The North Hertfordshire Museum will now recognize a Roman emperor as transgender and will refer to the ancient leader with she/her pronouns.
The museum, located in Hitchin, United Kingdom, claimed texts from the third century reportedly suggested that Elagabalus made requests so be called a “lady,” The Telegraph reported. That said, some historians are hesitant to jump to such conclusions and feel as though “these accounts may have been a Roman attempt at character assassination.”
Still, staffers at the museum will treat Elagabalus as a trans woman. (RELATED: VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: Are We The Byzantines?)
🔴 Roman Emperor was trans, Hertfordshire museum declares
The ill-fated Elagabalus will now be referred to as ‘she’, although experts say a transgender category did not exist in ancient Rome ⬇ https://t.co/b1S8KFYTcP
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) November 20, 2023
Elagabalus was assassinated at the age of 18 in 222 AD by the Praetorian Guard after “his bizarre and erratic behavior” lost him the support of the army, according to Ancient Rome Live. North Hertfordshire Museum houses a silver denarius (coin) that bears the face of the Emperor in question that was minted during his short reign.
Poor Elagabalus. Transed centuries after death.
— AnnaChetConcreteisland (@Concreteisland2) November 20, 2023
The British museum has featured the coin in LGBT-themed pride displays in the past, according to the Telegraph. From here on out, the coin will be on display with the “purported proper pronouns” the museum has linked to the former Roman emperor. (RELATED: Archaeologists Discover Sphinx-Like Statue That Could Be Connected To Roman Emperor Claudius)
“Elagabalus most definitely preferred the she pronoun, and as such this is something we reflect when discussing her in contemporary times,” Keith Hoskins, executive member for arts at the North Herts Council, told the English outlet.
“We try to be sensitive to identifying pronouns for people in the past, as we are for people in the present. It is only polite and respectful. We know that Elagabalus identified as a woman and was explicit about which pronouns to use, which shows that pronouns are not a new thing,” Hoskins added.
On the other hand, the Roman writer who put forth the proposition that the teenage emperor wanted to be fully female was Cassius Dio, who penned historical papers on behalf of Severus Alexander, the Telegraph noted. Alexander was next in line for the throne after Elagabalus and claimed the empire after the 18-year-old was slaughtered by his henchmen.
Dio wrote that Elagabalus was “termed wife, mistress and queen,” and said that the emperor told one lover to “Call me not Lord, for I am a Lady,” according to the Telegraph. Dio added that the emperor requested “female genitalia to be fashioned for him.”
The Romans “used accusations of sexual behaviour ‘as a woman’ as one of the worst insults against men,” Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, a Cambridge classics professor, told the Telegraph.