Guest Blogger

From the TG Archive: Media, War and Life History

Filed By Guest Blogger | March 17, 2010 7:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Gay Icons and History, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: ftm, Houston, LGBT history, MTF, pregnant man, Texas, transgender, transsexual

Editor's note: Cristan Williams, the director of the Transgender Foundation of America, a transgender nonprofit based in Houston, Texas, is sharing some of the recent acquisitions of her organization's historical collection.

Cristan(bw).jpgThe TG Archive has acquired rare original newspaper from 1822, a cache of 1960s era gossip (AKA "rag") newspapers and an original 1971 1st edition paperback copy of Dawn Langly Simmons, Man Into Woman.

From the Handcock Gazette & Penobscot Patriot, Vol 3, No. 20, Wednesday, November 13, 1822:


The article reads:

A Female Warrior. - Ann Jones, better known by the name of "Waterloo Tom," was brought up in the custody of one of the officers of the Mendicity Society, charged with an act of vagrancy, having been found that morning begging in Camberwell. - The officer stated that the prisoner was a constant customer of his, and had been before a Magistrate seven or eight times on similar charges and not-withstanding she has been as often in gaol, it had not the effect of making her discontinue her pursuits, which she could very well do, as she was receiving a pension of 1s. 9d. per day, she having been wounded at the battle of Waterloo for which exploit she derived the appellation of "Waterloo Tom." - The prisoner, a strong masculine woman, about 35 years of age, with saber wounds all over her face, especially on the nose, being called on the shew cause why she should not be sent to gaol, told the Magistrate if she was, it would be an extreme[l]y hard case. She stated that her husband had belonged to the 7th Light Dragoons, and had served served under the Duke of Wellington in all his campaigns, and she herself, in the attire of a private soldier, had followed him through Spain, Portugal, and other continental countries, and did military duty. She was at the battle of Waterloo, where her husband fell from his horse by a gunshot. She immediately mounted his steed and joined in the battle, and was instrumental in saving the life of Captain Lance, belonging to her husband's troop. In which enterprise she was severely wounded, and her sex was then for the first time discovered. After the battle she was sent to England, and was now receiving 1s. a day from the Captain and 9 d. a day pension from the Government. She concluded her narrative by saying, it was very harsh treatment for her who had served her King and country, to be locked up in the jaws of a prison for begging a halfpenny. The Magistrate asked the officer if he was positive she applied for alms, and being answered in the affirmative, she as committed to the mill, at Brixton, for a month.

The TG archive recently acquired a cache of rare vantage 1960s era gossip newspapers which engage in sensationalistic reporting of transsexual and intersexed conditions. In total, the 16 newspapers ranging in date from 1963 to 1969 offer a glimpse into the world of Jerry Springer-like American media during it's adolescence:




Reporting on the first American "Pregnant Man" (an FTM), a 1966 copy of "Midnight" serves as a prequel to the media hype surrounding the "Pregnant Man" of today, Thomas Beatie.


The archive acquired the newspapers from native Houstonian TG lawyer and activist Katrina C. Rose. With headlines like, "Thay Want YOU to Accept Homosexuals; The Life of a Sex Change" this vintage media serves a reminder of where the anti-GLBT equality media playbook (as recently noted by some native Houston activists) of today came from.

The TG Archive recently acquired an original 1971 1st edition paperback copy of Dawn Langly Simmons, Man Into Woman which complements the archive's 1st edition hardback copy of the same as well as a 1st edition copy of Mrs. Simmons' children's book about sea life.



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Thanks to Kat Rose and to the archive for preserving this material.

Great pieces. A wonderful book about Dawn Langley Simmons is Edward Ball's "Peninsula of Lies." A truly fascinating woman. Her own book, Man Into Woman (the one you show here) is an interesting read, but plays with the facts of her life a great deal. Just don't take it as gospel.

Hedy Jo Star is another amazing character who became a famous costumer for a lot of show biz types, specializing in glamor-ware (for Vegas—where she lived, circus, ice skaters and club acts). I'm not sure that's true she was THE first person to have SRS in this country, but she was one of the first.

I ran across this article on The Elephant Journal the other day:

Michael Dillon,the first Female to Male Transexual to have a phalloplasty went on to be ordained as a Buddhist Monk. His Tibetan name was, Lobzang Jivaka. He wrote a number of books including the still in print "The Life of Milarepa: Tibet’s Great Yogi (1962)" The guy suffered a great deal, yet he persisted. He is a hero in my book.

It would be cool if your archive could hold something he wrote.

Greg, have you seen Pagan Kennedy's book about Dillon called "The First Self Made Man?"

I wouldn't call it a great biography (it has almost no interviews or first person materials) but she does give you the facts of his incredible life including his time in the monastery and his heartbreaking end. It would make an incredible film.

Hey Gina, I just ordered it from Amazon. I'm looking forward to reading it.

I. ♥. This. Post.

Thanks for sharing some great bits of history with us. I hope you post more often.

Thanks for posting this, Bilerico!

This is just a tiny sampling of what's in the TG Archive. I think the oldest TG news documented in a newspaper we have is from the early 1700s. I know that the TG oldest news documented in a magazine we have is from the mid-1700s. I think the oldest TG artifact we have in the collection is a few thousand years old.

That's the thing I really love about the TG Archive - yes, we have lots of Americana mid-century stuff just like many other GLBT Archives do, but we also have a lot of things that are many centuries old... from every part of the globe. Part of the collection is a research library with hundreds of books (some of which are hundreds of years old).

As a lover of history, I can't express how grateful I am that our Community has supported this effort. I really appreciate that Bilerico is making the stories the archive has to tell more accessible!

Thank you!

jami_bantry jami_bantry | March 18, 2010 11:17 PM

Great stuff !!

One method to be able shape our future, for ourselves AND for our Youth, is to know, and learn from, our past.

History has a strange, and too often evil, way of being erased, and then denied/disputed. It is efforts, such as this type of documentation, that adds and retains credence to our existence.