This site is the most comprehensive on the web devoted to trans history and biography. Well over 1700 persons worthy of note, both famous and obscure, are discussed in detail, and many more are mentioned in passing.

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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.

04 May 2022

Charlotte d'Eon: Addendum A - Legacy, Bibliography

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?


- Beaumarchais’ Marriage of Figaro, 1781 contains a character, Cherubino, a boy played by a girl, and at one point forcibly disguised as a girl. Some see this as inspired by his interaction with d’Eon.

- In 1893 J Eliot Hodgkin purchased a large collection of d'Eon books and manuscripts, mainly from a Mr. Richardson who was the grandson of the publishers, (themselves nephews of Samuel Richardson, the author), who had been the intended publishers of d'Eon's autobiography. The family had kept those papers until that time.

- 1911 Homberg & Jousselin, in their D’Eon de Beaumont: His Life and Times, state: "After the death of the Chevalier d'Eon in London in extreme poverty in the year 1810, a mass of his unpublished papers and letters, which he had carefully preserved all his life, fell into the hands of one of his creditors, and lay neglected for nearly a hundred years in an English bookseller's shop. There it was that the authors of this book were fortunate enough to discover them by chance at a sale".   It is not clear whether the bookshop was that of the Richardson’s and are these documents supplementary to those acquired by J Eliot Hodgkin?

-  1920 d’Eon’s name was used by Havelock Ellis as a model for transgender persons on the model of Sadism and Masochism, although d’Eon was hardly a typical Eonist. “On the psychic side, as I view it, the Eonist is embodying, in an extreme degree, the aesthetic attitude of imitation of, and identification with, the admired object. It is normal for a man to identify himself with the woman he loves. The Eonist carries that identification too far, stimulated by a sensitive and feminine element in himself which is associated with a rather defective virile sexuality on what may be a neurotic basis.”

- In the 1920s there was a Club D’Eon in Berlin which catered to transvestites.

- In 1929 Lotte Hahm founded the Transvestitenvereinigung D`Eon (Transvestite Association) in Berlin for both male and female transvestites.

- 1930. papers of d'Eon came into the possession of the British Library from the Collection of the Comte de Bastard.

- 1930s Edward Brotherton, the northern industrialist and benefactor of Leeds University purchased the collection from J Eliot Hodgkin. This seems to be a different collection from the one mentioned by Pinsseau as going to the British Library. The collection includes series of account books recording d’Eon’s daily expenditure, together with a collection of shop-keeper's bills and accounts. Brotherton also bought another d'Eon item: seven folio volumes containing the text of Vizetelly's 1895 biography, and numerous letters, prints, documents relating to d'Eon (called the "extra-illustrated" edition of Vizetelly These joined other manuscripts and formed the Brotherton Collection housed in the Brotherton Library, Leeds University. There were largely unread until the 1980s.

- mid 1950s. The word 'chevalier' was used by Susanna Valenti for her Chevalier D’Eon Resort

- 1959, The word 'chevalier' was used by Virginia Prince for her Chevalier Publications

- 1965. Part of d’eon’s name was also taken by The Beaumont Society, the British organization for heterosexual cross-dressers. Again this is hardly appropriate as d’Eon seems to have been asexual, not heterosexual at all. Some Beaumont members refer to each other as Eonists.


Written by d’Eon:


  • Essai historique sur les différentes situations de la France par rapport aux finances sous le règne de Louis XIV et la régence du duc d'Orléans. Amsterdam, 1753.


  • Memoires Pour Servir à l'Histoire Générale Des Finances2 vols. Amsterdam: La Compagnie, 1760.


  • Note remise à Son Excellence Claude, Louis, Francois, Regnier comte de Guerchy. A Londres: De l'imprimerie de Jacques Dixwell, dans la rue St. Martin, 1764.
  • Lettres, Memoires et Négociations particulières du Chevalier d'Eon, ... avec M. M. Les Ducs de Praslin, de Nivernois, de Sainte-Foy, & Regnier de Guerchy.. P. 3 P. 3. Francfort: Dures, 1764.
  • Nouvelles lettres du chevalier d’Eon.London, 1764.


  • Dernière lettre du chavalier d’Eon de Beamont à M. le comte de Guerchy. London, 1767.


  • Les Loisirs du chevalier d’Eon de Beaumont …, 13 vols, Amsterdam, 1774.


  • Pièces rélatives aux démélés entre Mademosielle d’Eon de Beamont … et le Sieur Caron, dit de Beaumarchais. Paris, 1778.
  • Très-humble réponse a … Beaumarchais.London, 1778.
  • Réponse de Mademoiselle d’Eon à Monsieur Beaumarchais.Rome, 1778.


  • With La Fortelle. La Vie militaire, politique, et privée de Madmoiselle d’Eon.Paris 1779. Ghost-written by a friend of d’Eon. Makes the claim that d’Eon was born a girl, but her father needed a son to gain an inheritance.


  • Epître aux Anglais dans leurs tristes circontances présentes.London 1788.


  • Catalogue des livres rares et manuscripts précieux du cabinet de la Chevalière d’Eon …Moniteur, 29 April 1971. Re the sale of d’Eon’s library. Includes a 20-page preface recounting the life of the seller.


  • Translated to English and edited by Roland A Champagna, Nina Ekstein & Gary Kates. The Maiden of Tonnerre: The Vicissitudes of the Chevalier and the Chevalière d’Eon. The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001. Contains D’Eon’s autobiography, some correspondence and her essay re Historical Precedents (ie persons born female who lived as male).

Some of the publications by Others:


  • Pierre-Joseph Baudier de Villemart. Le Nouvel ami des femmes, ou la Philosophie du sex. Monory, 1779. Included d’Eon as one of Europe’s most famous women.


  • Thomas Plummer, A Short Sketch of Some Remarkable Occurrences during the Residence of the Late Chevalier d'Eon in England. London,  Plummer had been hired to work with d'Eon on her autobiography, issued this very soon after her death.


  • Fréderic Gaillardet. Mémoires du Chevlier d’Eon, publiés pour la première fois sur les papiers fournis par sa famille . .. 2 vols, 700 pages, Chez Ladvocat, 1836. Translated into English and abridged by Antonia White with an introduction by Robert Baldick. Memoirs of the Chevalier d'Éon.Corgi Books. 1972. The supposed memoirs, but padded with extremely unlikely escapades such as affairs with Madame de Pompadour, the Empress Elizabeth of the Russias and the wife of George III of England.


  • Louis Jourdon. Un hermaphrodite. E Dentu, 1861. A pirated and abridged version of Gaillardet, 1836 retaining all the fictional bits. Online.


  • Fréderic Gaillardet. Mémoires sur la Chevalière d'Eon, avec son portrait d'après Latour. La vérité sur les mystères de sa vie d'après des documents authentiques. Paris, 1866. Jourdon’s pastiche inspired Gaillardet to write a proper biography without the fictions. However both the Gaillardet family reprint in 1935 and the Antonia White 1971 translation used the 1836 edition.


  • William John Thoms. Hannah Lightfoot.-Queen Charlotte and the Chevalier d'Eon.-Dr. Wilmot's Polish Princess. (Lord Chatham and the Princess Olive.)


  • J Buchan Telfer. The Strange Career of the Chevalier D’Eon de Beaument. Longmans, Green and Co, 1885. Online.


  • Ernest A. Vizetelly. The True Story of the Chevalier d'Eon: : his experiences and his metamorphoses in France, Russia, Germany and England, told with the aid of state & secret papers. Tylston and Edwards and A.P. Marsden, 1895. Online.


  • Bram Stoker. “Chevalier D’Eon”. Famous Impostors. Sidgwick & Jackson, 1910. Online.


  • Octave Homberg & Fernand Jousselin, translated into English by Alfred Rieu, D’Eon de Beaumont: His Life and Times.Martin Secker, 1911. Online.


  • Émile Langlade, translated into Englisg by Angelo S Rappoport. “Chp II: Rose Bertin and the Chevalier D’Eon” in Rose Bertin: The Creator of Fashion at the Court of Marie-Antoinette. Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1913: 79-86.


  • Oscar Paul Gilbert, translated into English by Robert B Douglas. “The Chevalier D’Eon”. 5 chapters in Men in Women’s Guise. John Lane 1926. Online.


  • Pierre Pinsseau. L'Etrange destinée du chevalier d'Eon.Clavreuil, 1945.


  • Cadéac. Le Chevalier d'Eon et son problème psycho-sexuel: Considérations sur les états psycho-sexuels et sur le "travestisme".Paris, 1953.


  • Edna Nixon. Royal Spy: the Strange Case of the Chevalier D'Eon. Heinemann, A standard biography, but uncritical about such events as his supposed cross-dressing at the Russian court.
  • Cynthia Cox. The Enigma of the Age: the Strange Story of the Chevalier d'Eon. 1966. Previously, the best biography in English. Refutes the dubious parts of the legend.


  • Michel de Decker. Madame le chevalier d'Eon. Librairie Academique Perrin, 1987.


  • Gary Kates. “D’Eon Returns to France: gender and Power in 1777”. In Julia Epstein & Kristina Straub. Body Guards: The Cultural Politics of Gender Ambiguity. Routledge, 1991.


  • Gary Kates. “The Transgendered World of the Chevalier/Chevalière d'Eon”. The Journal of Modern History,67,3,1995.
  • Gary Kates. Monsieur d’Eon is a Woman: A Tale of Intrigue and Sexual Masquerade. Basic Books 1995.
  • N. Furbank. “Dress for Success: a review of Gary Kates, Monsieur d’Eon is a Woman”. London Review of Books, Nov 1995:8. Online.


  • Debra Bronstein. “Chevalier D’Eon and the Problem of Womanhood” in Tadeusz Rachwal & Tadeusz Slawek (eds). Word Subject Nature: Studies in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Culture. Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Śląskiego, 1996: 141-152.


  • Peter Farrer. “D'Eon De Beaumont, New Facts, Or Fiction”. GENDYS 2002, The Seventh International Gender Dysphoria Conference. Online.


  • Patrick Califia.Sex Changes, Transgender Politics. Cleis Press, 2003:11-12.
  • Annie Richards. “The Chevalier and the Chevaliere d'Eon”. Second Type Woman, 4 May 2003. Online.


  • Wendy Doniger. “The Mythology of Self-Imitation in Passing: Race, Gender and Politics”. Martin Marty Center Religion and Culture Web Forum,Dec 2004. Online.


  • Rictor Norton, "The Case of Chevalier D'Eon, 1777", in Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook, 2005. Online.


  • Simon Burrows, Russell Goulbourne, Valerie Mainz & Jonathan Conlin (eds). The Chevalier D'Eon and His Worlds: Gender, Espionage and Politics in the Eighteenth Century.Continuum, 2010. Revised versions of papers given at the conference of the same name held under the aegis of AHRC at Leeds University, 19-22 April 2006.
  • James Lander. “A Tale of Two Hoaxes in Britain and France in 1775”. The Historical Journal, 49,4, 2006.


  • Joel Richard Paul. Unlikely Allies: How a Merchant, A Playwright, and a Spy Saved the American Revolution. Riverhead Books, 2009.


  • Danielle Daniels. “Biography of Chevalier Beaumont”. Beaumont Society, 3 May 2011. Online.


  • Nicole Bauer. “The Fate of Secrets in a Public Sphere: the Comte de Broglie and the Demise of the Secret du roi”. Journal of the Western Society for French History, 43, 2015. Online.


  • The Idle Woman. Monsieur D’Eon Is A Woman (1995): Gary Kates. The Idle Woman, February 16, 2017. Online.

EN.WIKIPEDIA     FR.WIKIPEDIA     Masonic Encyclopedia       AuthorsCalendar

Here is a 12 minute video co-produced by the BBC with input from the Beaumont Society.   

Please note:

Philippe Luyt cannot be a descendent of Charlotte d'Eon as she never had any children.  If he is descended from Charlotte's sister or a cousin, that is what should be said.

They never call her Charlotte or 'she'.  Always Charles or 'he'.

Gary Kates blows up the maybe of d'Eon cross-dressing for a Moscow masquerade ball, although there is no evidence to support it.

Kates here says that d'Eon was 'transgender'.  This is of course a reversal of what he wrote in 1991 when he was emphatic that d'Eon was not a transvestite, not a transsexual and not an Eonist.

Kates never referred to d'Eon with female pronouns in his book - he used 'he' throughout.  He still does not.  He now uses 'they'.  If trans the best term is 'she';  if someone lives as female for 30+ years for reason that we do not understand, the best term is 'she'.  To say  'they' is to deny both her gender identity and her life achievement.

The Beaumont Society claims too much much when they say that they were the first British trans group.

03 May 2022

Mademoiselle Chevalière Charlotte d'Eon de Beaumont - Part II: Return to France, Return to England

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?

Mademoiselle Chevalière Charlotte-Geneviève-Louise-Augusta-Andréa-Timothéa d'Éon de Beaumont, then 48 years old, landed at Boulogne, August 1777, and stopped at the town of St Denis, on the way to Paris. She was greeted by Dom Boudier, the abbot of the Benedictine monastery. Because d’Eon was considered a woman, she could not stay at the monastery, and Boudier had made arrangements at the nearby Carmalite convent, where the Mother Superior was Thérèse of Saint Augustine (otherwise Louise-Marie Bourbon, a daughter of the late king). Several of the nuns giggled when d’Eon arrived (still dressed as a Captain of Dragoons). Mother Thérèse was outraged. She had understandably assumed that the visitor would be dressed like an aristocratic lady.

After arrival in Paris, d’Eon became a centre of attention. Vendors offered songs, broadsides and prints that mocked the Chevalière. At the Comédie italienne, a vaudeville was quickly put together about changing the role of women to men and that of men to women. She was summoned to a meeting with the Foreign Minister where she was handed a hand-signed order from the king that commanded that she dress as her own sex. Generous funds were provided for an expensive new wardrobe, and she was offered instruction in the ways of women at the home of Edme-Jacques Genet in Versailles. First though she went to visit her mother in Tonnerre. Her mother sided with the king on the issue of d’Eon’s dress; the other townsfolk were divided. She also received mail from aristocratic ladies urging her transformation. The local priests announced that she was not welcome in their churches while in the clothes of a man.

D’Eon finally bowed to the inevitable and agreed to “retake” female dress. This happened chez Genet 21 October. Not only did Genet have three daughters, two of whom were Ladies in Waiting to the Queen, Marie Antoinette, but also present was Rose Bertin, who had risen from low rank to become Wardrobe Directrice and couturière to Marie Antoinette. She also played a major role in establishing Paris as the world centre of fashion. Bertin dressed d’Eon as a woman for the first time - a process that took a mere four hours and ten minutes. After she made up d’Eon’s face, d’Eon ran into her bedroom and cried bitterly, but recovered in time for a sumptuous dinner in her honour that evening.

D’Eon later commented: “I find the dress of a woman too complicated for quickly dressing and undressing. Full of inconveniences, unseasonable in winter, inflexible in all times, uniquely made only for vanity, luxury, other vices, and the ruin of husbands.”

A month after her first dressing in women’s clothes, the Chevalière was presented to the King and Queen. As would become her habit she wore her Cross of Saint-Louis with her female dress. The King established a precedent by allowing d’Eon to be ‘Chevalière’ in her own right. Previously the honorific had gone only to wives of Chevaliers. D’Eon was invited to many social events,

In 1778 d’Eon was invited to a dinner party at the residence of Benjamin Franklin where they both agreed on the American Secession, and also made a social call on the philosopher Voltaire shortly before he died.

Beaumarchais, back in Paris, was claiming that d’Eon wanted to marry him. To some extent this made her a laughingstock. Some women attended masquerades as d’Eon and as such telling risqué stories and flirting with the men.

D’Eon’s hatred for Beaumarchais was such that she started gathering material for a four-volume biography of him. However she eventually lost interest, and it was never completed.

In February 1778 France formally allied with the American colonists against Britain, the memory of the humiliation of fifteen years before still being fresh. D’Eon petitioned government officials that she be allowed to resume her dragoon uniform and then apply for special duty in America. In response the government increased its pressure to get d’Eon to enter a convent. At the beginning of 1779, she again petitioned, sending letters to many well-placed persons. The King was outraged. In April, in the middle of the night, she was awoken, arrested and taken to a dungeon at the Chateau of Dijon. Friends interceded on her behalf, but only after she agreed to abandon all military ambitions, and retire to her estate at Tonnerre. On those conditions she was released after 19 days.

In 1779 a biography was published. La Vie militaire, politique, et privée de Mademoiselle d'Éon. The author was given as La Fortelle, perhaps a ghost-writer, perhaps a pseudonym, but almost certainly with contributions from d’Eon herself. It told how a girl had been raised as a boy to secure an inheritance, and to rescue the father from debt.

The same year Pierre-Joseph Baudier de Villemart published Le Nouvel ami des femmes, ou la Philosophie du sex, which included d’Eon as one of Europe’s most famous women.

From 1779 to 1785 d’Eon spent most of her time at the family home. She was permitted short visits to Paris, but had to obtain permission each time, and sometime a government agent followed her around. Being at Tonnerre gave d’Eon time to consider gender and religion. She considered that living as a woman was not enough, she had to be a Christian woman. She took Joan of Arc as a model. One of her relatives was Christophe de Beamont, the Archbishop of Paris, and she took the opportunity to discuss the central tenets of Christianity with him, and valued his opinions. However despite Beaumont being noted for his struggle against Jansenism, she also regularly read the leading Jansenist newspaper, Nouvelles ecclesiastiques. While Jansenism was not Protestant, it had been declared heretical by the Catholic Church.

1782 saw the posthumous publication of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Confessions. This was in effect a new genre and greatly influenced d’Eon’s later writing of her latter autobiography.

D’Eon was restless in Tonnerre. Efforts to return to Paris were blocked, so she sought permission to move to London. This was at first denied in that France - with the American colonists - was at war with Britain. This ended in 1783. Even then the government was reluctant to give permission. She pleaded the state of her English finances and that creditors were likely to sell off her library. Finally in 1785 permission was given. She had retained the lease on her London flat, subletting it while in France, and now returned to it. While she had expressed string anti-British opinions with Benjamin Franklin, and when appealing to be allowed to join the war in America, now she spoke of England as even more free than Holland, and the constitutional monarchy of England as preferable to the absolute monarchy of France. 

(Also in 1785, a mollies’ club was discovered in Clement’s Lane near the Strand. A couvade was being enacted, several mollies were enacting childbirth and nursing. One of the mothers was so convincing that the police released her on the supposition that she was a cis woman.)

Horace Walpole met d'Eon in 1786 and found her loud, noisy, and vulgar – "her hands and arms seem not to have participated of the change of sexes, but are fitter to carry a chair than a fan". James Boswell wrote that "she appeared to me a man in woman's clothes."

D’Eon participated in fencing tournaments, both for the extra money and to spread her reputation as an Amazon.

D’Eon had never saved a penny, a pound or a livre despite her pension being generous compared to an average income. When she was in England the payments became unreliable - this was part of the financial crisis and government bankruptcy that resulted in the Revolution, which formally ended the payments.

Finally in April 1791 d’Eon had to sell her library, It was auctioned by Christie’s (founded 1766) who published and sold for 1/- a catalogue of the library which included a 20 page preface of d’Eon’s life.

However the sale did not realise enough to settle d’Eon’s debts.

(While London trans man John de Verdion was an active book dealer, there is no record that he participated in the auction).

(1791 A trans man we know only as Jane Cox, being very tall and strong, served for many years as a sailor and a soldier, and finally retired to the village of Piddle. Ironically Cox died of drowning.)

1792, d'Éon sent a letter to the French National Assembly offering to lead a division of female soldiers against the Habsburgs, but the offer was not taken up.

(Death of Bob Bussick, a ‘notorious’ sheep-drover in St-John Street, Islington. The expression ‘Come along Bob’, common in the 19th century was said to be derived from him. He was said to be hermaphroditic, and visitors to London would make a point of seeing him.)

(1794 Cabin boy Mary Anne Talbot/John Taylor, having been captured back from the French, was wounded severely in the ankle in 1794 at the Glorious First of June/ Third Battle of Ushant/ Combat de Prairial, the largest fleet action in the Wars of the French Revolution, and never had full use of his leg again. Later that year he was again captured by the French, and was 18 months in a dungeon in Dunkirk.)

(October 1792. On receipt of an anonymous letter, the Bow Street police station investigated the Bunch of Grapes pub, where there was a gathering each Monday night. A week later the police-watch was sent. They found ‘fellows in women’s attire’, their faces painted and powdered, and using women’s names. A total of 18 were arrested. The next morning they were brought before the magistrate clad in their dresses. A Mob gathered and threatened to lynch the prisoners. A strong escort of soldiers protected them from the mob, but not from stones and mud that were flung. )

D'Éon continued to participate in fencing tournaments until seriously wounded in Southampton in 1796. This forced her to give up fencing. Shortly afterwards she found new accommodation with a Mrs Cole, the widow of an Admiral.

(In 1796 Horace Walpole and others were spreading the false notion that Edward Hyde, Governor of New York 90 years before, had publicly transvested.)

(After his return to London, John Taylor was seized by a press-gang, but released when he revealed that he was female-bodied. Although now regarded as a woman, he applied to the Naval pay office at Somerset House for a pension, and was finally granted 12/- per week. His leg wound got worse. Over the next decade, Taylor used his fame as a man-woman and his claim to be a child of Lord Talbot, to appeal for charitable donations. He found a common-law wife, worked in menial jobs, and even appeared on stage at Drury Lane theatre in both male and female roles. He was arrested for debt, and imprisoned at Newgate.)

(In 1800 John de Verdion, after 30 years in London, fell downstairs and the problem developed into dropsy. Despite the ministrations of a German physician who lived in the same house, he died. By his will he bequeathed all to the master of the inn where he lived, but upon his taking possession it proved inadequate to discharge the bill. Verdion’s considerable collection of foreign gold and silver coins were nowhere to be found, neither was his sword. The coffin plate was at first engraved ‘John de Verdion’, but was then altered to ‘Miss de Verdion’. Verdion was deposited in the burying ground of St Andrew, Holborn.)

In 1804, d'Eon was sent to a debtors' prison for five months.

In 1805 she signed a contract with the Richardson brothers of London (nephews of Samuel Richardon, the novelist) for an autobiography, inspired by that of Rousseau, to be published in ten volumes and to be rendered into English by Thomas Plummer. She received a £500 advance, but it was never published, due to her stalling. What she did write again portrayed her as being born female and living as male until the 1770s. However D’Eon considered herself to be a Christian, a Jansenist, and therefore a disciple of Augustine, and as such could not deliberately lie. She also wrote an account of Historical Precedents, persons like herself who though born female were accepted as male: Pope John/Joan, and various Saints who had passed as male.

In 1806 she was paralysed following a fall, and spent a final four years bedridden.

D’Eon died in 1810, aged 81, and her body was examined posthumously and found to be male-bodied, which came as a great shock to Mrs Cole. Her body was buried in the churchyard of St Pancras Old Church, and d'Éon's remaining possessions were sold by the auction house Christie's in 1813.