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    Coccinelle's 91st Birthday

    Coccinelle was a pioneer for the LGBTQ+ community and the first French person to undergo gender-affirming surgery. Today’s Doodle celebrates the singer, entertainer and activist’s 91st birthday. 

    Jacqueline-Charlotte Dufresnoy was born on August 23, 1931 in Paris. Designated male at birth, she grew up with a deep, inner sense of being a female, along with interests in fashion and performance. After wearing a red dress with black polka dots to a party, a teenage Jacqueline earned the nickname Coccinelle, or ladybug in English. 

    In 1953, Coccinelle made her stage debut at Madame Arthur, a cabaret venue in Paris, performing a song from the film Premier rendez-vous. She earned a role at Le Carrousel de Paris, a popular music hall with many transgender performers, where her talent and stage presence captivated audiences. 

    Coccinelle became the first French celebrity to undergo gender-affirming surgery at a clinic in Casablanca in 1958. It was illegal to wear clothing not associated with one’s assigned gender in France at the time, and the publicity surrounding her surgery put a spotlight on LGBTQ+ rights. 

    After returning to France, Coccinelle quickly became an international icon. Her cabaret show toured across the world, including Europe and South America. She also began acting in films like Europa Di Notte in 1959 and Los Viciosos in 1962. 

    In 1960, Coccinelle got married in a Catholic wedding ceremony, under the condition that she get rebaptized beforehand. Unprecedented legally and religiously, her marriage established transgender people’s right to marry in France.

    While continuing to perform, she founded the organization Devenir Femme, which provided support for transgender individuals seeking gender-affirming surgery. She also helped organize the Center for Aid, Research, and Information for Transsexuality and Gender Identity. In 1987, she published a self-titled autobiography that detailed her transition and career on stage.

    Coccinelle’s legacy lives on in her work as people all over the world continue to enjoy her music and films. Happy 91st birthday, Coccinelle!

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