In an earlier thread, I wrote briefly about trans people in medieval Europe, and discussed some of the main issues when studying the medieval history of trans people.
Today, if you'll indulge me, I want to spend some time discussing a single person in detail. I want to talk about the way she's been written about, and about her and what she can teach us about life as a trans person 600 years ago.
This is the story of Eleanor Rykener.
Hi everyone, today I'd like to write a short (lol) thread about a topic that comes up again and again in both leftist circles and discourse at large surrounding media. I don't have a definitive argument to put forward, but I hope to encourage discussion and to invite all of you to think critically and make steps towards a clearer understanding of what is often a rather hazy concept. I'll use CWs but be advised I'll be discussing upsetting things throughout.
So, without further ado: irony.
If you've had the patience to read through the thread I wrote a few months ago about Eleanor Rykener, you'll be familiar with the fact that trans people existed in Medieval Europe, and that they were spoken about in terms that were quite different from the ones we use today.
For this sequel, I would like to offer a complement to Eleanor's story, by following up that account of a real trans woman with the discussion of a fictional transmac person.
Four months ago I reached one thousand followers on this account. I wanted to give the wonderful people of the Fediverse something in return, and I offered to write an essay on a topic of my followers' choice. They voted, overwhelmingly, for @citrustwee 's birthday bit.
And now, after months of waiting, on her birthday, it is finally here. Happy birthday Evelien. And thank you, to all of you, for making logging on worth it.
On the 2nd of September 2004, just as France's children were preparing to go back to school, the "Law 2004-228 of 15 March 2004" came into effect.
Nominally, this law banned anyone from wearing "conspicuous religious symbols" in schools. In practice, however, it was widely understood to specifically target Muslim students and parents, in particular those who wore the hijab.
Girls and their mothers were now forbidden from "conspicuously" belonging to their faith.
The Islamic Golden age produced huge leaps in mathematics, science, philosophy ect. The only reason the renaissance even happened was the preservation of Greek texts by Muslim scholars. The Eurocentric view of history deliberately is an ideological construct to discredit the progress of non whites as it conflicts with the narrative of them as barbarians who the white man must civilise
That's the idea you're repeating when you operate blindly according to the belief that the Middle Ages were dirty, ignorant, excessively pious compared to the Roman Empire and the early modern era. You're identifying culture and freedom with the extreme subjugation and systematic violence of colonialism.
These two events indicate the reason why the Renaissance is constructed as a moment of sudden renewal after a millenium of misery: you're taught to identify "progress" and "culture" with the establishment of colonialism, the reinvigoration of slavery, and the movement towards a uniformly "white" Europe.
You just have to look at which periods you're told to admire: the Roman Empire, and the Renaissance. The Roman Empire is presented as a "civilising force", that brought "democracy" and "knowledge" to the uncultured lands it conquered, and established great infrastructure at the slight cost of large-scale slavery. The Renaissance, meanwhile, is often taught as beginning in 1492, the year of Columbus's encounter with the so-called New World and of the Spanish Reconquista.
I won't go into the miriad reasons why this narrative is absolutely ridiculous, I just want to focus on why it's the narrative you're taught. Why is it that we're taught to think of medieval people as stinky and disgusting, and of ancient Romans as glittering Adonises, even though soap was invented (and widely used) in the Middle Ages? The answer is very simple.
I spend a lot of time on here getting pissed off at myths about the Middle Ages, whether it's the idea that they didn't do philosophy, or that they were idiots who couldn't draw. These misconceptions are down to the myth of the Dark Ages. The Dark Ages is the way the medieval period is taught at school: you had the enlightened Roman Empire, a golden era of wisdom and liberty, then you had a millenium of pure wretchedness before the Renaissance kicked "Western civilisation" back into high gear.
Used to be a lifeguard. Worked with a guy we used to call Fish Boy. He lived in the deep end and would bite people's toes if you weren't careful. One day he bit my big toe clean off and I turned to him, I turned to Fish Boy and I said "If you don't knock that stuff off I'm gonna grab you by your fins and I'm gonna throw you into a storm drain." and he never bit anybody ever again. We have a lot of Fish Boys in the Democratic party today, and I'm gonna make them knock it off