17 Most Famous Trans People from History

Chela Mibei
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Over the years, the LGBTQ+ community has made significant strides in gaining societal acceptance and legal rights. It’s been a colorful and compelling journey, marked by the resilience and courage of numerous iconic trans figures. Let’s hop onto this fabulous time machine and revisit 17 of the most famous trans people in history.

Chevalier d’Eon

17 Most Famous Trans People from History
Philip Mould/Wikimedia Commons

Born in 1728, Chevalier d’Eon was a French diplomat, spy, and soldier known for living as both a man and woman. After being assigned female at birth, he transitioned to live openly as Charles Geneviève Louise Auguste André Timothée d’Éon de Beaumont.

Historians still debate his gender identity, but what is certain is that d’Eon challenged societal expectations and lived an extraordinary lives.

Jean d’Arc

17 Most Famous Trans People from History
John Everett Millais/Wikimedia Commons

Joan of Arc, the legendary French saint and military leader, is believed by some historians to have been assigned female at birth but identified as male. Some even speculate that she may have cross-dressed to fit into traditional roles for men within the military.

Lucy Hicks Anderson

17 Most Famous Trans People from History
Fduriez/Wikimedia Commons

Lucy Hicks Anderson, born in 1886 as Born Tobias Lawson, was known throughout her life as a successful madam and socialite in the United States. She identified as a woman and lived openly as such despite facing legal challenges and discrimination during her time.

She famously sued the government for denying her marriage to her husband, arguing that she had legally transitioned and should be recognized as a woman.

Harry Allen

17 Most Famous Trans People from History
Unknown author/Wikimedia Commons

Harry Allen, born in 1882, was an American performer and drag king who rose to fame in the early 1900s. He challenged gender norms through his performances and paved the way for future queer artists.

Elagabalus

17 Most Famous Trans People from History
José Luiz/Wikimedia Commons

Elagabalus, born in 203 AD in Rome, Italy, was the Roman Emperor rumored to have identified as a woman and engaged in same-sxx relationships. Historians have debated his gender identity throughout history.

Coccinelle

Coccinelle
Image/Wikimedia Commons

Coccinelle, born Jacqueline Charlotte Dufresnoy in 1931, was a French actress and singer, one of the first trans women in Europe to undergo gender confirmation surgery in France. She used her platform to advocate for transgender rights and visibility.

Lili Elbe

17 Most Famous Trans People from History
Unknown author/Wikimedia Commons

Lili Elbe, born Einar Wegener in Denmark in 1882, is widely recognized as one of the first to undergo gender confirmation surgery. She documented her journey in letters and journals, which inspired the award-winning novel “The Danish Girl” by David Ebershoff.

Albert Cashier

17 Most Famous Trans People from History
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum/Wikimedia Commons

Born in 1843 as Jennie Irene Hodgers, Albert Cashier lived as a man and fought for the Union Army during the Civil War. He continued to live as a man after the war. He was only discovered to be assigned female at birth when he was admitted to a hospital in his old age.

Marsha P. Johnson

17 Most Famous Trans People from History
Dramamonster (Gary LeGault)/Wikimedia Commons

A pioneer of LGBTQ+ rights, Marsha P. Johnson was an activist and drag performer who played a pivotal role in the Stonewall Uprising. She co-founded the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR) with Sylvia Rivera, providing shelter and support for homeless transgender youth.

Christine Jorgensen

17 Most Famous Trans People from History
Photo by Maurice Seymour, New York/Wikimedia Commons

In 1952, Christine Jorgensen became one of the first people in the United States to undergo gender confirmation surgery. Her story made headlines and sparked public interest in transgender individuals, paving the way for more visibility and acceptance.

Sylvia Rivera

17 Most Famous Trans People from History
Roseleechs/Wikimedia Commons

A pioneer of the gay liberation movement, Sylvia Rivera was a transgender activist who fought for the rights of marginalized communities, including people of color and homeless LGBTQ+ youth. She co-founded STAR with Marsha P. Johnson and continued to advocate for trans rights until her passing in 2002.

Dr. Renee Richards

17 Most Famous Trans People from History
Ben Olender, Los Angeles Times/Wikimedia Commons

Dr. Renee Richards, born Richard Raskind, made headlines in the 1970s when she fought for the right to compete as a woman in professional tennis after undergoing gender confirmation surgery at a New York City hospital. She became a successful ophthalmologist and continues to advocate for trans rights.

Billy Tipton

17 Most Famous Trans People from History
Unknown author/Wikimedia Commons

Born in 1914 in Oklahoma City, Billy Tipton was a jazz musician who lived as a man for over 50 years until he died in 1989. It wasn’t until then that it was revealed he had been assigned female at birth.

Jack Bee Garland

17 Most Famous Trans People from History
Unknown author/Wikimedia Commons

Jack Bee Garland, originally named Elvira Virginia Mugarrieta, served as a medic during the Spanish-American War. Assigned female at birth, Garland embraced life as a man in the vibrant city of Tenderloin, San Francisco. He had relations with young men he met there.

April Ashley

17 Most Famous Trans People from History
Loz Pycock/Wikimedia Commons

April Ashley was the second person to undergo gender confirmation surgery in Britain in 1960. She became a successful model and actress, but her status as a trans woman was revealed to the public against her will in 1961 by The Sunday People newspaper.

James Barry

17 Most Famous Trans People from History
Unknown author/Wikimedia Commons

Born in 1789, James Barry was a British military surgeon who served in the British Army for over 50 years. It wasn’t until after he died in 1865 that it was discovered he had been assigned female at birth.

Leslie Feinberg

17 Most Famous Trans People from History
Leslie Feinberg/Flickr

Leslie Feinberg was born in 1949 in Kansas City, Missouri. Leslie was a transgender activist and author who wrote the groundbreaking novel “Stone Butch Blues.” Leslie was also a key figure in the LGBTQ+ rights movement, mainly fighting for trans inclusion and visibility within feminist and queer spaces. Feinberg passed away in 2014, but their legacy continues to inspire and educate others.

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Author

  • Chela Mibei

    Chela excels in crafting insightful pieces, drawing from her background in finance and commerce. Her passions for reading, travel, writing, and volunteering enrich her contributions.

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