Mary Elizabeth Clark

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Sister Mary Elizabeth Clark (born 1938, in Pontiac, Michigan) is the main mover of the AIDS Education and Global Information System database, previously a pre-World Wide Web bulletin board system.[1]

Clark was born as Michael Clark, and served as a United States Navy chief petty officer (E-7), serving as an instructor in anti-submarine warfare. She later underwent a sex change operation and became Joanna Clark; knowing of her past,[2] a U.S. Army Reserves recruiter signed her up for the Army, which she enlisted in 1976.[3] A year-and-a-half later she was nominated for promotion to Warrant Officer. Her enlistment was voided when her history became known to higher-ups. She brought suit against the Army and won a settlement of $25,000 and an honorable discharge.[4][5]

During the 1970s, she was an activist for the rights of transsexuals and was instrumental in winning the right of Californians to have their gender changed on their birth-certificates and driver's licenses. In 1980, she founded and led the ACLU Transsexual Rights Committee.

In the 1980s, she felt a religious calling and worked to become an Episcopal sister. Conflict with the church led to her leaving it shortly after she took her vows in 1988, and she has since become a sister of the American Catholic Church, a small independent church using Catholic rites.

Also in the 1980s she continued the work of the Erickson Educational Foundation, aiding transgender people.[6][7]

In 1990, inspired by meeting an isolated young man with AIDS in rural Missouri, she returned to her family home in San Juan Capistrano, taking on the bulletin board system AEGiS begun by Jamie Jemison and eventually building it into the largest AIDS information database in the world.

She is the recipient of the Award of Courage from the American Foundation for AIDS Research,[8] the Jonathan Mann Award for Health and Human Rights from the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care,[9] the Crystal Heart award from the San Diego GLBT Center and the Joan of Arc award from the Orange County Community Foundation. In 2005 she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "About: AEGiS History". AIDS Education Global information System. Archived from the original on October 22, 2007. Retrieved 2017-01-28.
  2. ^ Duke, "Transsexual Wars with the Army," Los Angeles Times (Sept 14, 1977)
  3. ^ The Crystal Chronicle, November 1998. Retrieved on 2015-06-02.
  4. ^ Pasco, Jean O. (December 1, 1997). "A Life of Service: Sister Mary, whose past has seen many painful twists and turns, now brings comfort to others with the world's most comprehensive Web site on AIDS and HIV". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on February 23, 2013. Retrieved 2013-05-09.
  5. ^ Article from transsexual community publication Update profiling Sr. Mary Elizabeth
  6. ^ Green, Richard; Money, John (1969). Transsexualism and Sex Reassignment. The Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0801810381.
  7. ^ Denny, Dallas (August 22, 2013). "The Impact of Emerging Technologies on One Transgender Organization". Dallas Denny: Body of Work. Dallas Denny. Retrieved August 20, 2016.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Elton John honoured by IAPAC. GayLifeUK (2003-05-20). Retrieved on 2015-06-02.