Skip to content

Mildred L. Brown and transgender people

Mildred L. Brown is an American therapist and writer. Brown and Chloe Ann Rounsley wrote the 1996 book True Selves, which many trans people consider one of the best books of the 1990s about gender identity and expression.


Mildred Lilian “Millie” Brown was born in 1941. Brown earned a bachelor’s degree from University of California, Los Angeles in 1976.

Brown’s doctorate came from the unaccredited Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in 1979. Brown was certified by the American Board of Sexology, but reporters could not find records that Brown was a licensed psychologist in the state of California. Via a 1999 SF Weekly profile:

Her résumé is a hodgepodge of universities she never graduated from; she lists sporadic introductory-level psychology and sociology courses she says she took at Montreal’s McGill University in the early 1960s and San Jose State University in the mid-1970s. She did earn a Bachelor of Arts degree from UCLA in 1976 — in French.

In 1999, Brown was sued by former client Toni Choate (1953–2000), who alleged an inappropriate personal and business relationship. Brown and spouse Bernard purchased the Savoy LGBT nightclub in Santa Clara. They made Choate the bar manager and a business partner with 15 percent ownership in a company called Milberton. After the relationship with Brown soured, Choate was convicted of shooting ten bullets into Brown’s bed in 1997, when Brown was not home. Choate served eight months for the felony. The 1999 civil case was settled out of court. Choate died in the January 31, 2000 crash of Alaska Airlines Flight 261.

True Selves (1996)

The book was one of the first to lay out some of the motivations that questioning people may have. Brown and Rounsley suggest that people with these motivation may not necessarily benefit from a gender transition.

While much of their terminology is now out of date, here is their list of alternate motivations that may occur in people seeking feminization, quoted verbatim:

  1. Gay men and lesbians who confuse their sexual orientation with the desire to change sex. 
  2. Cross-dressers who discover that they enjoy the clothes of the other sex so much that they want to become the other sex. 
  3. Men and women who are uncomfortable with the gender-personalities and sex-roles assigned by society because of their sex. 
  4. Men with severe erection problems: Because they cannot have sex as men, some want to become women. 
  5. Victims of sexual assault or abuse, who therefore want to distance themselves as much as possible from the bodies in which they were victimized. If one result of the sexual abuse is that they cannot function sexually as the sex in which they were born, they hope that becoming the other sex will put all the trauma behind them. 
  6. Persons who dislike the behavior they have fallen into in their original sex —e.g. rape, child-molestation, exhibitionism, and other anti-social or criminal behavior. They want to get rid of the parts of their bodies —usually penises—that have led them astray. 
  7. Criminals who wish to change their identities to escape capture by the police. 
  8. Munchausen syndrome: People who crave medical attention, even though there is nothing wrong with them. 
  9. Individuals with psychiatric disorders, who have delusions that they are the other sex. 
  10. Individuals with multiple personality disorder. At least one personality believes it is the other sex. But a sex-change could create serious problems for the other personalities.


Staff report (October 27, 1999). The Doctor, the Transsexual, the Bed-Shooting and the Lawsuit. SF Weekly, [archive]

Engardio, Joel P. (February 2, 2000). Tragic Ending: Toni Choate killed in Alaska Airlines Flight 261 crash. SF Weekly, [archive]

Rendon, Jim (December 16, 1999). Doctor Strange Love. Metroactive

Find A Grave: Jacquelyn Ann Choate.

Anonymous (October 30, 2014). Club Savoy. Lost Womyn’s Space


Amazon (

  • True Selves ISBN 978-0787902711


Press for Change (

  • Book Review: True Selves [archive]