Joan of Arc, Lesbian or Transgender?

Pope Francis will release this week his long-awaited document on Catholic Church teaching related to the 2014-2015 Bishops’ Synod on the Family. The pope’s document will likely provoke divergent opinions about the contributions that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons can make with regard to the spiritual growth of the Church.

With the publication of Joan of Arc: Her Trial Transcripts, author E.P. Sanguinetti provides readers with a modern English translation which clearly presents evidence that one of the Church’s preeminent saints was likely a lesbian and transgender person.

“In this book, Joan of Arc’s trial transcripts were translated and edited solely for readability, and no attempt was made to use language or the editing process as a means to support or refute various opinions about the sexuality and gender identity of Joan of Arc,” said Sanguinetti.

Historians have criticized writers such as Vita Sackville-West (1892-1962) for implying Joan was a lesbian and cross-dresser (transgender). What has changed?

Sackville-West’s biography of Joan, Saint Joan of Arc, was published in 1936. Historians correctly noted that bedding was relatively scarce in the 15th century, and two women sleeping in the same bed cannot be construed as evidence of sexual intimacy. Historians also addressed claims of cross-dressing by stating the need for Joan to protect herself from sexual assault in prison as well as the need to dress in men’s clothes during military operations. While both of those arguments are true, they neglect to address other evidence, which in its entirety, clearly makes it reasonable to conclude Joan was a lesbian and transgender person.

Sanguinetti’s book also provides readers with insights into the origin of Joan’s “voices,” which she claimed to provide divine inspiration not only for her military achievements but also for her extreme reluctance to wear women’s clothes. Of all the crimes that Joan of Arc was charged with during her trial, she was executed solely on the basis of only one of those crimes: wearing men’s clothes.


Sanguinetti’s book, Joan of Arc: Her Trial Transcripts is available at Amazon.

Vita Sackville-West wrote Saint Joan of Arc in 1936 at the age of forty-four, and had, at that point, already been writing for thirty years. At fourteen, Sackville-West published her first book, and at fourteen Joan of Arc first heard the voices. J

oan was seventeen when she took command of the armies of France–a peasant girl in the early fifteenth century in charge of a nation’s forces. At nineteen she was captured by the British and tried as a witch by a church court. Before her twentieth birthday she was burned at the stake. In 1920 she was canonized by the Roman Catholic Church as a saint. In a clever, brisk voice, Vita Sackville-West tells the triumphant story of a French peasant girl raised in a country torn apart by the Hundred Years’ War who rose from poverty to military greatness.

With dazzling insight and clarity, Sackville-West breathes new life into Joan of Arc’s beautiful and tragic story.