Edward I. P. Stevenson: "A curious confraternity -- or sorosis," 1903

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"extreme masculinism, coincident with the merely feminine physique"

by Jonathan Ned Katz. Copyright (c) by Jonathan Ned Katz. All rights reserved.


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American, Edward Irenaeus Prime Stevenson, in his 1908 defense of homosexuality, The Intersexes, written under the pseudonym Xavier Mayne, describes the case of "Harry Gorman," who is coiled on instance of "Viraginous [manlike] and Concealed Uraniadism; Coarse Type ..” Influenced by earlier German writers, Mayne calls lesbians "Uraniods" and male homosexuals "Uranians." Although Mayne suggests some physical hermaphroditism may hove characterized Gorman's lesbian "Associates," no evidence is cited, end this interpretation seems connected less with fact than the prevailing theory, derived from Magnus Hirschfeld and others, that homosexuality-and "masculinity" and /femininity/-are physiological in origin. Most interesting in this report is the reference to a group of working-class, female, Lesbian transvestite railroad operatives, who "often met together and made themselves a little merry ...."


A noteworthy example of extreme masculinism, coincident with the merely feminine physique as being otherwise almost lost, came to notice in a hospital in Buffalo, in the United States, in 1903. A certain "Harry Gorman", an employee of the New York Central Railway, a robust, athletic, heavily built "man-cook" of about forty, was discovered to be a woman, so far as sexual organization committed one to the conclusion. Nothing else in Gorman could bear out such a sexual classification. For more than twenty years she had concealed her sex, with perfect ease. All the atmosphere of femininity was not only unsympathetic but impossible to her. She did heavy work, drank liquors moderately, and not as an alcoholic, smoked strong cigars, frequented saloons and dance-houses every night, and was untrammelled by any feminine conditions of existence. She swore that "nothing would hire" her to wear women's habiliments. When in the hospital (on account of a broken limb) a clergyman, with pressing views of decorum-if less psychologic sense-came to visit the patient. The visitor wished to argue a relapse toward female apparel and demeanor. "Harry Gorman" refused to grant the well- meaning gentleman any more interviews. She had voted as a man in several elections-of course illegally. More than this. "Harry Gorman" (the real name was not published in notices of the case) declared that she knew of "at least ten other women", who dressed as men, appeared wholly manlike, and were never suspected of being otherwise, also employed in the same railway-company; some of these being porters, train-agents, switchmen and so on. They often met together and made themselves not a little merry over the success of their transference from one class of humanity to another. The medical examination of Gorman in anatomical detail, is not at the writer's hand: nor did "Harry Gorman" communicate anything as to the similisexual [homosexual] intercourse between the members of this curious confraternity---or sorosis. But that most of the group were similisexual is to be inferred, probably with some organic abnormalities, in one case or another.[1]



References

  1. Edward I. Prime Stevenson (Xavier Mayne, pseud.}, The lntersexes; A History of Similisexualism as a.Problem in Social Life ([Naples?]. Privately printed [by R. Rispoli, I908?]; photo reprint, N.Y.: Arno, 1975), p. 149-50. Female transvestites who took up life in the American West are cited by Reggie Sigal in "The Old West," Women,' A Journal of Liberation, vol. I, no. 3 (Spring 1970), p. 52. One is Charlie Parkhurst, a famous stagecoach driver. The other is Joe Monahan, of Succor Creek, Idaho, whose sex was discovered when she died in Dec. 1903. Sigal's source is Vardis Fisher and Opal L. Holmes, Gold Rushes and Mining Camps of the Early American West (Caldwell, Idaho: Caxton Printers, 1968). I wish to thank Elizabeth Amada for this information. Additional information on Charlie Parkhurst in Mary Chaney Hoffman, "Whips of the Old West," American Mercury,vol. 84 (April 1957), p. 107-10.

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