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Sexology and Trannies in the Early Twentieth Century and then the Sex Change
Dr. James Barry
... there were many other females who lived their lives as men without the slightest suspicion in most people's minds ...
Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, gender crossing became better known and more prominent in western society. To Victorian society it was an embarrassment, but to the post 'sexual revolution' generation it has become increasingly fascinating and even something to symbolically emulate. Then in the last half of the present century came the medical phenomenon commonly called the 'sex change'.
Perhaps the best known nineteenth century trannie is Dr. James Barry, who was born a female in 1795. Much of James' early life remains a mystery, so skilful did he disguise his biological sex that we don't even know what his given female name was. The earliest record of any certainty that we have of him was his graduation from the Edinburgh Medical College in 1812, at a time when women were forbidden in the medical profession. A year later he joined the British army as a medical officer. After a few years in the home guard, James was promoted to Staff Surgeon in 1819 and sent to the Cape of Good Hope as medical advisor to the Governor. A few more years later he was serving on St. Helena and Malta, and was elevated to Surgeon Major in 1827. After that his rise was meteoric in the army medical corps, and he served in the West Indies as chief medical officer. James was prickly in temperament and quick to lose his temper. People said of him that he was guarded and secretive. His slight frame, small limbs, short height and smooth face aroused the suspicion of some of his colleagues, arousing the curiosity of outsiders, one of whom remarked resembled a woman, with small limbs in good proportion. His voice was shrill and squeaky and quite unlike the voice of a man, The impression left after speaking with him was that he laboured under some sexual malformation. Whatever people thought of him, there is no doubt that he was admired for his medical skills. In 1851 he became Deputy Inspector-General and in this capacity served in the Crimean War in charge of the medical corps. It is interesting to speculate on the type of professional relationship Dr. Barry and Florence Nightingale, as his nurse in charge, might have had throughout the war. After the war James reached the top in his profession by becoming the Inspector-General of Hospitals in 1858. He spent his remaining years in London, and died at home in 1865 A post-mortem revealed that James Barry was indeed of the female sex, the first time this was publicly confirmed.
Whilst a cloud of doubt surrounded James Barry's sex for much of his life, there were many other females who lived their lives as men without the slightest suspicion in most people's minds, including Charley Wilson, alias Catherine Coombes, a painter and decorator by trade for forty-two years, John Coulter, who amazingly was married to a woman for twenty-nine years without her being aware he was a female, Charles Durkee Parkhurst, a stagecoach driver in the American west, and 'Mountain' Charley, a Rocky Mountain trapper of many years. The tradition of females entering the military as men continued into the nineteenth century. Nadezhda Durova was a peasant girl who married and had a son before running away dressed as a boy to join the Russian Army in 1805. As Aleksandr Aleksandrov he saw action in 1807 and took a part in the campaign against Napoleon in 1812. He left the army four years later and in 1836 began working on his manuscript with writer Aleksandr Pushkin, who persuaded him to revert to a female sex role, in which state she remained until her death in 1866. Another female soldier was Loreta Janeta Velazquez, who joined the Confederate Army during the American Civil War disguised as a man purportedly to find her husband. In the process Loreta ended up in a number of battles and was wounded twice.
Jenny de Savalette de Lange lived as a woman most of her life and even had a birth certificate designating her a female. She became engaged to marry a cavalry officer, but managed to avoid actually marrying, and she had a number of other suitors, all of whom she rejected. One of her discarded lovers had some unkind words to say of her: "(She was) tall, thin and lopsided, and she leaned on an umbrella. Her features were hard; her look stern and her voice shrill and cracked. She took snuff frequently and had such a masculine appearance that people who passed in the street used to say how much she resembled a man." But Jenny obviously had some influence in high places because Napoleon granted her a pension in 1812 and even rooms in the palace of Versailles. Although this pension ceased with the fall of the Empire in 1822 she was paid the salary of a post-mistresses, even though she never actually took up a position in the mail service. Her pension and the Versailles chambers were returned to her in 1825, but in 1853 she lost her rooms at Versailles when the palace was turned into a museum. Five years later Jenny died in a little apartment in Paris, and upon examination her body was found to be that of a male, but no-one knew her original name nor identity.
Sexology and Trannies in the Early Twentieth Century
Maria Bochkareva, continued fighting in World War One despite being discovered as female
Around the turn of the century the new science of psychology introduced some new concepts on gender crossing and cross-dressing. But the first attempts at scientifically investigating sexual variations were made by a German physician, Carl Westphal, who wrote the earliest scientific publication on cross-dressing in 1969 Richard von Krafft-Ebing is the foremost sexologist whose milestone book Psychopathia Sexualis, published in 1887, established the concept of sexual perversion, which included everything apart from heterosexual activity for the purpose of procreation. Sigmund Freud did not investigate cross-dressing as a subject of psychoanalysis, although he considered it a form of fetishism and an outcome of penis envy in females or castration anxiety in males. Iwan Bloch demonstrated the universality of cross-dressing. But it was Magnus Hirschfeld who first described cross-dressing as a different phenomenon to homosexuality and fetishism. Some say his own homosexual orientation gave him an insight into the area referred to as sexual deviancy in his day than any other contemporary scientist. In his major work on the subject in 1910 he tried to view cross-dressing as a variation on a sexual theme, rather than as a perversion, and in seventeen cases closely examined by him twelve were heterosexual, two bisexual, two autosexual and one homosexual. Hirschfeld called the phenomenon transvestism (literally: cross-dressing). Another prominent sexologist of the early twentieth century is Havelock Ellis, who preferred the term eonism (after the Chevalier d'Eon) to describe cross-dressing. But, more importantly was his recognition that more extreme forms of cross-dressing, that is where someone actually wants to be of the opposite sex and is not just satisfied with donning the clothes of the opposite sex, may be a separate phenomenon.
With or without scientific terminology to describe their behaviour females and males continued the long tradition of gender crossing in western society into the twentieth century. Female soldiers passing as men fought alongside their male comrades in World War I and were occasionally discovered, such as Maria Bochkareva, who fought as a man in the Russian Army in the war and was allowed to continue in the trenches even after she was found to be a female. Later she would lead the Petrograd Women's Battalion of Death in the Russian Revolution in 1917 in support of the White Russians against the Bolsheviks. Of all the female-to-male trannies in the pre-'sex change' period Billy Tipton, who became a prominent jazz musician with his own trio in the 1930s and was married with two adopted sons who called him 'father', is probably the most successful. None of his close musical colleagues suspected his biological sex, and anyone who suggested he was effeminate looking was challenged by Tipton to fisticuffs.
There were some very successful male-to-female trannies in the pre-'sex change' era too, like Adele Best, who lived as a woman for fifty-four years without detection, which included three husbands who were none the wiser either. Georgia Black also married, and was widowed twice, and had an adopted son who knew her only as his mother. One of Iwan Bloch's cases, Frederica, provides a clue to how these trannies might have kept their biological sex a secret from their husbands; she managed to have many lovers who never doubted she was a woman by using her anus as a vagina. In 1923 a pretty young woman was detained by Chicago police as a murder suspect after she was identified at the scene of the crime. But as she sat in her cell in her nightgown and kimono the police noticed the young woman sprouting a stubble beneath her make-up. The woman turned out to be a noted gangster who frequently dressed as a woman. In Court she appeared in make-up, satin slacks and silken top, but managed to achieve an acquittal because the witness who positively identified her said her eyes were blue, whereas, in fact, they were grey. Another example of tranny variance was the tragic case of a Parisian public servant found hanged in his room attired in lingerie, hosiery and make-up in 1926. On investigation police found that this quiet unassuming little man was none other than the notorious Madame Cartier, who frequented the nightlife of Montmartre and was well-known for dancing and dining the evening away and, like Cinderella, disappearing into the night at midnight. Next morning the little public servant would make his way back to his office in the morning, that is, until that fateful morning of his suicide. The authorities wrote the case off as just one more deranged homosexual killing himself out of shame.
Came the 'Sex-Change'
Danish Trans Woman, Lili Elbe, one of the first identifiable recipients of male-to-female sex reassignment surgery in 1932
For many trannies in the past their greatest desire was to change their genitals to the shape of their desired sex. That desire would become reality for thousands following the so-called sex reassignment surgery of the mid twentieth century, during what I have referred to as the 'sex change' period. But this period began at the end of more than half a century of experimenting. Perhaps the earliest attempt at reconstructing genitals to shape them like the opposite sex took place in 1882 when a German woman Sophia Hedwig's genitalia was operated on to try and give them a semblance of a male's. Although it was not very successful, Sophia's sex was changed, officially and she became Herman Karl for the rest of his life. In 1917 another woman, Alberta Hart, herself a physician, underwent a hysterectomy and thereafter lived as a man known as Alan. The next most important case occurred in 1931 when Margrith Businger was granted the full status of female by a Swiss Canton court following a castration operation. Two years later Danish artist Einar Wagener underwent an operation in Berlin by surgeon Francis Abraham, who removed both his testes and penis, and he became Lili Elbe when given the official status of female in Denmark. Poor Lili died only six months later while waiting for vaginoplasty (a constructed vagina). During the war a repulsive experiment was carried out by a Nazi surgeon who reshaped the genitals of a male Jewish prisoner who had no intention of changing his gender. About the same time Arnold-Leon Leber was castrated in Switzerland, but an attempt at vaginoplasty was unsuccessful. Nevertheless, he was legally proclaimed a female by a Swiss court and she took the name of Arlene-Irene. By this time the issue of 'sex change' was becoming much discussed in the medical journals and one writer Dr. David Cauldwell coined the term by which people came to know those who sought 'sex change' surgery when he spoke about 'psychopathia trans-sexualis' in a 1949 edition of Sexology.
In the same year of Cauldwell's article a female called Laura Dillon completed the first 'sex change' that involved a reconstructed phallus. She had undergone a mastectomy and a phalloplasty, but not a hysterectomy nor oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries). Laura became Michael, entered medical college and served as a ship's doctor before disappearing into oblivion as a Buddhist monk in India, where he eventually died. In 1951 an ex-R.A.F. pilot during the war and more recently a racing car driver, Robert Cowell, was operated on but was not given a vaginoplasty. Nevertheless he changed his identity and became known as Roberta for the rest of her life. The most celebrated 'sex-change' was that of Christine Jorgensen, a one-time U.S. soldier called George, who was operated on by the Danish surgeon Christian Hamburger in 1953. Jorgensen had an orchidectomy (removal of testes) and penectomy (removal of penis), but a reconstructed vagina was not completed. However, she was the first trannie to undergo extensive oestrogen therapy, and her case became the model on which all subsequent 'sex change' treatments were based. Following the immense publicity of the Jorgensen case, Dr. Hamburger received 465 written requests for surgery from women and men all over the world. For the first time society was beginning to grasp the extent of the transgender phenomenon. The focus moved from Europe's experimental surgery to the United States and 'sex-change' as an acceptable practice in medicine. Endocrinologist Harry Benjamin took it up as a major cause with his well-known statement of "if the mind cannot be changed to suit the body, then let the body be changed to suit the mind." He was granted funds by the Erikson Educational Foundation to pursue research into transsexualism further and eventually established the guidelines upon which modern day 'sex changes' take place. The first operation in the U.S.A. was carried out on a female-to-male, who had a mastectomy and oophorectomy in 1960, but the first fully successful conversion took place with a negro male-to-female tranny in 1965. Since then medical institutions in many parts of the world have carried out 'sex change' operations as a normal part of their medical and health services. And, as they say, the rest is now history!
From Wikipedia: James Miranda Stuart Barry (1789 – 1865), was a military surgeon in the British Army. After graduating from the University of Edinburgh Medical School, Barry served in India and Cape Town, South Africa. By the end of his career, he had risen to the rank of Inspector General in charge of military hospitals. In his travels he not only improved conditions for wounded soldiers, but also the conditions of the native inhabitants. Among his accomplishments was the first caesarean section in Africa by a British surgeon in which both the mother and child survived the operation.
Although Barry lived his adult life as a man, it is believed that at birth he was identified or assigned as female and named Margaret Ann Bulkley, raised as a girl, and that he chose to live as a man so that he might be accepted as a university student and able to pursue a career as a surgeon. Thus Barry would be the first British woman to become a qualified medical doctor.
James Barry retired in 1864 — reputedly against his wishes — and returned to England. He died from dysentery on 25 July 1865. Sophia Bishop, the charwoman who took care of the body, discovered his female anatomy and revealed this information after the funeral. The situation came to light after an exchange of letters between George Graham of the General Register Office, and Major D.R. McKinnon, Barry's doctor and the person who had issued the death certificate on which Barry was identified as male.
From Wikipedia: Charley Parkhurst, born Mary Parkhurst in 1812 in Vermont, U.S.A., was raised along with his sister in a New Hampshire orphanage following his mother's death in 1812. Upon leaving the orphanage he adopted the name Charley Darkey Parkhurst, dressed and lived as a male and worked as a stable hand first in Massachusetts and then in Rhode Island.
In about 1849, Charley moved to California and took employment for the California Stage Company. Shortly after arriving, he lost the use of one eye after a kick from a horse earning him the nickname "One-Eyed Charley". He also gained the reputation as one of the finest stage coach drivers on the west coast.
Parkhurst retired from driving some years later and after trying lumbering, cattle ranching, and raising chickens, he moved into a small cabin near Watsonville, California. He died there on December 18, 1879, due to tongue cancer.
When Parkhurst died in 1879, neighbours came to the cabin to lay out the body for burial and discovered that Parkhurst's body looked unexpectedly female. Rheumatism and cancer of the tongue were listed as causes of death. The examining doctor established that Parkhurst had given birth. A trunk in the house contained a baby's dress.
Nadezhda Durova / Aleksandr Aleksandrov
From Wikipedia: Nadezhda Durova was born in an army camp in Kiev, the daughter of a Russian major. Her father placed her in the care of his soldiers after an incident that nearly killed her in infancy when her abusive mother threw her out of the window of a moving carriage. As a small child, Durova learned all the standard marching commands and her favourite toy was an unloaded gun. After her father retired from service, she continued playing with broken sabres and frightened her family by secretly taming a stallion that they considered unbreakable. In 1801, she married a Sarapul judge V.S. Chernov and gave birth to a son in 1803. In 1807, at the age of twenty-four she disguised herself as a boy, deserted her son and husband, and bringing her horse Alkid, enlisted in a Polish uhlan regiment under the alias "Alexander Sokolov".
She fought in the major Russian engagements of the 1806-1807 Prussian campaign. During two of those battles, she saved the lives of two fellow Russian soldiers. The first was an enlisted man who fell off his horse on the battlefield and suffered a concussion. She gave him first aid under heavy fire and brought him to safety as the army retreated around them. The second was an officer, unhorsed but uninjured. Three French dragoons were closing on him. She couched her lance and scattered the enemy. Then, against regulations, she let the officer borrow her own horse to hasten his retreat, which left her more vulnerable to attack. During the campaign, she wrote a letter to her family explaining her disappearance. They used their connections in a desperate attempt to locate her. The rumour of an amazon in the army reached Tsar Alexander I, who took a personal interest. Durova's chain of command reported that her courage was peerless. Summoned to the palace at St. Petersburg, she impressed the Tsar so much that he awarded her the Cross of St. George and promoted her to lieutenant in a hussar unit (Mariupol Hussar Regiment). The story that there was the heroine in the army with the name Alexander Sokolov had become well known by that time. So the Tsar awarded her a new pseudonym, Alexandrov, based on his own name.
Loreta Janeta Velazquez
Loreta Janeta Velázquez was born in Havana, Cuba, on June 26, 1842 to a wealthy Cuban official and a mother of both French and American ancestry.
Everything known about her comes from her autobiography The Woman in Battle: A Narrative of the Exploits, Adventures, and Travels of Madame Loreta Janeta Velázquez, Otherwise Known as Lieutenant Harry T Buford, Confederate States Army. How much of it is true is unknown. Historians have generally doubted its veracity for the improbability of many of her adventures, her frequent vagueness or inaccuracy about names and places, and the absence of any evidence to corroborate her sensational claims.
At the age of fourteen she eloped with a Texan United States Army officer known only as William. She initially continued to live with her aunt, but after a quarrel with her she moved in with her husband and would live at various army posts, estranging herself further from her family by converting to Methodism.
At the outbreak of the American Civil War, her husband resigned his U.S. commission and joined the Confederate Army. She failed to convince him to let her join him so she acquired two uniforms, adopted the name Henry T. Buford and moved to Arkansas. She supposedly fought in the First Battle of Bull Run, grew tired of camp life and again donned female garb to go to Washington, D.C. where she spied for the Confederacy. When she returned to the South she was assigned to the detective corps and later left for Tennessee. In Tennessee, she fought in the siege of Fort Donelson until the surrender. She was wounded in battle, but was not exposed. She fled to New Orleans, where she was arrested, suspected of being a female Union spy in disguise. After she was released, she enlisted again, and at Shiloh, as she was burying the dead after a battle, a stray shell wounded her and the army doctor who examined her discovered she was a woman. She gave up her uniform at that point however later in Richmond, Virginia, authorities hired her as a spy. After the war, she travelled in Europe as well as in the South. She married a Major Wasson and emigrated with him to Venezuela.
Edited from Wikipedia: Of a peasant family, Maria Frolkova was born in the Russian Empire in 1889. She left home aged fifteen to marry Afanasy Bochkarev and they moved to Tomsk, Siberia where they worked as labourers. When her husband began to assault her, Bochkareva left him and entered a relationship with a local named Yakov Buk. At the outbreak of World War I in 1914, Bochkareva left Buk and managed to join the 25th Tomsk Reserve Battalion of the Imperial Russian Army by securing the personal permission of Tsar Nicholas II. Men of the regiment treated her with ridicule or sexually harassed her until she proved her mettle in battle. In the following years, Bochkareva was twice wounded and decorated three times for bravery. She bayoneted at least one German soldier to death.
After the abdication of the Tsar in March 1917, she was charged with creating an all-female combat unit by Minister of War Alexander Kerensky. This was the first women's battalion to be organized in Russia. Bochkareva's 1st Russian Women's Battalion of Death initially attracted around 2,000 women volunteers, but the commander's strict discipline drove all but around 300 dedicated women soldiers out of the unit.
After a month of intensive training, Bochkareva and her unit were sent to the Russian western front to participate in the June Offensive. The unit was involved in one major battle, near the town of Smorgon. The women of the unit performed well in combat, but the vast majority of male soldiers, already long demoralised, had little inclination to continue fighting. Bochkareva herself was wounded in the battle and sent back to Petrograd to recuperate.
Bochkareva was only marginally involved in the creation of other women's combat units formed in Russia during the spring and summer of 1917. Her unit was at the front at the time of the Bolshevik October Revolution and did not participate in the defence of the Winter Palace. The unit disbanded after facing increasing hostility from the male troops remaining at the front. Bochkareva returned to Petrograd where she was initially detained by the Bolsheviks but released shortly thereafter. She secured permission to rejoin her family in Tomsk, but left for Petrograd again in early 1918. She claims to have then received a telegram asking her to take a message to General Lavr Kornilov, who was commanding a White Army in the Caucasus. After leaving Kornilov's headquarters she was again detained by the Bolsheviks, and after learning her connection with the Whites, was scheduled to be executed. She was rescued, however, by a soldier who had served with her in the Imperial army in 1915 and who convinced the Bolsheviks to stay her execution. She was granted an external passport and allowed to leave the country. Bochkareva then made her way to Vladivostok, where she left for the United States by steamship in April, 1918.
She arrived in San Francisco and then made her way to New York and Washington, D.C., sponsored by the wealthy socialite Florence Harriman. She was given a meeting with President Woodrow Wilson during which she begged the president to intervene in Russia. Wilson was apparently so moved by her emotional appeal that he responded with tears in his eyes and promised to do what he could. While in New York, Bochkareva dictated her memoirs, Yashka: My Life As Peasant, Exile, and Soldier to a Russian émigré journalist named Isaac Don Levine. After leaving the United States she travelled to Great Britain where she was granted an audience with King George V. The British War Office gave her funding to return to Russia. She arrived in Archangel in August 1918 and attempted to organize another unit, but failed.
In April 1919 she returned to Tomsk and attempted to form a women's medical detachment under the White Admiral Aleksandr Kolchak, but before she could complete this task she again was captured by the Bolsheviks. She was sent to Krasnoiarsk where she was interrogated for four months and finally sentenced to execution, found guilty of being an enemy of the people. The Cheka carried out her execution by firing squad on May 16, 1920.
From Wikipedia: Billy Tipton (1914–1989) was an American jazz musician and bandleader. Born in Oklahoma, U.S.A., he grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.A., where he was raised by an aunt after his parents' divorce. As a high-school student, Tipton went by the nickname Tippy and became interested in music, especially jazz, studying piano and saxophone, and as he began a more serious music career, he adopted his father's nickname, Billy, and was more actively working to pass as male by breast binding and packing. At first, he only presented as male in performance, but by 1940 was living as a man in his private life as well.
Billy played with many different house bands throughout the United States, occasionally touring with them before establishing the Billy Tipton Trio, which consisted of Tipton on piano, Dick O'Neil on drums, and Kenny Richards (and later Ron Kilde) on bass. The trio gained local popularity and during a performance on tour in California, a talent scout from Tops Records heard them play and gave them a contract. The Billy Tipton Trio recorded two albums of jazz standards, namely "Sweet Georgia Brown" and "Billy Tipton Plays Hi-Fi on Piano", both released early in 1957. The Trio continued until the late 1970s, when worsening arthritis forced Tipton to retire from music.
For seven years, Tipton lived with Betty Cox, who was 19 when they became involved. According to Cox, they had a heterosexual relationship. Tipton kept the secret of his extrinsic sexual characteristics from Betty by inventing a story of having been in a serious car accident that had badly damaged his genitals and broken some ribs, so that to protect the damaged chest he had to bind it. From then on, this was what he would tell the women in his life. In 1960, he ended this relationship to settle down with nightclub dancer and stripper Kitty Kelly. They adopted three sons, John, Scott, and William. After Tipton's death, Kitty gave several interviews about him and their relationship. William described Tipton as a good father who loved to go on Scout camping trips. Their adopted sons became difficult to manage during their adolescence. Because of the couple's ongoing arguments over how they should raise the boys, Tipton left Kitty in the late 1970s, moved into a mobile home with their sons, and resumed an old relationship with a woman named Maryann. He remained there, living in poverty, until his death.
In 1989, at the age of 74, Tipton had symptoms he attributed to emphysema and refused to call a doctor. Actually he was suffering from a haemorrhaging peptic ulcer, which, untreated, was fatal. It was while paramedics were trying to save Tipton's life, with son William looking on, that William learned that his father had female anatomy. Tipton was pronounced dead at Valley General Hospital. The coroner shared this with the rest of the family. In an attempt to keep the secret, Kitty arranged for his body to be cremated, but one of their sons went public with the story. The first newspaper article was published the day after Tipton's funeral and it was quickly picked up by wire services. Stories about Tipton appeared in a variety of papers including tabloids, as well as more reputable papers such as New York Magazine and The Seattle Times.
Edited from Wikipedia: Lili Elbe was born in Denmark in 1882 and given the name Einar Mogens Wegener. While presenting as male for most of her life, she became a successful landscape artist and met her partner, Gerda Gottlieb at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. They married in 1904 when Lili was twenty-two and Gerda nineteen. They travelled through Italy and France, eventually settling in Paris in 1912, where Lili could live openly as a woman and Gerda could be actively lesbian.
In 1930 Elbe went to Germany for Sex Reassignment Surgery, which was only in an experimental state at the time. A series of five operations were performed over a period of two years. The first surgery, removal of the testicles (orchiectomy), was made under the supervision of sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld in Berlin. The remainder of Elbe's surgeries were performed by Dr. Kurt Warnekros in the Dresden Municipal Women's Clinic. The second operation was to remove the penis, and transplant ovaries, which were taken from a twenty-six-year-old woman. These were soon removed in a third, then fourth operation due to transplant rejection and other serious complications. The fifth operation was to transplant a uterus and was intended to allow Elbe, then nearing the age of fifty, to carry a baby.
At the time of Elbe's surgery her case was already a sensation in newspapers of Denmark and Germany. The King of Denmark invalidated the Wegeners' marriage in October 1930, and Elbe managed to get her sex and name legally changed, including receiving a passport as Lili Elbe. She also stopped painting believing it to be something that only Einar did.
Tragically, she died just three months after her fifth and final surgery, the cause was once again believed to be transplant rejection. She is buried in Dresden, Germany.
It is believed that Elbe may have been intersexed; and may have had Klinefelter's Syndrome or some other SRY gene transfer condition. As most of the known types of intersex were not formally identified until after Lili's death, it is difficult to be sure. A Dresden doctor claimed to have noticed rudimentary ovaries and pre-operative blood tests indicated large amounts of female hormones at the expense of the male hormones.
Edited from Wikipedia: Laurence Michael Dillon was born in Ireland in May 1915 in Ireland, his mother dying of sepsis ten days after giving birth. Dillon, then physically female and known as Laura Maud Dillon, was raised with his brother by their aunts in the town of Folkestone, Kent, England. He received his undergraduate education at Oxford and after graduating he took a job at a research laboratory in rural Gloucestershire.
Dillon had long been more comfortable in men's clothing and felt that he was not truly a woman. In 1939, he sought treatment from Dr. George Foss, who had been experimenting with testosterone to treat excessive menstrual bleeding; at the time, the hormone's masculinizing effects were poorly understood. Foss provided Dillon with testosterone pills but insisted that Dillon consult a psychiatrist first, who ultimately gossiped about Dillon's desire to become a man, and soon the story was all over town. Dillon fled to Bristol and took a job at a garage. The hormones soon made it possible for him to pass as male, and eventually the garage manager insisted that other employees refer to Dillon as "he" in order to avoid confusing customers.
Dillon suffered from hypoglycaemia, and twice injured his head in falls when he passed out from low blood sugar. While he was in the Royal Infirmary recovering from the second of these attacks, he happened to come to the attention of one of the world's few practitioners of plastic surgery – at the time, a rare specialty maligned by most physicians. The surgeon performed a double mastectomy, provided Dillon with a doctor's note that enabled him to change his birth certificate, and put him in touch with the pioneering plastic surgeon Harold Gillies. Gillies had previously reconstructed penises for injured soldiers and performed surgery on intersex people with ambiguous genitalia. He was willing to perform a phalloplasty, but not immediately; the constant influx of wounded soldiers from World War II already kept him in the operating room around the clock. In the meantime Dillon enrolled in medical school at Trinity College, Dublin under his new legal name, Laurence Michael Dillon.
Gillies performed at least thirteen surgeries on Dillon between 1946 and 1949. He officially diagnosed Dillon with acute hypospadias in order to conceal the fact that he was performing sex reassignment surgery. Dillon, still a medical student at Trinity, blamed war injuries when infections caused a temporary limp. In 1946 Dillon published Self: A Study in Endocrinology and Ethics, a book about what would now be called transsexuality ... Read more about Michael Dillon at Wikipedia
Edited from Wikipedia: Roberta Cowell was born Robert Marshall Cowell in England in 1918. She left school at sixteen to join General Aircraft Limited and served in the Royal Air Force as a Spitfire Pilot during World War II between 1942 and 1945 ultimately becoming a prisoner of war and spending time at Stalag Luft I. She remained a prisoner for around five months, occupying the time by teaching classes in automotive-engineering to fellow inmates. Prior to the war, Roberta had been involved in motor racing, having gained initial experience by sneaking into the area where cars were serviced at the Brooklands racing circuit, wearing overalls, and offering help to any driver or mechanic who wanted it. By 1939, she owned three cars and had competed in the 1939 Antwerp Grand Prix.
In 1948, Cowell separated from her wife and, suffering from depression, she sought out a leading Freudian psychiatrist of the time but was ultimately unsatisfied by the help that he offered. Sessions with a second Freudian psychiatrist gradually revealed that her unconscious mind was predominantly female and the feminine side of her nature, which all of her life she had known of and severely repressed, was very much more fundamental and deep-rooted than she had supposed.
By 1950, Cowell was taking large doses of oestrogen, but was still living as a man. She had become acquainted with Michael Dillon, a physician who was the first British female-to-male transsexual, after reading his 1946 volume Self: A Study in Endocrinology and Ethics. This work proposed that individuals should have the right to change gender, to have the kind of body they desired. The two developed a close friendship. Dillon subsequently carried out an Inguinal orchiectomy on Cowell. Secrecy was necessary for this as the procedure was then illegal in the United Kingdom and no surgeon would agree to perform it openly.
Cowell then presented herself to a private, Harley Street, gynaecologist and was able to obtain from him a document stating she was intersex. This allowed her to have a new birth certificate issued, with her recorded sex changed to female. She had a vaginoplasty in 1951. The operation was carried out by Sir Harold Gillies, widely considered the father of plastic surgery, with the assistance of American surgeon Ralph Millard. Gillies had previously operated on Michael Dillon, but vaginoplasty was then an entirely novel procedure, which Gillies had only previously performed experimentally on a cadaver.
In March 1954, news of her gender reassignment broke, gaining public interest around the world. In the United Kingdom, her story was published in the magazine Picture Post, her biography was published soon after this.
From Queers in History: Christine Jorgensen was born in 1926 and named George William Jorgensen, Jr. She grew up in the Bronx area of New York and was self-described as having been a "frail, blond, introverted little boy who ran from fistfights and rough-and-tumble games". She graduated from high school in 1945 and shortly thereafter was drafted into the Army.
Returning to New York after military service and increasingly concerned over her lack of male physical development, she heard about sex reassignment surgery and began taking female hormones on her own. She intended to go to Sweden, where at the time, the only doctors in the world performing this surgery were located, but during a stopover in Copenhagen to visit relatives, she met Dr. Christian Hamburger, a Danish endocrinologist and specialist in rehabilitative hormonal therapy. Jorgensen stayed in Denmark, and under Dr. Hamburger's direction, begin hormone replacement therapy. She then received special permission from the Danish Minister of Justice to undergo a series of operations. First her testicles were removed and a year later, still in Denmark, she had a penectomy. Jorgensen then returned to the U.S.A. and eventually obtained a vaginoplasty when the procedure became available there.
A media sensation developed on December 1, 1952 when the New York Daily News carried a front-page story announcing that Jorgensen had become the recipient of the first "sex change". This claim is not true as the type of surgery had previously been performed by pioneering German doctors in the late 1920s and early 1930s. When Jorgensen returned to New York she became an instant celebrity. There has been speculation that Jorgensen leaked her story to the press. The publicity created a platform for Jorgensen, who used her publicity to advocate for transgender people.
Catherine Coombes / Charley Wilson
From the Bruce Herald: "Catherine Coombes", shouted the gaoler at the Westminster Police Court late on August 2. And there stepped briskly into the dock a little, rough featured, grey-haired old man, in a coarse suit, carrying a bowler hat and a small black bag. That, at least, was the surprised Court's first impression of the prisoner. But the "little old man" was actually Catherine Coombes, sometime known as "Charley Wilson" — an extraordinary woman, who is believed to have passed as a man for half a century. "Age 68, painter and decorator", was the terse description of her that appeared on the charge-sheet. A policeman, it seemed, found her on the previous day in Winchester street, Pimlico, complaining of the loss of her bag. He arrested the supposed man as being drunk and disorderly. On reaching the police station the prisoner created a mild sensation by announcing that she was a woman. "And I've been a good woman, too, in my time", she added. "I was excited; I was not drunk", interposed the quaint figure in the dock, during the recital of these facts. A detective informed the Bench that Coombes had been in the workhouse and in prison. A remand was wished for. "Yes" said Mr Francis, the magistrate, "when an old woman is going about in man's clothes there is good ground for further inquiries. It would be interesting to know whether she went to prison as a man or a woman. No further evidence was given, and Coombes was remanded. Bail in was allowed, but was not forthcoming. Few women have had so astonishing a career as Catherine Coombes, or Coome, as her real name probably is. Smoking a briar pipe, and dressed as usual in male attire, she first made the acquaintance of the Westminster Police four years ago when she walked into Rochester Row station. To an amazed inspector she found there she told the story of her life. She was married at the age of fifteen years to one Percival Coombes, she said. Many years afterwards she wedded, as a man, a woman with whom she lived for fourteen years at Huddersfield. For forty-five years, she went on, she had passed as a man. She called herself "Charley Wilson", and she had worked at the docks, in a printing office, onboard a ship, and as a painter and decorator. She is also said to have been employed as a bricklayer's labourer, and at several other kinds of toil requiring no special training. Catherine Coombes is not the only male-dressed woman Westminster has housed. There was another, who went so tar as to seek enlistment in the Royal Artillery, and was detected by the doctor before whom she had unexpectedly to appear. In Court Inspector Spencer earned the soubriquet "He's a she" by his explanation to the magistrate on her trial.
Mademoiselle Jenny Savalette de Lange
Edited from The Bilerico Project: Mademoiselle Jenny Savalette de Lange, lived in eighteenth century France in the Palace of Versaille. She was a ubiquitous figure of high Parisian society, and her life is a story of transgender empowerment at the same time that hers was also a difficult lot.
Mademoiselle de Lange was received into the most select royalist society of Paris, as the daughter of a well-respected royalist, and she was looked upon as a woman of true virtue and great intelligence, according to M. Lenote's Romances of the French Revolution. Brilliant proposals of marriage had been made to her, but two were broken off suddenly at the last minute before marriage. She was known to be poor, although upon her death, she was discovered to have a considerable sum, and had a pension from the State due to her father's status, and also managed the post office at Villejuif for a while, and was given an apartment in the Chateau de Versailles for a while. She wrote a good deal, "in a large, effeminate, almost illegible" hand, which apparently caused all her correspondents to complain. She was quite helpful to others, finding situations for servants, and finding money for people in debt, and many were quite devoted to her, called her "My Dear Angel". She had a great deal of influence, and befriended Queen Amelie and Prince Louis, Napoleon III..
M. Lenote, whose biography discusses the letters she wrote and received, interprets them as insolent to her royal correspondents. But given his obvious shock at the idea that someone born male could live as female, and must be mentally ill, it seems that he went astray in understanding that she was, in fact, someone who was a part of royal society, and spoke to them as her peers and equals.
Nonetheless, here is someone who seems to have made the very best of a difficult situation. Imagine being a transsexual woman trapped in the eighteenth century? No medical care, in fact, going to a doctor or a hospital could mean exposure and imprisonment. No marriage, which could be equally problematic. Secrecy always, and fear of discovery. And yet, she lived, by these accounts, a very full life with many dear friends and lovers. For Mademoiselle Jenny Savalette de Lange it appears that she was content to be herself, and seek the approval of no one outside herself for her justification.
Edited from TransGriot: Georgia Cantey was born in South Carolina U.S.A. in 1906 and at age fifteen, ran away from working on a farm in Galeyville, South Carolina and headed to Charleston. It was while working as a house servant in the city that Cantey began living as a woman. One of the unidentified members of the household staff supplied her with a feminine wardrobe and became her first boyfriend as she honed her feminine gender presentation.
Eventually that first relationship soured, and in Florida she met the man that would become her first husband, Alonzo Sabbe. He was quite ill at the time and after Cantey nursed him back to health Sabbe asked her to marry him. Sabbe also had a child named Willie that he had been raising. Willie was the child of Sabbe's cousin who visited Florida and abandoned him when he was three months old. Cantey adopted Willie and raised him as her own child after the couple moved to Sanford, Florida.
Sabbe's health took another negative turn and he died shortly after the marriage, and Cantey got married to Muster Black at the home of Mrs. Joanna Moore, the principal of Sanford's Black elementary school. Unfortunately, seven years after getting married for the second time in her life, the World War I veteran died and as his widow, Georgia was the beneficiary of his Veteran's Administration pension.
Georgia continued to live her life until she herself became ill and her story leaked out to the irate disbelief of the denizens of Sanford. The local police chief launched an investigation, but ended it after finding no evidence of criminal activity. Even Dr. Orville Barks was upset about his role in spilling Georgia's gender business. She was not intersex, and Barks caught some flack about the reporting about it from some of the denizens of Sanford.
The local paper, the Sanford Herald ceased publishing the story after pastor James Murray of the Trinity Methodist Church phoned the editor and protested about it being placed on the front page.
Alan L. Hart
From Wikipedia: Alan Hart was an American physician, radiologist, tuberculosis researcher, writer and novelist. He was born October 4, 1890 in Kansas U.S.A., assigned female at birth and named Alberta Lucille Hart. His father died in 1892, the family moved to Oregon, his mother remarried and in 1911 he wrote of his happiness during this time, when he was free to dress and live as a boy, playing with boys' toys made for him by his grandfather. His parents and grandparents largely accepted and supported his gender expression, though his mother described his desire to be a boy as "foolish". His grandparents' obituaries, from 1921 and 1924, both list Hart as a grandson.
When Hart was twelve the family moved to Albany, New York where he was obliged to dress as a girl to attend school and was subsequently treated as a girl. Hart graduated from Albany College in 1912, and in 1917 obtained a doctor of medicine degree from the University of Oregon Medical Department in Portland. during this period he also returned to Northern California to attend courses in the summer of 1916 at the Stanford University School of Medicine. He was deeply unhappy that the medical degree was issued in his female name, limiting his opportunities to use it in any future life under a male name.
Upon reaching adulthood Hart sought psychiatric counselling and radical surgery to live as a man. Hart's was the first documented F.T.M. case in the United States, though F.T.M. sex change surgeries had been carried out in Germany. In 1917 Hart approached Dr. Joshua Gilbert at the University of Oregon and requested radical surgery to eliminate menstruation ... read more about Alan Hart at Wikipedia.
Polare Magazine is published quarterly in Australia by The Gender Centre Inc. which is funded by the Department of Family & Community Services under the S.A.A.P. program and supported by the N.S.W. Health Department through the AIDS and Infectious Diseases Branch. Polare provides a forum for discussion and debate on gender issues. Unsolicited contributions are welcome, the editor reserves the right to edit such contributions without notification. Any submission which appears in Polare may be published on our internet site. Opinions expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect those of the Editor, The Gender Centre Inc., the Department of Family & Community Services or the N.S.W. Department of Health.