Sándor had a temporary interruption in his preferred gender when staying with a grandmother in Dresden. He was placed in an institution and forced to wear dresses. However he had a love-relationship with an English girl and they ran away together.
After this Sándor was allowed to be a boy. He travelled much with his father and was quite independent, spending much time in cafés and brothels, frequently using the title 'Count'. He was a skilful fencer and enthusiastic drinker. He frequently fell in love with older women, always pretty ones, and he had no sexual interest in men. He also became a published writer. His affairs were short lived, perhaps not surprisingly for one so young, and with a secret.
In 1884, when he was eighteen, he fell in love with Emma, who was ten years older. They made a marriage contract and lived together for three years, until Sándor met Marie. Only for a large sum of money was Sándor able to break his contract with Emma, who announced herself to the world as the divorced Countess Vay.
Sándor's new affair was opposed by Marie's mother and cousin. But the following spring, 1888, Marie gave up her position as a teacher and they were married 'by a pseudo-priest'. There is no indication that the new in-laws thought of Sándor as anything but male. However the servants in the hotel where they lived seem to have had him figured out. The chambermaids found traces of menstrual blood on the bed linen, and once they looked through a keyhole while he took a bath.
However Sándor had a falling out with his father-in-law over a bond that was required if he were to become secretary of a stock company. The issue was reported to the authorities and the facts of his life came out. This resulted in a physical examination. The court granted pardon, and allowed him to go on living as a man, but he was very distressed in that he had lost his Marie.
He later became known in Hungary for his 12 novels, none of which have been translated into English:
- C. Birnbacher, “Ein Fall von konträren Sexualempfindung vor dem Strafgericht(A case of cross-sexuality in criminal court)” Friedreichsblätter für gerichtliche Medizin 42, no.1 (1891): 2–42. The original account, based on the court records.
- R. V., Krafft-Ebing. Psychopathia Sexualis: With Special Reference To The Antiseptic Sexual Instinct: A Medico-Forensic Study. Paperback Library - 1965 Case 166 p428-438. Based on Birnbacher, rewritten as psychology.
- Hanna Hacker. Frauen und Freundinnen: Studien zur “Weiblichen Homosexualität” am Beispiel Österreich, 1870–1938. Weinheim/ Basel,Austria: Beltz Verlag, 1987: 40–70, 70–75.
- Geertje Mak. "Sandor/Sarolta Vay: From Passing Woman to Sexual Invert" Journal of Women's History. Volume 16, Number 1, 2004, pp. 54-77.
- Onagy Zoltán. Vay Sarolta/Sándor a Kiegyezés korából. http://onagy.zoltan.terasz.hu/index.php?id=2656.