LGBTQ* People You Should Know
Reed Erickson (1917-1992)
* Born as Rita Alma Erickson and was the first female assigned at birth to graduate from Louisiana State University with a degree in mechanical engineering
* Erickson was introduced to equal rights/political reformation while dating a woman from NYC after graduating from LSU
* Erickson was fired from first job as an engineer after refusing to fire a woman suspected of Communism
* Started a company making bleachers for stadiums and inherited family business and money after father’s passing
* In 1963 - became a patient of Dr. Harry Benjamin (the “father of transgender medicine” in the United States) and started to live openly as a man
* Erickson underwent a hysterectomy and double mastectomy in 1963 (which was required by the state of Louisiana to be legally recognized/change documentation of birth sex)
* Erickson also legally married his first wife in 1963 (divorcing two years later). — He went on to marry Aileen Ashton of New Zealand with whom he had two children. (He proposed to her on their second date.)
* 1964 — founded the Erickson Educational Foundation (EEF), financed entirely by himself. The organization (which Erickson contributed millions to) went on to assist in the early development and organizations for LGBTQ* movements from 1964-1984
Their Mission Statement:
“to provide assistance and support in areas where human potential was limited by adverse physical, mental or social conditions, or where the scope of research was too new, controversial or imaginative to receive traditionally oriented support.”
* Longest-running recipient was ONE Inc - the newspaper and homophile organization founded in 1952. -Erickson contributed over 75-80% of their budget for a number of years.
(Above and Below: Pictures of Erickson - dates unknown)
For More on Reed Erickson:
Aaron Devor writing as Holly Devor. “Reed Erickson (1912-1992): How One Transsexed Man Supported ONE.” In Vern Bullough (ed). Before Stonewall: Activists for Gay and Lesbian Rights in Historical Context. New York: Haworth. 2002.
Online at: http://web.uvic.ca/~ahdevor/ReedErickson.pdf
Joanne Meyerowitz. How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the the United States.Cambridge, Ma, London: Harvard University Press.