Victor/Victoria: Arkansas's Humble Country Doctor Was Hiding A Shocking Secret

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Portrait of Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910), the first woman (in 1849), to receive a medical degree in the U.S. Undated photograph. (Getty Images)

Things were different in the early 1900s. Sure, women were marching in the streets, demanding the right to vote, but they still had a long way to go toward true gender equality. In those days, women were discouraged from pursuing careers outside the home, especially in fields not considered "feminine." That’s why it made headlines across the country when people learned a humble country doctor in Arkansas named Victor Mayfield was, in fact, a Victoria. 

Dr. Victor Mayfield

Starting around 1894, Dr. M. Victor Mayfield treated patients in several Arkansas towns, including Siloam Springs, Sulphur Springs, Gentry, and Mena. Dr. Mayfield became known as a top-quality physician with a great bedside manner and even the go-to doctor in the area for cancer treatments, as he used his own proprietary cancer medicine that people claimed worked miracles. He was well liked outside the clinic, too, often seen smoking a pipe and drinking whiskey with the men in town and taking women on dates. He even married a woman in 1913, though for reasons you can probably imagine, it didn't last long.

Dr. Mayfield was a petite man with a slight build, but this didn’t really raise any red flags with the people in the Arkansas towns where he practiced medicine. What they did wonder about was his lack of beard. He was asked about it several times over the years, and each time, he explained that he used an "old Indian remedy" that prevented the growth of facial hair to avoid the tedious task of daily shaving, though he could never produce this wonder drug.