Anecdotal evidence of the testimonies of patients who received treatments for sexual deviations and medical attitudes towards them are scattered in the recorded accounts of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, intersex and queer/questioning (GLBTIQ) people. This book examines the plight of men who were institutionalised in British mental hospitals to receive 'treatment' for homosexuality and transvestism, and the perceptions and actions of the men and women who nursed them. It explores why the majority of the nurses followed orders in administering the treatment - in spite of the zero success-rate in 'straightening out' queer men - but also why a small number surreptitiously defied their superiors by engaging in fascinating subversive behaviours. The book is specifically about the treatments developed for sexual deviations in the UK. Transvestism was also treated fairly widely; however, not to the same extent as homosexuality. After an examination of the oppression and suppression of the sexual deviant, the introduction of aversion therapies for sexual deviance is considered. During the 1930s-1950s, mental health care witnessed a spirit of 'therapeutic optimism' as new somatic treatments and therapies were introduced in mental hospitals. The book also examines the impact these had on the role of mental nurses and explores how such treatments may have essentially normalised nurses to implement painful and distressing 'therapeutic' interventions . The book interprets the testimonies of these 'subversive nurses'. Finally, it explores the inception of 'nurse therapists' and discusses their role in administering aversion therapy.
perception in relation to the
use of aversion therapy to ‘cure’ homosexuality and transvestism.
In this way, it seeks to offer fresh insight into both patients’ and
nurses’ perspectives on these treatments. It uses testimonies of
patients and nurses to explore the subject in ways that have not been
attempted before, and to texture more broadly focused histories of
these treatments and this period. This echoes recent moves towards
micro-histories particularly when looking at sexuality and nursing, as
a way of framing and answering questions about
those feelings in terms of
homosexual or heterosexual transvestism.6 Over the next ten years, the US
national picture changed from one of no significant institutional support
for transsexual endocrinology, therapy, and surgery to a situation where
by 1975 about twenty major medical centres were offering treatment and
some thousand transsexuals had been provided with surgery.7 Though
the early focus was on what are now termed trans women (then called
REAY (Sex in the Archives) PRINT.indd 132
the diaries of louis graydon sullivan
conflict with her or his gender role enters
a treatment programme for transsexuals, he argues, but is also the result
of a historical development. His historical analysis of this transformation
was based on his reading of the secondary histories of ‘sexual inversion’,
hermaphroditism and transvestism.2 Here I hope to present a more profound
analysis of that very transformation based on hermaphrodite case histories.
I hope to demonstrate, that what was once a social, moral and sometimes
legal conflict concerning a person inscribed as male or female whose physical
ideal was threatened by the
concept of effeminacy and transvestism. Indeed, many simply yielded
to the prevailing attitude of heterosexual domesticity, which was promoted within the film. Albert Holliday recalls how the pressure of this
‘propaganda’ largely influenced his decision to get married:
It seemed that every film I watched and book I read made marriage look
like such an attractive option. Maybe I was brainwashed [. . .] I didn’t want
to be lonely and there were a lot of questions from my family regarding me
getting married [. . .] I had met a girl at art
the mini-skirt and bikini for women and long hair for men, defied
conventional norms of behaviour and appearance. Popular music was
changing as the glam rock era emerged and David Bowie appeared as
the flamboyant, androgynous alter ego Ziggy Stardust. Peter Ackroyd
argues that Bowie challenged traditional gender roles and made
transvestism more broadly acceptable.42 There was also the emergence
of anti-establishment thinking, including challenges to the institution of psychiatry with the emergence of the ‘counter-psychiatry’
The archive has assumed a new significance in the history of sex, and this book visits a series of such archives, including the Kinsey Institute’s erotic art; gay masturbatory journals in the New York Public Library; the private archive of an amateur pornographer; and one man’s lifetime photographic dossier on Baltimore hustlers. The subject topics covered are wide-ranging: the art history of homoeroticism; casual sex before hooking-up; transgender; New York queer sex; masturbation; pornography; sex in the city. The duality indicated by the book’s title reflects its themes. It is an experiment in writing an American sexual history that refuses the confines of identity sexuality studies, spanning the spectrum of queer, trans, and the allegedly ‘normal’. What unites this project is a fascination with sex at the margins, refusing the classificatory frameworks of heterosexuality and homosexuality, and demonstrating gender and sexual indecision and flexibility. And the book is also an exploration of the role of the archive in such histories. The sex discussed is located both in the margins of the archives, what has been termed the counterarchive, but also, importantly, in the pockets of recorded desire located in the most traditional and respectable repositories. The sexual histories in this book are those where pornography and sexual research are indistinguishable; where personal obsession becomes tomorrow’s archive. The market is potentially extensive: those interested in American studies, sexuality studies, contemporary history, the history of sex, psychology, anthropology, sociology, gender studies, queer studies, trans studies, pornography studies, visual studies, museum studies, and media studies.
of the RMPA certificate for
admission to the register. They also agreed to the inclusion of psychology in the syllabus at the request of the RMPA.213
Training mental nurses regarding ‘sexual deviations’
There is a dearth of literature in nursing textbooks during this period
which discuss sexual deviations. The texts that do mention homosexuality and transvestism do so under the categories of ‘Sexual Perversions’,
‘Sexual Anomalies’ or ‘Sexual Disorders’.214 Furthermore, the emphasis
in these texts appears to be on describing these disorders rather than
77 Crowne, Pandion and Amphigenia, p. 99.
78 Ibid., p. 123.
79 Ibid., p. 279.
80 Ibid., p. 119.
81 Ibid., pp. 186–7.
82 Ibid., p. 97.
83 Robert H.F. Carver, ‘ “Transformed in Show”. The Rhetoric of Transvestism in
Sidney’s Arcadia’, English Literary Renaissance, 28:3 (2008), 323–52: 324.
84 Crowne, Pandion and Amphigenia, p. 305.
85 Ibid., pp. 291–2.
86 Carver, ‘Transformed in Show’, 306.
87 Winifred Schleiner, ‘Cross-Dressing and Transvestism in Renaissance Romances’,
The Sixteenth Century Journal, 19:4 (1988), 605–19: 619.
88 Nashe, The Vnfortunate
, with cotton bandanas around their heads, the women slung knapsacks over their backs and walked 20 kilometres to the village of Saas Fee from where they would complete a remarkable feat: the first Alpine cordée feminine , up the Mittaghorn, and a traverse of the Egginergrat ridge: rope climbing above 3,000 metres, including a difficult 100-metre ‘chimney’, bodies suspended over the abyss, without a male guide or escort. ‘Manless climbing’, as it was then known, was a highly subversive act and expression of modernity, encompassing subterfuge, transvestism, gender