In Ancient Rome, Cybele was the goddess of trans women.

Here is one of them, from a statue from Imperial Rome. Attis was her lover: she tore off his genitals.

Cybele was originally an Anatolian goddess, the Great Mother, whose statue was brought to Rome as the Sibyl prophesied that when she came, Hannibal would be driven out. He left Italy the following year. When Atalanta and Hipponemes made love in her temple, Cybele turned them into lions and yoked them to her chariot.

Robert Graves, in The Greek Myths, reports Cybele’s devotees sought ecstatic unity with her by removing their testicles and dressing like women. She had temples at Tyre, Joppa, Hierapolis and Jerusalem. He cites 1 Kings 15:12, where Asa “put the male temple prostitutes out of the land” in the early ninth century BCE. We came back: Josiah, in the seventh century (2 Kings 23:7) had to do it again. Graves also reports Artemis of the Ephesians, in Acts 19:35, was Cybele. I disagree. We say Venus is Aphrodite, as the Roman Goddess took on the characteristics and stories of the Greek, but goddesses with trans priestesses across the ancient world might still be separate traditions. There are trans people everywhere.

Cybele’s priestesses were known as Galli from Galatia, in the central highlands of Anatolia, modern Turkey. Three centuries before Christ 20,000 migrants from Gaul went there to hide in the mountains and raid the plains. So she might equally well have come from north-west Europe.

Some gay apologists argue that when Paul condemns “Malakoi”, soft men, in 1 Corinthians 6:9, which in English translation is used to condemn gay sex, he really meant priestesses of Cybele. Thank you so much, guys. But in Galatians 3, Paul wrote, “There is no longer male and female, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus”. That’s the answer to “Male and female God created them” in Genesis, often used to curse trans women. Paul writes to a region where there is a cult of trans women, saying there is no longer male or female for all are one. That seems as strong acceptance as we could get from him.

Louis XIV disapproved of her. In the Salon de Venus at Versailles, there is a painting of Saturn removing Cybele, who is powerless against him, and in the Queen’s antechamber the goddess of combat burns her face. But in the gallery of Apollo in the Louvre, there is the Triumph of Cybele.

Spring and the West Wind crowning her. The West Wind, or Zephyr’s, arms are so masculine, the face and hair so feminine.

Rubens painted her as the personification of the element of Earth, here uniting with Water.

Jan Brueghel the Elder, Cybele receiving gifts from the four seasons, is completely gorgeous.

Here is Luca Giordano:

Cultural expressions

File:Femminiello.jpgPeople must be Normal. But if you cannot manage that, there are tolerated paths of abnormality. These are not as good as proper Normal, but at least they are our Weird. The Femminielli of Naples are accepted as part of the culture, with roles in ritual and seen as good luck where “transsexuals” may be driven out. (Thanks to Lexi for introducing me to the concept.) The Galli were eunuch priests of Cybele.

So, my path is that of the trans woman. I saw a psychiatrist, and got a diagnosis. Then I “transition”- I change my name, have my facial hair permanently removed, get my genitals adjusted. Now I express myself female, making my voice higher, dressing female, using feminine body-language. I have undertaken to so express myself life long, and have had this confirmed by a psychiatrist and my GP, and so am rewarded with my gender recognition certificate and protected under the Equality Act 2010. Also in my culture are drag queens, female impersonators and transvestites- all of whom do their thing in particular locations, and not full time.

God, I want to fit in. So I am not certain whether I want to use a higher voice because I want it, or because that is the way to be a normal trans woman. That path was made for androphilic M-Fs, and lesbian M-Fs had The Script- “I knew there was something wrong aged 3, and I knew I was a girl aged 5, no I have never masturbated to fantasies of being female, no sir, not never not nohow” etc. We needed the script because we needed to tell the psychiatrist what he needed to hear before he could give us what we wanted. I think it is not quite so bad now. On the forums, we policed ourselves: the wrath awaiting those who were “Non-op” or thought they might be “autogynephiliac” was severe. concerns how I see myself, how I feel, how I respond, unconsciously and consciously. It concerns where I am conflicted, dragged in two ways- my No, making me hide in my living room.

A Gallus could not be a Roman citizen, because Romans could not castrate themselves. There would be ways round it- use a different accent, blind eyes turned, no-one actually inspects you- and someone would be safe unless someone with a grudge dobbed her in, perhaps. The Rules, the Normal, never lets you survive, it only pretends to; you have to break the rules to survive.

The hermeneutic of suspicion works. The Bible is not this good thing given by God for our good, it is imperfect and written by men in patriarchy. Similarly, I must be suspicious of everything I have absorbed. Nothing can be trusted, each perception needs questioned.

I ministered on this, and the enforcement of conformity: the Legal Services Commission deciding that all files should be fastened in date order with a treasury tag or similar, and marking down on the Audit if they were not, and the Broad and Narrow Way, and after Liz said to me that a phrase should be translated

I am IS the way, the truth and the life

and that makes a huge difference to it.