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Victorian Cross Dressing Photos

Wellcome Library, London.

Things have certainly progressed for LGBTQ rights since the late 1800s, but even back then there was an appreciation for the ambiguity of gender – albeit, a small and outsider one that was considered highly deviant. Cross-dressing men could be, and were, arrested for violating anti-homosexuality laws, such as one of the most famous English cases, that of “Fanny” aka Frederick Park, 22, and “Stella” aka Ernest Boulton, 21, who were arrested on 28 April 1870 for homosexuality and several counts of “conspiracy.” They spent 4 months in jail awaiting a possible sentencing of 10 years, but were acquitted because of the weak case brought against them. The reality was that most people in London society knew of their “proclivities” and they were expected attendees at many society events. Below is a “carte de visite” album published in London sometime between 1890 and 1899 which includes pictures of the famous pair. In it are photographs of different men dressed in a variety of women’s clothing, posing as brides and as upper class women. Whether all of these men identified as transgender or gay is unknown, but they definitely embrace their roles in these photos. Check out the full album below:



All photos copyright Wellcome Image Library



Written By

Meghan MacRae grew up in Vancouver, Canada, but spent many years living in the remote woods. Living in the shadow of grizzly bears, cougars and the other predators of the wilderness taught her about the dark side of nature, and taught her to accept her place in nature's order as their prey. She is co-founder of CVLT Nation.

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