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Today in Gay History

Today in Gay History: Lisbetha Olsdotter Charged with Dressing as a Man, Marrying a Woman in 1679

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Some 17th century trans history for your nerves.

On October 24, 1679, Lisbetha Olsdotter was charged in Sweden with, among other offenses, dressing as a man, serving as a solider, and marrying a woman.

Olsdotter, aka Mats Ersson, had abandoned her husband and two children when she met a soldier's widow named Sara, who advised her to dress as a man to seduce another widow named Maria. Having found work as a servant under the name Mats Ersson, Olsdotter enlisted in the army with the help of a skipper, Erik Persson Arnelii, who knew she was passing as a man.

Olsdotter completed her duties as a soldier and married Kerstin Ersdotter. Upon discovering her husband's true gender identity shortly after their wedding, Ersdotter reported Olsdotter to the authorities.

Olsdotter was found guilty of all charges, including bigamy, fraud, and having intentionally "mutilated" her gender and "mocked God and the Order of God." She was executed by decapitation in November of 1679. Though she was relegated to wearing female headgear, Olsdotter was executed dressed as a man.

Lisbetha Olsdotter is one of several stories from history of trans and gender nonconforming individuals, like those chronicled in the web series We've Been Around, which prove that, while transgender rights have only recently come to the forefront, transgender people have, as Whoopi Goldberp puts it, "been with us forever."

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