Hart, since childhood, had secretly identified as man and been attracted to girls. Although she covertly dated several women throughout college, she mostly kept her feelings hidden. Then 1 day, plagued by a phobia that was unrelated to her gender identity or sexual orientation, she sought help from the University of Oregon Medical School professor and doctor J. Allen Gilbert. Suspecting Hart was concealing a secret, Gilbert encouraged her to confide in him. Following two weeks of deliberation, Hart returned to the doctor and revealed that her whole life story.
At first Hart sought psychiatric assistance from Gilbert, trying to convert herself into a traditional woman. Remedy failed. Hypnosis failed. Finally, Hart stopped the process–if the conversion worked, she realized, she’d no longer think, feel or behave as a guy. And that thought repulsed her.
“Suicide had been repeatedly considered as an avenue of escape from her dilemma,” Gilbert later wrote in his 1920 case study”Homo-Sexuality and Its Treatment,” in which he called Hart anonymously as”H.”
“After treatment … proved itself unavailing, she came with the request that I help her prepare definitely and permanently for the role of the male in conformity with her real nature all these years…,” Gilbert continued. “Hysterectomy was performed, her hair was cut, a complete male outfit was secured and … she made her exit as a female and started as a male with a new hold on life and ambitions worthy of her high degree of intellectuality.”
An Undaunted Trailblazer
After transitioning, Hart was hired as an intern in San Francisco Hospital at November 1917. He lodged with a fellow man intern and also hung a photograph of a girl called Inez Stark on his own boarding-room wall, describing her into others as his wife. (Hart and Stark, a schoolteacher, were subsequently romantically involved but not officially married.) Three weeks later, in February 1918, Hart applied for a lab position with physician Harry Alderson in the nearby Lane Hospital. Then something awful happened.
“Girl Poses as Male Doctor in Hospital,” roared the headline of the article in the February 5, 1918, edition of the San Francisco Examiner. “Intern Unmasked as Girl Graduate of Oregon School,” reported Portland’s Oregon Daily Journal on precisely the exact same day. “Woman Poses as Man Interne in Hospital at Frisco,” echoed the Austin American on February 6.
It was that a former Stanford classmate had recognized Hart while he had been applying to the Lane Hospital endeavor, and had mentioned his previous to someone on San Francisco Hospital’s staff. The information finally made its way into a hospital superintendent–then into national headlines. Hart abruptly resigned his profession and headed home to Oregon, but stood with his conviction to transition into a man.
“I had to do it,” Hart said in the March 26, 1918, edition of this Albany Daily Democrat. “For years I had been unhappy. With all the inclinations and desires of the boy I had to restrain myself to the more conventional ways of the other sex. I have been happier since I made this change than I ever have in my life, and I will continue this way as long as I live. Very few people can understand…, and I have had some of the biggest insults of my career…. I came home to show my friends that I am ashamed of nothing.”
But Hart’s hardships lasted. Afterwards in 1918 he quietly began practicing in the miniature, out-of-the-way coastal city of Gardiner, Ore.–but again, he was recognized and had to move. Hart wrote four medical books throughout his life. His first, Dr. Mallory, is se