JeromeG111 / Flickr civil war memorial...
JeromeG111 / Flickr

“Little Al Cashier” was unquestionably far more afraid of an uncomprehending world than he was of Confederate bullets. Little Al was among the first known recorded transgender persons in American history and a Union hero. Daily Beast:

In the wake of Donald Trump’s order that the U.S. military no longer accept transgender individuals as recruits, it seems a fitting time to acknowledge the extraordinary life and times of Civil War veteran Albert Cashier, born Jennie Hodgers, who was the subject of a ‘We’ve Been Around’ documentary last year.

Born in Ireland in about 1842, Albert Cashier is regarded as among the first known examples of a transgender person in American history.

It is important to note that the concept of being transgender was effectively unknown in the United States at this point, although some Native American tribes did assign third-gender roles, which are sometimes described under the term ‘Two-Spirit.’

The AmerIndians were wise. Would that the rest of Little Al’s world had been so enlightened:

But in 1910, while working as a handyman in Saunemin, Illinois, Cashier had his identity exposed when he had to go to the hospital with a shattered leg. His boss made arrrangements so he could stay in the local soldiers’ home.  

Though some stood by him, others were not as accepting. And when he started showing signs of dementia, he was taken to a Watertown State Mental Hospital, where he was forced to stay in the women’s ward. They even made him wear a dress, which he tried to fashion into pants. He was exposed in the news, and the federal government opened an investigation, claiming he committed identity fraud.  

The good news is that the other men in his regiment defended him and charges were dropped. He was accorded a military funeral as well and buried with honor and dignity, which he more than earned.

The men of a hundred years ago were far move advanced in their thinking than Donald Trump.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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