LGBTQ History: Was Elagabalus the First Transgender Man?


Elagabalus is one of those historical figures that history has tried to remove from its annals but failed every time. Humans are deeply interested in controversial personalities and Elagabalus has gotten his fair share of stardom among both casual intellectuals and historians. The scant intelligence we have on Elagabalus has made it quite hard to separate fact from fiction. But one thing is certain: he was an extremely decadent and scandalous young man. Was Elagabus the first transgender man?

Trivia on Elagabalus’ Sexuality

By the time he was 14, Elagabalus had stirred more controversy than any other Roman emperor. Even more than Caligula and Nero, other black stains on the history of the Roman Empire. Even though he passed when he was 18 years old, he’d been married to 5 women. This isn’t that weird, considering that in the ancient world. Marriage wasn’t the eternal institution the modern age has transformed it into. It appears that he loved Hierocles, a slave that worked as his personal chariot driver, the most, though. So, he was either a homosexual who tried to conceal his homosexuality by marrying women, or a bisexual. Elagabalus wasn’t the type of guy that would’ve shied from doing anything. So it’s more likely that he was a bisexual, and not exclusively gay.

Elagabalus as Transsexual

The historian Cassius Dio claimed that Elagabalus would often cross-dress, shave all the hair on his body and wear various wigs. Moreover, he would entice and have sex with men in all sorts of shady, dark brothels, as well as in the palace. The nerve! He loved to be referred to as a woman (as “Queen”, too) and offered to pay any doctor his weight in gold (metaphorically speaking) to perform a sex operation on him and subsequently give him a vagina instead of a penis. As if all these weren’t enough, Elagabalus had an affinity for orgies (what were the chances) with any participants, regardless of sex. If you’ve watched Penny Dreadful, imagine Dorian Gray’s hedonistic impulses multiplied by 100 and you’ve got Elagabalus’.

The transsexual emperor managed to destroy approximately every value of the Roman Empire in a record time (4 years). He was eventually assassinated alongside his mother. Their corpses were dragged on the streets of the city much to the delectation of those who had despised them. His lovers and sympathisers, both female and male, were also executed.


We often think that transsexuals and transgenders have surfaced in the modern age. But Elagabalus (and many others like him who were buried by history). Proves that this has been around for as long as we can remember. Unfortunately, there are no detailed chronicles on the life of this decadent and satanic emperor-child that could give us more insights into whether the claims that have lived on throughout the ages are genuine or fallacious.

As far as we know, Elagabalus is indeed the first transgender person to be recorded in history. If you know others or bring counterarguments to this, please feel free to comment down below!


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