LGBTQ History #17: Eliza McCormick Arrested For Proposing to Woman

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October 29, 2014

LGBTQ History #17: Eliza McCormick Arrested For Proposing to Woman

Eliza McCormick arrest clipping in newspaperWhat if you were arrested for just being you? What if you were arrested simply for wearing the clothing that was most comfortable to you? That’s what happened in 1847 in the Hamilton area of Ontario, Canada. Eliza McCormick, a biological female, known to wear “a gentleman’s coat and pantaloons that she often promenaded the streets of Hamilton in full dress even to a cigar and a crooked cane,” was arrested after attempting to date another woman. According to the news article in the Hamilton paper, McCormick’s intentions were questioned as being either “mischievous playfulness, or from a mere curiosity, to know the secrets of others hears; or whether it arises from a desire to be revenged on the sex by a portion of it who have never themselves been favored with a lover, they only know who practice it.”

McCormick had taken on a male persona for two to three years and during this time had at least six courtships, three of whom “she popped the question of marriage” and it was accepted. One of these women, a dressmaker, even made her own wedding dress.

According to The Transgender Foundation of America’s (TFA) Archive in Houston, Texas, social shame was used to force McCormick to conform to typical gender norms after McCormick was jailed.

 

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Ares Glenn
Ares Glenn
Ares Glenn is a masculine of center queer person of color living in the D.C. Metropolitan area. She enjoys traveling and studying the queer LGBTQ dynamics.