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Eugenia Falleni (Harry Crawford)
(1875 - 1938) Italy - Australia

Eugenia Falleni

Cross-dresser

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Born in Italy, Falleni migrated to New Zealand with her family when she was 2 years old. As a young girl she wore boy's clothes, and worked as a man. Falleni then left New Zealand, arriving in Australia in the 1890s. She had a child in 1898 in Newcastle, moved to Sydney and gave her baby, Josephine, to an Italian woman to be cared for - and then dressed and lived as a man.

In 1910, as "Harry Crawford" she commenced employement as a "useful" and began courting Annie Birkett, taking her on drives and bringing her flowers. They married in 1913 and lived together in Drummoyne, a working-class Sidney suburb. In 1917, Birkett disappeared and Crawford told neighbours "his missus" had left him.

In 1919 he married another woman, Lizzie Allison. When questioned by police in 1920, he claimed to be Harry Leon Crawford, a Scor born in Edinbourgh, who migrated to New Zealand when 18 months old, and that at 18 he left his parent's home and worked his passage direct to New South Wales, where he worked in different jobs.

Crawford told police that until he married Allison "I was a single man". On further questioning and impending arrest, Crawford admitted to being a woman, Eugenia Falleni. She was arrested and tried for the murder of her first wife (Birkett), found guilty and sentenced to death. The death sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment.

After serving 11 years at Long Bay Gaol, Falleni obtained early release in 1931. She then lived under the name Mrs Jean Ford. It is likely that dressing and living as a woman was a strict condition to her parole. She died in 1938 after being hit by a car.

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Source: excerpts from: Aldrich R. & Wotherspoon G., Who's Who in Gay and Lesbian History, from Antiquity to WWII, Routledge, London, 2001

Picture: kindly sent by Karen Reid

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