Profiles of LGBT people, from the past and today – and celebrating their birthdays! All Birthdays →

Monique Wittig

Born in the Haut-Rhin region of Alsace in eastern France, Wittig studied at the Sorbonne and eventually earned a doctorate in languages. Her first novel, L’Opoponax (1964), won the Prix Medicis literary award. Her next novel, Les Guerilleres (1969), was a fiercely feminist epic of women waging war successfully against men in a quest to create a utopian world. By the 1970s, Wittig was a major lesbian and feminist activist in France, and began writing feminist theoretical work and political manifestos. In her 1981 essay, “One Is Not Born a Woman,” she argued that gender was not a biological fact but rather a “mythic construction,” an “imaginary formation.” Lesbianism, she declared, was “the only social form in which [women] can live freely.” In 1990, she joined the faculty at the University of Arizona in the United States, and in 1992 published an English-language collection of her most important essays, “The Straight Mind. Partnered for many years with Sande Zeig, Wittig died suddenly and unexpectedly of a heart attack on January 3, 2003.