Tag Archives: history

The Lost Autobiography of Tamara Reese – FOUND!


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.

A Lost Piece of Transgender History, Now Found and Freely Available

McLeod_CharlotteAfter her surgery made the world news on December 1, 1952, Christine Jorgensen inarguably entered the history books as the first of the “Atomic Age” transsexual women. But the second Atomic Age transsexual woman is unknown by many in the community. Her name was Charlotte McLeod.

Soon after her transition McLeod that said she was working on an autobiography, but she soon ceased mentioning it. No complete autobiography was known to be published, but in 1956, McLeod sold what she had developed for an autobiography to the men’s magazine Mr. This autobiographical article was so rare I did not even confirm it existed until nearly 3 years into my research into transgender history, and through a series of serendipitous events I was able to find an original copy in very good condition.

In keeping with the scholarly and historical preservation goals of Transas City, this short autobiography of Charlotte McLeod is offered to the world free of charge for download in high-resolution. My checking of its copyright status indicates to me that it falls in the public domain, as it was published prior to 1964, but the copyright was not renewed after that date. I do not demand attribution nor any consideration, but I’d like to ask that out of fairness you reference myself, Una Nowling, as the provider of it.

I encourage you to download and save this document somewhere safe, so this important piece of the history of our people will not be lost again.

McLeod, Charlotte – “I Changed My Sex”

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Introducing the Transgender Newsbank


The Transgender Newsbank is a collection of more than 400 newspaper and magazine articles from 1911-1994, organized by year and date. I have spent 3 months finding and formatting these articles for easy viewing, in addition to typing write-ups about them and linking to other topical pages. The Transgender Newsbank is the largest effort of its kind on the Internet that I can find which is freely available, and like all Transas City features is uncluttered by advertisements.

While a Transgender Newsbank may be unexciting to some, it will form the basis of an online historical library to help researchers, scholars, and anyone who is simply interested in the history of our people.

The Transgender Newsbank

Archival Photographs of Transsexual Woman Charlotte McLeod

Charlotte McLeod was the second transsexual American woman of the modern era, having had her sexual reassignment surgery (SRS) in Denmark in 1953, the year after Christine Jorgensen did. When Charlotte arrived in Denmark she discovered that the furor over Christine’s surgery had led to a moratorium on new SRSs, unless the process of conversion had already started. Charlotte, near-suicidal with gender dysphoria and not to be deterred, performed a self-castration on a kitchen table (with the help of an unnamed doctor). After bleeding nearly to death over the next two weeks, Charlotte was finally admitted into the Danish program and was given her SRS.

Charlotte returned to the United States in early 1954, and although she was welcomed as a minor celebrity, she never achieved the success of Christine – and was quoted at times saying jealous, catty things about her predecessor. Later in life Charlotte wrote an autobiography, which is incredibly rare and which I have not been able to find. My Transgender Newsbank has many articles on Charlotte, but still much of her life is unknown.

There are two archival photographs of Charlotte McLeod on the page linked below, both originals from 1954, which I’ve purchased recently and added to the museum. Enjoy.

Charlotte McLeod

Archival Photograph of Transsexual Woman Dawn Langley Hall

To kick off the New Year at Transas City, I’m going to be posting some old, original photographs which I’ve purchased for the museum. This first one is of Dawn Langley Hall, a transsexual woman, at her wedding to John Paul Simmons in 1969. Of all the photographs I’ve seen of Ms. Hall, I like this one the best, so in the tradition of Victor Kiam, I bought the photograph.

Ms. Hall led a somewhat madcap life of small-scale psychodramas, the worst of all being her false claim of being pregnant after her SRS, which was actually part of an elaborate ruse to purchase a baby fathered by her husband as a result of an affair. Some additional information and the photograph can be found at the link below.

Dawn Langley Hall

Meeting with Michael Boles of the “Private Birthday Party” Project


This last Saturday I was privileged to meet with Michael Boles, one of the team working on the Private Birthday Party Project here in Kansas City. To summarize the goal of the project, Michael Boles, Robert Chase Heishman, and others have been working to uncover, catalog, preserve, and eventually share and publicize information about the early drag, cabaret, crossdressing, and LGBT community in Kansas City. Their project began with chance discoveries of priceless old slides and photographs from that era, and they have since expanded their project into interviews with the performers and their contemporaries, collections of memorabilia, and much more.

While their project has been somewhat quiet since their introductory showing earlier this year, it’s been for a good reason. They have traveled to California, Las Vegas, and elsewhere to meet with folks from the early days of the Kansas City scene, and have many more plans brewing to increase their local collection – including traveling to view a cache of old Kansas City media and records in Sydney, Australia of all places!

I spent two enjoyable hours handling some of the original relics from this time of early Kansas City community history, viewing the photographs and programmes, and listening to Michael’s categorical knowledge and back story about each photograph. According to Michael their eventual hopes for their project include a book and a documentary, and I think each would be vital for preserving the history of our local community.

Michael sent some recent scans of photographs, which the team has been collecting as they dig deeper into history, and gave me permission to share them. I will keep you updated as they continue their journey back in time!

Douglas Kirk, age 69, was once a stripper and dancer at the Jewel Box in Kansas City, from 1966-1969, when he was known as Criss Noel. He currently lives in Las Vegas, and met with the Private Birthday Party team in person.

This is Douglas as Criss in the 1960’s.

This is Robert Buvard, who used perform with the Jewel Box Revue in the mid 1950’s to the early 1960’s. The Jewel Box Revue started in the late 30’s and was the first traveling group of female impersonators. Robert also worked with G.G. Allen, who is pictured later.

This is Robert as “Robbie Ross” in 1960.

G.G. Allen, in 1959.

This is David Schneider at a Halloween Ball in 1964. David was a local psychic and hairdresser, and had a public access television show called Psychic Voyages, which ran from 1984-1996. The Private Birthday Party team is in touch with his niece and are in the process of getting copies of the show.

This is Skip Arnold, a well-known female impersonator at the Jewel Box Lounge in Kansas City in the 1950’s and 1960’s, with Esther Newton in 1966. Esther wrote a book in the 1960’s called Mother Camp: Female Impersonation in America, which is considered a groundbreaking opus in that community.

And Esther Newton today, now a Term Professor of American Culture and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan.

Mary Jones, a Transgender Woman in 1836


I’ve published a short historical look at transgender or crossdresser Mary Jones, who was worked as a prostitute and was discovered in 1836 when she was put on trial for pick-pocketing her male clients. Called “the Man Monster” at the time, she received a relatively light amount of treatment given the time and the moral panic of the anti-abolitionist riots passing through New York City at the time. You may read more at the link above.

Cross-Training – The History and Future of Transgender and Intersex Athletes – Part 2

Exclusive to Transas City, an 8-part research article which attempts to settle the debate on whether transgender athletes should be allowed to compete with cisgender athletes. This topic has been increasingly in the news, especially as a result of California’s recent efforts to “mainstream” transgender students, and many ardent transgender activists have struggled to factually defend our rights to compete against our own gender. My hope is that someday, folks can link to these articles to make their points.

Part 2 has now been posted, which focuses on the development of sex testing in sports, as well as the intersex women who were cruelly and unfairly targeted by the testing. The development and impact of Title IX is discussed briefly, and then the career of transwoman Renee Richards and her fight on the courts and in the Courts is covered.

Cross-Training – The History and Future of Transgender and Intersex Athletes (Page 2)

Cross-Training – The History and Future of Transgender and Intersex Athletes (Page 1)

‘April Ashley: Portrait Of A Lady’ Explores The Life Of Britain’s First Transgender Icon

April Ashley is one of the more interesting transsexual women of the old days. I wrote about her before in my review of her autobiography, but in this posting we focus on an ongoing exhibit in the Liverpool Museum. I wanted to visit there when I was at Manchester last week, but no luck since I was on a work trip.

This article linked below has little text but a lot of large photos of April, and a video of her life.

‘April Ashley: Portrait Of A Lady’ Explores The Life Of Britain’s First Transgender Icon.

Science Study – Transgender Persons Were Important in Ancestral Societies

Ancient_TransA very interesting new science article about the importance of transgender persons in ancient societies. In this study, researchers compared 192 ancient societies and found that the ones which accepted transgender persons benefited. Not only did transgender persons help raise the children, they provided much-needed support for family structures and helped ensure the security and success of the tribes.

I downloaded the full technical paper and had a read through it – it’s behind a paywall, so a link to a summary is at the end of this post. Something interesting in the discussion section of the original article is a positing that transgender women who were attracted to men were more common than gay males in ancient times. In other words, gay males who remained male in dress, social and societal appearance were very uncommon until relatively recently in western civilization, and instead transgender women were much more common.

One critical thing to note is when the article speaks of “transgendered men”, they’re referring to those of us we would commonly call transwomen, or male to female transsexuals.

Transgendered males seen as an asset to some ancestral societies.

Tracking Transgender: The Historical Truth


If you ever wanted to read a 5,000-word essay on how the word “transgender” was developed and acquired its general meaning nowadays, this well-researched article appears to be a great piece of history and trans education. Peppered with photos, a video, and quotations, I wish I had had the time to write it.

Tracking Transgender: The Historical Truth | Ehipassiko.