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From Ancient Ways


Ad Concordiam II

Personal correspondence, 19 Iun 2005

Callide Sedile (The hot seat)

It was excruciating to have to come to terms with something like that in full view of a highly-critical community whose opinions, unfortunately, meant a great deal to me at the time. These were all the fellow-Romans I'd ever known, except for my young disciples, and I wanted them to think of me as Roman first; second, a Roman of the Legions; Storyteller, Roleplayer, Wanderer (etc.) all tied for third; Historical Cultural Anthropologist fourth...and a Citizen of whatever gender I was last, if at all.

Didn't happen. As you noted, society--especially that society--is none too fond of betwixt-and-betweens. Especially people who didn't know they were 'trans' when they joined, the realization of that status having taken a good couple of years to fully dawn. One does not suddenly jump out of bed and yell, "Hey, I'm feeling transgendered today! Wait'll the RIM hears about this!!" But in fact the OP behaved as if they thought I had done exactly that. Turned their whole little world on its ear on a whim. Shaken them out of their comfortable little categories. And then wanted special consideration for it! How dare I!! To be fair, one or two enterprising Cives did do some historical research in the hope of finding guidance from our spiritual ancestors; all they turned up was an apparently ambiguous attitude on the Romans' part regarding cross-gender issues. The ancients did not reject such things out-of-hand, unless you were an Emperor and/or making a spectacle of yourself; but it wasn't exactly condoned either...That didn't help.

What the huh??

> your experience pretty standard for transgendered people?

The initial "You have got... to be kidding...!" is pretty much industry-standard, all over the world. (I did a mess of legal research for Censor Sulla on where trans people stand in the modern world; turns out two cases involving us were brought before the World Court several years ago. In the more recent case, it was confirmed that anti-sex-discrimination laws in Europe do in fact apply to persons undergoing sexual reassignment.)

The next phase, if you will, has everyone protesting that you can't just up and declare yourself a Member of the Opposite Sex. NR did this part a little too well; we had a Founder putting his foot down lest other Cives catch this 'infection' and start calling themselves aliens, Presidents, or Great Grey Kangaroos and demanding to be addressed accordingly.

After that, it depends on where you go with it. (By now you have no normal friends, so you can go anywhere you like....)

Mari's approach, cont'd

My sense of maleness is quite independent of my physical being. I'm not seeking a sex-change operation; I do not feel the need. In Roman terms, I got born with a genius instead of a iuno. Since it's a soul-thing, what would meddling with the body achieve? That's all just going to be food for worms in another fifty years anyway...

In daily life I strive to be as gender-neutral as possible. I wear t-shirts or polos and jeans, neither close-fitting; nothing accentuates my shape. My hair is shoulder-length and wavy; there's just enough of it to put in a biker's ponytail if I need to keep it out of the way--I am often on or under some piece of machinery, after all! And I get away with it because I'm 5'4" and 180 lbs., most of it thanks to warehouse work, long walks (20mi./day, same as the Legions), aircraft maintenance, and all the other 'husky' stuff I like to do. I walk like the ex-Drill Sergeant/Desert Storm veteran that I am. And so I am quite likely to be mistaken for a short, stocky fella at a distance or from behind. (You tell me: My SVR Avatar is actually me in my Legionary armor. Pretty good, hm?)

If people address me as male, I let 'em. If they address me as female, I let 'em...I just don't do anything to highlight the fact. And so it is that I've got most of "Real Life" doing exactly what I want it to: thinking of me as a person in a function first, and as a member of one sex or another wa-a-a-y last, if at all.

That's all I wanted out of the OP. Why it became the grotesque, apoplectic gandy-dance that it did, I will never understand--not even if I live long enough to help the archaeologists excavate my own house in another millennium or two.

The Real Issue

(from Ad Concordiam, 20 Iun 2005)

That Roman Internet Micronation is a really cool idea. It only has one real problem: It had to start out with human beings. And those human beings brought with them their preconceptions, their prejudices, their notions of how Rome worked and how far it should be adapted to the very-late 20th Century. This is still the overarching topic of debate, and the fiercest Listwars start with this: Is NR a re-creation, a reconstruction, a revival...and what do each of these terms mean as far as what aspects of ancient life get discarded, modified, or brought over intact?

Every faction within the OP has its own take on this matter, and each one gets decried vigorously by the others. Almost all the serious issues can be explained in terms of this fundamental disagreement. My situation was seen as an intrusion of the worst kind of modernity ('rights' and special favors for every one- or two-member minority that squawks for attention), and my supporters drew accusations of being 'fluffy-bunny PC' and worse. Of course, Ancient Rome has got to be the most politically-incorrect civilization on the face of the Earth. We had slaves, fer cryin' out loud. We went around conquering people. And that bit of carpentry-work in Jerusalem...? --We are not popular people in a Christian church the week before Easter. I tried it. You won't dig it.

And people want to preserve that moxie. I want to preserve it, and not in some watered-down theme-park edition either. Rome would not be Rome without the hard-core attitude, the willingness and readiness to run a road right through something if it gets in the way. But at the same time, any Roman organization has to be accessible to and workable for the people who are going to be in it. NR is gradually finding its way to a compromise; the SVR seems to have already found one. I can blame neither group for its shortcomings; they are simply a function of the way each society began.

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