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February 23, 2022
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Thomasine Hall has been the subject of many interpretations.

The only remaining document about this person that we have is a court transcript from Colonial Virginia. There was a trial in the General Court in Jamestown to assess their legal gender.

 

Quick note

In this blog I am going to refer to Thomasine with they/them pronouns. The reason for this is that we cannot ask them what they would use. What we know is that they dressed in both men’s and women’s clothing, and told the court that they were both genders.

In today’s society, they may have considered themselves gender fluid, however we cannot say that for sure.

 

The case

The Thomasine case appears to be an example of a court dealing with the constraints of binary sex and gender.

Thomasine is described as having a shallow vagina and small penis, and is most likely to have been intersex.

They told the court that they were both male and female but at different times, and alluded to having sexual relations with either gender at various times.

The court (at the time under British law) had to decide if it was a perversion for them to wear male clothes, or female.

It eventually ruled that Thomasine should always wear at least one piece of male clothing and at least one piece of female clothing.

This appears to have been an attempt to shame them about their physical body being equally matched by their ‘perverse’ attitude in being comfortable as either gender.

 

Queer hero?

Thomasine could easily be claimed as a queer role model, however we don’t know enough to truly say if they are or not.

Their own voice is clearly missing from the majority of what we know.

What we do know, however, is just how disgusted people were that Thomasine switched freely between identifying and dressing as “both man and woman.”

 

It’s all sounding far too familiar to me.

 

 

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