1. Shi Pei Pu: The Spy who lived as a woman and who inspired the story of Madam Butterfly.
Strictly speaking, our last female traitor was not a woman. However, Shi Pei Pu lived as a woman and even managed to convince his male lover, Frenchman Bernard Bouriscot that he was one. The couple met in Beijing in the 1950s. Shi was an opera singer and Bernard was an employee at the French embassy. Although Shi was dressed as a man when they first met, he managed to explain this away to Bernard by attributing it to his father’s desire for a son.
Shi must have had convincing female features because the pair began a passionate if intermittent twenty-year affair, with intimate relations conducted in the dark. Shi even adopted a son who she managed to convince Bernard was his biological child. During their relationship, Bernard passed on 150 classified documents through Shi to the Chinese government. However, the couple’s espionage was discovered in 1983 after Shi moved to France. The couple was sentenced to six years in prison for espionage in 1986.
Ultimately, however, Shi’s treachery was to Bernard, by hiding the truth about himself- even though he later claimed he never told Bernard he was a woman. The trial, however, revealed that truth to the world and made Bernard a laughing stock in France. He was so distraught when he learned the truth about Shi’s gender, he tried to slit his throat. After his release from prison, Bernard slipped into welcome obscurity. He showed no sign of grief when he learned his former lover died at the age of 70 in 2009. Shi’s however, had returned to the opera after his release from prison. He refused to speak of the affair with Bernard. However, his story was immortalized in the 1988 Broadway show “Madame Butterfly.”