Masters of Disguise: Women Who Lived as Men
One thing I’d like to mention is that some readers and reviewers have pointed out that they’ve found it a little unbelievable that a woman could live disguised as a man for years, without anyone noticing. What’s interesting about that is that these reviewers (often women) give men too much credit for observing people – as a man, I’d say that we often don’t notice what is right in front of our noses (my wife would agree with me) – and I’d also like to point out that there’s a LOT of historical precedence for women living quite successfully disguised as a man. In the U.S. alone, there are numerous examples of women successfully pulling off this feat of disguise for many, many years – sometimes helped by other women! Here’s a short article listing some of the women (with pictures) who have lived as men.
Bill Lee Tipton – Jazz Musician
“Billy Lee Tipton” was born as Dorothy Lucille Tipton, and was interested in music from an early age. She played piano and saxophone, dressing as a man during performances and adopting her father’s nickname, Billy, in order to be accepted in the jazz scene. Soon she began passing as a man full-time, touring with other musicians and ultimately forming the Billy Tipton Trio. Billy’s true gender wasn’t revealed until her death, nearly fifty years later, when the mass media publicized her story.
Surgeon in the British Army – Majes Bukley
Margaret Ann Bulkley was a child prodigy whose financially strapped family conspired to get her into medical school in 1809 by having her pose as “James Barry.” Four years later, she passed the grueling surgeon’s exam and became a medic in the British Army. Majes/Margaret rose in the ranks to Principal Medical Officer, ultimately performing one of the first successful Caesarian sections on record. She is known for having been a skilled surgeon, and for improving sanitation and medical care in military hospitals. Her true gender wasn’t revealed until she died from dysentery in 1865.