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Many people have engaged in crossdressing 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 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 girl to avoid participation in the Trojan War.
Historical occurrences Edit
- Ehud Barak, who later became prime minister of Israel, was disguised as a woman in order to assassinate alleged members of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Beirut during the 1973 covert mission Operation Spring of Youth.
- Big Martha, served as Jacob van Artevelde's standard bearer during his revolt in the 1330s and 40s.
- Angelique Brulon
- Hazel Carter
- Anne Chamberlyne
- Pauline Cushman
- Bonnie Prince Charlie dressed as Flora MacDonald's maid servant, Betty Burke to escape the Battle of Culloden for the island of Skye in 1746.
- Nadezhda Durova decorated Russian cavalry soldier of the Napoleonic Wars who spent nine years disguised as a man. She wrote a memoir about her army service.
- Sarah Emma Edmundson (1841-1898) served with the Union Army in the American Civil War disguised as a man named Frank Thompson. She served as a spy and occasionally disguised herself as an African American.
- Catalina de Erauso
- Jacqueline of Wittelsbach (Countess of Hainaut), led the Hoek [aristocratic] faction in Holland; she and one of her servants disguised themselves as soldiers in order to escape confinement in Ghent.
- Phoebe Hessel
- Lady Jeanne de Belleville (Lady of Clisson), led a small privateer squadron in the Channel on the side of the Montfortist faction in Brittany after the death of her husband left her as the head of the family; wore the accoutrements of a soldier while leading boarding assaults.
- Joan of Arc, French peasant-girl who had led the French army some time during the Hundred Years' War and who was accused of cross-dressing by a tribunal that put her to death. She did not disguise that she was actually a woman.
- Countess Jeanne de Montfort, led the Montfortist faction in Brittany in the 1340s after the capture of her husband left her as the titular head of the family on behalf of their young son. She wore the accoutrements of a soldier at engagements such as the siege of Hennebont.
- Dorothy Lawrence, an English reporter who secretly posed as a man to become a soldier during the First World War.
- Hua Mulan
- Deborah Sampson, 18th century Massachusetts woman who disguised herself as a male to serve in the Continental Army in the Revolutionary War.
- Hannah Snell, 18th century English woman who entered military service under the name "James Gray", initially for the purpose of searching for her missing husband. She served in General Guise's regiment in the army of the Duke of Northumberland, and then in the marines.
- Cathy Williams an ex-slave who became the first recorded African-American female to fight in the U.S. Army.
- Mary Anne Talbot
- Ecaterina Teodoroiu
- Loreta Janeta Velazquez
- Joanna Żubr
- Abdul Aziz Ghazi, the Pakistani cleric who, having ordered his followers to fight to the death, sneaked out of the Lal Masjid dressed in a burqa.
- Maria Quitéria, Brazilian heroine
- In the American Civil War. Mary Burns enlisted in a Missouri Militia Cavalry Union regiment, but her sex was discovered before the company departed for war. Sarah Collins was another woman who enlisted as a soldier during the American Civil War. Although she disguised herself as a man, her sex was suspected because of how she put on her shoes. She was discovered to be female before her regiment left for the front.
In popular culture Edit
- The Lord of the Rings — Éowyn, the White Lady of Rohan, pretends to be a man and slips off to combat the forces of Mordor.
- All the Queen's Men — a 2001 comedy set during WWII with cross-dressing as a central plot device.
- Blackadder Goes Forth - several characters crossdress in one episode, Major Star.
- Terry Pratchett's novel Monstrous Regiment is a satirical look at this phenomenon.
- The Last of the Blonde Bombshells is a comedic film in which one of the main characters crossdresses to avoid military service during World War II.
- 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 discharge from military service by crossdressing.
- In the Futurama episode "War Is the H-Word," Leela disguises herself as a man to join a male-only army and protect her enlisted friends.
- In the Disney film Mulan, which is based on the story of Hua Mulan, Mulan dresses as a male to save her father from being drafted.
- In Tamora Pierce's The Song of the Lioness quartet of books, Alanna of Trebond disguises herself as a boy named Alan and goes to be trained in place of her twin brother in order to become a royal knight, a position only given to noble-born boys. Over the course of the four books, and others in the Tortall Universe, Alanna proceeds to fight for the kingdom as an accomplished knight both before and after the discovery of her true gender.
- Donna Barr's character The Desert Peach crossdresses to infiltrate behind enemy lines in one issue of the comic, along with his companion Udo Schmidt.
- Genesis Climber Mospeada was perhaps the first anime series to feature a regular crossdresser amongst the main protagonists. Yellow Belmont, a former soldier, crossdressed to avoid anti-soldier reprisals by the Imbit and others, and eventually became an accomplished pop singer. During the course of the series, Yellow would cross-dress to hold concerts, enabling his soldier comrades to procure much needed supplies for their war against the Imbit. Yellow had many fans of his music; none outside of his circle of friends realized he was a man until he revealed it to the public during the final episode of Mospeada.
- 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.