It’s a man’s world, or so the old saying goes. Though women in history haven’t always been able to fight in wars, publish books, or live adventurous lives, that has never stopped women disguised as men from stepping up to the plate and taking care of business. Women who pretended to be men have helped win wars, shape nations, and set precedents for everything women are capable of.
Cross-dressing has a long list of historical purposes. Though the public opinion and legality of cross-dressing has fluctuated throughout history, men and women have both been documented switching up their genders for a variety of purposes, including romance, espionage, or just pure fun. Though, more often than not, the women who disguised themselves as men, including many on this list, swapped genders in order to avoid persecution while going about their game-changing business. Some of these women disguised themselves as men for a single battle, while others practically lived out their entire lives as the opposite sex. Whatever their reason, we should just be thankful for the power of the pixie cut and the fake mustache. As RuPaul has so wisely taught us, gender is but a construct, baby!