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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jeanne d'Arc, perhaps the most well known war-time cross dresser depicted battle-clad in armor.

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.





Middle Ages

  • Hua Mulan was, according to a famous Chinese poem, a woman who joined the Chinese army in her father's stead.

Fourteenth century

  • Jeanne de Clisson (1300 – 1359), the “Lioness of Brittany”, was a pirate who plied the English Channel for French ships from 1343 to 1356.
  • 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

  • Jacqueline of Wittelsbach, Countess of Hainaut (1401 – 1436) led the Hoek faction in Holland. She and one of her servants disguised themselves as soldiers to escape confinement in Ghent.
  • Joan of Arc (c. 1412 – 1431), the national heroine of France, led armies in male clothing during the Hundred Years' War and was accused of cross-dressing by the tribunal that sentenced her to death.

Seventeenth century

  • Catalina de Erauso (1592 – 1650), the Nun Lieutenant, was a semilegendary Spanish adventurer.

Eighteenth century

Nineteenth century

Twentieth century

As a major plot device in fiction

  • In All the Queen's Men, a 2001 comedy set during WWII, cross-dressing is a central plot device.
  • 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 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 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.
  • 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.


  1. ^ "BBC News". Retrieved 2008-06-12.  


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