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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.

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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?

--------------------------

Untruths.

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untruths were d’Eon’s own cross-dreaming which was incorporated into both the La Fortelle (auto) biography 1779 and the unpublished autobiography found at Brotherton Library, and Gaillardet’s first 1836 biography.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.”

--------------------

Comments

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? www.historicalstatistics.org/Currencyconverter.html 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?

Autogynephilic?

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

Femmiphilic?

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.

Transvestite/cross-dresser?

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.

Homovestite

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’

Mollie

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.

Eonist?

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.

Intersex?

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.

Incel?

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?


Legacy

- 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.



Bibliography

Written by d’Eon:

1753

  • 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.

1760

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

1764

  • 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.

1767

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

1774

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

1778

  • 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.

1779

  • 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.

1788

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

1791

  • 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.

2001

  • 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:

1779

  • 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.

1810

  • 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.

1836

  • 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.

1861

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

1866

  • 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.

1867

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

1885

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

1895

  • 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.

1910

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

1911

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

1913

  • 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.

1926

  • 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.

1945

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

1953

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

1966

  • 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.

1987

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

1991

  • 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.

1995

  • 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.

1996

  • 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.

2002

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

2003

  • 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.

2004

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

2005

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

2006

  • 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.

2009

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

2011

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

2015

  • 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.

2017

  • 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.

29 April 2022

Charlotte d'Eon de Beaumont (1728 - 1810) part I: Le Secret du Roi - Russia and then 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?


To write about Charlotte d’Eon is intrinsically difficult in that so many biographies have been written, and so many untruths have been added, some of them by d’Eon herself.

I am mainly following Gary Kates’ Monsieur d’Eon is a Woman: A Tale of Intrigue and Sexual Masquerade, 1995. as the most reliable biographer of D’Eon. He and Peter Farrer in his paper presented at Gendys 2002 were the first biographers to have used the documents stored at the Brotherton Library in Leeds. Kates looked for but failed to find any evidence that D’Eon dressed as female at all before 1777. The major challenge to this was the paper read by Peter Farrer at the Gendys Conference in 2002. Nobody seems to have commented on Farrer’s adjustments. I have also included some of points from James Lander’s “A tale of Two Hoaxes in Britain and France in 1775”, 2006. Lander uses some of the evidence cited by Farrer but without mentioning him in either text or footnotes.

There is a large Bibliography in Part III: Addendum A.

(For context I have added other trans events and marked them by brackets like this. This is a longer list than the context persons mentioned by Kates.)

>> details missed by Gary Kates but highlighted by Peter Farrer

------------------

Charles Geneviève Louis Auguste André Timothée d'Éon de Beaumont was born and raised in Tonnerre, Burgundy, about 160 km south east of Paris. His parents, both minor nobility were Louis d'Éon de Beaumont, an attorney and director of the king's dominions, later mayor of Tonnerre and sub-delegate of the intendant of the généralité of Paris, and Françoise de Charanton, daughter of a Commissioner General to the army. Charles d'Eon graduated in civil and canon law in 1749 from Collège Mazarin in Paris, and worked for the government in the fiscal department and published a well-received book on government finance. Thus he was appointed one of the royal censors of books. In 1756 he joined Le Secret du Roi, a secret service that reported to the king, pursuing aims that sometimes were at odds with official French policy,

1756-1763 was the Seven Years’ War, mainly between Britain and France. D’Eon was sent as an assistant to the envoy to the court of Yelizaveta Petrovna Romanova in St Petersburg to renew the alliance between France and Russia. D’Eon returned from Russia in 1761, and became a captain of Dragoons reporting to the same man who commanded him in Le Secret. He fought in the later stages of the Seven Years’ War, at the Battle of Villinghausen in July 1761, a British and allies victory, and was wounded at the action at Ultrop. French colonies in North America were lost to Britain including Quebec.

In 1762 d’Eon was sent to London as assistant to the France’s ambassador, to participate in drafting the peace treaty that ended the Seven Years' War. At the same time his task for Le Secret du Roi was to assemble information for a future French invasion. For this he was received into the Ordre Royal et Militaire de Saint-Louis which made him a Chevalier. He acted as French Ambassador with the rank of Plenipotentiary July-October 1763 after his ambassador returned to Paris and he waited for the new official Ambassador to arrive. This involved entertaining from his own purse. He expected to be reimbursed but was not. He was also demoted to Secretary when the new Ambassador, Claude-Louis-François Régnier, Comte de Guerchy, finally arrived. A row developed between d’Eon and de Guerchy. D’Eon was ordered back to France but refused. The British government declined a French request to extradite d'Éon. In March 1764 d’Eon published Lettres, mémoires, et négociations particuliéres in 1764 which contained the ambassadorial correspondence – a severe breach of protocol. He claimed in a letter to Louis XV that de Guerchy, had tried to have him drugged. D’Eon held back the secret invasion documents. The British public sided with d’Eon and jeered de Guerchy in public.

Basically d’Eon had three demands: safe passage and royal protection in France; sufficient remuneration to cover his debts and provide future financial independence; and the recognition of his titles, especially that of Plenipotentiary Minister, which would signal acknowledgement of his essential innocence of past accusations. For a decade the ageing Louis XV refused to accept these proposals as such.

>> Quietly d’Eon had been living at an alternate address, In his journal he wrote: "Given to the widow Madame Turner with whom I lived in 1764 and 1765 under the name of Madame Duval in Lambeth, Westminster and who is badly off since the death of her husband, £5-5-0."

Du Guerchy was recalled to France, and in July 1766 Louis XV, who continued to use d’Eon as a secret agent, instituted an annual pension (paid intermittently) of 12,000 livres. But he refused a demand for over 100,000 livres to clear d'Éon's extensive debts.

D’Eon became a Freemason in 1768, being admitted to the French Lodge, No. 376, on the Roll of the Grand Lodge of England, known as La loge de l'Immortalit, at the Crown and Anchor in the Strand, London.

Despite the fact that d’Eon wore his dragoon uniform every day, by 1770 a rumour developed, at first in Paris that he was a woman.  Horace Walpole was one of the first in London to receive the gossip. The rumours were mostly of the form that another person says so. After a couple of months London newspapers were reporting as fact that d’Eon was female. By the first Thursday in March 1771 significant sums were being wagered on his sex in the City. At a time when a labourer might make 20 pence a day or £20 a year, bets for as much £500 were laid, and often with life insurance policies as collateral. On Saturday 23 March d’Eon himself went to the taverns around the stock exchange and found the banker who had arranged the first bet. D’Eon challenged him to a duel, and also anyone who had laid such a bet. None accepted. D’Eon had to consider his safety, as no bets would be paid without confirmation, thugs might attack and strip him.

(John de Verdion, an immigrant from Leipzig where he was annoyed by rumours that he had previously been a woman, arrived in London in 1770. He taught German to William Cavendish-Bentinck, 3rd Duke of Portland and later Prime Minister, and to Edward Gibbon, the historian. He taught English to the Prussian ambassador. Verdion was well known at book auctions, and on occasions would buy an entire coach load of books.)

D'Éon then wrote a book on public administration, Les loisirs du Chevalier d'Éon, which was published in thirteen volumes in Amsterdam in 1774.

>> D’Eon’s accounts for 1773-5 include payments to a Mrs Lautem, landlady and friend, for purchases of female items, in particular stays (the precursor of corsets).

When Louis XVI came to the throne in 1774, the dramatist Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais (the author of Le Barbier de Séville who would later write Le Mariage de Figaro) was sent to negotiate. Beaumarchais was also investigating for the French government Britain’s increasing difficulties with some of its American colonies.

D’Eon’s position was that he must be granted a pension, his debts paid off, and a farewell audience with the English King to confirm his Plenipotentiary status. The first two were now negotiable. Beaumarchais’ ploy was to obtain official statements that d’Eon was a woman, and even better to present her in public in female attire - in that a woman could not possibly be a Plenipotentiary. However d’Eon never varied in public from his Dragoon uniform.

>> In November 1775 d’Eon took delivery of various silk and lace items.

Also in that November, d’Eon and Beaumarchais had finally come to an agreement and signed a ‘Transaction’. The sums offered were acceptable to d’Eon and he accepted that a woman could not be Plenipotentiary.

Shortly afterwards d’Eon found out that Beaumarchais and his assistant Charles Morande had placed huge bets that d’Eon was a woman. He responded by cutting off negotiations with them. In August he challenged Morande to a duel, but Morande refused to fight a woman. That Beaumarchais was spreading rumours in Paris that he and d’Eon were soon to wed, did not help either.

The London press ran various stories assuming that d’Eon was really female, having been born so, and sent to Russia as a woman. These were supposedly based on secret correspondence with Louis XV. They were probably using stories supplied by Beaumarchais and Morande. The image of d’Eon changed from being an exile from despotic France to that of being a French spy.

By summer 1777, some gamblers had had money tied up in bets about d’Eon’s sex for as much as six years, and began filing suits demanding payment. On 2 July such a case was heard by Chief Justice Mansfield at the Court of King’s Bench. The first witness was surgeon and male midwife , La Goux who claimed to have treated d’Eon for a female disorder some years earlier. The second witness was Morande who actually claimed to have been in bed with d’Eon. The defence merely objected that courts were no place to discuss woman’s private parts. Another witness was a French physician who did not speak English, and Morande kindly translated. The jury, after two minutes gave a verdict for the plaintiff. This served as a legal declaration that d’Eon was a woman, and those who had bet that she was a man, paid up.

D’Eon had not attended the trial, did not confirm his sex, and decided to return to France. It was also that most of his debts had been paid off and his library of 6,000+ volumes was not now at risk of being subject to liens. D’Eon was politically rehabilitated and now perceived as an agent of the French king. In addition, without ever being seen in female attire, d’Eon had managed to convince everyone, including close associates, that he was in fact a born female who had been raised as male.

>> D’Eon left for Paris Wednesday 13 August 1777. In her journal for that day, d’Eon wrote: "a cette feuille commence le journal de Mademoiselle D'Eon." (At this leaf begins the journal of Mlle d'Eon) and also “j'ai répris mes habits de femme” (I have resumed my women's clothes]. Inserted in different ink are the words, "under the constraint of the threatening orders of the court" . D’Eon was still dressed in the very male costume of a Dragoon.

Chief Justice Mansfield continued to hear suits based on insurance policies regarding d’Eon’s sex. Morande repeated the same testimony. However Mansfield had had enough. He let it be known to the defence that he would welcome a motion to arrest the judgement of the court. This was done and the issue was whether such insurance policies were permissible under English law. After hearing argument, Mansfield ruled that they were not and thereby rendered all wagers on d’Eon’s sex unenforceable.

It is not known whether Beaumarchais and Morande had been able to claim their winnings on their bets.

(Also in July 1777, a trans man known to us only as Ann Marrow was convicted at Guildhall for wearing men's clothes and marrying three women. He was ordered to stand pillory and serve six month's in jail. He did not go down well with the crowd and from the objects that they threw, he was blinded.)

17 April 2022

Elsa B (1888? - ?) government clerk, Gutheil patient

Emil Gutheil (1889-1959) was born in Round Athletic Shoe Laces for Sneakers Sport Running Shoe Black+ close to Lviv, which was originally in Poland, but then part of Austria-Hungary and now is in the Ukraine. He was educated at the University of Vienna. He became a neuro-psychiatrist at the university Psychiatric Clinic, and was mentored by psycho-analyst Wilhelm Stekel (1868-1940), who is credited with coining the term ‘paraphilia”.

In the early 1920s a trans man then 34-years old, whom Gutheil refers to only as ‘Elsa B’ came to Gutheil. He states: 

“Case 70. Introductory remarks: This patient agreed to an analysis under one condition: that under no circumstances should we destroy her particular sexual strivings. She was only desirous of enlisting our aid in gaining permission from the police to wear men’s clothing.”

B was a government clerk and also played the violin. Despite being there only to get support in obtaining a Transvestitenschein, a legal permit to ‘cross-dress’, he did attend 33 sessions with Gutheil, during which the psycho-analyst continued to refer to him as ‘she’ and as a ‘woman’. B’s father had died when the child was two, and B had been rejected by his mother, who had wanted a boy, and raised by his grandparents. His mother's second husband repeatedly told B that he was ugly. B had dressed as male since teenage, and urinated standing up. His hair was short in a male style. Religious scruples inhibited him from having sex with women (what others would regard as ‘homosexuality') and personal taste from having sex with men. He found wearing men’s clothing to be erotically arousing, even to the point of orgasm. When wearing male attire “a great oppression leaves me and instead of feelings of inferiority, I feel free and easy”. B saw himself as the father of a family. 

With the outbreak of war in 1914, B was suspected of being a Serbian spy and severely beaten on the street. That was the first time that he begged the police for a Transvestitenschein so that he could legally wear male clothing. He was held for six days, at first examined by a police surgeon, and then by a psychiatrist. But he was not given a Transvestitenschein.

Gutheil’s paper on B was included as Chapter XVI of Stekel’s book on fetishism. The two psycho-analysts criticised Hirschfeld for overlooking latent homosexuality as an important factor in transvestism, although as Bullough points out they take every denial of homosexuality as an admission. This despite Gutheil’s final twist that 

"the transvestitism is an anchorage of the patient’s heterosexuality, the difference being that instead of the forbidden incestuous object she has fixed upon a symbol : the clothing. … the chief cause of the flight being an active castration complex expressed in a manifestly sadistic phantasy”.

Stekel’s book title was (in translation) Sexual Aberrations: The Phenomena of Fetishism in Relation to Sex, and his idea was to systematize the structure of all paraphilias as a single entity under the model of fetishism. He was in reaction to Magnus Hirschfeld’s biologically oriented model of sexual intermediaries. However B’s transgender orientation does not fit the model.

They conclude: 

“Despite its striking inner resemblance with fetishism, we cannot consider transvestitism as a form of genuine fetishism. It is a special form of a compulsion neurosis in which the patient’s desire for the genital of the other sex is displaced to the clothing.

The transvestite satisfies himself with the appearance of belonging to the opposite sex; he makes use of the clothing in order to possess some rudiment of reality in the fictitious transformation which he has accomplished. Whereas the fetishist reconstructs an infantile scene and becomes a child again in order to experience something definite, the transvestite projects his wish into the future and anticipates the great miracle, the miracle of his sexual metamorphosis.

Fetishism is thus retrospective and transvestitism prospective in purpose.”

We are not told if B was granted his Transvestitenschein.

Havelock Ellis, in the 1928 edition of his Eonism, included a four page summary of Gutheil’s chapter. He regarded B as “female Eonist”.

In 1937, Los Angeles psycho-analyst Ralph Greenson was in Vienna to be analysed by Wilhelm Stekel. However 12 March 1938 saw the Anschluß Österreichs, the Nazi takeover of Austria. Stekel and his wife immediately fled via Switzerland to England where he killed himself in June 1940 for medical reasons. Greenson returned to Los Angeles. Gutheil had emigrated to the US in 1937 where he founded the Association for the Advancement of Psychotherapy and the American Journal of Psychotherapy.

We do not know what happened to B in the Third Reich.

  • Emil Gutheil. “XVI. Analyse eines Falles von Transvestitismus,” in Wilhelm Stekel. Der Fetischismus, vol. 7, Störungen des Trieb- und Affektlebens. Urban & Schwarzenberg, 1923: 534-570. Translated by S Parker: “Analysis of a Case of Transvestism” inSexual Aberrations: The Phenomena of Fetishism in Relation to Sex. John Lane The Bodley Head Ltd, 1930: 281-318.
  • Havelock Ellis. “Eonism” In Eonism and Other Supplementary Studies, Random House, 1928: 17-23.
  • Vern L. Bullough & Bonnie Bullough. Cross Dressing, Sex, and Gender. University of Pennsylvania Press 1993: 214-6.
  • Clare L Taylor. Women, Writing, and Fetishism 1890-1950: Female Cross-Gendering.Clarendon Press, 2003: 90-3.
  • Patricia Gherovici. Transgender Psychoanalysis: A Lacanian Perspective on Sexual Difference. Routledge, 2017: 48-54.
  • Katie Sutton. Sex between Body and Mind: Psychoanalysis and Sexology in the German-speaking World, 1890s–1930s.University of Michigan Press, 2019: 186-7, -191.

Despite the cisplaining, the misogyny of Stekel and Gutheil, it is a shame that this case is not better known. The real-life persons behind Sigmund Freud’s case studies have been identified and we know what happened to them afterwards. With B we do not know.

It is heartening that B does not want to be ‘cured’. He is and wants to be a man, but male hormones will not be available until the late 1930s.

He is also quite open about finding male attire to be erotic. It is a misfortune of sexology and psycho-analysis that it came to be dogma that a) women are not fetishistic, b) cross-dressing by women was pragmatic, not transvestic - that they did so to get a better job and/or to marry a woman, not as an end in itself. This of course did erase many female assigned persons from discourse and from history, but not from reality.

As it happened, we had to wait for Louis Sullivan in the 1980s and Pat Califia in the 1990s to explain that, for some trans men, male clothing is erotic.

13 April 2022

Sex Change in 1958 England (part 2)

 Continued from Part 1

Now some lessor known trans persons.



Nural Huda

On the 16 May, The Civil & Military Gazette reported that Nurjahan Bibi of a small village in Bihar, north of Calcutta, a housewife who had been married for more than three years reported that she felt pain in her spinal cord for four or five days and and then all her feminine features disappeared.  This was confirmed by two doctors.  The husband quickly disappeared.  Bibi became Nural Huda and was looking for work as a man.



Roy Williams

The Birmingham Daily Post, 15 March, tells us of  divorce case with a different outcome from that of the Dollings.  In this case the adulterous wife also charged her husband who wanted to be a woman with cruelty and this time was granted a decree nisi on that basis.   The husband's female name is not reported. 



Jean Sabots

On the 4 June, The Daily Herald told of another divorce case where a trans woman, a 44-year-old father of five, having obtained a decree nisi against the wife on grounds of adultery, applied to the Labour Exchange for an employment card in her female name, so that she can afford to resume taking female hormones.  



Sebastian Companys

The Sunday People, 12 October, told us of Sebastian Companys, born in Spain, served in the French Foreign Legion and working as strip-tease girl in Auxerre, Burgundy.  She has had some surgery, but obstinate doctors refuse the necessary certifications.  




Trans girl in Gateshead-on-Tyne

The town council was helping a seven-year old to transition.





Sex Change in 1958 England (part 1)

 There were more stories of trans persons in the press in 1958 than one might suppose.   The word 'transsexual' was not yet in use, and they were generally referred to as 'sex changes'.

Roberta Betty Cowell


Britain’s most famous sex change was in the news twice


20 June in The Daily Herald


and then 13 October in the Civil & Military Gazette



Micheal Dillon

was featured in the Sunday Express 11 May, but surprisingly not in its competitors, although the story went on to attract world-wide interest.





Jonathan Furguson


He completed transition and was upped to the male pay scale.  This in the Daily Herald, 13 January.




Victoria Dolling

 (GVWW

Divorce trial established that transition is not cruelty to one's spouse.  Manchester Evening News, 22 May.




Donald Purcell

 (GVWW

Donald had been in the press in 1938 when he transitioned with surgery at Charing Cross Hospital.  In 1958 he died age 44.  This is the Manchester Evening News 27 January.






More in Part 2.