Lou Sullivan

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For other people named Louis Sullivan, see Louis Sullivan (disambiguation).
Louis Graydon Sullivan
Born (1951-06-16)16 June 1951
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Died 2 March 1991(1991-03-02) (aged 39)
San Francisco, California
Nationality American
Occupation Author, activist
Known for Transgender activism

Louis Graydon Sullivan (16 June 1951 – 2 March 1991), born Sheila Jean Sullivan, was an American author and activist known for his work on behalf of trans men. He founded FTM International, the first exclusively FTM organization and is largely responsible for the modern acknowledgment that sexual orientation and gender identity are totally different concepts. [1]

Life and career[edit]

Sullivan grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In the early 1970s, Sullivan worked as a secretary for the Slavic Languages Department at the University of Wisconsin and got a boyfriend. Together in 1976, they moved to San Francisco. Sullivan started taking male hormones in 1978, then changed his name and took a job at a sporting goods store. He had chest reconstruction in 1980 and genital surgery in 1986. That year he was diagnosed with HIV, and he died of AIDS in 1991, aged 39.[2]

Sullivan wrote the first guidebook for FTM persons,[3] and also a biography of the San Francisco FTM, Jack Bee Garland.[4] Sullivan was instrumental in demonstrating the existence of trans men attracted to men.[5][6][7][8]

Personal & activist papers[edit]

Sullivan was a founding member and board member of the GLBT Historical Society (formerly the Gay and Lesbian Historical Society) in San Francisco. His personal and activist papers are preserved in the institution's archives as collection no. 1991-07; the papers are fully processed and available for use by researchers, and a finding aid is posted on the Online Archive of California.[9] The Historical Society has displayed selected materials from Sullivan's papers in a number of exhibitions, notably "Man-i-fest: FTM Mentoring in San Francisco from 1976 to 2009,"[10] which was open through much of 2010 in the second gallery at the society's headquarters at 657 Mission St. in San Francisco, and "Our Vast Queer Past: Celebrating San Francsico's GLBT History," the debut exhibition in the main gallery at the society's GLBT History Museum that opened in January 2011 in San Francisco's Castro District.[11]


  1. ^ Susan Stryker (1999). "Portrait of a Transfag Drag Hag as a Young Man: The Activist Career of Louis G. Sullivan," in Kate More and Stephen Whittle (eds). Reclaiming Gender: Transsexual Grammars at the Fin de Siecle, pp. 62-82. Cassells, ISBN 978-0-304-33776-7
  2. ^ Pat Califia (1997). Sex Changes : The Politics of Transgenderism. Cleis Press, ISBN 978-1-57344-072-1
  3. ^ Louis Sullivan (1980). Information for the female to male cross dresser and transsexual. Janus Information Society
  4. ^ Louis Sullivan (1990). From Female to Male: The Life of Jack Bee Garland. Alyson Publications, ISBN 978-1-55583-150-9
  5. ^ Eli Coleman & Walter O. Bockting. "Heterosexual" prior to Sex Reassignment – "Homosexual" Afterwards: A case Study of a Female-to-Male Transsexual. Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality. Vol 1(2). 1988 pp69-82
  6. ^ Susan Stryker (1998). Lou Sullivan. Third International Congress on Sex and Gender.
  7. ^ The Lou Sullivan Memorial Issue. FTMi Newsletter, Issue 58: Spring 2005.
  8. ^ Special Issue. FTM Newsletter, Summer 2007.
  9. ^ Guide to the Louis Graydon Sullivan Papers, 1755-1991 (bulk 1961-1991) (Online Archive of California).
  10. ^ "Exhibit Opening! Man-i-fest: FTM Mentorship in San Francisco from 1976-2009". History Happens! Monthly News From the GLBT Historical Society. March 2010. Retrieved 2011-03-20. 
  11. ^ B[ieschke], Marke (2011-03-08). "Mighty real: New GLBT History Museum brings "Our Vast Queer Past" to light". San Francisco Bay Guardian. Retrieved 2011-03-20. 

External links[edit]