Born Jacques-Charles Dufresnoy, Coccinelle was the first person in France to have sex reassignment surgery (which was done in Casablanca, Morocco) in 1958. France recognized her gender reassignment and Coccinelle, who was previously a popular drag performer became an even more wildly popular and loved female entertainer whose career spanned decades. She was also an outspoken activist for transsexual and transgender issues in France and abroad.
She is quoted in an Independent obituary speaking on her life and her experience of gender:
I felt like I was not so much a transsexual as a person in transit between the sexes. In 1958, I was told about a gynaecologist in Morocco who performed surgical operations and turned men into women. 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. I was the first French person to have a sex-change. Incredible, but true," she reflected. "It meant I could no longer be arrested by the vice squad for impersonating a man."