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The Life of Chevalier d’Eon Showing Gender Fluidity in the 18th Century

Chevalier d’Eon, was born on October 5, 1728, in France, but would live a life with fluid and fluctuating gender. In the first part of their life they lived as a man and for the second part they lived as a woman. They would go on to be an incredible figure with their status as a Chevalier, which would be equivalent to a knight in english. 

Chevalier would go on to be a spy for King Louis XV of France, who would go on to be awarded the Croix de St. Louis. Even though they were awarded and seen as a hero in France, they d’Eon found a love for London. With this, d’Eon would go on to black mail and even publish documents to the public of London. 

They became a celebrity in the city, which led the king of France to pay the Chevalier in order for d’Eon to not say anything more. However, the year is now 1775 and king Louis XVI has asked d’Eon to dress as a woman and stay a woman. 

It’s unclear if d'Eon had chosen to be a woman all on their own or if it was solely because Louis XVI had told them that in order for them to return they had to be a woman. Louis’s decision was influenced by the fact that d’Eon had already exposed the prior king and he wanted d’Eon to not be a political figure any longer. 

When d’Eon had socially presented themselves as a woman, many people were intrigued and this led to their great fame. As a woman they had challenged men in sword fights and had even tried to lead amazonian women to the French National Assembly during the French Revolution. 

Though Chevalier d’Eon did not have many issues with their gender change, people were in awe of their accomplishments and their ability to impress aristocrats and royalty. Though, during the French revolution d’Eon had not received money from France, this led to them not being able to make ends meet. 

They would go on to live with a widow and d’Eon would go on to die in poverty. Though their gender would be one of the most intriguing things about d’Eon they still were seen as one of the most talented people in the 18th century. 

Chevalier d’Eon had changed the worlds of military, politics and even literature. This eventful life that had been experienced as both a man and a woman would be one of the most important for France and England. 

Many paintings have depicted Chevalier d’Eon with a black dress and the Croix de St. Louis. D’Eon had also been drawn as a fencer in this same outfit, one of their most famous events as a woman. During this time, sex change was not seen as acceptable, but it’s incredible that d’Eon was able to be themselves openly and without experiencing popular negative interactions. 

Chevalier d’Eons life proves the acceptance of gender queer and the ability of being gender queer. Though the reasoning for their change in gender could be seen completely as for a political reason, they were still accepted. They had lived the rest of their life as a woman confidently and that provides evidence for gender fluidity. 



 


The gender fluidity of the chevalier d’éon. Art UK. (n.d.). https://artuk.org/discover/stories/the-gender-fluidity-of-the-chevalier-don 



Chevalier d’eon and gender non-conformity in the 18th century. Sky HISTORY TV channel. (n.d.). https://www.history.co.uk/article/the-life-of-the-chevalier-deon-europes-first-transgender-person 





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