The Definitive History of the Seahorse Society - Part 4

This page includes how Seahorse became well-known in the media, receiving both positive and negative publicity.


Taking Seahorse to the World

Late in 1974, a breakthrough was made when Jill, Wendy and Trina appeared on the Mike Walsh Show. TVs on TV! The interviews were conducted in semi-darkness. I recall watching this on television when I was a university student and wishing that I could join Seahorse.

An article in Cleo magazine by Patricia Johnson, a staff writer, followed this in October 1975, in which Trina, the Seahorse Secretary, and Wendy, the President, were interviewed and photographed. The article was well written and informative, showing understanding and empathy for cross-dressers and their families.

Following the Cleo article, membership enquiries ran hot from all over the country. Further television, and numerous radio interviews followed, and links were formed with universities, hospitals and social guidance groups. Seahorse also took part in a government funded psychiatric study into transvestism, run by academic psychiatrist, Dr. Neil Buhrich. An account of his article is on the next page:


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Transeminar 76

To further place the club squarely in the public eye, a seminar, "Transeminar 76", maintained the spate of publicity. By advertising in the newspapers Australia wide, and by appearing on the television, the club was large enough by 1976 to hold the above conference, which took place at the Newport Motor Inn, on Sydney's Northern Beaches on the 15th May 1976.

The brochure for the event noted Seahorse had a membership of 600 Australia-wide and that "it was actively trying to remove many of the misconceptions surrounding transvestism".

Transeminar 76 featured three guest speakers. There were two psychiatrists with strong clinical interests in transgender and cross-dressing persons, Professor Neil McConaghy, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at NSW University, and Dr. Neil Buhrich, Senior Lecturer in Psychiatry, from the same University, and the third speaker was Bettina Arndt, well-known media psychologist and editor of the Forum magazine, an Australian adult sex education magazine.

Pauline recalled the tears of pride that she, Rosemary and Jenny had in their eyes witnessing the success and strength of their "child, which had such a puny beginning".

The seminar was described as "a very serious attempt to help unravel some of the misconceptions surrounding these behaviour patterns and to offer some guidance to those involved with the responsibility of helping transvestites in a medical and counseling role." Then followed presentations by members and wives. The event concluded with a dinner and cabaret.

In August 1976, Seahorse was back in the limelight when Cleo Magazine ran a somewhat pejorative article about the Seminar, entitled "That's no lady, that's my husband." The article reported that there were 50 attendees, with the reporter, Annabel Frost, giving a quite biting description of them:

"50 dynel wigs, 45 of them slightly askew; 50 chalked and crayoned faces melting in the unseasonable heat; 50 pairs of feet squeezed painfully into spiky stiletto shoes... most of them dressed as middle-class, middle-aged women, circa 1950."

While two of the members were reported as looking as "reasonably convincing as women", Bettina Arndt, one the speakers, was reported in the article to have said:

"None of you look like me or my friends. Instead you've chosen to caricature women."


Here are some photos from Transeminar 76.


Day 1
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Day 1
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Day 1
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Day 1
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Day 1
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Day 1
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Barbecue
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Barbecue
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Barbecue
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April
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Parade
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Katrina
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Seminar
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Group shot
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Group shot
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Judy
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Edwina
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Judy & Cynthia
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The Ball
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The Ball
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The Ball
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Group shot
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Transeminar 77 and the Late Seventies

A second conference was held on 23rd April the following year, and was called "Trans Venue 77". While few details exist about this event, it is likely that it was a similar format to the 1976 event, and lasted the whole of a long weekend. It was reported in the 1977 Yearly Report to have been well-attended and a success. Members' published recounts focussed more on the social aspect of the weekend, including the amount of alcohol consumed. One can assume that neither Cleo magazine nor Bettina Arndt were invited back this event.

By now the public libraries in both Sydney and Melbourne had a standing order for Feminique to be displayed on the shelves, and the club was listed in the Directory of Public Services as a self-help counseling group. So well known did they become that in 1978, Feminique's editor, Trina Taylor was pressured to change her name to Trina Beaumont under threat of legal action by a Mr Taylor who was of similar age, family life, career and appearance, but was not a cross-dresser.

In the mid-1970's the structure of the Executive running Seahorse consisted of: a National President, Secretary and Treasurer (more often than not based in New South Wales), and State Counselors in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne Perth and Sydney.



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