Cross-dressing has been around as long as gender norms have been, even if visibility has changed a lot over the last couple decades. These turn-of-the-century photos depict people bending the gender norms of late Victorian society and paving the way for LGBTQ+ people later on.
We’re not sure what pronouns the folks in these photos would have wanted to use, or how they identified, and some actually may have been dressed up for theatre. In any case, it’s pretty neat to see people challenging gender identity while fully committing to the time’s fashion trends.
1. If they were going to hold a pose for an unbearably long time, they were going to commit to it.
2. They were sure to accessorize with giant boutonnières and feather things.
3. This was not the time for the no-frills look.
4. They really were a colorful bunch.
5. It wasn’t only about dresses though.
6. Stank eye was alive and well.
7. They truly committed to those hats.
8. “Eurovision” Conchita’s spirit animal did it.
9. Some of the daring ones showed leg…
10. …A lot of leg.
11. Those skirts and corsets made cuddling kind of impractical, but they persevered.
12. They enjoyed life’s finer things.
13. Photo shoots were serious business.
14. Really serious business.
15. Julian Eltinge was one of Vaudeville’s most famous “female impersonators.”
He was so popular that he launched a magazine for women, where he graced them with his beauty and fashion advice.