The Democrat-Gazette reported this morning that U.S. Sen. John Boozman had joined others in Congress to  improve VA services to female veterans. Good on them particularly given the honoree.

The measure is known as the Deborah Sampson Act and is named after a Massachusetts woman who disguised herself as a man so that she could fight against the British in the Revolutionary War.

My question stems from the current legislative fixation with a certain subject: Where did Sampson go to the bathroom? I hope the senator has gotten to the bottom of how Sampson snuck into men’s facilities unnoticed. It perhaps could be useful in the current debate and soothe concerns of some about transgender people


Was America’s first female soldier LGBT?

As it happens, the subject has been written about and it inspired a novel by a transgender descendant.

A Boston Globe account of the novelist includes this reference to Sampson:


In “Revolutionary,” when a fellow soldier tells the disguised Deborah she seems “contemplative, a bit more mild than the others,” Myers imagines her surprise: The words “weren’t insulting, exactly, but she had never before been called mild — quite the contrary, in fact. Perhaps she’d discovered the corollary of her transformation: a cantankerous woman equaled a mild man.”

Deborah Sampson ultimately married and had three children, after living as a man for a time after the war. (Myers spells his ancestor’s name Samson, as she did during her lifetime, he says; subsequent generations of the family have spelled it Sampson.) Her friend Paul Revere petitioned on her behalf for a military pension, as her male counterparts received. The town of Sharon, where Sampson died at age 66 in 1827, has several landmarks named for her.