When Victorian Newspapers Put Gender-Bending on Trial

1870s Press Covered an Otherwise Trivial Case as Breathlessly—and Dangerously—as Today’s Trans Stories

In 1870, Ernest Fanny Boulton and Frederick Stella Park were arrested in London. Their crime? Presenting as women outside their theatrical act.

Fanny and Stella had appeared in newspapers before, known for their colorful personas as entertainers, sometimes praised and sometimes criticized for their performances. Boulton was revered for being the “best amateur performer off the boards,” while Park had a talent for interpreting matrons, dowagers, and old women in pantomimes. As long as their gender-bending impersonating talents were put to the good use of gentlemanly entertainment, there was nothing wrong …

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What Is 21st-Century Truth? | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

What Is 21st-Century Truth?

Propaganda Has Trapped Us in Plato’s Cave—the Shadows Aren’t Real but the Sun Is Blinding

Zócalo is celebrating its 20th birthday this year! As part of the festivities, we’re publishing reflections and responses that revisit and reimagine some of …