French aristocrat d’Eon was the first European known to publicly change gender. D’Eon had been a successful soldier and diplomat, fighting in the Seven Years War and helping to negotiate the Peace of Paris (1763). When his lavish spending and insubordination led the king to recall him to France, d’Eon claimed to be a woman and negotiated a return under the king’s protection. The king required the now Chevalière d’Eon to dress as a woman. She was permitted, however, to continue to wear the military Cross of St. Louis she had earned during the Seven Years War. The Chevalière was considered one of the most accomplished women of her time, but she never regained political influence. By 1791, the French monarchy had fallen and the Chevalière had returned to London. She continued to maintain a level of celebrity, enough to make sales of her portrait profitable.
Condé, John, La Chevalière d’Eon, 1791, Lisa Unger Baskin Collection, Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. Accessed March 04, 2021, https://exhibits.library.duke.edu/exhibits/show/baskin/item/4061