The Transgender Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway was probably one of the most innovative and influential American writers of the 20th century. What is not equally well known is that the famous novelist experienced and expressed a strong sense of gender fluidity.

If you look at what Hemingway wrote in the unfinished manuscript to the novel The Garden of Eden and other material (as in entries in the diary of his wife Mary and in letters), it is clear that the author was some shade of transgender.

Note that I am using the term “transgender” in its most common sense here: As an umbrella term for all kinds of gender variance. We do not know if Hemingway identified as a woman or if that is a concept that would make sense to them.

They lived, after all, in a time where what was publicly available on the topic of transgender lives and identities was both stigmatizing and prejudiced. The narratives and the terms used were very different from the ones we make use of today.

What we do know, however, is that Hemingway explored the feeling of being a woman, especially through role playing, both of the erotic and the non-erotic kind. We also know that they struggled with these feelings and spent a lot of time reflecting on them.

Gender dysphoria might have been part of the depression that caused their suicide. We can’t be sure.

They also felt an affinity with their transgender daughter (who later came out as Gloria), as is reflected in a comment they made that they discovered that she was dressing up as a woman:

“Gigi , we come from a strange tribe, you and I.”

I suspect that his hyper-masculine facade — the boxer, the warrior, the big game hunter — was at least partly a masque they used for handling their “other side”.

I have looked into the research on Hemingway’s gender variance. You can read my presentation of the transgender Ernest Hemingway here!.

Note also that the American PBS published a new documentary about Ernest Hemingway a few days ago. The series, made by Ken Burns and Lynn Novic, looks into Hemingway’s gender variance.

Here’s a clip from A Late Show where Ken Burns talks about Hemingway’s gender fluid/nonbinary side.

Originally published at



Writer and news curator looking at everything transgender, nonbinary and queer.

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Jack Molay

Writer and news curator looking at everything transgender, nonbinary and queer.