Monday, December 14, 2020

Who Knew?

I didn’t, I never knew that there were trans saints did you?

Well it turns out that there might have been some trans saints that have been canonized by the Catholic Church and I bet they don’t want it to get out.
The Little Known History of Transgender Saints
Gender non-conformity is far from new.
The Advocate
BY Roland Betacourt
December 12 2020

As an historian of the first millennium and a half of Christianity, I wish to pull back the curtain on the neglected history of transgender stories and literatures in early Christianity, like that of Saint Hilarion and Emperor Elagabalus, demonstrating how these figures were praised throughout the first millennium. In raising awareness of these stories, my goal is to provide a deeper literary canon for those who are now turning to other, older stories to comprehend their place in the world as trans and gender nonconforming individuals.

From the fifth to the ninth century, a number of saints’ lives composed across the Greek-speaking Mediterranean detail the lives of individuals assigned female at birth who for a host of different reasons chose to live out their adult lives as men in monasteries. The popularity of these stories across the Christian Mediterranean is palpably evident as they were translated into Coptic, Syriac, Ethiopic, Armenian, Arabic, Latin, and other European dialects.

For example, the night before her execution, the early-third century Christian martyr Perpetua had a dream about her impending death. There, Perpetua looks down upon her naked body, and exclaims: “My clothes were stripped off, and suddenly I was a man.” Similarly, in the early second century Gospel of Thomas, Jesus rebukes Simon Peter for suggesting Mary Magdalene is unworthy of their company, stating that He “will make her male” and that every woman who “makes herself male will enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Hmm… it is hard to ascribe them as trans or gender non-conforming from the past because we don’t know how they thought of themselves. Many women disguised as males because of the roles assigned to women back then… but it makes you have to stop and think.
“After nine years, they saw that the young girl was beardless and they called her ‘Hilarion the Eunuch’ since there were many such [eunuchs] wearing the habit. For her breasts, too, they were not as those of all women. Above all, she was shrunken with ascetic practices and even her menstrual period had stopped because of the deprivation… The blessed Hilaria, when she saw her lay sister, knew her: but the lay sister knew not her sister, the monk. How should she know her since her flesh had withered through mortification and the beauty of her body had altered, and her appearance, she being naught but skin and bone? Besides all this she was wearing a man’s garb.”
It is also complicated because of the habit back then of castrating males to make them eunuchs or they may have been intersexed.
Now, more than ever, we need trans affirming literatures that promote and champion the rich and complex history of gender variance in our world. Not only looking to modern authors, but looking deep into our ancient and medieval pasts to think about the place that trans figures have played in history.
I avoid labeling people from the past as being trans since language is constantly changing and historical accounts can’t be trusted. But it does make you wonder.

In an article about Elagabalus a Roman emperor, the author claims that the Caesar was trans.
A Brief Biography of Elagabalus: the transgender ruler of Rome
By Alexis Mijatovic

Elagabalus’ name is not quite as notorious as that of Nero and Caligula, or even Commodus, recently featured as the villain in Russell Crowe’s Gladiator. Like the three emperors mentioned above, Elagabalus has consistently been ranked among the worst and most depraved holders of the Imperial honor. Her reported atrocities and crimes however almost entirely fall under the categories of upsetting the gender, cultural and religious norms of Roman society. In this biography I will briefly narrate her life and evaluate what her contemporaries found so shocking about her. I will also show how examining her life and career can teach us much about the intersections of cultural conflict in ancient times and the lavish amount of attention transgender phenomenon have received since at least as long as history was recorded.
Transgender behavior existed in Rome before and after Elagabalus. Transgender practice was tolerated and even sometimes respected by the Roman populace when it was practiced by the male-born priestesses of Cybele, known as the Gallae. These women would celebrate a taurobolium which (originally meant to be the castration of a bull) was a castration ceremony where someone formally defined as male would lose their genitalia, bleed like in menstruation or childbirth, and then subsequently wear women’s clothing and go by female names. Like other cultural practices this was a highly ritualistic and mystical understanding of gender identity. Rome was a vast empire and culturally diverse empire and in some respects it can be said a marketplace of religions existed. A male-born person with strong cross gender identification could potentially seek out the local Gallae temple to Cybele and have herself castrated, both to please her goddess and also perhaps to fix a deep inadequate feeling toward her own anatomy.
We will never know.

As I mentioned before many woman masqueraded as man to breakout of the roles assigned to them by society.

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