Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Denise D’Anne papers
View entire collection guide What's This?
Search this collection
Collection Overview
Table of contents What's This?
Denise D’Anne was an activist, environmentalist, civil servant, writer, and candidate for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, as well as a proud trans woman who transitioned in 1968. Her collection is divided into four series: Manuscripts, Photographs, Audiovisual Materials, and Artifacts. The first two series are the most extensive, and collect materials on D’Anne’s diverse personal, political, and professional activities.
Denise D’Anne was an activist, environmentalist, civil servant, writer, and candidate for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, as well as a proud trans woman who transitioned in 1968. D’Anne was born in 1933 in New York City. Her mother was intermittently unable to care for her, and she spent some of her childhood in various foster homes; one of these placements was with an abusive mother who openly favored her own children over her foster children, a painful and formative experience for D’Anne. As an adult, she served in the army in Europe after World War II before coming to live in California. D’Anne was very aware that she was attracted to men without wishing to be one; she attempted for a time to live as a gay man before becoming increasingly public with her femininity, ultimately transitioning at the age of thirty-five. In her earlier years, D’Anne was relatively conservative and apolitical, but with time, she was drawn to causes on the left, with her most passionate work reserved for union activism, feminism, and the environment. As a clerk with the San Francisco Department of Social Services (later Human Services), she was very active with SEIU Local 400, advocating for the rights of her fellow clerical employees and also becoming a key member of Union WAGE (Women’s Alliance to Gain Equality). D’Anne also founded the Resource Conservation Program, which encouraged city employees to recycle, reduce, and reuse materials, saving money in the process. For a time in the 1990s, she hosted her own environmentalist radio show, The Green Lady. As an activist, D’Anne was tireless and unapologetic, communicating with everyone from politicians to film manufacturers in her signature formal-but-frank style, and amassing a large collection of published articles and letters to the editor. She tended to focus on small concrete changes which, over time, would add up to larger impacts: fewer cars on the streets, less plastic used in manufacturing, printing on both sides of paper. Her correspondents’ responses ranged from gratefulness to anger, none of which blunted D’Anne’s commitment to making the world a better place. As time passed, she also brought her energy to electoral politics, serving as co-president of the Harvey Milk Democratic Club and running unsuccessfully for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1998 and 2000. D’Anne wrote extensively in her personal capacity as well, completing two autobiographies (1969’s Male Facade was the story of her evolving understanding of her gender and sexuality, and 2003’s Going the Distance told the larger story of her life, “from New York to San Francisco, conservative to radical – with stops in between”), as well as an extensive correspondence and a number of essays. She also edited various newsletters for her organizations, including the Golden Gate Tip Toppers, a club for tall people (D’Anne was proud of her height as well as her beauty, and enjoyed the Tip Toppers’ celebration of tall women’s glamour and desirability). In her later years, D’Anne lived with her adopted grandson, Geoffrey Scott, and his husband; she had met Scott at the grocery store, where he’d advised her on choosing the right avocado, and formed a friendship that became a family. She continued to be active in her various causes until her death at the age of 86.
6 linear feet (three cartons, two medium oversized boxes)
Copyright to material has been transferred to the GLBT Historical Society. All requests for reproductions and/or permission to publish or quote from material must be submitted in writing to the GLBT Historical Society Archivist.
Collection is open for research.