Jacquelline Charlotte Coccinelle Dufresnoy
Jacquelline Charlotte Coccinelle Dufresnoy

As a way to celebrate her 91st birthday, Google Doodle is featuring the first-ever French transgender woman, Jacquelin Charlotte Dufresnoy or famously known as Coccinelle.

In her era, Coccinelle’s situation may have been considered a predicament by some but she rose above it all. Today, Coccinelle would have been 91 years old. Let’s honor her life by remembering all of her achievements and contributions to the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer) community.

Who is Coccinelle? (Her journey as a transgender and a performer)

Jacqueline Charlotte Dufresnoy is a French singer, actress, and entertainer who went by the stage name Coccinelle and rose to fame in the early ’50s. Born as a male on August 23, 1931, Dufresnoy already had the urge and feeling of being a female (gender dysphoria) at the early age of four. It was not long until she decided to change her change.

Back then, it was illegal in France to wear clothes not attributed to their respective gender (gowns are for women while suits are for men). This is when Dufresnoy finally took a huge step in her career through gender re-assignment. in 1958, Jacqueline Charlotte Dufresnoy is officially a female. The first French to ever do so.

Coccinelle in Europa di notte
Photo Courtesy of frenchly.us

Her debut as “Coccinelle” was during a drag cabaret in 1953 at Chez Madame Arthur. Since then, she carried the nickname to every stage she performs – theaters, opera, clubs, cinema, and many more. She was a successful celebrity and was a known activist for transgender people and the LGBTQ+ community.

Aside from that, she also founded the Center for Aid, Research, and Information for Transsexuality and Gender Identity. She also founded Devenir Femme, an organization that means “To Become a Woman” when translated to English. This organization aims to provide the right for people who suffered from gender dysmorphia, just like her. Dufresnoy died in 2006 due to a stroke at the age of 75.

Her most notable performances are:

  • Cabaret venue at Madame Arthur (her debut as Coccinelle)
  • Performing as a transgender in La Carousel de Paris
  • Acting in three films: Europa Di Notte (1959), Los viciosos (1962) and Días de viejo color (1968)
  • Performed in Cherchez la femme as an entertainer and singer
  • Built a solid singing career

How did Jacqueline Charlotte Dufresnoy get the nickname “Coccinelle”?

In her early teenage years, Dufresnoy showed up at a party in an all-red dress with black polka dots, hence earning the moniker “Coccinelle”, which translates to Ladybug or Ladybird in English.

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So, why is she very famous?

As mentioned, Coccinelle was a popular entertainer (singer, actress, etc.). Despite being known as an entertainer in the middle of the 20th century, she was widely popular because of her gender reassignment surgery. She was the first to ever do it while overcoming every possible conflict along the way.

Surprisingly, her marriage with French journalist Francis Bonnet was the first transgender union to be recognized by the French government. That wedding established the French law that transsexuals now have the right to marry in France. Later on, the Catholic church re-baptized her as Jacqueline. The church also recognized the marriage afterward.

Her works were only part of her fame as later in her life, she became an activist for people who had the same situation as her. Considered a pioneer, she was nonetheless one of the greatest icons of the LGBTQ community, one who made sacrifices to make the new generation comfortable with how they felt.

Let us all celebrate her life by giving thanks to Coccinelle for paving the way for all transgender persons!

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Sources: Mirror, Wikipedia, Yahoo News, Evening Standard UK