Monday, October 6, 2008

LGBT HISTORY: Crossdressing through history

I think CNN is secretly celebrating LGBT History Month because there have been a lot of queer-oriented front page news stories lately. Really, watch and you will see. But this is being posted on here as part of my attempt at "teaching" about LGBT History through any source possible during LGBT History Month -- October!! :-)

CNN does a really interesting article on the reasons people have crossdressed throughout history, and, I have to say, they do a damn good job.

Their top five reasons are...

1. To serve in the army -- they quote a number I have never heard, that they had over 400 women serving in the Civil War dressed as men. The most famous, they mention, is Sarah Edmonds/Frank Thompson (pictured below).

2. To maintain royal harmony -- that is, not to cause a scandal or in fighting. Apparently Phillipe I, Duc of Orleans, brother of Louis XIV, was raised as a girl so there wouldn't be any ambition in him. The CNN article does a lot of weird gender stuff with language at this point -- including referring to him as a "girly man" but whatever.

3. To win in the Olympics -- apparently this happens a lot? Controversial gender testing still goes on today, and in the case of Stanis Walasiewicz, she would have been disqualified had they done the testing them. Apparently, she was actually intersexed -- had "ambiguous genitalia." She would not have been allowed to compete.

4. Espionage -- Truly, the story behind the opera, M. Butterfly, about the French diplomat falling in love with a Chinese opera singer who is actually a male. I think it's funny, though, that the opera singer, Shi Pei-Pu (pictured below) named their child "Shi Dudu." LOL Dudu. Sorry, it's late.

5. Fun and Rowdiness -- Apparently there's some "Festival of Fun" in Jodhpur where the women get to "act like men." Unfortunately, I can find almost nothing about it.

I would recommend two more, especially since the last one on the list is lame: religion and dogma, and the theatre! Think Shakespeare!

It's not a bad article, and it's from the excellent website, Mental_Floss which I recommend to all of you as a daily read.

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