Jacqueline Charlotte Dufresnoy (23 August 1931 – 9 October 2006), better known by her stage name Coccinelle, was a French actress, entertainer and singer. She was transgender, and was the first widely publicized post-war gender reassignment case in Europe, where she was an international celebrity and a renowned club singer.

BornAugust 23, 1931
DiedOctober 9, 2006(2006-10-09) (aged 75)
Other namesJacqueline Charlotte Dufresnoy
OccupationActress, entertainer

Life and career

Born in Paris under the name of Jacques Charles Dufresnoy at rue Notre Dame de Nazareth Nr. 66 in the 3rd arrondissement of Paris, she took the stage name Coccinelle (French for "ladybug") when she entered show business, making her debut as a transgender showgirl in 1953 at Chez Madame Arthur where her mother was a flower seller. She later performed regularly at the famous nightclub Le Carrousel de Paris, which also featured regular acts by other famous trans women such as April Ashley and Marie-Pier Ysser.

In 1958, she travelled to Casablanca to undergo a vaginoplasty by Georges Burou. She said later, "Dr Burou rectified the mistake nature had made and I became a real woman, on the inside as well as the outside. After the operation, the doctor just said, 'Bonjour, Mademoiselle', and I knew it had been a success."

She sang the title track of Premier rendez-vous, a 1941 film directed by Henri Decoin. She became a media sensation, and performed the Cherchez la femme revue which ran for 7 months at the Olympia in Paris between 1963 and 1964. In 1987 her autobiography was published, titled Coccinelle par Coccinelle.

She married French journalist Francis Bonnet in 1960 and was married legally by the French Roman Catholic Church after her legal name change and rebaptism. Her marriage to Bonnet was dissolved in 1962. She then married Paraguayan dancer Mario Costa in 1963, who died in 1977. She then married fellow transgender activist Thierry Wilson in 1996.

Media sensation

She very quickly became a media sensation upon her return to France as a woman, with a look and stage act based on the prominent sex symbols of the day. Historian Joanne Meyerowitz wrote "the more sexualized MTF showed up in the sensationalized press in the stories on Coccinelle, who worked at Le Carrousel in Paris".[1][2] In 1959 she appeared in Europa di notte by director Alessandro Blasetti. That same year, Italian singer Ghigo Agosti dedicated the song Coccinella to her, provoking widespread consternation and controversy. Coccinelle appeared in the 1962 film Los Viciosos and was the first French trans woman to become a major star, when Bruno Coquatrix splashed her name in red letters on the front of Paris Olympia for her 1963 revue, Cherchez la femme. She later appeared in the 1968 film Días de viejo color. In Israeli slang, the word coccinelle (by Hebrew transliteration - קוקסינל, pronounced [koksiˈnel]) is used as a synonym for transgender, often derogatorily (and also as a general slur for feminine man).[3]

Activism and later life

Coccinelle worked extensively as an activist on behalf of transgender people, founding the organization "Devenir Femme" (To Become Woman), which was designed to provide emotional and practical support for those seeking gender reassignment surgery. She also helped establish the Center for Aid, Research, and Information for Transsexuality and Gender Identity. In addition, her first marriage was the first union to be officially acknowledged by the government of France, establishing transgender persons' legal right to marry.[4] Her 1987 autobiography Coccinelle was published by Daniel Filipacchi.[5] Coccinelle was hospitalized in July 2006 following a stroke and died on 6 October at Marseille.[6]


Coccinelle No 1 (President Records No 38." cda 1052)

  1. Tu t'fous de moi [You don't care about me]
  2. L'Amour a fleur de coeur [Love has a heart like a flower]
  3. Prends-moi ou laisse-moi [Take me or leave me]
  4. Tu es là [You are there]

Coccinelle No 2 (President Records No 12" cda 1052)

  1. Je cherche un millionnaire [I'm looking for a millionaire]
  2. Avec mon petit faux-cul [With my little false bottom]

Coccinelle - 4 chansons de la Revue de l'Olympia "Chercher la femme" (RCA VICTOR 86.012M - 1963)

  1. Cherchez la femme [Look for the woman]
  2. On fait tout à la main [Everything is done by hand]
  3. C'est sûrement vous [It's probably you]
  4. Depuis toujours [Since forever]

Star du Carrousel de Paris CD (Marianne Melodie 041625) Compilation of 20 titles.


  1. Meyerowitz, Joanne. How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States. Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-00925-7
  2. Joanne Meyerowitz (April 1, 2004). Sexual Revolutions. ISBN 9780674013797. Retrieved 28 April 2010.
  3. Engelstein, Gil; Rachamimov, Iris (2019-04-03). "Crossing borders and demolishing boundaries: the connected history of the Israeli transgender community 1953–1986". Journal of Modern Jewish Studies. 18 (2): 142–159. doi:10.1080/14725886.2019.1593696. ISSN 1472-5886.
  4. "Décès de Coccinelle, pionnière de la cause transsexuelle et meneuse de revue (10 October 2006)". Yahoo! France News accessed through The Internet Archive. Archived from the original on 11 March 2007. Retrieved 4 February 2010.
  5. Coccinelle (1987) Coccinelle par Coccinelle. Editions Filipacchi, Paris. ISBN 978-2-85018-586-1
  6. Bonjour, Richard (12 October 2006). Coccinelle s’est envolée. Archived 2007-03-12 at the Wayback Machine [Ladybird has flown away].
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