Michael née Laura The story of the world's first female-to-male transsexual


Michael née Laura  The story of the world's first female-to-male transsexual

Oxford blue, garage hand, medical student, philanthropist, ship’s doctor, prolific author, heir to a baronetcy - and ordained Buddhist; the subject of this biography was all of these, but most extraordinary of all, Michael Dillon was born female.

As Laura, Dillon had a humdrum childhood in Folkestone, where she was raised by two miserly maiden aunts. Always she rebelled against their expectations that she would grow up a conventional, compliant young lady, happy to wait for the day when some man would make her his wife. She favoured masculine pursuits and made greater intellectual demands on herself than were ever expected of young women of her aristocratic background. Then came the struggle for a university place and the start of Laura’s fight to become male.

At Oxford, few expressed surprise at her eccentric behaviour and rowing gave her a chance to wear male clothing. But as time went on Laura knew that the only answer to her growing mental agony was to become physically what she felt herself to be mentally and emotionally Eventually she found a surgeon to help her, and thus became, in 1949, the first biological female to change sex by means of hormone treatment and surgery. While undergoing the long and painful series of operations that brought this about, Dillon had qualified as a doctor, in Dublin, and also experienced, for the first and only time, the joys and sorrows of falling in love.

Now came yet another venture - a career as ship’s doctor, abruptly curtailed when, some years later, the press discovered that the heir to the baronetcy of Lismullen had begun life as a woman. In order to escape the glare of publicity, and assuming that his naval career must now be at an end, Michael staged a ‘disappearance’, initially to India, where he was eventually ordained a Tibetan monk. He lived in grinding poverty, seeking to earn an income by writing, and by 1962 had achieved a fair degree of success. But by now he was weak from malnutrition, having never come to terms with the meagre vegetarian diet of the Buddhist monastery. His struggles came to an end a few days after his 47th birthday

Liz Hodgkinson’s account of the life of this remarkable and accomplished individual is based on Dillon’s unpublished autobiography and correspondence as well as extensive interviews with those who knew him.

Liz’s interest in transsexuals started when she wrote a book about transsexual Roberta (Betty) Cowell

Michael née Laura was used by playwright / actor Phil Kingston as the basis for Michael’s story in his production “Dr. Dillon & Ms. Georgia: Two Transgender Lives”

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