The constrains on women meant that some women had to disguise themselves as men in order to have the life they wanted. Margaret Ann Bulkley (1789 to 1865) decided to disguise herself as a man in order to enter medical school. Margaret became James Barry and successfully completed medical school and trained as a surgeon. In 1813 James joined the army and was posted to South Africa, and then many other British Empire outposts. Wherever James went he made improvements to sanitary and living conditions, and the diet of both the common soldier and other under-represented groups. After his death, James was discovered to be a woman, when he was being prepared for burial (despite his instructions that he should be “buried in [the] bed sheets without further inspection”).

Picture: Dr James Barry. From Wikimedia Commons.