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Chevalier d'Eon (1728-1810), Diplomatist and transvestite
Charles Geneviève Louis Auguste André Timothée d'Eon de Beaumont
Sitter in 4 portraits
D'Eon had a successful career as a soldier, diplomat and spy before publicly changing gender. He first came to London in 1763 to negotiate peace for France at the end of the Seven Years War. D'Eon refused to return and blackmailed the French court with his knowledge of secret plans to invade England. Rumours that d'Eon was a woman in disguise, encouraged by d'Eon, spread from 1771 onwards. In 1777 Louis XVI offered d'Eon an income if he henceforth only wore women's clothing, which d'Eon accepted, returning to France. He came back to Britain as a woman in 1785, gaining renown for his fencing demonstrations. No transvestite or transsexual until the late twentieth century has enjoyed such public recognition and acceptance.