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The Hidden Case of Ewan Forbes

The Transgender Trial that Threatened to Upend the British Establishment

Zoe Playdon



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30 November 2021
The never-before-told story of Ewan Forbes and the landmark case that rocked British society and transformed transgender experience to this day 'A remarkable story' The Times 'Almost reads like a thriller' Sunday Times 'One of the most important pieces of investigative journalism ever written about trans people' i ------------------- Ewan Forbes was born Elisabeth Forbes to a wealthy landowning family in 1912. It quickly became clear that the gender applied to him at birth was not correct, and from the age of six he began to see specialists in Europe for help. With the financial means of procuring synthetic hormones, Ewan was able to live as a boy, and then as man, and was even able to correct the sex on his birth certificate in order to marry.

Then, in 1965, his older brother died and Ewan was set to inherit the family baronetcy. After his cousin contested the inheritance on the grounds that it could only be inherited by a male heir, Ewan was forced to defend his male status in an extraordinary court case, testing the legal system of the time to the limits of its understanding.

In The Hidden Case of Ewan Forbes, Zoe Playdon draws on the fields of law, medicine, psychology and biology to reveal a remarkable hidden history, uncovering for the first time records that were considered so threatening that they had been removed from view for decades.
By:   Zoe Playdon
Imprint:   Bloomsbury
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 153mm, 
Weight:   640g
ISBN:   9781526619129
ISBN 10:   1526619121
Pages:   416
Publication Date:   30 November 2021
Audience:   General/trade ,  Professional and scholarly ,  ELT Advanced ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Zoe Playdon is the Emeritus Professor of Medical Humanities at the University of London and a Council member of the Association for Medical Humanities. She holds five degrees, including two doctorates. Zoe is a former co-chair of the Gay and Lesbian Association of Doctors and Dentists [GLADD] and co-founded the Parliamentary Forum on Gender Identity in 1994. She has thirty years' experience of front-line work in LGBTI human rights, including supporting and advising on UK and European legal cases. The Hidden Case of Ewan Forbes is her first book.

Reviews for The Hidden Case of Ewan Forbes: The Transgender Trial that Threatened to Upend the British Establishment

There are so many twists and turns in the tale that follows that it sometimes reads like a thriller . . . She's a skilful storyteller, and her descriptions of the Scottish landscape are so vivid I wanted to leap on a train and gaze at the falling sun making the shadows of beech trees a ladder of light * Sunday Times * Class, sex, money, perjury - the story of how Elisabeth became Sir Ewan has everything . . . Zoe Playdon tells a remarkable story here: part legal mystery, part courtroom drama, part family saga. It's driven by class, sex and money and it contains one of the most audacious acts of perjury you're ever likely to read about * The Times * A landmark story of trans rights . . . A complex story compellingly told * Times Literary Supplement * The case of Ewan Forbes was a landmark, and kudos to Playdon for unearthing it * Herald * Zoe Playdon's erudite, passionate [and] ultimately persuasive new book . . . encapsulates this reality by telling three stories at once . . . This account is contextualized by a rich and riveting social history of trans people's rocky road to cultural acceptance in the West, from the early 20th century up to the current day * New York Times * A revelation . . . Zoe Playdon has written a formidable book . . . Magnificently researched and told -- Michael Cashman, author of ONE OF THEM Zoe Playdon shines dazzling light on the case of an early trans pioneer, a man whose dignity and courage remain an inspiration to a new generation of trans people, and those that love us. Abundant with compassion, clarity, and meticulous research, Ms. Playdon ensures that Ewan Forbes' case will remain hidden no more. Urgent, generous, and wise -- Jennifer Finney Boylan, author of SHE'S NOT THERE and GOOD BOY As a seasoned activist and skilled academic, Zoe Playdon provides us with an illuminating account of the trans struggle for justice, human rights and equality. Her lens is the secret case of Ewan Forbes, where a class-based legal system sought to preserve male primogeniture. This is a landmark work of history, law and social change -- Baroness Helena Kennedy QC

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