Ancient Transgender History: King/Queen Hatshepsut

Ancient Egypt has a long and glorious history, rivaled only by the Roman and Holy Roman Empires. It was traditionally ruled by men, whom were given the title of King or Pharaoh. However there were a handful of female rulers, with Nefertiti and Cleopatra being more prominently known in today's day and age. However, there is one ruler in Egypt's history that is commonly considered by history scholars and archaeologists as the most successful of it's ancient rulers, the King-Queen Hatshepsut. As with many other transgender figures in ancient history, surgery and hormone replacement therapy were not viable options in terms of treatment. Therefore many of these figures are connected to transgender history based on their behaviors and social status. Hatshepsut is the earliest known occurrence of transgender behavior in recorded history, and can be more accurately described as a gender non-binary person based on artifacts, written history, and hieroglyphics depicting the ruler's image. Other than her title, Hapshetsut is referred to as a female in both the ancient records and by historians.

Hatshepsut is the daughter and only child of Thutmose I and his primary wife Ahmose. She is the fifth ruler in the in the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt. She came to power in 1478 BC. As far as official record is concerned, she ruled as co-regent with Thutmose II; though her personality and accomplishments dominate the historical record, pushing the rule of her husband into obscurity. She claimed divine right to rule based on the authority of the god Amun. She is viewed as the most successful ruler in the ancient nation's history and furthermore is highly regarded as the "first great woman of history of whom we are informed." She reigned longer than any other woman in the extensive history of Egyptian dynasties. She managed to rule for nearly twenty years.

Compared to other female Pharaohs that preceded and succeeded her she had the longest, most successful and most prosperous reign. While she was extremely successful in warfare during the early period of her reign, she better known for bringing about the longest stint of peace in the countries history. She reestablished trade relations that had been lost during times of foreign occupation and brought great wealth to the empire.This in turn, enabled her to commission a number of great building projects that set a significant standard for future projects that would not be rivaled by any civilization for nearly a thousand years. The most notable of which is the building of a temple in her name (Hatshepsut's Temple). The second most notable is the building of the first tomb, dedicated to her father, in the Valley of the Kings, which was extended to prepare for her own death. She was also known for promoting her accomplishments in lavish ways, that brought her great recognition during her reign and even to this day, as her image is one of the most common to grace a plethora of historical sites.

Hatshepsut's gender identity is mostly exemplified with her insistence of being the primary rule. But the greatest clues to how she viewed herself are displayed blatantly in the images of her that are left behind. As stated before, she was not the first or last female ruler of Egypt, however, she is the only one of the group that insisted on donning the traditional Pharaoh regalia consisting of  the Khat head cloth, topped with the uraeus, the traditional false beard, and shendyt kilt. Statues, monuments and hieroglyphics dedicated to her in official manner show her in these items and lacking or hiding her feminine features, while less official depictions of her clearly define her feminine form.

Hatshepsut died into the twenty-second year of her reign. No cause of death has survived history, however upon examination of her mummy, it is theorized she suffered from diabetes and died from bone cancer that spread while she was in her fifties. After her death, efforts were made to erase her from history by her husband and son. The reason for this is unknown, but some scholars speculate it was partly because of her assertion that she was a male ruler and additionally because of the nature of Thutmose III's indirect lineage to the throne. Her legacy is largely represented by her accomplishments in trade and architecture, but she is also lauded as an "honorary man" despite the fact that gender inequality was mostly absent during the Eighteenth Dynasty and more heavily favored women. She has been represented in a great deal of media,though few of these have notable status and recognition and have only happened since the turn of the century. Regardless, she holds the the title of first know case of transgenderism , and achieving massive success and notoriety while holding one of the highest and most recognized positions of power in human history.

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