Alan L. Hart was an American physician, radiologist, tuberculosis researcher, writer and novelist. At birth, Hart was assigned female. When he was 27 years old in 1917-18, he was one of the trans men to undergo hysterectomy and gonadectomy in the United States. He pioneered the use of x-ray photography in tuberculosis detection and helped implement TB screening programs that saved thousands of lives. His father died in 1892, his mother remarried when he was 5 and the family moved to her father’s farm. Hart wrote of his happiness during this time, when he was free to dress and live as a boy, playing with boys’ toys made by his grandfather. His parents and grandparents largely accepted and supported his gender expression. His grandparents’ obituaries, from 1921 and 1924, both list Hart as a grandson. When Hart was 12 the family moved to Albany where he was obliged to dress as a girl at school. He continued to spend the holidays at his grandfather’s farm though. As a suppressed male during his school years, Hart wrote essays under his chosen name “Robert Allen Bamford, Jr.” with little resistance. He used his legal name only under pressure.
Alan graduated from Albany College in 1912, and in 1917 obtained a doctor of medicine degree from the University of Oregon Medical Department and attended courses in the summer at the Stanford University School of Medicine. He was deeply unhappy that the medical degree was issued in his female name. Hart sought psychiatric counselling and surgery to live as a man. His was the first documented FTM case in the United States. In 1917 Hart approached Dr. Joshua Gilbert at the University of Oregon and requested surgery. Gilbert was initially reluctant, but accepted that Hart was “extremely intelligent and not mentally ill, but afflicted with a mysterious disorder for which I have no explanation”. Hart’s was the first case in America where a psychiatrist recommended the removal of a healthy organ based solely on an individual’s gender identification. Hart’s underwent surgery and legally changed his name, then in February 1918 married his first wife Inez Stark and moved with her to Oregon to set up his medical practice. Unfortunately a former medical school classmate outed him, forcing Hart and his wife to move.
Alan set up a new practice in remote Huntley, Montana. Until in 1921 when he secured a post as staff physician at Albuquerque Sanatorium. Inez divorced him in 1925 after a 2 year separation. That same year he married his 2nd wife, Edna; the union lasted until the end of Hart’s life. Hart moved to the Trudeau School of Tuberculosis for postgraduate work; he spent 2 years as a clinician at the Rockford TB sanatorium. In 1928 he obtained a masters degree in Radiology and in 29 was appointed Director of Radiology. During the war Hart was a medical adviser at the Army Recruiting and Induction headquarters. After Hart obtained a Masters Degree in Public Health, he was appointed Director of Hospitalization and Rehabilitation. After WW2 synthetic male hormones became available in the US, and for the first time Hart was able to grow a beard and shave. He also obtained a deeper voice, making him more confident and his public appearances easier. During the last six years of his life Hart gave numerous lectures. He was a member of the American Thoracic Society, American Public Health Association, American Association for the Advancement of Science, and American Civil Liberties Union, among many others.
X-rays had been discovered in 1895, when Hart was 5. In the early twentieth century they were used to detect bone fractures and tumors, but Hart became interested in their potential for detecting tuberculosis. Even rudimentary early x-ray machines could detect the disease before it became critical. This allowed early treatment, often saving the patient’s life. By the time antibiotics were introduced in the 1940s, doctors using the techniques Hart developed had managed to cut the tuberculosis death toll down to 1/5th. Alongside his medical practice and research, Hart pursued a second career as a novelist. He had in early life published in local, school, and college magazines, and later published four novels, chiefly on medical themes. His four novels incorporate semi-autobiographical themes in each, one example is: Farquhar, who is short, thin, and bespectacled, resembles Hart physically, and considers himself “the possessor of a defective body” from which he wishes to escape - a typical transsexual sentiment.