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Reed Erickson
(October 13, 1917 - January 3, 1992) U.S.A.

Reed Erickson

Businessman, FtM pioneer, philanthropist

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Reed Erickson was born as Rita Alma Erickson in El Paso, Texas on October 13, 1917. Rita Erickson passed her early years in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After graduating from the Philadelphia High School for Girls, Rita attended Temple University taking a secretarial course. Soon after, the Erickson family moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana where Rita's father, Robert B. Erickson had transferred his lead smelting business.

In Baton Rouge, Rita attended Louisiana State University where she became the first woman graduate from LSU's school of mechanical engineering. She returned to Philadelphia to work as an engineer until the early 1950s at which time she returned to Baton Rouge to work in her father's company and to start her own company making stadium bleachers. As a young person, Erickson presented (and, at times, identified) as a butch lesbian.

After her father's death in 1962, Rita inherited the family business which she ran successfully until she sold it to Arrow Electronics at the end of the decade for several million dollars. In 1963, Rita Erickson became a patient of Dr. Harry Benjamin and began the process of masculinizing and living as Reed Erickson. That same year Reed Erickson also married for the first time. Over the next 30 years, Erickson married again twice and became the father to two children.

Reed founded the Erickson Educational Foundation (EEF; 1964-1983), which provided funding for, among many other projects: the work of Robert Masters and Jean Houston and their research into non-drug-induced altered states of consciousness; Stanley Krippner's dream research; John Lilly's early research into dolphin communications systems; the first edition of A Course in Miracles; the early homophile organization ONE Inc. of Los Angeles; and transsexualism (thus making significant contributions to the scientific and public understanding of transsexualism). Despite the headlines made by Christine Jorgensen in the 1950s, EEF was the first organization to allocate huge sums of money to increasing the understanding and visibility of the trans community.

Not only did EEF fund important activities of the Harry Benjamin Foundation and the Johns Hopkins Gender Identity Clinic, it also published a series of booklets geared toward educating those both in the trans community and those who interacted with the trans community; these booklets included "Legal Aspects of Transsexualism," "Information on Transsexualism for Law Enforcement Officers," "Counseling the Transsexual," "Information for the Family of the Transsexual," and "An Outline of Medical Management of the Transsexual."

He lived a very colourful and successful life, eventually amassing a personal fortune estimated at over US$40 million. He lived for many years with his family and his pet leopard, Henry, in an opulent home in Mazatlan Mexico which he dubbed the Love Joy Palace. Later in life, he moved to southern California. Sadly, by the time of his death in 1992 at the age of 74, he had become addicted to illegal drugs and died in Mazatlán, Mexico, as a fugitive from US drug indictments. He was seventy-four.

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Sources: http://lgbt-history-archive.tumblr.com/ - et alii

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