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Summary

The life story of an aristocratic Scottish trans man - whose secret 1968 legal case had a profound impact on trans rights for decades.

Ewan Forbes was born Elizabeth to a wealthy landowning family in 1912. As young as six, it was clear that the gender assigned to him at birth was incorrect. With the financial means of seeing specialist doctors in Europe and procuring synthetic hormones, Ewan was able to live as a boy and then as a man, even correcting the gender on his birth certificate in order to marry.

Then, in 1965, Ewan found himself in line to inherit the family baronetcy. But when a cousin contested the claim on the grounds that the inheritance could only be passed on to a male heir, Ewan was forced to defend his gender in an extraordinary court case, testing the legal system of the time to the limits of its understanding.

A never-before-told story based on years of archival research, The Hidden Case of Ewan Forbes draws on the fields of law, medicine, psychology and biology to reveal a remarkable hidden history, uncovering records that were considered so threatening that they were removed from view for decades.

©2021 Zoë Playdon (P)2021 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd

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  • 22-11-21

Wonderful book and well researched.

This is a great book. Well researched and shocking in many ways. The story of Ewan Forbes deserves to be much better known.

The narrator however is so badly mis-judged. Strange accents, the French accents in particular, the use of a tone to delineate gender seem misjudged, especially given the subject matter.

Shocking this seemed like a good approach to take.

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A beam of light into British Socail History

Excellent detailed account of a singular case, shedding light on an otherwise hidden corner of British jurisprudence. Reads well and in great detail about one man's quiet transition in an age when it was highly unusual but before the legal and social difficulties which pervade the modern world. If Ewan Forbes had been born upper class's but untitled, his case would have been unusual but the unhappy fact of his being a peer threw the implications of female to male transition into the firing line of those concerned with male primogeniture, spelling decades of problems for trans people who followed him.
The authors have done a magnificent job of detailing how Ewans story influenced those around him and the legal and social pathways to follow, as well as other cases, and paints a vivid picture of the situation which followed.
An excellent read or listen for anyone with an interest in British legal, social or trans history, nicely balanced and informative. Will be rereading as soon as I have posted this review

2 people found this helpful