missed the Upstairs Lounge Fire by being late, founded the Gay Appreciation Awards, a charity fundraiser.


      • Oliver Stone (dir) JFK. Scr: Oliver Stone & Zachery Sklar, with Kevin Costner as Jim Garrison, Gary Oldman as Lee Harvey Oswald, Tommy Lee Jones as Clay Shaw. US 189 mins 1991. The major film about the 1963 presidential assassination which is shown as having been planned in New Orleans, with gay conspirators and a few fleeting drag queens, leading up to the trial of Clay Shaw. While some gay men may have been involved, the presentation here was upsetting to gay reviewers. Comment from GLAAD.


      Megan Chavalier and Alex Forrset performed as drag queens at Papa Joe’s on Bourbon Street. Chavalier later moved to Hollywood and became a trans pornstar.

      The City Council passed its first Gay non-discrimination ordinance.


      • Mark Frost (dir). Storyville. Mark Frost & Lee Reynolds (scr) with Bernard Zette as Tom Plunkett. US 113 mins 1992. Plunkett is a trans model who witnesses a murder, and then retreats to a male identity so as not to be found. Finally Plunkett – en femme – does appear at the trial to give evidence and is shot at, but survives. 


      New Orleans Ordinance introduced same-sex domestic partnerships in 1993, Naquin and Delain were the first to be registered.

      Section 5-66, ccs 18, 537, the ban on gay bar employee from 1959 was repealed; Ordinace 14.240 from 1935, that prohibited cross-dressing in public except on Mardi Gras, also repealed.


      Joanna Cluse had embraced her Christian beliefs more deeply, and by 1994 had concluded that she was outside God’s will. She shared her conclusion with her husband, and they separated. She returned to Louisiana as a woman.


      Trans woman Chrystal Little became director of the GLBT Community Center. She had already been president of Gulf Gender Alliance.


      Joanna Cluse participated in Crossover, the ex-transgender group. Eighteen months later she did a 40-day fast, and then in January 1999 returned to being Joseph. Joseph had his breast implants removed. He became pastor with Crossover and with Exodus, and became a star feature on the Exodus Gender Identity page, where he explained: “Satan’s stronghold on my life was such that I could see no other course for my life than a complete sex change operation. I believed God had made a mistake and given me the physical attributes of a man, and I determined to set things ‘right’ ”.

      Louisiana became the first state in US South to pass a hate crimes law that covered sexual orientation.


      New Orleans added gender identity to the list of groups protected from discrimination.

      Katey Red was signed and became one of the first trans rappers in the sissy bounce genre.


      Big Freedia, who had started singing in her local Baptist Church, started her career in bounce music.


      Peter Oiler, a 20-year Winn-Dixie supermarket truck driver in Harahan outside New Orleans, was fired when his manager found that outside work he was Donna. The case was taken up by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) which filed a federal lawsuit on his behalf under title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits sex discrimination, and the Supreme Court case Price Waterhouse v. Cooper which had barred sex stereotyping in the workplace. The US District Court Judge ruled against Oiler on both counts in 2002, and Winn-Dixie then sued Oiler for legal fees of $9,000. Casetext.

      Bobbi D’ean Perry was featured in the Times-Picayune as an example of trans women being benevolent.

      • Bill Grady. “The Girl Can’t Help it, So She helps Others”. Times-Picayune, 23 July 2000.


      JoAnn Guidos had waited until his mother died, and finally became JoAnn full time at age 51. Ex-wife Kathy and her new husband were friendly and together the three of them fixed up a couple of properties to be run as bars.

      Robert Durst, from a New York real-estate dynasty and a murder suspect, was living sometimes as Diane Winn in New Orleans.


      The husband of Ilsa Strix (Karin Winslow), a top dominatrix in Los Angeles, who had left him for Lana Wachowshi, one of the directors of the Matrix films, moved to New Orleans to be with his second wife, body piercer, tattoo artist and body modification enthusiast Elayne Angel - he took her name, and became Buck Angel. He then sought work as a trans-porn actor.

      The Louisiana anti-sodomy law was rendered unenforceable in 2003 by the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Lawrence v. Texas. However the 1805 law otherwise remained in effect and the police started using the clause that prohibits “unnatural copulation” against sex workers. They were charged with a felony, had “sex offender” added to their drivers’ license, were forbidden to wear a costume at Mardi Gras, and were denied public assistance. Of those so arrested, 78% are black, almost all are women and many are trans. Archived newsarticle.

      Rose Venkatesan of Chennai, Tamil Nadu, graduated in biomedical engineering from Louisiana Tech University. She commented that she found the people there to be “aggressively homophobic”.

      • Big Freedia. Queen Diva. CD, 2003.


      JoAnn Guidos was the co-owner with Kathy of Kajun’s Pub in downtown New Orleans. A few months later during Hurricane Katrina in August-September JoAnne kept her pub open as a place of refuge until armed troops forced the place to close, and all to evacuate.

      Cathryn Platine and Ethan St Pierre from New York State’s Cybele Maetreum organized relief efforts for the LGBT victims of the hurricane.

      Because of Hurricane Katrina, there was no Southern Decadence in 2005. Therefore joint Grand Marshalls Lisa Beaumann and Regina Adams reigned in both 2005 and 2006.

      Amiyah Scott, 17, raised in New Orleans, completed transition.


      New Orleans born female impersonator Elton Paris (1922-2007) died age 85. He had performed at Finocchio’s in San Francisco and with the Jewel Box Revue.


      Tyra Fields, a health worker, facilitated a meeting of black trans women who had been harrassed and subjected to arrest without cause by the police. NewsArticle.

      • Big Freedia. Big Freedia Hitz Vol 1. CD, 2010.


      Marcy Marcell died.

      New Orleans bounce artists including Katey Red and Big Freedia were celebrated in an exhibition at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans.


      Marsha and Rip Naquin-Delain were married in St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York on their 40th anniversary.


      Three Louisiana residents have been arrested after allegedly holding a transgender woman captive for months, treating her as their “slave”. 37-year-old David Rodriguez, Jr., along with Christina Marie Harper and Ambre Tubbs Lomas, both 39, were arrested on charges ranging from human trafficking to battery. Newsstory.

      • Big Freedia. Just be Free. CD, 2014.


      Tristan Broussard, 21, Lake Charles, Louisiana, filed a sex-discrimination lawsuit after forced to leave his job. A company executive found out he was listed on his driver's license as female. The executive demanded he dress and act like a woman, something he refused to do.

      Amiyah Scott cast in The Real Housewives of Atlanta– the first trans woman in the franchise. Later she was cast in the show Star.

      Murdered: Penny Proud.


      Goddess Diamond was found dead in a torched car. 


      Rip Naquin died age 63 in August 2017 of liver failure. Marsha died four months later – some say of a broken heart.

      Sophie White, filmmaker and actress started transition. That year she won an International Screen Writers Association award. She also pitched a film called Hummingbird loosely based on her own story of almost being pushed to suicide. They started filming with Sophie in the lead role. However another trans woman brought in as a consultant died by suicide, and they did not have the heart to finish post-production. 

      Three unrelated murders of trans women in February: Ciara McElvee, Chyna Gibson & Jaquarrius Holland.


      Joseph Cluse died on his birthday, age 64.

      Armani Nicole Davenport, a trans pageant winner, was tried in New Orleans for illegally injecting another trans women with silicone. She pleaded guilty to negligent homicide, and was sentenced to two years probation and 50 hours of cummunity service. Newsarticle.


      Sophie White cast in an episode of Chicago Med.

      • Amiyah Scott. Memoirs of a Mermaid: The Evolution of Amiyah Scott. Kindle, 2019.


      New Orleans trans poet, Taylor Johnson, featured by the Folger Shakespeare Library. NewsArticle.

      The House of Tulip organized an online fundraiser, and bid for some rundown properties to become a refuge for homeless trans and gnc persons.


      The following were consulted

      • James T Sears. Rebels, Rubyfruit and Rhinestones: Queering Space in the Stonewall South. Rutgers University Press, 2001.
      • Roberts Batson. “New Orleans”. GLBTQ, 2004
      • Scott S Ellis. Madame Vieux Carré. University Press of Mississippi, 2010.
      • Jelisa Thompson. You make Me Feel: A Study of the Gay Rights Movement in New Orleans. BA Thesis. The University of Southern Mississippi, 2011.
      • Frank Perez & Jeffrey Palmquist. In Exile: The History and Lore Surrounding New Orleans Gay Culture and Its Oldest Gay Bar. LL Publications, 2012.
      • Frank Perez. ““My O My! The Most Interesting Women Are Not Women At All!”. Ambush Magazine, March 5-18, 2013: 12. Online.
      • Frank Perez. “Killer Tricks”. Ambush Magazine, September 24 – October 7, 2013. Online.
      • Ryan Pretcher. Gay New Orleans: A History. PhD Thesis. Georgia State University, 2017. 

      Trans Legends on New Orleans 

      History of Drag Culture in New Orleans 

      LGBT+ Archives of Louisiana