Share This

History and Significance

©2011 by Dallas Denny


In September 1990 I produced and distributed a one-page flyer telling the world about a new magazine. It was to called Chrysalis Quarterly. Its publisher was to be a new nonprofit: The Atlanta Educational Gender Information Service. The initial flyer for AEGIS went out in the same mailing that heralded the arrival of Chrysalis.

I had never edited or published a magazine before, only newsletters. My computer, a Commodore 64, had only a rudimentary windowing program, and I had no idea how to design, lay out, print, or distribute a magazine. I didn’t let that stop me.

Two talented designers came forward to help. Stephanie Rose laid out the first two issues using the layout program Quark XPress. Margaux Ayn Schaefer designed  the cover of issue 2 and produced a corporate identity package for AEGIS– now The American Educational Gender Information Service– and, keying from Stephanie’s work, redesigned the magazine.
A friend who worked in a print shop printed the pages and covers of the first five issues free of charge, and a group of volunteers would gather at my home– which was also AEGIS headquarters– to fold pages and hand-assemble some 1000 issues.
With a newly-obtained bulk mail permit from the U.S. Postal Service, we mailed the first issue in late 1990 to the members of the newly-formed AEGIS and to support groups and nonprofits around the world.
Chrysalis was a 8 1/2″ x 11″ magazine printed in two colors, stapled, with a glossy stiff cover and 45-65 pages heavy with text. Each issue was themed, addressing subjects important to transsexuals and other transgendered people: health, transformative medical procedures, relationships with families and friends, work, and community. Two issues had guest editors: In 1995, Jason Cromwell put together an all-FTM issue (#7), and in 1998 intersex activists Cheryl Chase and Martha Coventry guest-edited the final issue, #12).


As AEGIS’ flagship publication, Chrysalis reflected the organization’s statement of purpose, which was:
We promote nonjudgemental and nondiscriminatory treatment of persons with gender dysphoria, and advocate respect for their dignity, their right to treatment, and their right to choose their gender.
As strange as it may sound now, in 1990, years before the term transgender was used to describe our community,  those were radical words.
By the late 1990s so much social progress had been made that they were no longer controversial. Since AEGIS had effectively met its corporate goal, I initiated a rollover to the present-day Gender Education & Advocacy, Inc., which maintains a website at
It immediately became clear funds were insufficient to print the magazine quarterly. I changed the name to Chrysalis: The Journal of Transgressive Gender Identities and modified AEGIS’ database to make sure members got four issues before we asked them to renew.
In its twelve-issue run between 1990 and 1998, Chrysalis  featured articles by Anne Bolin, Suzanne Kessler, Jamison Green, Holly Boswell, Toby Meltzer, Gianna Israel, Kim Stuart, Stephen Whittle, Phaedra Kelly, Christine Beatty, Rachel Pollack, Merissa Sherrill Lynn, Callan Williams, Riki Anne Wilchins, Peggy Rudd, Bill Henkin, Jessica Xavier, Michael Hernandez, Sheila Kirk, Richard Ekins, Linda Phillips, Ruth Hubbard, and many others. Many of the idea advanced by the authors significantly influenced discourse, and some were revolutionary– for instance Holly Boswell’s The Transgender Alternative, which appeared in issue #2.

With its attractive layout, great writers, rational tone, and important subject material, Chrysalis made important contributions to the fledgling understanding of transgendered and transsexual people and did much to advance the above-stated goals of AEGIS. I’m proud to have been the magazine’s founder and editor.