When I go to Amazon.books and type in 'transgender' the top item shown is this year's most hyped transphobic screed: A Shrier's Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters.
On page 100 of Kay Brown's new book, named after her blog as On the Science of Changing Sex, she mentions that "Meyer at Hopkins" labelled a group of transkids as 'Eonists'. She then adds, in brackets: "Ironically, he used the term 'Eonist' which was named after a famous historically significant cross-dresser, who by his history, is easily recognizably autogynephilic".
Now this is not a surprising claim from Brown who after all declared Christine Jorgensen to be autogynephilic.
Some of the problems in applying a 21st-century concept like 'autogynephilia' to the 18th century:
- A lack of early-transitioners to compare to. Quite likely there were many early-transitioners in India and South-East Asia - although this remains undocumented. In Christian Europe where sex and gender expression had been so repressed, it is almost impossible to name any at all.
- The major development of gay/trans expression at that period was the molly houses. There is no mention that d'Eon was ever seen at one. However given his high diplomatic rank, he would be very constrained in what he might do.
- Nor is there any evidence of female lovers. It is true that the more sensational elaborations of d'Eon's life added such titillations as the claim that d'Eon was the father of George IV, but the more reliable books reject such claims.
- Vern Bullough makes the claim – that surprisingly has been ignored in the debate about social construction - that “there is no evidence in Western culture of what might be called a heterosexual transvestite consciousness before the twentieth century”, and probably not before Magnus Hirschfield modified the term 'transvestite' in 1910. Those such as Brown who conflate heterosexual transvestity and autogynephilia are notable in not having even discussed this.
- Brown seems to regard autogynephilia as sort of an essentialism, that is a resultant from DNA modified by epigenetics. If so why are there not loads of such persons in the 18th century? Is modern pollution the required epigenetic? The best known transvestites in 18th century London are George Selwyn, who loved to attend public executions in drag, and Horace Walpole who dressed as an old woman for masquerade balls. Neither ever married and historians discuss whether Walpole was gay. So how do they fit into the 21st century social construction of HSTS/AGP?