This site is the most comprehensive on the web devoted to trans history and biography. Well over 1400 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!

19 February 2018

Eve Golden (1957–) film biographer

Golden was born near Philadelphia, the child of an electronics engineer and a high-school guidance secretary. The family was gay-friendly, and one grandmother was openly lesbian. Family funding paid the costs of transition including surgery.

Golden graduated from Philadelphia College of Art, 1975 (before it became part of the University of the Arts). She read Neils Hoyer’s book on Lili Elbe and Jan MorrisConundrum; started hormones at 18, started living as a woman at 20, and had surgery as soon as she was 21. Eve had done two years at Towson State University as a man, took a semester off and returned as herself. That was okay with the students, but less so with the faculty. The head of the theatre department said that he would never allow her on stage. She would be a distraction -- and what if an actor had to play a love scene with her. However Eve did graduate in 1979.

She acted for about five years: Off-Broadway, in commercials and summer stock. In 1984 Eve got a job as a secretary with a New York advertising agency, and talked her way into a copywriting position.

Being a classic-movie buff, she was annoyed that there was no good book on Jean Harlow, and eventually had a go at writing one herself. She managed to get an agent, a publisher and an advance, and the book came out in 1991. It got good reviews and sold well.

By that time she was working as a senior editor. She followed up with books on silent actress Theda Bara, 1997, Essays on Silent Film Stars, 1998, Anna Held and Ziegfeld’s Broadway, 2000, the 1950s actress Kay Kendall, 2002.

From 2005 Golden was working as a freelance writer and photographic archivist. In 2007 she published a book on the Ragtime dancers, Vernon and Irene Castle.


Eve next intended to do a book on Peg Entwistle, the British actress, who is mainly remembered in that she jumped to her death from the Hollywood Sign in 1932 at the age of 24. However after starting research, she discovered that a first-time writer, James Zeruk, was already working on such a biography. Impressed by the quality of his work, she helped him.

Her most recent books have been Essays on film stars 1930s-60s, 2009, and on the silent actor, John Gilbert, 2013.
  • Eve Golden. Platinum Girl: The Life and Legends of Jean Harlow. Abbeville Press, 1991.
  • Eve Golden. Vamp: The Rise and Fall of Theda Bara. Vestal Press, 1997.
  • Eve Golden. Golden Images: 41 Essays on Silent Film Stars. McFarland, 1998.
  • Eve Golden. Anna Held and the Birth of Ziegfeld's Broadway. University Press of Kentucky, 2000.
  • Eve Golden. The Brief, Madcap Life of Kay Kendall. University Press of Kentucky, 2002.
  • Eve Golden. Vernon and Irene Castle's Ragtime Revolution. University Press of Kentucky, 2007.
  • Eve Golden. Bride of Golden Images: Essays on Stars of the 1930s-60s. BearManor Media, 2009.
  • Eve Golden. John Gilbert : the last of the silent film stars. University Press of Kentucky, 2013.
  • James Zeruk, with an introduction by Eve Golden. Peg Entwistle and the Hollywood Sign Suicide: A Biography. McFarland Publishing, 2013.
  • Una Newling. “Eve Golden: Queen of the Dead“. Transas City, March 2014. http://transascity.org/eve-golden-queen-of-the-dead.

IMDB     EN.Wikipedia     Encyclopedia.Com     Amazon Author Page

15 February 2018

Michelle Suárez Bértora (1984–) lawyer, senator.

Michelle was born in Salinas in the Canelones Department of Uruguay. She transitioned at age 15 with the support of her mother.

Accepted at the Universidad de la República in Montevideo, she was the first out-trans person to attend university in Uruguay. She suffered transphobic harassment and a professor who specialized in human rights refused to grade her work. She also set a precedent in changing her legal gender status. She graduated and became the first out trans lawyer in the country in 2010.

That year her mother died. Michelle joined Ovejas Negras (Black Sheep), an LGBT rights organization. There she made a major contribution to the draft bill for equal marriage legislation. The bill was presented to congress in 2011, initially passed in 2012, and finally approved in 2013.

In 2012 Michelle published a book on the difficulties that some minorities, including trans and gay, have in achieving human rights.

She joined the Communist Party (PCU) which is part of the ruling coalition Frenta Amplio (Broad Front) and was elected an alternate senator (with limited voting rights).


In October 2017, Senator Márcos Carámbula resigned and Suárez became a full Senator. She said that she would introduce a bill that would allow trans people to legally change their identity without a court order. The measure would also require Uruguay to set aside 1 percent of government jobs for trans people and create a pension to compensate those who suffered persecution during the country’s military dictatorship, 1973-1985, because of their gender identity.

However in December, two months later, she was found guilty in a case of an estranged father’s parental rights having been cancelled in a document with the wrong signatures. Suárez resigned her seat.

ES.Wikipedia     EN.Wikipedia

_______________________

ES.Wikipedia says that Michelle was born in 1984; EN.Wikipedia says 1983.   I have gone with the former. 

30 January 2018

Dana Bevan. Part III: 7 factors that are not causes


Part I: Life
Part II: Theory
Part III:  7 factors that are not causes


As in part II, we are referring to Dana Bevan's works using the numbers 1-5 for reference with a page number when applicable.


1) The Transsexual Scientist. 2013.
2) The Psychobiology of Transsexualism and Transgenderism. 2014.
3) “Transgender Science Recap”. In Sisterhouse, 2015
4) “The Science of Gender”. In The Wireless, 2015.
5) Being Transgender: What You Should Know. 2016.

For full bibliography see Part I.

In (3) Bevan presents a list of 7 factors that are often taken to be somehow a cause, or even the cause, of being trans. I agree that none of them are in fact such a cause, but for most of them I have problems with how Bevan states the issues.

Sexual arousal or fetishism


As Bevan first came out into SMBD/fetish groups, I was expecting an explanation about how self-styled fetishists are not at all the same as what psychologists mean when they use the word.

However, Bevan simply dismisses the idea of TSTG being a fetish with
“The arousal from crossdressing fades with exposure”. (2:191) 
This is true enough, but not as fast as Bevan implies. Furthermore Bevan does not consider the variant claim that being trans is an addiction, and like other addictions (heroin, gambling, coffee, Facebook) it requires a bigger and bigger fix: cross-dressing at home, then in a group, then going out alone, then hormones and then surgery.

Autogynephilia

Bevan quotes several definitions by Blanchard and Lawrence, and then writes (2:192)
“it is clear that the concept of Autogynephilia is not well defined and cannot be easily operationalized. For this reason alone, it does not constitute a scientific theory”. 

One wants to agree with this.  However the concept has been frighteningly successful, and quite a lot of trans women have self-identified with it.   It is not to be so easily dismissed.

More importantly, Bevan writes as if Autogynephilia is being considered as a, or even the, cause of transsexuality. As Ray Blanchard makes very clear, he proposed Autogynephilia as a second type of transsexuality with a different etiology.

Why does Bevan obfuscate this? Bevan does not mention Anne Lawrence’s book, Men Trapped in Men's Bodies: Narratives of Autogynephilic Transsexualism, but as it came out in 2013, it was probably too late to be included. More seriously she does not mention Michael Bailey’s 2003 book, The Man Who Would Be Queen: the science of gender-bending and transsexualism. She does mention – actually she cites – Bailey with reference to twins, sexual orientation, and sibling order. But she totally ignores his infamous book on Autogynephilia.

The development of Autogynephilia into Cross Dreaming is not even mentioned.

One last point: from her autobiography we know that Blanchard would regard her as an Autogynephile (late transition, two wives, two daughters). Surely it would have been tactical for her to have conceded this, rather than wait for others to point it out.

Autoandrophilia is not even mentioned.

3 Prenatal testosterone

Bevan writes:
“This theory is rooted in East German eugenics and available scientific evidence refutes the theory. Some of the evidence comes from prenatal conditions in which testosterone should be abnormally low or high but there is no TSTG. Organization of gender begins with early DNA expression, long before testosterone is produced by the testes or adrenals. Measuring prenatal testosterone is currently beyond the state-of-the-art despite research papers it is responsible not only for TSTG but also for autism spectrum and dyslexia. As far as we know, there are no cases in which testosterone was injected into pregnant human mothers to avoid TSTG in males but the East Germans proposed this and played around with hormones in other areas such as athletics.”
On this I have no further comments.

4 Family dynamics.

Bevan writes:
“Research indicates that neither your mama or your papa make you TSTG; however, TSTG behavior does induce parents to use violence against their TSTG kids”. 
In general, yes – however. It was a common idea in the first part of the last century that mothers dressing their boys as girls had a lasting effect. This comes up a lot in the books by Peter Farrer.

There are recent cases like Jill Monro, and Greer Lankton where the mother or the family definitely pushed the child in a trans direction.

There are also the Filipino Baklas where in a family of only sons, one is selected to be raised as a girl (and to do girls’ work). See the article by Robert Turner in The Gay and Lesbian Review, Sept-Oct 2017)

5 Conversion by peers

Bevan writes
’No evidence that this occurs although we do like to get together in clubs and conventions to compare notes”. 
Remember that this is the same author who maintains that we are incapable of conscious decisions. Such incapacity makes it more likely that people will adopt memes and fashions circulating in the culture – of which transgenderism could now be considered one. If one were to believe in this incapacity, it would at least explain the big increase in the number of trans persons over the last century.


6 Psychodynamics.

Bevan writes:
“Not really scientific theories and assume intervening variables that cannot be measured, e.g. complexes. No objective evidence for early trauma involvement assumed by some psychodynamics.“ 
Psychoanalysts still claim that trans persons should submit to years, maybe decades, of analysis rather than transitioning. However their success is noteworthy for its absence.

7 Homosexuality. 

Bevan writes: 
DNA markers are in different locations from those for TSTG. Some TSTG are homosexual but the two phenomena appear to be independent at this time.” 
Not so simple. From the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century, the dominant social construction in western societies was that both homosexual persons and transvestites were both ‘inverts’. There is not a single word in Bevan re either inverts or social construction.

Even if DNA markers are slightly different, gay and trans are parallel, and many supposed explanations of gay were later re-used for trans: trapped soul, pre-natal hormones, family dynamics.

Like Ray Blanchard and his predecessors, Bevan uses ‘homosexual’ when she means heterosexual trans women. This is only one step away from referring to trans women as ‘male transsexuals’. We have been arguing for decades that this usage is offensive in that it ignores what we really are. The words ‘gynephilic’ and ‘androphilic’ are well established. Like Blanchard, Bevan chooses not to use them.

There is no mention of Frederick Whitam’s Male Homosexuality in Four Societies, 1986. It is a sociological study of transvestity in third-world countries. Whitam sees heterosexual transvestites as a different category and protests their appropriation of the word 'transvestite'. "Some heterosexual transvestites, not wanting to be identified as being homosexual, have insisted that they are the 'true transvestites' and take a demeaning attitude towards drag queens and female impersonators". (p80).  The only mention of Whitam is a citation of several papers from which Bevan concludes: " the proportion of transgender children who become non-TSTG homosexuals is relatively small". (2:157)

Whilst, even in third world countries, the majority of gay men and lesbians are not and do not become trans, the overwhelming majority of trans woman are androphilic and early transitioners.

Again, as she did with Autogynephilia, Bevan obfuscates that there are different types of trans persons. The late transitioning persons who first become husbands and fathers are very different from early transitioners and also from trans persons who came through the gay community. Traditionally (this includes hijra, kathoey, and most of the Latin American activists) trans women came through the gay community or even were the local gay community. The transkids who have attracted so much attention recently are neither. They will not be gay in the traditional sense (that is heterosexual post-transition), and they certainly will not become husbands and fathers.

The closest that Bevan comes is: "Some transsexuals and transgender people start out as heterosexual and some as homosexual. The difference may help clinicians predict the time course of the emergence of transsexualism because some early homosexuals tend to become transsexual at an earlier age." (2:46)

Even Vern Bullough regards the heterosexual crossdresser/late transitioner as a phenomenon of the 20th century. Bevan however claims traditional third gender persons and modern transkids as being the same as herself.   This is appropriation.

_________________

My Conclusion

Bevan is strong on experimental psychology and weak on history, biography, philosophy and the politics of transgender.    The Psychobiology of Transsexualism and Transgenderism is useful in that you can use it as a reference book that summarizes experimental psychology on trans topics up to 2015.  It is particularly useful for refuting simplistic biological theories proposed by some other writers.

However her further reading section includes only two late transition accounts in addition to her own, and no androphilic trans woman is mentioned at all, no early transition person is mentioned at all, no trans man is mentioned.   This is trans without Sylvia Rivera, without Coccinelle, without Louis Sullivan.   The only trans organizing that Beven mentions is a) the Virginia Prince/Tri-Ess/IFGE strand b) computer bulletin boards. 

Historians distinguish between diachronous  (changing through time) and synchronous (at one time) explanations.  Devan's account is heavily synchronous and does not explain the big growth in numbers of trans persons.   DNA varies little from one generation to the next.   The only aspect of change through time in a DNA-epigenetic model is pollution acting epigenetically.    To some extent she is aware of this and has brief sections on traditional third-gender traditions.   However she does not explain how or why these traditions are very different from the Princian/IFGE tradition, and almost erases the 20th century gay trans tradition.  

The irony of a biological explanation is that it does not explain why some are early transitioners, and some are late transitioners, and some go to the grave without ever transitioning.   In her autobiography, Bevan resolved this by making transition a choice: "I should have chosen transsexuality earlier in my life and fought for being my authentic self, no matter what the cost".  So we are back to existential issues and the quest for authenticity.   Elsewhere however Bevan denies our capacity for conscious decision making.

The TSTG phenomenon that she creates is a social construction that emphasizes some aspects and neglects others.  Caveat lector!

26 January 2018

Dana Bevan. Part II: theory

Part I: Life
Part II: Theory
Part III:  7 factors that are not causes


Bevan, trained in experimental and physiological psychology, has--sometimes as Thomas, sometimes as Dana--presented her findings on what she and only she calls TSTG. We will take five of her works (for full bibliography see Part 1).

1) The Transsexual Scientist. 2013.
2) The Psychobiology of Transsexualism and Transgenderism. 2014.
3) “Transgender Science Recap”. In Sisterhouse, 2015
4) “The Science of Gender”. In The Wireless, 2015.
5) Being Transgender: What You Should Know. 2016.





For brevity and clarity, I will use the numbers 1-5 for reference with a page number when applicable.

What is transgender? There are transvestites who use the word for transsexuals; there are transsexuals who use the word for transvestites; some use it as an umbrella word for both. Obviously as Bevan keeps saying TSTG, she is with the second camp.



Two-Factor causality


Here is an extract from the summary at the end of  her second book (2:241):
“Evidence from biopsychology indicates that the two causal factors for TSTG appear to be genetics and epigenetics, perhaps working together. We know genetics is involved because of twin and family studies and genetic markers on the DNA molecule for TSTG. We believe epigenetics may be involved because TSTG is implicated as being correlated with such phenomena as prenatal exposure to drugs. Prenatal exposure to toxic chemicals and maternal stress are also potential epigenetic mechanisms for TSTG. Genetic and epigenetic factors may work together to produce a gender predisposition that may be incongruent with cultural expectations of a person’s appropriate gender behavior category. We know that the prenatal testosterone theory of TSTG causation is not supported by the evidence. Several phenomena are known to involve both genetics and epigenetics, and TSTG is correlated with some of them. In particular, transsexuals and transgender people tend to be less right-handed. Genetic and epigenetic evidence as well as absence of evidence for other causal factors forms the basis for the two-factor theory of TSTG causation.”

A question that is not considered: Is there a two-factor causality for homeovestity and homeogender surgery? Psychoanalysts proposed a cause, but nobody else is looking for one. Why does transvestity require a cause and explanation, but homeovestity does not?   This is of course a variant on the question: why are scientists looking for a cause of homosexuality, but not looking for a cause of heterosexuality.

Biological


Bevan:
“We know that TSTG is probably a biological phenomenon because of the historical and geographic spread of gender diversity and cultural accommodation. Information from genetics and epigenetics, as well as the appearance of TSTG in early childhood and other evidence, confirms that it is biological in nature” (2:241) 
I must disagree with this. Bevan evaluates alternate biological explanations, rejects most of them, but finds a core of biological explanation that she takes to be valid. The discussion of psychological or cultural causation is only cursory. Money is not even mentioned, and Benjamin is mentioned (2: 42) only for popularizing the word ‘transsexual’ and for outlining professional standards. There is nothing taken from his book. The rejection of psychological or cultural causation would seem to imply an axiom along the lines that if a biological explanation can be found than psychological or cultural causation need not be considered.

Sex and Gender. 


Bevan again and again writes:
“Sex and gender do not mean the same thing”. 
Both John Money and feminism sorted this out over 50 years ago. If Bevan is talking to LGBT persons she is belabouring the obvious. Money was a pioneer in using the term gender as opposed to sex. However Bevan cites  in the bibliography of (2) only a couple of papers where Money is a co-author. His major works, the Johns Hopkins clinic and the David Reimer case are not mentioned at all. Likewise there is no mention of feminism.

Far more of a problem in recent years has been the conflation of gender and gender identity. Bevan has no comment on this problem.

Historical and Contemporary Cultures


This is a short chapter in (2). In Antiquity she mentions only Queen Hatsheput and “eunuchs who were voluntarily castrated” - no mention of Gallae. In Contemporary Western TSTG, the only support group that she mentions is Virginia Prince and Tri-Ess, and she says
 “Some support groups still require interviews before a TSTG can be admitted” 
- as Tri-Ess forbids TS members, that is very badly phrased.

Like so many other authors, Bevan claims that Viscount Cornbury, Governor of New York was TSTG. Bevan wrote 15 years after Patricia Bonomi’s detailed biography that explained that Cornbury was not a transvestite, and gets his name wrong. Cornbury was Edward Hyde, but Bevan calls him Henry Hyde, the name of his father.

There is then a brief mention of Hijras, Kathoeys, waria, mahu, fa’afafine, Bakla, bugia, xanith and two-spirit. Apparently Bevan regards herself and these traditional third gender traditions as being pretty much the same. She certainly does not mention Vern Bullough’s hypothesis:
“there is no evidence in Western culture of what might be called a heterosexual transvestite consciousness before the twentieth century”. 
See further in Part III when I discuss Autogynephilia.

Twins


Bevan writes:
“Heritability studies involving identical twins and families indicate significant loadings for a genetic factor in TSTG. If one identical twin is transsexual or transgender, then it is more likely the other twin will also be TSTG than the population frequencies.” (2:8) 
In (4) Bevan puts numbers to this:
“If [transsexuals] have an identical twin the chances are about one third that their identical twin will also be transsexual and that’s against a population frequency of about 0.1 percent. That’s not seen in fraternal twins and that’s not seen in siblings”. 

Other writers would mention the famous examples of trans woman with an identical cis twin (Candis Cayne, Laverne Cox) – but Bevan is not that kind of writer. Bevan cites this ratio as the major reason for believing that TSTG is genetic. However having established this, it does not seem to be taking us anywhere.


Choice


Bevan writes:
“ TSTG is not a conscious lifestyle choice. Subconscious mechanisms make choices for us before there is any conscious awareness of them. Decisions regarding TSTG are influenced by biological gender predisposition, fear of exposure, and decisions about existential crises and other things, all of which are represented somewhere in the subconscious.” (2: 242). 
The key word here is ‘conscious’. There is a section (2:182-4) titled The Illusion of Conscious Choice. This is the only section in Bevan’s books where she cites her mentor Julian Jaynes. (Note to Dana Bevan: it is inconsiderate to one’s readers to cite an entire 500 page book for a minor point. Please give a page or at least a chapter reference. Jaynes gives page numbers in citations.)

Bevan also cites the MRI scanning that shows the associated brain activity 10 seconds before conscious awareness of the decision. Neither Bevan, nor other writers who use this data, explain how to get from a momentary event like lifting an arm to events that take several years like doing a PhD or raising a child. Did Bevan spend 4 years at Princeton without ever making a conscious choice?

Remember the quote at the end of her autobiography (1):
“I had several good opportunities to choose correctly but I passed them up, choosing to fight another day.” Does Bevan make conscious choices or not.

Numbers


Bevan goes with the Olyslager-Conway estimates. This is good. But her two-factor causality does not explain why there are so many more trans persons now than in previous decades and centuries.

The Olyslager-Conway estimates refer to transsexuals. Bevan goes with estimates of other trans persons being 1-2%. I think that this is too low. There is not any mention at all of the cross-dreamers, and beyond them the Dark Crossdreamers. And like practically every other writer, Bevan totally ignores Charlotte Bach and her proposal that attraction to being the other sex/gender is fundamental to being human – an attraction that one can either deny or asseverate.