A word a month – Chevalier d’Eon


From the dictionary of unusual sex:

d’Eon, Chevalier – French spy and diplomat (1728-1810) with a name way too long to be fully reproduced here. His early life was a sequence of extraordinary – and probably romanticized – missions around the world for king Louis XV. In his memories, he told how he often dressed as a woman to successfully infiltrate enemy courts, and his effeminate appearance was in fact so pronounced that the London Stock Exchange started a betting pool about his true sex. Even though the nobleman had expertly cultivated the doubt during his years of exile in Great Britain, when the king died in 1774 he astounded the world by declaring he was in fact a female raised as a male by his parents, thus having the right to return to France as a lady. This was allowed provided that he dressed and behaved as such, which he did without any particular effort also because his new wardrobe was fully paid by the royal coffers.

In the following years he offered to take on various roles – including leader of an all-female troop – without any success. When he died in London in relative disgrace, it was eventually determined that the chevalier had always been a man, possibly affected by some illness that inhibited his sexual development. Whatever the case, his name became a legend in the history of >transvestism, which is in fact also called “eonism”.

(the symbol “>” indicates a cross-reference to another entry in the dictionary)

This was one of the over 1.500 entries from Ayzad’s book XXX – Il dizionario del sesso insolito, which unfortunately is not available in English yet. If you can read Italian, you can buy it here.