Top 5 Men Who Were Really Women

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

5. Denis Smith

Denis Smith (Born Dorothy Lawrence) was an English reporter who disguised herself as a man to go undercover during World War I. Dorothy, 19, was living in Paris and wanted to be a war reporter – something that was impossible due to her sex, and the difficulty that even males were having at the time getting to the front lines as journalists. She persuaded two young English soldiers to give her a uniform; she had her hair cut short in a military style, and colored her skin with diluted furniture polish to give it a bronzed look. With forged identity papers as Private Denis Smith of the 1st Bn, Leicestershire Regiment, she cycled
to the Somme – and the front lines. A friend found her work as a Sapper with the British Expeditionary Force – laying mines under constant fire. He also found her an abandoned cottage to sleep in at night. After 10 days, she became worried that if her sex were discovered, the men who had helped her would be in danger. She presented herself to the company chiefs and was placed under arrest. She was interrogated as a spy and declared a prisoner of war. The military were concerned that if her story got out, other women would try to enter the army in disguise. Dorothy was compelled to sign an affidavit that she would not tell her story. When she returned to London she was unable to work due to the affidavit. When the war ended she wrote her story but the war office censored it and it would not come out until many years later. In 1925, Dorothy was institutionalized as insane and she died at Colney Hatch Lunatic Asylum in 1964.
4. Malinda Blalock

Malinda Blalock was a female soldier during the American Civil War who fought bravely on both sides. When the war started, rather than be separated from her husband Keith, she decided to disguise herself as a man and join the army too. She was officially registered on March 20, 1862, as “Samuel ‘Sammy’ Blalock” – claiming to be the older brother of her husband. Her registration papers are one of the few surviving records of female soldiers in the Civil War. Malinda was a good soldier and her identity was never revealed. One of the army surgeons said of her: “She drilled and did the duties of a soldier as any other member of the Company, and was very adept at learning the manual and drill.” Eventually the couple deserted from the army.
3. James Barry

James Barry (born 1792-1795) was a military surgeon in the British Army, and by the end of his career was Inspector General in charge of military hospitals. He served in South Africa and India. Among his accomplishments was the first successful cesarean section in Africa by a British surgeon, in which both the mother and child survived the operation. James Barry was born Margaret Ann Bulkley and is, therefore, the first female Briton to become a qualified medical doctor. It is believed that Bulkley took on the role of a man in order to achieve her dreams of working in medicine – a dream that could not be fulfilled if she remained a woman. Letters reveal that there may have been a conspiracy by Barry’s mother and uncles to get him in to medical school. He died from dysentery July 25, 1865 and apparently the charwoman who took care of the body, Sophia Bishop, was the first to discover his female body, and revealed the truth after the funeral. Afterwards many people claimed to “have known it all along”. The British Army sealed his records for 100 years. James is pictured above on the left.
2. Chevalier d’Eon

Charles-Geneviève-Louis-Auguste-André-Timothée d’Éon de Beaumont (try saying that three times fast!) was born in 1728 in France. D’Eon was born a female but lived the first half of her life as a man. D’Eon’s autobiography states that she was raised as a boy because her father could only inherit money from his in-laws if he had a son. As was usual for the day, because her family were nobles without a title, they styled themselves as “Chevalier” – meaning “Knight”. In 1756, d’Eon joined the spy service of King Louis XV and traveled on a secret mission to Russia to meet the Empress Elizabeth. In 1761, d’Éon returned to France. The next year she became a captain of dragoons under the Marshal de Broglie and fought in the later stages of the Seven Years’ War. She was wounded and received the Order of Saint-Louis. She was eventually granted a pension and lived in political exile in London. As part of her negotiation with the crown of King Louis XVI, she was told she could return to France but would have to live as a woman – an offer she accepted because the King offered to pay for her new clothes. She lived out the rest of her life as a woman.
1. Billy Tipton

Billy Tipton (born Dorothy Lucille Tipton in 1914) was an American jazz pianist and saxophonist. In 1933, she began her career as a musician in various small Oklahoma bars. As time passed Tipton began to associate with her father’s name Billy and eventually she began to present herself as male by breast-binding and packing. At first Tipton appeared male only in performances, but by 1940 she was living entirely as a male. She ultimately gained great success as a musician and went on to record a series of very popular albums. Tipton had a number of lesbian relationships during which he was able to keep his sex concealed. She eventually had a long term relationship with a woman – concealing his sex the whole time – and they adopted three sons. She was described as “a good father who loved to go on scouting camps”. In 1989, at the age of 74, Tipton died. It was not until then that the coroner revealed to her family and friends that she was, in fact, a woman.


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