Long before people identified as transgender or lesbian, there were female husbands and the women who loved them. Female husbands – people assigned female who transed gender, lived as men, and married women – were true queer pioneers. Moving deftly from the colonial era to just before the First World War, Jen Manion uncovers the riveting and very personal stories of ordinary people who lived as men despite tremendous risk, danger, violence, and threat of punishment. Female Husbands weaves the story of their lives in relation to broader social, economic, and political developments in the United States and the United Kingdom, while also exploring how attitudes towards female husbands shifted in relation to transformations in gender politics and women’s rights, ultimately leading to the demise of the category of ‘female husband’ in the early twentieth century. Groundbreaking and influential, Female Husbands offers a dynamic, varied, and complex history of the LGBTQ past.
Jen Manion is Associate Professor of History at Amherst College. They are a social and cultural historian whose work examines the role of gender and sexuality in American life. Dr. Manion is author of Liberty’s Prisoners: Carceral Culture in Early America (Penn, 2015) which received the inaugural Mary Kelley Best Book Prize from the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic. Their most recent book, Female Husbands: A Trans History (Cambridge, 2020) was supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Dr. Manion has published dozens of essays for popular and scholarly audiences and serves on the editorial boards of Amherst College Press, Early American Studies, and The William and Mary Quarterly. They are currently chair of the OAH Committee on the Status of LGBTQ Historians & Histories. Dr. Manion is working on a two-volume series, The Cambridge History of Sexuality in the United States with co-editor Nicholas Syrett. Previously, they worked for ten years at Connecticut College as a faculty member in the history department and founding director of the LGBTQ Resource Center. Dr. Manion was an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellow at the Library Company in 2005.
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