Lars Larsson Molin, alias Lasse-Maja (5 October 1785 – 4 June 1845), was a notorious Swedish criminal who used to disguise himself in women's clothing, which gave him the female sounding nickname Lasse-Maja; Lasse is the common version of his own male name Lars, and Maja was a common version of the female name Maria. His nickname was a way of describing his ambiguous gender as well as the method he used in his criminal career.
Lasse-Maja quickly became a notorious thief, stealing especially from rich people. His speciality was to dress in women's clothing so as to catch his victims off-guard (he sometimes flirted with the men) and to aid his escapes from the crime scenes. The disguise was not used solely for professional reasons; he was also said to have been comfortable in women's clothes.
There are many stories about him; he is mentioned in memoirs and diaries, appears as a character in novels and films, and is undoubtedly the most famous transvestite in Swedish history - he became almost an icon, and is much romanticised.
He was caught in 1813 after stealing silver from the church in Järfälla and sentenced to life imprisonment in the fort of Karlsten in Marstrand. He behaved in an exemplary manner as a prisoner and his time soon in jail became quite comfortable; he became a tourist attraction (for the upper-class visitors vacationing in Marstrand) and a social success. One of these visitors was the crown-prince, the future king Carl XIV of Sweden, who had him pardoned and released in 1839.
Lasse-Maja spent the rest of his life touring the country, talking about his exciting life. He is said to have claimed that life was very hard, but that the most important thing was to have fun.
This article is based on the equivalent article on Swedish Wikipedia, which has the following references:
- Lasse Maja (2006) Lasse-Majas besynnerliga öden (The peculiar stories of Lasse-Maja) (Lund) Bakhåll ISBN 91-7742-257-0