commonly defined as individuals who wear clothing and take on an appearance
and behavior considered by a given culture to be appropriate for another
gender but not one's own, have often been misunderstood and maligned,
especially in societies with strict, dichotomous gender roles.
is common historically, cross-dressers have often
been misunderstood and maligned, especially in societies with strictly
defined gender roles. Despite this disapprobation, cross-dressing
entertainers have often been accepted and even celebrated in many
Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo
is an all-male dance
combines dance, cross-dressing, and comedy to both parody and celebrate
artist Lady Bunny
he Chevalier d'Éon (1728-1810) was the most famous transvestite of
the eighteenth century. The French diplomat and soldier lived the first
half of his life as a man and the second as a
Divine (Harris Glenn
Milstead, 1945-1988) was a versatile character actor, nightclub singer, and
international cult star who generally performed his stage show and movie
roles in drag. He became famous through his appearances in
the gay male cross-dresser and the lesbian cross-dresser are depicted quite
is a classic Japanese theatrical form incorporating fantastical
costumes, stylized gestures, music, and dance. Kabuki originally showcased
female and boy prostitutes, but now features all-male casts.
(1892?-1971) was a legendary drag performer and recording artist who
appeared in silent movies,
Broadway plays, and, from the 1940s through the 1960s, performed across the
United States in a gay nightclub circuit.
Hirschfeld (1868-1935) was a pioneering German activist and
sexologist. A cross-dresser himself, Hirschfeld coined the term
Different men are
Cross-Dress for a variety of reasons including a desire to achieve
sexual excitement, to entertain, or to express a feminine sense of self.
Miguel de Molina
(1908-1993) reinvented the Spanish flamenco performance, but his open
gayness and gender-bending stage persona provoked hostile reactions that
plagued his career.
José Peréz Ocaña
(1947-1983) was a fixture on the counter-cultural scene in Barcelona in the
1970s. The Spanish drag performer and painter was the subject of a milestone
film in Spanish cinema by gay director Ventura Pons.
Vaudeville sensation Julian Eltinge in
costume (left) and in street clothes.
(1926-1999) was a self-proclaimed male actress who took an aggressive
stance against homophobia, believing that quick wit, a serious attitude,
and consummate acting skill could vanquish oppression
Charles Prince (b. 1913) has been a pioneer in organizing social and
support groups for heterosexually-identified male cross-dressers..
(1951-2002) is a legendary veteran of the
Stonewall Riots. Rivera is notable for helping to spark the event
that ushered in the modern-day Gay Rights Movement.
RuPaul (RuPaul Andre
Charles, b. 1960) is a six-foot five-inch tall African-American drag queen
who usually performs in a blonde wig. He has given drag a new visibility by
infusing it with gentleness and warmth.
(1948-1990) was one of the major female impersonators of the 1970s and 1980s
and one of the last of the school that actually sang or spoke live in the
voices of the ladies he impersonated.
(b. 1923?) -- also known as "the Widow Norton" -- is a San Francisco singer,
drag performer, and activist who exemplified gay pride before the phrase was
invented. As the founder of the International Court System, he presided over
the expansion of drag culture into a vast network of charity balls and
Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence
is an organization composed
primarily of gay men who appear publicly in drag, dressed as nuns. The
Sisters combine radical politics, street theater, and high camp and
participate in a host of charity functions and political events.
transvestism is often reduced to a mere joke, a harmless tease that tacitly
reassures us that people can change their clothes but not their sexual
and related theatrical forms featured cross-dressed acts,
as well as routines that challenged prevailing gender constructions.
Ed Wood (1924?-1978)
was a transvestite film director who died a penniless alcoholic, but
posthumously became the center of one of cinema's most enduring cults.