Little Trans Women: New York Times op-ed claims author Louisa May Alcott was a trans man

Little Women at 150
In this May 17, 2018 photo, souvenir pins featuring the likeness of author Louisa May Alcott, who wrote “Little Women,” rest in a container at Orchard House, in Concord, Mass. A century and a half before the #MeToo movement gave women a bold, new collective voice, Alcott was lending them her own. Her “Little Women” has inspired major motion pictures – and millions of girls – since it was published in 1868. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) Steven Senne/AP

Little Trans Women: New York Times op-ed claims author Louisa May Alcott was a trans man

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Louisa May Alcott, the author of the renowned novel Little Women, was a transgender man, a new op-ed in the New York Times suggested on Saturday.

Peyton Thomas, a transgender man and author who is working on a contemporary version of Alcott’s novel, claimed Alcott was transgender, even if she did not know it.


Thomas fortified the shocking claim with some of Alcott’s other writings, which included letters and interviews in which she claimed she felt she had a “boy’s spirit” or that she was “a man’s soul, put by some freak of nature into a woman’s body.”

“She may not have known the word ‘transgender,’ but she certainly knew the feeling it describes,” Thomas wrote.

Alcott also referred to herself as the “brother” in the all-sister family and often went by the name of Lou in her family instead of Louisa, a similar move to her character of Jo March in Little Women, who is based on Alcott.

Scholars have hesitated to use a modern term to describe someone from a different era, especially when a woman’s role in society during the 19th century was very different from in the modern world.

“I’d like to be cautious about imposing our words and terms and understandings on a previous era,” Gregory Eiselein, a professor at Kansas State University and the president of the Louisa May Alcott Society, said. “The way folks from the 19th century thought about gender, sex, sexual identity, sexuality is different from some of the terms we might use.”

Women historically were more limited in what was considered acceptable interests and activities. For example, during Alcott’s life, which overlapped with the Civil War, women were not allowed to join the military, vote, or hold public office. Women who claimed they wished they were born a man often desired the freedom the other sex received, scholars noted.

Thomas claimed that questioning Alcott’s gender has provoked a backlash, including from tennis star Martina Navratilova, who came out as a lesbian in 1981.

“Do you have any idea how hard you would try to convince me I am trans if I were born 50 years later?” Navratilova asked. “I would be 15 years old, and you would be telling me I was trapped in the wrong body. So who exactly is guilty of ‘Sex is a social construct’ here?”


The story of Little Women, which takes place during the Civil War, has been adapted into several films in recent years, with Saoirse Ronan most recently playing the lead role in a 2019 adaptation.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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