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23 March 2017

Recurring untruths: Marsha P Johnson’s birthday


“The story’s told/ With facts and lies”. Leonard Cohen.

A new series of untruths, canards, lies and misinformation that are repeated with regard to trans history.

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We know how this canard started.

Martin Duberman. Stonewall :190-2.
“Sylvia Rivera had been invited to Marsha P. Johnson’s party on the night of June 27, but she decided not to go. … No, she was not going to Marsha’s party. She would stay home. … But then the phone rang and her buddy Tammy Novak – who sounded more stoned than usual – insisted that Sylvia and Gary join her later that night at Stonewall. Sylvia hesitated. If she was going out at all … she would go to Washington Square [bar]. She had never been crazy about Stonewall. …. But Tammy absolutely refused to take no for an answer and so Sylvia, moaning theatrically, gave in. …. Rumor had it that Marsha Johnson, disgusted at the no-shows for her party, was also headed downtown to Stonewall, determined to dance somewhere. Sylvia expansively decided that she did like Stonewall after all …. When the cops came barrelling through the front door.”

Note that Duberman says Marsha’s party – not birthday party!


This altered somewhat in the retelling.

Here is part of the IMDB summary of the plot of the recent film, Happy Birthday, Marsha! :
“It's a hot summer day in June, 1969. Marsha throws herself a birthday party and dreams of performing at a club in town, but no one shows up. Sylvia, Marsha's best friend, distraught from an unsuccessful introduction between her lover and her family, gets so stoned she forgets about the party. After encountering a series of micro-aggressions from street harassment to tense encounters with the police that day, Marsha and Sylvia eventually meet at the Stonewall Inn to finally celebrate Marsha's birth. When the police arrive to raid the bar, Marsha and Sylvia are the first to fight back.”

Happy Birthday, Marsha! is of course a lot more trans positive than Roland Emmerich’s Stonewall that came out a few month’s earlier.

However, there are two problems:

A) Was Sylvia Rivera even at Stonewall on the first night of the riots? David Carter in his Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked The Gay Revolution, 2004, does not even mention Sylvia. Very annoyingly he does not give any reason in the book for Sylvia being missing. However he was interviewed by Gay.Today on this very question and answered:
"Yes, I am afraid that I could only conclude that Sylvia's account of her being there on the first night was a fabrication. Randy Wicker told me that Marsha P. Johnson, his roommate, told him that Sylvia was not at the Stonewall Inn at the outbreak of the riots as she had fallen asleep in Bryant Park after taking heroin. (Marsha had gone up to Bryant Park, found her asleep, and woke her up to tell her about the riots.) Playwright and early gay activist Doric Wilson also independently told me that Marsha Johnson had told him that Sylvia was not at the Stonewall Riots.”
B) The consensus is that Marsha Johnson’s birthday was 24 August 1945. It could well be that she proposed a party on 27 June, but it was not a birthday party!

The following sites say that her birthday was 24 August: EN.Wikipedia,   IMDB,   Sexual History Tour,   Revolvy,   Making Gay History,   Black Revolutionary Theatre Workshop,


On the other hand, some sites seem to have worked backwards and assumed Marsha’s birthday from the date of the Stonewall riot (they also for some reason add one year to her age):

The Radical Notion says: “Marsha P. Johnson was born on June 27, 1944”.

Transgender Equality says: “Disappointed that no one had shown up for a party to celebrate her 25th
birthday, Marsha P. Johnson headed to the Stonewall Inn on the evening of June 27, 1969”.



Femmes Fatales at Penn State University says: “Marsha P. Johnson was celebrating her 25t
h birthday at Stonewall during the early morning hours of June 28th, 1969 when the police began a raid of Stonewall”.






20 March 2017

Mary Baker (1911 - ? ) chorine, housewife


At age 16 William Richeson became Mary Baker and found work as a chorus girl in New York theatre.

She later worked as nurse, waitress and chambermaid. In 1931 she married.

In 1937 she was outed, much to the surprise of her husband.

  • “Posed Ten Years as Woman, Danced in Chorus, ‘Married’ “. The Daily Mail, 12 October 1937, reprinted in George Ives (ed Paul Sieveking). Man Bites Man: The Scrapbook of an Edwardian Eccentric. Penguin Books, 1981: 128.

17 March 2017

Lauren Jeska (1974 - ) fell runner

Jeska, originally from Lancashire, studied physics at Oxford University, and then gender studies at Leeds University. She transitioned in 2000.


Jeska took up fell running, and was the women’s 2010, 2011 and 2012 English champion, and won the British Championship in 2012. She became a familiar winner. It was an open secret among the runners that Lauren was trans, and she had told some officials.

In 2015 she was told that she would not be able to compete and her racing results would be declared null and void as she hadn't provided blood samples to prove her testosterone levels had lowered significantly, and following this UK Athletics was considering a review into her status as female. All athletes were required to take a blood test but Jeska took exception to this and feared being unable to compete. As a result she risked having her championship results declared void.

She twice asked for NHS psychiatric help, but was not referred to a specialist.

Jeska drove more than 100 miles from her home in Machynlleth, Powys, Wales, to the British Athletic headquarters in Perry Barr, Birmingham. She was carrying three knives, including a 13cm kitchen knife. She asked to speak to Ralph Knibbs, UK Athletics human resources and welfare manager (and former rugby player). She walked up to him and stabbed him several times. Two other men who intervened were also injured. This was capturd on CCTV. The presence of a former Royal Navy paramedic helped to stabilise Knibbs. Although he suffered a stroke during the attack, resulting in partial sight-loss.

Jeska plead guilty at a hearing at Birmingham Crown Court in September 2016. After delays waiting for psychiatric reports, Jeska was jailed in March 2017 for 18 years, and an extended licence of five years to be served after release.
-----------------------------

The newspaper accounts leave much unexplained. Did Jeska merely study at Oxford and Leeds, or did she have a degree (or 2)? What did she do for a living? In a small town in Powys, one would expect a physics graduate to be a teacher, but Machynlleth is only a short distance from the university town of Aberystwyth.

Why, 15 years after surgery, would a trans woman decline a blood test? Yes it would reveal that she had XY chromosomes, but that was admitted. Her testosterone level should be well below the required level.


There was no way that her attack on Mr Knibbs was going to solve the problem

14 March 2017

Bubbles Rose Lee (194?–?) activist

Bubbles, as a child, had undergone periods of of hunger and starvation. Later, when a friend talked to her about over-eating, she replied: “if you have ever gone hungry like I have, you would understand that there is no such thing as eating too much”.

In August-September 1970, the Gay Activist Alliance and then the Christopher Street Liberation Day Committee booked the basement of Weinstein Hall, a New York University residence building for fundraising dances. In the eve of the third dance, to be held 21 August, the administration attempted to cancel the rest. Although the two remaining dances were held, the situation escalated and the Hall was occupied. Among the volunteers were Bubbles Rose Lee, Sylvia Rivera, and Marsha Johnson. A further dance was planned for 25 September. However the administration called the New York City Tactical Police Squad, which gave the occupiers 10 seconds to vacate the Hall.
Cohen p117


After the ensuing demonstration died down, Bubbles, Sylvia, Marsha, Bebe Scarpi, Bambi L’Amour and others founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) which attempted to provide shelter, food and legal support for street queens.

Their first home was a trailer truck seemingly abandoned in a Greenwich Village outdoor parking area. This was a step up from sleeping in doorways, and a couple of dozen young street transvestites moved in. One morning Sylvia and Marshe were returning with groceries, and found the trailer starting to move. Most of the queens were woken by the noise and movement and quickly jumped out, although one, stoned, was half-way to California when she woke up.

Bubbles knew a Mafia person, well-known in the Village, Michael Umbers, manager of the gay bar, Christopher’s End, operator of various callboy and porno operations and also a friend of future Dog Day Afternoon bank robber, John Wojtowicz. Bubbles spoke to him and for a small deposit, the STAR commune was able to move into 213 East Second Street. There was no electricity or plumbing, not even the boiler worked, nor did the toilets. However with help they got the building working and it became STAR House.

Eventually Mike Umbers came around about the three months rent that he had not received. Bubbles mumbled something about the cost of repairs. Umbers said that if he didn’t get his money, Bubbles was as good as dead. Sylvia screamed that if he killed her, she would go to the police. “That bitch can’t make no money”, Umbers said, “That bitch is fat”. Bubbles skipped town soon after, possibly for Florida.

Umbers decided against violence and simply had STAR put out on the street for non-payment of rent. Sylvia and the others reversed the improvements and threw the refrigerator out of the back window.

Arthur Bell wrote an article for the Village Voice about STAR House and perhaps said too much about how the inhabitants hustle. Its publication was followed by a flurry or arrests on 42nd St.
Umbers was arrested in December 1971 on child pornography charges.

Later it was said that Bubbles had been extradited to Louisiana to face serious criminal charges, possibly murder.

  • Arthur Bell. “STAR trek”. Village Voice, July 15, 1971. Online.
  • Martin B. Duberman. Stonewall. Dutton, c1993. Plume, 1994: 252, 254.
  • Stephan L. Cohen. The Gay Liberation Youth Movement in New York: "An Army of Lovers Cannot Fail". Routledge, 2008: 89, 91, 97, 98, 111, 112, 113, 117, 128, 132-3, 147, 252n186.
__________________________

Bubbles was sometimes known as Bubbles Rose Marie.

The occupation of Weinstein Hall is notable, in retrospect in that the lesbians and the transvestites got on with each other.

10 March 2017

Jennifer Pallister (1959- 2007) software developer, artist

Pallister, from Tweed, Ontario, worked as a software engineer at Delrina in Toronto. He devised printer drivers and was part of the team that developed the award-winning product WinFax.

In September 1994 Pallister, as Jennifer, was accepted on the gender program at Clarke Institute of Psychiatry, and started transition. This was generally accepted by co-workers, but had not been pre-arranged with management. Two months later she was let go with a claim that her productivity had declined. In 1995 Delrina was acquired by the Californian software company Symantec.

By 1998 Jennifer had grown impatient with the program at the Clarke Institute (which was about to be merged with other institutions and become the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), and to lose public funding for transgender surgery as promised by the recently elected Progressive Conservative government). She obtained the required psychiatric letters and had transgender surgery with Dr Eugene Schrang in Wisconsin. She financed this by selling her condo apartment for $50,000 and putting the balance on her credit card.

She never again worked in software development. She was able, somehow, to get disability benefits.

Jennifer met Eugene Pichler through Walk on the Wildside, a shop/hotel in Toronto for trans persons still somewhat in the closet, run by cis woman Patricia Aldridge. Pichler interviewed her in February 2000, and a few years later put up a page on his web site transgress.com featuring Jennifer whom he described as
“an individual who arguably failed to benefit from gender transition and genital surgery”.
He even included a photograph of the women’s homeless shelter where she had stayed at one time, and included details of psychiatric diagnoses.

Jennifer retrained as an artist, and had a few local showings. She was upset by Pichler’s webpage and filed suit. She obtained court orders prohibiting Pichler from publishing about her, but he ignored the orders.

Jennifer took her own life at age 48.

Patricia Aldridge circulated an email, stating that Pichler’s online page about Pallister states that
“she was not a transsexual, but instead was a sexual pervert who defrauded the Ontario Health Insurance Program”.
Pichler launched a defamation action in response. He featured Jennifer in his 2009 book, and put her photograph on its cover.











* not the New South Wales actor
  • G Eugene Pichler. “Acceptable losses”. Transgression.com, Jul 10, 2005. Online.
  • Patricia Aldridge. “Transsexual Painter Dies: Loacl artist in struggle against Internet defamation”. Email August 30, 2007., Online.
  • G Eugene Pichler. (Un)acceptable Losses: The Man & Women Who transgress Gender Norms. Lulu.com, 2009: 10-12.
  • G Eugene Pichler. “Jennifer Pallister—A Case Study”. Transgression.com, (Undated). Online
  • Kitchen Wych. “This, My Friend, Died”. Amazon Dec 14, 2014 review of Pichler. Review.
---------------------------

As per losing her job at Delrina, Pichler (2005) writes: “Pallister's energies were focused more on her transition than work. Pallister reported that her productivity declined. She was no longer effective at her job.” Maybe. However readers of this encyclopedia know that it is often the case that when one announces transition, tolerance of low productivity suddenly drops, and management is looking for a reason to get rid of one.

Pichler (2009:11) writes: “When Jennifer abandoned the CAMH, he (sic) effectively also abandoned any chance of receiving public funds towards the procedure through the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP).” This is the same Pichler who had just spent a few years campaigning that OHIP funding for transgender surgery not be restored. It was 1998 when Jennifer decided to go to Dr Shrang. The Ontario Progressive Conservative government had promised to get rid of transgender surgery funding in their election manifesto, and the bill to effect that was already introduced in the Ontario Parliament. Jennifer had little to lose by going private.

Aldridge’s email states that Pichler states that Jennifer “was not a transsexual, but instead was a sexual pervert who defrauded the Ontario Health Insurance Program”. If the article being referred to is that by Pallister dated 2005, this is not the case. The article, while not specifying (as Pichler does in his 2009 book) that Jennifer sold her condo and maxed out her credit card to pay Dr Shrang, does not imply that OHIP paid either.

The EN.Wikipedia article on Winfax does not mention Jennifer, not even under her male name, but that is also true of the rest of the team other than the leader.

Pichler (undated) says that Jennifer was 46 when she died; Aldridge says 48. I have gone with the latter.

Pichler says of Aldridge’s email: “On August 30, 2007 Patricia Aldridge sent a broadcast e-mail message having the subject line, Transsexual Painter Dies, to her distribution list. Aldridge's e-mail message became the heart of a defamation action that I launched against her shortly after she sent the e-mail message.”

transgress.com contains a second undated page on Jennifer, in which Pichler attempts to paint her as autogynephilic. His attitude to her is shown well in his second paragraph:

“During the interview Pallister presented himself as a one-year post-operative, male-to-female transsexual, who successfully "stick handled" his way past all the bureaucratic obstacles and underwent a gender reassignment surgical procedure (GRS). At the time of the interview Pallister was legally female and had been apparently living as a female on a full time basis for approximately four years. However, I didn't see Pallister as the success that he saw himself as.”

04 March 2017

Camille Bertin (18?? – 1937) of independent means

In 1897, Camille Bertin, “of independent means” arrived in Juan-les-Pins, on the Côte d'Azur between Nice and Cannes. He was accompanied by Hilda Scott, his fiancée, whom he had met in London. Hilda came from Cambuslang, a suburb of Glasgow.

In due course they married, and within six years of marriage they had three daughters. They were noted for their entertaining, although it was noted that they only ever invited women.

They had almost 40 years of conjugal bliss, until Madame Bertin died in 1936. Her husband died 11 months later. The suddenness of his death resulted in a judicial enquiry, during which documents lodged with the family lawyer revealed that Camille was female-born – which was a surprise to the three daughters. The estate was left to the daughters, on the condition that they did not marry.
  • “’Darby and Joan’ Who Were Not: Two Women ‘Wedded’ for Foty Years: Death Reveals Their Secret”. News of the World, 25 March 1937. Reprinted in George Ives (ed Paul Sieveking). Man Bites Man: The Scrapbook of an Edwardian Eccentric. Penguin Books, 1981: 126.
  • The Sunday People, 28 March 1937:9.
  • Rose Collis. Colonel Barker's monstrous regiment: a tale of female husbandry. Virago, 2001: 204-5. 
  • Alison Oram. Her Husband was a Woman!: Women's gender-crossing in modern British popular culture. Routledge, 2007: 92-3.
_________________________________________

‘Camille’ is, of course, a unisex name in France.

Apparently, in French law, restrictions on marriage and procreation are regarded as against public policy, and therefor the three daughters were not so bound.

It is in Juan-les-Pins, a mere 20 years later, that a second Le Carrousel was opened, and Toni April (April Ashley) and Bambi were seen in all the best places.

It is not unusual that at the end of a long and loving marriage, that the second partner passes on only a few months after the first.