* This editorial is part two of a multi-part editorial series. Click here to read History of Transgenderism – part 1 (7000 BC – 1895 AD).
In History of Transgenderism – part 1 (7000 BC – 1895 AD) we took a look at the historical beginnings of transgenderism, which mainly included crossdressing due to the time and era. Now we move into the turn of the 21st century which includes the advent of Gender Reassignment Surgery, and the formation of several transgender rights and support organizations.
The dawn of the century had seen two film makers, Mitchell and Kenyon, record a cross-dressing Carnival between 1900 and 1905 in Crewe, England.
In 1913, Henry Havelock Ellis (of the Fabian Society) proposed the term “Sexo-Aesthetic Inversion” to describe what would later be called “Transgender Phenomenon”. Henry Havelock Ellis was a British physician, psychologist, writer, and social reformer who studied human sexuality, as well as publishing works on transgender psychology. Ellis was a supporter of sexual liberation, with interests in human biology. His own personal experiences led him to write his six volume Studies in the Psychology of Sex. The books, published between 1897 and 1910 caused tremendous controversy and were banned for several years. Other books written by Ellis included “The New Spirit” (1890), “Man and Woman” (1894), and “Sexual Inversion” (1897).
Between 1914 & 1918 during World War I, Transvestites were being regularly charged as spies or cowards, and executed.
In 1918 Jennie June (born in 1874 as Earl Lind) wrote The “Autobiography of an Androgyne”, and then “The Female Impersonators” later on in 1922. Both memoirs provide rare first-person testimony about the early-20th-century life of a transgender person. The words “transsexual” and “transgender” had not yet been coined, and June described herself as a “fairie” or “androgyne”, an individual, she said, “with male genitals”, but whose “psychological constitution” and sexual life “approach the female type”. In 2010 five sections of her third volume of memoirs (dated 1921 but never published), previously lost, were discovered and published on OutHistory.org.
In 1920, Henry Havelock Ellis coined the term “eonism”, just one of many terms for what would eventually be called transgender phenomenon. The term was derived from the name of a historical figure, Chevalier d’Eon.
The “Encyclopeadia of Sexual Knowledge” is published in 1930 by Norman Haire. The book addresses transvestism in detail, as well as illustrating the First Sex-change procedures.
In 1930, Lili Elbe (Born in Denmark in 1882) went to Germany for male-to female Sexual Reassignment Surgery, which was only in an experimental state at the time. Elbe was thought to have been inter-sexed. Elbe is one of the first identifiable recipients of male to female sex reassignment surgery. “Man Into Woman,” The life story of male-to female transgender Lili Elbe, was published in 1932.
Also in 1932, Female to Male Transsexual, Colonel Sir Victor Barker, Marries Elfrida Haward (originally born Valerie Barker in 1895). Barker always wished to have been born a boy, and in 1923 Barker left her common-law husband and family to live as a man. With a full set of new suits, shirts, collars and ties, Barker moved into the Grand Hotel in Brighton as Sir Victor Barker Bart, where he was joined the next day by his fiancee Elfrida Haward. Always living above his means, Sir Victor was indicted for bankruptcy, and discovered to be a woman while being imprisoned. Barker was found guilty of “knowingly and willfully causing a false statement to be entered into a register of marriage.” After this, Barker was forced into lower and less well paid jobs. Changing his name, he took more and more menial work. In 1934 Colonel Sir Victor Barker served a sentence for petty theft while living as John Hill. Three times in his life he sold his story to the popular press for money, and even appeared as a circus attraction as “The Man-Woman.”
During World War II in 1935, the Nazis abused, murdered, and sterilized transgender men and women. “Aversion Therapy”, which was first used to eliminate homosexuality, was later used on transgender men and women as well.
Henry Havelock Ellis, who coined the term “eonism,” dies in 1939. Following his death, his autobiography, “My Life,” was published posthumously in 1940.
The term “Transsexuality” was first used in 1941 in reference to homosexuality and bisexuality.
Billy Tipton (born in 1914 as Dorothy Lucille Tipton) was a notable American jazz musician and bandleader who lived as a man in all aspects of his life from the 1940s until his death in 1989. His own son did not even know of his past until Tipton‘s death. The first newspaper article about Tipton was published the day after his funeral and was quickly picked up by wire services. Stories about Tipton appeared in a variety of papers including tabloids such as the National Enquirer and The Star, as well as more reputable papers such as New York Magazine and The Seattle Times. Tipton’s family also made talk show appearances.
The world’s first sex change of a woman into a man is conducted in 1945 by Sir Harold Gillies, along with his colleague, Ralph Millard. The operation was done on a young aristocrat, Michael Dillon. Gillies later performs surgery on the United Kingdom’s first male-to-female transsexual, Roberta Cowell.
In 1949, Dr. Harry Benjamin starts treating transsexuals in the United States with hormones.
Louise Lawrence, a transgender person who began living full-time as a woman in San Francisco in the 1940s, developed a widespread correspondence network with transgender people throughout Europe and the United States by the 1950s. She worked closely with Alfred Kinsey to bring the needs of transgender people to the attention of social scientists and sex reformers.
The 1950’s and 1960’s saw some of the first transgender organizations and publications get off the ground, though law and medicine did not respond favorably to growing awareness of transgender people.
The Organization for Sexual Equality, later renamed Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (RFSL), is formed in Sweden in 1950
On May 15th, 1951, Sir Harold Gillies performs the United Kingdom’s first full surgical male-to-female sex change operation on Robert Cowell, who becomes Roberta Cowell.
In 1952 Christine Jorgensen (born in 1926 as George William Jorgensen, Jr.) became the first widely-known person to have sex reassignment surgery. Following her procedure in Denmark, Jorgensen became a celebrity and media sensation. She was later denied a marriage license in 1959 when she attempted to marry a man, and her fiancee lost his job when his engagement to Jorgensen became public knowledge.
In 1952, using Louise Lawrence‘s correspondence network for its initial subscription list, Virginia Prince and a handful of other transgender people in Southern California launched Transvestia: The Journal of the American Society for Equality in Dress, which published two issues. The Society that launched the journal also only briefly existed in Southern California. In 1960 Virginia Prince began another publication, also called Transvestia, that discussed transgender concerns. In 1962, she founded the Hose and Heels Club for cross-dressers, which soon changed its name to Phi Pi Epsilon, a name designed to evoke Greek-letter sororities and to play on the initials FPE, the acronym for Prince‘s philosophy of “Full Personality Expression”. Prince believed that the binary gender system harmed both men and women by keeping them from their full human potential, and she considered cross-dressing to be one means of fixing this.
In 1957 American physician, Harry Benjamin, coined the term “cisgender”.
Sir Victor Barker (AKA John Hill) died poor and forgotten in 1960 as Geoffrey Norton. At his own request, he was buried in an unmarked grave.
Despite hostility towards cross-dressing within mental health services in the United Kingdom, holiday camps hold “Topsy Turvy Nights,” encouraged men and women to dress in each others clothes at least once during their stay.
In 1965 150 gender non-conforming people came to Dewey’s Coffee Shop in Philadelphia to protest the fact that the shop was refusing to serve young people in “non-conformist clothing”. After three protesters refused to leave after being denied service they, along with a black gay activist, were arrested. This led to a picket of the establishment organized by the black GLBT community. In May another sit-in was organized and Dewey’s finally agreed to end their discriminatory policies.
The following year, in 1966, one of the first recorded transgender riots in US history took place. The “Compton’s Cafeteria Riot” occurred in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco. The night after the riot, more transgender people, hustlers, Tenderloin street people, and other members of the LGBT community joined in a picket of the cafeteria, which would not allow transgender people back in. The demonstration ended with the newly installed plate-glass windows being smashed again. According to the online encyclopedia glbtq.com, “In the aftermath of the riot at Compton’s, a network of transgender social, psychological, and medical support services was established, which culminated in 1968 with the creation of the National Transsexual Counseling Unit (NTCU), the first such peer-run support and advocacy organization in the world”.
The Beaumont Society is founded in 1966. The Beaumont Society is a national self help body run by and for those who cross-dress or are transsexual. That same year, Harry Benjamin publishes “The Transsexual Phenomenon.”
also In 1966 the first case to consider transsexualism in the US was heard, Mtr. of Anonymous v. Weiner, 50 Misc. 2d 380, 270 N.Y.S.2d 319 (1966). The case concerned a transsexual person from New York City who had undergone sex reassignment surgery and wanted a change of name and sex on their birth certificate. The New York City Health Department refused to grant the request, and the court ruled that the New York City and New Jersey Health Code only permitted a change of sex on the birth certificate if an error was made recording it at birth, so the Health Department acted correctly. The decision of the court in Weiner was affirmed in Mtr. of Hartin v. Dir. of Bur. of Recs., 75 Misc. 2d 229, 232, 347 N.Y.S.2d 515 (1973) and Anonymous v. Mellon, 91 Misc. 2d 375, 383, 398 N.Y.S.2d 99 (1977).
In the late 1960s in New York, Mario Martino founded the Labyrinth Foundation Counseling Service, which was the first transgender community-based organization that specifically addressed the needs of female-to-male transsexuals.
In 1968 a transgender person again sought a change of name and sex on their birth certificate in the case of Matter of Anonymous, 57 Misc. 2d 813, 293 N.Y.S.2d 834 (1968). The change of sex was denied, but the name change was granted. The same occurred in the case of Matter of Anonymous, 64 Misc. 2d 309, 314 N.Y.S.2d 668 (1970).
In 1969 the International Olympic Committee starts testing chromosomes of athletes to put a stop to transsexuals competing. That same year Universities also started operating on non-inter-sexed transsexuals as well.
Transgender people were also heavily involved in the “Stonewall Riots” of 1969 at the Stonewall Inn in New York. These riots are widely considered to have begun the LGBT rights movement in America. Transgender activist Sylvia Rivera was among those involved.
Aside from publicized activism, transgender people also gained some exposure through popular culture, in particular Andy Warhol. In the 1960s and early 1970s the transgender actresses Holly Woodlawn and Candy Darling were among Warhol‘s “Warhol Superstars”, appearing in several of his films. Though transgender activism began on a larger scale in this period, it was also a period of heavy discrimination for those who were known to be transsexual.
* for more information and facts on transgender history, read part three of this editorial coming soon, or visit the International Transgender Historical Society & Hall of Fame Official Website.
© copyright 2013 T-Girl Publishing.
Tammy Reed is a national society & culture columnist who writes about transgender, transsexual, & cross-dressing issues. All articles published in the “Transgender & Transsexual Issues Column” are written by Tammy Reed, and fall under federal copyright laws. Articles cannot be re-printed, re-posted, or re-produced in whole without written consent. Partial re-printing, re-posting, or re-producing with a link back to the original article is permitted. For consent, questions, or comments, please email Tammy Reed at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on Tammy Reed, please visit the Official Tammy Reed Website, or visit her Official Tammy Reed facebook Fan Page. For more information on T-Girl Publishing, please visit the Official Tammy-Girl Publishing facebook page.
Don’t miss a single article, subscribe to Tammy’s “Transgender & Transsexual Issues Examiner column” now by clicking on the button at the bottom of this page under Tammy‘s photo.