Gloria Brame, Ph.D.

Historic photo: Ella Wesner, 1880

Filed By Gloria Brame, Ph.D. | November 12, 2009 12:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Gay Icons and History
Tags: male impersonators, trans history, vintage drag, vintage trans

Ella Wesner, male impersonator

Photographer: Napoleon Sarony (1821-1896)
Title: Ella Wesner, male impersonator
Date: ca. 1880
Medium: albumen print
via Flicker Commons

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Angela Brightfeather | November 12, 2009 1:14 PM

This is ridiculous!!!
I am sure that this must be a fake picture. Everyone knows that people with "gender issues" have only been around for the last 40 or so years.

By the way, don't let anyone who is against Trans folks in ENDA or says that the "T" should not be included in GLBT see this picture. They may go into immediate shock mode.

Thank you Gloria. Once again you have proven that it's hard to deny history and especially when pictures exist that refute that the GLBT community didn't just crawl out from under a rock.

I just StumbledUpon a blog post of a newspaper clipping from 1918. Apparently, an immigrant transman had lived successfully as a man for 30 years, and no one was the wiser until discovered in the hospital.

I can't vouch for the blog or blogger, but the photograph of the newspaper clipping seems legitimate.

Kathy Padilla | November 12, 2009 1:57 PM

Ella came from the New Hope area (accross the bridge in Lambertville, NJ) from a show biz family. She was on the Philly stage early in her career.

In one of those how do we assess how someone identified years ago questions - you have factor in that Ella emanded to be buried in male attire.

There's an NYT obit.

Angela Brightfeather | November 12, 2009 2:28 PM

Well Kathy, I guess that answers the question of "whatever did Transgender people do before they invented sexual reassignement surgery?"

Now if we can only figure out what bathroom s/he used back then.

An honest life lived, is a soul remembered for eternity.