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!

26 February 2012

Matene (190? - ?) trapeze artist.

Matene, a Maori, joined a circus at age nine. He worked as a an acrobat and trapeze artist. He was called by a girl’s name, encouraged to dress as a girl even when not performing and generally brought up as a girl.

In June 1933 she was arrested in Auckland after a shopping trip. She was charged with having obtained credit by fraud by representing herself as a woman in a drapery shop. The solicitor for her defence pointed out that she was of a good family and had a substantial income.

The magistrate dismissed the charge as there was no evidence of fraud.
  • London Life, July 29th, 1933: 53. Reprinted in Peter Farrer. Cross Dressing between the Wars: Selections from London Life, 1923-1933. Garston: Karn, 2000: 190.
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Old newspaper stories can be annoying in their lack of detail.  Which circus did Matene work for?  It is improbable that Matene was her professional name or the name that she used when shopping for it is a man’s name.  Henare Matene Te Whiwhi is an outstanding Maori of the 19th century.  Nor obviously is it a complete name.

However we are pleased to see that common sense sense prevailed at the trial.

24 February 2012

Endry Cardeño (1976 - ) actress.

Cardeño was raised in Cúcuta, Colombia. She transitioned at age 17.

Endry has become an acting star in the soap opera Los Reyes. And since has played the lead role in Cheila, Una Casa Pa' Maita. 2009.

In 2011 she was on the cover of Soho magazine.
EN.WIKIPEDIA  YOUTUBE

22 February 2012

Paul Grappe (1891 - 1928) deserter.

Paul Grappe was born in Ronconieres, Haut Marne. He and Louise Landy met in Paris in 1911 and soon married.

Paul was doing his national service as a corporal in the 102nd Infantry regiment in August 1914 when war started. He was sent to the front and was injured a few weeks later. Later in November he lost a finger on his right hand and was accused of self-mutilation. He was found not guilty and told to return to the front. However he chose to desert.

As healthy young men not in uniform attracted much attention, he decided to shave his moustache and to transvest as Suzanne Landgard. Louise found new lodgings. For two years, he stayed in while his hair grew and “destroying the hair roots with electricity”. He made a small living taking in sewing. Louise worked as an artist and cartoonist.

While Paul had never previously worn women’s clothes, he found that he quite enjoyed it.
“I became interested in my appearance as a woman. I began to forget that I was a man. I finally acquired a certain pride in looking pretty.”
Towards the end of the war Suzanne found a factory job, and began to attend the night cabarets of Montmartre and Montparnasse, where she flirted with men.

Suzanne 1925
Susanne and Louise lived for a while in Spain, and returned to Paris in 1922. In 1925 France proclaimed a general amnesty for deserters who had served six months, and Susanne again became Paul.

La famille 1926
The press seized on his story and it was published internationally. Paul found this adjustment much harder than when he became Suzanne. He drank heavily, five litres of wine per day, started to beat Louise and threatened their child.

Finally this had gone too far and Louise shot him, dead. Three weeks later, the child, two years and eight months, died from tubercular meningitis. After a sensational trial, Louise was acquitted, quickly remarried and lived until 1981.
  • Paul Grappe. “Lived as a Woman for 10 Years”. The Milwaukee Journal, Apr 5, 1925. http://tinyurl.com/cve98rr.
  • “The Historic Instance of ‘Suzanne Langlarde’”. London Life, September 22nd, 1928: 22. Reprinted in Peter Farrer. Cross Dressing between the Wars: Selections from London Life, 1923-1933. Garston: Karn, 2000: 287-8.
  • Fabrice Virgili and Danièle Voldman. La garçonne et l'assassin. Histoire de Louise et de Paul, déserteur travesti, dans le Paris des années folles. Paris: Payot & Rivages, 2011.
  • “Le Travesti de 14-18”. BibliObs, 09-06-2011. http://bibliobs.nouvelobs.com/essais/20110609.OBS4809/le-travesti-de-14-18.html.

20 February 2012

Kathryn Leigh McGuire (1942 – 2011) executive.

Charles McGuire Jr. Was born near Corpus Christi, Texas, the son of a construction business man. From age 9 he worked for his dad’s business. He played football as a teenager, went hunting at weekends and dressed as a girl in his spare time.

He married at 20 and he and his wife moved to Houston and raised two children. He built up a construction materials company, M&C Consolidated Inc as the major seller of stabilized sand in the city.

His wife, a born-again Christian, who had known of his dressing from early on, divorced him in in 1981. McGuire then developed his life as Kathryn, started taking female hormones, had electrolysis and had her nose restructured.

For four years M&C Consolidated Inc was investigated by a federal grand jury for price fixing, and the investigators found out about Kathryn. This became a frequent source of jokes among county officials, and witnesses interviewed by the investigators were all asked questions about McGuire’s lifestyle. McGuire went to the press in 1988 and a color photograph of Kathryn was on the front page of the Houston Chronicle with her claim that she was being persecuted because of her lifestyle.

Following this Kathryn frequently appeared on the Stevens and Pruett show on radio station KLOL where she was noted for her grace in responding to audience comments. She was featured in all the Houston papers. In 1989 she ran for Houston City Council - the first open transvestite to do so - and came second out of three. She gave considerable donations to Houston AIDS organizations, and was on a board to find a cure.

The price fixing investigation was closed in March 1991, with no indictments. Shortly afterwards Kathryn flew to London. Her stay in a hospital to be operated on was filmed by documentary maker Brian Huberman.

Afterwards she lived in in Prague with the idea of opening a restaurant. Then she lived in Amsterdam, then Philadelphia, Atlantic City and California.

Her gay son, James, wrote his first play, Daddy Kathryn, about their relationship. Kathryn turned up for the opening night, and was the center of attention. In 1999 she said of her male persona:
"That wasn't me. That was just a shell I was in, or an image I was projecting to make everybody happy."
In 2002 Kathryn published a novel about a female Jesus with a transsexual mother.

She died at age 68.

*Not the film actress.



Daddy Kathryn

18 February 2012

Noel McKay (193? - 2004?) menswear retailer, performer

Noel was born in Oamaru, on New Zealand’s South Island. He married his first wife in his twenties.

In the 1960s he worked during the week at an elegant menswear shop in Queen St, Auckland. At the weekends he was a classy female impersonator, and sang on stage for a full hour. He appeared in clubs and cabarets all over New Zealand and Australia.  He was friend of Carman Rupe.


His albums usually had a photograph of himself on drag, but his EPs entitled Party Songs: For Adults Only, were aimed at a straight audience, and included mildly risqué songs, but he also included a little drag/gay humour that the straight listener would miss.

McKay had gender surgery late in life.
 QUEERMUSICHERITAGE
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McKay's post-transition name is not known.

16 February 2012

Antonia San Juan (1961 - ) actress, director, monologist

Born in Las Palmas in the Canary Islands, San Juan went to Madrid at age 19, and started acting. At 29 she had completed transition.

She did stand-up comedy in bars, and has acted in 22 films, and directed 4.  Abroad she is best known for her role as a transsexual in Todo sobre mi madre (All About My Mother), 1999, by Pedro Almodóvar, which led to a lot of speculation about her own history. She has said:
"I'm not a transsexual or a transvestite, There is a lot of confusion about me, but I am an actress, and that is all there is to say about that". 
In 2000 she was presented with the "Woman of the Year" award by the National Board of the Spanish Women's Association. She has her own theatre company, and has gained many awards. She is also a well-known monologist.

In recent years she has been acclaimed for her role in the television series La que se avecina.  Her long-time partner is fellow actor Luis Miguel Seguí, who is also in La que se avecina.
MIDSUMMERNIGHTSDREAM  ES.WIKIPEDIA   EN.WIKIPEDIA  IMDB

13 February 2012

Passing women, 1800-1950 – a partial list

In the decades and centuries before cross sex hormones became available we know of many more trans men than of trans women.  Female-bodied persons seem to do a better job as passing as male without hormonal therapy than male-bodied persons do as female.  This is partially because  the default assumption in patriarchal society that someone is male until there is evidence to the contrary.

Anyway, here are several known trans women who were able to pass in the period 1800-1950 (not counting the pioneer surgical transsexuals, intersex persons nor two-spirit persons, and not counting those who were out in one way or another).  This is only a small fraction of passing women, but these few pioneers are known. 

Lavinia Edwards (1809  – 1833) actress, London.
Sophia Gibons (181? – 1865) house work, Cambridge, Ohio.
Mrs Noonan (? – 1878) laundress, Fort Meade, Dakota Territory.
Eliza Scott (1838- ?) traditional healer, London.
Peggy Yule (1860-1965) circus worker.
Elizabeth Berger (1874 – ?) pastry cook, maid.
Frances Anderson (187? – 1928 ) billiards champion.
Malvina Perry (1881-1934) circus strong women, bearded lady, Baltimore.
Martha Toth (1883-1933) factory worker, Buda Pest.
Lucy Hicks Anderson (1886 – 1954)brothel madam, Oxnard, California.
Frances Carrick (1891 – ?) housewife, Crowne Point, Indiana.
a railwayman’s wife (? – ?) maid, Wales.
Georgia Black (1906 – 1951) housewife, Sanford. Florida.
Pamela Bird (1927 – ) barmaid, domestic work, London.
Mrs Cox (193? – ?) housewife,
Désirée (194? – 196?) housewife, New York.

10 February 2012

The Temperance Hall, Hulme.

The Temperance Hall, Hulme, (map) close to central Manchester was rented for a ball in late September 1880 by what purported to be the Manchester Pawnbrokers’ Association. To ensure privacy the organizers covered the windows with black paper, and engaged a blind accordionist to provide the music.

Detective Jerome Caminada had received a tip-off and organized a combined force of police constables and local men. He climbed onto a neighbouring roof so that he could see over the paper covering the window. He saw a mixed group of 47 men, some smart, some shabby, half dressed as male historical figures and the others as women. He noted a couple dressed as Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, and another as Romeo and Juliet. The can-can was being danced. Sometimes persons left the main hall into the ante-room, where Caminada imagined what might be happening.

He knew that to gain admittance, he should give the password ‘sister’ in an effeminate voice. He did so and his gang burst in and arrested everybody present, and transported them to the magistrate’s court.

It was discovered that the organizers were not local men, but that they arranged similar events as far away as Leeds and Nottingham. Detective Caminada informed the court that ‘in society, there existed a class of men, almost unknown to many gentlemen, who prowl about the streets almost to the same extent as unfortunate women’. The most prominent of those arrested was a Mr Parkinson, a professional female impersonator, who had toured with Tute’s Minstrels. Caminada had heard him address men in the streets in a female voice. The defence argued that the defendants had been foolish, but not criminal.

The magistrates considered the possible scandal. “In this city -- not in Turkey or Bulgaria or some places where these odious practices were common -- but in Manchester this vice ... was practiced and solicited’. After consideration, no further investigation was pursued, the defendants were bound over and released.

Reproduced in Cocks.
  • Illustrated Police News, 2 October 1880.
  • Manchester Evening News, 30 September, 1 October 1880.
  • H.G. Cocks. “Secrets, Crimes and Diseases, 1800-1914”. In Matt Cook (ed). A Gay History of Britain: Love and Sex Between Man Since the Middle Ages. Greenwood World Publishing, 2007:118-9, 121.
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What a pity that Detective Caminada did not consult with the magistrates before organizing his raid.   The police resources would be better spent elsewhere.

Unfortunately the name of the ball organizers were not given.

07 February 2012

Ruthie and Eddie. dress-designer, horse trainer.

Ruthie, a male-bodied dress-designer, took up with Eddie, a female-bodied horse-trainer, in El Paso, Texas in the 1930s. The used to act up together in gay bars, and were advised that their marriage was “urgently advisable”. They loved the idea that they could wear each other’s clothes.

Pat Highsmith, who met them in 1940 on a trip home from college, wrote: “Each would have liked the other’s body for his own to put clothes on ... [T]hey were ... finding the greatest pleasure in the world in buying clothes for each other - which neither wore - and which soon were taken back and worn by each respectively - which was what they’d wanted after all.”
  • Patricia Highsmith. Cahiers, 4 September 1940. Unpublished.
  • Joan Schenkar. The Talented Miss Highsmith: The Secret Life and Serious Art of Patricia Highsmith. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2009: 136.
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We know of Ruthie and Eddie only because Pat Highsmith wrote about them in her notebooks, and then because Joan Schenkar used the anecdote in her biography of Highsmith.   How many tens of thousands are lost to history?

05 February 2012

Martha Toth (1883-1933) A Hungarian pioneer.

Martha Toth worked 20 years at a factory in Buda Pest. She lived by herself, and had no man in her life.

At age 50 she had a heart attack and died. The summoned doctor found that she was male-bodied.
  • London Life, Oct 14th, 1933: 3. Reprinted in Peter Farrer. Cross Dressing between the Wars: Selections from London Life, 1923-1933. Garston: Karn, 2000: 342.

03 February 2012

New York City in the 1960s

In most trans histories Virginia Prince and such people tend to be shunted into a separate section.  The gay transvestites, with the notable exception of Stonewall seem to disappear altogether.  As we saw with Susanna Valenti, the reality was that some of the same individuals who attend FPE meetings, would also go to gay bars and the drag balls.  This article is a summary of the various activities in New York City in the 1960s.

Unlike in California and elsewhere in the US, neither cross-dressing nor being homosexual (as opposed to homosexual acts) as such were criminal in New York.  However the New York police regarded homosexuals as morally depraved and arrested persons assumed to be such on whatever grounds that they could.  In particular they used entrapment, and raided clubs and bars and arrested those found within.  By 1966 the NYPD was arresting over 100 men every week on charges of 'homosexual solicitation' -- mainly resulting from entrapment.  The wave of decriminalization of homosexuality that spread across Europe, East and West, and to Canada never reached the US.  In 1953 then President Eisenhower signed a government order adding 'sexual perversion' as a reason for investigation and dismissal.  Police and military records were shared with private employers.  Thousands were dismissed from their jobs with no recourse.  No known 'sexual pervert' could gain or retain a professional license.  Cross-dressing was taken as evidence of homosexuality even when the person was married. The police had an informal rule that you should be wearing at least three items 'appropriate to your sex'.  The New York State Liquor Authority had its own laws: homosexuals and transvestites were decreed to be 'lewd and dissolute' and their presence in a bar made it disorderly and subject to closure.  Because no gay bar could be legal, the mafia ran most of them, not caring about licenses, bribing the police and blackmailing the customers.  The very harshness of the penalties led to many judges being unwilling to sentence gays, lesbians and transsexuals, and giving a fine or probation instead.  However the possibility of getting the wrong judge stifled expression and inhibited lives.

Given this policing background, the amount of gay, lesbian and trans activity in the city was quite remarkable.  Here we will be looking only at the trans activities.


From 1960-8 Gail Wilde allowed her apartment as a transvestite meeting place, and referred to it as the Downtown Branch in reference to Susanna Valenti's place in uptown, and the less documented Vicky's place in midtown.  Felicity Chandelle was arrested in 1964 for cross-dressing under an obscure New York Law about dressing as an Indian.  She lost her longterm job with Eastern Airlines because of assumed homosexuality.

Carlson Wade was publishing several books each year on sex and gender.

The major place for drag shows was the 82 Club.  The balls organized by Phil Black were starting to evolve into the House system that was documented in Paris is Burning.  Flawless Sabrina was organizing drag pageants that would culminate in the one filmed as The Queen, 1968.  Later balls were organized for the Mattachine Society by Lee Brewster.

Libby Reynolds in mufti tricked with Raymond Burr in 1960, but was written up in Confidential Magazine as if Burr had picked up a drag queen.

Dorian Corey was performing at the Pearl Box Review with a live boa constrictor.  Pudgy Roberts, Minette, Joe Tish, Terry NoelSonne Teal, Ty Bennett, Kim August, Tommy DorseyAjita Wilson and Angie Stardust were performing in New York.

Mario Montez and Francis Francine were appearing in avant garde films.The teenage International Chrysis was looking for a break, as was Holly Woodlawn; Jackie Curtis started writing plays.  The future  Jayne County did not arrive in New York until 1968.

The young Marsha P Johnson moved to Manhattan, as did the young Candy Darling, and the young Sylvia Rivera.

The Stonewall Inn Restaurant was gutted by fire in the mid 1960s, and re-opened in 1967 as a mafia gay bar.  Mobster Vito Genovese owner of the 82 Club had been convicted of heroin trafficking in 1959 and was in prison.

Patricia Morgan and Zazu Nova were turning tricks; Pat's friend Diane Kearny, the future HBS activist, was also friendly with 82 Club performers.

The future Renee Richards was experimenting.  

Drs Leo Wollman and Harry Benjamin were helping transsexuals in New York.  Richard Green saw patients at Harry Benjamin's New York office 1964-6, as did Ethel Person in the 1970s.

In 1962 John Money became head of the Psychohormonal Research Unit at Johns Hopkins University Hospital.  In 1965 John Money cajoled Johns Hopkins into opening the first US Gender Identity Clinic, and Reed Erickson donated $85,000 to it over a period of some years.  The first transsexual to have surgery at Johns Hopkins, Phyllis Wilson, was a dancer in a New York night club in 1966, and the gossip around her led to the Clinic giving an exclusive report to the New York Times.

 Zelda Suplee ran the Erickson Educational Foundation from its New York office.
Mario Martino ran the Labyrinth Foundation for trans men.

01 February 2012

Susanna Valenti (192? - ?) translator, broadcaster, activist.

++ Updated April 2014.

Tito Valenti immigrated to the US from Latin America in the mid-1940s.

Katherine Cummings says that Tito worked as a law court translator, however Darrell Raynor says that he was “a radio commentator who is well known internationally” and that he had interviewed the President and top generals, and Hugo Beigel says that he was a writer and dancer.

Valenti consulted a doctor in the late 1940s about his desires to cross-dress. The doctor showed understanding, and introduced him to another transvestite, the first that he had met.

Valenti’s second wife, Marie, ran a wig boutique in New York, advertised it in Transvestia, and introduced many of her clients to Susanna, her husband’s other persona. Indeed Susanna also had met her when looking for a wig. Marie also catered to professional female impersonators and was regarded as one of the better wig-makers in New York.

With the profits from her wig business, Marie purchased, in the mid 1950s, a country home in the Catskills, which she and Susanna called Chevalier D’Eon Resort. It was an isolated 150 acres with a main house, a barn and several snug but unheated bungalows.  For $25 ($190 in 2011 money) a weekend visitor from the city got food and board and lessons in passing as female. There were too few transvestite visitors to make a profit for the Valentis, and most weekends the resort was rented to regular guests. However Susanna did her impersonation show even for these.

She published her address in Transvestia and hosted transvestite social events in her spacious New York apartment. From there, Susanna and others went to the drag shows at the 82 Club, and the drag balls put on by the Phil Black and by the National Variety Artists. A few entered the beauty contests at the drag balls but in competition with the gay world and professional impersonators they rarely won. Susanna relished the crowds and the cameras at the entrance to the drag balls.

As Susanna, she wrote 53 opinion columns, “Susanna Says” for Virginia Prince's Transvestia magazine, from 1960 to 1970. She was known as more easy going than Prince.  She coined the metaphor of the ‘girl-within’, that became popular among Transvestia readers. She is quoted as saying:
“Let us, for heaven’s sake, strive to forge a nice, clean cut, real person out of ‘the girl-within.’ Let’s give her a personality of her own. If possible, let’s give her even different tastes than those of ‘the guy within.’”
Like Prince she believed in a dual personality that could be developed and worked on.

In 1961 Tito was summoned by postal officials. Two of her correspondents had been charged with mailing obscene materials, and Susanna’s name had come up. Tito pleaded respectability and denounced the obscenities.

Susanna in 1961
Of particular note is the gathering of 71 transvestites at the Chevalier D’Eon Resort for Halloween 1962, held a day after the New York police unusually raided the annual National Variety Artists costume ball and 30 cross-dressed "men" were arrested. The guests at Chevalier D’Eon Resort included Virginia Prince, Katherine Cummings, Felicity Chandelle, Darrell Raynor and Gail Wilde, and psychologists Hugo Beigel and Wardell Pomeroy.   Raynor, Cummings and Beigel later wrote about the event.

Both Virginia and Susanna were upset by one guest who not only did not bother to shave, he also smoked a cigar. This brought Susanna closer to Virginia’s point of view that a cultivation of ‘inner femininity’ distinguished true transvestites from drag queens and fetishists. She expressed this opinion in her column several times.  Initially 'fetishism' had been equated with partial dressing, but FPE increasingly identified as fetishistic those who fully dressed as female but failed or didn’t bother to fashion themselves as truly feminine.  A few years later Sheila Niles would propose the term ‘whole girl fetishist’.

In 1963, Susanna and Marie sold their resort property as it was unprofitable. In early 1964 they bought another 150 acre property with a large house, close to Hunter, New York. This became Casa Susanna, and like the Chevalier D’Eon Resort was frequented by the transvestite crowd. Susanna and her guests would go, dressed, to drive-in movies and to friendly neighbours. Some transvestite visitors even went into the village of Hunter for shopping, where, if nothing else, they were noted for being overdressed.

In 1965 Hugo Beigel wrote an article for Siobhan Frederick’s Turnabout, a New York alternative to Transvestia. In “The Myth of the Latent Femininity in the Male” Dr Beigel dismissed the idea that a male-bodied person could have a feminine soul. Susanna replied in Transvestia that Beigel was taking the girl-within over-literally rather than as a metaphor. The metaphor of the girl-within, she maintained, was simply an uncomplicated way of expressing these various motivations and urges that make up a transvestite’s second personality, the feminine self that had to be kept hidden in public settings out of fear of social disapproval. She also countered his claim that transvestism is an acquired condition. Her position was that
“a congenital predisposition (genes, chromosomes, hormones, chemical patterns, etc.) in the TV makes him gravitate towards these diverse elements which, together, spell femininity in our time ... no matter what social and psychological elements play on a boy, he will not be a TV unless he carries within his body the biological seed of TVism”.
From this she argued that transvestism could not be cured, and it was not a behavioral disorder.
“But how about the thousands of TVs who do not feel the need to go to a mental doctor. How about us, who feel that dressing gives us serenity, calm, contentment, happiness?”
In 1966 the noted photographer Walter Rutter came and took a series of photographs at Casa Susanna.

In 1968 Susanna responded in her column to Prince’s recent appearance on the Alan Burke television show. Burke pushed the line that a transvestite taking hormones and considering surgery was close to being a transsexual. Prince replied that she would not have the operation for anything. Susanna commented:
“Such a statement marks the boundary between the TV and the TS. The TV rejects the thought of surgery. He enjoys living the two sides of the human coin.”
However she estimated that she personally knew a dozen transvestites who had had surgery.
“I met them all before the sex change, and some of them, at first, did not know they were TS’s, they only knew that they enjoyed dressing and would feel much happier as girls than in their male role.”
However she believed that many who did think themselves as transsexuals were mistaken. She also criticized transsexuals as a group as not being able to pass:
“Very few of the TS’s I know have learned to move and gesture with that suppleness that is exclusively female”.
The next year she continued:
“Society insists upon females behaving like ladies—and this is where our TS and pseudo TS friends fail in a most regrettable way. I am thinking right now of several instances whereby people continue to ‘read’ a TS as being a man even AFTER the operation”.
Susanna doubted Harry Benjamin’s statement that he knew of no one who had undergone the operation and was disappointed. Instead, Susanna could imagine few successful scenarios for post-operative transsexuals.

By 1968 Susanna had decided to live full-time as female. She started getting to know the merchants and others in Hunter and surrounding towns. She avoided going in with other transvestites as they might ‘blow her cover’. In 1969 she had her ears pierced, took voice lessons and told her three step-grandchildren.

In the October 1969 Transvestia she announced what she was doing. She had lost the “fabulous thrill” that comes with the transformation from ‘him’ to ‘her’ but it was becoming increasingly agonizing for her to make the switch back to ‘him’.

She planned to quit her job in the city and run Casa Valenti as a year-round bed-and-breakfast. She was criticized, as Virginia Prince had been two years earlier making a similar announcement, for failing to maintain the balance. In her last column, January 1970, Susanna spoke about the support from family and friends, and her ability to pass. She said nothing about her relationship with Marie, or what Marie thought about what she was doing. Susanna did provide an article for the 100th issue of Transvestia in 1979 on accomplishments in heterosexual transvestism, but said nothing of her own situation.

Nothing is known of her after that, and it is not known when Susanna died. Katherine Cummings mentions that Marie died in a domestic accident, but doesn’t say when.

In the 2000s, Robert Swope discovered hundreds of photographs at the 26th Street flea market in New York. He instantly read the photographs as of men dressed as women, and purchased them. He and his partner, Michel Hurst arranged the photographs as a book, and when it was published in 2005, it became a fashion item and was sold in design stores.

Robert Hill, working on his PhD about Virginia Prince and Tri-Ess, found the book in a Borders store, and contacted Swope and Hurst through their publisher, and was able to connect the photographs to his own work.

Hurst and Swope were commissioned by a Hollywood studio to write a treatment, and dreamt of cis male stars.  Presumably the film was lost in pre-production hell, as the film people say.

In 2014 Harvey Fierstein (Torch Song Trilogy, La Cage Aux Folles, Kinky Boots, Hairspray) turned Casa Susanna into a Broadway play, Casa Valentina.
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What is it with New York Route 23A?   Casa Susanna was outside the village of Hunter.   Continue 15-20 km east on the 23A and you come to Palenville where you can find the Cybele Maetreum and the same distance again gets you to the village of Catskill which is where Dawn Langley Simmons fled to in 1973.


I have no reason to think that this Robert Swope is the one fired in 2000 for criticizing the Vagina Monologues.

The distinction between transvestite and drag queen that I mainly use is that a transvestite wishes to pass and a drag queen likes to be read.    Given Susanna’s stage performances and her thrill in running the gauntlet into the drag balls, we can see quite a bit of drag queen in Susanna.

FPE/Tri-Ess is of course known for its homophobia, so it is a nice irony that a gay couple found and published the photographs.  (Original meaning of nice = fine or subtle).


Don’t you just love it that the HBS narrative, of we the true trans are congenital and those we don’t like are fetishists, is found full-blown in FPE in the early 1960s.  They did it first.