Arresting Dress: Cross-Dressing, Law, and Fascination in by Clare Sears

By Clare Sears

In 1863, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors handed a legislation that criminalized showing in public in “a gown no longer belonging to his or her sex.” followed as a part of a broader anti-indecency crusade, the cross-dressing legislation grew to become a versatile software for policing a number of gender transgressions, facilitating over 100 arrests earlier than the century’s finish. Over 40 U.S. towns handed comparable legislation in this time, but little is understood approximately their emergence, operations, or results. Grounded in a wealth of archival fabric, Arresting Dress lines the profession of anti-cross-dressing legislation from municipal courtrooms and codebooks to newspaper scandals, vaudevillian theater, freak-show performances, and advertisement “slumming tours.” It indicates that the legislation didn't easily police normative gender yet actively produced it via developing new definitions of gender normality and abnormality. It additionally tells the tale of the tenacity of these who defied the legislation, spoke out whilst sentenced, and articulated assorted gender possibilities.
 

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