A Brief Look at the History of Medicalising Sex & Gender — Part One

The first F-M sex-change operation in a transsexual patient, i.e. the construction of a penis (so-called phalloplasty), allegedly took place in the Netherlands in Arnhem in 1959–1960. The first university-based gender clinics operated in the United States from the early 1960s to approximately 1980. During this two-decade period, doctors and researchers would attempt to find a cause and a psychiatric treatment (i.e., a cure) for transsexuality. They would ultimately fail in this search for an aetiology/etiologic cause and would move toward surgical and hormonal treatments….


The first F-M sex-change operation in a transsexual patient, i.e. the construction of a penis (so-called phalloplasty), allegedly took place in the Netherlands in Arnhem in 1959–1960. The first university-based gender clinics operated in the United States from the early 1960s to approximately 1980. During this two-decade period, doctors and researchers would attempt to find a cause and a psychiatric treatment (i.e., a cure) for transsexuality.

They would ultimately fail in this search for an aetiology/etiologic cause and would move toward surgical and hormonal treatments….

Highly experimental surgeries began in 1930……….

Lili Elbe, birth name Einar Wegener, Einar also spelled Ejner, (born December 28, 1882, Vejle, Denmark — died September 13, 1931, Dresden, Germany), “The Danish Girl”

He was married, once Wegener began to transition, he and Gerda had their marriage annulled. The first of five highly experimental surgeries that Elbe underwent were performed in 1930.

Preceding the surgery, which was performed by German gynaecologist Kurt Warnekros, Einar was examined by German physician and sexuality theorist Magnus Hirschfeld.

The series of operations removed Einar’s testicles and penis and then transplanted ovaries and a uterus into ‘Elbe’. Einar died of complications not long after the fifth procedure in 1931. Before undergoing surgery, it had been determined by physicians (possibly by Hirschfeld) that Einar had more female than male hormones and likely had what is now known as Klinefelter syndrome, a disorder of the sex chromosomes that occurs in males.

Klinefelter syndrome
Lili Elbe, birth name Einar Wegener, Einar also spelled Ejner & Magnus Hirschfeld.

Magnus Hirschfeld — German physician

In 1899 he started the Yearbook of Intermediate Sexual Types, the first journal in the world to deal with sexual variants; it was regularly published until 1923.

He also published an important study on cross-dressing, The Transvestites (1910). Hirschfeld was one of the founders of the Medical Society for Sexual Science and Eugenics, established in 1913. The next year he published his study Homosexuality in Men and Women, which was based on the expansive statisticalsurveys on homosexuality that he had conducted.

In 1919 Hirschfeld opened the first sexology institute in the world, the Institute for Sexual Science, in Berlin. Hirschfeld also participated in the production of the first film to call for the decriminalization and acceptance of homosexuality, Different from the Others (1919).

Hirschfeld pioneered and promoted new theories of sexuality. He was especially interested in the study of same-sex love and desire. He was one of the first theorists to promote the concept that a wide variety of gender identities exists. He described a continuous range of unique gender identities, “between which…there are no empty points present but rather unbroken connecting lines.” As part of his study of gender, Hirschfeld coined the word “Transvestit” (“transvestite”) as a medical and scientific term in 1910. Like many scientists of his time, Hirschfeld was influenced by theories of eugenics.

The first transgender operation of any kind took place in 1912 on a female painter who believed she was a man, and underwent the removal of both breasts and ovaries. Throughout the 1920s, many of these experimental procedures were performed on humans, with the first neovagina graft taking place in 1921. These operations were extremely risky, but Hirschfeld noted the extreme desperation of many patients, some of whom would threaten to mutilate their own sex organs until a surgeon agreed to perform the procedure. Hirschfeld’s original questionnaire, designed to document the realm of transsexuality, had expanded to 130 questions and he had collected data across tens of thousands of individuals.

Nothing has survived of the exact discussions between Elbe and Hirschfeld, but under Hirschfeld’s supervision, Elbe underwent surgery for removal of the testicles in Berlin, before three further operations in Dresden. The final and fatal procedure was a womb transplant, Elbe died of heart failure on 13 September 1931. Hormones were not part of the procedures at this point. “[Elbe] wanted to have implanted ovaries and a uterus because at that time, to be a real woman, you have to be capable of having children,” Hern says. “That was [her] ideal, [she] was obsessed by this. In [Elbe]’s biography which is based on her diaries, [she] always fantasises about being a ‘complete woman.’” Little is known about how Hirschfeld reacted to the news of Elbe’s death

In 1930, Hirschfeld placed Giese in charge of the Institute for Sexual Science. He left Germany and embarked on a global lecture tour. He travelled to the United States, Japan, China, the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Egypt, and Palestine. When Hirschfeld returned to Europe in 1932, Nazi propagandists used him as a prime example of what they called degenerate Jewish sexuality. Hirschfeld settled in Switzerland shortly before Hitler was appointed as chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933. The institute and the considerable holdings of its library and archives were destroyed by students and Nazi demonstrators in 1933. Hirschfeld died in Nice in 1935.

Institute for Sexual Science.

Donald R. Laub, Sr., MD — Plastic Surgeon

Donald R. Laub, Sr., MD was born January 1, 1935 in the Shorewood suburb of Milwaukee Wisconsin. After attending Marquette University for his undergraduate education and earning an M.D. from the Medical College of Wisconsin (at the time called Marquette University School of Medicine), Dr. Laub completed his internship at the prestigious Yale School of Medicine. He made one of the first academic investigations into the efficacy of treating gender dysphoria with surgery. He pioneered the rectosigmoid vaginoplasty. He also invented the metoidioplasty and the post-modern phalloplasty.

Donald R. Laub, Sr., MD — Plastic Surgeon

The university-based gender clinics were responsible for crafting the diagnosis of gender identity disorder and the treatment protocols known as the Standards of Care, which still shape trans therapeutics to this day. In 1977, Dr. Donald Laub, the chief of plastic surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine, delivered a public lecture about the cause and treatments of transsexualism. Laub outlined two currents of thought that attempt to explain the etiology of transsexualism: hormones before birth and social environment after birth.

Laub proceeded to describe a study carried out in Boston on a cohort of diabetic women and their sons. The study: Inconclusive bias

The women, had problems carrying a child to full term, so were given high doses of “female hormones” in an attempt to prevent miscarriages. 18 years later, professors of psychiatry at Stanford University studied their sons. They wanted to examine whether these boys, who had been exposed to high levels of “female hormones” in utero, were more likely to be homosexual or transsexual.

To perform this double-blind study, the Stanford psychiatry professors had the boys hit baseballs with a bat and field ground balls. They recorded the participants doing these athletic acts to determine whether these subjects were more effeminate than “normal” boys. They also interviewed the participants and their mothers. According to their analysis, the results were mixed. They argued that these boys were far more effeminate than their peers but that none of them were homosexual nor transsexual. Laub uses this study as a means to suggest that the cause of transsexuality is “probably a combination” of hormones and environment.

At the time he delivered this lecture in 1977, Laub was considered a leading expert in transsexuality! What this lecture demonstrates is that even those who were deemed to be “experts” had little to no idea what caused transsexuality.

They were doctors trying to treat a problem they knew very little about. As Harry Benjamin (1966, The Transsexual Phenomenon) wrote:

“Ordinarily, the purpose of scientific investigation is to bring more clarity, more light into fields of obscurity. Modern researchers, however, delving into ‘the riddle of sex,’ have actually produced — so far — more obscurity, more complexity.”

Throughout the century, ideas about “true sex” would proliferate; however, research tended to complicate rather than clarify.

At Stanford, Dr. Laub matured into Assistant Professor of Surgery and Chief of the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery from 1968–1980.

He pioneered the rectosigmoid vaginoplasty. He also invented the metoidioplasty and the post-modern phalloplasty.

In the course of his professional development, he served as President of the educational foundation of the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. From 1981 to 1983, he served as President of HBIGDA, now known as the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH).

NORMAN M. FISK, MD Gender Dysphoria Syndrome-The Conceptualization

Dr Fisk focussed on what he coined Gender Dysphoria Syndrome. Studies in 1968 determined that data did not allow professionals to answer the question that is: Does surgical sex conversion harm a rather diverse group of patients who we feel are better identified as having gender dysphoria syndrome? As a concluding thought, he stated that the surgical procedures involved for both males and females suffering from gender dysphoria syndrome are “quite major and complex”, and there is a “significant rate of surgical complications.”

At this time no deaths were reported in the 90 patients operated upon. No major psychiatric casualties in the form of psychotic decompensation, severe clinical depression or suicidal behaviour.

Gender Dysphoria Syndrome

“The term transsexual was coined by Dr. Harry Benjamin, an esteemed pioneer in the field of gender disorders. Dr. Benjamin has written extensively about gender disorders and has had a vast and intensive clinical experience spanning many decades. The term (or diagnostic label) transsexual as applied to the male and female has seemingly served well to communicate salient differences existing between persons who have certain distinctive and aberrant emotional and behaviouristic symptoms. As originally intended, the term transsexual was to specifically identify a person who was not to be confused with a homosexual or a transvestite. Many authorities on gender aberrations have considered it extremely significant to accurately define a differential diagnosis between the aforementioned conditions as well as all types of biologic intersex. While 1 would agree that the elucidation of biologic intersex is an essential prerequisite to the treatment of gender disorders, I feel rather strongly (given the experience of the Stanford University gender dysphoria program) that the differential diagnosis aimed at clearly identifying a subgroup of patients termed transsexuals is in many instances a rather non-productive effort. Beyond this, differential diagnosis does not significantly bear upon the success or failure of ensuing treatment.”

On June 12, 1966, The National Insider ran an article titled “I Ruined My Life When I Changed Sex” (Gould 1966).

The article details the life of jazz singer Delisa Newton, often referred to as the subject of the “first Negro sex change.” In the interview, Newton explains the hurdles that prevented many people of her day from being able to access trans therapeutics. “There are tough state laws against sex change surgery, unless detailed psychiatric examination shows it to be necessary.

In my case, three years of psychiatric sessions and an additional 10 months as a psychiatric hospital patient convinced the doctors I should be transformed into a woman physically.”

Disclaimer “negro” is not my word choice — it is listed as such in the article — I do not use this word — Photograph of Delissa Newton from a June 12, 1966, article in The National Insider. Photograph from the Robert Stoller Papers in UCLA Library Special Collections.
Early Gender Clinics & Links to the Armed Forces & Childhood Trauma

Delisa (Lionel) Newton — ex-army & early childhood

  • He grew up without knowing his father due to his parents separating, and describes his mother as a beautiful woman from Haiti.
  • He joined the Army, and whilst in the army he engaged in homosexual activity.
  • After discharge he moved to San Francisco, where he began to dress in women’s clothing.
  • He made a decision he had the mind and soul of a girl and the body of a boy.
  • He worked three jobs and physically exhausted himself to raise the money for an operation, known as a sex-change operation.

DSD or Transgender? Charles Brown AKA Carlett Brown Angianlee

Charles Brown AKA Carlett Brown Angianlee (born c. 1927) was a United States Navy veteran during the 1950s who, if he made it to Europe, would possibly have been the first African American to undergo gender affirmation surgery.

While serving, he was diagnosed at the US Naval Hospital in Philadelphia for what was described as “a serious mental illness,” wanting to be female.

The examinations also led to the discovery of “female glands,” showing that Carlett was intersex. Opposing the doctor’s recommendation to have them surgically removed, Carlett decided instead to seek out a different type of surgery, sex reassignment surgery. Part of the desire to transition stemmed from his desire to marry Sgt. Eugene Martin, who was stationed in Germany at the time. Claiming a two and a half year relationship with the man, he said that

“We’ll be married as soon as I am legally a woman.”

Once out of the navy, he moved to Boston where he made a living by working as a shake dancer and by selling blood and plasma. Angianlee legally changed name to Carlett Brown Angianlee. Agianlee made the decision to postpone the trip in order to undergo a $500 face lift in New York City from Dr. George J.B. Weiss. Within the following month, he was ordered not to leave the country by the US government until he had paid $1,200 in back taxes. To make more money to be able to pay this off, he got a job as a chief at an Iowa State College fraternity. Nothing beyond this point is known.

Charles Brown AKA Carlett Brown Angianlee (born c. 1927)

WWII veteran George aka Christine Jorgensen became the first American transgender to attain fame for having sex reassignment surgery….?

Post WW2 1950’s surge in “TRANS”

1950s was an important time for American society as a whole and for the ‘trans’ medical movement; it was a time of considering the limitations to individualism, of the progress, promises and dangers of science, of what was deemed suitable behaviour for men and women, as well as the appropriate limits of sexual expression.

Christine Jorgensen’s grandparents immigrated from Denmark, settled in the Bronx, and involved themselves in the Danish-American community. His father started a family-owned construction company and joined the coast guard. His panic regarding homosexuality fuelled his desire to present as a woman.

In 1943 he struck up a friendship with Tom Chaney, but when Tom revealed his plans to marry, he is overcome with jealous feelings:

“It was a puzzling ambivalence. I didn’t like or understand these feelings for Tom, they were new and foreign. At the same time, though I liked him, I resented him for being the object of these strange emotions.”

Mainstream Transgenderism — a call to “relax” views on sex — internalised homophobia and non conformity

Christine Jorgensen Named “Woman of the Year” 1953!

Mainstream Transgenderism — Conforming to the “stereotypical woman”

These standards were white, thin, blonde domesticity. Dr. Emily Skidmore, a gender historian who discusses in a periodical article called “Constructing The ‘Good Transsexual’” how mass culture tokenizes certain transwomen on the terms of their reconstruction as images for public consumption.

The public gaze on transwomen is traded on the literal “legibility” of their figures. In 1952, ‘Christine’ Jorgensen burst onto the scene, having spent 2 years in Denmark undergoing a full, ‘sex change’ from, as the New York Times described sensationally on 2 December 1952, as ‘Bronx boy is now a girl’. Christine’s transition put him in a highly advantageous position to embody ideal standards of “female” beauty. Jorgensen conformed to the “blonde beauty,” his transition was “a world of difference.”

Christine Jorgensen was named “Woman of the Year” in 1953! Not only was he seen as a perfect ultra-white woman with blonde hair, a slim figure, and a fabulous wardrobe, but these traits were made palatable for male consumption.

Mainstream Transgenderism — making men who presented as women acceptable and “dateable” — Skidmore calls this a process of “naturalization”. Stating, “It’s a world of difference: don’t worry, readers, it’s okay if you want to fuck this person”.

After returning from Denmark in 1952, Christine lands a lucrative career performing vaudeville acts in nightclubs, often in acts requiring multiple outfit changes. This exhibition space is where change and femaleness intermingled.

Trans Widows and Armed Forces Transitions

Desperation & Danish annoyance: “operations illegal for foreigners”

The truth appeared to be misdiagnosed or undiagnosed DSDs in many cases… The “operation” was a basic castration and it’s illegal nature led to some men attempting to remove their own penis — requiring life saving treatment…..

Seattle Daily Times — Date Issued Jan. 23, 1972 — Federal Funding “sex-change” operations:

The U.W program began in 1967, and was a research project, using . There was a limit of 22 places for transexuals. According to Dr J. W. McRoberts, in a typical case the person is a male, who is attracted to other males, yet sees himself as a female. He reported “excellent” results in 7 of the 13 cases (54%)

The whole process at his point was experimental — surgeons were trying to physically “fix” something that wasn’t broken………just to see if they could!

Hormones in the UK and early cases in UK following the emergence of plastic surgery innovations during World War 2: The Gillies, Dillon, Cowell triangle

Laura Maud aka Dr Michael Dillon (F-M) Early life

Born Laura Maud in 1915, Dillon grew up in Folkestone with her aunts. Her mother died of sepsis just days after her birth and her father of alcoholism ten years later. Applying to Oxford was a way to escape, or at least delay, the inevitabilities of life as a woman. The local vicar supported the contemplative yet determined Dillon in applying to read Theology at The Society of Oxford Home-Students (now known as St Anne’s) where she won a place and entered in 1934 for a pass degree.

The letter enthusiastically explains Zuckerman’s research including injecting male and female hormones into rats and monitoring their behaviour. While working at the laboratory Dillon sought treatment from Dr. George Foss, who was interested in the medical uses for testosterone. Foss requested that Dillon consult a psychiatrist before treatment, however the psychiatrist’s indiscretion led to Dillon being ‘outed’ to his colleagues and forced to leave. Recommendation to meet a Dr Zuckerman to discuss the study of anatomy.

Following the outbreak of WWII, Dillon undertook various stints of war work before finding a position at College Motors, a garage. He endured mocking from his colleagues but, once the effects of testosterone therapy began to show, was eventually treated as a man to avoid confusing customers. Dillon happened to meet a “sympathetic” plastic surgeon who offered to perform a double mastectomy and suggested she change her birth certificate to male. Around 1944 Dillon legally became Laurence Michael. Following this, Dillon attended the Merchant Venturers’ Technical College part-time to to earn the qualifications she would need to pursue a medical degree. In 1946 she published — Self : a study in ethics and endocrinology

Self : a study in ethics and endocrinology — In 1920 Gillies produced his magnum opus, “Plastic Surgery of the Face” based on his wartime experience.

Dillon –p.53, Self — “Surely, where the mind cannot be made to fit the body, the body should be made to fit, approximately, at any rate to the mind…”

Following the intervention of a supportive tutor at Oxford she was able to have ‘his’ name entered on the books of Brasenose College, an all-male college, rather than at the women-only Society of Oxford Home-Students. This allowed her to apply to medical schools and she was accepted into Trinity College, Dublin to begin her studies. There, she spent university vacations undergoing surgery with Sir Harold Gillies, known as the father of modern plastic surgery, introduced to her by the surgeon who performed her double mastectomy.

Sir Harold Gillies — Pioneer in plastic surgery

Gillies systematised plastic surgery, in techniques, record keeping, multidisciplinary management and rehabilitation.

In 1920 Gillies produced his magnum opus, “Plastic Surgery of the Face” based on his wartime experience.

Born in Dunedin, New Zealand into a large family in 1882, Harold Gillies was to become known as the father of plastic surgery. Attached to the RAMC in 1915 he undertook some general surgical work but encountered a number of cases of facial injury. Gillies systematised plastic surgery, in techniques, record keeping, multidisciplinary management and rehabilitation.

Gillies was the first to perform female to male gender reassignment surgery, in 1946?

After World War II his savings were not enough for him to retire and continued to work. In 1946 he carried out, along with a colleague, one of the first “sex change” operations in history on Dillon. The invention of the tubed pedicle allowed the surgical realisation of phalloplasty. Most articles on modern phalloplasty refer to Nikolai Bogoraz as being the first surgeon to attempt the procedure. Re-analysis of published material suggests that, Bogoraz may have been the first to describe it, the first to perform it falling to Sir Harold Gillies. In 1951 he also performed an operation instead to help a man change sex, who after surgery became Roberta Cowell.

Medical students performing deadly procedures on their friends sounds like a macabre fantasy of the Victorian period but it was in fact the cutting edge of post-war medicine. Reconstructive work on the victims of the First World War led to legally using skin graft techniques already developed, to give Dillon male anatomy in 1946.

Roberta Cowell & Michael Dillon — post war pioneers? or troubled souls?

✂️ CLIP – Episode 3

15 seconds · Clipped by Short & Sweet by Jennifer Thetford-Kay & Charlie · Original video “Episode 3 – A Brief Look at…


Robert Cowell’s marriage to Diana Carpenter 1941 & — “Roberta” Cowell… with the help of Dillon circumventing the law

Robert Cowell’s marriage to Diana Carpenter 1941

For former Spitfire pilot and engineer Cowell, who wanted to become a woman, there seemed to be less hope. He left his wife and two children to pursue his quest……. At the time it was illegal to remove a man’s genitalia without an urgent medical need. Cowell’s need led to him striking up a rather one-sided friendship with Dillon, a fifth-year medical student at the time, Cowell persuaded Dillon to do the parts of the operation that the surgeon Gillies didn’t dare to.

By 1950, Cowell was taking large doses of oestrogen, but was still living as a man. After becoming acquainted with Michael Dillon, the two developed a close friendship. Dillon subsequently carried out an inguinal orchiectomy (An operation in which the testicles are removed through an incision in the groin) on Cowell. Secrecy was necessary for this as the procedure was then illegal in the United Kingdom under so-called “mayhem” laws and no surgeon would agree to perform it openly.

Roberta Cowell… “finishing the job?” Cowell then presented himself to a private Harley Street gynaecologist and was able to obtain from him a document stating he/she was intersex. This allowed him to have a new birth certificate issued, with his recorded sex changed to female.

He had a vaginoplasty on 15 May 1951. The operation was carried out by Sir Harold Gillies, with the assistance of American surgeon Ralph Millard. Gillies had operated on Michael Dillon, but vaginoplasty was then an entirely novel procedure, which Gillies had only performed experimentally on a cadaver!

Roberta Cowell, aka Robert Cowell, sold their story for £200,000 — Robert Cowell had been a married father of two, a celebrated racing driver competing at the Belgian Grand Prix and a Spitfire pilot during the war. Robert had left his family to embark on the quest that would ­transform him into a woman. Cowell, who continued to fly planes and drive racing cars as a “woman”, died in 2011. The funeral was attended by only six people and on instructions was unpublicised and only came to light two years later when a profile was printed in a newspaper.

Robert Cowell had been a married father of two — he left his family and never regained contact

Robert Cowell’s daughter Diana, 2015 said: “Twice I tried to get in touch with Roberta. I wanted her to understand the pain we went through. But there was no response.” “I did not even know that my father had died until my son saw a brief notice in a motoring magazine two years later, in 2013.” “He was never at home and I have only the vaguest memory of him. I can never remember once being picked up or hugged by him.” “After my father left home, Mum had a complete nervous breakdown………………”

Dillon’s escape after heartbreak….

It is clear from Dillon’s letters to Roberta that she felt she had finally met someone she could safely express herself to, though Roberta did not return the feelings. Their relationship soured in 1951 after Roberta rejected Dillon’s proposal of marriage.

Working at Dublin Royal Hospital at the time, Dillon made the decision to join the merchant navy as a ship’s doctor and spent six years at sea. She was outed in 1958 where Debrett’s listed Dillon as the male heir to the Baronetcy of Lismullen, Burke’s listed her as a sister. Dillon made plans to go out of the public eye and join a Buddhist Monastery. She wrote an autobiography “Out of the Ordinary”. Fifteen days after completing the manuscript she died suddenly on the way to Kashmir, aged only 47 years old.

Gillies & Millard & Dr. George. L. Foss O.B.E., V.R.D., M.D.

Millard went on to other reconstructive work . He popularized the double eyelid surgery or “Asian blepharoplasty” to “de-orientalise” patients’ faces while stationed in South Korea during the War and performed Reconstructive Work on Natives during the Korean Conflict. He is most noted for his achievements in cleft lip repair which has opened a new era of cleft lip surgery and rhinoplasty

In spite of the busy commitments of his GP practice George developed his interest in endocrinology and was a Colston Research Fellow from 1935 to 1937 and later honorary assistant in endocrine gynaecology in Bristol. He joined the Royal Naval Volunteers Reserve in 1934 and served for six years in the Royal Navy. He spent three years in carriers in the North Atlantic and Pacific and three in the Chemical Defence Station at Porton and was awarded the OBE He subsequently rose to the rank of Surgeon Captain in the RNVR. After the war he was appointed adviser in subfertility to the United Bristol Hospitals and medical officer in charge of Bristol’s male subfertility clinic. He published altogether 51 papers on a wide variety of aspects of endocrinology and his last paper on the results of AID in collaboration with Mr. Michael Hull was awaiting publication in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the time of his death.

April Ashley, The First International Symposium on Gender Identity 1969 — the continued fascination of the Press….

It was co-sponsored by the Erickson Educational Foundation and the Albany Trust of London. The programme for the first international symposium on Gender Identity, ‘Aims, Functions and Clinical Problems of a Gender Identity Unit’ took place at the Piccadilly Hotel, London in July 1969- it lead to gender clinics being built across the Western Hemisphere

Transgender lives continued to be sensationalised by the press during the 1960s —

the Beaumont Society This satirical print of the Chevalier d’Eon includes the inscription: ‘Hail! Thou Production most uncommon, Woman half-man and man half-Woman!’ © Trustees of the British Museum

In 1966, the Beaumont Society was established as a support group for male-to-female cross-dressers. The society took inspiration for its name from the Chevalier d’Eon, whose full birth name was Charles-Geneviève-Louise-Auguste-Andrée-Timothée d’Éon de Beaumont. The Society met for its annual dinner at Broadcasting House, London in the 1970s and 1980s before moving it to New Kensington Town Hall. The group also helped organise the UK’s next transgender conference (sometimes deemed the first) at The University of Leeds in 1974 called ‘Transvestism and Transsexualism in Modern Society’.

“April” Ashley

“April” Ashley was born male in 1935, and grew up in working-class Liverpool, on Pitt Street and later Norris Green estate. April Ashley MBE was an English model. She was outed as a transgender woman by The Sunday People newspaper in 1961 and is one of the earliest British people known to have had sex reassignment surgery. Her marriage was annulled in the court case of Corbett v Corbett. Ashley: “A very tough area”, he recalled decades later. My siblings “were all terribly ashamed” of what they saw as their “terribly feminine” brother. My mother beat me mercilessly. “She couldn’t stand me because I was an embarrassment,”

Hailed as a Transgender pioneer — as so called by peers:

For Boy George: “It wasn’t drag. April was a woman.”

Grayson Perry, who briefly dated her, remembers walking into a party in 1983 and “there was April Ashley in all her glory … Seductive. Vampy. There was a lot of alcohol involved.”

Juno Dawson notes how Ashley passed not just as a woman but “as a woman of the upper classes”.

For Peter Tatchell: “The idea that she might be trans never entered anyone’s head.”

Ashley again made headlines with her annulment from Arthur Corbett in 1971. The judge ruled in this pivotal case that their marriage should be annulled because Ashley was male. The ruling had long-lasting implications for Ashley and for trans people in England. It determined that the legal gender of Ashley, and therefore of all trans people, was the gender they were “assigned” at birth. This only changed with the Gender Recognition Act of 2004. Ashley continued her fight to have her gender legally recognised, and was awarded an MBE for her services to transgender equality at Buckingham Palace in 2012.

The First International Symposium on Gender Identity:

Aims, Functions and Clinical Problems of a Gender Identity Unit, took place at the Piccadilly Hotel in London, July 25–27, 1969. It was co-sponsored by the Erickson Educational Foundation and the Albany Trust of London.

The programme for the first international symposium on Gender Identity, ‘Aims, Functions and Clinical Problems of a Gender Identity Unit’ took place at the Piccadilly Hotel, London in July 1969

The Statement of Aims
The Statement of Aims cont….

Who were the attendees of The First International Symposium on Gender Identity:

Sir Christopher John Dewhurst M.B., F.R.C.S.(Ed), F.R.C.O.G. — After six months working in a local hospital he joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve as a surgeon lieutenant. On D Day in 1944 he was in the fleet of ships which left Portsmouth for the Normandy beaches, landing troops and tanks on Sword Beach and carrying the wounded back to Britain. In 1945 and 1946 he was on the battleship King George V.

  • He was Professor and Head of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Royal Postgraduate Medical School, London University, from 1967 to 1985.
  • He was knighted in 1978 for his work in medicine.
  • He served as president of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists from 1975 to 1978.
  • He Authored and Co-authored several books and textbooks relating to gynaecology and adolescence

Dr Peter Duncan Scott MD MRCP DPM CBE — At the outbreak of war in 1939 he joined the Navy and served in destroyers. He had originally intended to become a surgeon, but on becoming shore based, he joined the naval psychiatric service After the war he became registrar at the Maudsley Hospital. For some fifteen years he was psychiatrist to the London remand home for boys, and treated young delinquents in the children’s department. He did some work with the Home Office and Prisons. During this time he wrote hundreds of reports to court, believing firmly that compassion did not mean sentimentality, and that the psychiatrist’s role was to help the offender to come to terms with society as it is, and not as it should be.

Dr John Bulmer Randell MD FRCP DPM — From 1942 to 1946 he served, as a surgeon lieutenant, first in a destroyer and then at Cholmondeley Castle — then known as HMS Standard. He was appointed assistant psychiatrist at St Thomas’s Hospital in 1949, becoming physician for psychological medicine at Charing Cross Hospital in 1950. He was a founder fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (1971) and a fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine. It was while working at the Charing Cross Hospital that his interest in the adrenogenital syndrome gained him international recognition for his work on gender identity, transvestism and transsexuality. His book Sexual Deviations appeared in 1973 and he also published several papers on addiction.

He was not keen on surgery for his patients and often referred to his post-op patients by their original gender.

Dr Fred Oremland USA Surgeon — After graduating from UCLA and the University of Colorado School of Medicine, he served in the Air Force in Japan (1955–1957), and then held posts at Johns Hopkins and the University of Pennsylvania. He settled in the Bay Area in 1964 where he practiced plastic surgery and psychiatry. He was in Private Health Care and had an interest in setting up central gender clinics in different areas, specifically dealing with transsexualism. His interests were the legal ramifications of operations, marriage, how it linked to homosexuality, risk reduction to surgeons, opening more clinics and how to increase revenue

This was very relevant at the time due to the legal changes decriminalising homosexuality in the UK and the divorce case of April Ashley.

Mrs Margaret Branch Senior Psychiatric Social Worker — In 1936 the young Margaret Johnson was an ambulance driver in the Spanish Civil War. During WWII she was in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force, and was sent to France to work with the Resistance – however she was caught and tortured by the Gestapo until a bribe got her out. Margaret went to Switzerland to study with the renowned psychiatrist Carl Jung. By the 1960s she was a psychiatric social worker at Guy’s Hospital in London. She worked in children’s therapy and she and Ruegg (her life partner) founded the National Association of Gifted Children, and worked also on the BBC.

By the late 1960s she was working at Guys liaising with trans and intersex people – of whom the best known is Peter Sterling. She gave a paper on her work at the First International Symposium on Gender Identity, London Later she worked as a counsellor for all LGBT individuals

Dr Richard Green MD Dept of Psychiatry UCLA — He attended Syracuse University on a state scholarship and got his medical degree from Johns Hopkins in 1961. He specialised in psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he became a professor and researcher. Dr. Richard Green, one of the earliest and most vocal critics of psychiatry’s classification of homosexuality as a mental disorder Dr. Green, who was also a forceful advocate for gay and transgender rights in a series of landmark discrimination trials.

After completing a law degree at Yale in his 50s, Dr. Green, as a volunteer lawyer, joined a 1990 case by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in California. Dr. Green relocated to Britain, where he was a professor of psychiatry at the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial College, London, and on the law and psychology faculties of Cambridge University. In 1975, he founded the International Academy of Sex Research and became the first editor of its journal.

Dr John Money PHD MD — There is A LOT to say about Dr John Money and he will appear again in future videos and in Part Two of this series!

He coined the term “Assigned at birth”. He believed in Nurture over Nature and that Gender was based on social ideas of Masculine and Feminine. He dismissed biological sex as part of concept of gender ideology.

Money held the view that affectional paedophilia is caused by a surplus of parental love that became erotic, and is not a behavioural disorder. Rather, he took the position that heterosexuality is another example of a societal and therefore superficial, ideological concept. He worked with the Erickson Educational Foundation – Who sponsored this and other events and research. Money made “fraudulently deceptive claims about the malleability of gender in certain patients who had involuntarily undergone sex reassignment surgery”…………..

Sponsors — Reed Erickson — Reed Erickson was a mechanical engineer, business”man”, financier, and philanthropist, known for her involvement and support of transgender and “new age” research through her organization Erickson Educational Foundation.

Born Rita Mae Erickson to Robert and Ruth Erickson on October 13, 1917 in El Paso, Texas, Erickson attended the Philadelphia High School for Girls and Temple University (1936). Erickson began a female-to-male gender transition in 1963 as a patient of Dr. Harry Benjamin, and underwent gender reassignment surgery in 1965. It was in these years of transition that Erickson married and divorced Daisy Harriman Lewis (1963- 1964), and married Aileen Ashton (1965), with whom he/she had two children: Monica and Seth. During this period Erickson began to experiment with drugs, which later developed into substance abuse. His/her addictions began to strain his/her personal relationships and his/her health. In 1977 Erickson married for a third time to Evangelina Trujillo Narkis (Eva). The marriage dissolved between 1983 and 1985.

Fleeing from drug charges, Erickson returned to Mexico in 1983. He/she married Maria Luisa de Celis Contreras in 1987. At this point in time his/her physical and mental abilities were limited due to his drug addiction, and his/her daughter Monica was appointed conservatorship of his/her estate. Reed Erickson died in 1992 at the age of 74 in Mexico.

Antony Grey was one of the founding members of the Albany Trust. — Albany was one of the founding bodies for the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). Founded in 1958: they believed in an open, tolerant society where diverse sexualities are respected and celebrated, along with different faiths, beliefs and ethnicities.

They were also supporters of P.I.E (The Paedophile Information Exchange) in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s



Reference sources:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17373398/#:~:text=Abstract,perfected%20after%20World%20War%20II. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Lili-Elbe https://read.dukeupress.edu/glq/article-abstract/29/1/13/327238/Early-Gender-Clinics-Transsexual-Etiology-and-the?redirectedFrom=PDF https://academic.oup.com/book/10672/chapter/158713329?searchresult=1 Unknown, Photographs https://www.digitaltransgenderarchive.net/catalog?f%5Bcollection_name_ssim%5D%5B%5D=Newspaper+and+Periodical+Clippings+%281950-2000%29+&f%5Bdta_all_subject_ssim%5D%5B%5D=MtFs&per_page=100 ‘Miss Christine Jorgensen.’, Digital Transgender Archive, (1960), https://www.digitaltransgenderarchive.net/files/zw12z543s, New York Times, ‘Bronx ‘boy’ becomes a girl’, 2 December 1952. 14 D. M. Seid., ‘Reveal’, in Transgender Studies Quarterly (eds.), Abjection, Transgender Studies Quarterly, 1:1–2 (2014), p. 176.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1130142/pdf/westjmed00309-0060.pdf https://www.britannica.com/biography/Magnus-Hirschfeld https://read.dukeupress.edu/glq/article-abstract/29/1/13/327238/Early-Gender-Clinics-Transsexual-Etiology-and-the?redirectedFrom=PDF https://dlaub.wordpress.com/drl-biography/ https://academic.oup.com/book/10672/chapter/158713329?searchresult=1 Unknown, Photographs https://youtu.be/-U_SJf1gf34 https://www.theguardian.com/science/blog/2016/jan/13/magnus-hirschfeld-groundbreaking-sexologist-the-danish-girl-lili-elbe https://www.digitaltransgenderarchive.net/catalog? https://www.the-scientist.com/foundations/trans-medicine-1919-70587

https://www.st-annes.ox.ac.uk/life-here/library/blog/michael-dillon/ Self — A Study in Ethics and Endocrinology: Michael Dillon https://www.perlego.com/book/1874952/self-a-study-in-ethics-and-endocrinology-pdf https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00238-019-01539-5 http://www.gilliesarchives.org.uk/hdg.htm https://youtu.be/Ee3mkRYJj9Q http://calder.med.miami.edu/Ralph_Millard/birth_date.html https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/real-life-stories/my-sex-change-spitfire-pilot-6693411 https://www.raptisrarebooks.com/product/the-principles-and-art-of-plastic-surgery-harold-gillies-first-edition/ https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/real-life-stories/incredible-story-spitfire-pilot-who-6675910 https://www.express.co.uk/showbiz/tv-radio/614562/Flights-fancy-realised-Last-night-TV-reviewed https://emadion.it/en/curiosities/harold-gillies-the-first-plastic-surgeon/ https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/38e4/1ba6421d756cb0757e96055ec2ed9223b7c8.pdf

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https://history.rcplondon.ac.uk/inspiring-physicians/peter-duncan-scott https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09585189508409904 journalCode=rjfp19 https://history.rcplondon.ac.uk/inspiring-physicians/john-bulmer-randell https://zagria.blogspot.com/2008/03/john-randell-1918-1982-psychiatrist.html https://www.bmj.com/content/2/5164/1448 https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/marinij/name/fred-oremland-obituary? id=22099463 https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=syAoEAAAQBAJ&pg=PT198&lpg=PT198&dq=Dr+Fred+Oremland+USA+Surgeon&source=bl&ots=vDmk5Q30zj&sig=ACfU3U1nSa2wAdT9kLqKdg5SkckcjlrEBA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjoh6Hu8KL-AhVIilwKHYlEAFUQ6AF6BAgkEAM#v=onepage&q=Dr%20Fred%20Oremland%20USA%20Surgeon&f=false

https://southwarknews.co.uk/news/culture/new-book-will-explore-life-of/ Zagria. “A miscellany of unknowns”. Gender Variance Who’s Who. https://zagria.blogspot.com/2018/07/a-miscellany-of-unknowns.html. https://www.albanytrust.org/about https://www.iasrsite.org/sex-research-resources https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/17/obituaries/dr-richard-green-dead.html https://archive.org/details/transgenderarchives https://archive.org/details/outlineofmedical0000noau/page/12/mode/2up https://www.digitaltransgenderarchive.net/files/j67314089 https://historicengland.org.uk/research/inclusive-heritage/lgbtq-heritage-project/trans-and-gender-nonconforming-histories/trans-pioneers/#:~:text=Michael%20Dillon%20(1915%2D1962),male%20through%20hormones%20and%20surgery. Apologies for occasional teenage boy laughter in the background he was in another room, on another floor (if you have them you’ll understand! Even if you don’t you get that they are seldom silent!)