Tag Archives: transsexual

Transformation – January 18th

We spent the winter holidays rooting through archives, books, and interviews, looking to surface Calgary’s transgender history. If one considers gay and lesbian history hidden and underground, trans history seems to exist in the sub-basement. For that reason, it is crucial to discover. Our history is complex; we need to hear diverse narratives to generate a fulsome understanding of our community’s story.


January 18th, 2019, at the Calgary Central Library, 800 3 St. SE

That is why we are so delighted to be working with One Voice Chorus to present Transformation: A History of Calgary’s Transgender Community on Saturday, January 18th at the Central Libary, 7:30 PM. Part live music, part history presentation, we are mixing it up in the cold mid-winter. Tickets are on sale online: here, and there is a sliding scale option at the door. Come out for inspiration and history; please join us!


A Trans Pioneer Making Excellent Theatre at the High Performance Rodeo

Belgian artist Vanessa Van Durme is in Calgary this week performing in her autobiographical play, Look Mummy, I’m Dancing, at the High Performance Rodeo.

One Yellow Rabbit presents: Look Mummy, I’m Dancing

The play is a heartfelt monologue that leaves the viewer with a lingering insight into her life as a transsexual woman; leaving an artistic impression of both the pain and triumph it caused her.  Born male in 1948, Van Durme struggled with her gender identity, coming into conflict with her parents and society at large.  As a young adult, she turned to prostitution in order to survive in an ignorant and marginalizing society.

However in 1975, her life took a turn when she travelled to Morocco to undergo a sex change operation.  The operation was conducted at the Clinique Du Parc, in Casablanca, which for decades was a spot of international pilgrimage for those suffering from “gender disphoria syndrome.”

Clinque du Parc was founded by Dr. Georges Burou, an innovator and pioneer of modern male-to-female sex reassignment surgery.  He invented the technique in 1956, and by the time Van Durme had her surgery the clinic had performed more than 3000 operations.

British born April Ashley (née George Jamieson) underwent the gender reassignment surgery at Clinique Du Parc in 1960 and found herself later in high-profile divorce proceedings with her aristocratic husband. The case hinged on a court deciding her gender and caused ripples through the Commonwealth.  Her husband was successful in nullifying their marriage by establishing that she was not legally a woman (whose precedent in England did not get overturned until 2004’s Gender Recognition Act).

Clinique Du Parc had Canadian patients as well.  In the early 1970’s, Canadian Provinces struggled to amend their vital statistics laws to allow transsexuals to change gender on their birth certificates – controversial in its day.  Alberta amended their Vital Statistics Act in 1973 to allow post-operative trans-sexual persons to be able to change their birth certificates.

I will be interviewing Van Durme about her artistic practice this evening at 6:30 PM in the Laycraft Lounge, EPCOR CENTRE for the Performing Arts, 225 8th Ave SE (2nd floor).  Please come out to this free event.