In 1934: “Sex Change for Youth Turned Down By Parents”

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The Circleville Herald, July 11, 1934: Sex Change for Youth Turned Down By Parents

ST. CLAIRSVILLE, July 11 — Parents of Glen and John Deltrich, 16 and 17-year-old brothers, who are expected to die within a year because of a strange paralysis which strikes only male members of the family, today refused to allow their sons to become subjects of “sex change” experiments.

The suggestion had been made that the brothers be sterilized and then be inoculated with a serum that would develop female characteristics in the boys and perhaps prolong their lives.


Glen and John, their bodies twisted into contorted shapes, are victims of a mysterious hereditary spinal paralysis that has claimed the lives of seven other members of the Deitrich family in ‘the past three generations.

Because the disease strikes only male members of the family, the “sex change” experiments were suggested. Victims of ‘the malady, in the past, always have died at the age of 18 years.

Many doctors have offered to treat the boys but a clinic of 50 famous surgeons once was unable to determine the cause of the disease nor check it.


I appreciate the suggestions and help of ‘the medical profession regarding my children,” said Mrs. Deitrich, “but now they are about through with their suffering and I will let God handle the matter and net doctors who couldn’t help them in their youth. Particularly am I against sex-change ideas.”


Anyone have any ideas on what this mystery illness was supposed to have been that would be cured by a “sex change”? I mean, I can think of a ton of jokes to make about this, but I’d be interested in learning what they hell these doctors were thinking.

I find it an interesting testament to the patriarchal system of the 1930s that these parents would rather that their boys die than life long lives as women.  While I’m guessing that this presumed cure may have just been quackery, that’s not the point. The point is that the parents were given 2 choices: their kids could be male and die or be female and live and they chose to not take the step that would supposedly save the lives of their children because, to them, apparently death was the better option. 

In 1933: “Sex Change Possible, Physician Maintains”

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The Charleston Daily Mail, Nov. 3, 1933: “Sex Change Possible, Physician Maintains”

OKLAHOMA CITY, Nov. 3 (UP). — A man may “turn into a woman,” just as a California girl has assumed some of the physical characteristics of a man. Dr. Herbert M. Evans, professor of anatomy at University of California, said today.

“Our experiments with chickens show conclusively that hens have stopped laying eggs, grown combs and virtually become roosters,” said Dr. Evans, here for a clime meeting.

“It is possible that the woman might be turning into a man. ”Of course the change could not be complete in the human being except in the secondary sexual characteristics such as to contours of the, body, growth of coarse hair, change of voice and the like.

‘It also would be possible for a man to turn into a woman.”

Dr. Evans explained, however, that the fundamental characteristics of man or woman could not be sufficiently changed to cause any difference, without removal or addition of certain glands.

The specialist, noted since his work 13 years ago when he separated the sex and grow the hormones of the pituitary gland after long research, explained the present day need for more research in the branch of medicine dealing with glands of internal secretion.

“Medicine has practically reached the position where it has control of all infectious diseases, but only a start has been made in the field dealing with internal secretion glands,” he said.

More on the doctor mentioned in this article…


Dr. Herbert M. Evans

From Wikipedia:

Herbert McLean Evans (September 23, 1882–March 6, 1971) was a U.S. anatomist and embryologist.

He was born in Modesto, California. In 1908, he obtained his medical degree from Johns Hopkins University, eventually becoming its associate professor of anatomy. Evans moved back to California in 1915 and was made professor of anatomy at the University of California, in Berkeley, California, and held that position until his death.

His medical research at Berkeley addressed problems relating to human nutrition, endocrinology, embryology, and histology. In 1918, his research into the number of human chromosomes led him to believe the number to be 48, when most people assumed the number to be much higher. It was only later discovered that the correct figure was 46. Evans had much greater success however with hormones extracted from the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland. He isolated Human Growth Hormone, which was essential for human growth and development. In 1922 along with Katharine Scott Bishop, during feeding experiments on rats, he co-discovered Vitamin E which is needed for human reproduction. Evans became director of the Institute of Experimental Biology at Berkeley, in 1931. He continued his research on vitamine E and was finally able to isolate the pure compound from wheat germs in 1937. He also determined the formula C29H50O2. He was also instrumental in developing reproductive systems research with Miriam Sipson and C.H. Li, by studying the oestrus cycle of rats. Evans is also credited with developing Evans blue, a method which determines blood volume in humans and animals.

He died in Berkeley, California, aged 88.