Skip to main content

Dr. Alan L. Hart: physician, transgender and pioneer. (1890-1962)

July 29 2022 | Andréanne Neveu

In this Pride month, the Montréal Science Centre is pleased to share the story of Alan L. Hart, a transgender radiologist. Hart was a pioneer of the LGBTQ2S+ community in North America, coming out as transgender a hundred years ago. The Science Centre has always been committed to presenting a diversity of models: each of us has a place in science and technology.

 

A self-affirming child

Alan L. Hart was born in 1890 in the state of Kansas, in the American heartland. From an early age, Alan refused to help his mother with household chores but instead put on trousers and went to work with his grandfather in the fields. Alan was not like other children, for his birth name was actually Lucille Hart. Alan behaved like a boy and the people around him accepted him as such. However, when he went to school, he had to register as Lucille Hart.

 

An innate instinct for medicine

He was an excellent student and already displayed a real passion for medicine. According to the story, when young Alan chopped off his fingertip with an axe, he dressed the wound himself without telling his parents. 

In 1912, Alan began studying at the University of Oregon Medical School under the name Robert L. Hart. However, at his graduation in 1917, Alan's face fell. The name on his degree was not "Dr. Robert L. Hart", but "Dr. Lucille Hart". Against his will, Alan was forced to practice medicine as a woman.

 

Proudly engaged in his transition

More determined than ever, the young doctor consulted psychiatrists and surgeons in order to put an end to Lucille Hart. Alan thus becomes the first documented transgender person in the United States to transition to male. He legally changed his name to Alan L. Hart and declared in an interview with a local newspaper, “I have been happier since I made this change than I ever have in my life, and I will continue this way for as long as I live […]. I have never hidden anything regarding my [change] to men's clothing […]. I returned home to show my friends that I am not ashamed of anything.”[1]  

 

Legacy in the fight against TB

Alan L. Hart became a key researcher in the use of radiology in the treatment of tuberculosis. A radiologist by profession, he discovered that by using X-rays, it is possible to detect the earliest signs of tuberculosis before the disease becomes critical. During the last six years of his life, he gave numerous lectures and devoted all his free time to raising funds for medical research and the support of patients with advanced tuberculosis who could not afford to pay for their treatment.  

Dr. Alan L. Hart is known today for having played an important role in the history of medicine by contributing to the advancement of knowledge in his field.

 

 

References  

  1. ALAN L. H. (1918). "Dr. Hart explains change to male attire", newspaper article in the Albany Daily Democrat, 26 March 1918. p. 1. link: https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_L._Har. Consulted 2022-6-29.  
  2. YOUNG M. (2022). Alan Hart (1890-1962), Oregon Encyclopedia: Oregon (USA). Website link: https://www.oregonencyclopedia.org/articles/hart_alan_1890_1962_/#.Yrx2JnbMKUk. Consulted 2022-6-29. 

[1] ALAN L. HART. (1918). "Dr. Hart explains change to male attire", newspaper article in the Albany Daily Democrat, Oregon.

 

Andréanne Neveu
Profile picture for user Andréanne Neveu

An art historian and Master's degree candidate in Museology at the l’Université de Montréal, Andréanne is passionate about design, architecture, contemporary art and Italy. Reflecting her love of plants and nature, her home resembles a miniature tropical jungle. Her museological research at the SSHRC focuses on the sense of immersion, physiological processes and learning methods of adults in a museum environment. Her mandate as project manager at the CSM allows her to apply her creativity and leadership to the realization of upcoming exhibitions.