A Handlist of sources for Medieval Transgender Studies

Prompted by a recent discussion of available scholarship on Gender in Medieval Studies, I decided to compile a list of resources specifically relating to transgender studies for the Middle Ages.

(Work in progress – I’ll continue updating this as long as I come across new resources. If you have any suggestions for resources that would suit this list, please email me at

Literary sources

Old French & Occitan

  • Heldris de Cornualle, Le Roman de Silence – brilliant verse narrative by Heldris de Cornualle; in many ways a classic making-of-a-knight narrative, following the story of Silence. Born a girl but raised as a boy, the story of Silence is an important witness to conceptions of gender variance in medieval French literature.
    • Editions:
      • Roche-Mahdi, Sarah. Silence: A Thirteenth-century French Romance. East Lansing, MI: Colleagues Press, 1992.
        (an excellent facing page translation)
  • Christine de Pizan, Mutacion de Fortune
    • Editions:
      • Pisan, Christine de. 1959 [-1966]. Le Livre de la Mutacion de Fortune, publié d’après les manuscrits par Suzanne Solente. IV vols. Paris: Publications de la Société des anciens textes français.
  • Tristan de Nanteuil – a section of this story pertains to a transmasculine character called Blanchandin. Both this story and the text below, La Chanson d’Yde et Olive, feature divine intervention in the form of gender-affirming physical changes brought about by the will of God.
    • Editions:
      • Tristan de Nanteuil: Chanson de Geste Inédite, ed. K. V. Sinclair. (Assen: Van Corcum and
        Company, 1971)
  • La Chanson d’Yde et Olive
  • Meraugis de Portlesquez
    • See the discussion in Keith Busby’s “Plus acesmez qu’une popine”: Male Cross-Dressing in Medieval French Narrative.” [See below]


  • Busby, Keith. 2014. “”Plus acesmez qu’une popine”: Male Cross-Dressing in Medieval French Narrative.” In Gender Transgressions: Crossing the Normative Barrier in Old French Literature, edited by Karen J. Taylor, 45-60. New York: Routledge.
    [First published 1998, by Garland Publishing, Inc.]
  • Hotchkiss, V. (1990). Clothes Make the Man: Female Transvestism in the Middle Ages. Ph.D. Yale University.
  • McCracken, Peggy. 1994. “”The Boy who was a Girl”: Reading Gender in the Roman de Silence.” Romantic Review 517-536.
  • Weisl, Angela Jane. 2009. “How to be a Man, though Female: Changing Sex in Medieval Romance.” Medieval Feminist Forum 110-137.

Medieval Spanish

  • Romance de la doncella guerrera – a fantastic medieval ballad on similar lines to the Silence and Blanchandin stories above. Extant in several versions. [More detail to be added soon]

Old Norse

  • Nítíða saga – This is definitely a debatable inclusion on the list, but the non-normative gender roles in the meykóngasaga (maiden king saga) genre makes for an interesting comparison with other sources from medieval Europe.
    • Editions:
    • Criticism:
      • Ragnheiðardóttir, V. (2014). Kynjuð yfirnáttúra: Samband kyngervis og galdurs í meykóngasögum. MA. University of Iceland.
        [A very interesting thesis on the relationship between gender, sex, and magic in the meykóngasaga genre. Part of the project Medieval Icelandic Encounters with the Paranormal]
      • Werronen, Sheryl McDonald. 2016. Popular Romance in Iceland: The Women, Worldviews, and Manuscript Witnesses of Nítíða Saga. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press

Sections coming soon: General criticism; English literary sources; Transgender studies and the Global Middle Ages

Medieval Studies and the Far Right Conference, 11th May 2019

A short write-up of the conference Alyssa Steiner and I organised in Oxford is now available to read on the TORCH website here.

On Saturday, 11th May 2019, over 40 academics, students and activists met in the Doctorow Hall room of St Edmund Hall to hold a conference on the relationship between Medievalism and far right politics. Organisers Charlie Powell, a student on the MSt in Medieval Studies at Wadham College and Alyssa Steiner, a graduate student in Medieval German at St Edmund Hall, describe the impetus behind organizing the conference, and the day itself.

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