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!

30 April 2017

Defenestration in Brooklyn


Duberman’s Stonewall book mentions the gay rights pioneer activist, Bob Kohler (1926-2007):
“Kohler would give the young queens clothing and change, or sometimes pay for a room in a local fleabag hotel; and when out walking his dog, he would sit on a park bench with them and listen to their troubles and dreams. He was able to hear their pain even as he chuckled at their antic. …
Yet for all their wit and style, Kohler never glamorized street queens as heroic deviants pushing against rigid gender categories, self-conscious pioneers of a boundary-free existence. He knew too much about the misery of their lives. He knew a drugged-out queen who fell asleep on a rooftop and lay in the sun so long that she ended up near death with a third-degree burn. He knew ‘cross-eyed Cynthia’, killed when she was pushed out of a window of the St George Hotel in Brooklyn – and another ‘Sylvia’, who jumped off its roof.”
Wallace Hamilton (1919-1983) had an apartment in Greenwich Village where he welcomed many gay persons. In his memoir, Christopher and Gay, he recounts meetings with ‘Wanda’.
“She had brought in the street, the night’s affairs, the reality of the city, and, with a kind of bizarre hyperbole, broke through the shells of private fantasy that had shut the city out. … Wanda was a queen of brash Auntie Mame femininity. Slight, dark-haired, with a chiselled face, she could wear ordinary male clothes and still come on as womanhood personified. She was a queen who didn’t need drag. …
I’d heard about Wanda’s death from someone on Christopher Street early one evening … The story was that he (sic) had fallen or been pushed out of the fifteenth floor of a hotel in Brooklyn. Since he had no identification on him, the body had lain unclaimed in the morgue for several days before any of his friends had been able to trace him down. He had no family in evidence, and was ready for Potter’s field.”

Is ‘Wanda’ the same person as ‘cross-eyed Cynthia’?


Both names seem to be pseudonyms. Hamilton’s account would date the death to 1971. The account in Duberman is placed in the book just before the Stonewall riots, and therefore suggests 1969, but actually the quoted section is a summary of Kohler’s list of street queens that he had known who met unfortunate deaths. Duberman interviewed Kohler many years later for his 1993 book. Thus Cynthia’s death could be in 1971.

Or perhaps more than one street queen was defenestrated from the St George Hotel!

What do we know about the St George Hotel in Brooklyn?


Here is an article on the hotel. It was built in stages between 1885 and 1929. It was once the largest
hotel in New York City. It contains the Clark Street subway entrance. It fell into disrepair. By the early 1970s homeless people and AIDS patients were being placed there by city agencies. In 1995 most of the interior was destroyed by a massive fire. Today most of it is student housing.











  • Wallace Hamilton. Christopher and Gay ; a Partisan's View of the Greenwich Village Homosexual Scene. Saturday Review Press, 1973: 8-9. 57-9 .
  • Martin Duberman. Stonewall. A Plume Book, 1994: 188-9.

24 April 2017

Recurring Untruths: Edward Hyde–Part II


The only detailed biography of Edward Hyde is:


  • Patricia U. Bonomi. The Lord Cornbury Scandal The Politics of Reputation in British America. The University of North Carolina Press, 1998.

She had earlier published articles that became part of the book: in The William and Mary Quarterly and in the Times literary Supplement.










What is the actual evidence, or what passes as such from the 18th century?

Epistles

During Edward Hyde’s governorship, three colonists wrote letters that alleged that the governor did transvest.

Robert Livingstone returned to Albany County, New York in 1706 after three years in London. He wrote to the Treasury office the next year that he had heard such extraordinary stories
“that I durst not attempt to give your honour an account of them as not being possible to be believed … Tis said that he is wholly addicted to his pleasure … his dressing himself in womens Cloths Commonly [every] morning is so unaccountable that if hundreds of spectators did not dayly see him it would be incredible.” (p158)

Lewis Morris, a political nemesis of Hyde, wrote two letters of interest.

The first, dated from internal evidence to 1707:
“the Scandal of his life is … he rarely fails of being dresst in Women’s Cloaths every day, and almost half his time is spent that day, and seldome misses it on a Sacrament day, was in that Garb when his dead Lady was carried out of the Fort, and this not privately but in the face of the Sun and sight of the Town”.
And dated 9 February 1708:
“of whom I must say something which perhaps no boddy will think their while to tell, and that is his dressing publiqly on womans Cloaths Every day and putting a Stop to all publique business while he is pleasing himself with that peculiar but detestable maggot”. (p159-160)

Elias Neau, a catechist, writing just after Hyde’s public dispute with two Anglican ministers:
“My Lord Cornbury has and dos still make use of an unfortunate Custom of dressing himself in Womens Cloaths and of exposing himself in that Garb upon the Ramparts to the view of the public; in that dress he draws a World of Spectators about him and consequently as many Censures, especially for exposing himself un such a manner all the great Holy days and even in an hour or two after going to the Communion.” (p161)

The Painting

Who painted the portrait and when, exactly, is unknown. It was discovered in England, not in New York. It was found in the family collection of the Pakington family in Worcestershire ( a family not associated by either marriage or blood with the Hyde family).

After almost a century the rumours about Hyde had died down, and been forgotten. In 1796, the writer – and lover of gossip, Horace Walpole (himself given to occasional transvesting), and a fellow gossip, Gilly Williams visited Sylvester Douglas, Lord Glenbervie. They talked of the society beauty, Catherine Hyde (1701-1777), Duchess of Queensbury by marriage, the daughter of Henry Hyde, Edward’s cousin, who became the 4th Earl of Clarendon. From there the conversation drifted to Edward.

As Douglas recorded in his diary: Walpole repeated the rumour that Edward Hyde in New York had dressed to represent his queen. Williams added extra, otherwise unrecorded, and not repeated by later writers. His father
“told him that he had done business with him [Hyde] in woman’s clothes. He used to sit at the open window so dressed, to the great amusement of the neighbours. He employed always the most fashionable milliner, shoemaker, staymaker, etc. Mr Williams has seen a picture of him at Sir Herbert Packingington’s in Worcestershire, in a gown, stays, tucker, long ruffles, cap, etc.”


The very next year, 1796, a letter to an art cataloguer from the son of Lord Sandys of Worcestershire described one of the paintings as “The Second E. of Clarendeon in womens’ cloaths”. Edward Hyde was of course the 3rd Earl. His father Henry was the 2nd.

1795-6 was a time was transvesting was topical in that Charlotte D’Eon having returned to England, was living as female and giving exhibition fencing matches.

There was no further claim of a painting of any Earl of Clarendon transvesting until 1867 when the painting that we now know was publically displayed in an exhibition of national portraits at the South Kensington Museum (now known as the Victoria and Albert Museum). For the occasion, a label was attached. However it was not a usual art curator’s description, but a quotation (see Part I) from Agnes Strickland. Strickland, in her books, Lives of the Queens of England, had given only one source [also not repeated in later claims], a letter written in Hanover in 1714 by German diplomat Hans Caspar von Bothmer who was the Hanoverian representative at the court of Queen Anne. Bothmer supposedly repeated a rumour that Hyde, while in ‘the Indies” dressed to represent his queen. This letter is unknown other than for Strickland’s claim.

The New York Daily Tribune reported on the exhibition. It discussed the painting, and repeated the quote from Strickland. This was the first mention of the painting in New York or elsewhere in North America.

Is the painting of a man or a woman?

Bonomi quotes Robin Gibson of the National Portrait Gallery, the expert on the Hyde family paintings known as the Clarendon Collection. Of the painting that we are considering: “I feel certain that the so-called portrait of Lord Cornbury is a perfectly straightforward British provincial portrait of a rather plain woman circa 1710.
” The painting was unlikely to be done on the colonies. .. Although I do not think it would be possible to identify either the artist or the sitter of the portrait in question, it seems to me the sort of portrait which might have been painted of a well-to-do woman living well outside London society, perhaps in the north of England. It is not necessarily of a member of the aristocracy.”
Could it be a caricature of Hyde?
“Caricature portrait paintings (certainly in Britain at this date) are unknown to me and extremely rare at any time. Any caricature would have taken the form of an engraving or drawing.” (p19)

The painting in New York

The painting was put up for auction in 1952, and was then acquired by the New York Historical Society, where it is now on display.

Other paintings

Here is a portrait, probably of Edward Hyde, in 1681, when he was 19. Compare the faces. Does it look like the same person?






And here is a portrait of Henry Hyde, the future 2nd Earl of Clarendon, in 1643 when he was 4.  Could this have been the picture referred to by the son of Lord Sandys?







Evaluation

None of Livingstone, Morris and Neau say that they actually saw Hyde dressed in ‘womens Cloaths’. Nor do they name any person, of any rank who so saw. This despite the claim that Hyde had transvested before the full New York Assembly, and on the city ramparts.

In a court of law ‘evidence’ such as this would be dismissed as hearsay, and not admitted.

Incidentally not one of Livingstone, Morris and Neau is quoted by 20th century writers who tell of Edward Hyde.

The letters, sent to authorities in London, were not acted on. The claims were not consistent with other accounts, and as said, no witnesses were ever named or recorded. Hyde returned to England in 1710 and was appointed to the Privy Council and named first commissioner of the Admiralty. Even his kinship to the Queen would not have permitted this if he were regarded as scandalous.

Bonomi points out (p161) that other Governors in the same period were involved in scandals. Let us take the case of Francis Nicholson who was Governor of Virginia 1690-2, 1698-1705. The account in Encyclopedia Virginia is:
Meanwhile, his persistent and unsubtle courtship of the beautiful eighteen-year-old Lucy Burwell turned Nicholson into a laughingstock: In a speech to the House of Burgesses on September 22, 1701, Nicholson professed his admiration "for the Natives" of Virginia, "in particular but principally for One of them," but his marriage proposal to Burwell, daughter of the wealthy and influential Major Lewis Burwell of Gloucester County, was refused. The governor only made matters worse when he continued to publicly pursue Burwell even after she had become engaged to the equally privileged Edmund Berkeley II of Middlesex County.
Hearing rumors of Nicholson's political and personal missteps, authorities in London requested that a Virginian named Robert Quary investigate the various complaints against the governor. Although Quary's report was highly supportive of Nicholson and dismissive of his opponents, it did give the impression of being so biased toward the governor that it resulted in Nicholson becoming even less popular within the ranks of the colony's most influential residents, among them Robert Beverley II. In May 1703 six members of the governor's Council requested that the Crown remove the governor from office, asserting that he was a man of poor personal character, and thus was not an appropriate choice to serve as the monarch's representative in the colony. Following lengthy debates in London, the imperial authorities dismissed Nicholson from his governorship in April 1705, replacing him with Colonel Edward Nott.
Nothing like this happened to Edward Hyde.

It is well established that the terms ‘gay’ or ‘faggot’ are often used to put down men who are not at all gay. Here are some examples of politicians said to be trans when they were not at all so.

In 1988, Jonathan Falwell, son of Moral Majority leader Jerry Falwell, put out a comic book showing the Democratic candidate, Michael Dukakis in drag, (see Marjorie Garber. Vested Interests: Cross-Dressing & Cultural Anxiety, 1992: 54 – there is no longer anything on the web about this comic book).

Also 1988, a painting by a student, David Nelson, showed the recently deceased mayor of Chicago, Harold Washington, in female underwear. This caused a brouhahah, the painting was seized, and damaged before being returned. EN.Wikipedia.

In 2016, Alex Jones got a lot of mileage in the press when he claimed that Michelle Obama is a trans. Online.

Conclusion

It is unproved at best that Edward Hyde did as was said in the scurrilous rumours.

Certainly any claim that he did so made after 1998 that fails to discuss Bonomi’s book is deserving of no attention at all.



  • Cecil Adams. “Did New York once have a transvestite governor?”. The Straight Dope, January 25, 2002. Online.
  • Emily Ulrich. “Biography of Edward Hyde, earl of Cornbury, Governor of New York”. Alma Mater, Spring 2014. Online.


EN.Wikipedia  

15 April 2017

Recurring Untruths: Edward Hyde, Governor of New York & New Jersey - Part I

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

A series of untruths, canards, lies and misinformation that are repeated with regard to trans history.
-------------------------
We are interested in Edward Hyde, also known as Lord Cornbury, and after his father's death in 1709 as the 3rd Earl Clarendon, in that he is repeatedly said to have been a transvestite. However there is considerable difficulty in tracing the claims back to actual 18th century accounts.



There is a portrait, which is said to be of Edward  Hyde in female attire, that can be viewed in the collection of the New York Historical Society.





























Some examples of the claims:


Agnes Strickland. Lives of the Queens of England, 12 vols, 1840-8:
“Among other apish tricks, Lord Cornbury, the ‘half-witted son’ of ‘Henry, Earl of Clarenden’ is said to have held his state levees at New York, and received the principal Colonists dressed up in complete female court costume, because truly he represented the person of a female sovereign, his cousin-german queen Anne.”
Peter Ackroyd. Dressing Up: Transvestism and Drag: The History of an Obsession. 1979: 84-6.
“Edward Hyde, for example, cross-dressed while he was Governor of New York and New Jersey (1702-1708). He bore a remarkable resemblance to his cousin, Queen Anne, and was fond of walking through the streets of New York dressed in clothing similar to hers.”
Richard Davenport-Hines. Sex, Death and Punishment: Attitudes to sex and sexuality in Britain since the Renaissance, 1990: 74.
“According to Glenbervie, Clarendon ‘was a clever man’ whose ‘great insanity’ was showing himself in women’s clothes. When New Yorkers complained that he opened their legislative assembly dressed as a woman, he retorted, ‘You are very stupid not to see the propriety of it. In this place and particularly on this occasion I represent a woman (Queen Anne) and ought in all respects to represent her as faithfully as I can.’ Effeminacy and male transvestism were not clearly distinguished at this time, and there was no evidence that Clarendon was a molly. He was undeniably, though, a man who felt false when he dressed and behaved as men were expected to do.
Roger Baker. Drag: A History of Female Impersonation in the Performing Arts. 1994: 99
“In 1702, the newly-crowned Queen Anne made her cousin, Edward Hyde, Lord Cornbury, the Governor of New York and New Jersey, a post that he held for six years. To the astonishment and bewilderment of both his colleagues and the general population he persistently dressed as a woman. This was not private or closet transvestism but assertively public. He opened the Assembly in women’s clothes, government business had to be delayed until he had completed his lengthy toilette, he would stroll through the streets in his skirts and dozens of people gawked at him every day.”
Wayne Dynes “Transvestism (Cross-Dressing)” in Wayne Dynes (ed) Encyclopedia of Homosexuality. 1990: 1313.
“In North America Edward Hyde. Lord Cornbury, who was governor of New York and New Jersey from 1702 to 1708 was a heterosexual transvestite”.
Henry Moscow. The Book of New York Firsts, 1995:
“Cornbury’s behaviour seemed odder still when he began dressing in his wife’s gowns and, berouged and bepowdered, flounced daily along the parapets of the fort he commanded, while his sentries smirked. On occasion he sallied along Broadway, where at least once he was arrested and hauled back to the fort; one night, when a patrolling watchman investigated the presence of an apparent prostitute stumbling about the fort, the ‘prostitute’ – Cornbury leaped at him, giggling, and pulled his ears.”
Lawrence M Salinger (ed). Encyclopedia of White-Collar & Corporate Crime, 2004: 409.
“In the simplest of terms, Hyde was a drunkard and an unabashed transvestite, with a penchant for addressing the New York Assembly while wearing his wife’s clothes.”
Gloria Brame. “The Governor Who Wore a Dress”. Bilerico, September 01, 2011. Online.
“One of the remarkable characters I discovered while doing some transgender history research for my book was Lord Cornbury. …. .Cornbury is reported to have opened the 1702 New York Assembly clad in a hooped gown and an elaborate headdress and carrying a fan, imitative of the style of Queen Anne. … It is also said that in August 1707, when his wife Lady Cornbury died, His High Mightiness (as he preferred to be called) attended the funeral again dressed as a woman. It was shortly after this that mounting complaints from colonists prompted the Queen to remove Cornbury from office.”


Who was the historical Edward Hyde

(mainly taken from chapter 2 of Patricia U Bonomi's The Lord Cornbury Scandal, 1998)

Edward Hyde (1661 - 1723) was born into a family with strong links to the Stuart dynasty. His grandfather, also called Edward Hyde, had been a faithful servant to Charles Stuart the younger during his exile under the Commonwealth. When Charles Stuart became King as Charles II in 1660, he appointed Hyde as Lord High Chancellor, Baron Hyndon and then Earl of Clarendon. As a courtesy the eldest sons of the Earls Clarendon were to be Viscount Cornbury. Hyde’s eldest daughter, Anne, married James, the younger brother of Charles II, and gave birth to two future queens, Mary and Anne, before dying at age 34. Hyde, morally inflexible, refused to recognise the main mistress of Charles in 1667, and was impeached and exiled to France, where he died in 1674. His eldest son, Henry then became the 2nd Earl of Clarendon. Thus the Cornbury title went to his son, the younger Edward Hyde. Henry was appointed Lord Privy Seal and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. His first wife had died age 22 of smallpox, a few months after Edward’s birth. Edward attended Oxford University at age 13, and completed his education at l’Académie de Calvin in Geneva. In 1683, he became Lieutenant Colonel of the Royal Regiment of Dragoons. When the Catholic James Stuart became king as James II in 1685, there was an uprising, Monmouth’s Rebellion, objecting to a Catholic monarch, led by James’ illegitimate half-brother, the Duke of Monmouth. Hyde commanded his troops in the repression of the rebellion and was promoted to full Colonel. The same year he also became a Tory Member of Parliament. In 1688, against his father’s wishes, he married Katherine O’Brian. By then Henry Hyde and his brother Laurence had been dismissed from office because they would not convert to Catholicism. Later in 1688 Mary Stuart’s husband, William of Orange, invited by MPs of both parties, invaded to save Britain for Protestantism – The Glorious Revolution . Edward Hyde was one of the first commanders to take his men over to William’s side. Despite this he fell out of favour with William, and had his regiment taken from him. He remained out of favour until 1701 when William appointed him as Governor of New York, to which was added the post of Governor of New Jersey in 1702 when Anne became Queen. Hyde acquitted himself well in negotiations with French Canada and with the Iroquois Nations, but was resented by some for running the two colonies in the interests of the monarch. Katherine died in 1706: of their seven children, three then still survived. Henry the 2nd Earl died in 1709, and Edward returned in 1710 as the 3rd Earl. He was appointed to the Privy Council and named first commissioner of the Admiralty. He was also sent as ambassador to George, Prince of Hanover, Anne’s chosen successor. Hyde died in 1723, having outlived all his children. He was interred in the family crypt in Westminster Abbey.

Bonomi p31


Namesakes 


* Edward Hyde was not the cricketer (1881-1941), the royalist priest (1607-1659), the 1st Earl Clarendon (this was Edward Hyde’s grandfather); the governor of North Carolina (1667-1712), and certainly not the alternate persona to Dr Jekyll in RL Stevenson’s novella.

-------------------------

In Part II we will consider the actual evidence. That, we will find, is at variance with the claims quoted above.



06 April 2017

Bambi L’Amour, activist

When 15-year-old Sylvia Rivera was arrested and sent to New York’s Rikers Island prison in 1966, she was in the gay-reserved section where she met a good-looking black queen. They threw shade at each other, and then became firm friends.

Bambi was a natural beauty, unable to be taken as a man, even if she tried. She had been given the name Bambi because of her large eyes. She was almost never seen without a bottle and a bag. Once, in male garb, she was attacked on the subway “for being a dyke”.

After the Weinstein Hall occupation in August 1970, Bambi, along with Sylvia Rivera, Marsha Johnson, Bebe Scarpi, Bubbles Rose Lee, was a founder of Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR). She would often be with Sylvia when they zapped gay or student organizations.

She was part of the commune at the mafia-owned 213 East Second Street. Her method of pan-handling was rather dramatic: she would stand in the street to stop traffic, and then bang on car windows to demand change.

Her age is not specified in any of the accounts, nor what happened to her after 1971.

  • Martin B Duberman. Stonewall. Dutton, c1993. Plume, 1994: 123-4, 192, 252, 254.
  • David Carter. Stonewall : the riots that sparked the gay revolution. St. Martin's Press 2004: 56. New York: Griffin 2005.
  • Stephan L. Cohen. The Gay Liberation Youth Movement in New York: "An Army of Lovers Cannot Fail". Routledge, 2008: 91, 104-5, 106, 122, 127, 128, 132, 147.
-----------------------------------------------------

Was Bambi at the Stonewall riots?  Duberman p192 has a very brief mention that she was, but as part of Sylvia's perception of what was happening at Stonewall,    That is in the most dubious part of his book, as others maintain that Sylvia was not in fact there.   Therefore, we don't know if Bambi was there.   Maybe.   

28 March 2017

Sally’s Hideaway and Sally’s II - nightclub

In the mid 1980s, after the coming of AIDS, the masculist gay sex bars in New York, the Anvil, The Mineshaft, the Toilet, went out of business, either voluntarily or under pressure from the city. The Anvil had in its early days featured Felipe Rose who dressed as a Native American (he was Lakota on his father’s side) and was later recruited for the Village People disco group. The Anvil also put on drag shows. It closed in November 1985, and Conrad, its manager, moved to Blues, a nightclub at 264 W 43rd Street, between 7th and 8th Avenues. Blues was popular with those working in the sex trade around Times Square. This did not work out, and late 1986 – the year that Harry Benjamin died – the nightclub was re-opened as Sally’s Hideaway, managed by two femme queens: Sally Maggio and Jesse Torres, the hostess manager.

Sally and Jesse had worked in the early 1970s at the trans/gay 220 Club, at 220 West Houston Street, where Lou Reed drank and was presumed to have named his album and track, Sally Can’t Dance, after the manager (although it was photographs of his trans lover, Rachel, which appeared on the inner sleeve). Sally and Jesse then worked at the Greenwich Pub, at 8th Avenue and 13th Street, which attracted gay trans and their admirers.

Sally’s Hideaway put on go-go boy contests, male stripping and drag shows – some by transsexuals. Trans entertainers such as Dorian Corey, Jayne County, Angie Xtravaganza performed.  The customers were a mix of pre-op transsexuals, drag queens, cross-dressers, transvestites, chasers, male strippers and all kinds of hustlers.

Monica Mugler outside Sally's II
There was a serious fire in 1992. Sally moved the club a few doors away to 252 West 43rd Street, which was attached to the Carter Hotel. It was now known as Sally’s II, or simply Sally’s. The bar was circular, two flights up from the street, and there was also a small lounge, up another flight of stairs at the side of the bar. Behind the bar there was a wall of doors permanently closed until one day Sally discovered the unused theatre of the Carter Hotel, only another set of doors away from the hotel lobby. Sally’s II expanded into this space and used the stage. Drag pageants and drag balls were held, usually hosted by or in homage to the ballroom legends of the day: Octavia St. Laurent, Pepper LaBeija, Avis Pendavis. Paris Dupree’s “Paris is Burning” ball was held here in 1992, and the subsequent 1990 film included opening and ending sequences shot outside Sally’s, and strongly featured Dorian Corey and Angie Xtravaganza.

Grace
There was also the Amazing, Electrifying Grace, lip synch performer and comedienne, who had started in the Anvil, and when that closed she emceed and performed at Greenwich Pub for Sally Maggio, and then at Midtown 43 where she did a Sunday Night drag revue. Midtown 43 closed in 1989, by which time Grace was also working at Sally’s. After the fire and the move she was given a steady gig emceeing Sunday and sometimes Monday night. At Midtown 43 Grace had had a following among the butch queens of the ball house crowd, but these did not feel at home in Sally’s.

Trans musician Terre Thaemlitz dj’d there in the early 1990s, until fired for refusing to play the music that was in the charts. The Transy House people, Rusty Mae Moore, Chelsea Goodwin, Julia Murray, Sylvia Rivera, Kristiana Th’mas, went as a group and were regarded as a ‘house’ in the Paris is Burning sense. Self-described tranny-chaser Jonathan Ames was also found there, and the club is featured in his bildungsroman and the subsequent film, The Extra Man.

Sally Maggio died in October 1993. Jesse Torres continued the club, although Mayor Rudolph
Jesse
Giuliani
, real estate interests and the Walt Disney Corporation were changing the character of the Time Square area. Jesse died, unexpectedly, in September 1996 while attending the Miss Continental Pageant in Chicago. Giselle, a long-time Sally’s barmaid, took over, but business was waning. After a series of police busts, Sally’s closed in November 1997.
  • Lou Reed. Sally Can't Dance. RCA Records, 1974.
  • Jennie Livingstone (dir). Paris is Burning. With Dorian Corey, Paris Dupree, Pepper Labeija. US 71 mins 1990.
  • Jonathan Ames, The Extra Man. Scribner, 1999: 91-9, 107-110, 144-5, 157-9, 209-210.
  • Brian Lantelme. “Sally’s Hideaway”. LadyLike, 46, 2001: 17-21. Online
  • Shari Springer Berman & Robert Pulcini (dirs) The Extra Man. Scr: Robert Pulcini & Jonathan Ames, based on the novel by Jonathan Ames, with Paul Dana as Louis Ives and Gisele Alicea as Miss Pepper. US 108 mins 2010.
  • Jeremy Reed. Waiting for the Man: The life and Career of Lou Reed. Overlook Books, 2015: 82.
www.sallys-hideaway.com  
____________________________________

The one and only account of Sally's is at www.sallys-hideaway,com, The author is identified only by email address as Brian Lantelme, which explains why the Ladylike, 46, 2001 account is virtually the same.   However Lantelme does not mention Lou Reed, Jonathan Ames, Terre Thaemlitz  or Rusty Rae Moore.

There is no mention at all of Sally's in Julian Fleisher's The Drag Queens of New York, 1996.  There is no mention at all of Sally's in Laurence Senelick' The Changing Room: Sex, Drag and Theatre, 2000,

I would have liked more information about the Amazing, Electrifying Grace, and her transfer from the Anvil to Midtown 43 to Sally's.   Was her act the same, or did it change to reflect the audience?

The Anvil was, in effect, a gentleman's club: women, cis or trans were not usually admitted as customers, although it is said that  Lee Radziwill, sister to Jackie Onassis, frequented the place in male drag.



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.

_________________________________


 
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.

27 February 2017

13 trans persons in New Zealand/Aotearoa who changed things by example and/or achievement.


Physicians:
  • Harold Gillies (1882 – 1960) from Dunedin, New Zealand. Organized and performed plastic surgery for Allied troops in WWI and WWII. Performed pioneering transgender surgery on Michael Dillon and Betty Cowell. GVWW.
  • Patrick Clarkson (1911 – 1969) from Christchurch, New Zealand, appointed to Guys Hospital, London. Performed corrective surgery on Georgina Somerset in 1957. GVWW.
  • John Money (1921 – 2006) moved to Johns Hopkins in the US, did pioneering work with intersex persons, co-founder of Gender Identity Clinic, his treatment of David Reimer became a scandal.   Biography   EN.Wikipedia
  • Russell Reid (1943 - ) trained at Otago University, became a consultant at Charing Cross Hospital Gender Identity Clinic. Eased the path of hundreds of trans person. GVWW EN.Wikipedia
  • Peter Walker (1942 - ) NZ’s only sex-change surgeon did 61 transgender operations. GVWW   Newsarticle
Persons:

  1. Peter Stratford (? - 1929) writer, Sufi, moved to US in 1904. GVWW
  2. Matene (190? - ?) Maori trapeze artist GVWW
  3. John Thorp (1927 - ) British physicist immigrant. Book   Smashwords   

  4. Noel McKay (193? - 2004) menswear retailer, performer in Auckland GVWW
  5. Carmen Rupe (1935 – 2011) Nagti Maniopoto Maori, performer in Sydney, mayoral candidate in Wellington. GVWW   
  6. Richard O'Brien (1942 - ) playwright, actor, musician, author of Rocky Horror Show. GVWW EN.Wikipedia.  
  7. Jacquie Grant (1943 - ) Australian in NZ, sailor, nightclub owner, councillor, foster mother. GVWW    
  8. Liz Roberts (1943 - ) couturier, 1969 surgery. Book   
  9. Joanne Proctor (1947 – 2011) from Kaikoura, crane driver, HBS activist. GVWW  
  10. Racheal McGonigal (1955 - ) farmer, businessman, sex worker. GVWW   
  11. Georgina Beyer (1957 - ) Māori mayor of Carterton, Labour MP, actress. GVWW    EN.Wikipedia  
  12. Gareth Farr (1968 - ) musician, performer. GVWW   EN.Wikipedia  
  13. Ramon Te Wake (1976 - ) Māori musician and broadcaster. GVWW   EN.Wikipedia  

23 February 2017

Victor Barker: Part IV - Reactions and afterwards

Part I: origins: daughter, wife, mother
Part II: husband, actor, manager
Part III: the trial
Part IV: reactions, and afterwards


Reactions

John Radclyffe Hall, in the doldrums after her novel, The Well of Loneliness, had been found obscene and banned in November 1928, and who partially cross-dressed herself but never really tried to pass as a man, wrote: 'I would like to see [Colonel Barker] drawn and quartered. A mad pervert of the most undesirable type'. Radclyffe Hall considered herself an invert and Barker a pervert, but despite what was said at Barker’s trial about passing as male to earn a wage, it was Barker, not Radcliffe Hall who lived full-time as male.

The novelist DH Lawrence wrote a pamphlet, A Propos of Lady Chatterley's Lover, later in 1929. This was to explain his novel, Lady Chatterley's Lover, and cited Elfrida’s belief that she was “married normally and happily to a real husband” as an example of the profound ignorance about sex in 1920s England.

The sports star, Violet Morris, in Paris, rejected by the French women's sporting authorities for her practice of wearing male clothing and who had just had her breasts removed, sued for reinstatement. She insisted that she was not at all like Barker in that she did not attempt to pass as male.

William Hilton, a timber haulier’s carter in Evesham, Worcestershire expressed great indignation about the Colonel Barker case. However he had recently quit his job after his best workmate had died under the wheels of the horse-drawn wagon he was driving. His health declined and when he was admitted to the infirmary with enteric fever, he was transferred to the women’s ward.

The farm that had been run by the Peace Crouches had since been acquired by Lady Evelyn and Colonel Guinness. Their son Bryan became engaged to Diana Mitford. Diana and her sisters had pored over the Colonel Barker story and she was thrilled to visit the scene of the crime. However she quickly learned that any mention of Barker was taboo by the dictat of Lady Evelyn. (The marriage of Bryan and Diana lasted three years; her second marriage of 42 years was to Oswald Mosley, leader of the British Union of Fascists.)


Afterwards

On release Victor continued to live as a man. He still had his £9 a month annuity, but that was mainly taken by his son’s boarding school fees. Barker became John Hill.

He worked six months at a furniture store in Tottenham Court Road, and then became a car salesman, but was twice recognised by female customers who had read of his trials in the newspapers. He worked a little as an extra in films at Elstree studios.

In the summer of 1932 he was in Shanklin, a seaside resort on the Isle of Wight working as an assistant to a fortune teller and also to a diver who went off the end of the pier in an asbestos suit, soaked in petrol and set alight.

In 1934 he was working as a kennelman for 15/- a week in Henfield, West Sussex. On 18 August he found a forgotten purse in the village’s only phone box. On 27 September he was charged, as John Hill, for theft by finding. However his legal name as Valerie Arkell Smith was revealed to the court, which enabled his lawyer to explain his odd behaviour as a fear of being found not to be a man. The jury understood and returned a verdict of not guilty.

John Hill spent the rest of 1934 and 1935 as an assistant chef at two large hotels in Cornwall and Devon. For a few months he was a manservant to a South African millionaire. Then he was servant to a Mrs Adrian Scott, who administered a charity and received 400-500 letters a day from around the world enclosing contributions. There were piles of money in every room. Despite the piles, Hill took five one-pound notes from Mrs Scott’s handbag. A police detective-sergeant came round. Hill unbuttoned his waistcoat to be searched. The detective-sergeant noticed that he was “full in the chest” and realised that he was Victor Barker.

Hill then confessed, and was taken to Marlborough Street Police Court. He was remanded for a week which he spent in the hospital ward at Holloway prison. Although he pleaded guilty the detective-sergeant recounted that Hill was also Barker and also Arkell Smith etc. Hill was fined twenty shillings, and ordered to pay back the five pounds within a month.

This brought Hill/Barker to the attention of Luke Gannon, an impresario in the popular seaside resort of Blackpool.

Gannon’s previous star attraction had been the ex-Revd Harold Davidson, defrocked for immoral conduct with young women.

In 1937 Hill again became Colonel Barker, 'The most famous intersexual character of our time'. The set arranged by Gannon on the Golden Mile at Blackpool allowed viewers who had paid two pence to look down upon two beds separated by a belisha beacon and traffic lights permanently on red; Barker in one bed, his wife in the other.
Colonel Barker in Blackpool

At the boarding house where he stayed, Barker gave the name Jeffrey Norton. The wife from the exhibit, Eva, shared his bed.

After the ex-Revd Davidson’s unfortunate demise in July 1937 (the lion, with whom he shared his act in Skegness, mauled him) his wife sold her story in several parts to The Leader, a weekly publication. As she finished, The Leader started “Colonel Barker, the Man-Woman who Hoaxed the World”, which purported to be Barker’s soon-to-be-published autobiography, although no such book ever appeared.

With the coming of war in September 1939, and subsequently identify cards and then ration cards, Jeffrey Norton and his wife Eva were registered in those names. Jeffrey was working on the switchboard of a local hospital. At the suggestion of the police, he, like many men of his age, joined the Home Guard ("Dad’s Army").

Victor’s son had joined the Grenadier Guards in 1938, and after earning his commission had transferred to the RAF to be trained as a pilot. Mr and Mrs Norton moved back into London, and Jeffrey worked at a factory making Hurricane fighter planes, but he found that his legs could not take the long hours standing at the factory bench. He left and became a night porter at an expensive apartment building in Grosvenor Square.

Victor’s son, now a fighter pilot, announced his marriage, to be held in a church. The father was understandably nervous about signing the marriage register, even as a witness, as the groom’s father would normally be expected to do. So he pretended to have got into the wrong train, and arrived late.

By 1944 the son was a bomber pilot flying over Germany. Jeffrey volunteered to be a driver of an ‘incident lorry’ – to go out during air-raids and mark any signs of bomb damage with red lamps. One night, while driving near Regent’s Park, an explosion blew him out of his lorry, but he survived.

However his son died in the daylight bombing of German garrisons in France after the D-Day invasion.

In 1948, Geoffrey and Eva Norton (he had changed to the other spelling of his name) moved to Kessingland, Suffolk. They kept to themselves. In 1956 Geoffrey’s health deteriorated, and the village doctor had him admitted to Lowestoft Hospital, 4 miles (6 km) away. Initially in the men’s ward, he was quickly moved to the women’s, and then to a private room, although he was not asked to pay for the private room. Eva came regularly, even though the journey required two buses. She pushed him around in a wheelchair.

Despite the National Health Service being up and running, and therefore having no medical bills, Geoffrey Norton was still in need of money, and his solicitor acted as an agent and arranged for Barker’s life story to be sold to Empire News and Chronicle. It appeared 19 February till 15 April 1956. Barker, again writing as Valerie Arkell-Smith, insisted that there was nothing ‘perverted’ in the life that he had chosen.

He had “suffered no ‘tendency’ to become a ‘man’ … I have undergone no physical operation to turn me from woman into man, and physically I am, as I started out in life to be, 100 per cent woman. But so long have I lived as a man, that I have come to think as one, behave as one, and be accepted as one.” This was all done for the sake of his boy. “I ask for no pity or sympathy. You may feel that I do not deserve it anyway and maybe you are right.” 

The story was not picked up by the local press in Suffolk, but the nurses at the hospital read it with interest. The Empire News and Chronicles sent the novelist Ursula Bloom to interview Barker at home as by this time he had been discharged.

He was not diagnosed while in hospital but over the next few years it became obvious that he was suffering from Parkinson’s disease as did his mother. Barker was in hospital again in 1957, and in 1958 Eva was admitted, and died in hospital. A neighbour took on the task of looking after Geoffrey, assisted by the district nurse.

He sank into a coma and died in February 1960. He was buried in the grounds of the parish church, in an unmarked grave. He was 64.
________

The definitive account is, of course, that by Rose Collis, which I have largely followed. An excellent book.

Barker lived in many places. If you consult the EN.Wikipedia page for each you will find that in none of them is he listed among the notable residents.

Barker’s account in the Empire News and Chronicle was April 1956, two years before the press brouhaha about Michael Dillon, but two years after Betty Cowell’s autobiography. Most newspaper readers would not then know of female-to-male surgery, but Barker still feels a need to deny it.

Barker claimed at the 1929 trial that he lived as a man for the better wages and for his son, and claimed in his 1956 newspaper autobiography that he was 100% woman.   However he never reverted to living as female, not after his son died in the skies over France, not when he was no longer earning more than a woman would.   His existential need was to be male.

There is no record that Victor Barker ever met Joe Carstairs or any other trans man.   The term was not then in use, of course.   The most common term between the wars was 'female husband'.   Collis gives episodes about other female husbands who were featured in the press, and one assumes that Barker read about them.   There is good discussion in Alison Oram's Her Husband was a Woman! about how the newspapers at that time fitted such tales into standard patterns (although Oram refers to Barker only as 'she' and 'her').
________

*Not the novelist.
  • Valerie Arkell-Smith. “The Man-Woman – My Story” Sunday Dispatch, 10 March 1929.
  • Elfrida Barker. “My Story: By the Man-Woman’s Wife: Mrs Barker Reveals the Truth”. Sunday Express, 10 March 1929.
  • Valerie Arkell-Smith. “Colonel Barker, the Man-Woman who Hoaxed the World”. The Leader, 11 September 1937.
  • Valerie Arkell-Smith. “I Posed as a Man for 30 Years! My Amazing Masquerade – a wife confesses”. Empire News and Chronicle,19 February 1956
  • Valerie Arkell-Smith. “I posed as a man for 30 years”. Empire News and Chronicle 19 February 1956.
  • Julie Wheelwright. Amazons and Military Maids: Women who Dressed as Men in the Pursuit of Life, Liberty and Happiness. Pandora 1989: 1-5,10,11,70,157,165.
  • Julie Wheelwright. “’Colonel’ Barker: A Case Study in the Contradictions of Fascism”. In Tony Kushner & Kenneth Lunn. The Politics of Marginality: Race, the Radical Right, and Minorities in Twentieth-Century Britain. Riutledge, 1990: 40-8.
  • James Vernon. “’For Some Queer Reason’: The Trails and Tribulations of Colonel Barker’s Masquerade in Interwar Britain”. Signs 26, 1 Autumn 2000: 37-62.
  • Rose Collis. Colonel Barker's monstrous regiment: a tale of female husbandry. Virago, 2001.
  • Laura L. Doan. Fashioning Sapphism: The Origins of a Modern English Lesbian Culture. Columbia University Press, 2001: 82-94.
  • Alison Oram & Annmarie Turnbull. The Lesbian History Sourcebook: Love and Sex Between Women in Britain from 1780–1970. Routledge, 2001: 15, 38-43.
  • Judith Halberstam. Female Masculinity. Duke Univ. Press, 2006: 91-5.
  • Martin Pugh. Hurrah For The Blackshirts!: Fascists and Fascism in Britain Between the Wars. 2006: 54-5. 69.
  • Alison Oram. Her Husband was a Woman!: Women's gender-crossing in modern British popular culture. Routledge, 2007: 2-3, 63-7, 76-7, 124-5, 150.
  • Lyndsy Spence. Mrs Guinness: The Rise and Fall of Diana Mitford, the Thirties Socialite. The History Press, 2015: 54.


WomenOfBrighton     EN.Wikipedia    Aangirfan

19 February 2017

Victor Barker: Part III - the trial

Part I: origins: daughter, wife, mother
Part II: husband, actor, manager
Part III: the trial
Part IV: reactions, and afterwards


Victor Barker did not pay much attention to an obscenity trial that took place in November 1928, that of John Radcliff Hall’s novel, The Well of Loneliness, whose protagonist was a masculine woman. With much brouhaha the book was banned.

A bankruptcy notice and receiving order addressed to Barker was delivered to the Mascot Café, but Barker had left and did not go back. Hence he did not know that he was required to be present for a public hearing on 24 January 1929. An arrest warrant was subsequently issued, Barker’s presence at the Regent Palace Hotel was discovered, and he was there arrested. He was taken to Brixton Prison, where like all new prisoners he was medically examined. He was told to put his clothes back on and was quickly transferred to Holloway women’s prison.

It took a week before the first newspaper article about him appeared in The Times. This was quickly followed by articles in The Daily Herald and The Evening News. Government departments paid attention. The War Office and the Director of Public Prosecutions exchanged files.

Barker’s lawyers raised the issue that a person arrested as a man was being held in a women’s prison – which appeared to be unlawful. In addition they made application in the bankruptcy court that all information in connection with the bankruptcy had now been supplied and thus the offence had been purged. Barker’s immediate release was ordered.

However Holloway insisted that no woman would leave dressed as a man. This despite the fact that they had no women’s clothing that would match Barker, especially in girth. A special purchase was made, and the next day Barker was handed a coat, skirt, blouse, silk stockings and a large hat. A large crowd of reporters and onlookers awaited, but Barker was allowed to leave by the staff entrance at the back.

By now the police had tracked down Valerie’s second husband, Ernest Pearce Crouch, who had spent the last six years working sometimes in France, sometimes in England. He politely declined to give a statement.

Elfrida Haward (Barker) however was talking to the police, and to the press.

In the same weekend, 10 March 1929 both Mr and Mrs Barker published their respective accounts in the press. Victor’s story was in the Sunday Dispatch, illustrated with photographs of both Valerie and Victor.
“A man seems to have a better and easier time. There is, I am certain, more opportunity for a man in the world than a woman – that is why I became a man. I believe that, similarly placed, I would do much the same again. I do not mean that I would deliberately do those things which I now realize were wrong, but they were done in foolishness and not with any wrong intent.” 

Elfida’s account was in the Sunday Express.

 “It could not have been more of a shock to any woman in the world than it was to me to find myself utterly deluded, utterly alone in experience, in a position that made my name known to every man and woman in the country.” 
The Director of Public Prosecutions was considering whether they could charge Barker under the Army Act for impersonating an officer and wearing medals that had not been awarded to him. Instead they settled for charging him with “wilful and corrupt perjury in an affidavit” re his bankruptcy “in which affidavit she swore that she was truly named Leslie Ivor Victor Gauntlett Bligh Barker”.

Wisely or not, Barker turned up for the hearing on 27 March in female clothing including a large hat and a large feather boa, so that he could hide his face.

Barker’s lawyer made the obvious point that there was no law against a woman dressing as a man, and in the affidavit Barker had used the name by which ‘she’ had been known for some time, and thus that was the name given. This was allowed in English law. The magistrate agreed.

However the prosecution than asked the magistrate to hear evidence and commit the defendant for trial on a different issue. In violation of the Perjury Act, 1911, the defendant had “knowingly and wilfully caused a false statement to be entered in a register of marriage”. The doctor from Brixton prison and Elfrida were called as witnesses. A copy of the marriage certificate was produced. Barker’s lawyer attempted the argument that “as two persons of the same sex could not marry there has been no marriage, and therefore no offence”. The magistrate was not having that.

The perjury in an affidavit charge was dropped, but Barker was formally charged with the second offence re the marriage register. £50 bail was granted, and the trial was set for 24 April at the Central Criminal Court (Old Bailey).

The judge was to be Sir Ernest Wild, KC, Conservative MP, Freemason, Recorder of London, who had been a strong supporter of the failed attempt in 1921 to criminalise “any act of gross indecency between female persons”, and who was firmly opposed to female jurors, especially in cases where the defendants were homosexual. The Prosecutor would be the same one Barker had faced in 1927 on a false firearms certificate charge.

On the day of the trial there was large queue for the public gallery. Victor Barker appeared dressed as his true self, but was summoned under the name of Lillias Irma Valerie Arkell-Smith. The prosecutor admitted, with some embarrassment, that the defendant had been prosecuted in this same court as a man two years previously. He made the comment
 “If she wanted to marry another woman she could have gone through a ceremony in a registry office. There is no justification for her abusing the Church to go through this ceremony”. 
And then:
“Your Lordship will appreciate how important it is that marriage registers should not be falsified. That is an aspect of the case which is of considerable gravity”.

Elfrida was the main witness. Despite admitting that she first met the defendant as Mrs Pearce Crouch, she claimed that she did not truly know Barker as a woman until she saw it in the newspapers. Barker's lawyer in summing up concentrated on Barker’s need to earn a male wage, and once having taken that step she had to keep it up or lose the employment. He did not defend the point about a false statement being entered in a register of marriage.

Sentencing was delayed until the next day when Recorder Wild commented:
“Without expressing any view as to the truth or falsity of Miss Haward’s evidence, I am assuming in your favour that Miss Haward must have known before the alleged marriage that you were a woman”. He concluded: “I have considered and carefully pondered on everything which can be said in your favour, and the result at which I have arrived is this. You are an unprincipled, mendacious and unscrupulous adventuress. You have, in the case before me, profaned the House of God, you have outraged the decencies of Nature, and you have broken the law of man. You have falsified a marriage register and set an evil example which, were you to go unpunished, others might follow. So grave in the eye of the law is the offence which you have committed that the maximum penalty for it is seven years’ penal servitude. In all the circumstances of this case, showing all the leniency that I can, I pass on you a sentence of nine months’ imprisonment in the second division.” 

The police considered action against Ernest Pearce Crouch who had made a false declaration in applying for Valerie Arkell Smith to be added to his passport; however they decided not to pursue the issue.

In Holloway prison, it was found that they had no uniform large enough to fit the new inmate known as Valerie Arkell Smith who weighed 16st 8 lb (105kg). It took a fortnight for the uniform to be ready, most of which Arkell Smith spent in the prison hospital. In the regular prison he was dismayed by the sanitation, by the food and by the non-recognition of class. The required work was tedious.

While Barker was in jail, Violet Morris, in Paris, also a masculine woman who always wore male clothing, sued the women's sporting authorities for rejecting her.   She insisted that she was not at all like Barker in that she did not attempt to pass as male.

Overall Arkell Smith was regarded as of good behaviour, and was release 15 December 1929. By now his weight was down to just above 13 st (82.5 kg).
_________

Not only was there no law against a woman dressing as a man, there was no specific law against any cross-dressing. This had been established in the trial of Fanny and Stella in 1870. Those persons arrested while transvesting were charged with ‘disturbing the peace’, ‘mischief’ etc.

Women’s fashions during the 1920s approached very close to transvestity. Barker, of course, had gone much further than making a fashion statement.

The second Mrs Barker seems to have quietly disappeared.  Only the Sunday People speculated about her: "'Col. Barker's' Red-Haired 'Wife' Vanishes: She Was 'His' Second".  Front page, 10
March 1929.   Despite a detailed series of articles on Barker, The People strangely carried no account of the actual trial.

The prosecutor made the comment “If she wanted to marry another woman she could have gone through a ceremony in a registry office”. Now this is odd in that such a ceremony, for gay men, lesbians or a couple containing a trans person, in a registry office would not be legal until the government introduced civil unions in 2004. Even after the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 such a ceremony is still not allowed in an Anglican church.

Barker’s lawyer focused on the practical aspect of men getting jobs more easily and earning more. The issue of Barker being a congenital invert (to use the language of the time) did not come up, and as we will see in Part IV, this led to misunderstandings.

The three trials, that of The Well of Loneliness, of Victor Barker and of Violet Morris, marked the end of the 1920s acceptance of female masculinity.    The 1930s would be very different.