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22 February 2012

Paul Grappe (1891 - 1928) deserter.

Paul Grappe was born in Ronconieres, Haut Marne. He and Louise Landy met in Paris in 1911 and soon married.

Paul was doing his national service as a corporal in the 102nd Infantry regiment in August 1914 when war started. He was sent to the front and was injured a few weeks later. Later in November he lost a finger on his right hand and was accused of self-mutilation. He was found not guilty and told to return to the front. However he chose to desert.

As healthy young men not in uniform attracted much attention, he decided to shave his moustache and to transvest as Suzanne Landgard. Louise found new lodgings. For two years, he stayed in while his hair grew and “destroying the hair roots with electricity”. He made a small living taking in sewing. Louise worked as an artist and cartoonist.

While Paul had never previously worn women’s clothes, he found that he quite enjoyed it.
“I became interested in my appearance as a woman. I began to forget that I was a man. I finally acquired a certain pride in looking pretty.”
Towards the end of the war Suzanne found a factory job, and began to attend the night cabarets of Montmartre and Montparnasse, where she flirted with men.

Suzanne 1925
Susanne and Louise lived for a while in Spain, and returned to Paris in 1922. In 1925 France proclaimed a general amnesty for deserters who had served six months, and Susanne again became Paul.

La famille 1926
The press seized on his story and it was published internationally. Paul found this adjustment much harder than when he became Suzanne. He drank heavily, five litres of wine per day, started to beat Louise and threatened their child.

Finally this had gone too far and Louise shot him, dead. Three weeks later, the child, two years and eight months, died from tubercular meningitis. After a sensational trial, Louise was acquitted, quickly remarried and lived until 1981.
  • Paul Grappe. “Lived as a Woman for 10 Years”. The Milwaukee Journal, Apr 5, 1925.
  • “The Historic Instance of ‘Suzanne Langlarde’”. London Life, September 22nd, 1928: 22. Reprinted in Peter Farrer. Cross Dressing between the Wars: Selections from London Life, 1923-1933. Garston: Karn, 2000: 287-8.
  • Fabrice Virgili and Danièle Voldman. La garçonne et l'assassin. Histoire de Louise et de Paul, déserteur travesti, dans le Paris des années folles. Paris: Payot & Rivages, 2011.
  • “Le Travesti de 14-18”. BibliObs, 09-06-2011.

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