That war has become noted for the large number of born-female persons who served as men on both sides. The same phenomenon has not been as documented for the Franco-Prussian War or the Crimean War, both also in the mid-nineteenth century. It is generally assumed that such cross-dressing was not possible in the Great War, 1914-18, and later, as medical inspections of new recruits became common (however see Julie Wheelwright's Amazons and Military Maids: Women who dressed as men in pursuit of life, liberty and happiness for several who did so anyway).
Most such persons were temporary transvestites, who, if they survived, reverted to living as women after the war. There has been some debate about how many should be considered transgender, but there is considerable agreement that Albert Cashier is the strongest candidate in that he never reverted, never used his girl name again, and was outed only at the age of 70 in 1914 when he was taken into the State Hospital and coerced into female clothing. He died a few months later.
Albert Cashier is frequently mentioned as a trans man pioneer, and is featured in Wheelwright's book, in Richard Hall's Patriots in Disguise: Women Warriors of the Civil War, and has a book-length biography, Lon P. Dawson's Also Known As Albert D.J. Cashier.
Cashier's girl name was Jennie Hodgers.
So it was with some surprise that I, this week, received an email from one Elizabeth Martins advertising a US Civil War novel by a John William Huelskamp. She writes:
"I’d like to introduce you to Jennie Hodgers, one of the few known women to dress as a man and fight in battle during the Civil War. It was only later on in life that Jennie’s true identity was discovered (otherwise, she would have been dismissed from battle). This begs the question: how many more women fought in battle that have gone unrecognized?"I have bolded 6 errors in this introductory paragraph. Martins continues her misgendering, and insists again that Cashier's "true identity" was as a woman.
"Jennie’s story is a classic Civil War story. Move over Scarlett O’Hara – this story is true."For some reason I have never though of Scarlett O'Hara as a trans man!!
Obviously Martins never read my article on Mr Albert Cashier. She does include a passing reference to the LGBTQ community - which again she obviously does not understand.
She also says that Huelskamp is "fighting to erect a memorial in her [that is Jennie Hodgers, Cashier's girl name] honor in Chicago". While a memorial to Albert Cashier would be quite welcome, one to Jennie Hodgers would be divisive and create a lot of conflict. Remember the 10-year struggle in Portland, Oregon, to get Alan Hart honoured as Alan and not by his girlname.
In previous decades books such as this that ignore the trans identity of historical persons were quite common. It is very disappointing that it is still going on. Whether one regards it as impertinent, arrogant, naive or willful ignorance.