The famous British monarch is perhaps best known for her defeat of the Spanish Armada in May 1588. She has been immortalised in plays, films and books and is perhaps Britain’s best-loved female ruler. However, an academic working for London’s Shakespeare Globe has cast doubt on her gender identity.
Dr Kit Heyam published an essay for the theatre that sought to defend the the Globe’s decision to stage a new play featuring a non-binary Joan of Arc.
The academic argued that historical women were not only rebels for performing what were considered typically male tasks, but also in some sense adopted a male identity.
Dr Heyam wrote: “Elizabeth I… described themself regularly in speeches as ‘king’, ‘queen’ and ‘prince’, choosing strategically to emphasise their female identity or their male monarchical role at different points.
“Inhabiting that social role and dressing in the clothes associated with it, while living and working among men, may not just have felt like gendered defiance: it may have had a profound impact on their sense of self.”
The essay provoked a furious reaction from social media users, who were quick to air their views on the matter.
Buck Angel tweeted: “‘They’ keep trying to erase women!!!”
While Jen wrote: “Elizabeth I then. Being revised.
“She can’t just be a woman in an extremely powerful position can she. Oh no, we must find some way to make her a tiny bit male.
“Can’t have women in power can we.”
Social media user @crowndefensx added: “Joan of Arc was a woman. Elizabeth I was a woman.
“These are facts – there’s no debate here and there’s nothing subjective about it.
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“We didn’t have enough female role models to start with, we have spent decades rediscovering women artists, authors, leaders.
“And now a regressive ideology is trying to take them away.”
The Globe provoked controversy when it announced that Joan of Arc would be portrayed as a non-binary character in a new production at the theatres.
The French heroine will be played by non-binary actor Isobel Thom in “I, Joan”.
She is known for fearlessly leading the French in battles against English soldiers in the Hundred Years War.