In an opinion piece posted by the New York Times, Peyton Thomas, who hosts "Jo's Boys: A Little Women Podcast," suggested that Louisa May Alcott, the late 19th century writer who authored the novel "Little Women," was transgender.
Thomas, who is transgender and is the author of a novel about a transgender character, wrote that Alcott had said in an interview, "I am more than half-persuaded that I am a man's soul, put by some freak of nature into a woman's body." Thomas then claimed that Alcott "may not have known the word 'transgender,' but she certainly knew the feeling it describes."
"In the absence of necromancy to settle the question, we must base our understanding of Alcott's identity on her writing. 'I long to be a man,' she wrote in one journal entry. 'I was born with a boy’s nature,' she said in that letter to Whitman, and 'a boy’s spirit' and 'a boy's wrath.' As a child, she didn't 'care much for girls’ things.' Recall that as an adult, just a few years from death, she saw herself as 'a man's soul, put by some freak of nature into a woman’s body.' Why not take Lou at his word?" Thomas wrote.
Thomas posted a Twitter thread earlier this year explicitly asserting that "lou alcott was trans. period" and using male pronouns to refer to Alcott in the thread.
"The word 'transgender' did not exist during the life of 'Little Women' author Louisa May Alcott," the New York Times Opinion account tweeted when linking to Thomas' piece. "But @peytonology asks whether it might be the best word to capture the experience of an author who wrote about having a 'boy's spirit' and a 'man's soul.'"
People on social media pushed back against the notion that the renowned female author was transgender.
"This is so dumb … and sexist, but mostly dumb," Scott Morefield tweeted in response to the post.
"Alcott was rejecting the sexist stereotypes & socially-reinforced limitations synonymous with being female at the time—the same brand of sexiest stereotypes & socially-reinforced limitations that arise from suggesting that spirited women must be men," AJ Kay tweeted.
T. Becket Adams tweeted, "'Tomboy' worked just as well then as it does today, thanks." He added, "As it turns out, the people of the 19th century, who wrote a lot better than we do today, possessed robust vocabularies. and unlike today, they were capable of explaining, describing, and understanding themselves beyond mere sexual identity."
"Rewriting history to be fanfic for sexual fetishes is like an entire academic and journalistic specialty now," Mark Hemingway tweeted.