Before Trans: Book Discussion with Author Rachel Mesch

(All of our events are currently running over Zoom. To get the Zoom link to attend this event, please RSVP here:

Before there were complex ways to speak about gender, there were people who experienced their gender in complex ways. In Before Trans: Three Gender Stories from Nineteenth-Century France, Rachel Mesch examines the lives of three writers—Jane Dieulafoy, Rachilde, and Marc de Montifaud—whose gender expressions did not conform to nineteenth-century notions of femininity. In this book discussion, Mesch will share some of their fascinating stories, demonstrating how current discussions of trans identity can help us to better understand certain figures from the past. At the same time, these historical figures provide vital context for our own efforts to understand the nature of gender identity and the ways in which it might be expressed. 


Rachel Mesch is Professor of French and English at Yeshiva University. She is the author of Having it All in the Belle Epoque: How French Women’s Magazines Invented the Modern Woman (2013) and The Hysteric’s Revenge: French Women Writers at the Fin de Siècle (2006).