Ways Trans Activists on the Internet Enforce Cissexism


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.

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).

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:


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.

Bulgarian Temple of Kybele For Sale!

News Link

I’m rather torn about this (as I said in the comments on The Wild Hunt‘s post:

On one hand, if it were bought by a private group of polytheists (or even just one insanely wealthy polytheist), then there would be a much higher chance of this temple being restored to its former purpose — and how amazing that would be! On the other, I’d rather see it turned into a state-run museum (or some such “historical site”) than have some fat-cat buy it up for the land and sell everything on it to other museums.

According to Hellenised Phygrian mythos, Kybele was originally born Agdistis, an hermaphroditic being who the Gods then castrated out of fear. The God/dess was then renamed Kybele, and was worshipped by some Greeks as Rhea, though Walter Burkert’s Greek Religion gives (pp177-179) reason to believe that the name “Kybele” was common in Hellenic worship and that “Meter Kybele” was often-enough worshipped alongside Dionysian worship. It’s also of note that Kybele’s son Attis is mentioned in the Orphic Hymns (Athanakasis translation: Orpheus to Mousaios; line40 “And I invoke Mother of the immortals, Attis and Men”, and line 20 of the same hymn references the Korybantes) and Orphic Hymn 27 “To the Mother of the Gods”, is clearly about Kybele (line 13: “all-taming, saviour of Phygria,…”; and line 14, “child of Ouranos,…”, Ouranos being the Hellenic God of the Sky, though Theoi.com relays the Phygrian Sky God counterpart in the Hellenic pantheon as being Zeus); the fact that the ancient Greeks worshipped Kybele is not a “might have”, “maybe”, or “if they did” matter, She very obviously was revered by them and Her cult was as thoroughly Hellenised as that of Adonis by the time of Homer.

In modern times, at least in the circles I’ve run in, Kybele seems most-revered by Pagans in Transgender/Transsexual, Intersexed, and “gender queer” (a uniquely modern Western take on the “third sex” concept) circles, most likely because of Her origin mythos stating that she was born Intersexed but then castrated to appear more typically “female” (thus the few genuinely Intersexed-born people I know feel a sense of relation, as such is typically the fate of Intersexed-born children), and the practise amongst Her order of priests, known as the Gallos, Galli or Gallai, to become voluntarily ceremonially castrated during an ecstatic rite and, by some sources, then adopted a “woman’s role” by taking on feminine dress and identity (thus securing Her reverence among many Transgendered, especially Trans Woman [Male-to-Female] pagans and polytheists).

The cult of Attis is an interesting one. On one hand, He’s technically the son of Kybele, in the mythos, but in a similar way that Aphrodite is the son of Oraunos: When the Gods castrated Agdistis, They cast off the male organs and from where it fell grew an almond tree. When the nuts ripened (hee hee), one was picked by the nymphe Nana and laid in Her bosom, where it was forgotten about. The almond then somehow burrowed into Her womb, and ta-daa! Attis was born! So perhaps then Kybele is technically His father, biologically speaking? Nana then abandoned the child and He was cared for by a billy goat (or adopted by Agdistis, now renamed Kybele, depending on the version), and later Kybele fell in love with the long-haired youth, who was driven mad by Kybele’s True Form, inspiring Attis to castrate and emasculate himself. Attis was then taken on as Her lover and servant, and according to some existing mythos, when Attis died, His body became the evergreen pine.

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.