11 Feb 2011

Cross-dressing ancestors

The practice of dressing up as somebody from the opposite sex does not particularly fascinate me, but, I suppose, whatever turns you on....!

It is quite interesting though to look at what have been matters of current and regular behaviour, imposed by parents on their young offspring even in quite recent times. Here are a couple of examples from my own family, which show how it was, even in the early part of the 20th century, the "done thing" to dress small boys as if they were girls.

This is my father, who was born in 1906, and who must have been aged around three years old at the time. When I think about the war he waged against me for my "beatle" haircut in the early 1960's, not to mention my rapid slide towards the Stones a couple of years later! This was Pretty Things stuff in about 1909. Here's another one from what must have been the same session...

Seemingly it was only at about the age of five that boys of this generation (and, possibly, social group), started to be dressed like boys. Here is a picture of him as a page for a wedding, a few years later (he is the smallest one on the far right!)....

Going back to the 19th century, this habit was probably even more widespread. Below is a series of photos of my maternal grandfather, which show the gradual shift from being dressed as a girl, to having boy's clothing while retaining long hair, and finally to the then accepted apparel and hair style (more or less) for a young man.  I am sure that someone can come up with a smart theory for all of this. I find it quite touching, as well as ironic when I remember the hard time these generations gave me for my seemingly (to them, and much later) eccentric dressing habits.


  1. Yes, you’re a boy, George !

  2. Or, what it's like to be a boy named Sue.

  3. David, I’m not aware of the laws on copyright. I send you by e-mail a scan of a picture taken in 1855 of Habsburg’s Rodolf of Austria-Hungary - yes, the one who died in Mayerling under strange circumstances. Maybe this could illustrate your subject even further.

  4. Thanks for the photograph Luc. Clearly in the "transition" phase of cross-dressing, with "male" and "female" elements mixed. Probably aged about 4 or 5?
    We have not yet looked at the question of kilts, and other skirt-like garments worn by men in various countries.

  5. As far as kilts are concerned, I will adopt the same behavior and send you by e-mail a couple of jpegs of kilted men. Though “Clan” is a brand of pipe tobacco in Belgium, I cannot resist this silly rhyme which students – God knows they are always full of wit ! – used to sing in my homeland : “Mc Tavish n’a pas de poil à son tiche et Mc Intosh n’a qu’un poil à sa floche ...”. You appreciate the elegance of the versification and the distinction in the image.
    I sincerely apologize for not having been able to refrain from this outrage.

  6. No comment. But you didn't answer my question. For example, having one Scottish grandparent, I seemingly have the right to wear the tartan of the Buchanan clan, which I have never done since I am not too keen on the colours.

  7. Patience, me boy, patience. I used to own a booklet on “Scottish Tartans” but cannot lay my hands on it right now. So, I looked it up, in search for a confirmation. And yes, Stewart Royal Ancient it is.
    I’ll send you a photograph of the cloth, and you’ll be disappointed. You may even stab me with any available Sgian Dhu, this very gaelic of dirks (to be pronounced “durrrrkh”).
    Still, comes in handy after a good shower, or on stage.

  8. Ah, that royal blood coming through! Maybe we should organise a line-up in kilts one day?

  9. Why shouldn’t we muster ? Maybe Carla Bruni Tedeschi could do the catwalk for us ?
    Scrutinize, scout the web and you’ll find her with not much more on her skin than a wee tartan. Yes, I’m a pervert, but so are billions of men, and probably some females as well.
    Don’t know about Buchanan, but if this is your ancestry, be proud of it. My setter was a ... Gordon, that very catholic of clans if ever there was one. Tough shit.

  10. Define a pervert, if you can.

    As to the Campbells (the clan), my father used to say of them : "they are always coming but never arrive", on account of the traditional rallying song for that particular clan which I think goes a bit like this : "The Campbells are coming, hurrah, hurrah! The Campbells are coming, hurrah, hurrah!"...and so on.

  11. It is quite easy to define a pervert, David.
    I offer a few possibilities:
    1. Me
    2. The contrary of a convert, in religion, i.e. someone who has turned to error
    3. In occidental societies, someone who exhibits a socially unacceptable behaviour, mostly in connection with his/her sexual attitude
    4. For Freud, starting from his hypothesis that the child is a polymorphic pervert, meaning by that that he constantly diverts his pulsions from their “ primary goal “, which is genital, to other satisfactions, he then continues to define a “pathologic” perversion, i.e. an alteration in the relation of an adult to the “objects”. Crystal clear, isn’t it?

  12. Mmmm.
    I think I like your definition number one.
    On the others, the question of "morally corrupt" raises its ugly head fairly quickly (in fact too quickly for me).
    On definition number four, is not the primary goal sexual reproduction, rather than genital satisfaction? Or would that be mixing other things into Freud (who was, by definition, a mixture)?

  13. By the way, if the ancestors aformentioned (and portrayed)were following this conversation, I think that they would have disowned me.

  14. If it were (be ?) adults, yes no doubt the primary goal would be procreation (teleologically). But “der Sigmund” applies his “polymorphic pervert” definition to infants and small children (quite rightly if you ask me). At that age, genital satisfaction is indeed the primum movens.
    And doesn’t one say in very artist lives a little child?

    Ancestors, say you. Well Queen Victoria certainly, but for King George?

  15. Agreed about small children. What was it that W.C. Fields said about children?

    Which King George? We have had a few of them. All Hanoverians by the way (as indeed was Victoria).

  16. Oh, David, you underestimate me!
    Not King George V, of course, this most virtuous of Hanoverians. I’m talking George IV: the list of his “official” mistresses is already long enough, but the rest of his private life must have been quite ... titillating.
    Another Hanoverian worth considering is ... Leopold of Sax-Coburg-Gotha, first “King of the Belgians” in 1931. He had been a colonel in the Russian army and allegedly the Tsarin’s best lover. Upon her urgent request, he was chosen for the function by the party of the “Sainte Alliance”, after having declined Greece’s throne. He had “screwed himself a career” in all the European courts and had even served as an officer ... for Bonaparte - would you believe it? As you know, he was first maried to Charlotte-Augusta , Princess of Wales and ... only legitimous child of the very same George IV! As such, she was the heiress to the throne of the United Kingdom and of Ireland, but the poor thing died in childbirth, though, and “Popol” could go on womanizing.

  17. How could I underestimate a polyglot, pluri-cultural person of your ilk?

    Bad King George followed crazy King George. But are you sure that your Leoppld was, technically speaking, a Hanoverian. The official Hanoverian line ended in England with Queen Victoria, as her offspring took on the name of their father, Albert, who was a Saxe-Coburg. Who cares anyway?

    Sounds like your "Popol" had his cock in the till in a big way (this is a quaint English expression for someone who has an intimate relationship with the daughter of the person who controls a fortune, or indeed with a lady of considerable fortune herself). Thought you might appreciate this phrase.

  18. He was born in 1790 (I looked this up), the youngest son of Friedrich von Sachsen-Coburg-Saalfeld, the reigning Furst, who happens to be ...Victoria’s grand-dad! So Hanoverian he is. Besides his being sponsored by the Tsarin, he was also very heavily recommended by the British side of the Alliance. As a matter of fact, it was the Prussian and the Dutch (for obvious reasons) who did not feel warmly about his crowning.

    I love the very idiomatic expression you mention, and will listen with a very different ear now to Cat Stevens’ “Tea for the Tillerman” album !

  19. I think that Cat Stevens (who has turned all funny since) meant another kind of till, as this word can also designate the rudder or helm of a boat, not just the cash register in a shop or other business. Mind you, both need a bit of steering.

    1. Hello, I am a Buchanan. I have read these codicles, and I hope you can attend on a question. I understand the German Royal Houses are non-reigning-but-they still enjoy money, uradel priviledge, etc. And talking specifically about Sayn-Wittenstein, they are closely related to the Danish Royal House. Specifically, are the non-reigning German Royals coming back to power? If any comments on this, please send them to ambergroupcorp@mail.com if you would. Coridally, tnx-gb