Virginia Prince

The glossary (select glossary in the Chrysalis drop-down menu) grows along with the magazine. We make new entries as people, places, and things appear in the various posts.

From now on we’ll be posting new glossary entries in the main body of the magazine as they’re added.


View the Chrysalis Glossary


Virginia Prince was known primarily for more than one-half century of activism on behalf of heterosexual crossdressers. From age 54 she lived full-time as a woman.

Born in Los Angeles with the name Arthur Lowman, she was  publicly crossdressing in her early  teens. When she was 40 years old her crossdressing was exposed  in an article in the Los Angeles Times. Crossdressers who read the article contacted her; this was the beginning of what would one day be a community. [1]

In 1960 Prince launched the magazine Transvestia and distributed it to the handful of crossdressers known to one another.

In the magazine, she developed a theory of crossdressing, featured photos, personal experiences, and fiction written by her readers, and sold her books about crossdressing.  She published 100 issues, ending her editorship in 1979. [2][3]

Prince began starting support groups at about the same time she launched Transvestia. including the Hose and Heels Club and The Foundation for Personality Expression. In 1976 FPE merged with Carol Beecroft’s Mamselle group to form The Society for the Second Self, which continues to provide support to heterosexual crossdressers through several dozen chapter. Offshoots of Prince’s groups continues in Europe and Australia and New Zealand.

Prince wrote or co-wrote more than a dozen  articles for professional journals. Her first appeared in The American Journal of Psychotherapy in 1957. Arguably, she was the first out crossdresser to publish anything other than an autobiography in the scientific press.

Prince was a controversial figure in the transgender community. Her insistence on excluding gay and bisexual crossdressers and transsexuals from her groups and her autocratic leadership style generated resistance from the earliest days of her groups. Dissatisfied crossdressers started support groups and published magazines just to defy her. She was vehemently opposed to sex reassignment surgery and frequently demeaned transsexuals. The ultimate result of her leadership style was a fractionated community that did not come together until the late 1980s.




Docter, Richard F. (2004). From man to woman: The transgender journey of Virginia Prince. Docter Press.

Ekins, Richard, & King, Dave. (2006). Virginia Prince: Pioneer of transgendering. CRC Press.

Hill, Robert. (2000). “As a man, I exist. As a woman, I live”: Heterosexual crossdressing and the contours of gender and sexuality in postwar America. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Michigan. Retrieved 10 August, 2013)

Raynor, D. (1966). A year among the girls. New York: Lyle Stuart.

Virginia Prince. A Gender Variance Who’s Who. (Retrieved 10 August, 2013)




[1] In the early 1940s Prince contrived to meet transsexual Barbara Wilcox and crossdresser Louise Lawrence after they were the subjects of psychiatry presentations at a California university.

[2] An early group of which Virginia was a part published several mimeographed issues were published in 1952.

[3] Prince’s books included Understanding Crossdressing, The Transvestite and His Wife, and How to Be a Woman Though Male.

[4] See Raynor, 1966.