A UK museum has discovered a Roman emperor was actually a trans woman.
The North Hertfordshire Museum will update its display after discovering emperor Elagabalus was a trans woman. The museum will now refer to the emperor with she/her pronouns.
Historians and academics have widely debated Elagabalus’s gender identity. According to historical accounts, the emperor requested to be referred to as a woman.
Based on evidence in classical texts, the museum made the decision to reclassify Elagabalus as a trans woman. These texts report the Roman ruler saying, “Call me not Lord, for I am a Lady.”
Chronicles of Elagabalus’s life, written by Roman historian Cassius Dio, also say she had been married five times. She had four marriages with women and one to a former slave named Hiercoles. In the fifth and final marriage, Cassius Dio writes that the emperor “was bestowed in marriage and was termed wife, mistress, and queen.”
Kevin Hoskins, a spokesperson for the museum and executive member of the Enterprise and Arts at North Herts Council, says the reclassification was the “polite” thing to do.
“We try to be sensitive to identifying pronouns for people of the past, as we are for people in the present, it is only polite and respectful,” Kevin said.
“We know that Elagabalus identified as a woman and was explicit about which pronouns to use, which shows us that pronouns are not a new thing.”
The museum displays a silver denarius coin that belonged to Elagabalus as one of the few LGBTQ+ items they have in their possession.
Emperor Elagabalus ruled the Roman empire from 218AD to 222AD, until she was assassinated at age 18.
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