Thomas(ine) Hall has a fascinating story. A lot of historical accounts still require more strict verification, however, it is generally accepted that Thomas(ine) was born Thomasine Hall sometime around 1603 in Newcastle upon Thyne, England. According to their own account, though they were born intersex, Thomasine was raised as a girl and trained in traditional women’s crafts such as lace making, and needlework.
The first recorded instance of Thomas(ine) adopting traditionally male dress, name, and pronouns was when they cut their hair, and “changed into the fashion of a man” in order to join a brother in the military. Upon returning to England from the service, Thomas(ine) again resumed the lifestyle of a woman.
In or around the year 1627, Hall took an opportunity to resettle in Jamestown, Virginia, dressed as a male indentured servant, ultimately moving to a smaller settlement on the James River. At the time, there was likely more work available on tobacco plantations for people who were coded as male. However, it appears that Hall remained fluid in their gender expression by occasionally being seen about in women’s attire. In explanation of this particular “quirk”, Thomas(ine) Hall offered what I consider to be one of the best historical quotes ever: “I goe in womans apparel to get a bitt for my Catt”. This has been interpreted as meaning that women’s attire allowed Hall to enjoy sexual relations with people with penises.
Eventually, this flaunting of current social norms caught up with Hall. They were accused of having had sexual relations with a maid. Apparently, the gender of the offender became a matter of criminal responsibility. The legal system of the time stated that if Hall was a man, they could then be charged for sexual misconduct with a servant, but women were deemed incapable of committing this particular type of crime. The “criminal investigation” into this matter consisted of the townspeople taking it upon themselves to examine Hall’s anatomy without their consent, possibly while they were sleeping. Despite a prominent local man determining that Hall was not a proper man, this did nothing to change the townspeople’s desire for punishment, and led the villagers to take the case to the Quarter Court of Jamestown. After hearing from several witnesses, as well as from Hall, the court handed down a punishment inconsistent with legal precedent at the time. The court ruled that Hall was of a “dual nature”, and where usually these offenders were made to choose one gender, Hall was punished in a rather unusual manner.
The court determined that Hall would go by the name Thomas(ine) and “goe clothed in man’s apparell, only his head to bee attired in a coyfe and croscloth with an apron before him”. Meaning that Hall was made to wear both men’s and women’s clothing simultaneously, essentially branding them a permanent outcast.
Not much is known about this person’s life after this controversy, but I like to believe that they hit the road and continued to get a bit for their cat.
https://wams.nyhistory.org/early-encounters/english-colonies/thomas-ine-hall/ – CW: If you do choose to look at this source, it is rife with cisnormativity. The author consistently uses either “she/her” or “he/him” pronouns (when we know that this person’s identity was more fluid than these terms), and describes intersex genitalia in a rather offensive manner.