Trans From A Pagan Perspective

Growing up as a southern kid raised with Appalachian roots, the line that seemed to divide binary gender was somewhat blurred for those raised as girls. Both boys and girls were expected to be tough, to play outside in the dirt, to be what society called tomboys. Of course, girls were still expected to wear dresses from time to time; which boys were never allowed to do. I felt a strange confusion of feelings when my mom always insisted on a dress for Picture Days. Why couldn’t I wear pants like the other kids? It felt pretty, but also awkward and uncomfortable. As I grew older, the line that society drew between masculine and feminine genders grew stronger. Applachian women were still expected to be tough and unafraid of doing “a man’s work”, but there was also more pressure to lean into the traditional feminine roles. Nonbinary genders weren’t heard of, and any deviation from binary gendered expectations would often lead to bullying for many. I suppose this is all why it took me so long to begin questioning my gender as a teenager, and even longer to realize that I am trans-masc nonbinary, or a nonbinary trans guy. I realized that I was nonbinary in my 20’s, but didn’t make that step into accepting my trans-masculinity until a couple of years ago as I reached my 30’s.

When I first started questioning whether I might be trans, I was a teenage baby Pagan who was still going through that exploration phase from Christo-Paganism to eclectic soft polytheist Paganism. That break away from the version of Christianity that my parents raised me with started to give me room to view all sorts of things differently. I had become aware that transgender people exist, but wasn’t at the point yet where the idea of nonbinary gender was anywhere on my radar. (I was in southern West Virginia by that point in the early 2000’s, which is only now starting to become more progressive in the 2020’s.) I only knew that my gender isn’t what I was assigned at birth.

All of that said, my focus here will be on my trans experience and how my path as a polytheist Pagan has aided me so far in my journey. Other trans Pagans will, of course, have different perspectives and varying experiences.

By the time I found out more about gender diversity and began exploring my nonbinary gender, my spiritual path was firmly set into a polytheist worldview. I had heeded the call of The Morrígan and Loki had also started calling me. In my experience, these gods don’t play around when they want somebody’s attention. I suppose that is just the way gods in general tend to be. I hadn’t considered early on how my working with these deities could affect how I view myself. My gender and my relationships with the gods have been completely separate. Looking back, though, I realize that some of the lessons They taught me – whether directly or through learning their stories and getting to know Them – helped me to better know myself.

One of the common themes that those who work with The Morrígan often talk about is concerning personal sovereignity. This is the ability to make one’s own decisions, to shape oneself as one feels fit, and to stand one’s ground. Well, that’s my simplified explanation, at least. Though this isn’t directly related to gender issues; it ties in to the ideas of knowing oneself, gaining self confidence, making own’s own decisions, and having the courage to simply exist. All of these are things that I, along with many other trans people, have had to work on. (And in truth, I am still working on these.) The Morrígan has helped me to face the darkest parts of my Self. She has beat it in to my head that the feelings of low self esteem, worthlessness, and shame are feelings that I need to acknowledge in order to fight. Burying them down doesn’t make them go away. Getting to know them, finding their weaknesses (ie- where they come from), at the very least makes it easier to overcome them. In regards to accepting my gender, I had to learn self acceptance; in addition to acceptance of the fact that I am allowed to make my own decisions concerning who I am. Though The Morrígan may not have set out to specifically assist me with my gender issues, the lessons that She taught me have nonetheless been valuable in addressing them.

Loki has a much more straightforward connection to gender diversity. Due to His shapeshifting nature, taking on both traditionally male and female forms at times, some who work with this god view Him as transgender or nonbinary. I am of this same mind, although I recognize that the modern view of gender is surely not the same as it was when people first started telling the stories of the gods. It can’t be denied that Loki’s gender roles have been malleable in the myths and stories that He plays part in, after all. In my exploration of my own gender, I have found comfort in seeing how this god whom I feel so strongly for has embodied both masculine and feminine. It has given me strength in knowing that gender diversity is divine. Loki has helped me on my journey toward self-acceptance, self-compassion, and knowing that my choices are my own. These lessons from my beloved Gift-Bringer¹ and The Morrígan have helped shape me in beginning to connect to my most authentic self.

Paganism, in general, is largely a trans-friendly set of religions. There are some traditions that hold transphobic views, but many recognize that transgender and nonbinary people are a completely natural piece of the human condition. Some Pagans view transgender and nonbinary folks as sacred, either because all people are sacred or because gender diversity in itself is. Our mythologies and folklore that shapes our religions include gods whose genders aren’t only male or female. Some are intersex, some change their genders from male to female/ female to male, some don’t have a gender, some are fluid in their genders, so on and so forth. The gods are a reflection of humankind’s diversity, or perhaps it goes the other way. Maybe the fact that transgender and nonbinary people like me exist is a reflection of the gender diversity of the gods.

¹ Gift-Bringer – A reference to Loki’s role in attaining the Dwarven-made gifts for the Aesir (including mjolnir), as well as Loki’s gift of Her child Sleipnir to Odin. This also has personal meaning to me, as I feel that Loki’s prescence in my life has been a gift.

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Hey, It’s Me: They/ He

While I was never a consistent writer, I must acknowledge that I have really slacked off. For that, readers, I must apologize. There were a couple of blog articles that I had begun and simply could not bring myself to finish as of yet. I suppose the time wasn’t right for them to come to fruition. All of that said, I do feel a calling to write an update of sorts. I have been dealing with, among the usual ebbs and flows of life, some inner work that needed done regarding my identity. One aspect of that is still too raw for me to discuss here, but another wants to be said.

In the past, I have discussed my gender on this blog. I believe that the last thing I mentioned regarding who I am in terms of gender is that I’m non-binary. But, that may have been before I became sure that I wanted to drop she/her pronouns. I’m they/them, leaning toward he/him. Feminine pronouns and language directed toward me has become increasingly uncomfortable for me. Truthfully, it’s not an entirely new revelation. It’s more that the recent development is my acknowledgement of my feelings.

Ever since I was a child, being called a “girl” and “she/her” felt wrong. I pushed it under the rug, largely because I didn’t have the language or support to understand why I felt that way. I was a bit of a tomboy who didn’t quite understand why it was that I couldn’t be more like boys. As a teenager, I had found some of that language and questioned whether I might be a trans boy. Yet, I was still missing some of the language and any of the support I needed in order to further explore who I was.

Enter my twenties: This was in the 2010’s, when more information regarding nonbinary genders was become easier to happen across online. Something about that clicked with me. And yet, and yet… It took until I was about to turn thirty before I was able to allow myself to fully accept that I really am not a cisgender woman.

Pretending to be a woman was easier than facing the task of coming out as nonbinary. It hurt, but that pain of pushing who I am down was easier than telling people who I feared may reject me. Or so, I thought it was easier. Eventually, I had to stop playing the ill-fitting role that I was assigned.

At first, I only told those who were close to me, who I trusted. As is the case for most in the LGBTQIA+ community. Then, I slowly started updating my pronouns on social media and even started openly discussing it here and there online. I was becoming more confident in accepting and exploring who I am. I tried on the label of genderfluid, which fit like a comfy sweater. But there was a hole in that sweater. Something was missing and, any time I tried to express femininity in my appearance, I felt wrong all over again.

Just over a month ago, after many months of deliberation, I started T. I cannot express how freeing taking this step has already been. I now feel ready to say that I am transmasc nonbinary. (To be clear, medical transition of any sort is not required to be transmasc. Testosterone has only given me the push I needed.) I finally came out at work. I think the genderfluid label might still fit me, but I do definitely lean more toward the transmasc side of things. Perhaps, once I can pass as a guy more easily, I will become comfortable with presenting with femininity again. If so, I suspect it would be because then, I will not always be automatically seen as a woman by outsiders. I will be more free to express myself as a genderqueer person.

I am finally becoming more comfortable with myself. And, though I know I still have a long way to go, I am beginning to understand what it means to love oneself.

Growing Pains

When my child was little, seeing xem hit new milestones and gain more independence was bittersweet. It was a relief to have xem rely on me less and less, little by little. It brought me pride to see my little one growing up. It still does, but I’ve been feeling more sad about it lately. My “little” one doesn’t seem like the same child I once knew. It’s probably past time that I face it: My child is continuously becoming their own person. That’s part of growing up. As a parent, that is perhaps the best goal to aim for. Anything that puts strict expectations on a child to be a certain way ends up missing the mark. Too many children have grown up to feel the pain caused by their parents who tried to set limits on who they can be. Many of us have experienced that pain for ourselves. Why should we want to hurt our own kids in the same way? Isn’t it enough to raise a child with compassion for others and theirself?

I spent too much of my kid’s childhood influenced by the opinions of my in-laws. I let my mother-in-law tell me that my kid shouldn’t have colored hair or certain haircuts for too long, despite my internal disagreement with such restrictions. I was afraid to really raise my child as a Pagan, limiting myself only to telling stories until we moved an hour away. To be real, I regret some of the parenting choices that I made. Some of them were based on fear of judgement from people who I now realize don’t care as much about my family as I had thought. Once we failed to meet their expectations, the in-laws stopped trying to reach out. Go figure.

At the same time, despite my feeling like I didn’t make enough of my own decisions in my earlier years of parenting, I know that I got some things right. My wife and I stood our ground with our decision against spanking. I always gave my child a choice in what to believe in, spiritually. When he asked me if Loki or fairies are real, I told xem: “I believe they are. What about you?”. The same happened with Santa and the Tooth Fairy, although I never outright claimed to believe in those two. I even allowed my kid to go to church with my in-laws until he decided that he didn’t want to. (To be fair, that decision on their part may have been influenced by my informing xem of the flaws with that particular church’s harmful beliefs.) I always told xem that love is love and that transgender and nonbinary people are valid. When my kiddo came out as liking the same gender and then as exploring their gender identity, thank the gods I had already gotten away from the strong toxic influence of my in-laws, my wife and I embraced their identity.

I’d be lying if there wasn’t one part of my child’s current identity that I am struggling with, though. As a polytheist, knowing that my kid doesn’t share my spiritual beliefs kind of hurts. It feels almost like I did something wrong. Maybe I explained my beliefs too simplisticly. But the truth of the matter is that forcing my religion onto my child is what would be wrong. As much as I would love to have a Pagan kid, religion should always be a choice. Or, at least as much of a choice that I believe it can be. If the gods call to xem one day and he recognizes it, I will be happy and willing to offer whatever help I can. If not, that is just something that I will have to continue to accept.

These preteen years are an introduction to what I may expect the teenage years to be like. This is my only kid, though, so that statement is purely an assumption. My kid still comes to me for comfort and I hope that continues, but he also spends more time hidden away in the privacy of their room. This child is now more willing to speak their mind when he disagrees with something, but is also still learning how to regulate their emotions as all adolescents are. It’s not always easy to parent with all of that in mind, though I do try.

I don’t know yet what my kid will be like throughout their teen years or as an adult. I am expecting some stumbles and troubles – we all go through them and he won’t get to be an exception. I am also hoping for the best. Not necessarily that he be the best at anything in particular, mind you. I am hoping that my parenting allows my kid to continue to be a compassionate person, able to think for xemself, able to be self sufficient and yet unafraid to ask for help when needed.

I do miss the little one that my child used to be. But, it’s a fact of life that children can’t remain the same forever. Nor should we parents want them to.

Somewhere In Between

There’s this song by Poppy that I feel down to my bones when I hear it. It’s called Am I A Girl?

“Am I a girl? What does that even mean? I’m somewhere in between”.

Poppy, Am I A Girl

The lyrics discuss both binary gender expectations and gender fluidity in a way that’s not often seen in music. It feels good to listen to because it’s so relatable for someone like me.

Sometimes I’m feminine. Sometimes I’m masculine. Don’t evaluate me as woman or man

Poppy, Am I A Girl

There is so much truth for me in the lines of this song. As a genderfluid person, my gender is… well, fluid. Sometimes I’m a woman, sometimes I’m somewhere in between, sometimes I’m a guy. I am always nonbinary.

Being nonbinary in a society that typically only recognizes binary genders feels so weird. In a previous post, I mentioned how it feels almost alien to be grey-ace in this society. Yeah, that feeling is the same in terms of my gender, too.

The nonbinary label covers many different gender labels and can be considered part of the transgender umbrella. Not all nonbinary people identify as trans, for various reasons. Because of this, a new term has also been coined to cover nonbinary people: metagender. I do acknowledge that I am technically transgender, but I also feel like the label doesn’t quite fit me. There’s still a lot of binary expectations with being transgender and I don’t see that experience as my own. At the same time, I wholly believe that nonbinary people should be accepted by the transgender community. Even binary trans people will have different experiences, after all, and we are all different genders than what we were assigned at birth (in simpler words – not cisgender).

Each nonbinary person’s experience is going to be different. There are just so many ways to exist, not only as nonbinary, but as a human in general.

I’m AFAB. I still use she/her (as well as they/them and sometimes he/him). I still present sometimes as femme – makeup, leggings, a dress on more rare occasions. As a parent who gave birth, I still go by “momma” and am very attached to “motherhood” as a label. I also prefer more gender neutral, androgynous, or sometimes masculine presentation. I feel euphoric when people can’t figure out if I’m “a boy or a girl” or when they code me as a guy after seeing me. (Unfortunately, they usually “correct” themselves after hearing my voice.) At the same time, as a feminist and someone who is AFAB, it pisses me off when people use their outdated preconceptions about binary gender roles to assume that my job (or any, really) is being done by a man. Likewise, I get frustrated when people code me as a man because of my gender neutral birth name (I love my name – just can’t stand people who insist it’s a boy name). In these cases, I would prefer to be assumed a woman rather than a man. Fuck the patriarchy and all that, heh.

Some nonbinary people choose to medically transition, to various degrees, but I’m still not sure how I feel about it for myself. I hate how high my speaking voice is, I love that I can hit some higher notes when singing. I love my feminine curves and breasts sometimes, I prefer to wear a binder and baggy shirt when I feel dysphoric about my body. Making a choice to alter my body, even with a low doses of hormones, is an enormous decision that I’m not yet ready to make.

I’m out as nonbinary, but not OUT out. I don’t mention it to those in my life who I know wouldn’t accept it. I don’t push it or correct the language anyone uses for me. Being coded as a woman (mostly) doesn’t bother me much. Still, I feel a shift in me that’s growing more and more frustrated with the binary thinking of this society that I live in. Masculine? Feminine? What does that even mean? I’m somewhere in between.

Out, But Not Really on Social Media

Social media can feel more complicated than it probably should. The questions arise as to whether one should post that, or if it’s okay to comment this. I’m pretty sure everyone by now has run into the issue of tone on the internet. Or, rather, that it might as well not exist for all it’s readability. Misunderstandings run amuck, along with trolls and all sorts of well-intentioned people and problem causers.

One particular issue I’ve had with navigating social media is privacy concerns. As a Pagan who has stayed “in the broom closet” with certain people, I was relieved when I realized that I could share things with my privacy settings adjusted to block specific people from seeing it. It felt good to not have to always feel like I’m hiding an important part of who I am. Of course, there’s always the issue of worrying if someone else may out you to the wrong person. Social media screenshots can be the proof they need. Even a video or photo showing you at an event that somebody else took and posted to their own timeline can cause damage.
Those who want to share with certain friends with more anonymity may create a separate account with an alternative name and no identifying public photos. It’s certainly a safer way to do things if you’re worried about privacy. The idea stresses me out, personally. I’d rather just keep checking my privacy settings when I post. It’s important, however, to recognize that this isn’t worth the risk to everyone. Choosing to have an alternative account is a valid way to choose who one is open with.

It’s not just Pagans, either. Many in the LGBTQA+ community are still in the closet when it comes to family or employers/ coworkers. They often handle their social media accounts in the same ways to protect their privacy. The memes about being bi/pansexual or asexual that I share get the same treatment as my Pagan and witchy themed posts. Visible to everyone on my friends list except for X list.

In relation to privacy and being “out” on social media, it can sometimes be difficult to gauge what is okay to post concerning others. If I mention my spouse, I often flip between referring to them with “they/them” pronouns and using “he/him” pronouns depending on who can hear/ read what I’m saying. Being a spouse to a genderfluid, nonbinary, or transgender person who isn’t out to the entire world comes with some level of responsibility. My spouse has given their blessing for me to be open about their gender identity with certain people or in more anonymous settings. I don’t want to cross any lines and out them to the wrong people, but I also don’t want to disrespect them by using the wrong pronouns. With social media, it can be a confusing line to walk. The best anyone in this sort of relationship to do is keep communication open regarding social media mentions. To be fair, that’s probably true of any relationship.

Social media has made it possible for many of us to be more open with others while also giving us the tools we need to choose who we are open with. It is far from a perfect system. There are certainly risks involved when we are disclosing information visibly to some that we don’t share with everyone. It’s important that we remember that what we post on the internet is not fully private. That doesn’t mean we should give up on it. It’s made it easier for many people to connect with others, both online and in the “real world” offline. I consider it a blessing… Even with the worries it can bring.

My Truth Is Grey

Don’t listen to them when they say you’re either this or that. Don’t let them tell you that you can only love one or the other. Sexuality and romantic attraction is more fluid, has more grey-areas, than what some prefer to think. Sometimes those grey areas can become muddled, leaving someone questioning their own truth. It’s okay to question. Doing so should be encouraged, in fact. But, that doesn’t always mean it’ll be simple.

When I was younger, I barely realized that having romantic feelings for the same sex was something that happened. It took years for me to be able to realize (looking back) that my feelings for one childhood friend weren’t just platonic. I’d had a crush on her. Had I not moved away and had I thought she might share those feelings, maybe we could’ve been more than friends.
I was able to admit to myself as a teenager that I liked people regardless of their gender, but it took until after I reached adulthood for me to realize that I was also grey-asexual. This was something I’d never heard of up until then and I had worried that something was wrong with me.

Being married to someone who presents as a cis-gender male, people will often assume that I’m straight. For bisexuals, our identity is often erased by others who think that someone can only be gay/ lesbian or straight. Sorry not sorry, it doesn’t work like that. It’s not a switch that gets flipped.
Another assumption made is that being in a relationship and having romantic feelings for someone must include a sexual attraction. Sure, it does for most people. But, there are those who never experience that sort of attraction or desire. There are also those, like me, who only do sometimes. It doesn’t mean something is wrong with me, that I don’t love my spouse, or anything else.

Despite my own surety that I’ve figured it out, I should admit that sometimes I do continue to question. What if I really am a lesbian in denial, rather than a grey-bisexual (or is it pansexual*)? What if I’m not? What if I’m just a person who loves who I love, and wants sexual intimacy only once in a while regardless of my partner’s gender? That’s not a bad thing.

I am in that grey-area of love and attraction. There are many others. There are likely some who deny it because they’re told it doesn’t exist. It does and everyone who exists within it is valid. Don’t let them tell you it’s one or the other.

*While I am attracted to people regardless of gender, and so pansexual may be more accurate, I’m still attached to the label of bisexual and so that’s what I most commonly use.

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The Conundrum of Gender

I have a confession of sorts to make. There have been multiple times that I questioned whether I’m really cis-gender. The pesky idea that I’m more boy keeps coming back. At one point, I had nearly decided that I was genderfluid. Then the idea floated away.

Growing up, I resisted the notions of what being a girl should include. I was a typical tomboy. Dresses and pink were for girly-girls, showing that I was tough instead of a “damsel in distress” was a badge of honor. I grew up on Dragon Ball Z, horrified by how the girls were often sexualized while envying the strength of the Saiyans. As I grew older, I slowly began falling away from some of that. Yeah, misogyny and rape culture would always make me uncomfortable. It would anger me. I was not immune to it and the disgusting behavior of grown cis-men toward both girl children and women.
Still, the shame of being a girl faded away. I wanted the power of being a woman. I learned to love the idea of being a woman… Even if I didn’t always feel like one. Yes, even if there are times when I feel more like the label of “boy” or “genderfluid” might fit better.

What is it that makes me a woman? I refuse to adhere to the idea that my reproductive organs are the deciding factor. I know that trans-women are women. Don’t try to convince me otherwise. They may have different struggles as women, but so do many cis-women.
I don’t know how anyone really knows what gender they are. Gender itself is really just a social construct, is it not? Or is that an oversimplification? I think it may be more complicated than that.

Perhaps, in the same way that I decided it was okay for me to be a woman, I may eventually give myself permission to be nonbinary. Or perhaps the idea of gendered labels simply don’t matter so much to me. The world sees me as a woman and I can live with that.

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