Eugenia Falleni was an early 20th century individual who gained notoriety by disguising herself as a man for much of her adult life and murdering her wife. Throughout history Falleni has been variously labelled as a sexual hermaphrodite, a homosexualist, a masquerader, a person with misplaced atoms, a sex pervert, a passing woman, a transgendered man, and as gender dysphoric. She has never explained what induced her to live as a man. [Source]
Born in Italy, Falleni was the eldest of 22 children and migrated with her family to New Zealand around 1877. After repeatedly dressing as a boy to obtain work in brickyards and stables during her teenage years, Eugenia, left home in the guise of cabin boy.
By her own account her gender was discovered on board ship, and she was put ashore pregnant in Australia in 1898. She gave birth to a daughter, Josephine, and put the child into the care of an Italian-born woman. Afterwards she took on a male identity as ‘Harry Leo Crawford’, of Scots descent, working a series of manual jobs in meatworks, pubs and in a rubber factory. In 1913, claiming to be a widower, she married a woman named Annie Birkett, a widow with a teenage son. Annie set up a confectionery shop, evidently unaware that her husband was not a man.
By 1917, however, Annie had uncovered the truth and, after threatening to reveal it to the authorities, the couple quarreled and Annie disappeared. Her body was discovered later that year, partially burned and with cracks to the skull, though it remained unidentified for over two years. In the meantime, Harry Crawford underwent another marriage ceremony with Elizabeth King Allison, a spinster.
Also in the intervening time, Annie’s son had alerted the police to his mother’s prolonged disappearance; the body of Annie was exhumed and identified, and Harry was arrested in 1920. He asked to be placed in the women’s cells and requested that his wife be not apprised that he was not a man. Among male clothing in a locked leather suitcase, police located an ‘article’, later exhibited in court, made of wood and rubber bound with cloth in the shape of a phallus or dildo.
She was convicted and condemned to death, but her sentence was commuted to detainment at the Governor’s Pleasure. When released from Long Bay Prison eleven years later she assumed the name “Jean Ford” and became the proprietor of a boarding house in Sydney. On 9 June 1938 she stepped off the pavement in front of a motorcar in nearby Oxford Street, and died of her injuries. She was buried in an unmarked pauper’s grave at Rookwood Cemetery.