I’ve been doing a lot of reading of the history of France, and occasionally I encounter a famous French transgender person (in the umbrella sense of “transgender”). Today I came across mention of the Abbé François-Timoléon de Choisy. This is the first I’ve heard of him (I use the male pronouns because he lived as a man for the later part of his life), but I’ll peruse his Aventures de l’abbé de Choisy habillé en femme at my leisure and report back here. Sadly, his later memoirs are not on line, but they may be worth buying to get an idea of what non-transitioning transgender people can do when they get old.
One thing that really galls me is that when I searched for reference to Choisy with the word “transgender,” I came up with a bunch of links that read (emphasis mine):
1676 MTF transsexual Abbe Francois Timoleon de Choisy attended Papal inaugural ball in female dress. His memoirs, published postmortem, offer the first written testimony of cross-dressing.
It turns out that these are all copied from a publication by Lambda Legal called “Bending the Mold: An Action Kit for Transgender Youth,” with this note at the end: “Special thanks for assistance and source materials goes to James Hoagland, T. Aaron Hans, Pauline Park, Kay Brown and Leslie Feinberg.” On a cursory reading, the information and recommendations in “Bending the Mold” seem fairly straightforward and unproblematic. But it really steams me up that someone would claim as a “MTF transsexual” someone who lived over two hundred years before the word was invented, lived as his birth gender for the last two thirds of his life, and never had any permanent body modifications. Maybe something in his memoirs will provide some support for an argument that he was a “true transsexual” (blech) on some level, but come on. Way to put the screws on those trans youth, eh?
Anyway, rant’s over. I’ll update you on our friend the abbot once I’ve had a chance to read more.