Female Mimics magazine has evolved over its publication. When the first issue was released in 1963, the magazine covered transgender, crossdressers, and gender non-conforming persons from a standpoint that I would describe as somewhat admiring, somewhat intrigued, and somewhat fetishization. The early issues are peppered with stars from transgender history, such as Christine Jorgensen, Bambi, Shalimar, and Coccinelle. Also featured are clubs and venues where transgender persons may be found, such as Chez Madame Arthur and the Jewel Box Revue. Click here for a quick link to the collection.
The magazine is most interesting to me because it highlighted many transgender persons and clubs that I had never even heard of in passing, which has given me new avenues for research and cataloging. A task which will never end. But also note that magazines such as these gave hope to thousands of closeted transgender persons, who could read and live vicariously through the photos and stories contained within their pages. They also provided guides for where isolated and lonely transgender persons could meet others just like themselves.
In later issues the magazine turns to more of a fetishist bent, but I’ve still decided to host all the ones I have copies of. I own no paper copies of these except for the premiere issue, which I hope to scan in very high resolution soon. The rest of these came from the Digital Transgender Archive, of which Transas City is a part.
A new addition to Transas City: the following image of famous transgender actress and political activist Coccinelle is from a photograph I bought from France. I have scanned it in high-resolution for the benefit of the transgender community. Please click on the small-sized photograph below to access the full-sized version. It shows Coccinelle posed in front of the Sacre Coeur in Paris, which stands very near Le Carrousel (where she performed for many years).
Transgender persons are often told that their gender identity and presentation are forbidden by the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. Insults are hurled, jobs are lost, and discriminatory laws crafted based upon this belief. But is this really accurate? Does research into the linguistic origins and the historical context of the Bible suggest that rather than being condemned, transgender persons may actually be accepted within the texts?
This lecture is intended for peoples of all faiths or no specific faith as a way to help understand how different interpretations of religious texts can yield significant differences in the meaning of the text – and how to respond to some religious-based arguments against the validity of transgender identity.
Please join Una Nowling, Director of Transgender Studies at the Transgender Institute, hostess of “Trans Talk” on 90.1 FM KKFI, and the founder of Transas City, as she presents her research on a positive relationship between transgender persons and the Bible.
Johnson County Central Library, 9875 W. 87th Street, Overland Park, KS 66212 – Carmack Community Room
Date and Time
3:00 – 4:15 pm, Sunday, July 31st
There is no cost to attend, although donations will be accepted for transgender persons in need in the Kansas City metropolitan area.
There were several transgender exploitation fictions which were published after Christine Jorgensen’s Atomic-Era story burst onto the scene. From 1953-1954 there were several short stories published in men’s magazines, and prior to Jorgensen’s coming out there were numerous stories featuring cross-dressing and intersex characters. But this work is probably the beginning of a genre of transgender exploitative fiction. Originally published under the title “Sex Gantlet[sic] to Murder,” this seedy crime novel was first printed in January, 1955, and probably written in late 1954. In 1958 it was republished, with a different and more provocative cover, under the title “The Lady Was a Man.”
I have published a complete review of this work, and verified that as it contains the blatant themes of anti-transgender misogyny, transgender panic, and transgender sexual exploitation, it likely is the first instance of a transgender exploitation novel.
You may read the review of the work at this link.
In honor of my transgender history lecture today at the Transgender Institute of Kansas City, I have posted three new archival photographs of the first “Atomic Age” American transgender woman, Christine Jorgensen. One of them, which is her original press packet photograph (seen above), is kind of cool. They can be found on my Christine Jorgensen page in high-resolution scans, but the low-res versions are shown here.
Christine Jorgensen, hotel interview, December 11, 1952.
Christine Jorgensen photo (obscured by Raquel Welch) from her trip to Rome in 1954.
I’d be pleased if you would join me for an audiovisual journey (meaning, I have slides and videos) through transgender history. Presented in honor of the affiliation between the Transas City Project and the Transgender Institute of Kansas City, the lecture will be just over an hour and will encompass topics from the earliest eras of humankind to the 2010’s. The lecturer will be myself, who if you don’t know me is the founder of the Transas City Project and a transgender historian, as well as the hostess of “Trans Talk” on 90.1 FM KKFI, Kansas City Community Radio.
This presentation will be held at the Transgender Institute of Kansas City, 8080 Ward Parkway, Suite 400 (take the elevator to the 4th floor, turn left, and then another left), KCMO (see the map below). The lecture will begin promptly at 3:00 pm, and accounting for questions and answers from the audience will end about 4:30 pm.
Refreshments will be provided. There is no cost to attend, although donations will be accepted for transgender persons in need in the Kansas City metropolitan area.
Location: The Transgender Institute, 8080 Ward Parkway, Suite 400, KCMO.
Time: 3:00 – 4:30 pm, Sunday, April 24th.
As Caroline Gibbs, founder of the Transgender Institute announced on my Trans Talk program on KKFI last Saturday, Kansas City is honored to be presenting a screening of the Universal Pictures film The Danish Girl. The film is a semi-biographical drama of the groundbreaking journey of Einar Wegener, the husband of artist Gerda Wegener, to become one of the world’s first transgender women – Lili Elbe (I have only posted a very small amount of information about Lile Elbe on my site here).
Academy Award winner Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech, Les Misérables) directs the remarkable love story inspired by the lives of Einar/Lili and Gerda. Academy Award winner Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything, Les Misérables) and Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina, Anna Karenina), star as Einar/Lili and Gerda, respectively.
What’s more, thanks to the sponsorship of the Transgender Institute, you can register online to receive free tickets for the screening! There are 200 seats available, and they are given out on a first-come, first-served basis. You can register for the event by clicking the link below, and you need not create an account to use it, just proceed as “Guest.” Click here to get your free tickets, while they last!
Date: Tuesday, December 15, 2015.
Time: 7:00 P.M.
Location: The Glenwood Arts Theatre, 3707 W. 95th St., Overland Park, KS, 66206.
There will be a brief introduction before the film to provide some historical background, and yours truly has been invited to deliver an introduction – so I hope to see many of you there!
I recently purchased a large number of original wire photos, books, magazines, and other memorabilia from transgender history, and I will be posting them as I process them. As always, I include a link to the high-resolution scans, because our history is too important to be a “squirrel” and hoard away these things, out of the fear that someone might copy the works. Go ahead and copy and download all you want – if you want to give me a shout-out for credit, cool, but otherwise just keep these images safe so our past, what little of it still remains, shall never be forgotten.
Now to the photos: being a celebrity upon her arrival into the United States, Jorgensen was able to meet many famous and semi-famous personages for the first few years after her transition. The photograph below is from March 22, 1953, and shows her hobnobbing with comedian Milton Berle. Berle at the time was the host of NBC’s Texaco Star Theater. If you click on the photograph below, you can download a high-resolution scan of this original photograph.
This next photograph is a little bit of a mystery. It’s often reported as being from 1958, but the earliest time-stamp on the reverse of the photograph is “20 Jan 1954.” No description tells me the name of the gentleman standing behind her. You can click on the photo below to download a high-resolution scan.
This final photograph for this update is a wonderful photograph which I’ve never before seen on the web, so naturally I bid on it and bought it. It shows Christine Jorgensen on the beach in a white Chevrolet Impala convertible, having what looks to be a wonderful time. It’s dated August 17, 1960, and the writing on the rear of the photograph says: “Ex-GI Dazzles Male Audiences in Cabaret. CHRISTINE JORGENSEN TO BE A BRIDE. Evidence of success – Christine drives off to the beach.” Click on the photograph below to download a high-resolution version.
These and many more photographs and other Christine Jorgensen information can be found on the Transas City Christine Jorgensen site.
I will be speaking about the basics of the transgender experience, along with giving a transgender history lesson, at 7:00 pm, August 19th, 2015. The venue will be the Country Club Congregational United Church of Christ, which is located at 205 W 65th St, Kansas City, Missouri 64113 (there is a map link below). Anyone who wishes to come and hear a little bit of “Trans 101” is welcome!
The electronic flyer put out by the Church reads as follows:
Trans 101 with Una Nowling
August 19th at 7 p.m.
Are you interested in learning more about the transgender community and how to be an ally to transgender individuals? If so, you are invited to an evening with Una Nowling on Wednesday, August 19th at 7 pm!
Una Nowling will share her own story and also speak about issues affecting the transgender community. Una is a transgender activist, researcher and historian who mentors local transgender folks, especially throughout the coming out process. She is the hostess of “Trans Talk” on KKFI. She also spends her time working on Transas City, a non-profit educational website and blog for the transgender community in Kansas City. This is an important educational opportunity for our church as we continue to evolve in our understanding and celebration of the LGBTQ community.
Please contact Bethany at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
It’s not just about Caitlyn Jenner.
The article and accompanying 11 minute video is an overview of the present day and a very brief history of transgender people since the Stonewall Era. What struck me most about it was the lack of hysteria and the (mostly) non-judgmental approach. Transgender women interviewed are not celebrities nor are they sexpot hyper-feminine stereotypes, nor are they “men in drag”. They are much more ordinary, and in my opinion that’s what the public needs to see, that transgender people are human beings trying to live normal, ordinary lives.
The article and video covered some of the appalling violence transgender people experience, stories those of us reading this blog have heard before, but that get left out of the typical news story featuring people like Caitlyn Jenner or Chaz Bono. It mentions how transgender people were and continue to be the marginalized sub-group of the larger group of LGBT. The people in this article do not have happy Hollywood or Hallmark movie of the week endings that the mass media seems to be in love with, no, these are real lives with real suffering along with whatever good also occurs.
In other words, ordinary people trying to survive.
Link to article
Christine Jorgensen, the first of the American “Atomic Age” transsexual women, is one of the most famous transsexual women in history. Born George Jorgensen, she suffered through gender dysphoria until her 20’s, when she traveled to Denmark and had the first of the modern sexual reassignment surgeries performed upon her by Dr. Christian Hamburger (Christine often said she chose her feminine name as a tribute to her surgeon.) I have a page with a collection of photographs and other material at this link, and recently I’ve purchased an original photograph dated March 30, 1953, to add to the collection.
The photograph shows Jorgensen relaxing with coffee at her parents home, possibly from early that March. Jorgensen had many advantages in her life, namely that being the “first” gave her tremendous publicity and uniqueness. One of the biggest advantages which she had was the support and love of her family, which as we all know, can make or break a transition process. She did experience her share of discrimination, as she writes in her autobiography, but overall her life turned out pretty well for her.
You can download a high-resolution scan of it at this link here.
Georgina Turtle (born George Turtle, later Georgina Somerset) was a transsexual woman who claimed to be intersex, bearing an ovary and rudimentary womb. She was born March 23 1923, and died November 30 2013. She lived her life in England.
Although her earliest recollections were of wanting to be a girl, these were suppressed as she entered young adulthood being trained in her father’s profession as a dentist. After being called up as the war in Europe ended, Turtle served as a surgeon-lieutenant in the Royal Navy until 1948, at which point she established a dental practice in Croydon. In the mid-1950’s, Turtle began taking estrogen and living as a woman, and underwent her first surgery for gender confirmation in January, 1957. Later that same year she was attacked and raped, an event which she never completely recovered from and which led to a gender back-lash for her.
In 1960 Turtle’s birth certificate was finally corrected to show “him” as a girl named Georgina Carol Turtle. Two years later, she married Christopher Somerset, a design engineer. At her 13 October 1962 wedding at St Margaret’s in Westminster, Gina (as she liked to be called) asked her brother to give her away. When he declined, she asked two uncles, and then her family doctor: all declined. Her landlord stepped in, and the wedding went ahead. The couple settled at Hove, where Turtle ran a busy dental practice until her retirement in 1985.
At the link below, I have collected 8 photographs for my readers, three in high-resolution.
Transas City’s Georgina Turtle Page
If one wanted to characterize the history of transgender persons prior to December 1, 1952, one might be hard-pressed to arrive at a better moniker than “the dark ages.” Very little is known about transgender persons and their treatment prior to the dawning of the Age of Christine [Jorgensen], with the greatest amount of data being either from medical journals and textbooks, or in the exceedingly rare biographies and autobiographies which exist (such as that of Lili Elbe and Ralph Werther, q.v.).
Meet Mildred M. (unknown last name), a clearly transgender woman born in 1908 who had an unhappy and turbulent life. All we know of her story thus far is contained within a single medical report from 1942, after she approached the University of Illinois Psychiatric Clinic asking for a letter certifying her gender identity. Unfortunately for Mildred, she was misdiagnosed under an array of psychiatric qualifiers, and is featured in a series of 8 photographs and commentary on the page which is linked below.
This report represents a rare snapshot of how a transgender woman was viewed by the medical profession in the 1940’s, and it’s definitely a sobering but interesting read.
A Distant Mirror – Mildred M., 1942
Marie-Pierre Pruvot (born Jean-Pierre Pruvot, 11 November 1935) is an Algerian-born French transsexual woman who performed under the stage name Bambi. She performed in a transgender showgirl revue at Le Carrousel de Paris for approximately 20 years, and appeared in several documentary films, such as Costa Azzurra (1959) and 90 Notti in Giro per il Mondo (1963). While working as an entertainer she attended the Sorbonne in Paris, receiving several degrees and becoming a teacher of literature in 1974. She was profiled in Sébastien Lifshitz’s documentary film Bambi, which won the Teddy Award for Best Documentary Film at the 2013 Berlin International Film Festival.
Featured at the link below are several pictures of Bambi from her career.
Exclusive to Transas City, I have acquired an incredibly rare copy of the lost autobiography of Tamara Reese, the third American “Atomic Age” transsexual woman. Working with the support of the Mayo Clinic History of Medicine Collection, I am presenting a high-resolution scanned copy of this public domain work for everyone in the world to read, archive, and preserve as a part of our shared transgender history.
You may find the link to the book on my Tamara Rees page.
The work starts out intriguingly with the information that she was born in Kansas City – I confess to getting goosebumps when I read that! – and lived in Wichita for a while. The book tells of a youth filled with gender dysphoria and failure, as well as several attempts to escape into some service or corps (she spent time with both the Navy and the Army), and finally takes her to WWII and her service as a paratrooper in the conflict. From there we learn of her being wounded in action, her stunt-diving and airplane-flying career, her marriage of convenience, and again a directionless life. The details of her actual medical transition, both the procedures and the processes, is very sparse. Her tales of being mobbed by the press and learning how to act and live as a woman in public are somewhat interesting, and some light is finally cast on her suicide attempt (she claims it wasn’t, however) which led to her suddenly being evicted from the Netherlands.
I admit I felt like there was so much else which could have been written, so many details which were missing, and so much opportunity lost to preserve more of our early history. However…the work is what it is, and as such it nonetheless provides an enormous amount of information about Rees which was unknown by myself, and I’ll wager by even most transgender researchers. Especially interesting are some notes by the book’s prior owner, Dr. Alvarez, which explain that he knew Reese personally, and that she had married and adopted a daughter – the latter fact being something I never knew. But still, I wanted to know so much more…and the search for more information will continue, as always.