Introducing the revival of maudern mavericks, our IG series that highlights the people who have pioneered sex education and reproductive and civil rights. Meet the incomparable Lucy Hicks, an early voice of transgender rights and equality in the early 20th century.
1886, Waddy, Kentucky
Lucy Hicks Anderson was one of the earliest transgender women in the United States—long before the word transgender existed. She was the first trans person to be put on trial for her trans identity in the 1940s, after a career as a chef and brothel owner during prohibition.
Lucy was born as a male in the late 1880s in a small town in Kentucky. At an early age, she rejected her identity as a male, insisting her name was Lucy and dressing as a female. By the suggestion of a doctor, her parents allowed her to take on the identity of a woman.
Building her life
By 20, Lucy was living in Texas, working in domestic jobs to support herself. It was there she met her first husband and the two settled in Oxnard, CA. She became quite popular in town as a chef and hostess, working for the wealthy families planning parties and winning baking contests. She saved enough money to build a plot of land and build a brothel, serving alcohol during prohibition. So highly regarded in town, her illegal activities were often ignored and her life a socialite remained. She remarried a solider after divorcing her first husband in 1944—owning nearly an entire block in the Southern California town.
Trial and Jail Time
In 1945, the spread of Vinearal disease made its way through her brothel, and everyone associated was tested. It was there her identity at birth was revealed. She was charged with perjury for lying on her wedding certificate and fraud. Both she and her husband served jail time. In her defense in court, she said, “I defy any doctor in the world to prove that I am not a woman. I have lived, dressed, and acted just what I am—a woman.” A Time article in late 1945, exposed the story nationally and Lucy’s credibility and status were stripped from her.
She and her husband moved from Oxnard to Los Angeles, where they lived until her death in 1954.
More on James
“Lucy”, We’ve Been Around, Documentary Series
The Fountainheads: Lucy Hicks Anderson, Mother of Marriage Equality and Transgender Rights, New Now Next
The Inspiring True Story of Black Trans Pionner Lucy Hicks Anderson, Essence
Lucy Hicks Anderson, Queer Portraits