Fonds 2008-006-3 - Virginia Prince fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

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Virginia Prince fonds

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  • Textual record
  • Graphic material

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Reference code

CA UVICARCH AR421-2008-006-3

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

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  • 1934-2003 (Creation)
    Prince, Virginia, 1912-2009

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Physical description

40 cm of textual records and graphic materials

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Biographical history

Virginia Prince was born Arnold Lowman in Los Angeles on 23 November 1912, and began crossdressing at the age of twelve. Lowman attended Pomona College and earned a PhD in pharmacology from the University of California at San Francisco in 1939, and later lectured there in pharmacology. Lowman married in 1941, later divorced and married his second wife in the late 1940s. They founded a grooming products business.

In 1960 Prince founded Transvestia magazine, published six times per year. Transvestia was edited by Prince until 1980 and then sold to Carol Beecroft. It folded within two years and was replaced by Femme Mirror, which is still published. In 1961 Prince started the first transvestite organization, the Hose & Heels Club, which in 1962 became the Alpha Chapter of the Foundation for Full Personality Expression (FPE or Phi Pi Epsilon). FPE became the Society for the Second Self (Tri Ess or Tri Sigma) in 1975. Membership was restricted to heterosexual male crossdressers.

Prince’s career in transgender education activism began in 1961 when she was prosecuted for distributing obscene materials through the US Mail because she had exchanged sexually explicit letters with another crossdresser. She was given probation and was forbidden to crossdress. Prince’s lawyer requested permission for her to crossdress for the purpose of educational presentations. Prince began living full-time as a woman in 1968, at the age of 55. Prince published a number of important works on crossdressing, amongst them The Transvestite and His Wife (1967) and How To Be a Woman Though Male (1971). While Prince’s stance on crossdressing in relation to gender identity has been controversial, her work raised societal awareness and fostered a sense of community. Virginia Prince died at home on May 2, 2009.

Virginia Prince was also known variously as Charles Prince and Virginia Bruce.

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Scope and content

Virginia Prince fonds is comprised of the following series: awards and certificates, correspondence, publications, photographs, and ephemera.

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