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.)

There is a detailed Index arranged by vocation, doctor, activist group etc.

In addition to this most articles have one or more labels at the bottom. Click one to go to similar persons. There is a full list of labels at the bottom of the page. There is also a search box at the top left. Enjoy exploring!

29 February 2016

Peggy Wijnen (1945 – 1967) barmaid.

Jean-Marie Wijnen, Antwerp, was the only boy in a family of several girls. Wijnen always preferred to play with girls, and later quit technical school after being deemed too frail to work in a steel mill, and then was discharged from military service.

As Peggy, Wijnen worked as a hairdresser and as a barmaid.

Peggy approached a clinic in Uccle, Brussels and was assigned three doctors: Andre Fardeau, plastic surgeon, Jean Slosse, endocrinologist and Victor Leclarc, urologist, and with the consent of the Wijnen family, they agreed to supply transgender surgery. This was done 13 October 1967. However 11 days later, Peggy died of a blood clot.

The three doctors were charged with inflicting fatal blows and wounds with premeditation and willingly but without intent to kill. Dr Leclarc died before the trial ended. Drs Fardeau and Slosse were acquitted in that consent, both of Peggy and her family, had been given, and that no medical mistake was noted.
  • “Two Doctors Are Acquitted in Death Case”. Associated Press, Sep 28, 1969. Online
  • Internacional Areco: entre o sítio e as eleições Bélgica Um Julgamento Transexual. Online
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The Internacional Areco article tells us that the going rate for transgender surgery in Belgium in 1967 was 100,000 Belgian francs, which at that time was about £725, which this site says would be the equivalent of £11,870 now.

26 February 2016

Chris Moore (191? - 1975?) sailor, performer

Chris, originally from California, was four and a half years in the US Army, and then was a merchant seaman. He lived a year in east Asia. He then settled in New York.

In the mid 1960s, he took up female impersonation, and appeared with Frank Bennet in the Follies Mantisque. This led to work with the Jewel Box Revue, at first doing a comedy strip. However it was discovered that he could impersonate Ethel Merman rather well, and started singing songs from Gypsy. He then added Marlene Dietriche and Bette Davis to his repertoire. He used a special heavy makeup to hide the tattoo on his upper arm. He was also partially blind and required thick glasses.

He met Lee Brewster and Vicky West in the Mattachine Society, and left with them to found the Queens Liberation Front. In 1971 Chris won the Most Outstanding Performance at the April in Paris Ball, and again at Lee's Mardi Gras Ball.

Chris was a constant at QLF parties, but after a few years she was diagnosed with cancer. She was able to fight it for over five years. Lee Brewster put on a special ball for Chris so that she could perform and be the star, and Vicky drew her for the cover of Drag magazine.
  • Avery Willard. Female Impersonation. New York: Regiment Publications, 1971: 26-9. Online
  • “Six Foot Chris Moore”. Female Impersonators, 2, Summer 1969: 18-21. Online
  • Cover. Drag, 3,11, 1973. Online
  • “Chris Moore Revue”. In Lee G Brewster's Mardi Gras Ball, 1974: 4-7. Online
  • Veronica Vera interviews Bebe Scarpe about the late Vicky West. “Forever Mardi Gras”. Transgender Tapestry, 111, Winter 2006/7: 32-43. Online
  • “The Kurt Mann Story”. Queer Music Heritage. http://www.queermusicheritage.com/fem-mann1.html.

20 February 2016

Toni Fricke (189? - 193?) activist

Toni Fricke was living as female in Berlin in the 1920s, and she strongly desired to change her body. She wrote of the “persistent, nerve-murdering (nervenmordenden) psychological pressure” constantly threatening to undermine the health of transvestite individuals, that led to mental health problems, social rejection, and suicides.

Toni underwent blood tests with the Swiss researcher Emil Abderhalden at the University of Halle hoping to prove “that I am, so to say, internally a hermaphrodite”.

She proposed to replace the term 'transvestite' with 'transsensible' for those like herself for whom dressing was not enough.

From 1924 the women's magazine Die Freundin (Girl-friend) included a transvestite section, and Toni was a frequent contributor.

p60 in Sex and the Weimar Republic

  • Toni Fricke, “Der Transvestit: Aus dem Empfindungsleben eines 'Transvestiten'!” Der Transvestit. Die Freundin, no. 2, 12 September 1924, 1–2.
  • Torri Fricke, “Einiges über das Problem der Namensänderung für Transvestiten,” Der Transvestit. Die Freundin 15, May 1925.
  • Toni Fricke, “Ein Transvestit ist vogelfrei,” Der Transvestit. Die Freundin 3, no. 18, September 19, 1927, 5–6.
  • Rainer Herrn. “Vom Geschlechtsumwandlungswahn zur Geschlechtsumwandlung”. GenderWunderLand, 1995. http://www.genderwunderland.de/forschung/herrn1995.html.
  • Laurie Marhoefer. Among Abnormals: The Queer Sexual Politics of Germany’s Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. PhD Thesis, Rutgers University, 2008. :101. PDF
  • Katie Sutton. “Sexological Cases and Prehistory of Transgender Identity Politics in Interwar Germany” In Joy Damousi, Birgit Lang, Katie Sutton (eds). Case Studies and the Dissemination of Knowledge. Rourledge, 2015: 85, 93, 94, 98, 102.
  • Laurie Marhoefer. Sex and the Weimar Republic: German Homosexual Emancipation and the Rise of the Nazis. University of Toronto Press, 2015: 61,63.
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Professor Abderhalden’s work is controversial.   At different times he developed blood tests for pregnancy and dementia praecox.   They were initially replicated by other doctors, but then they were discredited.  His theory was extended by Nazi scientists, including Josef Mengele at Auschwitz concentration camp, hoping to find a blood test to separate Aryans from non-Aryans.  There is a debate as to whether Abderhalden was simply grossly mistaken or perpetuated deliberate fraud.  

16 February 2016

Capucine (193?–) performer

Original March 2007.

Capucine was a performer at Le Carrousel and was frequently mentioned along with Coccinelle and Bambi.

Capucine and Coccinelle

April Ashley comments:
"Anyway, Capucine's heart was pierced by a conflict: the ancient sugar-daddy and luxury, or the young blades and penury?  Of course the luxury always won in the end because Capucine's keeper was a very famous millionaire, enabling Capsy to compete with and overtake Coxy's mink collection.  But unlike Coxy, Capsy wanted to be 'a lady' as well.  This put him into agonising quandries when he fell for a bricklayer or a road-digger (which was frequently, because Capsy couldn't resist the boue)."
In 1960, the same year as Bambi and April, Capucine went to Dr Burou clinic in Casablanca for surgical completion.

In 1961 she starred in the Amsterdam extension of Madame Arthur. In 1963 she was part of the first Le Carousel tour of Japan. She also performed at Le Boeuf sur le Toit in Paris.

*Not the French film actress.
  • Vittorio Sala (dir).  I don giovanni della Costa Azzurra.  With Curd Jurgens, Coccinelle and  Capucine.  Italy 98 mins 1962.  IMDB
  • “Capucine”. Female Mimics,1,6, August 1965: 27-37. Online.
  • Duncan Fallowell & April Ashley. April Ashley's Odyssey. Jonathan Cape, 1982: 67-8. Arrow 1983. Online.
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Capucine is the French word for the nasturtium flower.

Unlike Coccinelle, Bambi and April Ashley, Capucine never published her autobiography. We don't even know where she came from. Is she Parisian? Nor, what happened to her after the mid 1960s. The Female Mimics article is mainly photographs with content-less text. There is an obvious comparison to Hans Crystal who was in also a star female impersonator at the 82 Club, had her surgical completion in the mid 1960s, and likewise disappeared from view.

There is a confusing tradition among drag performers of taking the name of an established cis star. Germaine Lefebvre was an established French film star from the early 1950s using the name Capucine. Other drag performers to take an established name include Lynne Carter who took his name from the 1940s actress; Murry Pickford , was not Mary Pickford); Gloria Swanson (who was a big name in Chicago and New York drag circles in in 1920s, but not the Hollywood actress): Jean Malin who performed drag under the name of Imogene Wilson, one of the most famous of the Zeigfeld Follies showgirls otherwise known as Mary Nolan; Helen Morgan who used the name of the famous torch song singer; Brenda Lee the Brazilian activist who was not the country singer; and Bibíana Fernández, the transgender actress who used to be known as Bibí Andersen, only two letters away from the name of the Swedish actress Bibi Andersson.

Both IMDB and EN.Wikipedia claim that the Capucine in I don giovanni della Costa Azzurra (Beach Casanova) is the other Capucine, Germaine Lefebvre (1928 – 1990). This conflation went so far that after Lefebre took her life in 1990 by jumping from her eighth-floor Lausanne apartment, some actually said that she did so because she was transsexual.  !!!

For some reason, Capucine is not mentioned at all in April Ashley's second autobiography, The First Lady.

11 February 2016

Felix Abraham (1901 - 1937) doctor

The son of a Dutch mother and a Frankfurt am Main doctor, Felix Abraham graduated as a doctor in Frankfurt in 1928. His thesis on the mortality statistics of the first year of life was published.

Shortly afterwards he started working at Magnus Hirschfeld’s Institut für Sexualwissenschaft, where he took over from Arthur Kronfeld the specialization in working with transvestites. He became head of the sexual forensic department, and reported on the first sex-change operations, on Dörchen Richter and Toni Ebel.

Abraham was on a committee at the Club D'Eon which catered to transvestites. He was also responsible for indictable "sexual offences" as well as infantilism, exhibitionism and flagellantism.

In 1931 he published a summary of Hirschfeld's work translated into French by Pierre Vachet.

He was a close friend with the noted pianist Ellen Epstein.

He was still at the Institute when it was destroyed by the Nazis in 1933. He survived and continued working in Berlin as a doctor, but changed addresses several times, and was unable to continue working with transvestites. After a failed attempt to emigrate to Sweden, he went in 1937 to Florence, Italy where he took his own life. There is a commemorative plaque there in the Jewish Cemetery.

Ellen Epstein died in a slave-work camp in Latvia in 1942.
  • Felix Abraham. Untersuchungen über die Veränderungen der Sterblichkeitsstatistik des ersten Lebensjahres in Frankfurt a.M. MD Thesis,1928.
  • Felix Abraham. “Genitalumwandlungen an zwei männlichen Transvestiten”. Zeitschrift für Sexualwissenschaft und Sexualpolitik, 18: 223-226. 1931. English translation as “Genital Reassignment on Two Male Transvestites”. The International Journal of Trangenderism. 2, 1. Jan-Mar 1998. www.symposion.com/ijt/ijtc0302.htm. The two patients are Dörchen Richter and Toni Ebel.
  • Félix Abraham translated into French by Pierre Vachet. Perversions sexuelles d'après l'enseignement du docteur Magnus Hirschfeld ... Traduit et adapté par ... Pierre Vachet. [With portraits.]. 1931.
  • Rainer Herrn. Schnittmuster des Geschlechts: Transvestitismus und Transsexualität in der frühen Sexualwissenschaft. Giessen: Psychosozial-Verlag, 2005:
DE.Wikipedia Institut für Sexualwissenschaft Magnus-Hirschfeld-Gesellschaft e.V.

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The 1931 Perversions sexuelles would seem to be the same idea as the 1936 Sexual Anomalies and Perversions by Arthur Koestler and Norman Haire. I wonder if Koestler drew upon the Abraham-Vachet book. Has anyone compared the two works?

07 February 2016

Vicky West (1935 - 2005) artist.

Dirk Luykx was born in New Jersey, the youngest of four boys, and wanted to be a girl since childhood. He went to Cornell University to do Civil Engineering. In 1955 he interrupted his studies to serve in the US Army. He was in Japan and Korea for three years, and then five years in the Army Reserves. He returned to Cornell and completed his engineering degree in 1961.

Dirk moved to California and worked in engineering design, city planning, and public works. He was also the art director of The Los Angeles Youth Theater. During this time Dirk as Vicky discovered and participated in Virginia Prince's Hose and Heel Club.

Preferring art to engineering, Dirk returned to New York, and studied Fine Arts and Graphic Design at Cooper Union. In 1967, while still a student, Dirk was hired by publisher Henry N. Abrams, Inc. where he continued to work until retirement. In addition to the books listed below, Dirk later worked on behalf of the publisher on Morris Louis: The Complete Paintings, The Art of Walt Disney, Windows at Tiffany’s, The History of Modern Art, Impressionism.

At this time Vicky was living with a woman, but also investigated the homophile  Mattachine Society. Here he met Lee Brewster who had been organizing drag balls as fund raisers, and also Chris Moore, the Jewel Box Revue performer. When Lee grew tired of the Mattachine Society's disinterest in drag issues, and founded the Queens Liberation Front, Vicky was a founding member.

Lee initiated a newsletter which evolved into Drag magazine with Vicky doing the covers and illustrating stories in the magazine. The first issue credited Dirk for the cover, but from the second issue, Vicky was listed as Art Director. Initially the cover illustrations were Vicky's versions of herself in different situations, but then she started doing other people. “I was hoping for another Vogue – images of transvestites enjoying themselves, trying on clothes. All the expression was positive.”

Drag Magazine also evolved into Lee's Mardi Gras store. Vicky was often to be found there, but always as Dirk. After a while, Lee became bored with editing the magazine and Bebe Scarpinato took over.

At Mardi Gras 1978 in New Orleans, Vicky was with a Lee's Mardi Gras contingent when she met cis photographer Mariette Pathy Allen who was impressed by her posture: “who focused straight back at me. As I peered through the camera lens, I had the feeling that I was looking at neither a man nor a woman but at the essence of a human being”. As it turned out they lived 20 blocks apart in New York. Together they went to parties at Lew Brewster's Mardi Gras Boutique, to various clubs that put on drag shows, and to Fantasia Fair in Provincetown.

In the early 1980s, Vicky was an extra in a film, maybe New York Nights, 1984, in a scene in a drag bar with International Chrysis.

Vicky was featured in Mariette's 1989 book, which was brave of her in that Dirk was still working at Henry N. Abrams. Like Bebe Scarpinato, Vicky sometimes did a striptease on stage. Vicky's female lover became uptight about the parties, imagining all sorts of sex, and after ten years they separated.

Later, in the AIDS-ridden 1980s, Vicky lived with gay lovers. “With the AIDS epidemic, guys are doing drag as something else to do.” “I'm not political, but I very much admire those who are, and I believe that transvestites should be proud and should be honored for what they've accomplished.”

When he retired from Henry N. Abrams, Inc in 2000, Dirk Luykx was the Executive Art Director. Dirk died at age 70 of cardiovascular disease, and was interred at the US Military's Arlington National Cemetary.

The Winter 2006/7 issue of Transgender Tapestry was largely dedicated to Vicky with several reminiscences and reproductions of her art: “to remain completely faithful to her work, we decided to print this tribute issue of Tapestry in black and white. We didn’t want the rich subtlety of Vicky’s charcoal sketches to be drowned out in a cacophony of color.”
  • Marc Edmund Jones, with charts and diagrams by Dirk Luykx. How to Learn Astrology. Sabian, 1970. Webpage.
  • Drag, 1,1, 1971. editor: Lee G Brewster, Cover: Dirk. Online
  • Drag, 1,2, 1971. editor: Lee G Brewster, Art Director: Vicky West. Online
  • Darlene Geis, Margaret Donovan & Dirk Luykx. Walt Disney's Treasury of Children's Classics. Henry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers, 1978.
  • Lory Frank, Darlene Geis & Dirk Luykx. Walt Disney's EPCOT Center: Creating the New World of Tomorrow. Harry N Abrams, 1982.
  • Anne Edwards, with design by Dirk Luykx and photographs by Louise Kerz. The Demilles: An American Family. Harry N Abrams, 1988.
  • Mariette Pathy Allen. Transformations: Crossdressers and Those Who Love Them. New York: Dutton, 1989: no pagination – Introduction and penultimate profile.
  • Cena Williams. “Vicky West – An Icon is No More”. Transgender Tapestry, 110, Fall 2006: 25. Online
  • Mariette Pathy Allen. Vicky West: Full Circle” Transgender Tapestry, 111, Winter 2006/7: 25-9. Online.
  • Veronica Vera interviews Bebe Scarpe about the late Vicky West. “Forever Mardi Gras”. Transgender Tapestry, 111, Winter 2006/7: 32-43. ibid
  • Mariette Pathy Allen. “Momentum: A Photo Essay of the Transgender Community in the United States Over 30 Years, 1978–2007”. Sexuality Research & Social Policy, 4,4, December 2007: 92. Online at: http://www.deanspade.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/pathyallen.pdf.

01 February 2016

Modesto Mangas (1923 - 2000) the Spanish Madame Arthur

Modesto Mangas Mateos was born the youngest of three in Villavieja de Yeltes, Salamanca, Castile y León. When he was 12 the family moved to Madrid, where he worked in a café. The customers were unsure whether he was a boy or a girl.

Sonrisas de España, a travelling company that took song and dance to Spanish villages, played in the café, heard him singing and invited him to join. He dressed as a man but was often taken as a woman. His mother begged him to stop, and also the Civil War started.

After the war he worked as valet for seven years to the Minister of the Interior, Blas Pérez González. Pérez was apparently not aware of Modesto's past as a singer-dancer, but his wife and children were, and encouraged Perez to choose Modesto. Pérez took his entourage to Barcelona, and rented a villa there. A conflict at work triggered resignation, and Modesto rejoined show business.

He started as a presenter at the cabaret Cambrinus. Soon he was performing as a woman, bravely dodging censorship, the only female impersonator in Fascist Spain. He took the name Madame Arthur from the new exciting nightclub in Paris. The show was a great success with aristocrats and bankers who came from across Spain. A show like this was unthinkable in Madrid. Madame Arthur sang, danced and mingled with the audience. He moved on to other Barcelona clubs.

Federico Fellini, the Italian film director, came in 1959 for the Barcelona Sant Jordi film awards where his film, which had already been recognised at the Cannes Festival and at the Academy Awards, won further. Madame Arthur dedicated a song to Fellini's winner, Nights of Cabiria, and he came backstage to visit.
 
Madam Arthur organised Incognito, a company of 30 men dressed en femme, and toured.

However he was stopped one Christmas Eve while walking in costume to another club. He was charged under the Ley de Vagos y Maleantes (Vagrancy Law) with disorderly conduct by being drunk and Modesto was three months in the Burgos prison.

Nevertheless the Caudillo Francisco Franco himself presented Modesto with the Medalla del Mérito al Trabajo  (Meritorious Work Medal) – Modesto turned up for the ceremony in jewellery and furs.

In 1962 Modesto had a small part in the Italian film, Totò di Notte n. 1, as a transvestite.

Madame Arthur continued performing beyond the death of Franco in 1972, and into the more liberal age that followed. He sometimes stayed in role off stage and worked out details of what would be Madame Arthur's family life.

While a pioneer, and as openly gay as it possible to be under the Franco dictatorship, he had difficulty adjusting to the new generation that grew up after the Franco years. He found them ostentatious and did not understand the request for gay marriage, hormones and transgender surgery. He described himself to El Pais in 1983 as a Catholic and rather conservative.

He had also become a Barcelonian. He declined invitations to perform or to open cabarets in Madrid. In 1981, Modesto, as Madame Arthur, returned to Villavieja de Yeltes to a reception in his honour.

Other than that, he never returned to Salamanca.

He died at age 77.

Pierrot, the Spanish writer, featured Madame Arthur in his 2006 book, Memorias Trans: Transexuales, Travestis, Transformistas, which inspired Eduardo Gion to make his 2011 documentary.
Despite the 1981 reception, Modesto Mangas is not included among the Villaviejenses ilustres on the ES.Wikipedia page for Villavieja de Yeltes.

El Pais does not tell us which Interior Minister Modesto was valet to. Armaris Oberts opts for Camilo Alonso Vega who was Interior Minister 1957-69 and notoriously supervised the concentration camps. However I opt for his predecesor Blas Pérez González who was Interior Minister 1942 – 57. The El Pais article does say “nos situamos en los años cuarenta (we are in the 1940s)” re being a valet, and Modesto has to complete seven years and still be in Barcelona to meet Federico Fellini in 1959. Pérez was later charged with crimes against humanity.