There is a law is Paris, a law that was introduced in 1800, that says that if a woman wants to wear pants like a man, she must go to the Paris police station and obtain authorization to dress like a man.
The law forbidding a woman from wearing pants in the city of Paris has survived repeated attempts to repeal it. The law was changed in 1892 to allow a woman to wear trousers but only “as long as the woman is holding the reins of a horse.” Then, the law was changed again in 1909 to allow women to wear pants on condition that they were “on a bicycle or holding it by the handlebars.”
Recently, the Paris city council asked the police chief to change the law. He refused by saying that it was “unwise to change texts which foreseen or unforeseen variations in fashion can return to the fore.”
What can I say about this law?
I am sure that this Parisian law reflects an old Catholic interpretation of Deuteronomy 22:5:
“A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God.”
I wonder if the chief of police is as obtuse as those people who interpret Deuteronomy 22:5 as a prohibition against wearing pants.
Transvestism in Ancient Israel
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary