This site is the most comprehensive on the web devoted to trans history and biography. Well over 1200 persons worthy of note, both famous and obscure, are discussed in detail, and many more are mentioned in passing.)

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

In addition to this most articles have one or more labels at the bottom. Click one to go to similar persons. There is a full list of labels at the bottom of the page. There is also a search box at the top left. Enjoy exploring!

25 June 2017

Joe Tish (1924 –) performer.

Joseph Touchette, often known as Tish, was raised the eldest of seven children in Dayville, Connecticut, in a French Catholic family.

Soon after World War II, Joe met Norman Kerouac, a first cousin of Jack Kerouac the beat writer. They decided to have a wedding in Providence, Rhode Island – despite their being no gay marriage at the time. A minister officiated, friends who worked in a bridal salon provided outfits for the bridesmaids, and a lacy white wedding gown for Joe – the first time that he was ever in drag. He liked it, and someone said that he should be a female impersonator.

He was working in a factory, but took dance and singing lessons in Providence. He then performed in local clubs. When Joe and Norman broke up in the early 1950s, he moved to New York City.

For forty years Tish worked as a female impersonator, sang and danced across New York and along the East Coast, often in Mafia-owned establishments. In particular he performed at the Moroccan Village at 23 West 8th Street (owned by the Genovese family). In the late 1960s he had a long-running show at the Crazy Horse. He was also in the 1960’s travelling act, French Box Revue.
Tish, on the right, at Crazy Horse.  Supplied by Queer Musical Heritage 


Tish was one of the few performers who sometimes left the club dressed as female. Once a club where he was performing was raided by the police, but they shooed him away assuming that he was a woman. Joe would be refused admission to the Stonewall Tavern when in costume, although he was so admitted at some uptown straight clubs, where his artistry was recognized. It was to Joe’s apartment that Tammy Novak ran after escaping from a police paddy wagon on the first night of the Stonewall riots; however Tish was performing in upstate New York.

In the 1970s one of Joe’s lovers, being of the next generation, went beyond stage performance, and transitioned as Eve. Tish was not keen that she should do so, but he continued to take care of her. She was a sex worker and died during the Aids epidemic. Tish still has her urn.

He continued doing drag shows after retirement, even performing at retirement homes. Tish is now in his 90s, and being taken care of by his room-mate.

18 June 2017

Ethel Person–Part II: theory

Part I: Life
Part II: theory

Unless otherwise noted, page references are to The Sexual Century.

Person and Ovesey follow the old psychoanalytic tradition of referring to trans persons by their birth gender, and thus a heterosexual trans woman is in their terminology a ‘male homosexual’.

Development model

Person and Ovesey were influenced by the development model of psychoanalyst Margaret Mahler, and from this proposed that a child's separation-individuation anxiety produced a fantasy of symbiotic fusion with the mother which the transsexual tries to resolve by surgically becoming her mother.
“The male transsexual is defined by most workers as having a female core gender identity. From our experience, it seems more accurate to say that transsexuals have an ambiguous core gender identity. … [this] permits the disorder to be conceptualized psychodynamically in conflictual terms as a neurosis. In our opinion, transsexualism originates in extreme separation anxiety occurring early in life, before object differentiation has been accomplished. To alleviate the anxiety, the child resorts to a fantasy of symbiotic fusion with the mother. In this way, mother and child become one and the danger of separation is nullified. We believe that this reparative fantasy is the psychodynamic basis for transsexualism in the male and that the transsexual phenomena can be understood clinically as attempts to ward off threats to psychic fusion with the mother.” (p 107-8)

Typology

They proposed a typology of transsexuals as follows (as summarized by Vitale):

1 Primary - functionally asexual and who progresses resolutely toward a surgical resolution without significant deviation toward either homosexuality or heterosexuality, no evidence of effeminacy in childhood.

2a Secondary, homosexual - effeminate from earliest childhood, preferred girls as playmates, avoided boyish pursuits and were "mother's helpers." Crossdressing began in childhood, initially for narcissistic satisfaction, but later at puberty to attract male sexual partners. Cross-gender fantasies were frequently tied to identification with movie actresses and drag queens. The authors note that the homosexual cross-dresser wants to be noticed and to this end often wears flamboyant and colorful clothing and engages in theatrical endeavors.

2b Secondary, transvestic - appropriately masculine, and occasionally exceedingly hyper-aggressive and hyper-competitive. They neither played with girls nor engaged in female pursuits. They fantasized about being girls when cross-dressed, but valued their assertiveness and maleness.
This typology was in contradistinction to Stoller’s writings where the homosexual early transitioner was regarded as primary.

Trans men

With regard to trans men, Ovesey and Person write:
“we have concluded from a study of female transsexuals that there is no female equivalent of primary male transsexualism. In our opinion, the transsexual syndrome in women develops only in homosexuals with a masculine gender role identity. Female transsexualism, therefore, can be classified as another form of secondary (homosexual) transsexualism.” (p 112)

Homosexual transsexuals

Of male homosexuals, Person and Ovesey write:
“The vast majority of male homosexuals lack the propensity for a transsexual regression. The propensity exists almost entirely in cross-dressing effeminate homosexuals who comprise a very small segment of the homosexual population.”
They divide homosexual transsexuals into two subgroups:

a) passive effeminate homosexuals who
“in many ways present a caricature of typical female norms. They are interested in such things as cooking and decorating, but most of all, they seek a love relationship with another man where they can assume the female role. … on the surface they are passive and dependent, but they often dominate their mates through oversolicitousness. In this respect they, they tend to duplicate the close-binding behaviour frequently ascribed to their mothers. Often a relationship is terminated because the lover feels suffocated.”
b) the more aggressive, though equally effeminate, drag queens. They
“are usually involved in a community of other queens. They treat each other as ‘sisters’, and sexual relations within the group are rare. …. Narcissism is institutionalized in an endless series of drag balls and parties. … The queen claims that he wants involvement with a hypermasculine man who will overpower him …[however] he frequently prefers to be the active partner in anal intercourse. … These queens are quick to violence, both verbal and physical.”
Two examples are given: C. a 33-year-old who lives with mother and has worked only two years in his life. He met a man in Spain while on holiday and maybe the man would marry him if he had the operation. D. works as a drag queen and also turns tricks. His family know that he is gay, but not the rest. He has lost interest in sex, but hopes that post-op he would find a ‘real man’.
(p 127-135)

Transvestic Transsexualism

“transvestic transsexuals have the typical personality structure of their parent group, transvestites. The personality is organized on an obsessive-paranoid axis with attenuation of both tender affectivity and sexuality. These patients are hypercompetitive, may be hypermasculine, and engage in endless struggles for power with other men. … The relationship with the wife is essentially dependent. As such, its success is determined by the personality of the wife and her capacity to tolerate both cross-dressing and minimal sexuality. … Mental life is characterized not only by irritability and preoccupation with power struggles but also by bouts of depression. … they are countered most frequently by cross-dressing and many instances by resort to alcohol. … Suicide attempts are common, as we would expect in a patient population so prone to depression.” (p135-142)

Transvestism

Person and Ovesey went with the definition that transvestism is done by male heterosexuals (not gay men nor women) for fetishistic sexual arousal, although they concede that it may also be done ‘to relieve anxiety about gender role identity’. They divide transvestites into masochistic and non-masochistic. The psychoanalyst Milton Jucovy had proposed the concept of ‘initiation fantasy’ as a central part of male transvestism. Person elaborated that there are two versions: forced initiation by a dominant, big-breasted, booted phallic woman, and also initiation by a kindly woman who dresses the man to save him from ‘Mafia killers’ or some such.

DSM III

In 1978 the Archives of Sexual Behavior published Virginia  Prince's "Transsexuals and Pseudotranssexuals" in which she proposed that the only true transsexuals are asexual, socially-inadequate men who would function better as women, as "less is expected of women". She presumed that bisexuals (2,3,4 on the Kinsey scale) of their nature do not become transsexuals. She also proposed two kinds of 'pseudotranssexual' based on sexual orientation.
"The preoperative homosexual group (Kinsey 5,6) gave much higher scores on all questions dealing with sex and lower scores on those questions dealing with gender, while those in the heterosexual group (Kinsey 1,2) gave high scores to gender type questions and much lower scores on the sex type questions".
The third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM III) 1980 added transsexualism for the first time, and subdivided it into asexual, homosexual, heterosexual and unspecified. Thus it was roughly congruent with Stoller, Person-Ovesey and Prince. Furthermore ‘transvestites’ was defined as done by a heterosexual male. Again congruent with Stoller, Person-Ovesey and Prince. However to the chagrin of Prince (who had been insisting on a differentiation from fetishism) it was defined as done for sexual excitement.
  • Robert Stoller. Sex and Gender. Science House, 1968.
  • Ethel S. Person. “Some Differences Between Men and Women: We think and behave different for biological and psychological reasons, not just cultural ones”. The Atlantic, March 1988. Online.
  • Ethel Person & Lionel Ovessey. “The transsexual syndrome in males I: primary transsexualism”. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 28, 1974: 4-20.
  • Ethel Person & Lionel Ovessey. “The transsexual syndrome in males II: secondary transsexualism”. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 28, 1974: 174-193.
  • Ethel Person. “Initiation fantasies and transvestism: discussion”. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 24, 1976:547-551.
  • Lionel Ovesey & Ethel Person “Transvestism: A disorder of the sense of Self”. International journal of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 5, 1976: 219-235.
  • Virginia Prince. "Transsexuals and Pseudotranssexuals", Archives of Sexual Behavior, 7, 4, 1978: 263-272. Reprinted in Richard Ekins & Dave King (eds) Virginia Prince: Pioneer of Transgendering. The Haworth Medical Press, 2005: 33-7 and the International Journal of Transgenderism, 8,4, 2005: 33-7.
  • Ethel Person & Lionel Ovessey. “Psychoanalytic Theories of Gender Identity”. Journal of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis. 11, 2 (Apr 1, 1983): 203.
  • Ethel Spector Person. “Harry Benjamin and the Birth of a Shared Cultural Fantasy”. In The Sexual Century: 347-366.
  • Vern L. Bullough & Bonnie Bullough. Cross Dressing, Sex, and Gender. University of Philadelphia Press 1993: 219-220..
  • Ethel Spector Person. By Force of Fantasy: How We Make Our Lives. Penguin, 1996.
  • Anne Vitale. “Primary and Secondary Transsexualism--Myths and Facts”. www.avitale.com, January 22, 2000. http://www.avitale.com/PrimarySecondary.htm
  • “Initiation Fantasy” in Salman Akhtar. Comprehensive Dictionary of Psychoanalysis. Karnac Books, 2009: 146.
  • Ethel Spector Person. The Sexual Century. Yale University Press, 1999.
  • Elizabeth. “The Person Ovesey Transsexual Study”. Notes from the T side, October 3, 2010. http://ben-girl-notesfromthetside.blogspot.ca/2010/10/person-ovesey-transsexual-study.html.
  • Leslie Kaufman. “Ethel Person, Who Studied Sexual Fantasies, Dies at 77”. New York Times, Oct 20, 2012. Online.
  • Irene Silverman. “Ethel S. Person, Psychoanalyst”. The East Hampton Star, October 25, 2012. Online.
  • Stephen Burt. “Ethel Person”. The New York Times, December 30, 2012. Online.
  • Molly Haskell. My Brother My Sister: Story of a Transformation. Penguin, 2014: 15, 73.
EN.Wikipedia
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Surely the non-homosexual transsexual group should have been called ‘heterosexual transsexuals’ or even better ‘gynephilic trannsexuals’. To put ‘transvestic’ in the type name predisposes to a negative interpretation just as much as calling them ‘autogynephilic’.

I have previously commented on similar attempts at typology. See Kay Brown androphilic and gynephilic, and Anne Vitale. I still think that 3-part typologies of transsexuals are better than Blanchard’s 2-part – but I am certainly not recommending the Person-Ovesey model. Vitale’s model regards the pathology as gender deprivation anxiety - non-standard gender identity as such not being a pathology. Thus Vitale’s approach is preferable if we are to continue with typologies. Those who transition as soon as possible, those who spend some time living as gay before transition and those who marry and have children before transition are intuitively three different types. However to define the three types by adding psychoanalytical interpretations and to ignore the great variety within each type ends up defaming all and sundry. The intuition of three types does lead to some valuable insights, but to reify the three types leads to severe distortion.

In part I, I mentioned Elizabeth who writes Notes from the T Side. Apparently she is a Benjamin VI (High Intensity True Transsexual), a Vitale G1 and a Stoller Primary; but a Person-Ovesey Secondary and a Prince Pseudo-transsexual. This is an excellent example of how typologies should not be taken literally.

I am not aware of any trans persons who actually identity with the Person-Ovesey model. Rachel Webb identied as a ‘constructed woman” as per Janice Raymond; Kay Brown and Kiira Triea identified as Blanchardian HSTS; Anne Lawrence, Willow Arune, and probably Maxine Petersen self identify as autogynephiliacs. But no-one has in public identified as a Person-Ovesey secondary transsexual.  This despite the fact that the Person-Ovesey papers came out over a decade before Blanchard's.

It is difficult to reconcile the portraits of all three types of transsexuals as described by Person-Ovesey with the range of creativity and achievement of individuals featured in this Encyclopedia. Apparently Person was charming and easy to get on with face-to-face. However when you read the descriptions of trans persons in her book, then obviously she was not so nice.

Furthermore, the typology that Person-Ovesey come up was far from original.   In its basic structure adheres closely to street stereotypes current at the time.   All Person-Ovesey really did was revise the psychoanalytic dialectic to support the model.   This despite Person being credited for doing field work in porn shops and transvestite parties!   How come she never saw those of us who do not fit into the model - and I strongly argue that those of us who do not fit are the majority.   She must have worked at ignoring those of us.   This is later called erasure.   Yes, there are some trans people who are like those described.   There are some who have the separation-anxiety neuroses described.   There there are even more who do not.

I have not found any record of Benjamin’s reactions to the 1974 Person-Ovesey papers on Primary and Secondary Transsexuals.

We should remember that two decades earlier, Benjamin had provided a few of his patients to Federick G Worden & James T Marsh who quite disappointed the volunteers and in effect refused to listen to them, because they knew in advance what transsexuals were.

The New York Times obituary says: “Her work, upsetting the conventional thinking, found that many transsexuals and transvestites did not perceive themselves as homosexuals but rather saw themselves in many different lights — sometimes, for example, as a woman trapped in a man’s body, and sometimes as a heterosexual who preferred a feminine demeanor.” Surely this and more had been established by Magnus Hirschfeld over 50 years before.

Molly Hacker commends Ethel Person in her book about her trans sibling. But did she never read Person’s book? Does she actually regard her sibling as a ‘transvestic transsexual’, in effect a fetishist? If she does not, how can she commend Person in her book?

This is Anne Vitale’s summing up of Primary and Secondary Transsexualism:
“It is with dismay that I continue to encounter individuals with gender identity issues using the terms Primary and Secondary Transsexualism as diagnostic indicators. The terms show up repeatedly in Internet chat rooms, in the Internet news groups, in my email, and by individuals presenting to me in my private practice. The individuals who self-identify as Primary Transsexuals are usually using the term to mean that they are "Benjamin Type VI, true transsexuals." Those who self-identify as Secondary Transsexuals are usually trying to diminish their condition and to find some way to deal with their gender dysphoria without having to face the possibility of transitioning. As we shall soon see, neither term has ever had anything to do with severity or prognosis. There is no hierarchy of transsexualism. There are no Primary Transsexuals or Secondary Transsexuals. There are only gender dysphoric individuals who need help.”

See also A Blanchard-Binary Timeline.

17 June 2017

Ethel Person (1934-2012) psychoanalyst: Part I Life

Part I: Life
Part II: theory

Unless otherwise noted, page references are to The Sexual Century.

Ethel Jane Spector was raised in Louisville, Kentucky. Her mother was a mathematician, and her father owned a bar. He died when she was twelve. She completed a first degree at the University of Chicago in 1956, and then a medical degree at the New York University College of Medicine four years later. She became Mrs Person when she wed an engineer. The marriage ended after ten years, although she kept his name for her professional life. She married her second husband, a psychiatrist, in 1968, and became Mrs Sherman.

Soon after joining the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research, Person was invited to work with Lionel Ovesey (1915-1995), the author of The Mark of Oppression: A Psychosocial Study of the American Negro, 1951, and Homosexuality and pseudohomosexuality, 1969. His concept of ‘pseudohomosexuality’ concerned `homosexual anxieties' in heterosexual males who were concerned about dependency and lack of power. Ovesey was one of the psychiatrists strongly opposed to the delisting of homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in 1973.

Ovesey’s proposal was that he and Person would write a textbook on sex and gender. They quickly realized that neither of them had any experience with transvestites or transsexuals. An acquaintance in the psychoanalytical world was Harold Greenwald, the founder of the Professional School for Humanistic Studies (where Anne Vitale qualified as a psychologist). Greenwald introduced Person to the then 88-year-old Harry Benjamin and his assistant Charles Ihlenfeld in 1972. She spent time in Benjamin’s office interviewing some of his patients.
“The work that I did with Lionel would have been well nigh impossible without the cooperation of Harry Benjamin, who was hospitable to me despite his major bias against psychoanalysts. In fact we became great friends.” (p xiii)
Indeed Benjamin asked her to write a biographical portrait of him to be published after his death. She formally interviewed him to this end a dozen times.

One person that Person met at Benjamin’s offices was Ed/Edna, 60, a retired tugboat captain who had become the superintendent of a rental building. He fell in love with Clair, one of his tenants, a completed transsexual. He detransitioned to become her lover, and was devastated when she left him for a truck driver. To cope with the resulting depression, Edna restarted hormones and dressing full-time. Again he rented to a completed trans woman, Janet. Again he reverted to male, and became her lover. After Ed’s original wife died, he married Janet, and lived happily with her until she also died ten years later. He was then 85. (By Force of Fantasy p 131-4)

Edna subscribed to Transvestia magazine, and through that discovered transvestite social groups. Edna introduced Person to these socials: “it was at these events that I gained some of my deeper insights into the subjective meaning to transvestites of their participation in that world”. Person and Ovesey also sought confirmation for their work by visiting pornography shops and reading trans publications.

Person and Ovesey proposed a typology of trans persons assuming that a child's separation-individuation anxiety produced a fantasy of symbiotic fusion with the mother which the transsexual tries to resolve by surgically becoming her mother.  Papers to this effect were published 1973-85. (See part II for details).

One of the transsexuals included in the Person-Ovesey study was Elizabeth – author of the Notes from the T Side blog. She writes:

Harry Benjamin “in 1970 -71 asked me to talk to a Dr. Ethel Person as part of a study and I agreed although I am inherently distrustful of shrinks but I found her pleasant and quite nice and we became friendly. When the study was published I was stunned to be honest. I was part of the study and I knew two others who were part of it and friends of mine. We never talked about anything mentioned in the study directly. We talked about our lives as children until the current time and at the time I was 24 and had close to enough money for surgery. In point of fact Harry might have been more upset by the study than anyone. I am posting this to refute what they found because as one of the participants in the study I walked into her office and asked her where I fit in late 1974 and she said Secondary because I liked boys so I was a homosexual transsexual where by Harry's definition I was a Type VI high intensity transsexual and according to Harry the study was bogus.”
Ethel Person’s second husband died in 1976. She married a lawyer in 1978 and became Mrs Diamond. 


Person was director of the Columbia University Center for Psychoanalytic Training and Research 1981-91. She did an “epidemiological study of sexual fantasy” which she contrasted to Alfred Kinsey’s study of sexual acts.

Her best known book is By Force of Fantasy: How We Make Our Lives, 1995, where she argues that we shape our lives by trying consciously or otherwise to live out our fantasies.

In 1987 Person had paired the film critic Molly Haskell with an appropriate analyst, and became a friend. In 2005 when Haskell’s sibling was starting transition, she spoke to Person about the situation. Apparently Person said nothing to her about primary or secondary or separation anxiety. Only: “Transsexuals are the best, the kindest people I know, maybe because they have to learn compassion the hard way” and “He longs for validation,” Ethel spoke of transsexualism as being “a passion of the soul”. Later in Haskell’s book, Person is quoted: “The worst thing about it is you discover you don’t know the person you thought you knew.”

In 1997 Person gave a presentation to the International Psychoanalytic Association Congress in Barcelona on her life of Harry Benjamin, and used it to illustrate the origin of shared cultural fantasy. In 1999 she collected her works on sex and gender, including her biography of Harry Benjamin, and published them as The Sexual Century.

Person’s third husband died in 2009. Ethel Jane Spector Person Sherman Diamond, her final name, incorporating the surnames of all three husbands, died at age 77 of complications from Alzheimer’s disease.

12 June 2017

Jackie Shane (1940- ) musician

Originally from Nashville, Jackie Shane, like Jimi Hendrix, spent time with musical house mother, ‘Queen of the Blues’, Marion James, and in late teenage started touring.

In 1960 Jackie was picked out of the crowd by fellow-American Frank Motley at a gig in Montréal. Jackie became part of the band, The Motley Crew, which was based in Toronto, where they frequently performed at at the Sapphire Tavern. Jackie was a soul/R&B singer whose appearance was androgynous, often wearing makeup, and sometimes an evening gown. This at a time when homophobia was rife and taverns and clubs in Toronto had to close before midnight on Saturday as required by the Lord’s Day Act. Jackie’s type of show was new in Canada where the US black tent shows and the Chitlin Circuit with their traditions of drag performance were unknown. A rumour developed that Shane was cousin to Little Richard, but this was unfounded.

Carl Wilson comments:
“Jackie Shane wasn’t bringing his act to Toronto so it could be better understood. Instead he was taking it out of context, to someplace where it seemed more alien and strange. Maybe he liked it better that way. By coming to Toronto he was escaping segregation and getting to perform to white people with presumably deeper pockets, who had never seen anything like him before. You could cross over in the States, but then you’d have to pull a Little Richard and turn your ‘freak’ show into a clown act, taking out the gay innuendo.”
Shane had only one hit record, “Any Other Way” which was released in April 1962, and reached No. 2 in Canada.  (Listen)
“Tell her that I’m happy/ Tell her that I’m gay/ Tell her I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
The words and emphasis were somewhat changed from that of the original versions by William Bell (video) and Chuck Jackson (video) which use the words as a man’s face-saving lie after being dumped. The new version reads like a gay woman's confession to a female friend, and in fact many listeners assumed that the singer was a woman.*

Between songs Jackie would talk to the audience:
"You know, when I'm walking down Young Street, you won't believe this, but you know some of them funny people have the nerve to point the finger at me, and grin, and smile, and whisper ... but you know that don't worry Jackie because I know I look good. You what my slogan is? Baby, do what you want, just know what you're doing. As long as you don't force your will and your way on anybody else, live your life because ain't nobody sanctified and holy."
Toronto’s gossip tabloid, Tab, told how Jackie was invited to a local radio station CHUM for an on-air chat, but they were so upset by Jackie’s makeup and attire that they cancelled the interview and did not play the record until it was at the top of the charts.

Jackie was listed in the 1964 Etta James Revue as ‘female impersonator’.





In 1965 Jackie appeared on the WLAC television show, Night Train, in Nashville performing “Walking the Dog”.




Frank Motley discontinued The Motley Crew in 1966, and formed a new band, The Hitchhikers. Jackie was performing in clubs across North America, and released a couple of live albums.

On the back of her 1967 LP Jackie Shane Live, it said

“Warning: This Album is not meant for squares! You’ve got to be down with it and can’t quit it, baby. … What are Jackie’s likes and dislikes? Well, you know Jackie likes ‘chicken’. Even when food is concerned Jackie likes chicken. The only problem is when Jackie suggests, ‘let’s go out, and get some chicken after the show’, you can’t be too sure what he has in mind. … You’ll feel energetic and ambitious when you here ‘Money’. You’ll be inspired as Jackie tells you his life story in ‘Any Other Way’.”
Talking in the live version of ‘Any Other Way’, Jackie says:
“You know what my woman told me one night? She said, ‘Jackie, if you don’t stop switchin’ around here and playing the field and bringing that chicken home, you gonna have to get steppin’.’ I said, ‘Uh huh,’ and I grabbed my chicken by one hand, baby, and we been steppin’ ever since that night.”
That year a woman wrote to the Toronto Star:
“My friend and I saw a group called Jackie Shane and the Hitchhikers, and she says Jackie Shane is a girl. I thought he was a boy.”
Shane’s last singles were released in 1969, which was also the last time that Jackie worked with Frank Motley; and she left Toronto in 1971, maybe because of problems with immigration officials, maybe because the club scene was changing.

After moving to Los Angeles, Jackie turned down an offer to be part of the band Funkadelic. Jackie began caring for an aged aunt.

 After her mother’s death she and her aunt returned to Nashville. By now Jackie was living as a woman. Shane had become a legend, and it was even rumoured that she had been murdered in 1998.

After the airing of a CBC Radio documentary in 2010, renewed efforts were made to contact Jackie. A double CD is about to be released. The 2017 anthology about queer Toronto is named Any Other Way after her single.
  • Jackie Shane. “Any Other Way”. Single Sue, April 1963
  • Jackie Shane. Jackie Shane Live. LP Caravan, 1967. Listen at JunoRecords.
  • Kimdog. Comment on MataFilter. July 27, 2009. Online.
  • Elaine Banks. "I Got Mine: The Story of Jackie Shane". CBC Radio, February 28, 2010. Online. Geo-restrictions in effect.
  • Carl Wilson. “I Bet Your Mama Was a Tent-Show Queen”. Hazlitt, April 22, 2013. Online.
  • Sonya Reynolds & Lauren Hortie. Whatever Happened to Jackie Shane? 2014
  • Elio Iannacci. “Searching for Jackie Shane, R&B’s lost transgender superstar”. The Globe and Mail, May 19, 2017. Online.
  • Steven Maynard. “ ‘A New Way of Lovin’’: Queer Toronto Gets Schooled by Jackie Shane”. In Any Other Way: How Toronto Got Queer. Coach House Books, 2017.
QueerMusicHeritage     EN.Wikipedia       CanadianBands

The Saphire Tavern from YZO on Vimeo.

__________

*Jackie was a unisex name in the 1960s. Jackie Robinson was a baseball player; Jackie Kennedy was a presidential spouse.


Some of the sources say that Jackie was in drag for the 1965 Nighttrain performance.

31 May 2017

Thoughts while reading (about) Colin Wilson

Over the years I have read many of the books by Colin Wilson – one of those whom the newspapers in the 1950s designated as Angry Young Men - on existentialism, motiveless murder, Jack the Ripper, the occult, ancient civilizations etc, etc., although I never read either of his two autobiographies. There is a new biography out by Gary Lachman, previously Gary Valentine who played bass with Blondie and guitar with Iggy Pop, and then moved to London where he has published a whole slew of books on consciousness and the occult.

I have recently read his biography of Colin Wilson. Reading, as I do, lots of LGBT history it is useful and refreshing to read books in other areas. However trans history does seem to pop up everywhere these days. On page 7 we find:
“another example of what Wilson called his early ‘sexual perverseness’ was one he shared with other creative individuals, like the poet Rainer Maria Rilke. As a young boy Wilson loved to dress up in his mother’s clothes, including her underwear. Authorities such as the pre-Freudian sexologist Havelock Ellis suggest that such behaviour ‘indicates a tendency to homosexuality’, as did, for Ellis, Wilson’s attachment to his mother and dislike of his father. But Wilson never observed any trace of homosexuality in his makeup.”
This perhaps sounds rather old-fashioned. Most writers today would relate child transvestity to either Richard Green’s contentious Sissy Boy Syndrome, or, more productively, cross-dreaming. Lachman gives no indication of being aware of either of these approaches. He does, later, page 262-9 summarize Wilson’s interaction with the trans activist and theorist Charlotte Bach, but a check on his footnotes shows that it is simply a repetition of what Wilson says about her in his book, The Misfits: A Study of Sexual Outsiders. There are a couple of attempts to compare Wilson to Bach’s theoretical schema: p265 “According to Bach’s system, he was a ‘normal’ male, and should therefore not be creative”; p383n27 “Wilson disagreed that the male sexual drive was to become the female, as Charlotte Bach argued. It was rather to possess her, which ultimately is an expression of will”.

Reading from a trans perspective, several other trans persons appear or almost appear. Kenneth Tynan – also an Angry Young Man – pops up several times, but his fondness for dressing female, and especially as the silent film star Louise Brooks is never mentioned. In 1960, Wilson and his wife went on a cruise to Leningrad. There, they sought out the palace of Felix Yusupov (where Rasputin was put to death) but there is no mention of Yusupov as transvestite. Kenneth Walker, Gurdjieffian and Harley Street urologist gave a positive review of Wilson’s first book, The Outsider, 1956 and they became friends. This was the very same time that Walker was introducing Georgina Turtle to surgeons – she had correction surgery in 1957, and then became Georgina Somerset by marriage. Walker wrote the Foreword to her 1963 book, Over the Sex Border. None of this is mentioned.

Let us turn to Wilson’s The Misfits. Lachman tells us: 

“Following Charlotte Bach’s story, Wilson runs through a gauntlet of practices that some readers may find surprising, if not disturbing. What may also be surprising is that the people engaging in these ‘perversions’ are not anonymous case studies from Krafft-Ebing or Magnus Hirschfeld, although material from these and other sexologists appears. Wilson’s case studies involve some of the most famous creative individuals of the past two centuries. Among his sexual Outsiders we find philosophers, novelists, composers and poets, and we are treated to analyses of the intimate lives of, among others, James Joyce, Bertrand Russell, Marcel Proust, Lord Byron, Algernon Swinburne, Yukio Mishima, Ludwig Wittgenstein, TE Lawrence, Paul Tillich, Percy Grainger, and aptly enough, the pre-Freud sexologist Havelock Ellis.”

Readers of this encyclopedia will quickly realise that all the persons on this list are men. On the other hand I would contend, even if it is based on anecdotal evidence, that 45-50% of persons indulging in heterosexuality are female. Wilson seems to have almost no interest in the female experience of sex, although there is no shortage of such persons writing about it. Off the top of my head, what about Anaïs Nin, Germaine Greer, Simone de Beauvoir, Colette, Erica Jong, Leah Schaefer, Anne Rice, the pre-transition Pat Califia, Kathy Acker (more).

In 1971 Wilson wrote a book on Abraham Maslow, the US psychologist who developed ideas about hierarchies of need, and peak experiences. They agreed enough with each other that each referred to the other in several books. Here is Lachman’s summary of Maslow on women: [Maslow] “discovered that women could be divided into three dominance groups: high, medium and low. The level of dominance influenced their sexuality. High-dominance women enjoyed sex and were promiscuous and experimental, medium-dominance women were romantics looking for ‘Mr Right’, and low-dominance women were shy and afraid of sex.” Could a woman have written that sentence? We have a 21st century word ‘mansplaining’ – does this apply? I think so. I went googling to see if any woman writer had ever done anything with this typology. While almost all women writers did in fact fail to find any use in the typology, one writer does discuss it and use it: Betty Friedan in her foundational feminist text, The Feminine Mystique.

In reading Wilson’s The Misfits, one can see that Wilson’s readings in sexology are Krafft-Ebing, Havelock Ellis and Magnus Hirschfeld. That is: nothing after the Second World War – no Benjamin, Green, Stoller, Money; no Butler, Halberstam, Faderman etc. And certainly no queer theory. He reports at second hand that Hirschfeld wrote a book on transvestites and found that most were not homosexual. However he did not read it. His book was 1988, and the English translation of Hirschfeld’s Transvestites did not come out until three years later. Wilson’s source was Charlotte Wolff’s biography of Hirschfeld and the volume Sexual Anomalies and Perversions, attributed to Hirschfeld but written/edited by Arthur Koestler and Norman Haire, which Wilson found for sale in what passed for a sex shop in the 1950s. He finds it an amazing source of sexual ‘perversions’ including ‘transvestism, sadism, masochism, necrophilia’. He continued to use the word ‘perversion’ even after John Money had persuaded most sexologists that ‘paraphilia’ was less offensive.

Despite the reservations that I have expressed here, I am intrigued with Wilson’s suggestion that in the later 18th century and afterwards there was an ‘imaginative explosion’ that we can trace in sex novels and this was accompanied by a greater variety of sexual and gender activity. He is therefore arguing for a social construction approach – although he never uses the term, nor does he mention Foucault or Trumbach who have developed competing social construction models. (In a later book, Below the Iceberg, 1998, Wilson did engage with some of the ideas of Faucault, Barthes and Derrida – he denounced Foucault as an ‘intellectual con-man’ out to deceive his readers).
  • Colin Wilson. The Misfits: A Study of Sexual Outsiders. Grafton, 1989.
  • Gary Lachman,. Beyond the Robot: The Life and Work of Colin Wilson. Tarcher Perigee, 2016.

28 May 2017

Nicole Vonlee Titlow (1967 - ) convicted of murder

By her 30s, Nicole in Tennessee had been living as female for many years, was generally accepted by her family with whom she still lived, and had spent $15,000 on breast enhancements, but could not afford genital surgery.

Her aunt, Billie Jean, then 60, had married a Michigan millionaire, Don Rogers, who had made his money in car parts. Billie Jean offered that Nicole should come and visit in Troy, Michigan. Don also openly welcomed her.

Nicole and Billie Jean lived an expensive life, often in the casinos in Detroit. Billie Jean lost tens of thousands of dollars gambling. This led her husband to berate her and to threaten divorce. Don, who was 74, drank seriously, both in public and at home before bed.


In the late evening of August 12, 2000, Don was passed out on the floor, next to his bed. The two women returned home, and called the emergency services, but he was found to be dead. The police report listed his death as asphyxiation, a fatal side-effect of alcohol poisoning. He had a blood-alcohol count of .44. This was highly plausible, and he was quickly cremated. Billie Jean gave Nicole a new car and $70,000, and Nicole moved to Chicago.

Nicole had a sort-of boyfriend, and she confessed to him that she had poured vodka down Don’s throat and that Billie Jean had suffocated him with a pillow. Billie Jean, she said, had offered $100,000 for her co-operation. She also mentioned that she had been born male, and was still pre-op. The boyfriend demanded that she strip to prove the last point. The boyfriend went to the police, and they had him wear a wire and record Nicole repeating the claims. Nicole was arrested and extradited to Michigan in January 2001.

The only evidence against Billie Jean was Nicole’s account, and she was not arrested until June. Nicole’s first attorney obtained a plea bargain that she would be charged with manslaughter rather than first-degree felony murder in exchange for her testimony – this on the expectation of 7-15 years in prison. However while awaiting trial, a sheriff’s deputy advised that she should not plead guilty if she did not believe herself to be guilty. Apparently Nicole did not understand the concept of felony murder where an accomplice can be guilty even without harming the victim. She then got a new attorney who attempted to negotiate for a lower sentence, but without success. Titlow then withdrew her plea and her testimony, and Billie Jean Rogers was acquitted and released.

Billie Jean died from cancer shortly after.

This left Nicole as the only accused. She was tried for second-degree murder, convicted and sentenced to 20-40 years.

Titlow appealed citing bad advice and counsel from her second lawyer. She lost her appeal in the State and District Courts, but won in the Appeals Court. It found that Titlow’s decision to withdraw her plea and testimony was based on the offered sentence being much higher than Michigan’s guidelines for second-degree murder. Also there was no indication that the lawyer had informed Titlow of the consequences of withdrawing her plea. The Court ordered that the case be remanded and that the prosecution reoffer the original plea bargain, or that she be released.

Michigan then appealed and the case went to the US Supreme Court, which ruled that as the defendant adamantly asserted her innocence, the plea withdrawal was reasonable.

Nicole is serving her time in a men’s prison, and has been deprived of female hormones. Her health deteriorated to the point that her breasts were bleeding. She was taken to hospital for a double mastectomy, but refused the reconstruction that a woman would normally receive after such an operation.

However Nicole’s attorney managed to get her moved to a different prison which has a history to taking care of transgender prisoners.
  • Rick Hepp. “Chicagoan To Be Extradited To Michigan In Murder Case”. Chicago Tribune, January 08, 2001. Online.
  • “Widow charged in cash-for-sex-change murder plot”. USAToday, 06/19/2001. Online.
  • John Turk. “Prison sentence of Troy transgender murderer upheld in Supreme Court”. Oakland Press, 11/05/13. Online.
  • M. William Phelps. If You Only Knew. Pinnacle, 2016.
  • Chelsea Crosby. Killer Transgender: The True Story of Nicole Vonlee Titlow. CreateSpace, 2017

EN.Wikipedia (Burt v. Titlow)


20 May 2017

John Ronald Brown: part II.


Continued from Part I.

John Ronald Brown was 69 when he got out of prison. After a period working as a taxi driver, he restarted his surgical practice in Tijuana, but this time also lived in Mexico for a while. He sometimes used the pseudonym of Juan Moreno, and as such had operating room privileges at Hospital Quintana in Playas de Tijuana, although he was not licensed to practice medicine in Mexico. By now he was favoring colon vaginoplasty. Patients would afterwards find that they smelt of rotting flesh. Many of these returned to Brown for revision (and extra billing); others ended up in emergency rooms.

Carrie, who had had vaginoplasty with a European surgeon in 1991, engaged Brown ln 1995 to enhance her labia so that she would be more in demand for nude modeling. He took a layer of skin from the inside of her mouth to sew onto her genitals. She was sent home without antibiotics or pain medicine, and it took three months to heal. A year later Brown came to her Los Angeles home to correct the results by injecting silicone.

Camille, previously an insurance underwriter, had vaginoplasty from Brown in 1997, and he punctured her rectum. Despite this she was sent home without medications or follow-up care. She then needed hospitalization for several days because of pain, complications and infections, and the recto-vaginal fistula continued to leak into her vagina. She became a stay-in, not able to go anywhere.

Mimi, who was also beautiful, was well pleased with her operation, and Brown featured her in a
Mimi
promotional video.

He had an advertising brochure:
The prettiest pussies are John Brown pussies.
The happiest patients are John Brown patients.
Because . . .
1. Each has a sensitive clit.
2. All (99%) get orgasms.
3. Careful skin draping gives a natural appearance.
4. Men love the pretty pussies and the sexy response.
Gregg Furth was a Jungian analyst who had worked with John Money on a body-modification yearning for which John Money had coined a term: apotemnophilia (the desire to have a leg amputated). They published a paper on it in 1977.

Furth experienced the yearning himself, as did his older friend, Philip Bondy, a retired satellite engineer. They built up a collection of photographs, slides and videos of male amputees.

Furth came across a newspaper article about John Brown, and flew to San Diego. He found Brown quite open-minded about a would-be amputee’s right to choose. In February 1997, Furth returned for the operation, but it was cancelled after the assisting doctor in Tijuana refused to participate when he realized just what was to happen. In 1999 they tried again. However on arrival, Furth found that his desire to be amputated had disappeared. Bondy stepped in to take the operation in his place. However he died two days later of gangrene in a motel in California. Brown was arrested and tried by the San Diego authorities, even though the operation had been done in Tijuana. 

The medical receipts showed that Bondy had paid Brown to do the amputation. This mystified the San Diego police, until trans activist Dallas Denny phoned in and suggested that they read up on apotemnophilia. This was confirmed by a police search of Furth’s apartment in New York.

The charge against Brown was upgraded from manslaughter to malice murder in the second degree, which means that the defendant does something that is dangerous to human life, knowing it is dangerous to human life and does it anyway. To make that charge stick, the prosecution needed to demonstrate that Brown had a history of being reckless. The video tapes in Brown’s apartment helped, but they also needed to find transsexuals who would testify against him.

Christina had mortgaged her house to pay for surgeries, 10 altogether, by Brown. However the skin grafts inside her vagina were so thin that they tore during intercourse. Also Brown had removed her lower ribs to give a more feminine waist: she developed an abscess there as big as a basketball. Her nose job resulted in different sized nostrils, one turned up. Brown felt bad enough that he phoned to offer a $500 refund. Her mother told him that her son had committed suicide.

Before the trial, brown pleaded guilty to practicing medicine without a license, relating to seven sex-change operations.

Carrie and Camille testified for the prosecution. Patrice Baxter was a witness for the defense. Brown was found guilty in October 1999 and sentenced to 15 years to life in prison, which he mainly served in Soledad State Prison.

Gregg Furth had met with Dr Robert Smith, a surgeon in Glasgow who had performed two elective amputations, but was then told to stop by his Hospital Trust. They wrote a book on the subject of apotemnophilia which came out in 2000.

Brown appealed in 2001, but unsuccessfully, his lawyer arguing that California was without
Brown in Soledad
jurisdiction to try him, and that the instructions on implied malice were inadequate.

For Camille, the pain got worse and worse until she died, shortly after Brown’s conviction.

Still in prison, aged 87, Brown died of health problems including pneumonia in 2010.

---------------------------------------

John Brown did over 600 mtf sex-change operations over 25 years. Some of his ex-patients are still delighted with his work. Many others are not. The motivation to trust your body to him was the apparent low price, but if you had complications, and returned for repair work, this lower price quickly disappeared.

Dallas Denny’s “The Tijuana experiencestarts with a quote from Canary Conn. This is unfair. Conn was operated on in Tijuana in 1972 but by Dr Barbosa (named as Dr Lopez in her book). Brown did not start doing sex-change surgery until 1973, and did not set up in Tijuana until 1982.

I like Wendy Davidson’s idea of a peer clinic run by trans persons. It would need to contract with surgeons who were consistently rather than only intermittently good.

Cutting off someone’s leg and leaving them to die is against the law in Mexico. In addition Brown was not licensed to practice medicine in Mexico. As the crime was committed there, they should have had the first shot at prosecution. For another example of US extraterritorial enforcement see Walter L. Williams.

The EN.Wikipedia article on Apotemniphilia does not even mention John Brown.

The Murderpedia article on John Brown says “Number of victims: 1”. Camille and Christina are known to have died as a result of Brown’s bad surgey, and there are certainly others not identified.

Nicole Spray put comments on this blog in 2010 hoping to contact other patients of John Brown. I hope that that worked out well.

There are two doctor characters in fiction who could be taken to be satires of John Brown – except that they predate his work as a surgeon:
1. Dr Montag who helps Myra Breckinrige come into being in Gore Vidal’s 1968 novel.
2. Dr Benway who recurs in William Burrough’s novels including Naked Lunch, 1959 and Nova Express, 1964. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Season 5, 2004, featured a surgeon called Benway who accidentally kills patients during back-alley transgender surgery.
________________
  • Herb Caen. “Plastic, Cosmetic and Reconstructive Surgery”. San Francisco Chronicle, 26 October 1973.
  • John Money, Russell Jobaris & Gregg Furth, "Apotemnophilia: Two cases of self demand amputation as a sexual preference". The Journal of Sex Research. 13 (2) 1977: 115–124.
  • “Transsexual Accepts Suit Settlement”. San Diego Union, March 2, 1979. Online.
  • Eric Nadler. “The Incredible Dick Doctor” Penthouse Forum, January 1986: 18-25.
  • Veronica Jean Brown. “He’s Back !”. Twenty Minutes, September 1989: 3-4. Online.
  • Dallas Denny. “The Tijuana experience”. Alicia’s TV Girl Talk, 4(9), 18, 1992. Online.
  • Bill Callahan. “Ex-doctor who served time faces murder charge”. The San Diego Union-Tribune. May 23, 1998.
  • Paul Ciotti. “Why Did He Cut Off That Man's Leg?: The Peculiar Practice of Dr. John Ronald Brown”. LA Weekly. Dec 15, 1999. Online.
  • Dallas Denny. “Tabletop” John Brown gets his. Transgender Forum, 1999. Online.
  • Michelle Williams. “Transsexuals Tell of Botched Surgeries by Former Doctor”. Associated Press, 29 September 1999. Online.
  • “People v. Brown”. Findlaw, August 02, 2001. Online.
  • Michelle Moore. “Butcher John Ronald Brown”. DallasDenny.com, 2002. http://dallasdenny.com/Writing/2013/11/01/butcher-john-ronald-brown-2002.
  • Gregg Furth & Robert Smith. Apotemnophilia: Information, Questions, Answers, and Recommendations About Self-Demand Amputation. 1stBooks, 2000.
  • Chuck Whitlock. MediScams: How to Spot and Avoid Health Care Scams, Medical Frauds, and Quackery from the Local Physician to the Major Health Care Providers and Drug Manufacturers. Renaissance Books, 2001: chp1; 23-34.
  • Joanne Meyerowitz. How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States. Harvard University Press, 2002: 234, 271-2.
  • Vern L Bullough. “Introduction”. In J. Ari Kane-Demaios and Vern L. Bullough (eds) Crossing Sexual Boundaries: Transgender Journeys, Uncharted Paths. Prometheus Books, 2005: 21-2.
  • Robin Marantz Henig. “At War With Their Bodies, They Seek to Sever Limbs”. The New York Times”, March 22, 2005. Online.
  • World's Worst Sex Change Surgeon, dir & scr: Jonah Weston, narrated by Mark Bazeley. UK Channel 4, 10 Apr 2007, 45 mins
  • Carol Anne Davis. Doctors Who Kill: Profiles of Lethal Medics. Allison & Busby, 2011. Chp 27.
  • Bianca London. “Transgender woman left disabled and horrifically disfigured by her plastic surgery addiction warns of dangers of 'quick fixes' and backstreet doctors”. The Daily Mail, 20 August 2013. Online.
  • Stephen. “John Ronald Brown: World’s Worst Sex Change Surgeon”. Stranger than Fiction, April 21, 2016. Online.

Murderpedia     Wikipedia