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15 November 2010

Michael Johnson (191?–?) baker, soldier.

Michael Johnson worked as a baker in London and Leeds during the Second World War. He got on well with his co-workers who called him 'Ginger'. In 1942 he needed to change the address on his wartime Identity Card. The registration clerk in Leeds noticed that the name had been altered from Muriel to Michael, and alerted the authorities.

Johnson explained to the magistrate that as a woman the expected earnings were £2/10/- a week, but as a man they were £5/10/-. Asked how she had managed to 'conceal' her sex, Muriel smiled and replied: "I really don't know". She had joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service (the forerunner of the Women's Royal Army Corps), and this helped her to get off with a warning.

However Michael Johnson was arrested again in 1951 after applying to join the Territorial Army where he had attended drill parades and rifle practice. In addition two young women had complained to to police that he had been engaged to them. He was denounced in The News of the World as a 'menace'.

After that it seems that he kept out of the newspapers.
  • The News of the World. 31 May 1942:7
  • The News of the World. 4 March 1952:2.
  • Alison Oram. Her Husband was a Woman!: Women's gender-crossing in modern British popular culture. Routledge, 2007: 134, 138-9.

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