Cultural Dysphoria, Intersex Awareness, Intersex Erasure, Intersex History, Intersex People, Prejudice

Please do not misgender Revolutionary War Hero, General Casimir Pulaski: Pronouns He/Him
Polish soldier and military commander Casimir Pulaski, circa 1775.Kean Collection / Getty Images

When I recently learned about General Casimir Pulaski, like when I have discovered other intersex people in history, I become elated and I celebrated…..but it was short lived.  Then my heart sank.  Here we were once again, in our binary world misgendering the past; a past that gave people like me more human rights to exist than we do today.

This man was known as a war hero and as a General.   Yet, here people are misgendering the dead, calling him a woman to receive sensationalism!  Sensationalism created by this “modern” world only acknowledging only two ways to exist: typical endosex man or typical endosex woman.  We now know there is more to the story.  Intersex people exist, then and now.

It is bad enough when I am misgendered as a woman!  Intersex people have existed since the first humans have walked the Earth.  And guess what?  Some of us were famous too, like this man.  This is another example of cultural dysphoria.  “Cultural Dysphoria” is what I say when the world denies us intersex people, misgender us, and tries to erase our existence.

General Pulaski, by Polish artist Jan Styka.

Yes, I will stand up for this man, who was obviously more than likely intersex both in his physical body and hormones.  This person was not biologically a woman. Their true sex, like mine, would have been intersex and their real lived gender identity a man a “real man”.   They say his baptism records prove he was baptized as a son.   This means his parents raised an intersex son. He was apparently a Master Mason and buried with Masonic Honours too.

With everything they have learned about his bones and body, in my heart, this is an INTERSEX MAN.  Born like me.   So, if you feel persuaded to do so, please do not call this man a woman or a biological woman.  This is pure ignorance and ignores the science around being born intersex.

Again, please do not misgender the honorable dead.  General Casimir Pulaski was a man.  Even if he was an intersex man, he was a MAN:  Pronouns He/Him.  Let the man rest in peace, please.  Thank you! 

I am not alone as an intersex man with this frustration.  Here is a link to the thoughts of my friend, another intersex man, regarding General Casimir Pulaski being born intersex:  Thoughts of an Intersex Man on the Discovery that General Pulaski Was Likely Intersex| By Jim Costich:

“It would seem that General Casimir Polaski, Revolutionary war hero serving directly under Washington himself was an intersex man instead of a male man. This is of great interest to intersex people who have been made to feel like lesser human beings…..
Being intersex isn’t all that exciting and so reporters have spiced up the news that he was intersex by saying that it could be that he was, “really a woman.” Women pretending to be men in order to gain access to careers is far more exciting than people with odd shaped genitals, or out of the usual hormone systems, or unusual chromosome arrangements. However, claiming that General Polaski could possibly have been a woman posing as if he were a man doesn’t make it true…..”

Here is another good one: Intersex Revolutionary War Hero Did Good Because Doctors Did No Harm | By Elizabeth Reis . She  is a professor of gender and bioethics at the Macaulay Honors College at the City University of New York:

“Since the nineteenth century, physicians have sought to surgically “correct” intersex people’s bodies to make their genital appearance conform to typical standards. But when Pulaski was born in 1745, if his genitals appeared to be unusual, his parents would have simply chosen to raise him a boy or a girl, hoping they made the right call and that he would grow to adulthood successfully and contentedly. Pulaski prospered and showed the talent, command, and confidence that allowed him to successfully lead in Washington’s army.”

Casimir Pulaski US Postage Stamp  Photo courtesy of: US Postal Service
Casimir Pulaski US Postage Stamp; Photo courtesy of  US Postal Service

“I came here, where freedom is being defended, to serve it, and to live or die for it.” ~ General Casimir Pulaski

Casimir Pulaski, 1747-1779, a Polish patriot was a hero of the American Revolution. Casimir Pulaski had male characteristics, like facial hair and male-pattern baldness, but his skeleton looked female. Researchers now believe he was intersex | Credit Bettmann, via Getty Images
American Revolutionary War collage. From Wikipedia Commons

Smithsonian Channel made a documentary | With intersex born Hida Viloria:

“America’s Hidden Stories: How Casimir Pulaski Became a Firm Favorite of George Washington.”
“He was the Polish-born hero of the Revolutionary War who went on to save George Washington’s life at the Battle of Brandywine. But was Casimir Pulaski also intersex?
More about the episode:
Casimir Pulaski was an American Revolutionary War hero who helped save George Washington’s life in the Battle of Brandywine. He was known as the “Father of the American Cavalry,” but new evidence suggests that the general may not have been male. Follow a team of anthropologists as they examine the bones found at Pulaski’s monument in Savannah and run state-of-the-art DNA tests in order to determine if the officer was female or if someone else was buried in the tomb.”
A quote from Hida Viloria; From the Chicago Reader (pages 16 to 17):
“The father of the American cavalry was not even male by our scientific definition,” Viloria adds. “It’s a powerful testament to the fact that biology doesn’t dictate who we are in terms of our lived gender, our perceived gender, and our ability to thrive as any gender.”
Hida Viloria also shares:  What Pulaski’s Being Intersex Means for Intersex & Trans People Today | By Hida Viloria| APRIL 8, 2019
“My hope is that knowing that a celebrated historic figure was an intact intersex person will inspire more intact intersex people to come out as such, and I urge allies and fellow activists to include and highlight our contributions, even though we are less accepted within our society’s binary-gendered, heteronormative status quo. After all, as our goal is to end the medical practices aimed at erasing intersex bodied people from society, we must make parents and other stakeholders aware that letting children grow up and live with beautiful, visibly intersex bodies is wonderful, just as it’s been for me and was for Pulaski.”

Revolutionary War hero Casimir Pulaski might have been a woman or intersex | NBC News | By Corky Siemaszko :

“This article above says: “Casimir Pulaski, hero of the Revolutionary War and the pride of the Polish-American community, may need a new pronoun — he may have been a she, or even a they .”
Then goes on to say:
“Probably he was not completely aware,” Estabrook said. “What we do know about Pulaski is that there were enough androgens (male hormones) happening in the body, so that he had facial hair and male pattern baldness. Obviously, there was some genital development because we have his baptismal records and he was baptized as a son.”

Pulaski, Polish Hero of the Revolutionary War, Was Most Likely Intersex, Researchers Say. | New York Times | By Sarah Mervosh April 7, 2019:

Kimberly Zieselman, the executive director of interACT, an advocacy organization for children with intersex traits, said Pulaski’s life showed what can happen when intersex people are allowed to live as they were born, without early surgical intervention:

“What’s happening today is so wrong,” Ms. Zieselman said. “You are erasing people like this person who went on, untouched, to be a war hero.”
“This is what can happen if kids are left alone — natural and healthy as they are,” she added.
“In Pulaski’s case, Ms. Zieselman said that the discovery highlighted the intersex community’s fight against invisibility — first, by history, when it was common for people not to know they were intersex, and more recently, by surgeries that she said erase intersex traits and identity.”
“Just imagine if Casimir Pulaski were born today,” Ms. Zieselman said. He may have been raised as a girl, she said, making it unlikely that he would have joined the military and helped Washington.”
“Arguably, if urologists had tried to ‘fix’ Pulaski’s body, the U.S. could still be a British colony.”


A commentary by intersex born Cary G. Costello, Ph.D.:

This week, a documentary about Casimir Pulaski was aired on the Smithsonian channel. Pulaski was a hero of the American Revolutionary War, credited with saving George Washington in battle, and deemed the “Father of the American Cavalry.” And he was an intersex man. That is, his physical sex was intersex, while he was reared as a boy and his gender identity was that of a man.

Intersex people have been celebrating the revelation of a national hero who is one of us. And many of us are keen to point out that children born with bodies like Pulaski’s today are routinely assigned female at birth by doctors, and subjected to forced surgical sex changes. Doctors presume that to live a life with intermediate genitals would be intolerable, and to assign a child with a body like Pulaski’s male would be cruelty because he could never feel like a “real man.”

Pulaski was celebrated as a great man among men in his time. His genital differences did not undermine people’s respect for him. As Kimberly Zieselman, the executive director of interACT, notes, Pulaski’s era was one in which women were not permitted to serve in the military. Thus, “if urologists had tried to ‘fix’ Pulaski’s body, the U.S. could still be a British colony.”

I am happy about public attention being turned toward the fact that intersex people lived fulfilled and inspiring lives in the centuries before surgical “normalization.” We’ve always been here, and being intersex has not meant our lives were tragic. That said, much of the reporting about Pulaski is deeply flawed.

Consider: the documentary film is titled, “The General Was a Female”? No, he obviously wasn’t–he was intersex. Why this weird title? Because the anthropologists and historians and other endosex experts discussing Pulaski’s body can’t seem to let go of binarist myths about physical sex. They seem incapable of acknowledging that sex is a spectrum–with a vast range of combinations of multiple sex chromosomes, hormonal differences, genital forms, gonadal positions, and secondary sex characteristics–even when they are talking about an intersex person.

Instead, we get the bizarre description of Pulaski as someone with a “female skeleton” but “male pattern baldness and male facial hair.” It’s as if an intersex person is made up of a series of binary male/female characteristics, but some conflict with others. This is frankly stupid.

Here’s an analogy for you. Imagine that scientists had become invested in a weird myth that a person is either hot or cold. When confronted with evidence of a person who was clearly lukewarm, they said, “She has a cold skeleton but hot muscles, a cold liver but hot lungs.”

Temperature really is a spectrum. So is physical sex. I work with an anthropology grad student who researches just how much distortion has warped archeological research due to the myth that skeletons come in binary male and female forms. In fact, there is huge variation in every characteristic. To say, “male skulls have brow ridges and female skulls do not” is flat out wrong. There are people of every physical sex who have substantial brow ridges, or slight brow ridges, or no brow ridge at all.

What Casimir Pulaski’s case shows us is not just that intersex people exist. It shows us how medical doctors are not the only “experts” who keep erasing us over and over again because they are so deeply indoctrinated into the cult of binary sex/gender.

Hida Viloria & Pidgeon Pagonis on how Pulaski would not have become American Revolutionary War hero with today’s intersex surgical interventions + Research Examined By admin author | April 17, 2019 

Although Pulaski lived as a man, many children born with CAH are assigned female and subjected to invasive surgeries to “correct” any perceived variance in their genitalia. This practice, which originated at Johns Hopkins University in the 1950s, has been condemned by the United Nations and three former U.S. surgeons general. Johns Hopkins says it no longer performs intersex surgery, yet the procedure remain common.

Pulaski was born before such medical interventions became an option. Had he been alive two centuries later, his life could have been very different. As a woman, Pulaski wouldn’t have had the opportunity to volunteer for the Continental Army and aid in the reform of the American cavalry. He wouldn’t have led Washington through an escape route at the Battle of Brandywine, when he otherwise would have faced certain death.
Without an intersex person at the front lines living as themselves, Chicago-based intersex activist Pidgeon Pagonis says, the reality is that America “would still be a colony.”
“The father of the American cavalry was not even male by our scientific definition,” Viloria adds. “It’s a powerful testament to the fact that biology doesn’t dictate who we are in terms of our lived gender, our perceived gender, and our ability to thrive as any gender.”
The analysis of how Pulaski would not have been able to thrive as the man he was and contribute to the formation of the United States as a military soldier, had he been subjected to IGM, as well as how his living as a man reflects on SB 201 and false claims made by CARES, were also shared in depth by Viloria on April 7th in a live morning interview on Chicago Out Radio (beginning of the second hour, at 53:00).
These views, along with Pagonis’s point that America might still be a British colony were Pulaski subjected to IGM–as so often happens today–were echoed by InterACT E.D. Kimberly Zieselman in a later New York Timesarticle about the documentary. They were also explored in part in Viloria’s interview in The Advocate and he/r essay in OUT Magazine–which also calls out Dr. Lane Palmer, head of the Societies for Pediatric Urology, for using false information to oppose SB 201–and in other press coverage.

Here are more articles on Revolutionary War Hero Casimir Pulaski: 

Thoughts of an Intersex Man on the Discovery that General Pulaski Was Likely Intersex| By Jim Costich April 8th, 2019

Intersex Revolutionary War Hero Did Good Because Doctors Did No Harm | By ELIZABETH REIS | April 12, 2019

It’s a woman. It’s not Pulaski: New documentary argues Revolutionary War hero was intersex. | Chicago Tribune

Revolutionary War hero may have been biologically a woman: documentary. By Robert Gearty | Fox News

‘Father of the American Cavalry’ may have been female or intersex, documentary claims. By Joel Shannon | USA TODAY Published 12:59 p.m. ET April 6, 2019

Casimir Pulaski, Polish Hero of the Revolutionary Wary, Was More Likely Intersex, Researchers Say| By Sarah Mervosh April 7, 2019 | The New York Times

The newest episode of America’s Hidden Stories delves into the mystery. | BY LUMIERE ROSTICK | APRIL 08 2019 5:33 AM EDT

Please read more about intersex people in history:

“Womb Man” versus “Woman with a Beard”; My thoughts, my story.

Screen Shot 2019-02-10 at 2.30.36 PM
A painting of Magdalena Ventura, by José de Ribera, and a photo by Karmathartic of Mx. Anunnaki Ray Marquez and his husband, James.

I am Proudly the First in Colorado to get an Intersex Birth Certificate

My Sex is not a Diagnosis! Diagnostic Code

XX Intersex Man We Exist even if your mind is closed!

Free to live whole: Magdalena Ventura, Casimir Pulaski, and Sally Gross.


10 thoughts on “Please do not misgender Revolutionary War Hero, General Casimir Pulaski: Pronouns He/Him”

  1. What I noted too was the way we seem to rob him of his dignity by dredging up his biology and parading it without his permission. Okay so it’s great that we see more intersex people throughout history, but really, we misgender him like you say with the “Could be a woman” language and I tend to think, how would he have reacted, then or now to be treated like that as an intersex person, and would that be ok if the same was done to one of us today if we didn’t want our variation revealing in the future, for example? Have we just robbed him of his right to live as a cis gendered man, if that was the case, if that was all he knew, or how he wanted to be remembered? His legacy now altered? Maybe I’m thinking too much into that and obviously this was a different social structure for intersex people as in there was no erasing surgery and it may have been that he was treated as a boy with no knowledge or understanding of a variation at all, this is all based on his bones. I’m guessing in Casimir’s case, the male ‘tag’ was asserted as paramount whatever the discussion at birth. His nobility would explain why he would have survived the childhood intersex murders, similar thing with an intersex child surviving in a noble family in Rome that Ela spoke about recently. Such an interesting story and many angles to consider – he was apparently a Master Mason and buried with Masonic Honours, I wonder what the lodge named after him thinks of this news in their strict all male regime. Again, how do we affect his legacy? 😕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment. You made some very good points. It is simply wrong destroying his legacy by misgendering him and calling this honorable war hero a woman. Uneducated ignorance, prejudice, and bigotry is cunning, baffling and insidious.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. The mystery surrounding him is where his bones were and if the bone dug up in the garden he was buried in and later moved to a monument were really his or belonged to a woman instead because the hip looked female-ish. For the better part of the 20th century anthropologists and anatomists have sworn they could tell the sex of a person by the shape of the hip. Modern technology has shot that through with holes. The claim was wrong and didn’t even take into account the existence of intersex people. It took the ability to sort out mitochondrial DNA to prove that the bones in the monument do indeed belong to Gen. Pulaski. It took the destruction of the intersex closet of shame, secrecy, fear and lies to keep people from pretending that a female-ish hip isn’t enough to call someone female, and that male or female are not the only possibilities out there.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a powerful argument for the current issue of gender confusion. That so many find the need to pigeonhole a great war hero of our revolutionary war, one that very well saved George Washington’s life, as either he or she. Failing to grip the reality despite DNA evidence that the general was most likely what used to be called a hermaphrodite.

    If this really troubles you……..educate yourself, (never a bad thing) and read about congenital adrenal hyperplasia, and hormones running amok. That term is dated, now being referred to as “intersex.” He was killed by mini cannon balls, called grapeshot.

    As a former soldier, general, thank you for your service.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. First, I would like to thank you for your service to our country. I appreciate your thanks for my service too. I appreciate this greatly. I am trying hard to change this world for children born with intersex variations so that they do not suffer the way I did. I have successfully changed my medical condition into my biological sex, and legally so. I no longer consider my intersex variation a disorder or a condition. I am Proudly the First in Colorado to get an Intersex Birth Certificate, but live full time as a man; an intersex man. I am “normal” for an intersex man. You can go to my autobiography to find out how much I had in common with General Casimir​ Pulaski. Thank you for visiting and please share my story to others. Together we change and educate this world.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s