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Coccinelle: Why Google Doodle is celebrating transgender pioneer Jacqueline Charlotte Dufresnoy on her posthumous birthday

On this historic Tuesday, August 23, the Google Doodle honors LGBTQ+ pioneer Jacqueline Charlotte Dufresnoy, who would have turned 91 today.

Dufresnoy, a singer, artist, and activist who is arguably best known by her stage name Coccinelle, was the first person in France to get gender-affirming surgery.

Dufresnoy, who was born on August 23, 1931, in Paris, has admitted that she was uncomfortable with her gender identity from an early age.

Coccinelle: Why Google Doodle is celebrating transgender pioneer Jacqueline Charlotte Dufresnoy on her posthumous birthday

As a young lad of four, she once remarked, “I realized I was different. No one could actually see that I was a girl.

According to reports, Dufresnoy started taking hormones in 1952 and wore wigs and gowns as a young child.

She was given the nickname Coccinelle, which means ladybug in English, when she wore a red dress with black polka dots to a fancy dress party when she was a teenager. Coccinelle would later use that nickname as her stage name.

She made her stage début in 1953 at the drag cabaret Chez Madame Arthur, singing a song from the movie Premier rendez-vous. She later secured a performance slot at the well-known music venue Le Carrousel de Paris among several other transgender artists. Dufresnoy underwent gender reassignment surgery five years later, in 1958, after finding out that a doctor in Morocco had done so “by coincidence.”

At the time, it was against the law in France to dress in a manner inconsistent with your designated gender.

Following the procedure, France revised its regulations to permit birth certificate information to be changed in the event of a sex change operation, and Dufresnoy was able to officially change her name to Jacqueline-Charlotte.

After her surgery, she returned to France and immediately caused a media sensation. She later became the first transgender French woman to achieve major stardom. She spent 25 years performing and singing all around the world, including 10 years in Germany’s cabaret.

Her acting career also kept expanding, with roles in movies like Europa di Notte (1959), Los Viciosos (1962), and Days of Old Color (1968).

She performed the Cherchez la femme revue at the Olympia in Paris for seven months in 1963 and 1964.

She lived with an unwillingness to hide this aspect of her identity and was very public about it. Her autobiography, Coccinelle, which examined her gender, transition, and stage career, was published in 1987.

She gave her last public performance in 1990, and from 2002 to 2005, she operated her own cabaret in Marseilles.

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