Americans have long cherished romantic images of the frontier and its colorful cast of characters, where the cowboys are always rugged and the ladies always fragile. But in this book, Peter Boag opens an extraordinary window onto the real Old West. Delving into countless primary sources and surveying sexological and literary sources, Boag paints a vivid picture of a West where cross-dressing--for both men and women--was pervasive, and where easterners as well as Mexicans and even Indians could redefine their gender and sexual identities. Boag asks, why has this history been forgotten and erased? Citing a cultural moment at the turn of the twentieth century--when the frontier ended, the United States entered the modern era, and homosexuality was created as a category--Boag shows how the American people, and thus the American nation, were bequeathed an unambiguous heterosexual identity.
Peter Boag holds the Columbia Chair in the History of the American West at Washington State University. He is the author of Environment and Experience: Settlement Culture in Nineteenth-Century Oregon and Same Sex Affairs: Constructing and Controlling Homosexuality in the Pacific Northwest, both from UC Press.
List of Illustrations Acknowledgments Introduction. A Trip Along the Pike's Peak Express: Cross-Dressers and America's Frontier Past PART ONE. "Females in Male Attire, and Males in Petticoats": Remembering Cross-Dressers in Western American and Frontier History 1. "Known to All Police West of the Mississippi": Disrobing the Female-to-Male Cross-Dresser 2. "I Have Done My Part in the Winning of the West": Unveiling the Male-to-Female Cross-Dresser PART TWO. "The Story of the Perverted Life Is Not Attractive": Making the American West and the Frontier Heteronormative 3. "And Love Is a Vision and Life Is a Lie": The Daughters of Calamity Jane 4. "He Was a Mexican": Race and the Marginalization of Male-to-Female Cross-Dressers in Western History 5. "Death of a Modern Diana": Sexologists, Cross- Dressers, and the Heteronormalization of the American Frontier Conclusion. Sierra Flats and Haunted Valleys: Cross-Dressers and the Contested Terrain of America's Frontier Past Notes Index