Throughout this month, we'll be shining the spotlight on the official faces of LGBTQ+ History Month 2021. I want to highlight what was achieved by these important historical figures, who would have not had the recognition and awareness that they originally deserved. I think it is really important to highlight the challenges that the LGBTQ+ community have endured in their past, in order to help understand and support the modern community that continues to thrive today. Even if all people learn is a new name, a definition, or a whole story, then The SU is actively supporting the steps to move forward.
Who are Michael Dillon and Mark Weston?
Laurence Michael Dillon (born Laura Maud Dillon, 1 May 1915) was a British physician and the first trans man to undergo phalloplasty. Dillon had long been more comfortable in men's clothing and was more self-assured living as a male. In 1939, he sought treatment from Dr George Foss, who had been experimenting with testosterone to treat excessive menstrual bleeding; at the time, the hormone's masculinizing effects were poorly understood. However, the hormones soon made it possible for him to pass as male. In Bristol, where he worked at a garage, after fleeing his home town after gossip spread about his transition, the garage manager insisted that other employees refer to Dillon as "he" in order to avoid confusing customers.
After the war, Harold Gillies performed at least 13 surgeries on Dillon between 1946 and 1949. He officially diagnosed Dillon with acute hypospadias in order to conceal the fact that he was performing sex-reassignment surgery. Dillon, still a medical student at Trinity, blamed war injuries when infections caused a temporary limp.
In 1946, Dillon published Self: A Study in Ethics and Endocrinology, a book about what would now be called transsexualism, though that term would not be introduced into the English language until 1949.
Mark Weston (born Mary Louise Edith Weston, 30 March 1905) was one of the best British field athletes of the 1920s. He was a national champion in the women's javelin throw and discus throw in 1929 and won the women's shot put title in 1925, 1928 and 1929. In 1936, Weston quotes, "In spite of the fact that I was reared as a girl and knew myself as a girl, my life was not girlish. Many girls are called tomboys and I was really a tomboy when I was school. Until I was 14, I didn't care for girlish games, I liked sports and even trained school boys in cricket and football."
In April and May 1936, Weston underwent a series of corrective surgeries, changed his first name to Mark, retired from competitions, and later worked as a masseur. In July 1936, Weston married Alberta Matilda Bray and they had three children. Mark was part of a pioneering era for trans-people with the first official British sex reassignment surgeries being attributed to Michael Dillon and Roberta Cowell some years later in the 1940s and 1950s.