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Wartime cross-dressers

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hannah Snell (1723–1792) was a British woman who disguised herself as a man and became a soldier

Many people have engaged in cross-dressing during wartime under various circumstances and for various motives. This has been especially true of women, whether while serving as a soldier in otherwise all-male armies, while protecting themselves or disguising their identity in dangerous circumstances, or for other purposes.

Conversely, men would dress as women to avoid being drafted, the mythological precedent for this being Achilles hiding at the court of Lycomedes dressed as a woman to avoid participation in the Trojan War.

Prehistory, legend and mythology[edit]


Fourteenth century[edit]

  • Joanna of Flanders (c. 1295–1374) led the Montfortist faction in Brittany in the 1340s after the capture of her husband left her as the titular head of the family. She wore male dress at engagements such as the siege of Hennebont.

Fifteenth century[edit]

Joan of Arc enters Orléans (painting by J.J. Sherer, 1887)
  • Onorata Rodiani (1403–1452) was an Italian mercenary who served as a cavalry soldier, disguised in male clothing and with a male name, under a condottieri (freelance commander) named Oldrado Lampugnano beginning in 1423.[2]
  • Jacqueline of Wittelsbach, Countess of Hainaut, Holland and Zeeland (1401–1436) led the Hoek faction (the aristocratic faction) in Holland. Jacqueline and one of her servants disguised themselves as soldiers to escape confinement in Ghent.[3]
  • Jeanne des Armoises
  • Joan of Arc (1412–1431) is a folk heroine of France and a Roman Catholic saint. A peasant girl born in what is now eastern France who claimed divine guidance, she led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years' War. She journeyed through hostile Burgundian territory disguised as a male soldier. After being captured by her enemies, she was burned at the stake for heresy when she was 19 years old.

Sixteenth century[edit]

Seventeenth century[edit]

Eighteenth century[edit]

Nineteenth century[edit]

Twentieth century[edit]


Fictional works where wartime cross-dressing is a major plot point include:

  • In All the Queen's Men, a 2001 comedy set during WWII, cross-dressing is a central plot device.
  • Terry Pratchett's novel Monstrous Regiment is a satirical look at the phenomenon.
  • I Was a Male War Bride is a comedy where the male French officer, played by Cary Grant, must dress like a woman to return as a war bride of his American military wife.
  • One of the running gags of the TV series M*A*S*H is Klinger's attempts to get discharged from military service by crossdressing.
  • In Tamora Pierce's The Song of the Lioness quartet of books, Alanna of Trebond disguises herself as a boy to train to become a royal knight, a position only given to noble-born boys.
  • Genesis Climber Mospeada was perhaps the first anime series to feature a regular crossdresser, Yellow Belmont, amongst the main protagonists.
  • H. E. Bates's novel The Triple Echo is about a World War II army deserter who cross-dresses to avoid arrest. This was made into a film in 1972.
  • Mary "Jacky" Faber, the heroine of the Bloody Jack series of novels, disguises herself as a man to fight in the Napoleonic Wars.
  • The Shadow Campaigns novel series by Django Wexler has a female main character rise through the ranks of an army while disguised as a man.


  1. ^ a b Spector, Peter (2016). The Wiley Blackwell encyclopedia of gender and sexuality studies. Naples, Nancy A. Malden, MA. ISBN 978-1118905388. OCLC 933432480.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  2. ^ Clayton, Ellen Creathorne (1879). Female Warriors : Memorials of Female Valour and Heroism, from the Mythological Ages to the Present Era. Tinsley Brothers. OCLC 963750555.
  3. ^ Vaughan, Richard. Philip the Good. pp. 34–49.
  4. ^ a b The Wiley Blackwell encyclopedia of gender and sexuality studies. Naples, Nancy A.; Hoogland, Renée C.; Wickramasinghe, Maithree; Wong, Wai-Ching Angela. Malden, MA. 2016. ISBN 978-1405196949. OCLC 933386043.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link) CS1 maint: others (link)
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  13. ^ "Kvinnorna som klippte håret, tog på sig manskläder och tog värvning", Studio Ett , Sveriges Radio, 7 October 2016. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
  14. ^ Hirschfeld, Magnus (1930). The Sexual History Of The World War (revised edition 1946). Cadillac Publishing. Page 100.
  15. ^ Jones, David E. (2000). Women Warriors: A History. Washington D.C.: Brassey's. p. 134 ISBN 1574882066
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  17. ^ Liepman, Ruth (1997). Maybe Luck Isn't Just Chance. Northwestern UP. p. 66. ISBN 978-0810112957.
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