An essay on the website of Shakespeare’s Globe arts venue suggesting Elizabeth I was non-binary has triggered a huge backlash.

People took to social media in their droves to challenge the view, promoted by transgender activist Kit Heyam, that the monarch was ‘gender nonconforming’.

The self-proclaimed “trans awareness trainer” made the claim in a piece defending ‘I, Joan’, a Globe Theatre production about Joan of Arc, in which the French heroine is referred to by the pronouns ‘they/them’.

‘Regressive ideology’

Heyam said Elizabeth “described themself regularly in speeches as ‘king’, ‘queen’ and ‘prince’, choosing strategically to emphasise their female identity or their male monarchical role at different points”.

Philosopher Dr Jane Clare Jones dismissed Heyam’s essay as an “example of the inherent gender conservatism in gender identity ideology”.

She added: “This is how we end up in a situation in which historical women who have performed traditionally ‘masculine’ roles end up being re-categorised as ‘trans men’ or ‘non-binary’ or ‘not-women’ in some way.”

Author Joan Smith responded: “We didn’t have enough female role models to start with, we have spent decades rediscovering women artists, authors, leaders. And now a regressive ideology is trying to take them away.”

Rewriting history

One outraged member of the public tweeted: “This is ridiculous. She was a strong woman, who refused to marry or lose control over her reign, so that does not mean we should question her gender. Why do some people want to rewrite history”.

Another stated: “This is what happens when gender ideology becomes a religion. You don’t get to rewrite history in order to promote The Current Thing.”

A third observed: “the transing of history continues unabated”.

Writing for The Mail on Sunday, Sarah Vine observed: “What makes Joan of Arc and Elizabeth I remarkable is that they were women – that is to say, human biological females”.