Publication Date: 11/11/2021 ISBN: 9781526619136 Category:

The Hidden Case of Ewan Forbes

Zoe Playdon

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Publication Date: 11/11/2021 ISBN: 9781526619136 Category:




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.

Publisher Review

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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