Coccinellim: A History of the Israeli Transgender Community from the 1950s to the Present Day

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The Fondation Inalco, with the support of the Fondation Rothschild - Institut Alain de Rothschild, is offering a series of conferences on sexual and gender-based violence around the world. In 2023-2024, the theme of the cycle is "The construction of gender, beyond binarity".
Une page d'un journal
Rina Nathan - Israel's first known transgender woman © Haolam Hazeh, n° 806, 2 avril 1953‎

Conference preceded by a meeting between the speaker and the students from 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm in room 5.25.

People who crossed gender boundaries have lived in Israel since its foundation. The first request for a gender affirmation surgery was submitted in 1953 by Rina Nathan and was subsequently turned down by the Israeli Attorney General. The first visible group of sexual and gender dissidents coalesced in the early 1960s in the Tel Aviv commercial sex area, and included mainly teenagers who we would today be called "trans". Following the successful tours in the mid-1960s of the Parisian cabaret Le Carrousel with its famous transgender star "Coccinelle" (Jacqueline Dufresnoy), these Israeli trans pioneers obtained the derogatory term "Coccinellim" – a French-Hebrew blend carrying with it notions of loathing and abjection. This lecture will follow the historical development of transgender life in Israel during eight decades. It will focus in particular on the 1970s and 1980s – a period in which the Israeli gay and lesbian movement underwent a steady growth while the transgender community experienced extreme marginalization and brutalization. The lecture will conclude by assessing the changes that have been taking place in the past two decades, and the challenges that emerged under the right-wing religious government.

Iris Rachamimov is the Head of the Department of History at Tel Aviv. She received her Ph.D. at Columbia University and has been a visiting professor at Stanford and Oxford Universities. She has published extensively on internment camps and on World War I, and has been researching and writing about Israeli queer history especially trans and lesbian history. Until recently – and for many years – she was the only transgender academic in Israeli higher education.       


About Fondation Rothschild - Institut Alain de Rothschild

Chaired by Eric de Rothschild, the Fondation Rothschild - Institut Alain de Rothschild provides financial, material and moral support to around a hundred projects a year in all areas of public interest. In a society weakened by inequalities, its many philanthropic initiatives are particularly focused on culture, education, the environment and healthcare. The company stands out for its ability to take action on major social issues. Its two main areas of action are the fight against racism and anti-Semitism, and solidarity with the most vulnerable. For the Fondation Rothschild - Institut Alain de Rothschild, the partnership with Inalco and the Fondation Inalco represents a first opportunity to work with a national academic institution on the major societal issue of the study of parity and gender.