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Memories of Divinity and Donna Nadeau (2004)

Memories of Divinity and Donna Nadeau (2004)

©2004, 2013 by Dallas Denny

Source: Denny, Dallas. (2004, Fall/Winter). Memories of Divinity and a memory of Donna Nadeau. Transgender Tapestry, 107, pp. 10-11.







By Dallas Denny


Divinity/John Greene


Transgender activist Divinity, also known as John Greene, died on 25 May of septicemia secondary to Hepatitis B. She was 63 years old. Divinity, who had previously lived in California and Arizona, resided in Greensboro, NC. For some ten years, she published All The Beautiful People, the newsletter of the Carolina Transexual Alliance, a networking group which she founded. According to Southern Comfort board member Holly Boswell, Divinity was Chair of the SCC conference in 1994. She had written for Transgender Tapestry.

Divinity was perhaps best known for a long-running feud with Tri-Ess’ Charlotte chapter, Kappa Beta, members of which, she was happy to tell anyone who would listen, once took offense at her attire.

According to the newspaper Q-Notes, Greene is survived by her mother, stepfather, a son in Seattle, and two brothers in Arizona. Her ashes were sent to her family in Arizona.


Doug/Donna Nadeau


Former IFGE Board member Doug Nadeau, known in the transgender community as Donna, passed away on 23 April, 2004 after falling on a run. He was 63 years old.

Nadeau was a regular at transgender conventions, despite a movement condition with symptoms similar to Parkinson’s Syndrome. In a 1998 television interview, she attributed her coming out as a crossdresser to changes in her social behavior incurred as a side effect of a 1995 brain operation to reduce her involuntary motor movements.

Nadeau a graduate of Princeton University, was active as an alumnus; she was also a graduate of Harvard Law School. She is survived by her wife, Lynne, and two sons, Ted and Greg.


This … is dedicated to the memory of a male-to-female transsexual who was murdered and whose murderer was not severely punished because people don’t really consider it to be such a bad thing to kill somebody who was crossdressed or transgendered and that attitude about people who are of that persuasion are not worthy of consideration and far treatment has got to be stopped.


 — Donna Nadeau, 1998



Memories of Divinity and a Memory of Donna


Perhaps my most poignant memory of Divinity is from one of the earlier Southern Comforts. New-queen-on-the-scene but already notorious Riki Anne Wilchins was rumored to be coming to the conference. Divinity, who was working security that year, and who, bristling with walkie-talkies and clipboards, resembled nothing so much as an officious good-old-boy deputy in a short skirt and blonde wig, was demanding Wilchins be physically removed if she dared to show. Cooler heads prevailed (with me leading the charge), fortunately. Wilchins came, and by the end of the conference, half of the attendees were wearing Transexual Menace t-shirts.

Divinity could be difficult to contact. She had no home phone, and did not use e-mail. If I had one phone call from her while I was away during the day (I told her my schedule many times), I must have had fifty, giving me a schedule of her movements and phone numbers where she could be reached. Invariably, by the time I got home and reviewed my calls, her time frame had expired. Whenever I would call one of her numbers, the person answering the phone would be clearly annoyed at getting the call and unwilling to take a message.

The only reliable way to reach her was by U.S. mail— although much of the time I wasn’t sure about her address, as she was chronically underemployed and moved about a lot. Once she phoned when I was actually at home and told me she had been sleeping in the stretch limo she was driving— not a pretty thought.

Eventually, Divinity found what would be considered a dream job by many crossdressers— selling sexy clothing to strippers out of the trunk of her car. She enjoyed this work, and kept at it until her death.

Divinity’s feud with Charlotte’s Tri-Ess chapter Kappa Beta was of long duration and high intensity. She could not let it go, and neither, apparently, could at least some of Kappa Beta’s leadership. The feud started, according to Divinity, when she wore her usual short skirt and a pair of condom earrings to a K-B meeting. She rarely passed up an opportunity to snipe at Kappa Beta, either in print or verbally.

Still, Divinity was a good and caring person. She was concerned for transgendered people and worked hard, in her own way, to fight for our rights. She was a passionate supporter of Southern Comfort, even though she was bitterly disappointed at not being named to the board after being conference Chair. Her All The Beautiful People, which was a pastiche of clippings from Tapestry, Chrysalis (a magazine I used to edit), newspaper articles and cartoons, and womens’ magazines like Cosmopolitan and Allure, sprinkled with lots of opinions from the editor, was always an interesting read.

At one point (I think it was during the limousine period), Divinity found it necessary to dip into ATBP’s funds to keep herself alive. To her credit, she owned up to it in the pages of the newsletter and promised to pay the money back— and I’m quite sure she did.

I did not escape Divinity’s wrath. She talked me into agreeing to present at her planned Trans-Am conference, to be held in Charlotte, a drive of about four hours from my home in Atlanta. As the date of the conference drew near, with no word from Divinity, it was clear Trans-Am wasn’t going to happen. With her erratic lines of communication, there was little I could do but wait for a call. It never came.

As luck would have it, Divinity’s nemesis, Kappa Beta, invited me to their cotillion to speak in Charlotte the same weekend (somehow, I don’t think the overlap of dates was a coincidence). I agreed, thinking that if by some miracle Trans-Am were to come off, I would be at hand. I had a great time with some great folks at the K-B Cotillion.

When I finally heard from Divinity, it was by letter, blessing me out about TransAm. I wasn’t sure what I had done wrong. I suspected I was a convenient target for her frustration at the cancellation of the conference.

Divinity’s death came as a shock to me. Although she was in her sixties, she was so ornery and so vibrant and so determined that I guess I thought she would live forever. Alas, she didn’t. As irritating as I found her at times, I would like nothing more than to come home from work one day soon and find one or her cryptic messages on my answering machine.


I didn’t know Donna Nadeau nearly so well as I did Divinity, but she certainly made for an exciting time for me at the 2002 Fantasia Fair. Her Parkinson-like symptoms were severe by that time (in 2001, she had brought a personal assistant; in 2002, she didn’t, and she gave the Fair no advance notice she was coming.

Provincetown may be one of the least accessible towns in the United States. Although the terrain is mostly flat, the buildings are hundreds of years old, with lots of stairs. There are few ramps. I make my living working with people with disabilities, and I know what a problem that can be. When Donna showed at the office, I took her aside and, in my capacity as Fair Director, told her to please let us know if she needed any special services or support.

That year Donna stayed at an inn on the West End, a good mile from town center, where most of the Fair activities are held. She picked the only inn in town that sat high on a sand dune, fifty feet or more above the level of the street.

On the evening of the Fashion Show Dainna Cicotello came to me (I was director of the Fair). Somehow, she had received word Donna had left her inn and was walking the mile to the Crown & Anchor. It was after dark, and, as is typical of October weather on Cape Cod, windy and spitting rain. Dainna and I spent a frantic forty-five minutes cruising Provincetown’s streets looking for her. We didn’t find her, but when we got back to the C&A, there she was, out of breath and in the midst of a panic attack:  although she hadn’t talked with the directors of the Fashion Show, she wanted to participate. It was ninety minutes until curtain time.

Now, to be in the show, one must register and rehearse. Miqqi Gilbert (the very same Miqqi Gilbert who is Reviews Editor and a columnist for this magazine) was nowhere about. I told Donna I would talk to Miqqi when she arrived (she wasn’t due for another forty-five minutes), that I was sure we could accommodate her request to be in the show. I asked if she had eaten. No. I found a sandwich and soft drink for her and said, “Why don’t you take a seat and eat? Do you need help or can you handle this yourself? You can? Okay, then why don’t you eat and then spent the next forty minutes or so relaxing and cooling off. I’ll ask Miqqi to see if someone can help you with your hair and makeup. Did you bring the outfits you want to wear? Good. We’re going to leave you alone now. I’ll be back to check on you before the show.”

Donna was in the show, and you know what? She was fabulous.