- OtherWise Elders and Saints -
(perpetually under construction)
Historic and Mythic figures
Kuan-Yin / Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva - Kuan Yin renounced attaining nirvana to return as a woman and save us. I can't think of a better patron for the OtherWise than this male buddhist who returned as a woman to shower the world with the spirit of compassion so all may come to freedom.
Asushunamir - From ancient Babylonian myth, Asushunamir was an ancient spirit-guide who brought resurrection, by rescuing the Queen of Heaven from eternal death in the land of No Return. Blessed with prophecy and wisdom and healing, yet exiled from hir people, Asushunamir is the original spirit-guide, trickster, and bearer of transformation -- s/he travels to our dark dwelling places, stands at the crossroads and accompanies us on the journey home.
Kalaturru and Kurgarru - Icons from the beginning of recorded civilization (the earliest written manuscript), Kalaturru and Kurgarru were guardians of the elements of Life (Water of Life and Food of Life). They descended to the underworld to raise the Queen of Heaven from the dead and escort her back to the land of the living. Kalaturru and Kurgarru are sacred healers who distribute the sacremental elements of Life and deliver resurrection and rebirth to the lost.
Hermaphroditus - A youth in Greek myth, the son of Hermes and Aphrodite, who was joined in one body with the nymph Salmacis while bathing. The best-known telling of this story is in Ovid's Metamorphoses.
Tiresias - Greek mythology, a blind seer of Thebes who is changed into a woman for several years, then changed back to a man. In one story, Zeus and Hera ask Tiresias to settle a wager as to whether men or women get more pleasure from sex. This myth predates Geraldo by some two thousand years.
Arenotelicon - A creature that alternates between male and female. This word is so obscure it is not even in the O.E.D.; as far as I know it occurs only in the Physiologus, an anonymous book of the early Renaissance. The Physiologus uses it to describe hyenas, which were commonly believed to change their sex every year; it would apply equally well to Ursula LeGuin's Gethenians.
Buddha (left) was sometimes depicted with a mixture of female breasts and male genitalia.
Joan of Arc - Saint Joan is perhaps the most famous & yet unrecognized OtherWise in the Western world. Peasants followed and trusted Joan (in part) due to lingering matriarchal attitudes toward transgender. The specific crime for which Joan was burned at the stake, wearing mens clothing, was considered an abomination against God by the Christian church. Nonetheless, she was later canonized as a Saint.
Joan of Arc (1412-1431 C.E.) by Laura Darlene Lansberry
(this icon and many others are available from Bridge Building Images)
We'-wha - The Zuni Pueblo in western New Mexico honored three genders (before the coming of the Protestant missionaries). Men who chose not to become hunters and warriors became Ihamana, members of an alternative gender. We'-wha was a Zuni Ihamana who helped bridge the cultural divide between Native and Anglo cultures. S/he was a cultural ambassador to Washington D.C. where s/he passed in "high-society" as a woman. We'-wha was well loved and is considered one of the holy ones who return to the Zuni with blessings.
We'wha: Zuni Man/Woman by Laura Darlene Lansberry
(this icon and many others are available from Bridge Building Images)
Sacred Cultural Traditions
Native American Sacred Traditions and Western Culture
In over 150 Native American tribes there are recognized and sometimes revered transgender identities including: Ihamana, Nįdleehé, Tanowaip (Shoshoni man- woman), Kwidó (Tewa old woman-old man). From tribe to tribe the specific nature of the gender identity and role may differ. In some tribes the transgender person may be seen as a shaman, ftm transgender roles may include that of hunter or warrior. Barcheeampe, the woman chief of the Crow (pictured right) ranked third in a band of 160 lodges when chiefs and warriors were assembled for council.
The Dine, or Navajos of the southwest United States, recognize three sexes instead of only two. For the Dine, there are Males, Females, and Nadles, which are considered somewhat both and neither. While those born intersexed or hermaphroditic are automatically considered Nadle, physically 'normal' individuals may define as Nadle based on their own self-definition of gender identity. The Nadle once possessed far greater respect before the Navaho were conquered and their culture all but obliterated by the forced assumption of Catholicism.
Among the Sioux, the Winkte served much the same function, and individuals could assume the complete role of their preferred gender. Physical females lived as male warriors, and had wives, while physical males lived their lives completely as women. In Sioux society no special magic was associated with this, it was just considered a way of correcting a mistake of nature. Winkte would also perform primitive reassignment operations of a sort, and history records the process used by physical males: riding for days on a special hard saddle to crush the testicles and thus effectively castrate the individual.
The Hijra of India pose a challenge to Western ideas of sex and gender. Their gender identity is ambiguous. They are at the same time both male and female, and neither male nor female, man nor woman.
Hindu Tantric and Hijra Sects
The Hijra are thought of as intersexed persons, and although some are born intersexed, most are created through castration. The Hijra are devotees and servants of the Bahuchara Mata, or the Mother Goddess. They undergo emasculation (castration) which embues them with the divine powers of the Goddess. Within Indias culture, transgender identity has been linked with both Hindu and Buddist practices for the last 2,000 years. However, with the advent of British Colonialism and Western cultural standards, the traditionally revered transgender identity has become stigmatized and even criminalized.
In India, ritual practices for transsexual individuals continue to the present day. Called Hijiras, this sect also worship a Goddess, and undergo a primitive sort of sex reassignment surgery. The Hijiras are treated in a rather hypocritical fashion within Indian society however, in that they are both despised and revered at the same time. Hijiras often are paid to attend a bless weddings, and to act as spiritual and social advisors, but are also shunned as less than worthy eunuchs. Yet in other circumstances, such as social situations, they are accorded the status of true females.
Magical Workers: Official and Free-Lance
Sometimes a cultic person, not normally a prophet, might be moved to prophesy as in the case of the sangum priest (ARM X: 51) and an assinnu cult worker (perhaps a eunuch or a male who dressed up as a woman or a homosexual) (ARM X: 6, 7).
Faeries - Over the years, faeries have been called angels and devils, fact and fancy, spirits and ghosts, vampires and werewolves. They have often been used to explain natural phenomenon where there are no rational answers. The Welsh refer to the faeries as the Fair Folk, the Night Walkers or Them Who Be. They love music and dance. They use flowers and foliage to adorn themselves and have a fondness for toadstools and mushrooms which they wear as headgear.
Greek Hermaphrodite (right). In Ancient Greece, gender transgression and sexual orientation were not yet criminalized by the Roman Catholic Church.
Hindu - Brahm and Siva dual-sexed
Mithras often portrayed as dual sexed
Sererr of the Pokots of Kenya
the Xaniths of Islamic Oman
The Tahitian Mahu
The Madagascar Sekrata
Islamic Xanith, Khawal, and Sufi Traditions
The European Castrati
Individuals In the modern Western world
Julian Eltidge was perhaps the most famous and successful female impersonator of all time. The photo of the bride and groom is in fact a double exposure of Julian. He began crossdressing at an early age, and became a huge silent film star. He made many films and worked in vaudeville for a time.
Governor Edward Hyde served public office in New York and New Jersey from 1702-1708. He was known to stroll through the streets in female attire.
Leslie Feinberg is a transgender, lesbian/gay/bi, labor, and civil rights activist. Leslie is one of the managing editors or Workers World Party. S/he is also the author of Stone Butch Blues, the Lambda Awarding winning novel about the coming of age of Jess, the stone butch protagonist. S/he is also the author of the excellent pamphlet Transgender Liberation: A Movement Whose Time Has Come (available for $2.00 from Workers World Party) and the books Transgender Warriors: From Joan of Arc to Dennis Rodman and the recently released Transgender Liberation: Beyond Pick and Blue. Leslie is a frequent lecturer on transgender liberation and the interconnectedness of all oppressions (racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ageism, etc....) S/he is also busy as an activist and organizer.
Be sure and check out Leslie's Domain at Transgender Warrior.
RuPaul (pictured left and right) is the drag queen who has brought cross dressing to mainstream America. RuPaul a frequent performer at Wig Stock has several albums to her credit including Super Model of the World. She has also written the book Lettin' it All Hang Out (Hyperion 1995), She is one of the models for MAC cosmetics, the first drag queen to ever work as a model for a major cosmetics company. RuPaul also has san drag acting credits. As she so well puts it, "Once your born, everything is drag." Check out RuPaul's official web site.
Minnie Bruce Pratt is an award winning poet, activist, and teacher. She is a lesbian, feminist, transgender, and civil rights activist. Don't miss her excellent book S/he which explores the development of her sexuality and her relationship with partner, Leslie Feinberg in poetry and prose.
You can visit her on-line at Minnie Bruce's Home
Riki Anne Wilchins is a well know trans activist. RikiAnne, a post op MtF, is a lesbian who was instrumental in forming the Transexual Menace a trans activist organization. She also helped found, and is the executive director of, GenderPac a trans lobbying organization. Ever busy, she also publishes In Your Face, a trans news and activist newsletter. Her 1998 book, Read My Lips, is highly recommended.
Ulrich von Lichtenstain (c. 1200 C.E.), in Germany, used to walk wearing female clothes, as well as a false sidelock of hair, and liked to be called queen Venes.
Comtesse des Barres (aka Abbe Francois Timoleon de Choisy)
A religious person wearing female clothing and desiring to be addressed as Comtesse des Barres (1644-1734). His memories were published post mortem, consist the first written testimony of cross-dressing, and are really exciting. Abbe Francois Timoleon de Choisy, who as a small child was "modelle en fille" by his mother, was also an eminent member of Academie Francaise.
Born in Tonnerre at 1728, died in London at 1810. On of the most famous and smart transsexual women known to us during the recent European history. I cite from Martini A-Z of Fencing, by E.D. Morton; London (McDonald, Queen Anne Press) without publication date, pp. 55-57:
The Chevalier was a swords(wo)man, adventurer and secret agent of Louis XV, heavily involved in that eccentric monarchs private and unofficial policy, known as Le secret du Roi, which at times was at variance with the official plans of his own ministers. It is certain that the Chevalier played an important part in gaining the support of the Empress Elisabeth of Russia in the Seven Years War, and is supposed to have wormed her way into her confidence by assuming female attire and passing off as a woman. (S)he served on the Duc de Broglies staff during the ensuing conflict and then, after a brief spell as Minister Plenipotentiary in London, during the peace negotiations flatly refused to return home or to surrender his confidential documents, when a regular ambassador was appointed. It was at this time that bets were being laid all over the town as to dEons true sex, but (s)he resolutely refused to satisfy the punters curiosity. On the accession of Louis XVI, some years later (1774), a compromise was arranged, partly, perhaps, because (s)he knew too much about the tortuous politics of the preceding reign, and (s)he was permitted to reside in France with a generous pension, on the odd condition that (s)he should permanently adopt feminine dress. It was in this guise that Mademoiselle dEon dined in the mess of her old regiment, the Dragons dAntichamp. At the onset of the French Revolution, (s)he sought refuge in England once more, ekeing out a living in her straitened circumstances by giving fencing lessons and demonstrations. A friend of the Angelos, (s)he was a member of their academy. There was at one time a well known print by Gilray depicting her fencing at Carlton House, clad in the flowing feminine garments of the period. The Chevalier died in 1810 and although at an earlier date two witnesses had given sworn evidence that dEon was in fact a woman, medical experts of unimpeachable reputation, after examining the corpse, affirmed it to be that of a perfectly normal male.
I cite and translate into English from XVIII Siecle Francais. Le Siecle des Lumieres, by Louis Forestier, Paris (Editions Seghers) 1961, pp. 109-110:
[ ] One of the agents of this secret policy was Chevalier dEon. Was he a man? Was she a woman? The XVIIIth century didnt manage to know for sure: the letters that the Chevalier was receiving were equally well addressed to Mademoiselle la Chevaliere, known as military, person of letters, and having been employed by the government in the top most important affairs. Born in Tonnere at Bourgogne, dEon had to demonstrate and be proud of a series of first names, characterised by a mysterious ambiguity: Charlotte, Genevieve, Louise, Auguste, Andre, Timothee! Destined as a magistrate, (s)he didnt follow this path, and on the recommendation of Prince de Conti, (s)he was sent in Russia together with the Chevalier Douglas, in order to effectuate an approximation between the courts of Verasailles and St Petersbourg; a task which was more difficult because of the great hatred of the Russian Great Chancellor towards France. Thus, it was with the Vice-Chancellor Woronzoff that the ambassadors succeeded in establishing an intimate correspondence between Louis XV and the Tsarine Elisabeth. [ ] In recompensation of her services dEon, who brought the good news of success in Versailles, received many honours from the King himself. Then (s)he left immediately for St petersbourg, where (s)he was appointed by the Empress who was satisfied with her in an eminent position!
See also Grand Larousse Encyclopedique, Paris (Larousse) 1961, vol. IV, lemme Eon (Charles de Beaumont, Chevalier d).
Christine Jorgensen was born in 1927 at Long Island and died in 1989 at San Clemente (south of LA). She is undoubtedly the most famous transsexual woman of our century. She was the first person to be operated and surgically reassigned, using for the first time the most reliable (relatively to that time) surgical manipulations, even though her operation was done in subsequent steps. Her social life, after her 1952 transition and operation in Copenhagen, was the very model for most transsexuals for decades. She was also a tireless lecturer on the subjects of gender dysphoria and transsexualism, struggling for understanding, towards a public that usually wanted to discriminate towards transsexuals as freaks or perverts. She considered herself primarily a photographer, but she toured as a stage actress and singer as well, with considerable success and evident charm. She was an intimate friend of Prof. Dr. Harry Benjamin, with whom she was corresponding very often. Her life was consistent with her highest ideals of femininity and inner politeness, something missing from most people today (both in and out of the Transsexual Community). Let her memory stay with us for ever!
Let us cite a well-written obituary for Christine Jorgensen, by Michele Ingrassia (Newsday, Friday, May 5, 1989, all editions), which throws sufficient light in the life of the most famous transsexual woman of our century, who opened the paths and the ways for all of as to follow, written by a non-transsexual person:
It was meant to be a private affair, a quiet
series of operations that would change the 26-year-old Bronx
photographer into a woman and, in the process, exorcise the
personal demons that had haunted him since childhood. But even
before she left the Copenhagen hospital in February, 1953 -
transformed from George Jorgensen Jr., the 98-pound ex-GI, into
Christine Jorgensen, "the convertible blonde" -word had
leaked out. Overnight, it became the most shocking, most
celebrated surgery of the century. And even if the furor
eventually waned, the curiosity lingered, following Jorgensen to
her death Wednesday at San Clemente General Hospital after a 2
1/2-year battle with bladder and lung cancer. She was 62.
"I could never understand why I was receiving so much attention", Jorgensen said in a 1986 interview. "Now, looking back, I realize it was the beginning of the Sexual Revolution, and I just happened to be one of the trigger mechanisms".
Christine Jorgensen - with her sleek hair, smoky voice, slender body and smart clothes - exploded into the nation's consciousness in the halcyon days of the postwar Baby Boom, in the placid I-Like-Ike, I-Love-Lucy era when issues of sexuality, much less transsexuality, were strictly taboo. It didn't take much to propel her private, two-year odyssey from man to woman into the object of international debate - and ridicule. "EX-GI BECOMES BLONDE BOMBSHELL", screamed the headline in the Daily News, which broke the story on Dec. 1, 1952, after it was leaked word about the second of Jorgensen's three operations.
Unwittingly, Jorgensen's surgery proved to be something more than the lurid tale it was made out to be at the time: It was also the beginning of greater candor and understanding in the way the world looked at issues of transsexuality. According to the International Gender Dysphoria Association, by 1980 an estimated 3,000 to 6,000 American adults had undergone hormonal and surgical sex changes - among them, tennis pro Renee Richards and British-born writer Jan Morris. And while transsexual surgery has hardly become commonplace since it was pioneered in Europe in the 1930s, it has certainly become less-than-scandalous in most quarters. Indeed, by 1982, when news spread that a Nassau County police officer had undergone a sex-change operation and was planning to return to the force, the response, from the county executive to the police commissioner, was more support than embarrassment. "It [the surgery] wouldn't get on the 95th page of the newspaper if it happened today", Jorgensen said last year in an interview with The Los Angeles Times. "It's not news anymore".
But it was news - scandalous news - when Jorgensen did it. In those pre-feminist days, there was no end to the cutting appellations: The press described her variously as "mankind's gift to the female species", "the latest thing in blonde bombshells", "tops in swaps" and "the turnabout gal". In and out of the press, she became the subject of endless conversation and the butt of thousands of titillating jokes. And that was just the beginning. While Jorgensen was still in Denmark, she had sold the rights to her life story to the Hearst Corp.'s American Weekly Magazine for $ 20,000. But that contract did little to dissuade other journalists - and everyone else - from besieging her. On Feb. 12, 1953, when she stepped off the plane from Denmark at what was then Idlewild Airport, Jorgensen was greeted by more than 350 "admirers, autograph hounds and just plain curious people." Not to mention hordes of reporters and photographers who catalogued everything from her baggage (13 pieces of luggage) to her destination ("the swank Carlyle Hotel" in Manhattan) to her first beverage in America (a Bloody Mary "containing two shots of vodka and tomato juice"). From then on, wherever Jorgensen went, neither the press nor the attendant carnival atmosphere was far behind. Every detail was grist for the mill: Her size 9-AA shoes. Her $ 10 contribution to a volunteer fire department in her new Long Island hometown. Her first Easter bonnet - which landed her on the front page of Newsday on Easter weekend, 1953, a much-vaunted accolade traditionally reserved for Long Island's society matrons. The press couldn't get enough of Jorgensen. The press was there on Feb. 26, 1953, when she took her driver's test in Garden City - as a Newsday reporter noted on the occasion, "She, then he, had once been employed as a chauffeur. But her license had expired and so, said one wag, had the sex of the owner."
The press was there on May 8, 1953, when Jorgensen made her debut at Hollywood's Orpheum Theater , narrating a 20-minute travel documentary she filmed in Europe: "Her paycheck is reported to be $ 12,500 for a week's work". And the press was there a week later, on the flight back to New York, when Jorgensen announced that she planned to make her home in Massapequa, on a 150-by-100-square-foot parcel of land where her father, George, a carpenter, would build a six-room, $ 25,000 ranch-style house, complete with the most up-to-date burglar alarm system. "Long Island", she said, "[is] a lovely spot to settle". It became her home base until 1967, when her parents died and she moved to California. But if the press fueled the furor over Jorgensen, it was feeding a public that couldn't get enough of her and a society that didn't know what to make of her. Was she some sort of sideshow freak? Or a modern pioneer? There was no consensus. While gossip columnist Walter Winchell ridiculed her, hostess Elsa Maxwell feted her. While the Stork Club banned her, the Waldorf-Astoria welcomed her.
Jorgensen, from the beginning, never regretted what she did. "I regretted at the beginning, that the press got hold of it and made my life such an open book," she said in a 1979 Newsday interview. "But the publicity, too, hasn't been altogether bad. It's enabled me to make an awful lot of money". Although Jorgensen preferred to be known as "the noted colour photographer" - she even went to London in 1953 to photograph the coronation of Queen Elizabeth - she made her money, and her mark, from her celebrity. The offers of Hollywood stardom that poured in from film producers when she returned to the United States never panned out. Nevertheless, Jorgensen decided that if the notoriety that was following her wasn't going to die out, she might as well cash in on it.
During the '50s and '60s, she earned a more-than-comfortable living on the talk-show and lecture circuit and, most notably, as a stage actress and night-club performer. The act, which she took from the Latin Quarter in New York to the Interlude in Los Angeles to clubs in Havana, Caracas and throughout England and Australia, was both serious and fun. With a straight face, she sang "I Enjoy Being a Girl". With tongue-in-cheek, she performed "Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered" as a parody of her life before the operation.
Throughout the years of living under a magnifying glass, Jorgensen retained her sense of humour. But in her 1967 book, Christine Jorgensen: A Personal Biography , it was obvious that she had considered life before the operation anything but joyous. As a child growing up in the Bronx, Jorgensen said, she was a "frail, tow-headed, introverted" little boy who "ran from fistfights and rough-and-tumble games". When she was 5, she wrote, her Christmas dream was for "a pretty doll with long gold hair". Under the tree, there was a red railroad train. As a graduate of Christopher Columbus High School in the Bronx - Class of '45 - Jorgensen was drafted into the Army a few months after the end of World War II, as a 19-year-old who admitted years later that he felt like a woman trapped in a man's body.
The road to Jorgensen's transsexual surgery in Copenhagen began in New York, with years of independent research. At the Manhattan Medical and Dental Assistants' School, Jorgensen devoured information on the subject of sexual hormones and glandular imbalances. Then, through a friend who was a physician, the young man discovered it was possible to obtain sex change treatments and operations in Scandinavia. In 1950, George Jorgensen Jr. left for Denmark, staying with friends and keeping his plans a secret from everyone, including his family. It was not until two years later - on the eve of the second operation - that Christine Jorgensen finally wrote to her parents in New York: "Nature made a mistake, which I have corrected, and I am now your daughter". Although Jorgensen's parents were shocked by the news, they welcomed their child home.
Jorgensen herself never married, but there were countless reports of liaisons: In 1952, a Texas GI told the world that he had dated her in Copenhagen "and she had the best body of any girl I ever met". In 1959, she became engaged; her fiance later broke the engagement. "I've never been married", she said in the Newsday interview, "but I have been engaged twice, and I've been deeply in love twice. I was never engaged to the men I was in love with, and I was never in love with the men I was engaged to".
When the notoriety died down, Jorgensen settled into a fairly private existence. After she left Long Island in 1967, she lived quietly in California, first at the Chateau Marmont, the historic apartment-hotel on Hollywood's Sunset Strip, then in a four-bedroom house in Laguna Niguel, 60 miles south of L.A., and for the last two years in San Clemente. Although she had dropped out of the lecture circuit for 15 years, she returned on and off during the 1980s. She had also been planning a sequel to her autobiography and had been trying to find a U.S. distributor for a Dutch-made documentary on transsexuals, lesbians and female impersonators. After she was diagnosed as having cancer in 1987, she confessed that one of her remaining dreams was to appear on the hit TV show, "Murder She Wrote".
Jorgensen never found even fleeting fame on TV. But she didn't need it. To many, she had won more enduring recognition, as a pioneer, as a man-turned-woman who broke down at least one of society's sexual barriers. For her own part, though, she saw it as nothing more than a case of self-preservation. "Does it take bravery and courage for a person with polio to want to walk?", she once said. "It's very hard to speculate on, but if I hadn't done what I did, I may not have survived. I may not have wanted to live. Life simply wasn't worth much. Some people may find it easy to live a lie, I can't. And that's what it would have been -telling the world I'm something I'm not!".
Since transsexuality is caused by hormonal alteration of the nervous system of developing fetuses, and occurs in perhaps all mammalian species, it would be reasonable to infer that it has been around for a very long time. Indeed, since birth defects in general are just part of nature, it would be unthinkable to imagine an era of Man devoid of transsexuals. We have always been, and from time to time, history has recorded that fact.
The only clues we have of paleolithic transsexuals would be by considering the societies of aboriginal peoples still living with stone age technologies. The few left remaining on the earth, in the rain forests of South America, or the remaining unspoiled lands of Africa, all have reverential positions for the transsexuals that are born to them. In such societies, Transsexuals are considered magical, kin to the gods or spirits, and possessed of shamanic powers.
Every society in history has had some name, role or way of relating to the transsexual, from ancient Canaan and Turkey to India, even to the present day.
abound. For instance, in ancient Rome existed the 'Gallae',
Phrygian worshipers of the Goddess Cybele. Once decided on their
choice of gender and religion, physically male Gallae ran through
the streets and threw their own severed genitalia into open
doorways, as a ritualistic act.
The household receiving these remains considered them a great blessing. In return, the household would nurse the Gallae back to health. The Gallae then ceremoniously received female clothes, and assumed a female identity. Commonly, they would be dressed as brides, or in other splendid clothing.
According to tradition (c. 400 B.C.E.) they were Skythian warriors who devastated the sanctuary of Ourania Aphrodite in Askalon of Syria, hence they were punished by the Goddess to become sick of theelea nousos (i.e. the female ilness), the main symptom of which (according to Hippokrates) was the atrophy of the genitals and sexual impotence, due in reality to exhaustive horse-riding. According to Aristotle this illness was hereditary into the Skythian royal families. The fact is that Enareai were famous divinators, shamans and witches, claiming that their art was passed to them by the Goddess Aphrodite herself. They were wearing female clothing and their voice was feminine, in order to contact the deities (as Hippokrates cites).
Statue of a Roman Archigalla.
Gallae (=Priestesses) and Archigallae (=High-Priestesses) were the self-operated (castrated and penectomised), and thus roughly sexually reassigned priestesses of Cybele, the Great Mother of Gods. They used to reasign their genetic sex during ecstatic dancing before the holly statue of Cybele, and then they threw their useless parts towards some courtyards, the owners of which considered that fact as a divine blessing; thus those last were taking care of them during their forty days recovery period, where the Priestesses were eating and drinking special food given also to women just after pregnancy. Their devotion and fidelity towards the Goddess were prominent and they were considered as sacred persons by those ancient cultures of the past. Under the reign of Emperor Claudius there was for the first time in Rome a true recognition of the importance of stay of Gallae in Rome for all of its citizens (45 C.E.). After all, Rome was saved and gained the victory during the Second Punic War, after a relative oracle predicted that the shrine of the Magna Mater (the Great Mother, Goddess Cybele) had to be moved from Pessinous (in Phrygia) to Rome. It was then that five Roman Senators were sent to King Attalus in Pergamon in order to request the sacred black stone (lithos diipetees) and the illustrious Claudia Quinta formally received the Goddess at Ostia (204 B.C.E.). Hence, the Meetro`on (the Mothers Temple) was raised upon the Palatine Hill (April 10, 191 B.C.E.). After that, Rome went through victorious, under the protection of the Great Mother. The religious and humanitarian supportive offer of the Gallae towards Roman society and its people is indeed unparalleled (cf. also a nice historical fiction by Laura Darlene Lansberry at the URL: http://www.azstarnet.com/~gallae/parthen.htm . Two of the well known priestesses bore the name Battakes; the chronically former sent an ambassador, together with the priest of Attis, to Gnaeus Manlius, to announce him that he would come through victorious during the war against Galatia (190 B.C.E.), according to the wish of the Mother of Gods; the chronically latter came in Rome to announce its victory against Teutons and Kimbrians (102 B.C.E.). After her successful mission, the second Battakes (cf. also the nice historical novel by Laura Darlene Lansberry at the URL: http://www.azstarnet.com/~gallae/battakes.htm , returned in Pessinous at the shrine of the Lady of Dindymous. Two years later, Roman law changed to allow certain classes of citizens, if they should desire, to transform themselves in the manner of the Phrygian Gallae. Then, under Claudius all restrictions on Roman citizens wishing to dedicate themselves to the service of Cybele were removed. Thats undoubtedly a paradigm of the relative open-mindness of an ancient pre-Christian society towards transsexual women and their beliefs Juvenal, as well as Apuleius (The Golden Ass) refer to Gallę in their texts.
Born in Emessa (Syria) at 204 C.E.; murdered in Rome at 222 C.E. Emperor of Rome (218 222 C.E.), also one of the most prominent and cultivated transsexual women of antiquity. Child of Julia Soaemias, who was the daughter of Julia Maesa (the younger sister of the empress Julia Domna. A conscious and pretty transsexual woman, whose devotion in establishing a kind of monotheistic religion all over the Imperium Romanum, adorarating the amphisexual god(dess) Elagabal, together with the perplexed political scenery of that era, and he harsh and rude behaviour of the Prętorians towards her leaded to her murder. In the case of that young talented person, as Laura Darlene Lansberry states (cf. http://www.azstarnet.com/~gallae/elagabal.htm ), the blind historians of Christian patriarchy deliberately massacred her spirit once more, by hiding the truth and spoiled her memory with insults and lies. Her gender variance, together with her sexual escapades (while frawned on, but tolerated though in pre-Christianic Rome) destroyed her credibility.
Those two transsexual women (the first was a domestic employee, while the second was a painter) were the first to reassign their gender through surgical manipulation, which proved to be an elation for them and a preliminary success of plastic reconstructive surgery. Roudolph (Dora) R. was operated in Dresden (1921 to 1931) three times to be surgically reassigned by the assistant of the well-known Dr. Magnus Hirscfeld, named Dr. Felix Abraham. For more details, as well as photos of their surgical results, showing their neo-vulvas, the reader has to visit the following URL, in order to study the relative paper by Dr. F. Abraham: http://www.symposion.com/ijt/ijtc0302.htm . It is to be noted that even though the terminology of that scientist is anachronistic, he was one of the pioneers in the field of sexology and gender issues, and helped those two sisters adequately. The photos published therein have to be compared with modern results of GRS operations. Many and interesting comments on the social stature of those two transsexual women are also to be found here.
Lili Elbe was born in 1886 in Danemark (birth name: Ejnar Wegener). Lili before her transition was married to Gerda Wegener, who was her partner and legal wife. Both of them were famous painters and illustrators. Gerda though had a better commercial success and is still recognized in nowadays as one of the leading artists of the Art Deco during the first decades of the 20th century. Her book and magazine illustrations included both high fashion designs, as well as lesbian and straight erotic thematography. In fact, Lili was one of Gerda's favorite models, wearing women's high fashion or nude. As a fashion designer in Paris, Gerda was influential in setting fashion trends. It would be interesting to suppose that the 20s small breasted female ideal may have been influenced by Lili's figure. Lili Elbe was leaving a double life, half-transitioned, from c. 1910 to 1930, where she had her series of operations being performed to her. In fact some people (other than her close friends) knew her by one of her personalities at time. She was gaining many people in her correct persona as a woman, and had many admirers and some lovers, due to her irresistible and life-devouring personality. Anyway, she must also have been tasting the drama of duality, which is known by its sweet-and-bitter taste (glykypikros, as Sappho of Mytilene would have pointed out in her lyrics) to every true transsexual person. Someone even proposed to marry her before her operation, something impossible at that time, where she was considered legally as male. Her marriage to Gerda was declared inefficient in 1930 by the King of Denmark.
Its highly probable that Lili Elbe was an intersexed transsexual woman, for its certain that a hypogonadisn was present, together with a hormonal imbalance towards the female range (as her medical examinations proved), and her body-type was also feminine, allowing her to pass quite easily. Perhaps her caryotype was XX with an SRY gene transfer, or she had a XXY caryotype (Klinefelter syndrome), a case which is less probable for she was very clever (while Klinefelter subjects have in general a lower IQ just like XXX females and a significantly higher body height). Lili Elbe was under the care of Dr. Warnekros (in the Dresden Women's Clinic), who was a pioner in the field of gynaecology of that time. All of Lili's surgeries were of a rather experimental nature. Her first surgery removed the wrong male genitals. This first surgery was performed in Berlin after Lili was examined by the famous sexologist Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld. Her second surgery, performed by Dr. Warnekros, was to transplant healthy ovaries (taken by a young woman 26 years old) into her abdomen. A third operation, though with unspecified purpose, was performed a short time later. The fourth operation was an emergency surgery, performed some weeks later, in responce to severe abdominal pain, that probably consisted of removing the rejected ovaries. Earlier reviews of Lili Elbes case in transsexual research literature leave us the impression that she died as a result of complications from the failed ovarian transplant. However, her reported death was not until over a year and a half later, three months after her fifth operation intended to allow her to be a mother... Lili was buried in Dresden with her correct female name in 1931. The touching story of Lili Elbe was written in sincere and loving terms by herself, in her autobiography: Man Into Woman (Niels Hoyer, ed.) 1933. On the other hand, Maurice Rostand, having been inspired by her rare and rich life wrote his novel Lhomme qui devint femme. Lili Elbe is undoubtedly one of the most favourite and lovable personalities of the early 20th century transsexual community.
A photo of Bibi Andersen.
Bibi Andersen is a very pretty and well-known Spanish actress, a film star that has been featured in the films by Pedro Almodovar. Although usually and --of course-- wrongly described as a "transvestite" by some film critics, she is a post-operative transsexual woman. It is to be noted that in one of those films of Almodovar, namely The Law of Desire, a film that includes a post-operative transsexual character, Bibi Andersen plays the part of a non-transsexual woman, while a non-transsexual woman plays the part of the transsexual! Bibi Andersen's filmography comprises: Matador (1986), The Law of Desire (1987), High Heels (1991), Kika (1993), & c.
The Berdache Spirit
Brandon: A One-Year Narrative Project in Installments
FTM International's History Page
FTMs in History
Histoire du Transsexualisme
The History of Transsexualism (Kinsey Institute)
The Metro'on: Reclaiming Our Heritage
The The Online Museum of Transgender Artifacts
Queer History and Literature
Transgender History of Famous TGs
Special thanks to several on-line resources: Transgender Splendour, Gallae
And also contributing individuals: Brad Colby
OtherWise Elders and Saints compiled by Chris Paige; http://www.angelfire.com/on/otherwise/saints.html
Visit: Chris Paige
Email: Chris Paige
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