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Being transgender or transsexual.
Gender dysphoria, & gender identity

Transsexuals in history

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Transsexuals in history:

Some transsexual individuals from myth and history:

bullet Venus Castina was a mythical ancient Greek goddess who "reacted sympathetically to feminine souls locked up in male bodies."
bullet Sardanapalus, an Assyrian king, allegedly dressed in women's clothing and spun thread with his wives. 1
bullet Some Scythian soldiers were said to have pillaged the temple of Venus at Ascelon in ancient times. The Goddess retaliated by converting the male soldiers into females and affecting their descendents in the same way. 2
bullet Philo of Judea (30 BCE to 40 CE) wrote about transsexuality.
bullet Ovid (43 BCE to 18 CE) was a prolific Roman poet. One of his most famous works is a play titled Metamorphoses. In it, Teresias -- a male -- becomes Teresa when he hit two copulating snakes with a piece of wood. She was transformed back into a male by the same process. 1
bullet Emperor Nero (37 to 68 CE)is said to have sought a replacement for his wife that he had previously murdered. The face of Sporum, a young male ex-slave, resembled his late wife. So Nero had Sporum transformed into a woman; he later married her. 2
bullet Gregory Tours (538 to 594 CE) wrote a story about a man who had worn women's clothing as a child and had continued into adulthood by dressing as a nun and living in a convent. 1
bullet During the ninth century CE, John Anglicus -- an English scientist -- was allegedly elected pope of the Roman Catholic Church by an unanimous vote, to succeed Pope Leo V in 853 CE. However, according to the story, he was actually Joan, a woman. She gave birth during a procession in Rome and was either assassinated on the spot or sent to a convent for the rest of her life to repent. There is no such pope in modern official church records. 3
bullet There are records in the 13th century of two European women who dressed in monk's garments in order to masquerade as males: one was Palagia who wanted to keep her former life as a prostitute secret; another was a woman escaping from an unhappy marriage. 1
bullet During the 17th century, Abbé de Choisy, a genetic male, played as an actress for five months and later became the Ambassador of Louis XIV to Siam. 2
bullet Chevalier d'Eon (1728 to 1810) was a male French diplomat and mistress to King Louis XV. He spent the second half of his life as a woman. Eonism, a term referring to cross-gendered behavior, was derived from d'Eon's name. It was first used by Havelock Ellis, an early human sexuality researcher. The term is no longer in wide use.
bullet Lord Cornbury was the first royal governor of New Jersey and New York from 1702 to 1708. He is widely believed to have dressed as a woman during his term in office. However, Patricia Bonomi has written a book attacking this belief and attributing them to rumors by his political enemies. 4

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Rachel Heath, "The Praeger Handbook of Transsexuality," at:
  2. Richard Green, "Transsexualism: Mythological, Historical, and Cross-Cultural Aspects," Appendix C of Harry Benjamin, "The Transsexual Phenomenon."
  3. "Pope Joan," Museum of Hoaxes, at:
  4. Patricia Bonomi, "The Lord Cornbury Scandal: The Politics of Reputation in British America," The University of North Carolina Press, (2000). Read reviews or order this book safely from online book store

Copyright © 2007 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2007-JUN-08
Latest update: 2011-APR-19
Author: B.A. Robinson

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