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!

29 July 2013

22 trans Americans who found their destiny in Europe


See also US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Australia/NZ, Europeans in the Americas. 


  1. Ella Zoyara (1840 – 1879) from St Louis, a circus equestrian who entranced counts and kings.  GVWW 
  2. Jane Heap (1883 – 1964) from Kansas, editor of The Little Review, studied with Gurdjieff in Paris, set up London Gurdjieffian group.  GVWW   EN.WIKIPEDIA  
  3. Ricky Renée (1925 – ) Jewel Box Revue performer from Indiana, moved to London, voted one of Top Ten Artists, cameo in Cabaret, 1972. DE.WIKIPEDIA    
  4. Les Lee (1929 – 2010) Quebec performer who became a star at Le Carrousel.  GVWW 
  5. Sonne Teal  (193? – 1966)  Canadian star of Le Carrousel died on a Japanese tour. GVWW  
  6. Jean Fredericks (193? – 197? ) Toronto opera singer, organized London drag balls. GVWW 
  7. Angie Stardust (1940 – 2007) Jewel Box Review performer from Virginia who became a star on Hamburg’s Reeperbahn. GVWW 
  8. Camille Cabral (1944 – ) Brazilian dermatologist and activist in Paris.  GVWW   PT.WIKIPEDIA   FR.WIKIPEDIA 
  9. Rachel Pollack (1945 – ) New Yorker who became the London GLF TV/TS contact person.  GVWW   EN.WIKIPEDIA 
  10. Yeda Brown (194? – ) from Rio Grande do Sul, performed at Le Carrousel, settled in Spain, muse of Salvador Dali.  GVWW  
  11. Sabrina Ramet (194? – ) Californian Political Scientist, specialist on eastern Europe, editor of Gender Reversals and Gender Cultures, professor in Norway. GVWW  DE.WIKIPEDIA  
  12. Brenda Lee (1948 – 1996) one of the first São Paulo sex workers to work in Paris.  She returned to set up a health care centre before being murdered.  GVWW  PT.WIKIPEDIA  
  13.  Georgia Ziadie (1949 - ) from Jamaica, socialite, writer, also known as Lady Colin Campbell, lived in England and France.  GVWW   EN.WIKIPEDIA
  14. Ajita Wilson (1950- 1987) New York film actor who became a star in Euro-trash films.  GVWW   EN.WIKIPEDIA 
  15. Desire Dubounet (1951 – ) Ohio inventor and performer who fled the FDA and lives in Budapest.  GVWW 
  16. Del LaGrace Volcano (1957 – )  Californian gender queer photographer based in UK.  EN.WIKIPEDIA 
  17. Fernanda Farias de Albuquerque (1963 – 1999) and Ingrid de Souza (1976 - ) Fernanda was a sex worker from the Nordesta who published her autobiography after time in Roman prison and became an Italian celebrity.  Ingrid, also Brazilian, played Fernanda in the film.  GVWW   EN.WIKIPEDIA  IT.WIKIPEDIA  
  18. Roberta Close (1964 – ) Brazilian model living in Switzerland.  GVWW  EN.WIKIPEDIA  
  19. Lazlo Pearlman (1972 – ) US actor, based in London.  GVWW  
  20. Monica León (1975 – ) Argentinian activist who fled to Paris after the 2004 police assault on the Gondolin Hotel.  GVWW 
  21. Lea T (1981 – ) from Belo Horizonte, schooled in Italy, famous model.  GVWW   EN.WIKIPEDIA  
  22. Broden Giambrone (1982 - ) from Toronto, active in Ireland's Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI). GVWW  

26 July 2013

Walter L. Williams (1948–) anthropologist.

Walter Lee Williams completed a PhD in History and Anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He became Professor of Anthropology, History and Gender Studies at the University of Southern California in 1979.

Williams read and was impressed by Jonathan Katz' 1976 Gay American History which contains a section on 'berdaches'. He began research on the subject at the UCLA American Indian Studies Center, but quickly found better resources at the the Gay and Lesbian archives at ONE, Inc. He gave his first paper on the subject at a history conference and was scolded for even discussing it by a leading historian who had previously written letters of recommendation for him.

One, Inc put Williams in touch with gay pioneer Harry Hay who had lived for years on native reservations. In 1982 Williams set out to find a living 'berdache', and did so among the Omaha, and then another among the Lakota. He followed this with a field trip to the Yucatán where he met Mayan 'berdaches'. He also did ethnographic fieldwork living on Eastern Cherokee, Seminole, Pine Ridge Sioux, Aleut and Navajo Nation reservations.

In 1986 Williams published The Spirit and the Flesh: Sexual Diversity in American Indian Culture. Williams' book was a ground-breaking summary of the literature supplemented by his fieldwork. He outed himself in the book as a gay researcher, and discussed the alliance of living 'berdaches' with the then gay movement. He dismissed the idea that a 'berdache' was transsexual:
"It is worth noting that many transsexuals may pass for women because there is no respected alternative to masculinity in this society. Bodily mutilation is a heavy price to pay for the ideology of biological determination. American Indian cultures, through the berdache tradition, do provide alternative gender roles. Indians have options not in terms of either/or, opposite categories, but in terms of various degrees along a continuum between masculine and feminine."
He also included sections on gay pirates and cowboys that are not of obvious relevance to the topic of the book.

The Spirit and the Flesh won the Gay Book of the Year Award from the American Library Association, the Ruth Benedict Award from the Society of Lesbian and Gay Anthropologists, and the Award for Outstanding Scholarship from the World Congress for Sexology.

Harry Hay reviewed the book and criticized it for conflating winkte or nádleehé or other 'berdache' with gay and for de-emphasizing the ceremonial and spiritual aspect of the role. However he concluded:
"All that being said, the book is also a vast compendium of gaily related information, chock-a-block full of new anthropological notions to explore, old academic confusions to clean up, and all of it very readable. ... The Spirit and the Flesh is, for all its faults, clearly a giant step in the direction of enabling, perhaps even empowering, Heteros to see Gay People as we wish to be heard. It is without a doubt a book no serious library can in future be without. (p282)"
Four years later the third annual intertribal First Nations/Native American gay and lesbian conference in Winnipeg voted strongly for the term 'two-spirit' and that the term 'berdache" not be used.

Williams was co-founder with an ex-boyfriend of the Committee on Lesbian and Gay History for the American Historical Association and was an officer of the Society of Lesbian and Gay Anthropologists.

In 1992 a second revised edition of The Spirit and the Flesh was published, but still used the terms 'berdache' and 'Indian'.

In 1994 Williams got the University of Southern California to provide space for the ONE Gay and Lesbian Archives.

In 1997 Jean-Guy A. Goulet re-analyzed the original 1947 and 1954 accounts of the Northern Athapaskans and demonstrated that Williams' paraphrase added an unwarranted conclusion.

The same year Pat Califia in Sex changes: the politics of transgenderism made the obvious, but not previously well articulated, point that both Katz and Williams talk of 'berdaches' as gay, but surely they are a type of transgender. Califia comments:
"Williams' position on the gender of the berdache is ambiguous. On the one hand he is forced to admit at the very least that the berdache was differently-gendered, combining male and female qualities, occupying a social role that was 'half-man, half-woman' and 'not-man, not-woman'. Yet he insists, in an amazing series of arguments, that the berdache were not women, transvestites, hermaphrodites, or transsexuals.(p132)"
"Why is Williams so reluctant to simply own the fact that one of the most important defining qualities of a berdache was her donning of female apparel? His line of reasoning here seems based almost entirely on distaste about transvestism, which he dismisses as an embarrassing sexual kink. ... I assume that Williams would come down hard on a straight researcher who insisted on interpreting homosexuality solely through the lens of medical or psychiatric pathology and protest if it was discussed only as a recently-discovered type of sexual abnormality. Why doesn't he reject a similar definition of and treatment of transvestism and transsexuality? (p133)"
Williams lived for extended periods in Thailand, Indonesia (as a Fulbright scholar), Cambodia, Philippines, and other parts of Asia and the south Pacific.

In 2006 Williams added an author's note in Amazon:
"Unless continued sales of this book will justify the publication of a third revised edition in the future, it is not possible to rewrite what is already printed. Therefore, I urge readers of this book, as well as activists who are working to gain more respect for gender variance, mentally to substitute the term "Two-Spirit" in the place of "berdache" when reading this text."
In February 2011 Williams suddenly quit his position at the University of Southern California, and relocated to Cancún, Yucatán, after being questioned by Los Angeles police after returning from a trip to the Philippines. In June 2013 the FBI put Williams on its Ten Most Wanted list, the 500th person to gain that distinction.

He was arrested by the Yucatán local police the next day, reportedly having been shopped by a local resident for the $100,000 award. He was extradited to Los Angeles and arraigned. He was charged with sexual assault and predation on two 14-year-old boys from the Philippines with whom he engaged in webcam sex and then flew to the Philippines to have sex with in December 2010. He was said to be facing 100 years in prison, but in September 2014, he pled guilty to one count on the understanding of serving no more than five years. 
EN.WIKIPEDIA   LinkedIn   WorldCat   Amazon.US
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There are some issues to be raised against The Spirit and the Flesh, but it was the first book-length discussion of North American aboriginal gender variation.  There are now almost a shelf-full of such books, but it was Williams who opened the door.   There is no such shelf of books on South American or Australian aboriginal gender variation.

The fact that Katz and Williams regarded two spirit persons as homosexual rather than transgender, and were not really called out about it until Pat Califia’s 1997 book, is a demonstration of the changing social construction of sex and gender.

Apparently Wikipedia did not have a page on Williams until his arrest.   The current page says nothing at all about his academic career.  In addition the page is called “Walter Lee Williams” in the style of US policing, and the several mentions of “Walter L Williams” (as he is always listed on his books) on other Wikipedia pages do not click through.

Williams has been arrested in Mexico for a crime said to have been committed in the Philippines, based on an anonymous denunciation.   There is no mention of a Filipino request for his extradition.   Given that Gary Glitter, the most famous westerner to be convicted for child sexual abuse in East Asia was sentenced in Vietnam to three years and released after two, the US probably does not want to risk that the Philippines might be as liberal as its Communist neighbour.

There has been a rush by universities and gay organizations to dis-associate from Williams although he is merely accused.   He has not yet been tried.  The concept of ‘Innocent until proven guilty’ is merely a memory from the past.

The Victoria Brownworth, who wrote the article above for the Advocate, is the same person who has been having a contretemps with Cristan Williams (no relation to Walter)

22 July 2013

12 trans persons in Canada who changed things by example and/or achievement


See also US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Australia/NZ, Americans in Europe, Europeans in the Americas.
  1. Qa'nqon Ka'mek Klau'la (? – 1837) Kutanai two-spirit person and prophet who led a First Nation uprising in the 1830s.  WIKIPEDIA  
  2. Lana St-Cyr (1927 – 1986)  first transvestite entertainer in Québec from 1940s.  Arrested in 1962.  Raelian activist.  GVWW  
  3. Dianna Boileau (1930 – ) The first patient at the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry Gender Clinic, possibly the first surgical transsexual in Canada (there were some unrecorded others at McGill and Dalhousie around the same time) and Canada’s first transsexual autobiography.  GVWW  
  4. Michelle Duff (1939 – ) motorcycle racer,  winner of 1964 Belgian Grand Prix.  GVWW   WIKIPEDIA 
  5. Marie-Marcelle Godbout (1944 – ) performer, co-founder of l’Association des Transsexuelles du Québec.  GVWW 
  6. Brigitte Martell (1949 – 2006) child pop star, chanteuse, co-founder of l’Association des Transsexuelles du Québec.  GVWW 
  7. Aaron Devor (1951 – ) sociologist, sexologist, author of Gender Blending and FTM: Female-toMale Transsexuals in Society, administrator of the world’s largest trans archive.  WIKIPEDIA 
  8. Toby Dancer (1953 – 2004) musician.   Commemorated in  2012 Ontario Trans Rights Act.  GVWW  
  9. Michelle Josef (1954 – ) drummer in Prairie Oyster, with Detroit Symphony Orchestra and other bands.  Sued Ontario government to re-instate funding for transgender surgery.  GVWW   WIKIPEDIA 
  10. Jamie Lee Hamilton (1955 – ) half-Chippewa, sex worker, activist, trade unionist, candidate and elected politician, performer, agitated re missing women killed by Robert Pickton.   GVWW    WIKIPEDIA  
  11. Maxine Petersen (195? – ) psychologist, world’s first Gender Clinic staff person to transition.  GVWW 
  12. Carys Massarella (196? – ) Emergency Physician, lead Physician for the Transgender Care Program in Hamilton, Ontario and assistant professor at McMaster University. 

20 July 2013

Martina Castellana (196?–) dermatologist, councillor

Michele Castellana grew to 1.9 m (6'2") and qualified as a dermatologist, and worked in the hospitals of Salerno. For a while s/he was the androgynous Micha. Then she was Martina.

In 2009, after twenty years on hormones, Martina ran, perforce under the name of Michele, as a Salerno list candidate for Silvio Berlusconi's Il Popolo della Libertà (PdL) in the provincial elections and became a consigliere. In 2010 she was elected president of the provincial commission for equal opportunities, and was able to open a gender identity centre – the first south of Rome.

In 2011 the city of Salerno granted her a revised identity card making her the first Italian trans woman to have a revised card without undergoing surgery.

In 2012 she released her autobiography, Sulla mia pelle.

In June 2013 Martina flew to Malta with the singer Sandro Giacobbe, and was invested with a Cross of Malta (although not the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta).

18 July 2013

20 trans persons in the US who changed things by example and/or achievement


Buzzfeed, a days ago published “24 Americans Who Changed The Way We Think About Transgender Rights”.

See also Canada, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Australia/NZ, Americans in Europe, Europeans in the Americas.
 
Lists like this are always arbitrary, and well-deserving persons are always left out.   However I quickly realized that my list would be quite different even though some on the BuzzFeed list would have made my list if I were starting from scratch.  However as this is in effect a response I have not included any of those on the BuzzFeed list.   (No. I am not going to specify whom).

The 20 persons below are not sorted by importance.   How could one do that?  They are sorted by birth year.
  1. We'wha (1849 - 1896) a Zuni lhamana.  The first two-spirit person to be invited to the White House in the 1880s where she met with President Grover Cleveland.    WIKIPEDIA.
  2. Alice Baker (188? – 19??) school teacher arrested and outed in the press, but a quiet inspiration to many.  GVWW
  3. Ray Bourbon (1892 – 1971)  pansy performer who claimed to have had the operation.  GVWW    WIKIPEDIA
  4. Phil Black (190? – 1975)  performer who started the New York drag balls that evolved into the later voguing balls.  GVWW 
  5. Reed Erickson  (1917 – 1992) engineer, philanthropist.  Subsidized many organizations and writers. The major mover behind the trans scene in the 1960 and 1970s.  GVWW    WIKIPEDIA 
  6. Hedy Jo Star (1920 – 1999) showgirl, costumier.  The first full-length autobiography by a US trans woman, 1955.  GVWW   
  7. Stormé DeLarverie (1920 – 2014) Jewel Box Review performer, Stonewall alumnus.  GVWW    WIKIPEDIA 
  8. Pussy Katt (1929 – ) the first known US surgical transsexual who had her operation in 1945 at age 16.  GVWW  
  9. Gloria Hemingway (1931 – 2001) writer, doctor, daughter of Ernest.  GVWW    WIKIPEDIA
  10. Issan Dorsey (1933 – 1990) drag performer who became a Zen Abbot. GVWW   WIKIPEDIA 
  11. Terry Noel (1936 – ) Jewel Box Review performer, computer programmer-analyst.  The first trans women known to work for the US Government.  GVWW   
  12. Aleshia Brevard (1937 – )  first trans women to play significant roles in Hollywood films.  www.aleshiabrevard.com
  13. Agnes (1939 – ) at 19 in 1959 was able to persuade Robert Stoller and the UCLA Medical Center that she had testicular feminization syndrome, and so was approved for vaginoplasty. GVWW  
  14. Catherine Jones (1944 – 2011) Artist. GVWW   WIKIPEDIA   

  15. Donna Parsons (1945 – 2003) recording supervisor, Chaplin impersonator. GVWW    
  16. Joan Roughgarden (1946 – ) biologist at Stanford University, author of Evolution's Rainbow: Diversity, Gender, and Sexuality in Nature and PeopleGVWW          WIKIPEDIA  
  17. Rachel Harlow (1948 – ) star of The Queen, a sensation at the Cannes International Film Festival,  club owner in Philadelphia.  GVWW  
  18. Patrick Califia (1954 – ) controversial writer  who wrote one of the best books on the topic, Sex changes : the politics of transgenderism, before himself deciding to transition. WIKIPEDIA 
  19. Sulka (195? – ) pioneer trans porn star who became post-op (unlike most such stars today).  GVWW 
  20. Johnny Science (1955 – 2007) drag king/trans man pioneer in 1980s/1990s New York.  GVWW  

15 July 2013

Tony Barreto-Neto (1945 - ) musician, activist, cop.

Barreto-Neto, raised in Tampa, Florida, knew he was a boy by age 5.

After puberty, Barreto-Neto ran off to New Orleans where, sometimes as a man, sometimes as a lesbian, s/he did a degree at Louisiana State University Medical Center while being openly gay, dropped out of graduate school, ran a gay disco, played drums in several bands, especially Original Bleus, became active on lesbian issues, was the first female co-chair of the Louisiana Gay Political Action Coalition (LAGPAC) and spent time in Colorado, Belgium and California. He was arrested many times in the 1960s and ‘70s for being ‘disguised’ in male clothing.

In his 40s Barreto-Neto became a cop back in Hillsborough, Florida and became a decorated police officer with numerous awards. He transitioned to Tony on the job. Hillsborough Sheriff Cal Henderson told the St. Petersburg Times: "This deputy was good as a female, and I'm sure will be just as good as a male". He completed this with phalloplasty from Dr Dan Greenwald in Tampa in 1995.

Tony founded and was Director of TOPS (Transgender Officers Protect and Serve), was a director of IFGE, and chair of Gender PAC. He is also a Eucharistic minister in the Catholic Church. He lobbied in Washington, protested outside courthouses, appeared in a documentary film and on ABC's "20/20." He attempted to visit the Michigan Women’s Music Festival on the grounds that if trans women are excluded, trans men should be welcomed. But he was asked to leave.

Some of his fellow officers became hostile after his transition, and his home was shot at. In 2002, Tony moved to Vermont with his wife and adopted daughter. He joined the Hardwick, Vermont, Police Department.

However the Town Manager became aware of a website that described Tony as transsexual following an anonymous phone call from Tampa, and urged a newly
hired police chief to harass Barreto-Neto until he quit. The newly hired chief quit after two weeks. However no-one talked to Tony any more. Other officers did not respond to his calls for backup. He sued. The Attorney General’s Office found the complaints credible, and in 2004 Hardwick settled, paying Tony $90,000, and requiring that the town adopt a formal policy of non-discrimination and train its employees on transgender issues. This established for the first time that trans persons are protected under Vermont law.

Tony was thereafter unable to obtain work as a police officer until 2012.

11 July 2013

Giorgia O’Brien (1928 - 2004) singer, actor.

Giorgio Montana, born in Palermo, Sicily, was keen on singing and spent eight years in amateur choirs. He had the unusual ability to switch between baritone and soprano. He was almost accepted at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, but a man who could sing soprano did not have the respectability then required.

He worked in Germany and France, often en travesti. One of his co-workers was Coccinelle. On return to Italy he became a star of the avanspettacolo, and performed at Rome's Teatro Ambra Jovinelli, singing both pop and opera.

In 1970 Giorgia completed transition with De Burou in Casablanca. She changed her surname to O'Brien in homage to Margaret O'Brien who played Beth in the 1949 version of Little Women.

Giorgia worked three years at Milan's Teatro Piccolo, and collaborated with Franco Zeffirelli and Guiseppe Bertolucci. The latter cast her in his 1979 film, Oggetti smarriti. Giorgia was noted for her rendition of Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries wherein she sang both Brunnhilde (soprano) and Wotan (bass).

In 1985 she and Christine Jorgensen were featured in the Danish documentary about transsexuals, Paradiset er ikke til salg. 

In 1991 she was cast as the wife of the minister in Johnny Stecchino in 1991. In real life she became the wife of Georges Argand.

In 1998 she revived her half-man-half-woman act.

Giorgia died at the age of 76 after a short illness. Her husband died shortly afterwards.
IT.WIKIPEDIA    IMDB