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Sat, 01.09.1886

Lucy Hicks Anderson, LGBT Socialite, born

Lucy Hicks Anderson

*The birth of Lucy Hicks Anderson is celebrated on this date in 1886.  She was a Black Transgender socialite, brothel owner, and chef. She was born Lucy Lawson in Waddy, Kentucky. From a very early age, Anderson was adamant that she was not male and named herself Lucy. Doctors told Anderson's parents to let her live as a young woman, and she began wearing dresses to school and was known as Lucy.

At the age of 15, Anderson left school and did domestic work. At age 20, she headed west to Pecos, Texas, where she worked in a hotel, and then to New Mexico, where she married her first husband, Clarence Hicks, in 1920. Hicks later moved to Oxnard, California, at the age of 34, as a chef who won some baking contests. Her marriage to Clarence lasted nine years, but during the union, she saved up enough money to buy a boarding house for a brothel; it also sold illegal liquor during the prohibition era.

Outside of her time as a madam, she was a well-known socialite and hostess in Oxnard and would later use her connections to avoid serious jail time. In 1944, Hicks married Reuben Anderson, a soldier stationed in Long Island, New York.  In 1945, a sailor claimed that he caught a venereal disease from one of the women in Anderson's brothel, so all the women, including Anderson, were required to undergo a medical examination. When the Ventura County district attorney learned from this examination that Anderson had been assigned male at birth, he chose to try her for perjury, arguing that she lied about her sex on her marriage license and impersonated a woman.

However, the court convicted her of perjury on her marriage license and sentenced her to 10 years of probation. At the time, marriage was only valid between a man and a woman, and she was not deemed a woman, so the marriage was declared invalid. As a result, the federal government charged her with fraud for receiving the financial allotments wives of soldiers got under the GI Bill and initially failing to register for the draft until she proved she had been too old to register.

In this trial, she and Reuben were found guilty and sentenced to a men's prison, where Anderson was forbidden by court order to wear women's clothes. After being released from prison, Anderson was barred from returning to Oxnard by the police chief, threatening further prosecution. She and Reuben relocated to Los Angeles, where they resided quietly until her death in 1954 at 68. The Handbook of LGBT Elders calls Anderson "one of the earliest documented cases of an African American transgender person." One episode of the HBO TV series Equal is based on the life of Anderson.

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