San Francisco, Calif.
Babe Bean birthplace
806 Green Street
Babe Bean, a cross-dressing woman who lived on a houseboat in a lake near Stockton, was born Elvira Virginia Mugarrieta in 1869 at this address in Russian Hill. Bean’s father was the former Mexican consul to San Francisco, while her/his mother was the daughter of a former U.S. Congressman and Louisiana Supreme Court Justice.
Bean came to fame in the fall of 1897, when detained by police in Stockton for wearing men’s clothing. The Stockton newspaper published Bean’s picture in a man’s tie and hat, along with a series of sensational stories in which Bean was referred to “the mysterious girl-boy man-woman.”
After a brief stint as a newspaper reporter in Stockton, Bean enlisted in the army during the Spanish-American War and served in the Philippines. Later, Bean moved to San Francisco and served for three decades as a caretaker of poor and homeless men, until her/his death in 1936. Other names that Bean went by included Jack Bee Garland, Beebe Beam, and Jack Beam.
Although beginning in the late 1970s the lesbian community claimed Bean as a butch lesbian, according to community historian Liz Highleyman, Bean does not appear to have shown any romantic interest in women. In 1990, transman Lou Sullivan wrote a biography of Bean in which he speculated that he was a fellow transman with a sexual affinity for gay men. But the evidence remains murky. “From today’s vantage point,” wrote Highleyman, “it is impossible to know how Garland—who sometimes seemed to straddle the genders purposefully—would have identified.”
As a man, I can travel freely, feel protected and find work.”