Feminine Presentation

Dawn Langley Simmons

By May 27, 2021 No Comments

Dawn Langley Simmons’ place in trans history is difficult to assess.  Her first autobiography, Man into Woman (1970), opens with the following “tease,” prior even to the title page.


HE . . . Gordon Langley Hall

Taught  the Ojibways at a remote Canadian outpost; was the only male society editor in the state of Missouri; dined with the Archbishop of Canterbury; was adopted by Dame Margaret Rutherford and her husband.


SHE . . . Dawn Langley Hall

Met and married a black man, John-Paul Simmons; had her first sexual experience of any kind; was thrown into a Charleston jail with her black husband; conceived a child – and lost it.


This photo was taken at Dawn and John’s inter-racial wedding, held when South Carolina was still segregated.  The caption reads:


1/22/69_CHARLESTON, S.C.: British author Gordon Langley Hall, who underwent a surgical sex change and became Miss Dawn Pepita Langley Hall, was married in private ceremonies here 1/22 night to her Negro butler, John Paul Simmons.  The marriage was performed by a Negro Baptist minister.

The cover photo of her second autobiography, Dawn: A Charleston Legend (1995), is an intriguing choice for a transsexual woman.  It is a “digitally assembled” image of Dawn with Gordon, her former male self, arm-in-arm.  John Berendt, author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, called Dawn, “stoic, charming, and utterly bizarre…one of the great, taboo-trashing eccentrics of out time.” 

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