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.

Queer is radical, assimilating and party lines are not

When first published in 1968, The UK’s Gay Times reviewed the first memoir of Quentin Crisp, The Naked Civil Servant, their reviewer scathingly citing Crisp as a “bad example”, stating the book “should have been published posthumously”.

Crisp’s crime?

He was a high femme gender-bender.

When the UK’s Stonewall group launched in the 1980s, Derek Jarman had some words about its organisers and supporters, folks like Ian McKellan, who kept their sexuality closeted until it couldn’t hurt their careers (I imagine he, like myself, would have made more than a few words about George Takei’s opportunistic reinvention of himself as THE Gay of B-list celebs at a time when it actually could, and did, give his career a boost). In fact, I’ll reprint some:

THE PEACE OF ANONYMITY – STONEWALL WAS A RIOT

The queers of the sixties, like those since, have connived with their repression under a veneer of respectability. Good mannered city queers in suits and pinstripes, so busy establishing themselves, were useless at changing anything.

To be Queer was never respectable – even though you wore a suit. The more conventional, the more desperate the hidden life. Pushed to the fringes, our world existed in the twilight of Heterosoc1reality. and if anyone raised their voice in protest they were accused of endangering the peace of anonymity. A demonstration was likely to frighten the closeted, their inactivity reproached.

Stonewall was a RIOT which occurred in the summer of 1969 in Christopher Street, New York, outside a bar of the same name. For the first time Queers fought back with bricks and bottles and empty beer glasses and burned cars. The best fighters were the trannies2 – a dress was a badge of courage. The riot sparked a revolution in our consciousness. A community of interest was established and a debate was entered. The harder it was fought the more our case was furthered.

Everything that made our world visible reproached the closeted. One day it might be as silly as moaning about Quentin Crisp’s blue rinse as a BAD ROLE MODEL, or, on another, complaining of a rowdy Gay Liberation Front meeting. For them, we were not them. They took everything and did nothing, sat in their interior decoration, attended the opera and did fuck all to help change; their minds as starched as their shirts.

Twenty years later, Stonewall – the self-elected and self-congratulating parliamentary lobbying group – have made more than enough compromise with convention. Did those who rioted at the Stonewall bar fightso that we could so easily be co-opted by a gay establishment? Do they represent our best interests in Heterosoc?

Do they represent us?

Why did one man go to Downing Street to put our case? Why were there no women? Weren’t the rest of us acceptable? It was as if no Queer had ever been in number 10 before, the fuss everyone made.

…..

Part of the con was to steal the name Stonewall and turn our riot into their tea party. We are now integrated into the worst form of British hetero politic – the closed room, the gentlemen’s club – where decisions are made undemocratically for an ignorant population which enjoys emasculation.
So they 0 Stonewall – won’t acknowledge this criticism. They’ll pretend there isn’t a debate. The only way that they can succeed in their politics is through the myth of homogenity and the ‘gay community’. But our lives are plural. They always have been – sexuality is a diversity. Every orgasm brings its own liberty.

— Derek Jarman, At Your Own Rish: A Saint’s Testament, 1992

By forcing a homogenous narrative onto the trans community —by insisting that there’s no difference between us and cis people, by discouraging a plurality of thoughts and experiences and ideas of individual trans people— we are expecting anti-radicalism of the worst kind in our community. By telling us, explicitly or even implicitly, that those of us who are simultaneously a binary and non-binary gender that we’re somehow only really the latter is to throw us under the bus for the sake of respectability.

Furthermore, believe it or not, it is entirely possible to say “we have a fundamentally unique experience of our genders as trans women and trans men from that of cis people, but that does not automatically exclude us from deserving the same rights to space.

The fact that I have pretty much always stated that we trans people have a fundamentally different experience from cis people has never been a secret [1], [2], now has it perplexing me that I’ve been implicitly accused of making ideological bedfellows with some of the most despicable characters in the pagan and polytheist communities. Of course, I also really enjoy Raven Kaldera’s Hermaphrodeities, and it is not at all hard to find pseudo-radical assimilationist trans kids on Tumblr bitching about how the regular reminders throughout that, as trans and other gender-variant people, we have spiritual obligations, as least to ourselves, because of this, hurts pweshuss fee-fees because why can’t we all just be the same???

Sexuality is a plurality, and so is gender. Equal rights and equal access does not and should not erase differences for an assimilationist narrative of trans experience.

I’m really tired of white cis people cissplaining my transgender politics to me. This is something I have been working on within myself, constantly evaluating and re-assessing, exploring, debating, and meditating on for going on twenty years!

The fact of the matter is, TERFs are the ones who’ve perverted our celebration of our differences for their own despicable purposes, as an act of terrorism against trans people, effectively forcing an anti-Queer assimilationist narrative onto the “Voices” of trans justice. I’m sorry-not-sorry, but I’m not going to sit on my hands and let those thumping an assimilationist party line at me, be they other trans people or (ostensibly well-meaning) cis people who want an ally badge, scare me into erasing my differences because Ruth Barrett and others can’t handle the existence of a paradox and the simple scientific fact that paradoxes are a part of nature.


1: Heterosexual society
2: At the time Derek Jarman wrote this, “tranny” was an acceptable term in the queer community as a term of camaraderie and empowerment amongst trans folk and gender-bending gays. This is not a slurred usage, this is historical.

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.

Open Letter to Cherry Hill Seminary

(The following is modified from the letter sent by Lupa Greenwolf, which she has given others permission to C&P into the CHS contact form, if they feel it was adequately descriptive of their own feelings.)

To whom it may concern,

I am appalled that vocal transphobe Ruth Barrett is still a faculty member at Cherry Hill Seminary, but as a trans person, I cannot say that I’m surprised, as my experiences in the pagan community is that many will turn a blind eye to transphobia because “religious freedom!” — ironically unaware of the fact that this is the same claim made by Christians who wish to discriminate others based on sex / gender or sexual orientation, or simply persecute pagan and polytheist religions. As you may be aware, already, via social media circulations or other sources, Ms Barrett is currently at work compiling an anthology of essays that promote gender essentialism; more information is available at http://www.femaleerasure.com/. Choice titles from some of these essays include:

“Transgender Rights: The Elimination of the Human Rights of Women”
“In The Absence Of The Sacred: The Marketing of Medical Transgenderism and The Survival Of The Natural Child”
“Transparent: Spitting On Michfest’s Grave”
“Destruction Of A Marriage: My Husband’s Descent Into Transgenderism”

This book is also set to feature work by none other than Cathy Brennan, a notorious transphobe who has a long and verifiable history of doxing and otherwise harassing women, both trans AND cisgender, for the apparent “thought-crime” of advocating for trans rights in a manner that involves arguing with her online. Brennan also has made friends with the Religious Right, who make no secret of their hatred of the pagan and polytheist communities, making this collaboration a potential danger to not just trans CHS students, but also CHS itself. (Also, I want the record to show that Cathy Brennan is a fake Goth.)

Ruth Barrett has been exceptionally vocal in calling for transgender women to be excluded from women’s spiritual spaces. This anthology only reinforces the idea that women’s spirituality and the pagan community are not trans-friendly. As a trans male (FTM spectrum) and gender anti-conforming male-gendered person, I feel I can safely assert that my experiences in the pagan and polytheist community have not always been the most pleasant — ranging from having my very identity questioned for simply the gods I’ve devoted significant worship to, to being casually outed to several email lists (when people still used Yahoo Groups) and active harassment from other polytheists and pagans. The experiences of trans women, especially in the Goddess / women’s spirituality community, are often reported by trans women as being objectively harsher than my own; many trans women view the Goddess worship and women’s spirituality communities as actively hostile toward trans women, even communities with no clear or even vague ties to (the other notorious pagan transphobe) Zsuzsanna Budapet’s Dianic lineage.

In Barrett’s email call for support for a crowdfunding campaign for this anthology, she made the ludicrous decision to open with the line “In response to the horrendous bullying I survived last year by transgender activists, I was compelled to organize and publish a pioneering anthology to raise greater public awareness about how gender identity politics and ideology affects us all”. (A screen shot is available upon request.) What she really seems to mean is “I don’t like transgender women telling me what I’m doing hurts them, so I’m going to organize other people who support my bigotry to produce more anti-trans material”; as fashionable as it has become to cry “bullying!” in order to silence one’s opponent, the fact of the matter is, it is VERY easy to observe evidence of the fact that Barrett simply was never bullied — her opinions were challenged with facts, and now she’s using her position to lend her fallacious ideas legitimacy in spite of growing scientific studies that the “opinions” being presented in her anthology are highly unqualified and divorced from reality, to put it gently.

By keeping her on as faculty, CHS certainly appears to support her message. Furthermore, with her presence CHS alienates transgender pagans, as well as those of our cisgender allies. Higher education is a place for learning and, yes, debate, but faculty are also expected to not be open bigots. I feel it safe to assume, to say the least, that you wouldn’t have an open white supremacist on your faculty, yet you have a loud and proud transphobe there. I feel it safe to assume that you would not approve of active and explicit homophobes on the faculty. Your director was, according to her CHS profile, “proud to have been present in July when the Battle Flag of the Confederacy was removed permanently from the S.C. State House grounds”, so why is she tolerating the presence of another sort of bigotry in her own educational institution? My experience has a trans person has taught me that it is most likely grave indifference to the trans community, and I would really like to be proved wrong on this.

Thank you,

— Ruadhán J McElroy

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.

New TS/TG pagan book out now

Here’s a press release for All-Soul, All-Body, All-Love, All-Power: A TransMythology by P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

And don’t forget Gender and Transgender in Modern Paganism, or Hermaphrodeities: A Transgender Spirituality Workbook by Raven Kaldera.

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 Note of Self-Defence

It never fails. Every time this TS/TG bullshit comes up over Pantheacon or whatever else in the greater umbrella community, there’s always aging second-wave feminists, too caught up in their own identity as the victims to see the actual progress that’s happened in the last thirty-five years, at the very least, who have nothing better to say but going on and on about The Plight of Wombynnes Everywhere, and how simply having a uterus is like walking about with a target on your back.

And my gut instinct is to defend myself.

But I don’t, at least not in the comments on other people’s blogs, because well, on the ultimate hand, I’m very secure in my gender and very secure in my knowledge of my perceived opponent’s ignorance. On the lesser hand, I really don’t have the time or patience to waste on such ridiculous people, especially not one-at-a-time. Last year, I had several urges to make a post similar to this one, explaining some of my experiences as a man of TS history and why, contrary to what some very ignorant and prejudiced people may believe, is not simply some perverse “ultimate manifestation of a woman’s self-hatred” (as one such person I can’t be bothered to remember to source once described men of my condition), but something I struggled with for years. Part of this struggle was because of a somewhat feminist upbringing, and part of this was because, being sexually oriented toward other men (and overwhelmingly cissexual men, but that’s simply because of my penis obsession), it’s honestly a helluva lot easier, in many ways, to live with an outward form more apparently female than it is to do so with an apparently male form.

My parents were probably rather unusual for people their age (mother thirty-five and father forty, at the time of my birth —and I was the second offspring of each, my mother having her first child thirteen years before me, and my father having his first seven years earlier) to have the idea to pretty much let my younger sister and I pick out our own toys and cartoons, within reason. My younger sister was actually more of a tomboy than I ever could have been, as I was “that weird bookworm kid” who spent all my spare time at the library or, after library hours, watching old movies, usually with my mother or maternal grandparents. I never saw a film, outside of anything nominally “for children”, made after 1969 until I was maybe eleven years old. I’d put on a lot of my own little versions of Broadway musicals with soundtracks either from my father’s record collection or copied onto compact audio cassette from the library. At the same time, though, I rejected anything pink, loudly protested the notion that my stuffed animals or “playing Barbies” with my sister meant that I “played with dolls”, and after coming home from school, I couldn’t wait to get out of my uniform dirndl and into a pair of jeans because I simply wouldn’t stand for the notion that I did anything “for girls”; eventually, this protest morphed into “doing anything [my younger sister] does” because my mother was seriously becoming distraught with this apparent gender confusion, so I changed it to please my mother —after all, it was only fair that I did so, because when I was six, I overheard my parents in an argument over whether or not to enrol me in this school for the gifted, my mother in favour of this, my father stubbornly against it because my younger sister (who everybody knew was his favourite) “would feel bad”, and my mother eventually blurted out (believing I was asleep and not at the top of the stairs eavesdropping) “That kid is smarter than the two of us combined and deserves this..”, and in spite of my advanced cognitive abilities, I was also clearly six, and since I knew my score, I interpreted this very literally and looked up something at the library the next day, after which, I had concluded that my parents were both borderline retarded, so clearly they just weren’t going to understand a lot of things.

I’m dead serious, too. I believed my parents were mentally handicapped until I was nine years old and it just suddenly clicked with me that it was highly improbable for my mother, a registered nurse, to be mentally retarded, nor was it probable for my father to be so, either (while my father was basically a rag-and-bones man, or as a family friend once put it, “the white Fred Sanford“, I can attest that at least somewhat-higher-than-average intelligence is needed for that work, and he also occasionally worked construction and other manual labour that would be unkind to those who weren’t quick-enough in thinking —I’d hesitate to wager that my father was as high-functioning as my mother was, but he was no Peggy Hill, either, much less a Corky Thatcher ).

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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.

A No-Nonsense TS/TG 101 For Pagans

So!

This year’s brouhaha courtesy of Pantheacon (or, as I call it: Dianics vs Transies1 2: Electric Boogaloo) reminded me exactly how ignorant a lot of pagans and polytheists are about TS/TG issues, even though we’re E~V~E~Y~W~H~E~R~E!!!! O~o~O~oO~o~h!!!!

No, serious. Trans people? Yeah, we’re pretty much everywhere. Even in the pagan community. Can’t escape us, so do yourself a favour and try to learn something.

Ruadhán, first off: What are all these WORDS? I’m confused by new words! What does it all mean!?!?
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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.

Start Your Week Off Right: A Round-Up

On Dieselpunk Encyclopaedia, Gotham City Revisited focuses on Toronto —gorgeous! Also check out Our Gallery: The Fantastic Art of 600v

For those who share my aesthetic and cinematic tastes:
Slow Motion Angel (Derek Jarman fansite)
Silent Hollywood: The Silent Film Database
Brand Upon the Brain: a Film by Guy Maddin (promotional site)
My Winnipeg: A Docu-Fantasia from Director Guy Maddin (promotional site)
Guy Maddin Blogathon: Confessions of a Maddin Newbie (23 Sept 2011 blog)

…and how about some gorgeous 1920s film posters.

…and some free-to-download recording from Annette Henshaw.

…and how ’bout a Roaring Twenties Tumblog?

L'Aperitif…and while I’m on a Jazz Age / Art Deco sort of kick, have you ever heard of Gerda Wegener? She was a Danish illustrator and painter, and apparently seemed to have done a lot of lesbian-themed stuff —not my cup of tea for eroticism, but gorgeous illustrations, nonetheless. The reason she came to my attention was, oddly, not as an Art Deco illustrator, but because her first marriage (of nineteen years) was to to “Einar Wegener”, the assigned-at-birth name of the first-ever documented male-to-female transsexual Lili Elbe. Elbe lived as a woman through most of the 1920s (possibly the whole decade, the biographical info I’m finding is sparse) and started “dressing full-time” in 1912/13, after the couple moved to Paris. Elbe also modelled for Wegener’s paintings at some time prior to the move to Paris, and in 1913 Wegener’s audience was shocked to learn that her favourite petite femme fatale model was legally her “husband”. Elbe is commonly believed amongst TS/TG history circles to have technically been intersexed, possibly a form of Kleinfelter’s syndrome (though this specific is mainly believed because it’s the most common IS syndrome affecting those determined to have a “male” physiology at birth), because one of the known documents of her surgeries describes rudimentary ovaries or possibly ovotestes; at this point in medical knowledge, it’s uncertain to say much with such certainty about some-one who died eighty years ago. Elbe died within a week after a final, far more experimental surgery, implanting a uterus; her body rejected the organ and went septic, but she reportedly died happily. Gerda was reportedly completely supportive of Elbe’s transition, some contemporary accounts even suggest that she’s the one who encouraged Elbe’s transition. A year or so prior to Elbe’s death, their marriage was annulled by the King of Denmark, and soon after Elbe’s death, Wegener remarried despite her lesbian preferences. Her career as an illustrator and painter soon faded into obscurity, but what she did do in the few years afer Elbe’s death suggest that Elbe’s memory continued to be Wegener’s muse for some time later.

Wait, what? Whatchoo talkin’ ’bout, Ghost of Gary Coleman?

Oh, that’s right, this is a polytheism blog —how dare I forget?

You’ve all seen Myths Retold, right? Since I’ve posted about one of England’s national treasures over the past week, I just though some of you might want to check out the OLDE ENGLISH tag on Myths Retold.

Patch could use some books on Hellenic death.

As a bit of a mini follow-up to my post about the heart symbol, those of you who are into creative “pubescaping” and are bad at freehanding might be delighted to know that there’s an analogue app for that.

Dver reminds us how to get the most out of local libraries, acknowledging, as I do, that this may all be completely new information to some people (I’m still amazed at this phenomenon, myself, and I’m a little younger than her, even).

ALSO:
Cara Schulz quoted and linked to a post of mine. Hijinks ensue. I lose respect for pagans who comment on blogs. (Apparently, some-one who admits that they are more able of body, and rank higher on income and “straightness” than I do is experienced enough with disenfranchisement to tell me I don’t know disenfranchisement. Gotta love the SuperAlly™!)

And just in case you were curious:
I finally passed 200 hits in a single day this past week! Took long enough, too.


Shit You’ve Probably Read Already:
* 23 Reasons Why Dionysians are the Best Friends
* Star Foster Surprises No-one by Saying Something Over-Generalising; Gets Rather Articulately Pwnd by P. Sufenas Virius Lupus.


Your New Old Word for the Week:
Acritition: sexual intercourse without orgasm.
Some believe the orgasm is the only climax in love-making, but I can tell you of times of acritition that have been far more passionate than most times including ejaculate.

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.

Well, colour me late-to-the-party…

…but it seems the misandrist, gender-essentialist transphobe, Mary Daly has finally kicked it. At the risk of appearing in really bad taste, I have only one word to say:

Good.

Maybe now LBTQ Women’s spirituality can make some real progress now? Seriously now, the difference between Mary Daly and Valarie Solanas is, later in life, Solanas insisted that her apparently anti-man writings were never meant to be taken seriously while, as recently as 1999, Mary Daly consented to retirement after refusing to admit male students into her Women’s Studies course. Daly, in no uncertain terms, was always explicitly clear that she believed women superior to men.

She also has been cited by critics as “homogenising” women’s history, ignoring (and thereby marginalising) “women of colour”, and has been explicitly transphobic, stating “transsexualism” is a “male condition” and “Frankensteinian” and post-operative TS women live in a “contrived and artifactual condition”.

I will shed no tears for this woman’s death. Not only is one of my best friends a woman of transsexual history (as in, “male-to-female transsexual”), but her basic gender essentialism (which reduces all the psychological, neurological, and socially-encouraged aspects of gender down to what one’s genitals appear most like at birth) and dismissal of the TS experience as “a male condition” is one of the more ignorant forms of hate-speech as it outright denies the possibility of [female-to-male] transsexual men and renders the TS man’s experiences little more than non-existent. I would say “was” if not for the fact that this harmful gender-essentialism still permeates both feminist and pagan/polytheist discourse to an extent that is near-impossible to escape. (Follow this link for more boring crap!)

Now obviously the idea that how one “is supposed to” dress and behave and think because is what they have between the legs is at least as old as Hesiod, though most likely older, but saying that “it’s the right way to believe because it’s a traditional way to believe” is logically unsound. By that logic, well, it’s traditional to hold women as chattel so therefore we “should”.

The fact of the matter is, while undeniable that Mary Daly’s own thoughts on the subjects of ecofeminism and feminist spirituality helped bring these topics into discourse as we know it, she used this position as a pioneer to push her own essentialist and anti-male, anti-man, anti-masculine agenda, which many people now feel has no place in progressive discourse. She painted spirituality and gender in terms of black-and-white when what truly exists are varying greys and even colours. She was a casual racist who ignored the voices of non-“white” women — and a kook who truly believed that humanity’s, and indeed the entire planet Earth’s only true salvation was in phasing out the male sex.

Progress will not mourn Mary Daly, and Progress will eventually learn to pity her memory and those who cling to her now-useless and all-too-often counter-productive ideals. I’m convinced that her time and place was to be nothing more than the “squeaky wheel” that called attention to certain progresses by being an educated kook, and so once that spotlight shifted into position and lingered, her time had passed.

Edited to add:
I just wanted to add a link here to this awesome post on Daly and feminism from the Genderbitch blog on WordPress.com. She and those she quotes sum up the perspective of TS women on Mary Daly better than I could. Even a trans guy is quoted.

I’m also going to say that a lot of my Daly research is fairly recent; before this last few days, most of what i knew about her was second-hand from two TS women pagans I know who seem to hold Daly personally responsible for the gender essentialism that continues to permeate pagan and polytheist circles — and the “uterine supremacy” that seems to outright deny sacred masculine, sacred androgyny, or anything else in-between. Some of the most pious polytheists I know are TS/TG, genderqueer and/or “genderfucked” (I use both of these terms pretty loosely and broadly, for the sake of keeping this edit shorter), or completely devoid of any internal sense of gender identity. Many polytheistic recons I know are women especially devoted to masculine Deities or men especially devoted to feminine deities. Furthermore, Hellenic polytheism specifically has no shortage of “androgynous” deities (Athene is often considered “hard Butch” and Adonis is practically “bishounen” — just as two ready examples), and the ancient cults of Kybele, Hermaphroditos and, less well-known, Aphroditos (— or “The Bearded Aphrodite” who is “masculine above the waist and feminine below” [link to source later — trust me, google is your friend]) have mythologies that rely heavily on a transformation from one apparent sex to another. Personally, I feel that gender-essentialist ideals such as those spouted by and inspired by the words of Mary Daly have no place within this beautiful religion.

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.

Messenger Bag

I was actually inspired to make this post after reading this post from the LJ community pimp_my_altarPimp My Altar. My messenger bag began life as, well, and ordinary messenger/Israeli paratrooper bag that I purchased at Harry’s Army Surplus before their Ann Arbor location went out-of-business (due largely to gentrification and the sudden raise in rent for businesses on that block):

Mine was purchased for under $10 on a 50% off clearance, and I also got a fishtail parka for just under $20, on a 75% off clearance, and an extra-tall “walking stick”-sized umbrella for about $10 even (the latter is no longer a usable umbrella, due in part to Chicago winds, and in part to living with three cats).

This is how mine looks today:

It wasn’t a huge task to transform the paratrooper symbol into a Caduceus, which has been historically used as a printer’s mark. Regardless, as a symbol of Hermes, it seems an entirely appropriate thing to paint onto a bag that I primarily use for carrying notebooks, my agenda, important papers, my chequebook (which has the simpler Caduceus [sans wings] painted on the front), and a few other things that I’m in the habit of carrying with me, including my lyrics book, sheet music, drawing pencils and sketch diary, mp3 player or Walkman, personal phone book, cigarette tin and lighter, and gum. It reminds me of one of my favourite quotes from Derek Jarman’s film Caravaggio: “It was through an act of theft that Mercury created the Arts.” I recall that quote not because of theft (though I am frequently reminded of how the push for gentrification has essentially robbed this poor town of its culture before it could truly come into its own, and how the closing of Harry’s and several other down-town stores really solidified Ann Arbor’s gentrification in my mind), but because of Hermes’ long-held associations with the Arts and how I carry in this bag my simplest means of creativity.

All the pin-back buttons on the bag (with the exception of “The Amino Acids – Warning: Tangy Reverb” one) are also one’s that I’ve created. I had a few more on there before I took these two photos just now, but they either fell off or were removed by me at some time or another. [Well, except for a Dionysos button that I’m pretty sure some kid on the Amtrak stole while I was in the on-train restroom; it’s one of those things that I just know, even though I couldn’t prove it. Of course, I didn’t even notice it was gone until I had already reached Chicago. There was just something about the way that kid kept looking at the button when he and his mother boarded the bus, kept looking at me after I came back from the restroom, and the fact that his mother was dead-asleep before and after I went to the restroom.]

Here’s a close-up (albeit, a dark one) of the buttons. I took it without flash to eliminate glare that would have made them unviewable:


left-to-right are: Top – Satyr & Nymphe (from a Roman mosaic), Narkissos (19thC CE illustration)
Bottom – Apollon & Muse, Hyakinthos & Zephyros, Apollon & laurel branch
(gone missing or out-of-commission: Dionysos, Hermes, Adonis, Eros, Caravaggio’s Narcissus, Hermaphroditos, Neokoroi flame, Hellenion flame)

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 Day of Rememberance

[This was originally cross-posted to the Hellenion_Chat and Neokoroi e-mail lists, and it just occurred to me that I didn’t get around to posting this here, like I said that I would, because the latest FireFox update is total crap and keeps freezing up and the only way to fix it is to reboot this eight-years-old eMachines piece of poopie.]

For those not in-the-know, 20 November is the Transgender Day of Rememberance for TS/TG persons who have died as victims of hate-crimes and is an important day for TS/TG persons (MTF and FTM) and their friends, families, and allies.

As one whose gender has often been debated by others (even though it’s been clear to me for the last two decades and some [note: I consider my condition one of many states of being a “biological eunuch”, in that I did not go through a normal boy puberty; but just for the record, I’m male-identified and making several hormonal and surgical “corrections”]), I plan to just simply offer libation, a small portion of lavender, and some music by Jayne County (who is awesome), recite my version of the Story of Hermaphroditos [note: to be posted later, currently in Iss#17 of He Epistole, ask me for a PDF or printed copy], and give this small prayer:

O Kybele, O Hermaphroditos,
Theoi of changed forms,
All I ask of you on this sacred day to those of similar fate
And of form andro-gynos by birth or by hand,
Is to seek justice for those whose time was cut short,
And to aid and protect those who remain in a world less understanding.
May Persephone and Adonis lead those passed safely to the Fields of Elysium,
May those who brought them to You too soon be dealt their due justice in this world,
And by Those Who Judge the Dead.
May Athene and Zeus guide the judges of the living to seek mercy on the deceased,
As you, O Andro-Gynos Theoi, give comfort and confidence to the living.

My rituals are usually very simple, consisting of little more than offering of food and/or herb and libation.

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.