On this day March 7: Marcella Di Folco


Marcella Di Folco march 7
Image: YouTube

Actor, then activist, and finally politician, Marcella Di Folco was born March 7, 1943. After acting in movies for directors like Federico Fellini and Roberto Rossellini, she transitioned. Elected a municipal councillor in Bologna, she became the first open transwoman elected to public office in the world.

Marcella Di Folco’s film career began by accident. One day in 1969, celebrated Italian film director Fellini saw her delivering a letter to a film studio and offered her a role in Satyricon. She appeared in several Fellini films and acted for other directors. However, she gave up acting following her transition.

She turned to activism following gender confirmation surgery in Casablanca in 1980. Marcella joined the newly founded Movimento Italiano Transessuali (MIT). Within two years, the organisation achieved legal recognition of changed gender.

MIT was headquartered in Bologna so, in 1986, Marcella moved there. In 1990, she successfully ran for election to the Bologna City Council. She also held office as a councillor from 1995 — 1999.

Filmmaker Simone Cangelosi knew Marcella Di Folco and made a documentary on her life.

“She greatly influenced those around her, she had an extraordinary personality, you could feel, in fact, her historical significance.”

The backbone of the Italian LGBTI+ movement

Italy’s FACE Magazine called Marcella ‘the backbone of the Italian LGBTI+ movement’.

It went on to describe her as “an icon for the LGBTI + movement, one of the most significant figures in the struggle for civil rights in Italy in the last forty years.”

Marcella Di Folco died in 2010 but her legacy and memory live on.

On the 10th anniversary of her death, the mayor of Bologna named a street after her.

“Toponymy is a fascinating subject,” said the mayor, “that allows us to give identity to places, reflecting the history, in this case of our town, thanks to people who have dedicated their lives for the public good.”

Read more: March 6 <— On this day —> March 8

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