Lucy Hicks Anderson

Lucy Hicks Anderson was a Black trans woman who was a skilled chef, socialite and madam. Ms. Anderson’s connections to people in power helped her avoid jail time one of the times she got arrested: in his book, “Black on Both Sides: a Racial History of Trans Identity,” C. Riley Snorton writes, “When the sheriff arrested her one night, her double-barreled reputation paid off—Charles Donlon, the town’s leading banker, promptly bailed her out [because] he had scheduled a huge dinner party which would have collapsed dismally with Lucy in jail.” In 1945, a sailor claimed he caught a venereal disease from one of the women in Ms. Anderson’s brothel, so all of the women, including Ms. Anderson, were required to undergo medical examination. When the Ventura County District Attorney learned from this examination that Ms. Anderson had been assigned male at birth, he chose to try her for perjury, arguing that she lied about her sex on her marriage license and impersonated a woman. During the trial, Ms. Anderson stated “I defy any doctor in the world to prove that I am not a woman,” and “I have lived, dressed, acted just what I am, a woman.” However, the court convicted her of perjury on her marriage license and sentenced her to 10 years of probation. Ms. Anderson died in 1954 at the age of 68. The “Handbook of LGBT Elders” refers to Ms. Anderson as “one of the earliest documented cases of an African-American transgender person.”

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