Colonization, Enslavement and Forced Assimilation: Narratives Built Upon the Virginia Prince Fountainhead Myth

In this post I review the rhetoric employed by transsexuals who have refused to use “transgender” to describe their experience while claiming that Virginia Prince coined the term to only refer to people like herself: heterosexual crossdressers who live full-time as female but do not wish to undergo any genital reconstructive surgery.

This is part two of a 2-part series reviewing the ubiquity of this myth as it relates to trans discourse.

Part 1: The Ubiquity of the Prince Fountainhead Narrative

Part 2: Colonization, Enslavement and Forced Assimilation: Narratives Built Upon the Virginia Prince Fountainhead Myth


What follows are quotes from various sources, at various points in time, which reject “transgender,” citing the Virginia Prince Fountainhead Myth:

Was Janice Raymond Right?” 2007,

“This is when the term “transgendered” suddenly went from it’s former specific meaning to including anyone remotely gender non-conforming. Coined by rabidly transsexual phobic Charles “Virginia” Prince who published many of those crossdresser fantasy magazines of earlier days and who founded Tri-Ess, a rabidly homophobic and transsexual phobic network of support groups for crossdressers, “transgender” and “transgendered” suddenly were sold as shorthand for transsexual. The reason for this was actually quite simple. Transvestism is sexually driven, transsexuality isn’t and anything other than plain vanilla heterosexual sex is both verboten and shameful in our society, at least as far as the public face of people is concerned. “

Transgender Inc. and The Transgender Borg Collective and Why I Use those Terms for the “Transgender Community” 09/07/2011

I know that the roots of the “Transgender Community” are in the heterosexual transvestite communities, that Virginia Prince coined Transgender. (The quibble point about Prince coining Transgenderist not Transgender is BS. Transgenderist is to transgender what feminist is to feminism.)

Attention all Women Born with a Transsexual and/or Intersex Birth Challenge: You Have The Right to Vote Too! Happy Women’s Equality Day!” August 17, 2010

Next week, August 26, is National Women’s Equality Day! August 26th is the anniversary that women won the right to vote. Also, late transitioning transgender males and white heterosexual cross dressing males are not the only ones who have the right to vote on issues pertaining to transsexual, transgender and intersex (TTI) equality, however, they have colonized the transsexual community. The results of this colonization has been devastating to the progress of transsexual (TS) and intersex (IS) Americans. Look at the history, and the law books- it’s all there. Ever since cross dressing men and transvestites co-opted the transsexual movement, TS folks have actually LOST already pre-existing rights. And ever since Gay Inc co-signed the transgender fascista’s co-opting of the transsexual birth challenge, many in society have been miseducated about the transsexual birth challenge, and it has been gay appropriated in a very oppressive way….

When you know the REAL history of this issue, its really upsetting. It was actually transsexual women who gained all the initial rights for the TTI communities in the early 1900’s. Then after Stonewall, some quack cross dressing heterosexual male named Virginia Prince (who was an open misogynist,voiced public disdain for the transsexual communities, and was homophobic against gay and lesbian people) decided to rally the other white heterosexual cross dressing males to usurp the transsexual community against their will. And since the patriarchy supported the sexualizing and silencing of TS women, it was easy for CD males to hijack the TS movement. Everything started to go downhill after that for women and men born with transsexualism.

Suzan @ June 12, 2011, 3:25 AM, Commenting on CAP Poll: Support for Trans Rights, June 10, 2011

There are a lot of things I think of when I hear the term transgender. Mostly negative. I do not like the misogyny directed towards post-transsexual women. Nor the colonization and erasure of our difference from transgender people.

Too often I think of the “Transgender Borg Collective” when I hear the term, a cult like group of people who all echo the same talking point endlessly and abusively towards post-transsexual women who do not want to be considered part of their “community”.

Transgender was coined by Virginia Prince, a homophobic heterosexual (sic) and misogynist who hated transsexual women. Prince’s words are the same word directed at those of us who had sex change operations and want nothing to do with the cult.

Transgender as umbrella is dead…

Feel free to use it strictly for people who live full time or for cross dressers but count me and others out

Radical Bitch @ January 3, 2010, 6:40 PM, Commenting on Should We Scrap the Word “Transgender”?, January 3, 2010

Finally let’s consider that “transgender” was based on terminology that was extremely transsexual-phobic (the transsexual hating Charlie Prince) in the first place and “gender” being malleable is based on the single John Money John-Joan case exposed as a total fraud but still seems to inform those who promote this mistaken idea.

So, a term that began as an insulting separation to those who now reject it that has no scientific reality (gender identity is fixed at almost the same moment of pre-natal development as sexual orientation) is the preferred term?

As Agent K said in Men in Black II “This is a clear case of go home and do it over again”.

Two Points @ August 8, 2009, 3:23 AM, Commenting on The HBS Controversy and the Fun of Fallacious Reasoning (And For The Uninformed: GID)

While there may be no conspiracy pursy, historically TG when put into the common lexicon by Charles “Virginia” Prince, was done quite purposely with one and only one goal.

Tie TG and TS into being “the same.”

For this I need to point to any documentation. This information was gathered directly from the horse’s mouth as it were. I attended one of the IFGE early functions many years’ back and “Virginia” seeing something in me. What I do not know, decided to make me a pet project. For four days and three nights, I was regailed (hammered would be more accurate) with the history of Transvestites in America from the 30’s onward. All recounted in excruciating detail as was TS, As I might add ,seen by Prince. who for the record, denounced it as total fraud… ( this sour grapes response of his came aobut followed Dr Benjamin’s refusal to recommend Virginia for surgery. Again this from his mouth to my ears)

I will have to give Virginia this. He was a dedicated man and when he set his sights on a goal he accomplished it. That and he was also very good at making vital connections with like minded persons. Virginia, having decided on a very personal and moral level that there was no difference between TS and TV, and not wanting anything to do with TV as the perversion it was perceived of in the early years. (Which btw did resulted in his being arrested and sentenced to five years on a felony charge of sending obscene content through the mail) Set his sights on glomming onto the slim legal and social acceptance TS had gathered at the time. Legitimacy created by TS being seen, not as a psychiatric issue but as correctable medical issue and no threat to the binary.

May 12th, 2011 at 12:25 pm Comment on In Community, Genitalia & Socialization Essentialism Has Been Around For Awhile, Thursday May 12, 2011 5:00 am

These trans people who can never forgive Daly, apologize all over the place for the single most transsexual phobic person to ever roam the earth, Virgina Prince, who coined the term transgender which is now applied to those Prince most hated as part of a forced umbrella inclusion that essentially denies the womanhood of those female bodied, fully woman identified women with transsexed or intersexed histories.

Go figure…

NPR, Listener: Don’t Call Me Transgender, April 1, 2011

“After that conversation, somebody posted this to our online forum: As a transsexual-identified woman, I find the use of the words transgender, transgenderism, gender nonconforming and gender variance highly offensive when applied to me. These are LGBT community buzzwords that should only be applied to their community – not to transsexuals that live outside of it, or that aren’t trying to break gender norms. The LGBT community efforts to push this word to include all transsexuals is shameful. She blogs under the name Transsexual People Aren’t Transgendered.”

Gay Histories and Cultures: An Encyclopedia, (2000) Volume 2, pp 888 – 890

Transgender… The term is said to derive from transgenderist, coined in the 1960s be male-to-female cross-dresser and early transgender researcher Virginia Prince as an alternative to the stigmatizing and objectifying medical category of “transvestite…”

Bolin, Bornstein, Feinberg, and other clearly view transgender as both the cause and the effect of a renewed fender and sexual revolution. Not everyone shared their view, however. Some transsexuals are proud of having changed sexes, rather that confounding them, and reject the transgender identity for erasing their own, “Every application of the term transgender to me is an attempt to mask what I’ve done and as such co-opts my life, denies my experience, violates my very soul. I changed my sex… and provide that anatomy is not destiny,” Margaret Deidre O’Hartigan has emphatically asserted.”

NOTE: O’Hartigan made these statements in 1993

January 6th, 2008 at 10:09 am, Commenting on The Unfortunate Statements of Susan Stanton, January 2, 2008

Definitions”You might define transgender that way, and not label yourself with it, which is fine. But will others define it differently irrespective of your interpretation?”The colonization of my life by transvestites angers me no end.I refuse to wear the label created by a viciously misogynistic transsexual hating full time transvestiteie Virginia Prince.I was around way back when transgender simply meant a person who lived full time as a member of the sex opposite their current genitals. fine that label worked for a number of my friend who fell into two camps homosexual & heterogender meaning keeping their penises while living as women and the other group heterosexual & homogendered meaning those keeping their penises while liking women. (several of my lovers). I got my SRS and then I moved on. Transgenders have zero right to demand that I work for their political cause. Nor should the men in dresses have a right to “define” me as transgender without my consent. Transgender is an identity politics label pure and simple and the more you try to label me with it the more I view y’all as the problem.I find the transgender community far more oppressive of me than the world at large. I am particularly bothered by your campaign against people who are working for issues I consi9der far more important to me than transgender protections ie same sex marriage.Further most of those pushing transgender as umbrella and dermanding L/G folks put their political goals front and center are heterosexual males who come out in middle age after years of male privilege.This very same group turns around and spurns the drag queen community of trannie sex workers who were my friends as not representing transgender when they are the real transgenders.


There’s even a petition to “Let My People Go” that appeals to the Virginia Prince Fountainhead Narrative:



From Wikipedia:

From 10/9/2009

This is from a capture of a 2009 wiki article which states that:

Some transsexuals also take issue with the term because Charles “Virginia” Prince, the founder of the cross dressing organization Tri-Ess and coiner of the term “transgender”,[23] did so because she wished to distinguish herself from transsexual people.

The citation (23) leads to a website called,  LGBTQ: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, bisexual, transgender, & queer culture.  This site states:

Prince (henceforth referred to as “she”) was divorced from her second wife in 1964 and began living full-time as a woman. It appears that Prince was the first person to coin the term “transgender,” which she used to describe her desire to become a woman socially without having to modify her genitals.

The Wikipedia article was first edited to note that some transsexuals did not use transgender because Price supposedly coined the term on May 14, 2008. The original article read:

Transgender vs. Transsexual

As long as the term transgender has existed, there have been reasons to use it distinctly and separately from the term transsexual. In fact, Virginia Prince, who coined various forms of “transgender” and is generally given credit for coining the base form itself (see:, did so because she wished to distinguish herself from transsexual people she saw as both sick and different from herself. As an example, her statement from the essay, “Men Who Choose to Be Women” in an issue of Sexology magazine (as cited in “Gay Vs. Trans in America,” The Advocate, Dec. 18, 2007 now online at reads: “I, at least, know the difference between sex and gender and have simply elected to change the latter and not the former,”. While distinctions between sex and gender are often recognized, (see Gender, an Ethnomethodological Approach by Kessler and McKenna for a thorough discussion of the relationships and meanings of the two terms) this condescending attitude is rejected by a number of transsexual people who also note that if the term was created to distinguish folk who challenge gender from folk who challenge sex, subsuming transsexual people under the rubric of transgender would then be both incorrect on its sex vs. gender face as well as disrespectful (see: Max Wolf Valerio in “Now That You’re a White Man,” from This Bridge We Call Home by Anzaldua and Keating elucidates this struggle well, with reasons that he notes including the fact that breaking with norms of sex creates distinct experiences and needs from breaking with norms of gender. Also, he finds a link between queer theory, academia, social class, and anti-transsexual perspectives that presume transsexual people to be gender oppressive. In fact, in many transgender perspectives and writings, Max notes, transsexual people are given more responsibility for gender oppression (including the gender binary and what is commonly referred to as sexism) than non-transsexual, non-transgender men who accrue the most benefit from the current hierarchy of power. Finally, he explains the tendency towards invisibilization of transsexual people is increased when non-transsexual people are seen as having authority to speak for transsexual people. This is perhaps a natural consequence as conflating transgender and transsexual is only possible by conflating gender and sex.

Versions of this Prince Fountainhead Narrative remained on wikipedia until June, 28, 2012 – just over four years.


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  • Lenny Y. Singleton

    While these various types of transsexuals were clearly explained to the public in 1966 via Benjamin’s The Transsexual Phenomenon, pop-culture’s understanding of “transsexual” only seemed to include the Type 6 transsexual. Both Virginia Prince and Christine Jorgensen didn’t seem to appreciate having this term applied to their experience as both of them reacted by taking on other trans terms (Jorgensen, trassex in 1971 and transgender in 1979; Prince, transgenderal in 1969 and transgenderist in 1978).

  • Sung Luna

    Transsexual is a more precisely defined term than transgender in that researchers and clinicians use the term to describe people who undergo or want to undergo sex reassignment. Those engaging with the medical community organized around the term frequently passing through a series of understandings of themselves in relation to the term “transsexual”: (1) unaware of the term, (2) wondering if it applies to them, (3) seeing how their medical needs mean it does, and (4) later identifying themselves as “having been” transsexual while engaged with the medical process but simply being men or women [1] . The term “transsexual” thus retains a stable meaning relative to treatments that would be impossible without scientific knowledge regarding things like sex hormones and surgical techniques.

    • Cristan

      It’s nice to think so. However, when I train clinicians, I have to teach them to ask their patients what they mean when they claim to be transgender OR transsexual and to never make assumptions about where that person wants to go simply because they use one of these terms as a self-identity. Many clinicians see self-identified transsexuals who do not want surgery.

      Also, this is a cut and paste from which refrenses (without any page numbers) In Search of Eve, written in 1987. In Search of Eve also says:

      Transsexuals utilize the concepts of their own culture to construct their own transgender experience.

      – In Search of Eve: Transsexual Rights of Passage, 1987, Page 100

      Also, keep in mind that in 1987 (when In Search of Eve was published, not written), transsexual – in the way you mean it – was only 7 or 8 years old. The term had been redefined by Dr. Paul Walker in his HBIGDA SOC 1, published in 1979, but more widely disseminated in the early 1980s. Prior to that, clinicians used transsexual in the same way we use transgender today: some used transsexual to refer to many types of trans people and others only used it to refer to Type 6 transsexuals. Walker tried to standardize its use in the SOC 1.

      Either way, the reality is that on a clinical level – which is the level you’re appealing to – the term “transsexual” can STILL mean many things to many people.

  • Courtney V. Hanson

    This is not an FTM issue. I was making a statement as to why transgender and transsexual are not that far apart. I am not disagreeing with your scientific statements, but with the seemingly prevailing “transsexual is ‘more than’ transgender” attitude. My personal experience and of many of your discredited ‘non-op’ transsexuals is that our gender declaration is far more important psychologically , spiritually, and mentally, than adjusting our bodies. Do we still want the surgery? Yes, but for various reasons (not just money, time, or health), may decide otherwise. We often stick to the term transgender because we are all transgender first and transsexual if we decide we want the surgical adjustments, but we all would like a magic wand to take away the bodies we have. So ‘non-op’ may be a personal decision for social, religious, or political reasons, but the transsexual definition is a psychological one, based on the discomfort of the mind with a body it does not see as correct. Non-op’s still have that. My desire for SRS and top surgery is strong, but my desire to live is stronger. I, personally, would have to wait for money and health before even starting hormones.My point in the second paragraph is: It is not my body that decided my gender, it was imprinted in my brain. And no amount of surgery (from none to full) will change my gender. I’m ALREADY a man. The surgery will change my SEX, but not my gender, and that is why the militant declaration of “If you have a penis, you are a man” rang false to me. If you have a penis, you are MALE; but if your brain says otherwise, you are not a MAN. Someone actually said that transgendered persons shouldn’t have the privileges of transsexuals – using gender appropriate bathrooms, pronouns, etc. Laws against discrimination that cover gender expression and identity would protect all of us. And I don’t want there to be unnecessary social divides that create ‘us vs. them’ mentalities. I see that enough, already.

  • Willow Arune

    Gawds! i do find it strange that those I know who profess transsexual purity are also those who, while claiming to be post-op transsexuals, have never moved on into life as a woman. A certain person in San Francisco comes to mind. As a rule, these “transsexual fundamentalists” are lonely isolated creatures who seems to spend hours on line defaming anyone and everybody who expresses a thought contrary to their dogma. They are often those who out others, used incorrect pronouns, and generally break every rule of civil behaviour known to civilised people. It also seems part of the purity sisters to state, repeatedly and as often as space permits, that they are women and not transsexual yet they still denounce the term trangender which implies it may be used to include them. It is as a rule impossible to debate then without finding yourself under attack with such tactics as many who bear scars from such types can testify. It is my belief that the term “transgender” has, like the word “gay” and so many others, morphed into a new meaning over the past two decades, so basing any argument on its original meaning is a fruitless task best left to those who have the time to waste. The new meaning is clearly that which uses it as an umbrella term for all those who have gender variant lifestyles, of any form or kind. it has long lost the “Price” meaning. i have no problem about its use regarding myself, any more than I hide “what” I am. There are those who say “I will not be labelled”, notwithstanding they are labeled every day as conservative or liberal, of one political party or another, and as one of many in pools and surveys from coast to coast, and nation to nation. indeed, man and woman are “labels”. in all events, I wish you well with your essays on this topic. I fear no minds will be changed as the purity sisters are frozen in the ice of intolerance, bigotry, and very often, hatred.

    • Cristan

      Ha! I know exactly to whom you refer! Her trolling trail is, at this point, decades long.

      As far as my interest in this topic, it was spurred on by the historical narrative it asserted: one crossdresser told all trans people to use one term and, for some inexplicable reason, everyone did. Having worked in community organizing for many years at that point, the claim seemed outlandish. Community organizing is, at the best of times, like herding cats. The Prince story sounded Mosaic in tone; one leader made a pronouncement and all trans people stepped in line.

      I am incredibly indebted to folks who would attack me with the Prince Fountainhead Narrative. Their assertions had that True Believer quality and every authoritative source I checked backed up their claim: one trans person who disliked transsexual people told everyone to use the term and everyone somehow obeyed. If it wasn’t for their attacks, all the rich history I discovered would not have been found.

      Had they not shoved that false history down my throat to justify their behavior, we wouldn’t know that the earliest known use of transgender was in 1965 by a doctor who asserted that transsexuals should instead use transgender because people might wrongly assume that sexuality drives transsexuals. He said that the drive to transition was about gender and therefore transsexuals should be known as transgender. A nuance about this usage is important in understanding the whole umbrella taxonomy: in 1965 a transsexual was seen as an extreme transvestite, in line with Magnus Hirschfeld trans paradigm. “Transsexual” didn’t enter the popular trans lexicon until a year after when Benjamin published The TS Phenomenon and even then, Benjamin’s “transsexual” was an umbrella term inclusive of the occasional CDer to folks like Christine Jorgensen. Hell, Jorgensen’s LP interview is devoid of the term and “transsexual” didn’t enter the American pop lexicon until the mid 1970s and by the late 1970s, Jorgensen was calling herself a transgender person. By 1975 “transgenderist” (3 years before Prince used the term) was commonly used within trans publications.

      I think you’re correct: the way “transgender” came to be used was an organic process. Many groups/people/communities shaped its current use. It didn’t pop into existence just because Prince used it.

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