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Under the scope: first transgender ship's doctor celebrated during LGBT+ History Month

12 February 2024

The life of a transgender ship doctor, Dr Michael Dillon, is being celebrated as part of LGBT+ History Month.

This year's theme for LGBT+ History Month celebrates LGBT+ peoples' contribution to the field of medicine and healthcare, both historically and today.

Maritime historian Dr Jo Stanley, honorary research fellow at Blaydes Maritime Centre, University of Hull, has focused on Dr Dillon in her latest blog as the first trans surgeon at sea – 'someone maritime and medical'.

Dr Stanley said: 'It's 72 years since spring 1952 when Dr Michael Dillon (1915-62) put on his gold and scarlet braid and left London's King George V dock. "Never had I dreamed I would one day adorn myself in such glad rags!".

'Acting with agency, after 13 radical operations, he was helping other people manage their bodies as they crossed the world's oceans. He served in the merchant service for six years until outed in the Sunday Mirror.'

Read about Dr Dillon's life in Dr Stanley's Gender and the sea blog. You can also find out more about Dr Dillon's posthumously-published memoir Out of the Ordinary.

Nautilus International supports the annual Pride in Maritime Day on 28 February.