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The following is a draft for a passage in Joan of Arc regarding the theory that she was gender-variant or intersex. It might also include other theories, in fact, the addition of other theories which are currently kept out of the article is explicitly desired. The point of this draft is to get the text into good shape without having to deal, at the same time, with an edit war on whether all or any of these theories should be in the article at all.

Anybody who wishes to make a sincere contribution to this attempt is invided to do so. However, since this is still a subpage of my userpage, I will retain full discretion on the page's content .

I am also aware that right now, the article lacks reference. When this draft is incorporated into the article, it will have those, of course. -- AlexR 03:35, 24 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Controversial theories explaining Joan's behaviour[edit]

Like with many historical persons, there are many speculations about Joan of Arc, attempting to offer alternative or further explanations for her behaviour or her life.

Since many of these speculations come from non-historians, they are usually disputed and often rejected by at least some historians who accuse the proponents of not paying enough attention to known historical facts, or weight them differently. The proponents usually answer that those historians do not pay due attention to any facts that come from outside the historical sources. Such controversies can usually not be regarded as closed, and in most cases, it is impossible to make a final decision regarding whether they are ultimately correct -- or not.

Gender-variant behaviour[edit]

Joan of Arc is often named as a historical example of gender variance, in various forms. While there can be no doubt that she acted very untypically for a woman of her time, and wore male clothing persistensly during the last years of her life, the reasons inferred for this behaviour vary greatly.

The term most commonly found, especially in older texts, is transvestitism. However, this term almost always is not just just a description of a person wearing the clothes of another gender, but carries various (often contradictory) connotations, compare transvestism. In turn, most of those connotations have been applied to Joan of Arc, often without any further proof, such as her having been a lesbian.

In more recent text, cross-dressing can be found, usually carrying far less connotations, and often used as a plain description.

Some texts also claim that she actually was transgender, i.e. that her gender identity was not female. No direct statements to that effect by Joan herself are known, however, none can be expected, since the concept of a gender identity different from or independant from physical sex was not known at the time. People familiar with the life stories of transmen point out that nothing she said would contradict the assumption of her having been transgender, since similar statements can rather often be found by people who later did declare that their gender identity was not female. The complete lack of direct evidence however makes this theory both unverifiable and unfalsifiable, and it will remain so unless some further evidence is found.


This part obviously still needs some serious work Some authors have also proposed that Joan of Arc may have been intersex, that is her physical sexual characteristics were ambiguous. Walter Rost puts the following arguments for this theory forward:

  • She never mensturated, and at 19 years of age, this is quite remarkable.
  • She had constant problems with lesions on her mons pubis including constant "swellings", which could have been testicles.
  • She had neither public nor underarm hair, something very unusual in healty women of 19, but perfecty common with some intersex conditions. In fact, one intersex syndrom, (C)AIS, is sometimes known as "hairless women syndrome". No public or underarm hair, but normal breasts (which she had) sounds very much like AIS, although other conditions cannot be ruled out.
  • There were several attempts of rape of Joan in prison, but none ever succeded.This could have been because Joan's vagina was too shallow, which indeed would point to an intersex condition, probably AIS, too.

Those four points would point to a diagnosis of CAIS.

There is however one significant problem with this diagnosis: Those who propose it claim that this would also explain her "masculine" behaviour. However, people having CAIS usually identify as women and while they may show less overtly feminine behaviour, they do not usually show overtly masculine behaviour, either. The gender identity is usually female. Therefore, even if Joan had CAIS, that would not explain her behaviour. Furthermore, there are sufficient examples of women in history who had borne children (and were therefore unlikely to have had an intersex condition) and who accomplished similar military feats; the notion that some physical explanation is needed for her behaviour therefore seems, to some critics of this theory, rather patriarchal.