Sándor/Sarolta Vay (1859 – 1918) was a Hungarian journalist and writer of the turn of the twentieth century. She was born a woman, into a family of the Hungarian aristocracy, but was raised and lived the life of a traditional gentry male of his age. His figure was widely represented in the contemporary press and literature, and her case was analyzed by the psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing. She had a few affairs and some long-term relationships with women. In his connections she presented and identified himself with a heterosexual man, and he was accepted like that by his contemporaries, but his way of life involved both psychological and practical difficulties.
One of his promising relationships was interrupted by a legal procedure that soon turned into a medical exploration. Vay had gotten into debt, having borrowed 800 forints from her "father-in-law" for the deposit of an actually non-existent secretarial job. The father-in-law denounced him and during the time he spent in prison, his female sex was discovered. Vay was sent to an asylum, where the juridical medical expert, Dr. Birnbacher examined her and wrote an expert's opinion, on the basis of which Krafft-Ebing published her case study under the label of gynandria. Sándor/Sarolta’s is the longest case in Psychopathia Sexualis in the chapter on “congenital sexual disorder in women” and his case received attention in the international press as well.
Vay’s cross-dressing and gender-bending seemed to be the only way to avoid the lot of a dependent woman and also the only conceivable way to be a lesbian in that age. Vay was not an activist of women’s or gay rights – it was his/her very existence that challenged traditional gender roles and boundaries.
On Vay's history see this study.