Happy Trans Day of Visibility!

Here's a fun fact for you today: Trans people have always existed.

My personal speciality is documenting the lives of trans people in Medieval Europe. If you'd like to find out more about this topic, feel free to read my threads:

About a trans woman who lived in London in the 14th century

And about a 13th century French poem which discusses a transmac person's gender-questioning

@garfiald Fun expansion of that fact: If it seems like more trans people exist today than they did in decades prior, it's because the info on being trans is more accessible and therefore allows more trans people to discover themselves.

This number will only continue to rise as self-determination finishes off the already-shattered gender binary.

We were always here, & in these relative numbers. It's just we didn't know enough in decades & centuries prior to be able to make such determinations.

Nazi Germany 

@garfiald I should also add that we were seeing this same kind of rise in self-determination back around the last turn of the century, but Nazi Germany stepped in and ramped up hatred towards LGBTQ+ people to 11 and did that whole concentration camp and genocide thing.

The rest of the world managed to keep enough of the focus on their antisemitism to avoid addressing their own right-wing rise in oppression towards us.

Nazi Germany 

@garfiald But ultimately, with the worldwide rise of self-determination came a worldwide rise of conservatives who fought back against us.

We're only now beginning to surpass what we had already achieved a century ago, and like a century ago, conservatives are once again fighting to keep us from realizing ourselves.

@garfiald These are amazing! I would imagine that this would be very difficult to estimate given the amount of texts that survive, and the TERFy interpretations of some of them, but does Medieval European literature appear to have more trans representation than other time periods? If you imagine that there would be a drop off in representation at some point, and if so when would that be?

This is probably a silly question given the amount of information and research available, but it was a burning question whilst reading the two threads.

Thanks so much!

@lib This is a fantastic question, and something I've been wondering about for a while. There are two answer I could give to this: the first is an intellectually honest answer, which is that I dont know enough about other periods to answer with any certainty. The other would be to answer with the general impression I got, which is that trans representation in literature declined over the course of the 15th century, although I couldn't possibly guess at why.

@lib I will say, howether, that the medieval interest in trans experience and embodiment is strongly linked to the medieval interest in saints' lives. So much so that a book on this subject, edited by Alicia Spencer-Hall and Blake Gutt is scheduled to be published this year. So my guess would be that the decrease in interest in transgender issues coincided with a shift in religious thought.

@garfiald Interesting! As a layperson, I don't immediately see the connection between trans folks and saints' lives. A brief search brought up this article

But, there isn't a link to the actual talk itself. There are a few papers looking at specific articles though. I'm very interested to read more about the connection between saints' lives and transgender readings of this literature.

Thank you!

@garfiald Uh! I just realized this talk was by Blake Gutt that you mentioned! Missed that initially!

@lib Yeah, he's pretty much the main researcher in this area as far as I know. The link between saints lives and transgender questions is that the saints whose stories are told in the Middle Ages find themselves in positions where they have to present as a different gender, or their gender presentation is compromised, with great frequency. However, I'm not sure which of these, the exploration of transgender questions, or the interest in saints lives, causes the other.

@garfiald Woah that is really interesting. If the book is accessible to a general audience I will definitely check it out.

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