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Viking Warrior Given A Hero’s Burial May “Have Been Transgender ... Or non-Binary, Or Gender Fluid”

The burial site of a Viking warrior who was believed to be a high-status warrior from the mid-900s housed a female skeleton and not the skeleton of a man. 


Now scholars are exploring whether this could mean that the Norse people had transgender members.


Neil Price, professor of archaeology at the University of Uppsala, Sweden, has written in his new book that the female-bodied Viking may “have been transgender ... or non-binary, or gender fluid”.


The grave, in which swords, spears and two slaughtered horses were found alongside an expensively dressed skeleton, was first excavated in Birka, Sweden, in 1878.




The possibility that the skeleton belonged to a warrior with a different gender identity was first raised elsewhere but has been given prominence by Professor Price in his book, The Children of Ash and Elm: A History of the Vikings, to be published later this month.


“These issues are relevant beyond that one person in that one grave. But it threw into sharp relief how we make connections between the objects we find and gender. There is a question of how this person sees themselves,” Professor Price said.


“We think the most likely explanation is that this was a female warrior, but there are other ways of reading this. It may have been someone who, in our terms, was a trans man, someone living as a man.”


Professor Price dismissed the idea that this is historians projecting contemporary values onto the past. “I think that’s a weak response. The Vikings (are likely to) have had as sophisticated a sense of their identities as we do,” he said.


“Both the archaeology and the written sources give us a window into a much broader spectrum of gender and identity than I think we traditionally have seen the Vikings as having.”


Amy Jefford Franks, an academic who is researching gender and pre-Christian Scandinavian religion and who presents the Vikings are Gay! podcast, said: “It is debated, but my view is that there were transgender Vikings and there were queer Vikings and that, while it was not widespread, it was on the fringes of acceptable culture.”





Read related myGwork articles here:

LGBTQ+ History: The Story of Europe

Trans Awareness Week: A Brief History of Trans Rights and How the Rest of the Community Can Be Better Allies


Trump Administration Has No Plans To Reverse Trans Military Ban



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