The purpose of tags is to make information relatively easy to find. The topics covered under “people/event tags” are historical persons, authors, written works, and other specific events, organizations, or works that are the subject of the research and publications covered by the Project. This essay is intended to explain briefly how the “people/event” tags are being used.
The second purpose is to provide a tag list that the visitor can use to explore the site. The number of tags used in the project, and the organization into four different categories, doesn’t lend itself to a traditional tag-cloud. The Place and Time Period tags each have a single essay. The Event/Person and Misc. Tags will be covered in thematic groups in multiple essays due to the larger number. I’m planning six essays for the People/Event Tags, each covering a general category with several subcategories.
- Non-Fiction Sources and General Authors
- Historic Crossdressing and Passing/Transgender People
- Historic People Relevant for Emotional, Affectionate, or Sexual Relationships
- Literary Examples of Crossdressing or Gender Disguise
- Literary Examples of Emotional, Affectionate, or Sexual Relationships
- Poetry Expressing Romantic or Sexual Relationships
This present essay covers the fourth category and includes the following:
- General - Works that include cross-dressing themes that don't fall in the following more specific category.
- Same-Sex Desire - Works where cross-dressing provides a context for same-sex erotics, or the appearance of same-sex erotics.
Obviously these categories are quite fuzzy at the edges, and I've classified individual people according to what seems the most noteworthy aspect of their lives. Every story is far more complex than a single classification. These are only for the purposes of exploring general themes.
Literary Cross-dressing: General
This groups covers works that include cross-dressing that don't fall in one of the more specific categories. That is, although the cross-dressing may challenge gender norms or represent appropriation of male prerogatives, in these works theres is not a focus on creating the potential for same-sex erotics (although it may be a minor element). The examples included here only scratch the surface of this motif in literature, and there is some skewing toward particular literary contexts, such as 19th century Germany, because of the publications that they've been drawn from. Unlike the historic examples of cross-dressing, I haven't separated out the military examples.
Literary Cross-dressing: Same-Sex Desire
This group covers works where cross-dressing or gender disguise generates either the appearance or the reality of same-sex desire. This general principle covers a fairly wide variety of scenarios.
The simplest and most common case is where a woman passing as a man is desired by a woman who believes her to be male. This may be elaborated by having the passing woman respond to that desire and return it, or by the desire persisting even after the passing woman’s true gender has been revealed. (Given that these are works of literature, it is generally made clear that these episodes involve disguise, and not transgender identity.)
A second, somewhat more problematic type involves a man disguised as a woman, usually in order to gain sexual access to the woman in a gender-segregated environment, where the seduction includes convincing the woman to accept what she believes to be same-sex desire. Alternately, a heterosexual couple with the man taking on female disguise may behave in a way that onlookers perceive as involving same-sex erotics.
Another type of scenario involving deliberate misdirection may involve a woman passing as a man and deliberately courting a woman, often in order to distract her from a common (male) love interest or to damage her reputation. While these don’t technically involve same-sex desire, they do depict scenes that the consumer understands to involve same-sex erotics.
Some of the more convoluted gender-disguise plots include multiple layers of disguise (e.g., a woman disguised as a man who then “pretends” to be a woman). What the category has in common is that it introduces the audience to the possibility of same-sex love, and may involve characters arguing in support of the idea.
- A Christian Turn’d Turke (Robert Daborne) - 17th century English play with orientalist themes in which a woman disguised as a boy attracts a woman’s erotic desire.
- Alda (Guillaume de Blois) - 12th century French story in which a man disguising himself as a woman to get a woman in bed has to explain his penis as being “purchased in the market”.
- Amadis de Gaule - 14th century Spanish romance that includes a cross-dressing female knight who attracts a woman’s desire and returns it.
- Anecdotes of a Convent (Helen Williams) - 18th century English novel in which a girl being educated in a convent falls in love with a school-fellow, only to learn later it was a boy in disguise.
- Arcadia (Philip Sidney) - 16th century English work in which a man disguises himself as an Amazon to gain access to the woman he desires. Includes her internal struggles to accept love for (who she believes to be) a woman.
- As You Like It (William Shakespeare) - 16th century English play. One of Shakespeare’s several works that feature women falling in love with cross-dressed women.
- Brennoralt or the Discontented Colonel (John Suckling) - 17th century English play that involves multiple homoerotic scenarios enabled by cross-dressing, but also an affirmation of desire between two knowing women.
- Clyomon and Clamydes - 16th century English play in which a gender disguised woman acknowledges the suggestion that women may desire her.
- Faerie Queen (Edmund Spenser) - 16th century English epic poem that includes a cross-dressing female knight (Britomart) who attracts a woman’s desire that outlasts the revelation.
- Floris et Lyriope (Robert de Blois) - 13th century French romance in which a man cross-dresses as a woman to seduce a woman. The work depicts her coming to terms with same-sex desire.
- Gallathea (John Lyly) - 16th century English play in which two women disguised as men fall in love with each other, believing the other to be an actual man. Their desire for each other outlasts the revelation and the play concludes with a plan to marry if Venus will randomly transform one or the other into a man.
- Gl’Ingannati - 16th century Italian play in which a cross-dressed woman attracts the desire of the woman to whom she is a go-between. Most likely the inspiration for Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night.”
- Hymen’s Triumph (Samuel Daniel) - 17th century English play in which a cross-dressed woman attracts a woman’s desire.
- James IV (Robert Greene) - 16th century English play in which a cross-dressing female knight is wounded and the woman who nurses her falls in love with her with flirtatious encouragement.
- L’Astrée (Honoré d'Urfé) - 17th century French novel in which a man cross-dresses as a woman to seduce a woman. One of the sources for Sidney's Arcadia.
- La Cintia (Giambattista della Porta) - 16th century Italian play involving multiple homoerotic scenarios, both where a cross-dressed woman courts a woman, and where a man cross-dressed as a woman courts a woman.
- Laelia - 16th century English play that may be a direct source for Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night”, in which a woman disguises herself as a man to distract the affections of her (male) lover’s new love interest.
- Le Bal d’Auteuil (Nicolas Boindin) - 18th century French play with same-sex romance involving a cross-dressed woman.
- Love’s Adventures (Margaret Cavendish) - 17th century English play by Margaret Cavendish (q.v.) in which a woman disguised as a boy attracts the erotic attention of both women and men.
- Love’s Changelinges Change - 17th century English play derived from Sidney’s “Arcadia” in which a woman contemplates same-sex love when courted by a man in disguise.
- Love’s Pilgrimage (John Fletcher) - 17th century English play in which a woman desires a cross-dressed woman she believes to be a boy.
- Love’s Riddle (Abraham Cowley) - 17th century English play in which a cross-dressed woman attracts the desire of two shepherdesses, which continues after she is revealed.
- Metamorphoses: Callisto (Ovid) - 1st century BCE poem in which Zeus disguises himself as a woman to seduce one of Diana’s nymphs. This story was adapted in many different forms over the centuries.
- Orgula (Leonard Willan) - 17th century English play involves a woman who cross-dresses in order to pursue the male object of her desire, but is distracted by another woman-passing-as-man character.
- Orlando Furioso (Ludovico Ariosto) - 16th century Italian poem that includes the motif of a woman desiring an Amazon figure who is initially perceived as male but where the desire persists after her gender is revealed.
- Ornatus and Artesia (Emanuel Ford) - 17th century English novel in which a man disguised as a woman convinces a woman to accept same-sex desire.
- Philaster or Love lies a Bleeding (Frances Beaumont and John Fletcher) - 17th century English play in which a woman cross-dressed as a boy is the unwilling (and somewhat oblivious) object of female desire.
- Qamar al-Zaman and the Princess Boudour - Story included in the Arabic epic “The 1001 Nights” involving a woman who cross-dresses as a man and is pressured into marrying a princess who accepts the marriage after her true gender is revealed.
- Roman de Silence (Heldris de Cornuälle) - 13th century French romance featuring a cross-dressing female knight. The story directly addresses issues of gender identity as innate versus performative. In one episode, she is the object of a queen’s adulterous desire.
- The Antiquary (Shackerley Marmion) - 17th century English play in which an older woman desires a woman passing as a boy.
- The Arcadia (James Shirley) - 17th century English play based on Sidney’s poem of the same name in which a man cross-dresses as an Amazon to pursue the woman he desires, with the added complication that both her parents also desire the “Amazon”, each believing the other to unknowingly pursue a same-sex desire.
- The Convent of Pleasure (Margaret Cavendish) - 17th century English play by Margaret Cavendish (q.v.) involving a man disguising himself as a woman to enter a woman-only community and convincing the object of his desire to accept apparent same-sex desire.
- The Doubtful Heir (James Shirley) - 17th century English play in which a woman courts a woman cross-dressing as a boy in order to make a man jealous. Despite the same-sex courtship, it is not driven by desire.
- The Golden Age (Thomas Heywood) - 17th century English play involving a retelling of Ovid’s myth of Callisto, where Zeus disguises himself as a woman to seduce one of Diana’s nymphs.
- The Isle of Guls (John Day) - 17th century English play based on Sidney’s poem of the same name in which a man cross-dresses as an Amazon to pursue the woman he desires, with the added complication that both her parents also desire the “Amazon”, each believing the other to unknowingly pursue a same-sex desire.
- The Lover’s Melancholy (John Ford) - 17th century English play where a woman disguised as a man is unwillingly wooed by two women, one of whom still desires her after the truth is revealed.
- The Loyal Subject (John Fletcher) - 17th century English play in which a brother and sister both desire a man cross-dressing as a woman.
- The Reform'd Coquet (Mary Davys) - 18th century English novel involving apparent same-sex desire between women except that one is a man in disguise.
- The Rivall Friends (Peter Hausted) - 17th century English play in which an older woman desires a woman cross-dressing as a boy.
- The Sisters (James Shirley) - 17th century English play recapitulating Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” in which a woman rejects her male suitors to pursue a woman cross-dressing as a man.
- The Spanish Gipsie (Thomas Middleton and William Rowley) - 17th century English play in which a woman cross-dressing as a man accepts the possibility that women will desire her.
- The Troublesome and Hard Adventures in Love (Robert Codrington) - 17th century English story in which two heterosexual lovers are disguised as country maids but perceived as engaging in same-sex affection.
- The Widdow (John Middleton and Ben Jonson and John Fletcher) - 17th century English play in which just about every possible combination of apparent and actual same-sex desire (of both genders) occurs, due to multi-layered gender disguises.
- The Wife Judge and Accuser (La Femme juge et partie) (Antoine Jacob Montfleury) - 17th century French play involving courtship between a woman and a cross-dressing woman.
- Tristan de Nanteuil - 14th century French romance in which a cross-dressing woman becomes the object of a woman’s desire resulting in marriage followed by a magical sex change.
- Twelfth Night (William Shakespeare) - 16th century English play. One of Shakespeare’s several works that feature women falling in love with cross-dressed women.