Digital Transgender Archive

Behind the Front Lines

Five crossdressed solders standing in a line at a performanceThe newly created Military Collection includes photographs and historical items documenting the presence of crossdressing in the United States Armed Forces during World War II. The collection of photographs is taken from a performance put on by the Special Service Office of the Bolling Field Air Base in Washington D.C. All of the actors in the show were soldiers at the base. Many soldiers crossdressed for the performance, as well as portraits and group photos.

Because crossdressing hasn’t exactly been welcomed in the U.S. military, this photograph was of particular interest to the DTA team.

The soldiers photographed here are proudly posing while crossdressed. The playbill from the play, “Look At Us Now”, shows that the play was not only sanctioned, but sponsored by one of the offices at the Bolling Field Air Base. Whether as a means of true expression, or simply for lack of female soldiers to fill the roles, this collection of items adds another fascinating component to the history of crossdressing for performance.