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!

14 August 2017

A review of Peter Ackroyd’s Queer City


One of Ackroyd’s first books was Dressing Up: Transvestism and Drag, the History of an Obsession, 1979, which I reviewed in September 2009. Strangely, while the 1979 book is listed in the bibliography at the end of the new book, it is not included in the list of the author’s works opposite the title page.

The new book concentrates on London, and is about all strands of LGBT. Ackroyd is openly gay and a widower: his husband died in 1994 – although this is not mentioned in either the book itself or on the cover. While some have wondered about why he chose transvestism as the subject of his early book, there are no rumours that he is a practitioner. In a 2007 interview in the Guardian, he commented: "Of course people assumed I was a transvestite, but you only have to look at me to know I'm not” – a comment that perhaps demonstrates his lack of knowledge of the subject.
  • Peter Ackroyd. Queer City: Gay London from the Romans to the present day. Chatto & Windus, 2017.
Ackroyd finds no trans persons of any flavour in Roman London, neither among the native Celts nor with the occupying Romans (although we do know that some Gallae did come to Britain). The earliest trans person mentioned is the prostitute Eleanor/John Rykener in 1394, and possibly the Pardoner in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. The age of Shakespeare provides a lot more named cross-dressers including the famed boy-actresses, but also female transvestites such as Long Meg and Moll Cutpurse. Into the 18th century and beyond various members of His Majesty’s Army and Navy were sometimes discovered to have been female born – Hannah Snell, Mary Anne Talbot, Mary Knowles, Christina Davies. This was also the age of the Molly Houses, of whose customers the most famous was Princess Seraphina. And also of Charlotte Charke and Peg Woffington who wore breeches onstage and off.

Of the 1979 book I wrote “He repeats the unreliable tales about Edward Hyde and Charlotte d’Eon de Beaumont”. Edward Hyde is not in the new book. Presumably Ackroyd became aware of Patricia Bonomi’s book that showed that all the evidence for his assumed transvestity is quite flakey. He still dubiously claims that d’Eon was “sent as a female spy to St Petersburg”. At which point I checked his bibliography. It contains none of the books by Gary Kates, who surely has become the authoritative source on d’Eon.

In the 19th century there is Walter Sholto Douglas, writer, James Allen, labourer, Lavinia Edwards, actress, the police raid of Druid’s Hall, Fanny and Stella, performers. But there is no mention of James Barry, the first trans doctor.

Discussion of trans persons in the 20th century is amazingly brief. A few minor incidents and the trial of John Radcliffe Hall’s The Well of Loneliness in 1928. You might expect that Ackroyd would then mention the trial of Victor Barker, only a few months later – but he does not. The two trials together acted as a double warning that masculine women/trans men had better be extra careful. Trans man Joe Carstairs, (not mentioned) among others, took the hint and left England a few years later.

The amazing thing is that this is the last trans item in the book. No later transsexual or transvestite of any gender or flavour is even mentioned. So there is no mention of Betty Cowell, April Ashley, Charlotte Bach, Caroline Cossey/Tula, Yvonne Sinclair, Rachael Webb, Sonia Burgess etc etc etc. And consequently there is no mention of the two big legal changes for trans persons in the UK: Corbett v. Corbett, 1969, which took away the civil rights of trans persons, and the Gender Recognition Act, 2004, which partially restored them.

A book sorely missing from Ackroy’s bibliography is Kris Kirk & Ed Heath’s Men in Frocks, 1984, (review) which is a London-centric account of gay transvestites and trans women who emerged from the gay scene between 1945 and 1984. It is difficult to imagine why Ackroyd chose to ignore this excellent book, and thereby mentions none at all of the many persons featured within it.

In 2009 I wrote that “He always writes ‘trans-sexual’, but has little interest in them as opposed to transvestites”, and “He writes (p107) "Coccinelle, the male cabaret artiste” and nothing else about her, totally ignoring her transition”. This disinterest-aversion seems to be continued in the new book, for it is after 1928 that hormones and genital surgery became available, and apparently Ackroyd does not want to get into any of that.

Furthermore none of the informative books by Peter Farrar such as Cross dressing between the wars: selections from London Life, 1923-1933, 2000 nor Liz Hodgkinson’s Bodyshock: the truth about changing sex, 1987, are in the bibliography and thus the tales of the persons mentioned in them are also missing.

Ackroyd tells of kings who were gay, especially James I of England/VI of Scotland. However he is quite disinterested in 20th century Members of Parliament who were gay such as Jeremy Thorpe, who put on trial for ordering a hit on his boyfriend, Edward Heath, Prime Minister 1970-4, Tom Driberg, Labour MP, Peter Mandelson who was in Blair’s cabinet and Lord Boothby who both had an ongoing affair with the wife of Prime Minister Harold Macmillan and consorted with gay criminals especially Ronnie Kray. These and more are discussed in Closet Queens: Some 20th Century British Politicians, 2015, by Michael Bloch. This again is not in Ackroyd’s bibliography

Queer London is easily readable, and is best on the 17th-19th centuries. However as I have indicated there are some serious gaps in the material. Caveat lector.

See also 20 trans Londoners who changed things by example or achievement.

Another review:

Simon Callow in the Guardian

13 August 2017

James Allen (1787 – 1829) labourer.

In London, groom, landlord, and pitch-boiler and then sawyer, James Allen was married to Abigail Naylor, known as Mary from 1807.

In 1829 he died in an accident at work, and examination of his body produced the claim that he was a ‘woman’. He was buried in a private vault, to protect his body from resurrection men.

  • C.J.S Thompson. The Mysteries of Sex: Women Who Posed as Men and Men Who Impersonated Women Hutchinson, 1938. Causeway Books,1974. Dorset Press, 1993: chp XV
  • F. Gonzalez-Crussi. Three Forms Of Sudden Death, And Other Reflections On The Grandeur And Misery Of The Body. Picador. Harper & Row, 1986: 61.
  • "The Female Husband". In Martin Duberman. About Time: Exploring the Gay Past. A Meridian Book, 1986,1991: 24-30.

06 August 2017

Yollada "Nok" Suanyot เกริกก้อง "นก" สวนยศ (1983 - ) activist, politician

The child of a police officer in Nan province, Suanyot transitioned at 13, using the name Yollada and completed surgery at 16. She did a science degree at Thammasat University, followed by a masters in political science and a doctorate in social science at Ramkhamhaeng University.

She worked as a model and as a beauty queen. She also did commercial voice-overs and ran a jewelry business and a home-shopping channel.

In 2005 she won the position Miss Apza Transvestite (Miss Alcazar Purple Star Award). Later that year Sony BMG announced that they would sponsor an all-kathoey pop group, Venus Flytrap, and auditioned 200 applicants. One of the chosen five was Yollada, who took the name Nok, and was known in the group as Posh Venus. They released their first album in November 2006. Nok left in 2007.


Yollada was a founder and chair of the TransFemale Association of Thailand. In 2012 she was elected as an independent (under her male name as required by Thai law) to represent  Mueang Nan District on the Provincial Administration Organization of Nan Province. She had the responsibility to oversee and inspect whether the provincial management's works are appropriate and transparent.

In 2013 she was awarded by the Women's Voice Association of Thailand. The award recognises people who play a crucial role in promoting and improving the role of Thai women.

Her partner is a trans man.


EN.Wikipedia 



30 July 2017

Biographies with the pre-transition name in the title


Canadian (auto)biographies
Hoax biographies
(auto)biographies that are almost unobtainable
French and Belgian (auto) biographies and Histories
Biographies with the pre-transition name in the title


While it is standard practice to mention the pre-transition name in a book-length biography, it is unusual to put the name actually in the book title.   The authors below, two of them being the person discussed themselves, have different approaches, but somehow ended up doing this one thing.  

This is a set not previously defined.  


William Ernest Edwards. GVWW. Farm Worker, labourer.

  • Marion Bill Edwards. Life and Adventures of Marion-Bill-Edwards. 1907.


Camille Barbin. GVWW. School teacher compelled to become male.

  • Herculine Barbin with an Introduction by Michel Foucault. Herculine Barbin: Being the Recently Discovered Memoirs of a Nineteenth-Century French Hermaphrodite. Harvester Press, 1980.











Harry Leo Crawford. GVWW. Labourer, convicted of killing his wife.

  • Suzanne Falkiner. Eugenia, a man. Sydney: Pan Books 1988.













Michael Dillon. Doctor, world’s first surgical trans man.

  • Liz Hodgkinson. Michael, Née Laura: The Story of the World's First Female-to-Male Transsexual. Columbus, 1989.


(this book has recently been released with the slightly adjusted title:  From a Girl to a Man: How Laura Became Michael: The Story of the World's First Female-to-Male Transsexual)






Michelle Ann Duff. GVWW champion motorcycle racer

  • Michelle Duff. Make Haste Slowly: The Mike Duff Story. mad8 Pub., 1999.











Philippa York. Tour de France champion cyclist

  • Richard Moore. In Search of Robert Millar. HarperSport, 2007.











Leona Lo. Singapore activist

  • Leona Lo. From Leonard to Leona: A Singapore Transsexual's Journey to Womanhood. Select Pub, 2007.


27 July 2017

Jamie Clayton (1978 - ) actress

Clayton was raised in San Diego, with a defense attorney and an event planner as parents. At age 19 she moved to New York to transition and to work as a make-up artist. She had completion surgery with Dr Toby Meltzer in Scottsdale in 2003, one of his first patients after he moved from Oregon.

In August 2008 Jamie was dating a man who knew a columnist at the New York Observer. This led to her coming out to the columnist and story was repeated in Gawker, and then elsewhere on the web. She became an internet sensation and got emails from all over. She was invited to go on The Tyra Banks Show, and CBS News’ Logo Channel did a segment on her. After a few months of acting classes, and meeting Laverne Cox, they co-hosted VH1's first makeover show TRANSform Me, where three transsexual fashion professionals came to the aid of cis women.

For a while Jamie had a problem in that known as trans, she could not get cis parts, and yet when she went to auditions for transgender roles she would be rejected in that she did not look the part. In December 2010 she was featured in an article in the New York Times about an acting class for gay actors. This led to her being cast as a secondary character in Hung, 2011, which was primarily about a male prostitute.

She played the role of "Michelle" in the interactive web series Dirty Work. Clayton is also a member of the performance art–rock group Roma! She now works regularly in movies and television, and was featured in Sense8, 2015-now (directed by the Wachowskis) and the Neon Demon, 2016.

IMDB      EN.WIKIPEDIA



24 July 2017

Ellie Zara Ley (1974–) surgeon

Eleazer Ley was born in San Luis, Sonora. His mother was Chinese, and his father half-Chinese. Shortly after birth he developed a medical complication that the local doctors did not know how to deal with. Despite not having the correct papers, his mother was able to take the child across the US border to a hospital in Yuma, Arizona, purely with a doctor’s letter.

Ley grew up to be a doctor. He did undergraduate work in the US as a foreign student, returned to Mexico for medical school, and immigrated to the US. He worked at New York Medical College in Valhalla, NY and in the general surgery program at the University of Arizona. He then completed a fellowship in pediatric craniofacial plastic surgery at Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City. At the University of Southern California in Los Angeles he received fellowship training in hand and microsurgery, and then returned to the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, to complete a fellowship in plastic and reconstructive surgery.

He considered extending his skills into gender surgery, and researched how it was being done in Thailand. He had also married, and they had two daughters. He took a position in Tucson where his wife is from. Approaching 40, Ley had 14 years of medical school, residency, and three fellowships. He opened the Ley Institute of Plastic & Hand Surgery, LLC and the Arizona Craniofacial & Pediatric Plastic Surgery. He also did work in Nogales, Sonora, for the border community.

Then Ley had a damascene moment. Helping the two daughters with nail polish, it was suddenly apparent what was missing from life.
“It just stirred something inside of me that wouldn’t stop, this force. It was relentless after that. My feminine side just completely came out.”
Ley transitioned and was divorced in 2015. Ellie Zara Ley had surgery from Dr Toby Meltzer, who
Drs Meltzer & Ley
continued discussions with her for several months and then asked her to join his practice. She closed her Tucson practice, and moved to Scottsdale. She shadowed Meltzer’s surgeries, and is now taking on her own patients.

22 July 2017

Toby Meltzer (1957–) gender confirmation surgeon.

Toby Meltzer graduated in medicine and did his residency at the Louisiana State University Charity Hospital, and then did a plastic surgery residency at the University of Michigan. He became clinical professor of plastic surgery at the Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU), in Portland, where he completed a fellowship in burn injuries.

He was a year out of plastic surgery residency when two doctors, a plastic surgeon and a urologist, about to retire, suggested that he take over their transgender surgeries. Meltzer accepted the challenge of learning. However because the two doctors performed such surgery only a few times per year, Meltzer’s training consisted of observing only one surgery by each doctor. He also traveled to Trinidad, Colorado to observe Stanley Biber. In addition, he interviewed pediatric urologists who had worked on intersex children.

He almost gave up after his first transgender surgery discovering how much he did not know. The patient required additional surgery, but sent a thank-you note. He persevered, and began performing vaginoplasty at OHSU in 1993.
“Previously, my patients came to me in terrible condition after something like a car accident, and after I had literally put the pieces of their face back together, all they could focus on was the way they used to look, and would complain about the little scar they had right above their lip. GRS patients are always extremely grateful that someone is finally helping them, and it is refreshing to feel so appreciated in my work.”
Anne Lawrence describes the technique that Meltzer was using from May 1994:
“creation of a neovagina lined with inverted penile skin, and construction of a sensate neoclitoris from the glans penis using a dorsal neurovascular pedicle”.
He also performed Cricothyroid approximation (CTA) surgeries to raise the vocal pitch, and facial feminization surgery. He is also one of just a few surgeons in the U.S. who performs metiodioplasty (clitoral release). Unlike many other plastic surgeries, GRS with Meltzer requires a team of several professionals and patients are required to undergo a lengthy process, which adheres to the WPATH standards for GRS and ancillary procedures. Patients must see a psychologist or psychiatrist, an endocrinologist and a social worker in addition to their work with Meltzer. They must also spend one year in therapy, receive medically-supervised hormone therapy, and spend one year in a “real-life test,” passing as the other gender. Meltzer will perform surgeries only after patients have passed this “test” and have obtained a letter from a psychiatrist saying that they are prepared for the operation.

Anne Lawrence had been able to observe Meltzer do a transgender operation. The next year, 1995, she returned to Dr Meltzer as a patient for her own operation, only six months after social transition. Later she published photographs of his work on her site.


There were sometimes problems finding beds for his patients at OHSU, and in 1996, Meltzer opened his private practice at the Eastmoreland Hospital, a 100-bed medical center also in Portland, and over the next few years expanded to take more than 50% of the surgical workload. In the early days of the internet word about his work spread in transgender chat rooms.

In 2002, Eastmoreland Hospital was purchased by Symphony Healthcare, a for-profit hospital company founded in Nashville Tennessee in late 2001. Meltzer received a certified letter advising that he would not be allowed to perform any type of gender transition surgery after July 2002 (this was extended to December 2002), and that his patients must leave the hospital after three days. Meltzer asked around Oregon, at hospital after hospital, but was unable to get the hospital privileges that he required. A former patient, a doctor, suggested Scottsdale, Arizona, and in 2003 Meltzer, his wife and three children, and four members of his office staff, relocated there.

In 2003, Anne Lawrence published the results of a survey of 232 MtF transsexuals who had undergone SRS with surgeon Toby Meltzer during the period 1994–2000 (Lawrence, 2003).
“I observed that about 86% of respondents had experienced one or more episodes of autogynephilic arousal before undergoing SRS and 49% had experienced hundreds of episodes or more. Two years later, in a second article based on data from the same survey, I reported that 89% of the respondents classified as nonhomosexual on the basis of their sexual partnership history reported one or more experiences of autogynephilic arousal before undergoing SRS, vs. 40% in the small number of respondents classified as homosexual (Lawrence, 2005); there was evidence that some of these supposedly homosexual participants had misreported their partnership histories and were actually nonhomosexual.”
By 2004, Symphony Healthcare was bankrupt and they sold the entire site to Reed College for $52 million, and auctioned off everything inside the hospital. After acquiring the property, Reed College razed the buildings.

In 2010 Rhiannon G O'Dannabhain, who had had surgery with Meltzer in 2001, won in court against the US tax authorities to the effect that the cost of transgender surgery was tax deductible.

A 2015 patient, Ellie Zara Lay, also an experienced surgeon, joined Meltzer’s practice in 2016, and it is hoped will continue the practice after Dr Meltzer retires.

Meltzer has kept a low profile in Scottsdale. He does not promote his practice, and rarely grants media interviews, but his patients find him on the internet. It can take up to seven months for a first meeting with him. Dr Meltzer has done over 3,000 sex change operations. Out-of-town and out-of-country patients account for more than 85 percent of his caseload. He operates Monday through Thursday, with two 12-hour days, he does at least five male-to-female and two to four female-to-male procedures each week.

Patients include:

Babette Ellsworth 1994
Andrea James 1998,
Anne Lawrence 1995,
Robyn Walters 2000
Rhiannon G O'Donnabhain 2001
Christine Beatty 2002,
Jamie Clayton 2003.
Donna Rose 2005
Kaitlin Sine Riordan 2007
Sheela-Marie Padgett 2008,
Andreja Pejic 2013
Ellie Zara Ley 2015


  • “Interview with Toby E Meltzer, MD”. In Dean Kotula (ed). The Phallus Palace: Female to Male Transsexuals. Alyson Books, 2002: 173-7.
  • “Portland Gender Reassignment Surgeon Plans To Move”. National Transgender Advocacy Coalition, August 22, 2002. Online.
  • A A Lawrence. “Factors associated with satisfaction or regret following male-to-female sex reassignment surgery”. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 32, 2003: 299–315.
  • A A Lawrence. “Sexuality before and after male-to-female sex reassignment surgery”. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 34, 2005: 147–166.
  • Sarah Brown. “Surgeon pioneers gender reassignment surgery”. The Misc. 11/11/05. http://misc.vassar.edu/archives/2005/11/surgeon_pioneer.html. No Longer Available.
  • Anne A Lawrence. Men Trapped in Men’s Bodies: Narratives of Autogynephilic Transsexualism. Springer, 2013: 27.
  • Amy Saunders. “Change/MD”. Phoenix, April 2016. http://www.phoenixmag.com/lifestyle/change-md.html
  • Susan Faludi. In the Darkroom. Henry Holt and Company, 2016: 134.

EN.Wikipedia     tmeltzer.com