Talk:Fimbria Controversies (draft)

From Ancient Ways



By his second year, Lucius Marius Fimbria had come to realise that he was in fact transgendered. He approached consul suffectus and longtime ally L Cornelius Sulla Felix about having his registered Roman name changed to reflect this more developed understanding of his being. He regarded his condition in Roman terms as his having been born with a genius rather than a iuno for a guiding spirit, and had come to feel that it was less important for his Roman name to be consistent with outward appearances than for it to be true to his soul. He wished to reconcile his entry in the Album Civium with the rest of his Roman life and Nova Roman experience. Lucius Marius regarded this action as a simple request for correction of records. Lucius Cornelius had no objection to Marius' request.

It was agreed to have Flavius Vedius Germanicus, then censor suffectus, meet with Marius "live" in the Nova Roma chatroom in order to gain a better understanding of the latter's request. The other censor, Decius Iunius Palladius Invictus, was also present and presided over the encounter. What followed was later described by Marius as "one of the more tactless, brutal and embarrassing 'outings' in the annals of the transgender condition" (personal correspondence, 18 Iun 2005). The conservative Germanicus expressed hostility to the whole idea of transgenderism. The debate soured into a discussion of Marius' physical configuration; for the conservative wing from then on, this became the only relevant concern. Former censor Germanicus' adverse opinion, though it was not a formal ruling and was never documented in any form, was nevertheless taken as Nova Roman legal precedent on the subject of transgender name switches.

Experimental wording: Template 2000

Newly-elected censor L Cornelius Sulla Felix had expressed support for Marius' name-change before he took office. However, his colleague, Flavius Vedius Germanicus, had resigned his own censorship shortly after Sulla's accession. Now without a colleague and wishing to avoid the appearance of favoritism towards a friend, Lucius Cornelius felt the need to consult [the Senate on the issue. This took at least some senatores by surprise, as the matter lay squarely within a censor's imperium, but they agreed to consider it.

The issue was not well-stated. Many senators were under the impression that Marius wanted to legally become his (male) chatroom persona, nothing more. It was thought that allowing him to do so could potentially foster the perception that Nova Roma was nothing more than an online role-playing game. This was a common concern at the time, as the Republic was young and still striving for respectability in the Roman world at large. Allowing a citizen to change official gender on little more than his or her say-so was seen as detrimental to this effort.]

[The section in brackets is being revised as further research clarifies the sequence of events. Still to come:]

Ad Concordiam, 18 Iun 2005

What happened

Actually, all I wanted to do was change my Roman name to the one everybody knew me by anyway. I'd debated signing up as Lucius Marius in the first place, then scratched that in favor of a conventional flavor of honesty. I mean, what if the OP got big enough that I'd be meeting fellow-Citizens in person?? --I can't do a thing about my looks. So...Lucia Maria I was, but only on the Censores' rolls.

I was Lucius Marius everywhere else. Chatroom, message board, Main List, e-mail, phone... After a couple of years of that, and having realized a few things about my sense of self in the meantime, I asked brand-new Censor Sulla, a close friend, about changing my name officially. Routine administrative matter. Request for correction of records. He could have put it through in three days.

No. He consults the damn Senate. And the damn Senate is not receptive to the idea: "He's a woman, ain't she?" They send founder Germanicus to sound me out in chat. "Why do you want to do this?" And I told him, in what has got to have been one of the more tactless, brutal and embarrassing 'outings' in the annals of the transgender condition. You see, he's a bit on the hard-core conservative side, so he was not receptive to the idea either.

And because he was the other censor, his opinion--delivered only in chat, not issued as an edict, not printed out/written down/archived anywhere--was taken as legal precedent on the subject of transgender name switches.

After that it got cute. No, not really. (See below, a little bit.) After five years, I am still in therapy for what the Board of Directors of the RIM did to me that summer thru the following Spring. If I were a different kind of person I would have made a civil-rights case out of it, or at least sued for damages.

So: Yeah, that was me. (Perhaps you wondered about my sensitivity to womens' issues.)

> Am I right in thinking that you are biologically one gender, but feel
> that you are actually the other gender? Something like that? (Please
> forgive if my language's not intentional.) 

<rant> You cannot offend me. I have been 'outed' by hostiles in a chatroom, harrassed, denounced, had friends turn their backs on me (I can handle disagreement, but they didn't have to be so friggin' mean about it...!), been exiled, had ridiculous conditions for readmission imposed upon me, had Magistrates lining up to paw through my psychiatric records (which I would not provide), been told this-thing and that-thing would get me what I wanted, found nothing was enough, been called an enemy of the Gods, an enemy of the State, a threat to public order and decency, a deliberate obstructionist, been issued a Nota, even had my voicemail message used as evidence against me...

...After all that, carissima, I'm like that guy who survived the plane crash in Fearless. Nothing--and I mean nothing--can touch me. </rant>


How Marius lives

I am of the female [configuration]. Not a lot I can do about that. But I have never identified with the available roles, expected behaviors, politics, communication styles, relationships, etc. that comprise the female gender. Never. I must've been three years old when I asked my Ma why God hadn't made me a boy. I played in trees, on sandlots, under cars, on construction sites. I played with my brother's friends. I was only a year younger; so when they razzed him for playing with a girl, he just introduced me as "Jason" and I was accepted.

Since then I have gravitated towards mostly-guy occupations (computer tech, warehouseman, drill sergeant, aircraft mechanic). I have served in the military, where there are women...but very few in my career fields, and most of them not very effective. I tend to be direct (if sometimes poetic), physical, solution-oriented, a troubleshooter. I am not a particularly 'manly' type; but I fall well within the allowable variance for the breed.

And a while ago, while I was in the OP, I realized that all this was not just tomboyism. The 'conventional honesty' that had saddled me with a feminine Roman name was no longer enough. I really believed that true honesty, with myself and before the Gods, lay in acknowledging what I really was--that socially, occupationally, functionally I was a male. I wanted my name to reflect that. You saw how that went over. Again and again the OP insisted that the only relevant point was what I did or didn't have in my pants.

Other controversies

But that wasn't the only fight I was in. I got my tail caught in the OP's crack almost right off the bat. Seems my Provincial governor wanted to appoint me to a local magistracy...just what he had in mind, I never got to find out. A fuss got made over whether non-Roman Pagans could be Magistrates. I told 'em their RIM should use all the talent it could muster, not cut off its nose to spite its face. It was a while before I was appointed to anything, but I did win that one for non-Pagan candidates in the future. That was one reason Sulla (a Jew) and Marcus Minucius Audens (a Christian) were able to prosper in political life.

And others...? --I quote you from a note I dropped here [Ed. note: the SVR Forum] on that very subject...

Posted: Sat Jan 22, 2005 7:46 am Post subject: The OP
I had to chime in, as I was one of the chief focal points of controversy there. This was not my idea; but from the time the first elected government took office in Ian 1999 (AUC 2751/2, iirc), debate raged about situations I was in, beginning with my Provincial Governor's desire to appoint me to a local magistracy in North Texas. The sticking-point...? --That I was not a Roman Pagan. Yes, things were rather sharply divided between followers of the Religio and those who were not. A reenactor Legion, to whom I had been appointed liaison, was asked to convert to the Religio Romana en masse before it could be admitted as a 'sponsored' Legion. An augur forced a Jewish citizen, in light of some perceived slight, to make prayers to the Roman Gods on Yom Kippur. And a candidate for Praetor actually boasted that he would make a better magistrate because, unlike his opponent, he was a follower of the Religio and so would enjoy the favor of the Gods!
Yes, it really was that bad during the early years of the 'Roman Republic Reborn'. It wasn't all religious, either. In fact, I fought long and hard for Cives of any religion to be able to serve as magistrates; for the wording of the Oath of Office to be changed to mandate respect, but not necessarily worship, of the Roman Gods; for non-Citizens to be allowed on the e-List; for the chatroom to be declared a 'free-speech zone', in which nothing said in the chat could be used to prosecute any member outside of it; and, finally, for the right of any transgendered Civis to carry a Roman name that reflected the gender s/he considered him- or herself to be, not necessarily the one on the birth certificate. (The response was to require such voluminous and intimate medical documentation of the unfortunate's 'condition' that anyone in their right mind would sooner slit their own throat than apply for a name-change. I guess that's what the Powers-That-Be wanted.)
One result of so many clashes was that the Administration became rather tired of me. I think, after a while, that the People did too. I ended up getting 'tried' and issued the first-ever Censorial Nota over an April-Fool's prank I played in a private chatroom. I think the damn thing's still up there, on the Laws-R-Us page, and it's the only mention of me on the site since the Archives took a powder. (Or are they back now?)
Anyhoo, it became clear to me after the last Great Big Noisy Fuss that my Citizenship there was no longer a workable plan. I submitted my notice of resignation on 25 Apr 2001 (there was even a little uproar about that!), thus ending three years of association with the OP, most of them very frustrating. I now have nearly four years of what the rehab folks like to call "clean time", and I've spent almost all of that in the SVR. My happiness here you may see by my output!
And yet, I do not hate them. I'm officially Post-Traumatic; I've been in therapy for four years for what those people did to my psyche, but I do not hate them. I treat them quite even-handedly at my Web site, the Roman Outpost; I link to them on two pages, and the most I say about them is "The Roman Republic Reborn...? --Go, see, and decide for yourself."
But you can well imagine that I am not the only person here who has had their nerves rattled by that Place. That happens when you trust the wrong people with something that is dear to you, such as your love of a thing or your Heritage. It was like a bad divorce; it was like coming out of a cult. So you can see why I am not in a hurry to socialize with them.
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