Ways Trans Activists on the Internet Enforce Cissexism

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There are two items on this list that strike me as very cis-supremacist in how they advocate address talking to and thinking about trans people.

“My gender is mine, not a mere identity!”

“My pronouns are MINE not a ‘preference’.”

The thing is, everyone, cis, trans, or otherwise, has a gender identity and preferred names and pronouns, but only cis people are socially permitted to take these things for granted by identifying these things about themselves as something somehow just self-evident and not debatable, and by being allowed to misuse terms like “identity” and “preference” as dismissals of a the identities and preferences of trans people as somehow less-important or less-valid. The problem with modifying the cis model I have just described is not just that it vehemently misuses words in the context of trans people (after all, ask cis people about their sexual preferences, especially with regards to whether or not they’re attracted to people they know to be trans, and suddenly “preferences” are something that must necessarily be respected!) but it positions the cis experience of being able to take things like their gender identity and their preferences in name and pronoun for granted as an ideal and default model that trans people should strive for.

While I certainly understand that the person who wrote the text in the image had good intentions behind it, it still betrays an inherently cissupremacist view of how one interacts with their gender in everyday life, and practically obligates trans people to imitate cis people, even if only in thought, in order to have their gender, including the identity aspect of their gender, taken seriously. This is just more “Passing! Is! Life!” bollocks presented in a form ostensibly more palatable, because it stresses aping cis minds rather than cis bodies.

What pains me most about this image going around FaceBook, which is where I found it, is that I first found it from someone who ostensibly (judging from their regularly shared links and whatnot) subscribes to radical politics, and, being a friend I even first met offline, is a person I know to care fuck all for whether or not they physically “pass”, because they are who they are, and what’s most important to them, is being happy with their own body, so while it does still bother them to be misgendered in public, it’s not something that bothers them as much as they imagine it would the person who has dedicated significant time and effort to do everything in their powers to look cis.

Where is an inherent classism in physically “passing” as cisgender for trans people. This is especially true for many trans women, where to be able to assimilate, it’s generally desired to have extensive surgeries, including facial feminisation and various body-sculpting procedures, to undo the effects of a testosterone-dominant puberty. These are procedures generally not covered by insurances, and are very hard, if not impossible, for those below a certain socio-economic class to safe for, much less afford outright. A lot of trans men will still devote practically part-time-work hours a week in the gym to masculinise their bodies, even before HRT, and though less common, it’s certainly not unheard of for trans men to seek silicone implants to create a more “sculpted” or muscular-looking appearance to their physique; gym memberships cost money, and putting them to use necessitates a privilege of time, and such surgeries are absolutely not covered by any major insurance. A whole new wardrobe, including good wigs and haircut, cost money, which may not necessarily be readily available.

There is an inherent ableism to transgender passing politics, as well. Aside from the fact that those of us whose primary income is disability allowance are at a sharp economic disadvantage, surgeries may be unobtainable for reasons of anxiety disorder. Gym use, or even exercising off YouTube channels at home, may be unattainable for physical disability reasons, sensory disorders can inhibit clothing and haircut choices.

It should also be obvious how sexism plays into the inherent politics of physically passing, as well, if only for demanding an adherence to certain mid-20th Century stereotyping on how men and women “should” look. More specifically, this is cissexism, in that it doesn’t press these expectations as hard on cis people, if at all, for the simple fact that cis people are allowed to take their gender identities for granted, allowing them more freedoms of expression (at least with cis women, where performing more masculine expressions is typically less-brutally penalised than in men, and those a society may perceive as men performing femininity).

many trans people, especially on the Internet, are very quick to call all this out, and more (like inherent racisms, which I don’t even know how to describe adequately for this piece), but when it comes to how we address our gender, including preferences of expression, in WORDS rather than body and clothing, cissexism is not only ignored, it’s encouraged!

Trans people applaud each-other for “taking a stand against cissexism” by advocating that we ape cis people n how we talk to ourselves and others about gender:

“We simply have a gender, which is inherent and ours; saying we have a gender identity is just a sneaky way of telling us that we don’t.”

“My pronouns are not a preference, they are mandatory!”

“It’s not my preferred name, it’s MY name!”

These are things we’d expect cis people to say if we pointed out to them that they, too, have a gender identity, and preferences of name and pronouns — and not without reason, because society has conditioned them to take these things for granted, so they don’t feel obligated to actually think about the reality of the situation of how identifying with the gender one was assigned at birth is, indeed, a gender identity that is no more or less valid than a trans person’s identity; nor do they feel obligated to think about how, as a cis man, one would certainly prefer to be called “he” as opposed to “she” or “ze”; nor do they feel obligated to consider how one might prefer to be called “Pat” when their given and legal name is “Patricia”, or how one might prefer their childhood nickname of “Bull” over their given name of “Nostradamus Shannon”.

I therefore posit that is is the radical position not to ape cis people, but to remind them, daily, hourly, if necessary, that they, too, have a gender identity, a pronoun preference, and a preferred name, even if these all line up with the gender, pronouns, and name one was assigned at birth. They are not allowed to take these things for granted any more than white people should be allowed to take for granted that, in the first 60+ years of Western commercial filmmaking, leading and primary supporting characters were about 90% Caucasoid, no more than cis men should be allowed to take for granted that almost every Fortune 500 name is male.

African Americans, Southern and Eastern Asian races, and Indigenous Americans have never fought racism by assimilating and not challenging white people on their racist ideas.

The disabled don’t fight ableism by letting the comforts and conveniences of the able-bodied be taken for granted without a challenge to make spaces for our needs, as well (how else do you think wheelchair-accessible toilets and handicapped parking spaces happened? Definitely not cos the chair-bound just sat around and waited for the benevolence of the walking world!)

Sexism is not fought by denying the differences of experience between how men and women are treated, but by acknowledging those differences, sharing them, and challenging men on their sexism.

The United States in the Twentieth Century is a prime example of how pretending there is no difference between the opportunities offered to different socio-economic classes just doesn’t work in fighting classism, but instead strengthens it. Only by challenging classism can it be fought.

So why do those who espouse radical beliefs in those and other areas, indeed those most likely to identify themselves as having radical politics, take such a shine to the notion that the best way to fight cissexism is by ignoring the aspects of identity and preferences, with regards to one’s gender and its expression? Wouldn’t that just be letting cissexism go unchallenged while also pressing trans people into adopting another form of passing for cis?

I find the denial of gender identity and preferences of address to be counterintuitive to accepting the lived knowledge of our experiences.

Identity is only one piece of our personal genders. We also have roles, which may vary somewhat by society, but in the West are almost universal. We also have expression, which encompasses not simply how we dress, but also mannerisms, interests, and even preferences of pronoun and name. How we identify our sexuality (which is different from sexual orientation) may also reflect another aspect of our gender; I’ve certainly been in enough conversations with homosexual and homoflexible women who prefer to identify as “gay” rather than “lesbian”, because of certain nuances and also of the subcultures associated with those terms, though some such women may also use the terms interchangeably. Gender is multi-faceted, and in many (if not most) people, is fluid and malleable, in at least one aspect, and not a static constant throughout one’s life; as a quick example, YouTube personality Chris Crocker seems to generally identify as male, but certainly has a fluid sense of gender expression.

If we let the way cis people take their gender identities and preferences of expression for granted, especially if we seek to ape that ourselves, as trans people, we’re letting cissexism win. Cissexism is more than just expecting cisnormativity in trans people, it’s also a thought pattern that idealises a cis experience as a default, and this includes the unchallenged ability to take their identities for granted. We simply cannot fight cissexism without challenging the most insidious ways it permeates the dialogue about gender.

When we say “don’t refer to it as a gender identity, it’s just gender,” we are giving preferential treatment to the cis experience by mimicking how cis people talk about their own gender identities.

When we say “don’t refer to ‘preferred pronouns’… — they are MANDATORY,” in addition to the bizarre notion that “preference,” not “optional,” is somehow the opposite of “mandatory,” we’re saying that the cis experience is preferred to the trans experience, and we are reinforcing this by mimicking the way cis people talk about their own preferred pronouns.

Trans, non-binary, and Intersex people are not the only ones with “gender identities” and “preferred names and pronouns” — cis people have these identities and preferences, as well. While it may seem appealing to mimic this denial of experience that cis people are allowed by society, doing so only reinforces cissexism by positioning it as the only valid way to think about one’s gender and expression.

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

It was meant to be

A friend of mine is childfree. He doesn’t want children for a number of reasons, most important being, he doesn’t like them. He made the choice some years ago (well, at least a decade-plus, now) to have a vasectomy. He has several members of his family who are very fundamentalist Christian, and believe it’s everyone’s good Christian duty to procreate, at least enough to replace themselves; whilst he and I have no issue with this belief, in and of itself, as long as people don’t try and push it onto the unwilling, but we both believe that it is, to varying extents, irresponsible to bring more children in this world than necessary when the population is reaching critical mass — but this is a philosophical point that is, of course, another story for another time. When he’s been at reunions with his family, there’s always at least one person who tells him that he’s going against “[their] God’s will” by having had a vasectomy.

Now, my friend, let’s call him Bill (it’s a variant of his name, though he doesn’t go by that), went out to have his vasectomy, but there was a co-pay on his insurance of a couple hundred dollars. He had no issue paying this, but they were going to send him the bill later. His bill never arrived, but the late notice to pay it, with late fees, did, so he sent out the cheque. A month or two later, he noticed that his cheque never cashed, so he called the hospital to see if there was a problem. The person he’d talked to said that their records showed that he’d paid in full, on time, and was actually due a refund for overpayment.

This is relevant, because he brings up this story every time a wacky Christian family member decides to tell him his vasectomy is against “god’s plan” — clearly some god or another had decided that Bill was correct in his choice not to put any children on this world, and thus offered to reward him.

Now, I bring up Bill because when I first started transitioning — hell, even still, my primary income is Social Security Disability Income (SSDI), and he knows that pays just enough to keep a person off the streets — if one is lucky to get even that much. When I first started, while he’d known for years that this was a long time coming, his concern was for my finances, so I pointed out several facts about my own transition:

  • Prior my chest surgery, my bra size was 38K. Standing at 4’11” with measurements, at the time, at about 62-28-38, this made them roughly the size of my own head. Medicare covered this surgery under a loophole necessitating that it be billed as a “breast reduction” and performed by a surgeon willing to do FTM chest recon whilst billing this as the essentially identical (save for the amount of tissue removed, the basics of the procedures are identical), but covered, procedure. I paid nothing out-of-pocket. Not even for my nipple revision
  • For some reason, Medicare was covering my ‘mones before Medicare officially covered ANY trans procedures. I still don’t know how that happened, but getting a ten-dose vial approximately once every other month, since October of 2007, my Medicare D co-pay had been $1.20/vial, has totalled $64.80 — this has been over the course of nine year, and he first brought up this concern to be about three years ago, when it had cost me a total of $43.20.
  • Over the last two years, I’ve also discovered that while Michigan’s legal name-change would cost in the area of $350, out-of-pocket, being a disabled person whose primary income is SSDI, this is covered by the State, for certain qualifying reasons — including gender confirmation. While I technically still had to pay the fingerprinting fees, my lawyer, who is doing this as a pro-bono assignment, decided to reimburse me the $15 fee out of petty cash.
  • About two years ago, Medicare finally approved gender confirmation procedures. This means when I’m finally up on the waiting list for my hysterectomy and vaginectomy, this, too, will be covered, as well as any genital reconfiguration I may choose, after that.

To date, I haven’t even paid $75 for my transition, even during the six or seven years, in theory, nothing was being covered.

I then reminded Bill of his vasectomy, and how, due to hospital error (and potential Powers That Be), he actually got paid to get it done. Since my own transition was carefully documented on government forms, it’s unlikely anyone will be paying me my $65 back, with interest or whatnot, but still, clearly this is something that –even at a time it “shouldn’t have been covered– I paid almost nothing for it.

He conceded, suggesting, “well, you being [polytheist] and all, there’s clearly Someone out there Who wants you to do this, so I guess I stand corrected.”

🙂

With all the talk of TERFs making the rounds in the Pagan and Polytheist blogospheres, again, I just hoped to add a positive story.

May Hermaphroditos, and also The Great Mother and Her consort, Pan1, continue to see me through this.


1: This is Boeotian tradition, not appropriative appropriative revision of mythology.

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

Dionysos painting for sale! (and a Call for Submissions)

dionysos

So I’ve finally posted my Dionysos painting for sale up at the Nocturnal Spirits shop, and it’s $55 (before P&P). I offered it to Sannion and/or Galina, first, but unfortunately, while they love it, they had to pass for reasons, but let’s hope that someone will dig it enough to get it –or any of the other paintings currently up.

so for readrs of this blog, i also figured I’d offer a coupon code:

HAPPYNEWYEAR will get you 15% off any purchase at the Nocturnal Spirits shop of $10 or more (which is basically anything except the PDF calendar, right now), and this is good until the end of the month of Boukatios, the first month of the Boeotian year (if you want to know when that is, why haven’t you purchased a calendar, yet? Or you could try asking nicely, I might say….)

I also wanted to give a shout-out to this call for submissions from Burning Heart Press:

Burning Heart Press is creating an anthology of nonfiction essays, poems, and art from queer and transgender pagans and/or polytheists. We want to hear stories about how sexuality and gender influence your practice, your devotions, and your relationships with the Divine. We’d like to create more conversation on coming out as queer or transgender, shapeshifting, the (holy?) silence of not coming out, gender magic, transitioning, and how we do it wrong to learn to get it right. Submissions from people of all genders and sexualities accepted. Submissions from transgender people will be prioritized.

Texts promoting oppressive content will not be considered.

Editor Oliver Leôn Hêrês is a Canadian journalist, poet, and trans rights advocate. Direct submissions to oliverheres@burningheartpress.com.

The deadline is February 9th 2015. The title is tentative.

I am thinking of submitting something, myself, but i can’t decide if I want to polish up something from the blog or write something new.

…and speaking of anthologies, I’m going to be on a writing/editing bender very shortly to get the first volume of the Nocturnal Spirits annual out shortly before or after the Boeotian New Year (depends on how fast I can get shit done and in). And this is also going to be the first book I’ll be publishing under the Arete Kyrene Press imprint (my fiction has been published as SHS Publishing), named for the daughter of Aristippus the Elder.

She is said to have publicly taught natural and moral philosophy in the schools and academies of Attica for thirty-five years, to have written forty books, and to have counted among her pupils one hundred and ten philosophers. She was so highly esteemed by her countrymen that they inscribed on her tomb an epitaph which declared that she was the splendour of Greece and possessed the beauty of Helen, the virtue of Thirma, the pen of Aristippus, the soul of Socrates and the tongue of Homer.

Also: If you want to keep up on my WCBN shenanigans and the local Ann Arbor / Ypsilanti Gothic Gatherings, I’ve got a blog for that. Not sure when I’ll be on the air again, my final apprenticeship email has yet to get back with me, so I’m going to try a few other people; after that is the Broadcaster’s Exam (and it sounds like I’ll have to be an idiot to not pass it), and then I’ll be subbing until they can fit me into the schedule, but if you want to listen online and call up with requests or just harass me at the station when it’s time for that, you can do it!


Love this blog? Want to make sure I can support myself and keep posting more writing and art on here? Please consider donating to my Patreon fund, even a dollar a month can go a long way, especially if I can get a bunch of people in on that. And think about it, even if you only donate $5/month, it’s cheaper than most subscription porn sites. ☺

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

Transgender Elevation of the Ancestors Rite

I’ve felt pressured from a couple corners to say something about this.

I think the whole thing is quite lovely, and a beautiful idea, but I really don’t think I have anything to say about it that hasn’t already been said better by others.

The thing is, I don’t like most trans people, on an individual basis, so except for the occasions where being trans has also intersected with my spirituality in a meaningful way, I try to avoid the topic on this blog, if only to discourage other trans people, who I’m likely to dislike, from finding this blog. That said, I have not always been successful in avoiding the topic of trans people when it doesn’t specifically overlap with my own spirituality, and I’ve got a handful of trans people who seem to think I Trans Polytheist better than Raven Kaldera, who I guess all missed the fact that I actually agree with him on many points they seem to find distasteful when HE says it (maybe the fact that I’m unabashedly feminine gives me a bit of leeway from certain sl/activists who think it’s not actually patronising to hold the words out of my mouth and/or keyboard to a lower standard than they would hold someone who is, for all intents and purposes, apparently more “butch”?) That said, there are also a fair number of trans people whom I do like, but in all honesty, many [read: not all] of them are only “trans” in the broadest definitions, or are those weirdo apolitical non-binary types who don’t give a crap about whether or not neologue pronouns ever enter the common parlance. The combination of generally-binary trans men, alt-pronoun-using non-binary folk, and politic-thumping trans women I actually get on well enough with to call real friends can be counted on one hand, and at least one of those people only qualifies under one of those descriptives by just barely. Multiply that by three or four and you’ve probably got the number of such combined trans people I get on well enough with to talk to regularly. Yeah, truth be told, I really don’t like most trans people on an individual basis, nor am I a big fan of the idea that trans people be given more leeway cos they’re trans –if anything, being trans, myself, I hold other trans people to a higher standard and thus expect better of them.

…but here’s the thing: I still support the right of people to prefer and be referred to with whatever pronouns they so choose, I still agree with the politic-thumpers on ideology, and… Actually, most of the generally-binary trans men I’ve met, in-person or in-real-life, are fucking dudebros and either the most repulsive endorsers of staunch gender-normativity and/or the most pathetic examples of eat-it-and-have-it syndrome who think it’s their gods-given right to be recognised as being uncomplicatedly “male” in every walk of life except when and where they feel entitled to LBQ women’s spaces, even if it means that trans women will be excluded from said spaces “cos [phantom] penis” even when we’ve got FT-douchebags like MRA Tony Barretto-Neto, the post-phallo trans man who attended Michfest, SHOWERED IN THE COMMUNAL SHOWERS and STILL asserts it was his right to do so —so fuck them, and let them die in a fire, just cos they’re “trans, too!” doesn’t mean they have a right to their uninformed and patently harmful views.

I’m still undecided on whether or not I’m going to participate in this Ancestor Elevation ritual even one day of it, but at the same time, I recognise that a lot of people need to do this, and I support their right to. It’s not about me, and while it’s mostly about elevating our beloved dead, it’s not JUST about that, either (a point I think often gets lost when polytheists talk about how “it’s not about Us, it’s about the Gods, Ancestors, and Spirits”); it’s also about those still living who need to forge that connection in a meaningful way with the deceased members of a community they seek the most meaning in connecting with.

It’s like one of the comments I caught hell for on Tumblr a few months ago, a comment I still stand behind: If you’re asexual-identified and worshipping Eros, why? What are you getting out of it? While Sex isn’t ALL that Eros is, it’s such a HUGE part, it strikes me as being like that pacifist who came onto the old Hellenistai forum wanting to know how to take the War out of worshipping Ares (and then, foolishly, insisted that “refusing to fight is a kind of warfare” –no, no it’s not). I’ve no doubt that at least some of the trans people honoured in this rite will appreciate my presence, but I’ve had such a bizarre and uncomfortable relationship with other trans people, I have to ask myself why I’d be doing it, and if it’d be for the right reasons or not. Will I be doing it For Them, or will I be doing it just to spite those still among the living who have annoyed me or to prove some kind of point to those people? If I’m not going to be involved for the right reasons, I should take a moratorium until I can.

That said, I still want to donate my old prayer to Kybele for the cause.

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

Spiders and Fate

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About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

[PBP2013] Queer Spirituality

Young people in the pagan and polytheist communities don’t care about queer spirituality. I don’t say “anymore”, cos aside from myself, I don’t know if they ever did, and even when I was fifteen, I don’t really count myself as “young people”, cos my parents were both about forty when I was born (and having kids at that age is one of the most selfish things a person can do, if you ask me, but that’s another story for another time), which really distorted my sense of what “acting my age” should entail. Queer spirituality is, unfortunately, the realm of people who are breaching middle age (about thirty-five or so) and older. I’m not the only person recently to note this, recently PSVL made a considerable note of this in the Queer I Stand article, “It’s Hard to ‘Think of the Children'”, which is mainly about the reluctance of pagan parents to raise their own children as part of their own religion cos of an inability to tell the difference between a healthy religious upbringing and the abusive indoctrination one was reared with. It’s unfortunate that, even though young people are clearly interested in pagan and polytheist religions even (perhaps especially) queer youth, they aren’t interested in the rites of people like them.

Part of me wants to chalk this up to the lie of “just like everyone else” that’s sort of lousy all over the TS/TG community, and which clearly ruined GBL culture and sold it out to corporate America.

And this is where I make the distinction between “GBLT culture” and “queer culture”. The word “queer” will likely always carry etymological connotations of being “oblique”, “odd”, “strange” and “eccentric”. The male title character from Will & Grace may have been gay, but he wasn’t in any way queer. Most of the contestants on RuPaul’s Drag Race are only just barely queer. While “queerness” is now clearly intricately entwined with sexuality and gender, it’s not a synonym for GBLT, and I will firmly hold this. Being Queer isn’t about being “just like everybody else, except for sexuality or gender history”, to be queer is to be against being “just like everybody else”, if only cos that’s not what works for you. Marx’s artisans and Paul Fussel’s X-class are where the queers reside –sure, we contribute to society, but we exist outside the expectations of grow up, settle down, get boring, have some kids…. Sure, some queers have kids —waste an afternoon watching reruns of Wife Swap and you’ll be sure you’ve seen GBLT-parented families just like some of the freak-flag-waving oddballs who’ve found their fifteen minutes in front of those cameras, just as sure as you’ve seen hets raising those families.

Which reminds me of one of the stupidest things I’ve seen on Tumblr recently: Some kid made this list of “X doesn’t mean Y” and one of them was “Straight doesn’t mean normal”. Actually, yeah, yeah it does, kiddo. Go watch the discussion with father and child over the word “bent” in the film Ma Vie en Rose and then tell me “straight” does not mean “normal”. Hell, go actually read up on the etymology of that term as a synonym for “heterosexual” and tell me it hasn’t always implied “normal, status quo”. Hell, some of the most painfully straightest people I’ve known have been GBLTs; they were so straight it kinda pained me to be around them. Log Cabin Republicans are straight. The characters on The L Word are straightened out for your titilation.

But as far as I’m concerned, if a GBLT person is a monotheist, they cannot possibly be Queer. I’ll accept Queer atheists )but probably not Atheists, as this “New Atheism” requires an inherently Christian mindset) or aspiritual people, but no, the monotheistic mindset is inherently incompatible with Queerness.

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

Why you sholuld donate to my drag funding:

  1. There is literally only a week left to do so, via IndieGoGo!
  2. If you miss the IndieGoGo campaign, you can still donate to the cause via PayPal (PayPal e-mail: oddmodout@hotmail.co.uk), or you can buy some top-quality crap from me via my Etsy shop. Hell, I guess you could just do that, anyway, but then the little meter graphic won’t move.
  3. I recently had a birthday, and it failed. No, really, go read that —my birthday epically failed. I still haven’t had a make-up dinner, cos of a miscalculation of money on my humanoid meat-based housemate’s part, preventing him from replacing that tyre, and if you donate, that might cheer me up.
  4. This could become a regular thing for me, and thus another source of income, even if minor. If you donate, you could become a job creator! [LOL]
  5. Worst case scenario? I fail epically and end up selling all my drag stuff, and will give all who donated anything first picks.
    1. About Ruadhán McElroy

      Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

A quick thought on trans spirituality

The most transphobic people I know are often other trans people. So distasteful do they find their own TS/TG reality that they idealise cisgender privilege to the point of other convincing themselves of an uncomplicated identity, in spite of their own personal histories often proving rather complicated gender relationships, to one extent or another. This is not merely cissexism, as their actions require the erasure of of their own trans histories, just as much reconstructed TS/TG history of pre-Twentieth Century transgender people had been erased, and so they turn the transphobia inward, on themselves, and maintain a status quo of projecting the cissexist ideal outward.

This becomes most unfortunate in pagan and polytheist circles, where the 20th and 21st Century “ideals” of uncomplicated TS/TG people is introduced into pagan and polytheist communities, and the self-hating TS/TG individual expects to be given the exact same options as the cisgender individual. To be fair, yes, often the denial of trans women, in specific, to various “women’s mysteries” is an act of cisgender people actively hating transgender women, but the fact still remains: Most women experience menarche, a mystery no trans woman will ever endure. A man who will never emit seed will, too, be unable to touch that particular mystery. The transgender individual, on the other hand, does have her and his own mysteries, and these can be offered in certain sorts of circles to shed additional light on a the mysteries of manhood and womanhood, because the TS/TG individual does live in that liminal space that, even if as socially uncomplicated as “man” or “woman” as possible, is physiologically in-between, and the physical and spiritual are so thouroughly interconnected that to deny the effects of one on the other is to practically invite spiritual sickness, which may very well manifest physically, in some.

For an overwhelming majority of trans pagans and polytheists, to present oneself as a uncomplictedly male or female is to present oneself as spiritually unwell, unstable.

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

Do it for Adonis! Or Dionysos! Or any number of other gender-bending deities!

Ptolemy Hephaestion, New History Book 5 (summary from Photius, Myriobiblon 190) :
“Adonis, having become androgynous, behaved as a man for Aphrodite and as a woman for Apollon.”

If I can collect even half the money I’m hoping to raise (IndieGoGo likes $500 minimums, I think I reasonably could use $350-$400), I’ll be off to a good start with this. It’s not the band i always wanted, but it feels like the direction I’m being pushed in, recently, and given this opportunity, I’d like to do right by it.

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

The False Dichotomy of Sexual Orientation

(If you like, you can consider the following post a follow-up to this one.)

You’re either into men, or you’re into women.

Well, except when you’re into both, then you’re bisexual.

Well, except if you’re potentially into anybody, regardless of whether they’re of a classical gender or the ever-growing list of “other” genders. Then you’re pansexual.

If you’re a man into [cisgender] women and trans women, or a woman into [cisgender] men and trans men, you’re heterosexual. If you’re a woman into [cis] women and trans women, you’re a lesbian; if you’re a man into [cis] men and trans men, you’re gay.

On the other hand, if you’re into cisgender women (or men) but not transgender women (or men), then you’re transphobic, no matter how much you may actually see trans people as the gender/s we say we are. If you’re into cis men and trans women, or into cis women and trans men, you’re also transphobic, because your very orientation is only the result of a deeply socialised belief that trans women are “really” men and trans men are “really” women.


What if I told you everything above is false?

The longer I live, the more I think about these things, and the more I realise that the ancients were absolutely correct about one thing: There is no such thing as a sexual orientation. Granted, that statement is only implicit because the ancient Hellenes simply didn’t have a concept of sexual orientation; sexuality just IS. You’re into who you’re into, and while the sexual acts you may with to participate in have a name, and may reflect something about your nature, and certainly says something about your sexual tastes, your sexuality just IS.

The subcultures that have grown up around certain sexual tastes —men into sex with other men (almost) exclusively, women interested in sex with other women (almost) exclusively— and the stigmas attached to those tastes and their respective subcultures are certainly an invention of post-ancient society and may be newer than some self-styled GBLT historians push forth. The pride in these cultures coming out from underground status and hushed tones has certainly been theraputic to many. The tastes are real, the subcultures are real, the benefits of banding together in solidarity against a hostile society is absolutely real.

On the other hand, the idea of a static, lifelong sexual orientation is a modern invention that has proved, time and time again, to be false. Even Kinsey noted the existence of women who were perfectly happy heterosexual housewives to a point, never with any doubt of being both attracted to men and in love with their husbands, and later in life, simply fell out of love with their men, and deeply in love with women. The idea that, every once in a while, an ostensibly homosexual man really does genuinely fall in love with a single woman has been silenced by GBLT leaders in spite of decades of evidence of the phenomenon, at the very least. While ostensibly heterosexual cisgender men are definitely the most prominent population of people sexually attracted to trans women are are currently pre- or non-op below the waist, there have also been informal surveys online (also: a quick web search produces far more threads from the same and similar indexed fora, in addition to some blog polls, as long as you’re wiling to scroll through a plethora of Yahoo!Answers posts of “m i ghey 4 liking shemaylz? lol”) and off that make it very clear that not only are bisexual-identified men clearly in a majority of people consuming “shemale porn”, but yeah, men who would otherwise describe their sexuality as “gay” do sometimes like women, so long as the girl has a cock.

The compartmentalisation of sexuality as a preference for PEOPLE rather than a preference for ACTS has reduced people to sexual objects and has created unnecessary hurt in the process. Only in a post-orientation society can the hurt truly end, and can sexual dignities return to all genders.

The ancient Hellenes certainly recognised those who had preferences for men or women, but this was typically phrased as one who prefers performing certain acts with people of a particular gender. The emphasis was on the action, not on the partner. Respect for one’s partner cannot truly happen with a mindset that interprets one’s sexuality as dependent on a particular gender —no matter how deeply hard-wired into one’s neurology it might be— one only truly respects one’s sexual partners when one thinks of them as simply a partner in an act of sex.

This is not an impersonal matter to myself, and my sexuality is not as simply as some of the words I’ve used to describe it in the past may have made it seem. Ultimately, I am only aroused when thinking of and / or performing certain rather specific sexual acts; these acts are ultimately dependent on partners with certain body parts of varying degrees of functionality —I only hope that my partner is perfectly comfortable and able to enjoy these actions with their body as it is. No, certain instruments sold at stores like SheVibe don’t fulfil me if I were to treat a partner’s dildo the way I might treat his penis, if he had one; they don’t excite me when I use them that way, and if I’m not enjoying what I’m doing, I’m doing a great disservice to myself and my partner. I admit, it is far easier to find partners who are men that meet such a preference, and that’s fine, but I’m just as likely to find women possessing other characteristics I tend to find attractive. I’m not opposed to adopting the “bisexual” or “pansexual” labels, but I find the emphasis that those labels implicitly place on gender unnecessary, and ultimately objectifying; “queer”, on the other hand, still connotes a nuance of its classic definition of “unusual” and is probably the better, if vaguer term to describe my sexuality: I reject the notion of a gender-based sexuality. Sexuality is less about gender and more about action, those sex acts may be easiest to perform with some-one of a specific gender, or one’s personal preferences in the action may, indeed, restrict one’s preferences to include only partners of a specific gender, but ultimately sexuality is far less about gender than it is about activity.

There are many ways to love. There are dozens of ways that one can find another attractive. Most of them have nothing to do with sexual intercourse. The inherently conservative (by modern standards) GBLT agenda of defining GBLT sexuality as a matter of “love” is nothing more than kowtowing to Christian sensibilities. Of course gay men love women as well as men —they love their sisters and mothers and friends and daughters— but that kind of love is not linked with a desire for sexual acts with them. Sexuality isn’t about love or attraction, not completely. Certain kinds of love and attraction can certainly benefit sexuality, and certainly enhance the details of one’s sexuality. But sexuality isn’t about gender or love or attraction, it’s about desiring something and doing something. Experiments will happen, preferences will form, but that doesn’t remove the act of sex from one’s sexuality.

The problem with “pansexual” is it’s intended use. See, I used to be under the impression that the thing wrong with the pansexual label was the fact that there are many people who misunderstand it and end up using it as a shorthand for “I’m especially attracted to trans people”, which is incorrect. The intended use of “pansexual” is “I am attracted to people regardless of what their gender might be”. That’s a problem because it still falsely places the responsibility of sexual attraction on gender itself; it highlights the same old foolishness that sexuality is some sanitised, squeaky-clean aspect of our lives that is only enhanced by the actions of sexual intercourse, whatever forms that may take —it basically says “my sexuality is like everybody else’s, it’s about the emotions and aesthetics of genders —any genders!— and not about that sticky, sweaty, messy business in bed.”

In reality, sexuality IS about the sweaty, sticky, messy, matted hair business in beds —or on coffeetables, or in the shower, or bent over the bonnet of one’s car in the furthest corner of the lot in the middle of the night. It has fuck all to do with gender. A specific gender may be more likely than another to trigger the hard-wiring of one’s libido, but defining one’s sexuality by the gender/s most likely to switch on one’s sexuality is, in essence, to make one’s sexuality a paraphilia: a sexuality about doing things to objects, not about participating in activities with people. The homosexual/bi(pan)sexual/heterosexual dichotomy is false; at its best, it can give a “Big Tent” and incredibly vague description of one’s sexuality while still saying nothing particularly useful, but the reality is that it ultimately does more harm than good when used as social labels.

I find it unfortunate that so many other trans people insist on buying into the lie, given our unique positions that may argueably give us greater opportunity to see that it’s a lie. I suspect that some do this out of a misguided notion of hoping to increase potential “passability” as the gender one says one is. While the desire to be taken seriously as a man or as a woman is certainly noble, one’s desires cease their noble pursuits when the desire allows one to refuse others their dignity.

There is no shortage of trans people who insist that any pleasure derived from the genitals one was born with is either “faked” or nonexistent, and if one is ever to make clear, in no uncertain terms, that yes, they do derive real pleasure from their natural-born genitals, suddenly one’s entire identity is called into question by the kinder folks, and the less-kind will outright insist that the other person is just playing around and somehow making a mockery of “real transsexuals”. Now, to be fair, there is more than one type of person who falls under the “trans” umbrella, and yes, that means sometimes you’ll be talking to a transsexual woman who didn’t start transitioning until she was fifty and so she’s less likely to appear typically feminine, and other times you’ll be talking to a middle-aged man in a dress who just doesn’t care about looking all that feminine. On the other hand, there is also more than one way to be a transsexual woman or man.

The fact that transsexuals, those who completely identify as the gender “opposite” that which they were determined to be at birth (or, in the cases of IS trans individuals, the gender that was assigned to them during infancy), even exist is all the evidence necessary to really grasp the concept that genitals have fuck all to do with how gender develops mentally. While genitals are certainly still given a social status as “proof” of one’s gender, nature herself tells us that the social convention is a fantasy of our own design. While the medical technology certainly exists to create a reasonable facsimile of a phallus and vulva with interior vagina for transsexual men and women, and said people are certainly free (more of less) to decide if they need that surgery to be happy with their gender, “the surgery” is not a necessary path for many TS individuals, and many assert that they are perfectly happy with their genitals as is, regardless of how often the trans narrative party line seeks to covertly silence such people (such as by constantly pointing out that some “non-op” individuals are simply “unable to afford the surgery” or “sex workers hoping to stay in business” and so on).

Upon realising that sexual orientation is little more than an urban legend, and sexuality is about an interest in activities, it’s clear that trans women who keep their penis are simply women physically suited to perform certain sexual activities, like receive fellatio or even penetrate her partner below the waist (often dependent on how her body responds to HRT). Cisgender women and many transgender men may be able to do much of the same with a dildo, but not everyone who enjoys fellating a partner’s flesh-and-blood body is going to enjoy simulating the act on a dildo. Likewise, a transsexual man who makes use of the vag he was born with is then simply a man with a body physically suited to performing certain sexual activities, like receive cunnilingus or be vaginally penetrated. When gender is irrelevant to sexuality, and only the activities all involved parties are interested in matter, it indeed can be far easier to accept trans men and women as men and women, fullstop. The only difference is what one may be able to do; it’s then more on par with any other sexual incompatibility. When a lover’s gender is no longer given a neurotic, paraphilia-like status, but instead “vaginal penetration” and “sex with dildoes” (for example) are just another pair of activities one is simply not interested in, the idea that one’s sexuality is somehow inherently “transphobic” seems utterly preposterous —indeed, other sexual activities may still be engaged in, but if Johnny Transman prefers penetrating his partners with a dildo, and Georgie Cisgender is not at all interested, the issue is not about whether or not Johnny is a “genuine man” who can “TRULY satisfy” his partner, the issue is about long-term sexual compatibility.

Gender-based sexual orientation is one of the great lies of our time, and it could have only been born of the repression endorsed by mainstream Christianity.

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.