I never do this, folks, so I think I can be excused for discussing my research just this once. Especially because you will not find this information on English-language websites and I think it’s fascinating.
Teresa Pla Meseguer was born in a small village of Vallibona in Spain in 1917. Today, we would call Teresa intersex because her gender could not be determined at birth. In her tiny village of shepherds and poor farmers, however, nobody knew this word. Teresa’s parents registered her as a woman because being female would have allowed her to avoid being drafted into the army.
Teresa never performed femininity very convincingly, though. People ridiculed her and taunted her for looking like a guy and her elder sisters beat her mercilessly. Teresa grew up to be very tall and strong, which made people afraid of laughing at her in her face. When the Civil War started in 1936, Teresa didn’t join either of the warring sides. She was considered a woman, which gave her the right to stay in Vallibona. She could do hard physical labor as well as a man and men were scarce. This allowed Teresa to make good money and even start saving.
As we all know, the progressive Republican forces lost the Civil War in Spain. The fascists, led by the General Francisco Franco (or, as I refer to him in my lectures, vile cockroach*), won. The defeated Republican forces withdrew to France. The Republicans** fought heroically against Hitler in Europe because they believed that once the Nazis were defeated, the Allies would proceed to remove Franco and his fascists from power.
This never happened. The Allies allowed the fascist dictatorship of Franco to remain in power until 1975.
The Republican fighters decided to take matters into their own hands. They organized guerrilla units, crossed the border between France and Spain, and started engaging in subversive activities against the regime. Teresa was one of the many people in the area who helped the guerrilla fighters by providing them with food and helping them pass messages to their families.
One day, however, a really horrible thing happened to Teresa.
[To be continued. . .]
* And I always follow this with a disclaimer that the students should feel free to form a different opinion about Franco but that this is a subject where it makes me feel better to say that he is a vile cockroach.
** These, of course, are very different from the American Republicans. The Spanish Republicans were people who defended the democratically elected legitimate government of the 2nd Republic against the military uprising of fascists between 1936-9.