This site is the most comprehensive on the web devoted to trans history and biography. Well over 1200 persons worthy of note, both famous and obscure, are discussed in detail, and many more are mentioned in passing - especially in the year-end summaries (see links in right sidebar.)

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!

20 January 2017

J.W. (1883 - ?) fairy sex worker, New York 1906

J.W. was born in Brooklyn, NY, and, after the parents died, was raised by a guardian in Pennsylvania. J.W. had pierced ears by age 14. J.W. could sing soprano well, but could not whistle, and was said to throw a stone like a girl.

J.W had only a little education, and could read English only moderately. However J.W. was free from religious belief of any kind, and was quite accepting of her sexuality “he sees no immorality in it”. From age 16, J.W. sought male paramours. Later, using the trade name Loop-the-Loop (from the ride at Coney Island) J.W. became a 'fairy' and a sex worker in Brooklyn, and on the Bowery in Manhattan. While the police would arrest any perceived male in full or partial female clothing, “Fifty cents or a dollar will buy off any cop, and that from dark to daylight. We all do it.”

From 1903 J.W. used eight bottles of a preparation that had been recomended as a depilatory, but had in fact caused leg and arm hair to grow back more luxuriously.

In 1906 J.W was sent for examination to Dr R.W. Shufeldt, previously of the US Army Major Medical Corps. Shufeldt found J.W. to be typically and distinctly male: 130 lbs, 5’8”, “his features are seen to be coarse and of a criminal cast”, free of any syphilitic disease, but of “very marked uncleanliness”.

J.W assured Dr Shufeldt stoutly that she had never had congress with a woman, “having a powerful aversion for anything of the kind”. J.W.’s husband, a musician came along for the July appointment, smartly dressed in his uniform. The husband laughed at J.W.’s claim of having been pregnant a few years before, and stated that J.W. though “honest in other respects, was a most outrageous liar”. Dr Shufeldt: “I found him to be one of the most skilful pickpockets that had ever come under my observation, and that is admitting a good deal”. J.W. boasted to Shufeldt of satisfying “as many as Forty men in twentyfour hours”.
  • R W Shufeldt. “Biography of a Passive Pederast”. American Journal of Urology and Sexology, 13, 1917: 451-60. Online
  • George Chauncey. Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Makings of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940. Basic Books, 1994: 68-9, 84, 87, 96.
  • Mack Friedman. Strapped for Cash: A History of American Hustler Culture. Alyson Books, 2003: 29, 34-5.

Shufeldt describes J.W. as a “passive pederast”. By pre-WWI usage this has no necessary implication of sex with younger persons.  The street term at that time was "fairy".

The middle-class doctor refers several times to J.W.’s non-conformity to middle-class notions of hygiene (although J.W. knew enough to not become infected with syphilis or other sexual diseases) but we should remember that at that time slum tenements were not equipped with either toilets or bathrooms.

While Shufeldt agreed that J.W. had more than usual arm and leg air (whether or not it resulted form a supposed dipilitary) it is not obvious in the nude photograph that Shufeldt also included.

18 January 2017

Chelsea Manning - a true hero

Why the wait of four months before release?    Does this give time for the new regime to reverse it?

14 January 2017

[Tr]an[s]tiquity – a session at the 2017 Society for Classical Studies Annual Meeting

The Society for Classical Studies (previously the American Philological Association) held its 2017 meeting in Toronto 5-8 January. On Sunday, the last day, there was a session, [Tr]an[s]tiquity. Which looked at trans and intersex in the ancient world. The session was chaired by Walter Penrose, author of the new book, Postcolonial Amazons: Female Masculinity and Courage in Ancient Greek and Sanskrit Literature (US$95), and Thomas Sapsford.

The introduction gave a quick summary of North American trans history mentioning the Cercle Hermaphroditis at Paresis Hall in 1890s New York, Virginia Prince, Leslie Feinberg and Rupert Raj.

The first paper “An Intersex Manifesto: Naming the Non-Binary Constructions of the Ancient World” (abstract) was by Chris Mowat from the University of Newcastle who criticized the still ongoing practice in Classical discourse of using the term ‘hermaphrodite’ although it has largely been dropped in other areas of discourse, replaced by intersex, and more contentiously Disorders of Sexual Development. He cites 1990s writers such as Alice Dreger and Cheryl Chase (but does not mention that she is more latterly known as Bo Laurent). Should modern terminology be used, “transposed into ancient constructions” or should classicists stick to the terms used in ancient Greece and Rome: ἑρμαφρόδιτος/ hermaphroditus and ἀνδρόγυνος/androgynous? Mowat also discusses using ‘intersex’ for mythical/art persons such as “The Sleeping Hermaphrodite” in the Louvre, and a wall painting in Pompeii. He proposes that Diodorus Siculus (1st century BCE) “constructs intersexuality as a medical condition” when he wrote: “It was assumed, however, by those who were privy to the strange secret that she was a hermaphroditos, and as to her past life with her husband, since natural intercourse did not fit their theory, she was thought to have consorted with him as male to male”. This is compared to later writers such as the Elder Pliny, a century later, who commented that such persons were previously considered prodigia (monsters) but were now considered deliciae (sexual pets). Mowat concludes: “this paper is not to argue that ‘intersexuality’ and its derivatives are perfect terminology – and their own shortcomings will be analysed – but to posit the idea that they can and do create a more nuanced understanding of non-binary bodies in the ancient world”.

The second paper by Rachel Hart at the University of Wisconsin-Madison was titled: “(N)either Men (n)or Women? The Failure of Western Binary Systems”(abstract), but was actually mainly about the Enareës, the shamans among the Scythians, Iranian nomads who roamed from the Black Sea to central Asia. Hart cites only old articles on Enareës as Shamans (Meuli 1935, Ballabriga 1986, Asheri 1977) but nothing from the large library on shamanism or two-spirit. What she does is a close reading and comparison of the mentions of the Enareës in Herodotus (5th century BCE) and Hippocrates (a generation later), and concludes “It is more likely that the Enareës would self-identify as intersex or perhaps even transgender individuals”. She admits that “this terminology is anachronistic” and turns for a less-rigid gender system, not to two-spirit studies but to gender in the Rabbinic tradition. Her rational for this is: “I do not apply the rabbinic analogue arbitrarily: Herodotus notes that the Enareës were originally a group of Scythian men who defiled a temple at Askalon, located in Palestine”.

The third paper was by Jennifer Weintritt of Yale University, titled “Textual and Sexual Hybridity: Gender in Catullus 63” (abstract). Catullus’ poem is about the godling Attis and his/her celebration of the rites of Cybele (which includes castration and taking female dress). While the original manuscripts use male endings describing Attis, several editors have revised them as female endings: e.g. excitum, ipse become excitam, ipsa; tenerum, ille become teneram, illa etc. A key line is 54: “ego … earum omnia adirem furibunda latibula”, àwhich could mean either “that I should approach all of their hiding-places as a frenzied woman” or “that I should approach all of their frenzied hiding-places”. Weintritt comments: “Surprisingly, earlier discussions, for all their well-researched arguments, have underappreciated that the phrase occurs in a purpose clause: if furibunda is determined to agree with ego, then Attis may have come to Phrygia with transgender intentions”. Line 63 “ego mulier, ego adolescens, ego ephebus, ego puer”à “I have been a woman, a young man, an ephebe, a boy”. Remarkably some editors altered ‘puer’ to ‘puber’ (adult male) which breaks the age order.

The fourth paper was by Kelly Shannon of the University of Alabama, titled “Life After Transition: Spontaneous sex change and its aftermath in ancient literature” (abstract) There are a good handful of ancient accounts of supposed women who spontaneously change into men. Similar stories are recorded in the early-modern period (see Thomas Laqueur’s Making Sex, 1990), and in Krafft-Ebing’s Psychopathia Sexualis, 1886, and the most prominent 20th century account is that of Peter Stirling. Shannon discussed six examples who had varying consequences. They either became successful men or were put on trial and even, in one case, burned alive, but the gender binary stands firm.

The fifth paper was by Barbara Blythe of Wheaton College, titled “Gender Ambiguity and Cult Practice in the Roman Novel” (abstract). She demonstrates that Roman novels differ from Greek novels in that the male protagonist is depicted as effeminate. In Petronius’ Satyrica the protagonist Encolpius often takes a passive role in sexual encounters (many of which involve beatings and bondage), including one with a cinaedus during a ritual for the god Priapus. At various points in the narrative we hear that he wears makeup, ornate hairstyles and wigs, and effeminate Greek slippers. Twice he is mistaken for a male prostitute. At one point he contemplates severing his penis while reciting a poem in Sotadeans (132.8), a meter associated with cinaedi. (This novel was filmed by Fellini in 1969 adding extra gender variant episodes.) In Apuleius’ Metamorphoses Lucius is likewise dominated, sexually or otherwise, by almost every female character he meets. When he accepts Isis as his saviour goddess, he submits yet again to a powerful female figure. His vow of sexual abstinence and shaved head do not feminize him per se, yet they signal his willingness to compromise his youthful virility in order to please his new mistress. Apuleius seems to imply that the reader should view Lucius alongside the galli who are often taken as transgender.

The sixth paper was by Anna Peterson of Pennsylvania State University, titled “Dio’s First Tarsian Oration and the Rhetoric of Gender-Indeterminacy” (abstract). Dio Chrysostom also called Dio of Prusa, lived in the late 1st century CE. He left about 80 orations. A couple of these were delivered in Tarsus (whence Saul/Paul of the Christian testament is said to come from). While speaking in analogies, Dio harangues against “a mysterious fault that he refuses to name, despite the threat he says it poses to the reputation of the city”. Scholars debate what this ‘fault’ was. Peterson comments: an “unmistakable rhetorical cue comes at the speech’s conclusion, where Dio turns his attention to the Tarsians’ treatment of their bodies. Assuming the role of doctor, Dio diagnoses his audience’s decline into effeminate behavior as the result of excessive depilation, sarcastically quipping in the final line of the speech: ‘if it were possible to borrow from women other attributes, then we should be supremely happy, not defective beings (ἐνδεεῖς), but whole and natural ἀνδρόγυνοι (androgynoi)’ ” . Peterson expands: “ I explore how the uncertainty caused by Dio’s refusal to speak in specifics brings into relief, reflects on, and ultimately stages the gender-indeterminancy inherent to the term androgynos. Dio’s speech, as I suggest, reaffirms through its vitriol the idealized masculine identity of the time, even as the confusion it inspires in its audience mimics the indeterminate nature of its concluding image.”

A friend with very good Latin read this and commented on Catullus’ poem: “Furibunda means ‘frenzied’ or ‘mad’ and is used of people prophetically inspired. Therefore it cannot describe the hiding-places, and must agree with ego. However, this may not be a purpose clause, but a result clause; Attis regrets these consequences.”

While Virginia Prince, Leslie Feinberg and Rupert Raj were mentioned in the introduction, nobody at all like any of them is discussed in any of the papers.

Weintritt, discussing Attis and Cybele, does not mention that there is a Cybele Maetreum run by trans women in upstate New York.

The paper by Shannon is the only one to name actual persons who probably did live at the time.
The paper by Blythe on novels is not, of course, about gender variant persons, but about heteronormativity and panic about departing from it.

Peterson does not mention Saul/Paul of Tarsus. Let us turn to p61 of Donald Akenson’s Saint Saul: A Skeleton Key to the Historical Jesus, 2000: “ ‘Saulos’ despite its Hebrew origins, had a slang meaning in demotic Greek that would have been impossible for the apostle to live with. ‘Saulos’ meant ‘slut-arsed’ and referred to the swinging gait of prostitutes. Given his adamant condemnation of homosexuality, one can hardly expect the apostle to accept a name that would liken him to the mincing posteriors of rent boys and queens. His dignity could take the word play that would come from Paulos – little guy, short-stuff, things like that – but Saulos, never.” Dio and Saul/Paul were roughly the same generation. So how come, no-one, New Testament scholars, Dio scholars, ancient sexuality scholars, has put Dio’s oration to the Tarsians and the sex-implied name of the most famous Tarsian in juxtaposition?

Who are the most famous trans persons in antiquity? Many would say Sporus and Elagabalus. They were not mentioned in this session.

Pioneering work on trans in the ancient world was done by Werner Krenkel, professor of classics and philology at Rostok University. He wrote a paper, “Transvestismus in der Antike”, 1990 which was included in a collection of his work, Naturalia non turpia. Sex and Gender in Ancient Greece and Rome. Schriften zur antiken Kultur- und Sexualwissenschaft, 2006. Nobody seems to mention it any more. Here is a review of the book.

There is a new book, to be released in February, called TransAntiquity: Cross-Dressing and Transgender Dynamics in the Ancient World, edited by Domitilla Campanile, Filippo Carlà-Uhink & Margherita Facella (US$140).

11 January 2017

A village on the Loire, 1950.

SC, a "faithful" reader, has pointed out a passing reference in

Simone de Beauvoir (ed. Sylvie Le Bon de Beauvoir): A Transatlantic Love Affair: Letters to Nelson Algren. The New Press, 1998: 379.

On 15 Octobre 1950, de Beauvoir wrote:

'It is an average village...on the banks of the Loire...she was upset to discover that the landlady and her cook, were two lesbians. I saw pictures of them: aged, huge, full-breasted, full-buttocked women; strange to think of anything like love between them...they told there were three couples of peasant women, oldish women all clad in black and church going, who lived the same way. One is married, lot of children, and goes every week to the next town to meet her true love. Then, there is in this village a married father of three children who is the head of the village orchestra and likes just one thing: dressing as a woman. His wife is as bald as an egg, wears scarf on her naked skull and dresses in a nondescriptive way. But he takes care of himself lovingly. He has long hair, paints his face and lips, wears a silken open shirt, pants, but high-heeled woman's shoes and silken stockings. They say his buttocks and breast are fake. Yet, they accept him; it is no fault of him, they say, his grand-father was lame, his father had a hunched-back, so it is and hereditary disease. He never sleeps with boys, just dresses like a woman. He is a tailor and sews daintily all day long...village where they can accept anything from a native.'

See also The Railwayman's Wife, incidentally discovered in a village in Gloucestershire in the 1960s.

04 January 2017

Terre Thaemlitz (1968 - ) musician, DJ.

Originally from Missouri, where his first social musical experiences were at roller-discos, Terre moved to New York at the end of the 1980s to study fine art, and became a DJ immersed in the queer house scene.

Terre became a resident at the trans hangout Sallys II. Sallys was a
“site of education, where people could share information about their transitioning experiences. There were times when you really learned things on a political level, on a social level – that’s what’s interesting. Music is usually one of the least interesting things about clubs. (quoted in Hutchinson)”
“I was identifying as Transgendered at that point. Before that I had identified as Queer in sexual terms. If I had to identify, I’d identify as Transgendered rather than male but yeah, back in the Nineties, by the time I was at Sally’s, I was identifying as Transgendered. The scene at Sally’s was dominated by Transsexuals. For a person like myself, who is not interested in surgery or hormone therapy, there was a lot of pressure to dress and look a certain style that I just couldn’t. So, I don’t think most of the people at Sally’s even knew that I was Transgendered-identified at that time. (quoted in Petros)“
Terre was fired from Sallys and other trans clubs for refusing to play music that was in the charts, particularly “wailing diva stuff”. By 1994 Terre was known as a composer in the ambient/ computer synthesis field, and established her own Comatinse label. By 1998 she was also releasing music as DJ Sprinkles.

The first DJ Sprinkles single, ‘Sloppy 42nds’ was subtitled “A Tribute to the 42nd Street transsexual clubs destroyed by Walt Disney’s buyout of Times Square”.

In interview with Carlos Pozo, Terre explained:
“Anti-essentialist transgenderism is about an appropriation and recontextualization of cultural signifiers around gender. Anti-essentialist refers to an outlook that does not believe in an inherent "essence" or content, as opposed to an essentialist transgendered outlook that one is "trapped" in the wrong body, etc. I think computer synthesis is also very much about appropriation and recontextualization, drawing from external audio sources and materials much like quotations in a book. There is no essentialist core of creativity, or sense of originality - but there can be an awareness of difference and change. So from my experience, transgenderism and computer synthesis definitely have resonations between them. When you ask about fetishization, are you asking about people fetishizing or tokenizing my music as "Queer" above any other contents? I haven't really seen that happen.
I like to think when I talk about Queer issues in my projects they arise in a complex way that doesn't reduce easily. Queer sensibility, as opposed to Lesbian and Gay sensibility, is also about anti-essentialist appropriation (the appropriation of a derogatory term to reference a notion of one's sexuality being inextricably tied to a larger social condition) and notions of pan-sexual diversity, not rigid Heterosexual vs. Homosexual binarisms. To be honest, I'm not sure how much of that gets across to people who equate Queer with Gay, but I haven't really sensed any problems with negative over-simplification. All of these ideas are simultaneously about processes of identification and processes of transition between points of identification, so that inability to solidify an essentialist identity can lead to misrepresentation or offending those with essentialist outlooks, but you can't worry about that or it will socially paralyze you.”
Terre moved to San Francisco and then to Japan, where she released material under the K-S.H.E. alias. On the Routes Not Roots album, one track, ”Saki-Chan”, incorporates a monologue from a Japanese transsexual, and in “Stand-Up” Thaemlitz tells how she was beaten senseless by Latino queens in New York. Terre has become an established figure in the Japanese house scene, and many of her releases are Japan-only.

In 2004 she recorded Trans-Sister Radio for radio. Her 2012 album Soulnessless is the “world’s longest album in history”, a 29-hour piano solo split into five cantos. It was released on an SD card, and comes with a 150-page commentary.

Her debut mix CD, 2013, “Where Dancefloors Stand Still”, protested Japan’s restrictive fuzoku law (prohibiting dancing in clubs beyond 1am).
“It seems that the queer factor of today’s house events is really low,” she says. “If you’re in the US and it’s a straight, white club then it’s just a fucking nightmare. These events are the celebration grounds for heteronormativity. There is a historic connection between queerness and deep house, and also things like transgenderism and vogue, that, to me, was really important – and it’s utterly absent.” It’s not just about the music having broader appeal, either: “It has to do with this cultural shift away from the necessity to actually have clubs function as safe spaces for different types of sexual enactment. (quoted in Hutchinson)”
Carlos Pozo asked: “Is Terre Thaemlitz your real [sic] name?” And got the answer: “Yes, the family name was a little mangled by US immigration several generations back (it was originally Thamlitz). As for the spelling of my first name (pronounced "Terry"), I think my parents were trying to name me after St. Teresa of the Roses, but they didn't want to spell it "Terri" because that's for GIRLS, and they didn't want to spell it "Terry" because that refers to St. Terence, or something weird like that. This whole gender-ambiguity thing goes way back! It's made for lots of free tampon mailings over the years.”

Terre suggests to Kate Hutchinson that “if pronouns really have to be used, Terre is ‘she’ and Sprinkles is ‘he’”.    EN.Wikipedia    Discogs     Factmag

31 December 2016

Transgender lexicons: Raphael Carter

Transgender lexicons:
Virginia Prince
Raven Usher
Chris Bartlett
Jack Molay
Raphael Carter
We looked at Raphael once before. Zir Angel’s Dictionary is well worth revisiting for the obscure and arcane words revived. Here we will look at some of the words and how they have fared in the years since 1996.

Arenotelicon. Presumably from Arreno (Attic Greek for male) and Telicon (Greek for distance or achievement). The word is found in a Renaissance book, the Physiologus where it is used to describe hyenas who were then believed to change sex each year. Carter suggests that the word would apply well to the Gethenians in Ursula LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. The word means distancing oneself from maleness, but what would be distancing oneself from femaleness: Thelyotelicon? Arenotelicon has been picked up in SF gaming. Elder Scrolls: Arenotelicon? “Pretty easy: ‘a creature that alternates between male and female’. Why not just ‘phase-shifting tranny’? Well, because sometimes the old words are best, as they ring with implied importance and are all long and spooky-looking.”

Arenotelicon is also sometimes just as a hyena/wolf type monster without any sex-changing – in this usage it was the inspiration for the film Brotherhood of the Wolf.

Baeddel. An old English term for a trans woman. Urban Dictionary says that it is a derogatory term, but any term from that period would have been. Is it connected to our modern word ‘bad’? Some have reclaimed the term for themselves. Some of those who did that have acquired a bad reputation for online aggression, especially against trans men. However not all.

Epicene. From the Greek epi + koinos (common). So by usage: what is common to both genders. Non-binary pronouns are epicene pronouns. Carter comments: “This word has taken on a variety figurative meanings over the centuries (Ben Jonson used it to mean something like 'effeminate'); still, more than any other word I know of, it emphasizes what is common to both sexes. Its Greek root means 'common,' and it shows up in descriptions of garments that either sex can wear, or places both sexes dwell ('Epicene...Convents, wherein Monks and Nuns lived together.' -- Fuller, c.1661).” Zir offers a meditation on why zir prefers ‘epicine’ to describe zirself, rather than androgyne or any other term. A position that I find to be quite coherent.

However. Yes, most definitions support Carter’s usage. However let us look at a couple of usages: Evelyn Waugh in Brideshead Revisited: “He was magically beautiful, with that epicene quality which in extreme youth sings aloud for love and withers at the first cold wind.” Graham Greene in The Confidential Agent: “The little room swung clearly back – the boot cupboard and the epicene girls in black silk stockings and the masculine chairs.” (These two examples from Tom McMorrow in Having Fun with Words of Wit and Wisdom). Then there is the usage, not in the novel The Silence of the Lambs, but is its exegesis, of describing Hannibal Lecter as epicene. Camille Paglia in Sexual Personae, using ‘epicoene’, the 16th century spelling, gives the examples of George Villiers, Byron, Elvis Presley and Michelangelo’s statue, Giuliani de’ Medici. Molly Haskell, in her From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment if Women in the Movies, uses ‘epicene’ to describe the screen personae of Oliver Hardy and Clifton Webb. What is this other ‘epicene’ that is not some type of gender variance? Most dictionaries avoid it, strangely – given their remit to reflect usage. Let us look at The Columbia Guide to Standard American English, where the definition starts with “Etymologically, epicene has had overtones of effeminacy, even decadence”. Such of course is Lecter. Let us also note the following word in the Columbia: epicurean “a person who has a well-developed taste for and an enjoyment of good food and drink”. Even more so is Lecter. It is almost as if there has been a seepage of meaning between two words adjacent in a dictionary.

Salmacian. A term proposed by Raphael for male-to-intersex and female-to-intersex transsexuals. Salmacis was the other person conjoined with Hermaphroditus in Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The definition has been revised by some to “people who wish to have a mixed genital set” in that intersex is not a condition that can be acquired by surgery. The Intersex Glossary proposes ‘bigenital’ as “a less common and potentially more controversial synonym”. The same source defines Salmacian: “A dyadic person who wishes to transition to a sexually neutral or ambiguous state. Some see salmacianism as fetishistic, arguing that it conceptualises intersex as one set of sexual organs universal to all intersex people, or that salmacians are co-opting the intersex experience. Salmacians themselves simply see themselves as being happier with some form of non-normative genital configuration, androgynous body shape, etc., and it is the author’s opinion that their wishes for transition should be respected.” The best known surgical Salmacian would seem to be Les Nichols, although there is no statement that he identified with the word.

Scat/ Scatta. Like baeddel, of ango-saxon provenence. Ælfric, c.1000 is quoted; “Hermafroditus, waepenwifestre, uel scratta, uel baeddel”. The differences between each are not explicated.

Wiktionary gives scatta as a form of the Italian scattare, to be released – which is appropriate in that most trans persons experience release in transition. Urban Dictionary defines it as a ‘bitch fight’.

Waepenwifestre. According to the Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary, Weapenlic meant unruly or male. In modern English, ‘weapon’ has narrowed to a tool for killing or harming others, and so ‘Waepenwifestre’ for trans is extremely unlikely to catch on.

29 December 2016

Bernard S Talmey. Part II. Gender Variance in Love, A Treatise.

Continued from Part I.

Bernard Talmey’s major work is Love, a Treatise on the Science of Sex-Attraction: For the Use of Physicians and Students of Medical Jurisprudence published in 1915.

We will start with an overview of the book, and then look closely at each section where examples of gender variant persons are given.

This book recapitulates the three previous books which discussed the evolution of sex, the anatomy of sex, the physiology of sex, the psychology of sex.

Then we get to Part VI, “Pathology of Sexuality”. This contains four chapters based on Krafft-Ebing’s classification:

i) Paradoxia (Sexual desires in the old, in infants, causes of early masturbation);
ii) Anaesthesia (partial or total absence of sexual feeling);
iii) Hyperaesthesia (abnormal intensity of the sexual desire and impulse), 1) Mixoscopy, 2) Erotomania, 3) Satyriasis, 4) Nymphomania 5) Masturbation, 6) Incest;

iv) Paraesthesia. This is subdivided:

A) Heterosexuality divided into Masochism, Sadism, Fetishism, Exhibitionism;
B) Homosexuality divided into
a) Perversity (not congenital) subdivided into 1) out of lust, 2) as a profession, 3) through necessity 4) out of fear;
b) Perversion subdivided into 1) psychical hermaphrodism 2) strict homosexuality 3) effemination or viraginity 4) transvestism;
C) Bestiality.

We will examine the sections where persons, who would today be regarded as trans, appear.

iv) Paraesthesia, B) Homosexuality:

The modern reader may be somewhat confused by Talmey’s depiction:
“The perversion of homosexuality has, as a rule, the force of a congenital phenomen and is characterized by precocity. … The child shows its anomaly in its tastes, sentiments, and occupations. The boy avoids the company of other boys. He shuns their games and plays. He is found playing with dolls, ribbons, miniature housekeeping, etc., in company with girls. He is more particular about his dress, in fact, he loves to be dressed like a girl as long as possible. He likes to occupy himself with girls' work, such as knitting, sewing or crochet-work. The homosexual girl is found in the haunts of boys and competes with them in their games. She neglects her dress and assumes and affects boyish manners. She is in pursuit of boys' sports. She plays with horses, balls and arms. She gives manifestations of courage and bravado, is noisy and loves vagabondage. … The perverted man has a profound longing for female clothes. He takes the greatest pleasure in the sight of female attire. He tries to dress as a woman at every opportunity. He likes to frequent masquerade balls where he can dress up as a woman and dance with women. In short, the patient has all the feelings and longings of a woman. The inverted woman, on the other hand, likes to imitate male fashions in general attire and in dressing her hair. It gives her the greatest satisfaction if she is able to dress herself entirely in men's attire and disguise her identity. She further prefers the occupations of men and loves at every occasion to play a man's role. When at a ball she likes to dance with women, and when in a hotel, she loves to discuss politics with men. In short, she feels herself a man.”

iv) Paraesthesia, B) Homosexuality, 1) psychical hermaphrodism,
Talmey uses this term for persons who can have sex with either men or women, what we would call bisexuality, without any other suggestion of gender variance.

iv) Paraesthesia, B) Homosexuality, 3) Effemination or Viraginity with psychical perversion only.
Talmey’s description:
“In the third degree of homosexuality, the so-called effemination or viraginity, where the entire mental existence is altered, the man of this type resembles in his mental qualities a woman,  ‘anima muliebris in corpore virile inclusa’. But his body is still that of a perfect man. The woman, on the other hand, resembles in her mental qualities a man, while her bodily characteristics remain still feminine.”
‘anima muliebris in corpore virile inclusa’ is of course Karl Ulrichs’ expression meaning a female soul in a male body.

The first example is:
“very fond of perfumes, likes to powder and paint himself and to pencil his eye-brows. He is very curious, vain, and loves to gossip”.
The second:
“In the homosexual acts he always plays the passive role. He is effeminate in his character, sensitive, easily moved to tears, and is greatly embarrassed and silent in men's company; while among women he feels himself perfectly at home. He feels himself a perfect woman.”
Talmey’s first FTM example cites Havelock Ellis citing an 1883 paper by PM Wise, and we can identity the person as Joseph Lobdell :
 “When she was deserted by her husband, she began to follow her predilection for masculine avocations. She donned male attire and became a trapper and hunter. She considered herself a man in all that the name applies. After many reverses she entered an almshouse and here she became attached to a young woman. When the attachment became mutual, both left the institution for the woods to commence life instar mariti maritaeque. They lived in this relation until the patient had a maniacal attack that resulted in her committal to an asylum.”

iv) Paraesthesia, B) Homosexuality, 3) Effemination or Viraginity with bodily perversion.
This is Talmey’s only MTF example:
 “His habitus is entirely feminine. The body is slight and non-muscular. The shoulders are narrow, the pelvis broad, the hands and feet decidedly small. The form is rounded with an abundant development of adipose tissue. He has few hairs on beard and mustache. His complexion is fine. His voice is feminine, he speaks in falsetto voice. His gait is rocking, womanly. He wears his hair quite long. Since childhood he was actuated by the desire to put on female attire. He always wore female undergarments, such as shirts, drawers, corsets, etc. He generally wears bracelets on his arms. Whenever he can, he dresses up like a woman and takes long walks upon the streets in such costumes. Through his love for feminine attire he came in contact with several transvestites who form a kind of club in this city. But the latter who abhor homosexual practices soon discovered his motive for the desire of feminine attire and avoided his company. In his reveries, dreams and acts the patient always plays the pathicus. For some reason or other, unknown to the author, the patient committed suicide.“
He then gives FTM examples taken from Krafft-Ebing.
“Her connubial duties were first painful and, later on, loathsome to her. She never experienced sensual pleasure, yet she became the mother of six children. Her husband began at that time to practise onanism (coitus interruptus). At the age of thirty-six she had an apoplectic stroke. From this time on she felt that a great change has taken place in her. She was mortified at being a woman. Her menstruation ceased. Her feminine features assumed a masculine expression. Her breasts disappeared. The pelvis became smaller and narrower, the bones more massive, the skin rougher and harder. Her voice grew deeper and quite masculine. Her feminine gait disappeared. She could not wear a veil. Even the odor emanating from her person changed. She could no longer act the part of a woman, and assumed more and more the character of a man. She complained of having strange feelings in her abdomen. She could no longer feel her muliebria. The vaginal orifice seemed to close and the region of her genitals seemed to be enlarged. She had the sensation of possessing a penis and a scrotum. At the same time she began to show symptoms of the male voluptas.”
Talmey finished this section with the well-known cases of Murray Hall, New York politician and Nicholas de Raylan, assistant to the Russian consul in Chicago.

iv) Paraesthesia, B) Homosexuality, 4) Transvestism.

Talmey compares transvestism to homosexuality.
“In the degrees of effemination and viraginity, cross-dressing is a prominent symptom. The homosexual pathicus has naturally the impulsive desire to dress like a woman, and vice versa, the Lesbian woman longs to dress like a man. Still, cross-dressing is a pathological entity by itself. Homosexuality is a morbid sex state of gross somatic experiences. … Transvestism, on the other hand, is a sexo-esthetic inversion of pure artistic imitation. Hence it occurs mostly in artists and in men of letters. … Transvestism is more in harmony with the basal esthetic demands. The patient harbors exalted ideas and is striving to secure artistic enjoyment in the appreciation of the beautiful. The attraction is in the mind and has nothing to do with the sex-organs.” He then discusses the same five examples as in his 1913 paper. Talmay concludes the section with his explanation of transvestism: “The longings for cross-dressing in our cases may be best explained, that the feminine strain, normally found in every male, exists here in a greatly exaggerated form. Every normal woman attributes an exaggerated value to clothes and, Narcissus-like, is more or less enamored with the female body.* The same exaggerated value to female clothes is attributed by the male transvestites. The female transvestite, on the other hand, thinks of clothes more or less as men do. Yet, the male strain in her, being a morbid phenomenon, dressing is of more importance to her than it is to the normal man.”
In the associated footnote he gives his explanation of female sexuality:
“The female body has a sexually stimulating effect upon woman. The pride of the female, says Weininger (Sex and Character, p. 201), is something quite peculiar to herself, something foreign even to the most handsome man, an obsession of her own body, a pleasure which displays itself even in the least handsome girl, by admiring herself in the mirror, by stroking herself and by playing with her own hair, but which comes to its full measure only in the effect that her body has on man. Woman desires to feel that she is admired physically. The normal woman regards her body as made for the stimulation of the man's sensations. This complex emotion forms the initial stage of her own pleasure. The female body has hence a greater exciting effect upon women than the male body has upon men. Female nudity produces a greater impression upon her than the male body ever does. … The same emotions are evoked in woman at the sight of female clothes. Woman takes it for granted that her clothes, just as her body, have an erotic effect upon the male. Hence female clothes awaken in women a complex emotion akin to the sight of the female body. Woman becomes sexually excited by her own clothes. For this reason clothes are to woman of the greatest importance. The desire for beautiful clothes is an irradiation of the sex instinct. The purpose of dress is the attraction through covering. For the parts covered are rendered more conspicuous.”
  • Bernard Simon Talmey. Woman; A Treatise on the Normal and Pathological Emotions of Feminine Love. New York: The Stanley Press Corporation, 1906.
  • Bernard Simon Talmey. Genesis; A Manual for the Instruction of Children in Matters Sexual, for the Use of Parents, Teachers, Physicians and Ministers. New York: The Practitioners' Pub. Co, 1910.
  • Bernard Simon Talmey. Neurasthenia Sexualis; a Treatise on Sexual Impotence in Men and in Women; For Physicians and Students of Medicine. New York: The Practitioners ́publishing co, 1912.
  • B.S. Talmey. “Transvestism: A Contribution to the study of the Psychology of Sex”. New York Medical Journal, 99, 1914: 362-8. Partially reprinted in Jonathan Katz. Gay/Lesbian Almanac. Harper & Row. 1983: 344-8.
  • Bernard Simon Talmey. Love, a Treatise on the Science of Sex-Attraction: For the Use of Physicians and Students of Medical Jurisprudence. New York: Practitioners' Pub. Co, 1915. Online at:
  • C. J. Bulliet. Venus Castina: Famous Female Impersonators Celestial and Human. New York: Covici 308 pp 1928. New York: Bonanza Books. 1956: 8-11.
  • Harry Benjamin. The Transsexual Phenomenon. Warner Books Edition 1977/PDF: 51/23,29.
  • Bram Dijkstra. Idols of Perversity: Fantasies of Feminine Evil in Fin-De-Siècle Culture. Oxford University Press, 1986: 69, 77, 101, 116, 153, 224, 249, 261, 297. 304, 356.
  • Bram Dijkstra. Evil Sisters: The Threat of Female Sexuality in Twentieth-Century Culture. OWL Book, 1998: 201-2, 210-11.
  • Peter Boag. Re-Dressing America's Frontier Past. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011: 59-63, 73.

Note Talmey’s distinction between Perversity and Perversion. The latter is congenital and imperative. The former is situational and can be terminated: e.g. prison homosexuality or ‘gay for pay’.

Talmey cites and quotes the sexologists, Richard von Krafft-Ebing, Albert Moll, Havelock Ellis but never Magnus Hirschfeld.

In turn, Talmey is never cited or quoted by George Henry, also of New York, who wrote on gay and trans persons in the 1940s. Talmey and Henry are certainly the major US writers on the topic in the first half of the 20th century. There is only a one-line mention of Talmey, and none at all of Henry, in Benjamin’s The Transsexual Phenomenon. Later sexologists ignore both Talmey and Henry. Of the three best known histories of transgender in the US, each of which has time to discuss German antecedents, Joanne Meyerowitz ignores Talmey completely and has two lines about Henry, and Susan Stryker and Genny Beemyn ignore them both.

Note that 47 years before Virginia Prince founded the Hose and Heel Club in 1960, there was a club for heterosexual transvestites in New York where androphilic transvestites were not welcome. Talmey seems to anticipate Prince etc by discussing gay transvestites separately in the Homosexuality section – although Prof M does appear in the Tranvestite section.

Note that 30 years before Louise Lawrence’s pioneering networking in the 1940s, Otto Spengler was doing something similar.

The story of the person, who gave birth to six children and then at 36 had an apoplectic stroke and started changing into a man, sounds odd and we would want to know more (but neither chromosomal nor hormonal analysis was available in Krafft-Ebing’s time), but see also Peter Stirling who gave birth and then changed spontaneously.

When Talmey was writing the concept of ‘Invert’ was strong. Thus he assumes that all gay men and lesbians are to some degree transvestic. Similarly in Germany, Hirschfeld regarded both gays and transvestites as ‘sexual intermediaries’. Hirschfeld however was strongly opposed by masculine gay men who were in no way effeminate.

Bulliet, published in 1928, writes: “Dr. Bernard S. Talmey, of New York, … names the impulse ‘transvestism’”. Successful words have many parents.

“Transvestism, on the other hand, is a sexo-esthetic inversion of pure artistic imitation. Hence it occurs mostly in artists and in men of letters.” -- yeah, right. This is an opinion much harder to hold in the 21st century.

As I said, Talmey’s work on gender variance is almost universally ignored.  If you google his name you will find a lot of books etc that take quotes, often out of context, from his first book, Woman; A Treatise on the Normal and Pathological Emotions of Feminine Love.  I have included Bram Dijkstra’s books in the bibliography as probably the best of such books.