Gatherings at Annette's House on the Hill


1970 gathering at Annette's Idaho home, published in Transvestia, 67.12, 1970. Courtesy of University of Victoria Archives.

Gatherings at Annette's House on the Hill


Being a trans woman in a state whose political landscape was (and continues to be) intolerant of any deviation from the “norm” was likely deeply challenging and isolating. Through reading the Transvestia archives, one can glean that the sense of community created through the magazine was incredibly valuable for women who did not have a physical trans community around them, for whom it was not safe to appear publicly as women, and who had no other point of reference around them as to what it meant to be assigned an identity that did not match their inner world.


It was through the magazine that Annette organized annual Pacific Northwest gatherings at her home in Idaho. There are many accounts of the gatherings scattered throughout the Transvestia archives. One was titled “Weekend Women” and written in 1970 by a Colorado woman named Maureen, who was seemingly very close with Annette. “Weekend Women” is a memory bank of the tenderness, trust, and love shared in this group of women, facilitated by Annette at her home, where “an FP can enjoy all the thrills and satisfactions of being a woman, of companionship with other real live people, of roaming around the outdoors, of experiencing all the sensations you dream of, all in complete relaxation and security.” Maureen described the ambiance in the dining room of a motel that Annette had booked for this occasion as people from all around the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere arrived and changed into their feminine clothes: “Some couldn’t believe what was happening. I saw one girl emerge from her room, blink in the sunlight, then hurriedly retreat in disbelief. Another had to be pushed out by her wife, the first time ever out in daylight.”[1]


On a drive from the motel to Annette's house, four women pulled up next to a police-man at a stop light. Maureen described “four pairs of eyes straight ahead, nobody breathing.”[2] In the 1960s, laws against cross-dressing in many U.S cities laid the foundation for police harassment and the targeting of gay bars, street workers, and trans people across the country.[3] While there were no laws specifically targeting cross dressing in Idaho during this time, evidence of the prosecution of sodomy and intolerance for transvestism is scattered throughout the Idaho Statesman, Boise’s major newspaper. Thankfully “he was oblivious of four women minding their own business on a sunny afternoon in May,” which Maureen noted could be attributed to Annette having spoken with police officials in town, explaining what transvestism is and then promising to be “the model of discrete behavior, conducting herself as a lady should and drawing no public attention to herself.” In contrast, Annette had explained,  “if it is obvious that you are a man in a dress then it is expected you will limit your public appearance.”[4] This is an attitude that still pervades life for many trans people today, over fifty years later: the respect, acceptance, and autonomy granted to them is often predicated on their ability to pass as cisgender, without stirring the pot.


Still, Maureen, Annette, and the other women present at the 1970 gathering delighted in being perceived and treated as women for the weekend, despite their awareness of the dangers of being outed. The women present at the gathering were subscribers to Transvestia and also a part of    Virginia Prince’s club Full Personality Expression (FPE), within which they had a secure system that they used to communicate with one another. This protected them from ever being outed, as “a phone call to their employer, a careless comment to an associate, or a blackmail attempt could ruin any one of them.”[5]At Annette's gathering, “Each was only a femme name and they sat here in their beautiful dresses, as remote and free as women from another planet, never would an unknown person, a third party, or a stranger have access to them. They were safe.”[6] Security culture kept their identities safe then, and now. Annette’s male name, Sheldon, was only used twice in all the Transvestia publications, and it is very possible that this was an alias as well. The town she lived in was never named; nor do we learn where she was from or what she did for work. While these details are missing and thus make it hard to find traces of her outside of Transvestia, through the magazine we gather something better: first hand accounts of moments of tenderness, honesty, heartbreak, and desire that the women explored and shared with one another.


Maureen wrote, “I saw compassion. Tall, beautiful, well-built Annette bent over a women that had fallen ill. Tenderly she cooled her face with a wet cloth, then carried her like a child in her arms and laid her gently on the bed. I was at home with these wonderful people, an island unto ourselves, discovering together what it is like to live out this part of our lives. How much I needed their companionship. Thank god for Virginia, for Annette, for each of these girls, for all of this. Goodbye.. See you next year.. In the springtime, in the month of May.. my name is Maureen and I am a woman.”[7](Read the rest of Weekend Women here.)


[1] Transvestia, Apr. 1970.

[2] Transvestia, Apr. 1970, 74.

[3] News Desk, “Arresting Dress: A Timeline of Anti-Cross-Dressing Laws in the United States,” Public Broadcasting Service, May 31, 2015,

[4] Transvestia, Apr. 1970, 75; Transvestia, Apr. 1970, 76.

[5] Transvestia, Apr. 1970.

[6] Transvestia, Apr. 1970, 75.

[7] Transvestia, Jan. 1971, 30.