Claude Cahun (25 October 1894 - 8 December 1954), born Lucy Renee Mathilde Schwob, was a French Surrealist photographer, sculptor and writer.
Schwob adopted the pseudonym Claude Cahun in 1914 and is best known for their self-portraits, in which they assume a variety of personae.
Cahun's work was both political and personal, and often undermined traditional concepts of static gender roles. In their autobiography, Disavowals, they explained their rejection of gender, "Masculine? Feminine? It depends on the situation. Neuter is the only gender that always suits me." This declaration is an important consideration when analysing Cahun's photography as they intentionally play with and subvert the viewers' understanding of gender. This quote, together with their unconventional appearance and their gender-ambiguous pseudonym, means that it is not infrequent to see the pronoun 'they' used nowadays in critical studies on Cahun. There is no evidence that they ever adopted 'they' as their preferred pronoun, but one should take into account the cultural and historical context behind this. Given that French pronouns were extremely binary and the use of gender neutral pronouns for nonbinary individuals wasn't common in the European interwar period, it isn't unreasonable to imagine Cahun would have used gender neutral pronouns had it not been for their environment. In any case, the use of the gender neutral pronouns in reference to Cahun is less of an attempt to apply contemporary norms to a historical figure, but rather a way for their gender to remain an open question in academia.
During WWII, Cahun was also active as a resistance worker and propagandist.