This site is the most comprehensive on the web devoted to trans history and biography. Well over 1400 persons worthy of note, both famous and obscure, are discussed in detail, and many more are mentioned in passing.

There is a detailed Index arranged by vocation, doctor, activist group etc. There is also a Place Index arranged by City etc. This is still evolving.

In addition to this most articles have one or more labels at the bottom. Click one to go to similar persons. There is a full list of labels at the bottom of the right-hand sidebar. There is also a search box at the top left. Enjoy exploring!

22 June 2022

Three other trans persons who transitioned under the aegis of Magnus Hirschfeld

Hertha Haase

This photograph was published in the Berliner Morgenpost 28th March 1930.


Some said that she was the best Damenschneider (dressmaker) in Berlin

She had completion surgery in 1932 under the auspices of the SDP (Sozialdemokratische Partei). This Magnus always considered his greatest triumph, to finally get government sponsership.


Elsa Gidlow Residence – NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project

In the 1920s, the Canadian poet Elsa Gidlow visited Berlin, and visited the Institute.

“We talked with Hirschfeld for a while. He exhibited one of his ‘cases’ to us: a snub-nosed young man of twenty-two or so with large, dirty hands. He was dressed in woolen knickers, heavy shoes and stockings and a coarse lumberjack shirt. 'This young lady': said Hirschfeld, 'is Charlotte. She is a radio operator. She wants me to use my influence with the authorities to have her name changed to Peter!' ”

++‘knickers’ would be knickerbockers or plus fours and not panties; stockings would be long socks suitably associated with knickerbockers.

  • Elsa Gidlow. *Elsa: I Come with My Songs: The Autobiography of Elsa Gidlow. Booklegger Press, 1985: 226.

Lotte Engleman

A Dutch pianist.

"So, in 1921, back to Germany Charlotte [Charlaque] went, working Hirschfeld's reception desk and assisting patients with clothing needs and living arrangements. Due to this, she met many others similar to her, including Lili Elbe and Lotte Engleman."

  • Gwendolyn Ann Smith. “History Lesson”. Transgender Tapestry, 89 Spring 2000: 30.

07 June 2022

A Rereading of Bodyshock: the truth about changing sex , 1987

Part I: life

Part II: book

  • Liz Hodgkinson. Bodyshock: the truth about changing sex. Columbus, 1987.

The book is dedicated to Judy Cousins.

The term ‘sex-change’ was then in common use, and will be used in this review as it is used in the book.


This book was written for the general public in 1987. Statements like "But there is no doubt that a certain proportion of people do want to change their sex, and will go to literally any lengths to achieve this" may seem otiose today, but that was not the case at that time.

Hodgkinson makes a boo-boo on p9: "Since the first operation, which was performed by Dr Christian Hamburger .. .". Hamburger was of course the endocrinologist, not the surgeon. Nor was it the first, and on the next page, she does mention the earlier surgeries by Harold Gillies, but not the pioneering surgeries in Berlin the early 1930s.

She dismisses the idea that one is trans because mother wanted a child of the other sex, and the dominant mother/passive or absent father aetiologies. She prefers the foetal hormonal wash theory -- a theory that is still in favour 35 years later without much extra evidence to support it.

She emphasises that generally trans persons are not mentally ill, but if they are treatment is refused. "Most of the people whose stories are told in this book are positive, happy, life enhancing people -- at least, after the operation. All have remarkable, sometimes barely believable, stories to tell, even when they have not become famous in any way. There is no danger that anybody can 'catch' transsexuality from coming into contact with such people. The condition is not hereditary and does not run in families. It is something which seems to come out of nowhere and there is no blueprint for it, no set of circumstances that would predispose to the condition."

With an extra 35 years of research, we could niggle and quibble with that statement, but it is still basically true.

She gives the one in 10,000 estimate for transsexuality. Again this was 1987. This is one aspect where we do now have much better information.

Chp 1: What is Transexxualism?

This chapter is mainly an account of trans across the centuries to show that transsexuality is nothing new. Hodgkinson mixes myth and history, Venus Castina and Tiresias. From the Bible she takes only eunuchs -- she also uses the term 'eunuch' for the gallae who castrated themselves in devotion to Cybele. This conflates the voluntary and the involuntary and is confusing. She finds a quote in Philo, and tells of Sporus (again involuntary). A quick mention of the hijra in India, and then she is on to DeChoisy and d'Eon ("who allegedly posed as a serious rival to Madame de Pompadour for the favours of Louis XV" -- really?) She has one sentence on American Natives, and repeats the old saw about Elizabeth Tudor having the "heart and mental powers of a man" - but says nothing about the Bisley Boy hypothesis. She presents Pope Joan as historical.

When she mentions Man into Woman the unreliable autobiography of Lili Elbe (GVWW), she maintains a healthy skepticism: "The whole story is vague and highly suspect". However, on Roberta Betty Cowell (GVWW) she uncritically repeats Cowell's claim that her sex was wrongly assigned at birth and that she is not really transsexual. How she was able to father two daughters is not mentioned -- presumably because Liz knew her personally by that time. She does correct this in her 2015 article for The Telegraph.

After brief mentions of Christine Jorgensen, Georgina Turtle and April Ashley and their autobiographies, Liz laments that there were no autobiographies by trans men. However there had been Robert Allen's But for the Grace, 1954 and Mario Martino's Emergence in 1977.

Birth Certificates

I really must disagree with the paragraph on p23: 

"Their true sex remains, for legal and biological considerations, what it was at birth. It was this factor which led the British government, in 1970, to stipulate that a person's birth certificate can never be changed, unless a genuine mistake was made at birth. Roberta Cowell's birth certificate has been so altered, because doctors were convinced that a mistake was made. But usually a transsexual must live with the fact that his or her birth certificate can never be changed."

So no mention here of Corbett v. Corbett (but see Chp 4 below). Cowell, despite not having been subjected to such a mistake, was able to have her birth certificate amended in 1952 -- before vaginoplasty -- because:

a) This was 18 years before Corbett v Corbett changed the law

b) She was able to afford a Harley Street doctor

c) She had lots of class privilege. Her father was one of Britain's foremost doctors, and she was able to use personal contacts.

April Ashley, on the other hand, who should have applied for her birth certificate to be revised when she returned to England in 1960, didn't have the legal and medical advice, and didn't know that it could be revised.

I have previously commented

"On p74 of April Ashley's Odyssey, we find: "Both these cases [Forbes and Cowell] were the result of ambiguous genital formation at birth, resulting in incorrect sex identification. They are not to be confused with cases like my own, those of transsexualism, which so far as doctors have determined are primarily of psychological origin (abetted to a greater or lesser extent by physiological factors according to each individual case) and therefore, as the law stands, do not entitle one to a change of birth certificate."

I don't know whether it was April or her ghost-writer, Duncan Fallowell, who wrote this. I suspect Fallowell as the section does not appear in April's second autobiography, The First Lady. In either case the paragraph is quite problematical. Nothing in the available material on either Evan Forbes or Betty Cowell suggests that they had ambiguous genitals. All three, Forbes, Cowell and Ashley appear to be transsexual and not intersex.

Nor have I read that changes of birth certificates were restricted, before 1970, to intersex excluding transsexuals. What Forbes and Cowell, and Michael Dillon and Georgina Turtle Somerset did have that April did not was considerable class privilege. While we know of other British transsexuals before 1970 who were of working class origins, I have not found a clear statement that any one of them had their birth certificate amended.

Hodgkinson, in claiming that Parliament, as opposed to the legal system, stipulated on the issue, was probably thinking of the Nullity Of Marriage Act, 1971, the draft version of which did not mention the sex of the parties, but such a clause was added during the report stage, after the publicity re Corbett v. Corbett. This was the first time in British law that marriage was actually defined as being between a man and a woman.

Chp 2: Why Should Anyone want to Change Sex?

Hodgkinson talks of the difficulties, the pain of the operations and of electrolysis and of the financial costs (about £3000-£4000 for vaginoplasty in the late 1980s) and then “Yet, if you asked any transsexual whether the ordeal had been worth it, you would get an unqualified yes”. Well, yes. Is that not part of really being a transsexual?

She refutes the notion that trans people become traditional stereotypes of their acquired gender, or that it is a kinky trip. She discusses H-Y Antigen which at that time was being touted as the biological identifier of trans persons, but realises that the research is too recent - and of course it was a line of research that did not lead anywhere.

She finishes the chapter by bringing in Janice Raymond’s opinion of Jan Morris - that Morris having already lived his best years as a man and facing inevitable decline, gained a new lease of life be becoming a woman in middle age. Almost every book on transsexualism in the 1980s quotes Raymond one way or another. In fact if considered as a career move, transition did work very well for Morris, but that is hardly true for the vast majority of late transitioners. And try proposing such a career move to a regular cis-heterosexual …

Chp 3: Surgical and Hormonal Procedures

This chapter contains a lot of detail about the nitty-gritty of a sex-change that is only too well known to readers of this encyclopedia. The autobiographical accounts by Jan Morris and April Ashley of their experience of Dr Burou’s clinic in Casablanca are quoted in some detail - enough to put off anyone who is not truly transsexual. Almost all the chapter is about Gender Identity Clinics, and Russell Reid’s practice that helped so many to get around the road blocks (including me) is not mentioned at all. Hodgkinson made up for this omission with an article for The Independent in 1992 which was mainly about Dr Reid and his patients.

Chp 4: Transsexuals and the law

There have, of course, been significant legal changes since 1987, and to that extent this chapter is inevitably out of date. However we need to be reminded of how things used to be.

Hodgkinson does here mention Corbett v. Corbett which she had ignored in Chp 1. She says that transsexuals cannot marry or remarry in their new sex - meaning heterosexually, but does not mention that trans women could and did marry cis women, trans men did marry cis men and trans women did marry trans men - they were pioneering queer marriage long before gays and lesbians were able to. Also some UK trans persons did marry outside the UK - as I did.

She naively asserts: "no doubt the birth certificate ruling is intended to stop people passing themselves off as somebody else - a fear that is virtually groundless". She certainly does not see Corbett v Corbett as a show trial to assert aristocratic privilege, as more recent writers have done.

Chp 5: How Transsexuality Affects Others

This chapter is about parents, spouses and children.

Hodgkinson says that she did not locate any “female-to-male transsexual who was married in the original sex”. I mentioned above that she had missed Robert Allen’s 1954 autobiography, and Allen did have a brief marriage to a man.

“Nor have I located any female-to-male transsexual who became a mother before the change-over.” The 1980s were before pregnant trans men became common in the media.


There are eight pages of photographs. Two photos of Christine Jorgensen, and one each of April Ashley and Renée Richards even though none of these are featured in the following biographical chapters. Before and after photos of Rachael Webb, Judy Cousins and Melanie Martin. Two pages, nine photos of Michael Dillon. Four photos of Mark Rees.

Chp 6: Male-to-female Transsexuals

Despite the book’s dedication to Judy Cousins (GVWW) and four photographs of her, she is surprisingly missing from this chapter except for a single paragraph on p105 about how when still male, Cousins considered female golfers to be an irritation - an attitude she came to regret after transition. However Hodgkinson also published a profile on Cousins in The Sunday People around the same time that the book came out.

Nor is Roberta Betty Cowell (GVWW) found here despite Hodgkinson's personal acquaintance. Cowell had mainly been discussed in Chp 1 re birth certificates.

April Ashley and Jan Morris had been discussed several times in previous chapters, and are not in this chapter.

There are multi-page sections on:

Rachael Webb (GVWW) the lorry driver turned borough councillor;

singer Adele Anderson (GVWW);

Dora, a computer consultant;

Alison, a publican who is accepted by and has stayed with her wife and children;

Melanie Jane, an artist, previously into heavy metal and a biker;

Stephanie Anne Booth (GVWW) who ran the Transformation shops for trans women;

Anna Heming (GVWW), an ex-sailor who had completion surgery in 1959.

Chp 7: Female-to-male Transsexuals

The chapter opens with passing mentions of Joan of Arc and James Barry (GVWW). "But were people like Joan of Arc true female-to-male transsexuals?". She says nothing of “female-husbands”, nor the many born-female persons who fought in various armies and were completely taken as men.

Hodgkinson spends several pages on "Probably the first-to-male transsexual of modern times ... the novelist Radclyffe Hall". Hodgkinson seems unaware of other trans men of the late 1920s-early 1930 who were much better candidates, such as Joe Carstairs, Violet Morris, Madeleine Pelletier, Victor Barker, Gluck, Wynsley Michael Swann, Toupie Lowther. It is true that the information on most of these men was not available in the mid-1980s when Hodgkinson was writing. However Hall was never a good candidate to be considered as trans. In my article The Triple-Whammy 1928-9, I quoted Laura Doan on Radclyffe Hall:

"Her haircut was thought to be the most feminine of all the short cuts popular at the time, and she had her hair done at Harrods --- not a barbershop. Even Hall's famous sartorial choices were on the feminine side of what was known as the 'severely masculine mode'... Nor did Hall and her partner Una Troubridge dress in a bizarre manner, wearing, as some biographers have claimed, clothing from a costume shop. The couple studied fashion magazines and built their wardrobes not from men's tailors in Savile Row, but from the most chic of London's department stores for women [unlike Gluck who bought suits from the expensive men's tailors]. Hall always wore a skirt and conducted herself in a completely womanly way - in short, Hall definitely didn't model the protagonist [of The Well of Loneliness], Stephen Gordon, after herself."

Hodgkinson then discusses Michael Dillon , ship’s doctor, "the first female-to-male transsexual to have modern surgery and hormone treatment". And, of course, she wrote a full-length biography of him a few years later.

She follows this with accounts of

Mark Rees who took his case to the European Court of Human Rights;

Karl who transitioned to male in his 50s, and stayed in the same job;

Stephen from Manchester (presumably Stephen Whittle before he became a lawyer);

Richard who changed on the job at a computer company and was processed at the GIC at Guys Hospital;

Tim, a writer living with a common-law wife, was one of the few trans men at that time to have had phalloplasty.

Chp 8: Transsexuals, Homosexuals and Transvestites

As was usual in the 1980s Hodgkinson juxtaposes Transsexuals, Homosexuals and Transvestites. Hodgkinson makes a bad start by jumping from female impersonators such as the 'grotesque' Danny La Rue and Dame Edna Everage to performers who did transition such as April Ashley and Coccinelle at Le Carrousel and straight back to television drag performers such as Benny Hill and Hinge and Brackett. However she quickly separates them by sexual orientation, Ashley and Coccinelle being Transsexuals who married husbands, and Everage/Barry Humphries being the one who is definitely heterosexual. Writing in the 1980s, she is unaware that Danny La Rue will eventually come out as gay. "So it is not surprising that the public mixes the three groups up. Also, most psychology textbooks dealing with sexual deviation tend to lump the three conditions together , or at least try to show that they have a common cause, either biological or environmental. (p155)"

Hodgkinson' major source for this chapter is not the trans persons she interviewed in the previous two chapters but Robert Stoller's The Transsexual Experiment, 1975. This leads her to claim

a) most transvestite men would never want to be women

b) true transsexuals never become sexually aroused by wearing women's clothes

c) all transvestites are male

d) women never dress in men's clothing for purposes of sexual arousal (p157).

From our perspective over three decades later we can see this as cisplaining. Exceptions to all four claims are well documented.

She follows this with an account of a John Colvin who dabbled with transvesting and wrote it up in The Guardian in January 1986. She says that he "cannot be considered a 'true' transvestite ... as he does not appear to gain sexual satisfaction by wearing dresses" (p161). More cisplaining.

Her example of a 'true transvestite' is Gerald/Geraldine the lodger/lover of Monica Jay. Monica wrote up their affair as Geraldine - For the Love of a Transvestite, 1986. This was later filmed as Just Like a Woman, 1992.

Chp 9: Transsexualism and the Battle of the Sexes

“However much pre-operative transsexuals may feel that they are living out a lie in their original sex, the fact remains that when they eventually change over they find that life is very different on the 'other side' - so much so that they often feel they have entered an alien country for which little in their previous experience has prepared them. They frequently find that the 'real' men and women whose world they enter post-operatively are very different creatures from what they had imagined.” …

“Though transsexuals are somehow managing to cross the sex border, and are doing it in ever-increasing numbers, it does not seem that they are enabling the sexes to come together or to become more alike in any way. On the face of it, it appears that transsexuals are a special ultra-minority whose experience bears little relationship to that of ordinary people. But if they can change over, and become very effective 'constructed' men and women, whose secret few can guess, why is there still such a wide gap?”

As you may guess from the word ‘constructed’, Hodgkinson unfortunately turns to Janice Raymond who - of course - explains this by accusing trans persons of exaggerating and perpetuating gender stereotypes, this despite Hodgkinson’s refutation of that idea in chapter 2.

Hodgkinson then completes the chapter with standard 1980s comments re the gender differences, with a few observations from trans persons. Then she quotes, for two pages, a newspaper article by the novelist and journalist Celia Brayfield who passed herself as a man for a day to see what the differences are.

Hodgkinson’s Bibliography

05 June 2022

A Rereading of Liz Hodgkinson’s Bodyshock: The Truth About Changing Sex, 1987. Part I- Life

Part I: life

Part II: book

Liz Garret (1945 - ) was raised in Cambridgeshire (where she befriended Amaryllis Garnett, great niece of Virginia Woolf), and read English at Durham University. After a very short stint teaching, she became a freelance reporter/columnist, at first in North-East England, and married fellow journalist Neville Hodgkinson. They had two sons. The family moved to Richmond, London, and both obtained work with the national and London papers then located in Fleet Street. Liz found work at the Sunday People, the Sun, the Daily Mail, and the Times.

Shortly after moving to London, Liz had an encounter with pioneer trans woman Roberta Betty Cowell:

"When I moved to Richmond in 1970, I was told about this strange person who looked like Marilyn Monroe from the neck up and a garage mechanic from the neck down.

Some time later, I was with my son Tom, then aged two or three, in the local Post Office, when I saw somebody who just had to be her. Heart beating wildly, I had just plucked up the courage to say I was a journalist and could I have an interview, when up piped young Tom: ‘Mummy, is that a man or a lady?’

Unfazed, and possibly used to this, Betty invited me for a glass of wine in her dilapidated room just round the corner, decorated with number plates, flying helmets, steering wheels and old car batteries; hardly my lady's boudoir. But she had a bottle of Hirondelle wine waiting, and also a packet of Black Russian cigarettes. This was 1971, after all."(Telegraph, 24 Oct 2015)

Betty took a shine to Liz, and made many of her documents available. They started writing a book together about Cowell's life, but in the end Betty did not approve it for publication.

Neville was the medical correspondent at the Daily Mail, 1977-80 where he “gravitated towards doctors who were the pioneers of more holistic approaches to medical care: those teaching reflective practices and trying to understand the role of our aspirations, feelings, frustrations and thoughts in making us ill or keeping us well”. In late September 1980 he had a religious experience which led to his resigning from the Daily Mail. At the same time, Liz wrote her first transsexual story - on Julia Grant and on Judy Cousins, which was published in The Sun in October 1980. Julia had just been featured in the BBC documentary. Judy had just founded SHAFT and it was to SHAFT that Liz later came to find more trans persons.

Neville was writing a book on mind-body links which was published in 1984. In 1981 he had been introduced to the Brahma Kumaris religious movement, and with time became more involved with them. The Hodgkinsons decided to sleep apart and to be celibate. Liz published a controversial book in 1986 on celibacy as a solution to personal problems. They eventually divorced, although they remained lifelong friends. Liz published a book arguing for the abolition of marriage, and Neville became controversial in the early 1990s as he wrote in the Sunday Times articles critical of the mainstream theory that HIV leads to AIDS.

In 1987 Liz came out with Bodyshock, one of the best journalism books on transsexuality for many

Liz on the back cover

years afterwards. Betty had told Liz about Michael Dillon, and in researching that book she was introduced to Andrew Hewson, the literary agent who had taken over John Johnson Ltd, and who was holding Dillon's unpublished autobiography and others of his documents. In addition to including Dillon in Bodyshock, she wrote a full-length biography of him, based on the autobiography. Her collection and the autobiography of course are a major source of Pagan Kennedy's more recent biography of Michael Dillon, which gives her only the most cursory credit. Her Dillon biography is the partial basis of a play by Phil Kingston, Dr Dillon and Georgia, that was presented in Dublin in 2006, and the film rights to the biography have been sold although the film has not been made.

There are three books on English trans persons at this time. Liz used her contact with Judy Cousins and SHAFT and interviewed several of its members. At roughly the same time, Kris Kirk had made contact with the London TV/TS Group led by Yvonne Sinclair, and was the first to publish with Men in Frocks, 1984 (review); Richard Ekins had made contact mainly with the Beaumont Society led by Alice Purnell and eventually published Male Femaling, 1996 (review). The three books combined form the basis of UK English trans history in the 1980s, although it is remarkable how they document different persons without overlap. Although Ekins was the SHAFT librarian, and received from them the foundation deposit that became the Trans-Gender Archive, he has barely more than passing one-line comments about its members.

Kirk's book is not in Hodgkinson's bibliography. Hodgkinson's book is not in Ekin's bibliography. Ekins does list Kirk's book, but mentions it only once with reference to drag balls and does not otherwise use the wealth of its content. All three books are either ignored or dismissed backhandedly in Christine Burns' Trans Britain: Our Journey from the Shadows, 2018 (review).

Liz has written over 54 books. She previously specialized in books about health. Her 1995 book on snoring was controversial in that it closely resembled a very similar book by Derek Lipman.

In recent years she has concentrated on books about property, and has become a successful property investor and landlord.

Strangely her website does not even mention Bodyshock.

  • Liz Hodgkinson. “Why are Julia and Judy different from other women”. The Sun, 14 October 1980. Online.

  • Neville Hodgkinson. Will to Be Well: The Real Alternative Medicine. Hutchinson, 1984.

  • Liz Hodgkinson. Sex is Not Compulsory. Columbus Books 1986

  • Maureen Messent. “So can there be life after sex?” Reading Evening Post, 27 September 1986.

  • Mary Kenny. “They’ve looked at life from both sides now”. Irish Independent, September 26, 1987.

  • Liz Hodgkinson. "Father, Dear Father: Ex-officer and gentleman Judy Cousins and her daughter Penny Croucher talk to Liz Hodgkinson". The People, ?, 1987. Online.

  • Liz Hodgkinson. Bodyshock: the truth about changing sex. Columbus, 1987.

  • Liz Hodgkinson. Unholy Matrimony: the case for abolishing marriage. Columbus, 1988.

  • Rupert Raj. "Book Review: Bodyshock" Cross-Port Inner View, July 1989. Online. Twenty Minutes, July 1989. Online.

  • Liz Hodgkinson. Michael, Née Laura: The Story of the World's First Female-to-Male Transsexual. Columbus, 1989.

  • Liz Hodgkinson. "Health: Goodbye Samantha, Hello Sam: What Motivates Increasing Numbers of Cross-Dressers To Escape Their Sex? Liz Hodgkinson Investigates". The Independent, 14 September 1992. Online.

  • Review of Bodyshock. The Tartan Skirt, 6, April 1993. Online.

  • Neville Hodgkinson. AIDS: The Failure of Contemporary Science; how a virus that never was deceived the world. Fourth Estate, 1996.

  • Liz Hodgkinson. Peace and Purity: The Story of the Brahma Kumaris: a Spiritual Revolution. Rider, 1999.

  • “Neville Hodgkinson In Conversation with James Powell”. Oxford Muse, March 2005. Online.

  • Pagan Kennedy. The First Man-Made Man: The Story of Two Sex Changes, One Love Affair, and a Twentieth-Century Medical Revolution. Bloomsbury Press, 2007.

  • Liz Hodgkinson. “Poisoned legacy of the Bloomsbury Set: How one woman is haunted by the tragic lives of her friends - the four dazzling sisters descended from those bohemian artists notorious for their sex lives”. The Daily Mail, 22 May 2012. Online. Tells of Amaryllis Garnett and Liz being at school together.

  • Liz Hodgkinson. "The true story behind Britain's first transsexual woman". The Daily Telegraph, 24 Oct 2015. Online.

  • Liz Hodgkinson. From a Girl to a Man: How Laura Became Michael. Quartet Books, 2015. A second edition of *Michael, Née Laura: 1989.

  • Maggie Hartford. "Liz Hodgkinson explores the history of transgender people in new book". Oxford Mail, 9^th^ February 2016. Online.

  • Christine Burns (ed) Trans Britain: Our Journey from the Shadows. Unbound, 2018.



Daily Mail Columns

See also my Annotated reading list for English trans history.

31 May 2022

Merrymakers at Shrovetide

Shrovetide, also known as the Pre-Lenten Season or Forelent, is the Christian period of preparation before the beginning of the liturgical season of Lent.  It culminates in Shrove Tuesday which is also known as Pancake Tuesday or Mardi Gras.

This is Merrymakers at Shrovetide is a painting by the Dutch Frans Hals, painted around 1616–17, and currently on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

In the April 2022 edition of the Gay and Lesbian Review, Andrew Lear  (who is so old-fashioned that he still puts quotation marks around the gender of presentation unless it aligns with what he assumes to be the "real" gender) writes:

"And what about the 'maiden'? 'She' is dressed in an elaborately embroidered silk gown with a very grand lace collar and cuffs. But, of course, 'she' is not really a maiden at all.  First, 'she' does not have the elegant hairdo or make-up that would fit with the gown, and those fingers are particularly inelegant. But 'she' also has an Adam's apple and is therefore clearly a male. 

In fact, since I started this description by putting 'maiden' in quotation marks, you may have figured out by now that this is a boy in drag. Indeed the Met has recently updated its label to point out the possibility. In retrospect, I'm surprised that only few years ago, when it was just a painting in a room full of Dutch paintings, I still happened to notice this anomaly."


Some cis females do have noticeable Adam's apples.

The term 'maiden' was used in previous centuries for unmarried women, young or otherwise, with a connotation of virginity (see the term 'maiden aunt').  These days of course it is regarded as impertinent to assume whether or not one is a virgin.  Hence 'Miss' or 'Fraulein' are much less used.

Whether she is a 'maiden' or a sexually experienced women, she may have either removed her wig or removed the pins holding up the 'elegant hairdo' that Lear expects.  The expression 'letting one's hair down' for late evening relaxation comes exactly from this practice.

"A boy in drag".  The term drag covers lots of different practices.   The 21st century RuPaul-style exaggerated femininity is very different from the 20th century 'female mimics' or the 19th century 'female impersonators' who aimed to be taken as women.   While the term 'drag' is sometimes said to be a 16th-century acronym from 'dressed as girl' it was not a common usage in 16th or 17th century writings.   The term in that period was 'boy actor' or 'boy actress', and despite the basic commonality of transvesting, boy actresses at that time had very little in common with modern drag performers.

Here is a period copy of the painting, set outside under the moon.

Most of the symbolism, the food, the bagpipe etc, are the same, but the woman at the centre looks more natural.

Personally I am not persuaded that she does have an Adam's apple, rather than simple neck shadow, but in either case Hals could have added or not added a couple of brush strokes to suggest differently. 

It does not seem to occur to Lear that perhaps a woman sat for the painting, and Hals mischievously put in suggestions that she was otherwise.  A sort of reverse gender crossing.  Gender crossings were standard in renaissance theatre where a boy played a female character who disguised as a boy.  To take that trope and apply in painting would be a neat idea. 

26 May 2022

Pre-Stonewall Trans peer-support groups

Outside of Europe and the Americas peer-supporting trans groups have thrived for millennia, the Hijra in India and the Kathaoy in Thailand being the best known. Many of the First Nations across the Americas had two-spirit roles with community support, but were repressed by European colonialism. The major trans community in the Roman Empire was the Cybele worshipping gallae, but they were repressed in the 4th century with the Christianisation of the Empire.

This account is of the recovery of trans communities in Europe and North America.

Peer-support groups as we know them do not appear until after WWII, but earlier trans persons sought out each other at clubs and balls and in select publications, and also found each other in unexpected places like POW camps. The major Female Impersonation nightclubs are also listed here, even where cross-dressed customers were discouraged, in that there was often back-stage peer support and information exchange for the performers re clothing and makeup, and later hormones and surgeries.

See also Three Centuries of Police raids.

1709 onwards Molly Houses

A new development in the early 18th century was that of houses where queers, some of them transvesting, sought their own kind. Their dressing was distinctly different from the cis cross-dressing found in the masquerade balls, and their gender-role sexual activities were very different from the heteronormative sodomy that had been common until that time. 

1860s Fanny and Stella

Fanny and Stella were the best known of a circle of trans women who frequented fashionable places in and around London, until Fanny and Stella were charged with 'conspiring and inciting persons to commit an unnatural offence'. Sodomy was not proved, and their acquittal established that transvesting was not a crime in England. GVWW

1897 - 1917 Storyville, New Orleans

The District, a 38-block area, was designated as the part of the city in which prostitution would be tolerated. This had been proposed by Alderman Sidney Story and the area became known as Storyville. Miss Big Nelly was the Madam of a gay brothel. The Frenchman’s was a small jazz club which was popular with trans women. The District played an important part in the evolution of early jazz, and was an area where queer persons were more comfortable.

1914 - 1918 Prisoner-of-war camps

All-male POW camps had theatricals and needed persons to play female roles - some of whom stayed in role off-stage. A major example was the German officer Emmerich Laschitz held in the Siberian camp of Achinsk until 1920.

1919 - 1933 Institut für Sexualwissenschaft, Berlin

In addition to Magnus Hirschfeld’s general support for trans persons, some also lived at the Institut, of whom the best known are Dörchen Richter, Toni Ebel and Charlotte Charlaque.

1920s Club D’Eon in Berlin

A transvestite social club. Hirschfeld’s associate Felix Abraham was on the committee.

1922 - 1923 Eldorado, Berlin

Three dance halls opened sequentially and run by Ludwig Konjetschni, where trans persons were welcome. GVWW.

1923 - 1941 London Life

The major British publication between the wars that paid attention to cross-dressing and similar topics and printed readers’ letters on such. Google Books.

1923 - 1938 the Faggots’ Ball or the Dance of the Fairies at the Hamilton Lodge, Manhattan.

This became the most popular gay event in town, attended by both black and white queers, and also artists and writers. About 800 attended in 1925 and fifteen hundred in 1926. Growing numbers of spectators attended not to dance but just to gawk, particularly at those in dresses. Three thousand spectators in 1929 watched two thousand dancers, and in the next few years a total of up to seven thousand spectators and dancers attended. GVWW.

1926 DamenKlub Violetta, Berlin

Run by female transvestite Lotte Hahm.

1929 Transvestitenvereinigung D`Eon, Berlin

Founded by Lotte Hahm for both male and female transvestites. This was so successful that a few weeks later they had to find a larger meeting place. Later the Association had its own dance events at Violetta. Its events were reported in Die Freundin.

1930s - The Lady Austin Balls, London

Mainly “Hotel Staff Dances” in private ballrooms attended by domestic servants and hotel staff, mainly men, but many cross-dressed. In 1932 it was raided and 33 men and 1 woman were arrested. GVWW,

1933 - 1940 La Paloma Club, outside Miami

A club of which it was said that the clientele included “homosexuals in evening gowns, trousered lesbians, and prostitutes”. It acquired nationwide fame in1937 when it was raided by the Ku Klux Klan. It was finally closed on charges of under-age heterosexuality. GVWW.

1933 - 1999 Finocchio’s, San Francisco

The most glamorous of the US Female Impersonation clubs, popular with celebrities and with tourists. It ran for 66 years, and most professional drag artists appeared there. GVWW.

1935 - 1950s. The Finnie Balls, Chicago

Following the raid on the Cabin Inn, Alfred Finnie organized a small extra ball on the South Side at 25¢ to get in, mainly attended by blacks. Each year it grew, and by the 1950s Finnie’s Balls attracted thousands both gay and straight, black and white, and was featured in Jet and Ebony magazines. Apart from the balls, Alfred worked as a club doorman and street hustler. He was killed in a gambling brawl in 1943, but the balls continued in his name. GVWW.

1939 - 1945 WWII Prisoner-of-war camps

As in WWI, all-male POW camps had theatricals and needed persons to play female roles - some of whom stayed in role off-stage. A major example was Bobbie Spong in Changai camp, Singapore.

1939-1972 The Jewel Box Revue, touring US

The Revue toured for 30 years, was racially integrated and was the best known drag show of its kind in the US. GVWW.

Mid 1940s - 1975 The Phil Black Funmaker Balls, Manhattan

The precursor of the later Voguing balls. GVWW.

1944 - mid 1950s Soldiers-in-Skirts Revues, England touring

About the only option in England at the time where assigned males could wear female clothes outside their homes. You had to have some inclination, if not actual talent, towards singing and dancing, although you did not have to have actually served in the forces. The first such show was actually a US import, Irving Berlins' This is the Army, which played the London Palladium for four nights in 1944. The initial idea had been to put men into dresses to make them look dreadful, but that soon started to change because the audience liked the prettiest ones best - which much suited the performers.  GVWW.

1947 - 1985 Le Carousel and Madame Arthur, Paris

Two clubs owned by Marcel Ouizman. While originally the performers had been the type who changed to male clothing before leaving, increasingly they were replaced by trans women who lived as women full time, took hormones and went to Casablanca for surgery. They were a community that shared advice and support, and exchanged addresses of doctors and electrolysists. Hormones were available in pharmacies without a prescription at that time. They also toured five continents, bringing an inconceivable example to countries where transgender surgery was not at all available.

1946 - 1956 The Garden of Allah, Seattle. 1946-1956

Seattle's most popular gay cabaret and one of the first gay-owned gay bars in the US. Local talent was encouraged. Unlike Finocchio’s in San Francisco, local queers were encouraged to attend, and amateur night contestants were often encouraged to become performers. GVWW.

1945 - 1981 Marie Schwidenhammer, Paris

After release from a German concentration camp and a forced resignation from the French Army, Schwidenhammer started living as female. She obtained diplomas in para-medical specialities and practiced as a masseuse therapist nurse, mainly in Paris. She was in contact with most French transsexuals and transvestites. It was she who happened to meet La Carousel star Coccinelle by chance on a train, and informed her of hormones, and of the possibility of transition. GVWW.

1944 - 1978 Louise Lawrence, San Francisco

The mother of trans organizing in the US. She networked with the performers at Finocchio’s, the homophile Mattachine Society, and educated professionals Karl Bowman, Alfred Kinsey and Harry Benjamin, and put trans women in touch with each other. GVWW.

1949 -1972 Club My-O-My, New Orleans

A performance venue in the West End of the city on the edge of Lake Pontchartrain. This was far enough out to avoid city rules and police harassment. For several decades it was a popular tourist stop. In 1972 the building was destroyed in a fire.  White performers and audience only. 

1945 -1969 the Dew Drop Inn, New Orleans

Renowned for music, drag and cross-dressing by performers, bar staff and customers. Patsy Vidalia hosted the Gay Halloween Ball each year. Unlike Club My-O-My not racially segregated.

1946 - 1973 Justice Weekly

A Toronto Tabloid that was published weekly with accounts of international criminal trials, but also accounts of and letters from readers re homosexuality, cross-dressing and fetishism.

195? - 1963 Chevalier D’Eon Resort, NY State

A country home in the Catskills, owned by Susanna Valenti and her wife Marie. It was an isolated 150 acres with a main house, a barn and several snug but unheated bungalows. For $25 ($200 in 2022 money) a weekend visitor from the city got food and board and lessons in passing as female. Of particular note is the gathering there of 71 transvestites at Halloween 1962 dominated by Virginia Prince. GVWW.

1958 - 2008 Chez Nous, Berlin

A nightclub at Marburger Straße 14 in Charlottenburg, the oldest surviving Travestietheater in West Germany. It was featured in the Michael Caine/Harry Palmer espionage film Funeral in Berlin, 1966. GVWW.

1959 - 1967 National Pageants, 1959, US touring

Jack Doroshow/Flawless Sabrina, drag performer and organizer of pageants. Through his company, The Nationals Academy, Jack organized 46 pageants a year from 1959-1967. As local laws almost always prohibited cross-dressing, he would meet with officials and propose a charitable donation, and in return the town would pass a variance to permit the pageant. Usually the town officials did not understand that local people would be performing. The 1967 finals held in New York was a much bigger affair. The Muscular Dystrophy Association was announced as the charity, and Lady Bird Johnson, the President’s wife, and Robert Kennedy as co-sponsors, but they quickly dropped out as the nature of the event became clearer. The event was filmed as The Queen, 1968, which was a sensation at the Cannes International Film Festival. GVWW.

1959 - 1986 Transvestia Newsletter

Published by Virginia Prince and sold by subscription and later in adult book stores. It would become influential in introducing heterosexual transvestites to each other.

1960 Hose and Heels Club, Los Angeles

The first group organized by Virginia Prince.

1962 Full Personality Expression (FPR), Los Angeles and then nation wide.

Virginia Prince attempted to organize Transvestia's readership into a nationwide group. FP (from FemmePersonator) also stood for Full Personality. What was needed was Full Personality Expression (FPE). That was Hellenized into Phi Pi Epsilon in the fashion of university sororities. The Hose and Heel Club became the Alpha Chapter. Homosexuals, transsexuals and fetishists were not admitted. Soon afterward there were three other FPE chapters: Beta in Chicago, Delta in Cleveland, and Theta in Madison, Wisconsin. GVWW.

1960s Stella Minge was running the last Molly House in Silvertown, London.

A queen herself, she often encouraged younger queens. GVWW.

1964 - 1969 Casa Susanna, NY State

In 1963, Susanna and Marie sold their resort property as it was unprofitable. In early 1964 they bought another 150 acre property with a large house, close to Hunter, New York. This became Casa Susanna, and like the Chevalier D’Eon Resort was frequented by the transvestite crowd. GVWW.

1964 - 1977 Erickson Educational Foundation (EEF)

Reed Erickson, trans man, scion of wealth, philanthropist, founded the Erickson Educational Foundation (EEF), financed entirely by himself. He employed Zelda Suplee to run the EEF. She met with transsexuals and others who asked for help, and Erickson made the final decision whom to donate to. The EEF financed gay and trans organizations, and research into New Age activities such as acupuncture, homeopathy, dolphin communication and altered states of consciousness. The EEF published booklets on various aspects of transsexuality, sponsored addresses to various professionals, and sponsored two of John Money’s books, and three of Vern Bullough’s. It donated money to the Harry Benjamin Foundation, until Erickson fell out with Benjamin in 1968. It subsidized the transsexuality program at the Johns Hopkins Gender Identity Clinic. It sponsored three symposia that grew into the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association (HBIGDA).         GVWW.

1965 l'Aide aux Malades Hormonaux (Amaho), Paris

Marie Schwidenhammer managed to register under the French law re voluntary associations.

1965 Dewey’s Coffee Shop, Philadelphia

Dewey's was a Philadelphia chain restaurant. The Dewey's at 208 S 13th St was the 'fag' branch where drags queens, hustlers, lesbian and cops ate and drank side by side. The other branches, especially the 17th St branch wanted it that only the 13th St branch be so. They started refusing service to known homosexuals and "persons wearing non-conformist clothing". 150 protesters staged a sit-in and the police were called. 3 protesters were arrested. At a second sit-in a week later the police declined to take any action, and the management agreed to end discrimination.

1965 onwards. Beaumont Society, England

Alice Purnell, Alga Campbell from Dublin, Giselle, a US expatriate, and Sylvia Carter, met in 1965 and agreed to found the Beaumont Society which was initially much the same as Prince’s FPE.

1966 Compton’s Cafeteria, San Francisco

This branch of Compton's was one of few places in the city where trans persons could go. However the staff started calling the police to arrest trans persons. By August a picket was launched. One night friction exploded into riot, dishes were smashed and the windows were smashed. The next night was a repeat.

1967 Change: Our Goal

A peer-support group in San Francisco. However it lasted only a year or so.

1968-1973 National Transsexual Counseling Unit

A peer-run counseling service established in San Francisco. Funded by EEF.


Of course, after Stonewall, many peer support groups were founded. 

14 May 2022

Pozzale prison

30 km southwest of Florence is the comune of Empoli, and in Pozzale, a frazione thereof (a suddivision of a comune introduced in the Fascist period), there is a medium-security prison, which until 2010 was a women's prison.

By that date the Pozzale prison had a staff of 22 plus 6 Ministry of Justice employees but only 2 inmates. While nearby prisons were overcrowded, it had proved impossible to have some of their inmates transferred to Pozzale.  Its former governor had been removed from his post because of difficulties in his personal relationships. A regional tribunal ordered his reinstatement but this never took place. In 2007 the ex-governor was sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment for abuse of his office and other offences, but in 2009 the European Court of Human Rights condemned Italy for not giving him a fair trial.

On Christmas Day 2009 around 3 pm, a Brazilian transsexual committed suicide in a detention centre for illegal immigrants in Milan. 

There was also an ongoing state of emergency over prison overcrowding.

A partial solution was announced.  Pozzale prison would become a prison exclusively for trans prisoners, of whom there were 60 in Italy at that time.  Most would have come from a special arm of Sollicciano prison in Florence. Training courses were to be provided for custodial staff: free hormonal care and recreational opportunities barred from anywhere else were provided. The adaptation and restructuring works were already underway when the Ministry of Justice, at the time chaired by Angelino Alfano, changed its opinion and blocked everything. Pozzale was returned to hosting women inmates from January 2013. 

In 2020, Pozzale became a prison for mentally ill convicts.

  • "Italy’s new Pozzale Prison for Transgender Inmates: A Photo Essay Waiting to Happen".  Prison Photography, January 13, 2010.
  • Pat Eggleton. "Italy to open world's first prison for transgender inmates". Italy Magazine, 01/14/2010. 
  • "La doppia sofferenza delle trans in carcere".  La Repubblica, 28 agosto 2013. 

06 May 2022

Charlotte d'Eon - Addendum B - Untruths, Comments, What modern label would fit?

Part I: Le Secret du Roi - Russia and then England

Part II: Return to France, Return to England

Part III: Addendum A - Legacy, Bibliography

Part III: Addendum B - Untruths, Comments, What modern label would fit?



The following were added to various d’Eon biographies, but later research fails to confirm them. They are almost certainly false.

- that d’Eon was born female and raised as a male.

- that d’Eon participated in the masquarade balls in Moscow dressed as female.

- that d’Eon as Lia de Beaumont was a lectrice to the Russian Empress Yelizaveta Petrovna Romanova.

- that d’Eon was frail and delicate as a boy and that he was dressed by his mother in girl’s clothing.

- that at age 26 d’Eon in female guise caught the eye of Louis XV.

- that d’Eon was seduced by Madame de Pompadour, mistress of Louis XV.

- that d’Eon became a Chevalier and was induced into the Order of St Louis in recognition of his role as a Dragoon in the Seven Years War.

- that d’Eon had an affair with Sophia Charlotte of of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Queen Consort to George III, and that D’Eon was the father of George IV.

- that d’Eon was a member of the English Hell-Fire Club.

- that d’Eon was courted by Benjamin Franklin.

The major sources for these untruths were d’Eon’s own cross-dreaming which was incorporated into both the La Fortelle (auto) biography 1779 and the unpublished autobiography found at Brotherton Library, and Gaillardet’s first 1836 biography. Farrer comments: “This is very nearly cross dressing fiction, a century in advance. To conclude, I think that all the Leeds autobiographical writings of Mademoiselle d'Eon are fiction of the deepest kind even more so than Gaillardet's first book.”



Whilst Gary Kates’ biography is the most detailed and the most reliable, it is annoying that he continues to use male pronouns for d’Eon even after 1777. In the recent BBC short documentary Kates uses “they’ instead, but never ‘she’.

As does, for example, Patrick Califia, who actually wrote of d’Eon, p12, “he kept a journal in which he referred to himself by feminine pronouns”. This despite p49n16 writing: “female pronouns will be used for transsexual women”.

The Wikipedia article on the Ordre Royal et Militaire de Saint-Louis (which does not mention d’Eon as a recipient) says: “ Catholic faith was mandatory, as well as at least ten years' service as a commissioned officer in the Army or the Navy”. D’Eon returned from Russia in 1761, and became a captain of Dragoons. He fought at the Battle of Villinghausen in July 1761, and was wounded at the action at Ultrop. In 1762 he was sent to London as an assistant to the French Ambassador. That makes one (1) year, not ten in the military. As Kates says (p93): “the medal was not really for his military services. Rather it was .. [for] diplomatic service”. The UK still maintains the practice of giving high level titles to some of its diplomats - see David Frost who was recently made a lord for his negotiations with EU.

D’Eon ran up debts of 100,000 livres in only four months, when he was acting ambassador! How much was that? says that “100,000 French livres tournois [1663-1795] in year 1763 could buy 32,682.682472401524 gram gold. The price of 32,682.682472401524 gram gold in year 2015 was 7,208,587.425194473 French franc. In 2015 France adopted the Euro at €1 = FRF 6.55957, and so 7,208,587 livres = €1,098,942. Add another few years inflation, and round to just over €1 million.

D’Eon was given a £500 advance in 1805 for the autobiography that was never published (until very recently). At a time when the the average wage was £20 a year, that was 25 years income for ordinary people.

Did people actually believe that d’Eon was a woman prior to 1777? James Lander comments: “The very earliest reports of the rumour are conveyed in letters whose writers clearly do not believe the gossip. When gamblers in London soon began placing large wagers on the issue, the majority were betting that d’Eon was a man (i.e. that the rumour was false). A year or so later, most of the people who asserted that the rumour was actually true had vested interests for doing so. D’Eon’s intelligence chief, Broglie; Broglie’s secretary, Drouet; and the later foreign minister, Vergennes, had all been members, like d’Eon, of the ‘king’s secret’. The testimony of Drouet, the only one of the three who, as reported by Broglie, actually investigated the matter physically, was not only erroneous but probably deliberately false. Support for d’Eon’s supposed female-status was also given by one of Vergennes’s agents in the negotiations, Pommereux, who was an old family friend of d’Eon. The libellist, Morande, and Vergennes’s final and successful envoy, Beaumarchais, also supported d’Eon’s hoax, but they too had wide-ranging reasons for doing so, as did the former chief of police and later minister of marine, Sartines, a friend of Beaumarchais and close colleague of Vergennes. Louis XV never showed any real belief in the hoax, and certainly not enough to make him relent regarding d’Eon’s negotiating proposals. However, Louis XVI, who came to the throne in 1774 as a very naive nineteen-year-old, may well have believed the tale told him by so many eminent advisers, though even that is not certain.”

Most of the persons mentioned in Lander’s comment were members of Le Secret du Roi - so in effect it was a Psych-op, a disinformation project by secret agents. Joel Paul in his 2009 Unlikely Allies: How a Merchant, A Playwright, and a Spy Saved the American Revolution, implies that one outcome of the project was to get Louis XVI to side with the American Secession.

Of course the French still humiliated over their losses in the Seven Years War did not need much nudging to support the Americans.

With reference to the American Secession, we should note that Chief Justice Mansfield, who presided on the farcical trial of gambling debts re d’Eon’s sex, and then later ruled that such gambling debts were not enforceable under English law, had made a more dramatic ruling in June 1772 when he ruled in the case of Somerset v Stewart that slavery had no legal basis in England. This became one of the major causes of the American Secession in that the slave states were concerned that the ruling would be expanded to cover them also.

Lander comments on the purchases of items of female attire via Mrs Lautem in 1775: “D’Eon’s papers show that he made numerous purchases of female clothes in the months before and after this date, but most can be understood as gifts for female acquaintances, particularly his ‘landlady’, Madame Lautem, who, along with her wine-merchant husband, was also a good friend of the Chevalier. Earlier we noted d’Eon’s purchase of earrings and a bracelet for this lady, and it is clear that she was reimbursed by d’Eon for the purchase of a considerable number of ‘stays’ (or corsets) around this time. While it may seem odder to us than it did to them that the Chevalier was paying for corsets for the wife of a good friend, one possible if somewhat far-fetched interpretation is that d’Eon was using the corsets himself, perhaps to combat his own corpulency so he might still fit into his beloved dragoon officer’s uniform. Whatever these other purchases may signify, the order, placed on 28 October, for a complete outfit (in the black silk that d’Eon would later in life favour), seems to indicate that on this special day, d’Eon had decided to prepare for a trip to France in the near future – a trip which, under the terms of the Transaction, required that he appear in female dress. If d’Eon secretly longed to don women’s clothing, then he might soon satisfy that desire with a degree of (apparently) official approval.”

Surely couturière Rose Bertin at that first dressing 21 October 1777 must have noticed that Mademoiselle d’Eon’s anatomy was a bit off: facial hair, flat chest, male gait, male voice - not to mention what she between the legs. To rise has she had done from working-class origins to such eminence must have required guile and political savvy. Perhaps she did indeed notice, and just went along with what was expected. She managed to survive the Revolution unscathed, although she had to live abroad for three years. Her business in Paris did continue tough, and in old age she retired to her estate in Épinay-sur-Seine.

If we are looking for an 18th century trans person who approximates to our modern concept of transsexual (although of course they had to live it without benefit of external hormones or modern surgery) the best candidate is John de Verdion. I have yet to find a book about D’Eon that even mentions the existence of Verdion although they were in Londonat the same time 1770-1800.

I always found it odd that those who write about d’Eon stuck with ‘Chevalier’ the male form of the word, and insist on using the transient title over 200 years later. The female form is 'chevalière'. D'Eon is hardly the only trans chevaler/chevalière. So are Marie-Pierre Pruvot (Bambi) and Amanda Lear. Why is it that those who always say Chevalier d'Eon do not say Chevalière Pruvot and Chevalière Lear? Here is the Wikipedia list of Chevaliers (which does not include Charlotte d'Eon). And of course the EN.Wikipedia biography entry is for "Chevalier d'Eon" not "Charlotte d'Eon de Beamont". The FR.Wikipedia entry is for "Charles d'Éon de Beaumont" - yet another Wikipedia entry for a trans person under the pre-transition name.


What modern label would fit?


Kay Brown commented: “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:

  1. A lack of early-transitioners to compare to. It seems that there were many early-transitioners in 18th-century India and South-East Asia. In Christian Europe where sex and gender expression had been so repressed, it is almost impossible to name any at all.
  2. Nor is there any evidence of D’Eon being gynephilic.
  3. 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.
  4. HSTS/AGP is a 21st century social construction that fails to fit anyone in the 18th


As the Beaumont Society was so named at a time when its membership was limited to heterosexual transvestites of the Virginia Prince type, it was implicitly declaring d’Eon to be femmiphilic. Likewise Susan Valenti naming her retreat the Chevalier D’Eon Resort, and Virginia Prince publishing books as Chevalier Publications.

However as there is no evidence that d’Eon was at all gynephilic, this is inappropriate. It is hard to conceive that that d’Eon would have been a member of any such club.

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.


Loads of modern writers simply describe d’Eon as a transvestite, even when referring to pre-1777. The points made against regarding d’Eon as Femmiphilic apply here also.

The verb ‘to transvest’ has been recorded in English as early as 1652, and even earlier in Italian. 'Travestissement' was being used in France by 1692. The concept was around in the late 18th century, but rarely applied to d’Eon.

D’Eon actually transvested less than the general public, many of whom did so for the masquerade balls that were so popular at the time. D’Eon is not recorded as doing so.


Prior to 1777, d’Eon was a diplomat for 20 years, and a Dragoon for only one. Despite this he persisted in dressing (up) as a Dragoon, and after 1777 when she complied with the Royal Command to dress as female, she several times requested permission to again dress as a Dragoon. Surely this is makes d’Eon a homovestite, and this is a more acurate descriptor than ‘tranvestite’


Apart from the masquerade balls, the major incidence of transvesting was found in the Molly houses. Of course this was rather low in the class system, and even if interested d’Eon would not be found at such a place.


Havelock Ellis used d’Eon’s name for the trans persons whom he met and/or read about in the 1920s. However as we have discussed he did not meet Ellis’ definition of an Eonist, and thus was not an Eonist.

Strictly speaking, for one to be an Eonist, one, being born male, should intimate that one was born female and has been brought up male, and be living male.

GIDAANT=Gender Identity Disorder of Adolescence or Adulthood, Nontranssexual Type?

This term for a trans person who is neither fetishistic nor desirous of bodily changes, sort of fits, but the term introduced in the DSM IIIR is a residual term for those who did not fit into the other more accepted terms. As the other terms lack exemplars in the 18th century, a residual term is otiose.


From a misreading of the report on d’Eon’s death in 1810 at the age of 81, it has been suggested that d'Eon had Hypogonadotropin eunuchoidism or Kallman's syndrome, a congenital sexual disorder characterized by underdeveloped genitalia and sterile gonads. D’Eon reported childhood urinary tract disorder but this is insufficient data for such a diagnosis.

Incidentally transsexuality is extremely rare in patients with Kallman’s syndrome. Only one such case has ever been reported.


D’Eon by all reliable accounts was non-sexual, a situation that modern persons regard negatively. Some modern Incels transition so as not to be Incel anymore.

However that is a 21st-century mindtrip. D’Eon was an 18th-century Catholic, and in his milieu Chastity was positively valued, leading many to become monks or nuns.

Cross Dreamer:

The modern concept of Cross-Dreamer is probably more useful. A Cross-Dreamer is one who would be of another gender, have fantasies of being or becoming another gender who may, but are not necessarily, be sexually aroused by such ideas.

The idea of being born female but raised and living as male, as put forth as rumour and then in the 1779 biography under the name La Fortelle, and the unpublished autobiography of her final years, is certainly Cross-Dreaming - although not the more common type of such dreams.