Meet Harry Allen, the sporty gentleman who scandalized Seattle by wooing ladies, biting cops, and making sure to give his side of the story to the press. Harry left an extraordinary legacy in the public record: He was a transgender man who talked directly to newspapers about his gender identity. But was he really the incorrigible hoodlum the papers made him out to be, or was he forced to the margins of society by police harassment?
Content notes: There is one transphobic quote at the beginning of the article, when we discuss the incorrect claims about transgender history in Abigail Shrier’s book. For all other quotes used in this episode, I’ve trimmed around names and pronouns to avoid misgendering Harry on air.
Featured image: Harry in his cowboy outfit. Harry usually wore tailored suits and fancy hats in town, but this particular photo was used by newspapers when they wanted to make him look like a tough brawler. (Image source)
A photograph of Harry Allen. I’m not sure when or why exactly this photo was taken. From the numbers in the corner I’m guessing this is a mug shot. (Image source)
A newspaper illustration of Harry disapproving of women’s hats. (Image source)
Get the zine!
You can view a free digital copy of the zine Love Letter to Harry Allen here
To get a physical copy of this zine, contact Elijah through his Instagram @elijahjanka. Make sure to include a donation screenshot to For The Gworls (suggested $8-10 and up) & a mailing address.
Content note for these sources: All of the archival sources (and some of the non-archival sources) about Harry Allen use the name he did not want to go by, refer to him as a girl, and use she/her pronouns.
I have sources that refer to Harry as a girl in their headlines as white text on a white background below. If you’d like to see the headlines and visit those sources, highlight with your cursor to reveal the text and link.
Other sources about history
- All Over The Map: Before Seattle was dying, Stevens Pass was wicked
- Inflation Calculator
- Congress passes Mann Act, aimed at curbing sex trafficking
- Prohibition in Seattle
Archival sources and articles
- Harry Allen – 1 (a collection of several articles)
- Goes by the Name of Harry – 2
- Meet Nell Pickerell, transgender at-risk youth of yesteryear – 3
- Woman Who Dressed In Man’s Attire, Dying From Her Wounds – 4
- Police Are Puzzled Over Nell Pickerell – 5
- How Catherine Madden Fell a Victim to Strong Drink; Why Nell Pickerell Will Not Wear Women’s Clothing – 6
- Three Women in a Fight, To Say Nothing of the Man – 7
- Nell Pickerell In Town Again – 8
- Police Baffled By Silence of a Nervy Young Woman – 9
- Girl’s Strange Career – 10
- No More Trousers – 11
- Girl in Man’s Clothing Goes A-Wooing Women – 11
- Posed as a Man 11 Years – 12
- Male Garbed Woman is Given Her Liberty – 13
- The Rainy City on the “Wet Coast”: The Failure of Prohibition in Seattle – 14
- Fighter, Bootlegger and “Bad Man” is Miss Pickerell for Love of Whom Three Women Have Killed Themselves – 15
- Nell Pickerell Denies Her Sex – 16
- White Slaver Arrested – 17
- Trousered Woman Bites Policeman – 18
- Woman is Freed – 19
- Nell Pickerell Stabbed – 20
- Nell Pickerell Asks $50 Pay for Services – 21
- Nell Pickerell is Dead – 22