Recently I was told that “Gender identity is a fad, a recent invention by people wanting to pretend that they’re special or different.”
This view is perhaps unsurprising, the historical erasure of LGBTQ people is a well documented phenomenon. That’s why I ran the Hetaera podcast, examining influential trans people and women throughout history (I plan to pick it up again in 2020!).
So to prepare you for similar interactions, let me tell you about Pharaoh Hatshepsut.
The first born daughter of Queen Ahmose and the Pharaoh Thutmose I, Hatshepsut was passed over in favour of her half brother and later husband Thutmose II (don’t judge, the English royal family tree still looks like a bush.)
Thutmose II died, Hatshepsut became regent and over the next 7 years, all depictions of her moved away from being a subservient wife to that of being a proud and powerful king, beard and male clothing included.
At this point, she changed her name from Hatshepsut ‘She is First Among Noble Women’ to ‘the male’ Hatshepsut and took the throne name ‘Maatkare’, meaning ‘Truth is the Soul of the Sun God’ and title ‘The King Herself’. She rewrote history to tell the story of her mother’s immaculate conception by Amun, and proclaimed herself the wife of Amun, thereby ensuring that she need never take a husband.
She ruled for a further 13 years, during which time she ensured that any depictions of her were male. She was a shrewd negotiator and ensured peace in the region and surrounding lands. Much of the history surrounding her was destroyed directly after her death, so we don’t have a huge amount to go on. But what we do know is that she used female pronouns and male visage, and to this day is reputed to be among the best pharaohs of all time.
So one of the first influential woman in recorded history.
– Expressed as male.
– Ran the Egyptian empire for over 20 years.
– Kept female pronouns throughout
I urge you, the next time someone is critical of your gender expression, think back on our rich history. Our numbers included a pharaoh, Roman emperors, Queen Anne, Pope Julius III, Leonardo Da Vinci himself, world war 2 pilots, and so many more. Should a community with such a rich, complex, amazing history be spoken to like that?
For me, these people are the forerunners of our culture. I know that when I learned that historical representations of eunuchs are now thought to have been trans people (including Alexander the Great’s lover Bagoas), it helped me a lot.
We have always been here. We will always be here. And through the rise and fall of every civilisation, we have persevered. In dark times it helps me to remember that we are not new, we are not alone, and we are not going anywhere.
Morgan is prepping to get the podcast going again, writing a modular series of books on polyamory, a separate book on ‘Hacking capitalism’ and is one of the organisers of polyday UK. You can follow them on twitter @kinkycon.
I hope you all find some joy this week too ❤