Ancient History of Cross-Dressing: From Ancient Religions to the Theaters

Ancient History of Cross-Dressing: From Ancient Religions to the Theaters

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Ephippus, in a surviving fragment of his lost pamphlet depicting the court of Alexander the Great in 324-323 BC, alleges that Alexander liked to cross-dress as the Greek archer-goddess Artemis. Supposedly, Alexander often appeared in public as Artemis dressed in the Persian garb with a bow and hunting-spear. It is likely that the passage is a libel, possibly to denounce Alexander. As his father Philip had destroyed Epipphus’ home city of Olynthus in 348 BC, Epipphus may not have been too fond of the young king.

Artemis with a hind, better known as "Diana of Versailles". Marble, Roman artwork, Imperial Era (1st-2nd centuries CE).

Epipphus’ choice of slander left room for a wide range of interpretations. Seeing this from a modern perspective, Epipphus’ way to demean Alexander may be the allegation that the mighty king Alexander was a cross-dresser. But, what if Epipphus meant to ridicule Alexander the king for presumptuously impersonating a deity – an activity reserved for priests? This would illustrate what seems to be ancient society’s attitude towards cross-dressing.

Imitation, Transformation and Transgression: Cross-dressing in Ancient Mythology and Religions

Crossdressing is recorded around the world from the ancient past up to the present. In the ancient world, cross-dressing often mirrored gender-crossing actions of deities. In this context, it was tolerated, even supported, as an aspect of religious devotion. Also in this context, the transformation of gender is often associated with the process of coming closer to divinity by breaking down the categories of ordinary human experience. The manipulation of dress, therefore, is the most visible and convenient way for human beings to do what divine beings accomplish by other means, including crossing gender.

The Sumerian deity Inanna, identified with the Akkadian Ishtar, is believed capable of either gender presentation to bridge heaven and earth as well as gender-altering power.

Molded naked figure holding breasts. Between 1300 and 1100 BC. (CC BY-SA 2.0 fr )

Her cults included the kurĝara, whose dress incorporated mixed gender elements in their public processionals. Atum, of ancient Egypt, could be depicted androgynously, as said in a coffin text which says “I am the great He-She”. But perhaps the best known example of a divine gender-bender was Dionysus. Greek literature scholar Albert Henrichs called Dionysus “the most versatile and elusive of all Greek Gods,” as he was perceived as both man and animal, male and effeminate, young and old.

Dionysus in Bacchus by Caravaggio.

As there are many legends about Dionysus, there are varied depictions of Dionysus ranging from bearded Dionysus to more effeminate versions. Archaic vases show him in a woman’s tunic, saffron veil, and helmet. Dionysian festivals frequently featured role reversals such as cross-dressing. In the festival of Oschophoria, for example, young, wealthy noblemen dressed as women and led a sacred procession from the Temple of Dionysius to that of Athena.

Dionysus, Silenus (and Maenad?). Red-figure krater. (Ad Meskens/ CC BY-SA 3.0 )

Deities often take disguises. Frequently the disguise involves appearing as a gender different from the one typically associated with that deity. Athena, for example, in Homer’s Odyssey disguises herself as Mentor, the male friend of Odysseus. Zeus disguised himself to appear like Artemis. His aim was one of those familiar to gender-crossings for thousands of years to come, which is to gain an access he would have otherwise lacked. In this case, it was access to the nymph Callisto.


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Ancient History of Cross-Dressing: From Ancient Religions to the Theaters - History

Humans are designed to compartmentalize objects, ideas, and experiences. It’s how we survive. Our early ancestors’ ability to instantaneously decide a whether a situation was safe or dangerous was imperative if they wanted to keep their weak, hairless little bodies alive long enough to pass along their genes.

As societies developed, understanding our place within that structure, as well as everyone else’s, became just as important. We wanted to look at somebody and immediately know certain things about them (namely, were they trying to have sex with us, and were we trying to have sex with them). We would use visual cues to gather information about a person and tailor our behavior accordingly.

That is one of the reasons why crossdressing, and those who crossdress, are often met with derision, distrust, and even distaste. Crossdressers disrupt our ability to separate people into neat categories and force us to confront the reality that gender groupings, and consequently gender itself, are largely imaginary.

This article features a sampling of crossdressers–famous, infamous, and unknown–from around the world and across time. We hope it sheds some light onto this often misunderstood group.


There are many different kinds of cross-dressing, and many different reasons why an individual might engage in cross-dressing behaviour. ΐ]

Drag queens are a form of cross-dressing as performance art.

Some people cross-dress as a matter of comfort or style. They have a preference towards clothing which is only marketed to or associated with the opposite sex. In this case, a person's cross-dressing may or may not be visible to other people.

Some people cross-dress in order to shock others or challenge social norms.

Both men and women may cross-dress in order to disguise their true identity. Historically, some women have cross-dressed in order to take up male-dominated or male-exclusive professions, such as military service. Conversely, some men have cross-dressed in order to escape from mandatory military service. Α]

Single-sex theatrical troupes often have some performers cross-dress in order to play roles written for members of the opposite sex. Cross-dressing, particularly the depiction of males wearing dresses, is often used for comic effect onstage and onscreen.

Drag is a special form of performance art based on cross-dressing. A drag queen is usually a male-bodied person who performs as an exaggeratedly feminine character, in heightened costuming sometimes consisting of a showy dress, high-heeled shoes, obvious makeup, and wig. A drag queen may imitate famous female film or pop-music stars. A faux queen is a female-bodied person employing the same techniques.

A drag king is a counterpart of the drag queen but usually for much different audiences. A female-bodied person (often lesbians) who adopt a masculine persona in performance or imitates a male film or pop-music star. Some female-bodied people undergoing gender reassignment therapy also self-identify as drag kings although this use of "drag king" would generally be considered inaccurate.

Transgendered people who are undergoing or have undergone gender reassignment therapy are usually not regarded as cross-dressing. Namely, a transsexual who has completed gender reassignment surgery is certainly not considered cross-dressing, unless they were to wear clothes of the gender opposite of what they have transitioned to. Pre-operative transsexuals may be considered similarly.

A transvestic fetishist is a person (typically a heterosexual male) who cross-dresses as part of a sexual fetish.

The term underdressing is used by male cross-dressers to describe wearing female undergarments under their male clothes. The famous low-budget filmmaker Edward D. Wood, Jr. said he often wore women's underwear under his military uniform during World War II.

Some people who cross-dress may endeavour to project a complete impression of belonging to another gender, down to mannerisms, speech patterns, and emulation of sexual characteristics. This is referred to as passing or "trying to pass" depending how successful the person is. An observer who sees through the cross-dresser's attempt to pass is said to have read them. There are books and magazines on how a man may look more like a woman. Β]

Sometimes either person of a heterosexual couple will wear it to arouse the other. For example, the Male would wear skirts or lingerie and/or the Female will wear boxers or other male clothing. (See also forced feminization)

Others may choose to take a mixed approach, adopting some feminine traits and some masculine traits in their appearance. For instance, a man might wear both a dress and a beard. This is sometimes known as genderfuck.

Buddhism History

When Gautama passed away around 483 B.C., his followers began to organize a religious movement. Buddha’s teachings became the foundation for what would develop into Buddhism.

In the 3rd century B.C., Ashoka the Great, the Mauryan Indian emperor, made Buddhism the state religion of India. Buddhist monasteries were built, and missionary work was encouraged.

Over the next few centuries, Buddhism began to spread beyond India. The thoughts and philosophies of Buddhists became diverse, with some followers interpreting ideas differently than others.

In the sixth century, the Huns invaded India and destroyed hundreds of Buddhist monasteries, but the intruders were eventually driven out of the country.

Islam began to spread quickly in the region during the Middle Ages, forcing Buddhism into the background.


Ancient Egypt Edit

Ancient Egypt had third gender categories, including for eunuchs. [3] In the Tale of Two Brothers (from 3200 years ago), Bata removes his penis and tells his wife "I am a woman just like you" one modern scholar called him temporarily (before his body is restored) "transgendered". [3] [4] [5] Mut, Sekhmet and other goddesses are sometimes represented androgynously, with erect penises, [3] [6] and Anat wears clothes of both men and women. [6]

North Africa Edit

Trans people face stigma and are not able to change gender markers or access hormone therapy or reassignment surgery in Morocco, but in 2018 some founded a group to oppose discrimination. [7] In Algeria, trans people mostly live in the shadows, or seek refuge in France in 2014 the first LGBT magazine in the country, El Shad, launched and profiled several. [8] In Tunisia, trans people have been arrested, jailed, and tortured [9] some seek asylum in Greece. [10] Egypt today is also hostile to transgender people, who are subject to arrest. [11] [12]

The Nuba peoples of Sudan (including the Otoro Nuba, Nyima, Tira, Krongo, and Mesakin), have traditional roles for male-assigned people who dress and live as women and may marry men, which have been seen as transgender roles. [13] [14] [15] However, trans people face discrimination in the modern Sudanese state, and cross-dressing is illegal. [16] [17]

For the history of Roman and Byzantine Africa, see § Rome and Byzantium for Ottoman Africa, see § Ottoman Empire.

West Africa Edit

By the modern period, the Igbo, like many other peoples, had gender and transgender roles, [13] [18] including for females who take on male status and marry women, a practice which also exists among the Dahomey (Fon) of Benin and has been viewed through both transgender and homosexual lenses. [19] Anthropologist John McCall documented a female-assigned Ohafia Igbo named Nne Uko Uma Awa, who dressed and behaved as a boy since childhood, joined men's groups, and was a husband to two wives in 1991, Awa stated "by creation I was meant to be a man. But as it happened, when coming into this world I came with a woman's body. That is why I dressed [as a man]." [18] [20] However, trans people in Nigeria face harassment and violence. [21] [22]

In the modern Ghanaian state, trans people face violence and discrimination in accessing healthcare, work, education and housing, as they also do in a number of other western African states like the Gambia. [23] [24]

Trans people face abuse from society, government, media and doctors in Senegal, [25] and are harassed (including by police) in Sierra Leone, [26] but have built some underground community spaces. [27] Transphobia is rampant in modern Mali and trans women are often beaten in the streets. [28] In Liberia, sexual minorities have long been part of society, and founded the Transgender Network of Liberia in 2014, hold an annual pageant, and mark the Trans Day of Remembrance, but also face harassment. [29] They benefited from US backing under Obama and were harmed by Trump administration cuts, and by Liberians who wrongly believe transness was introduced to the country by the West. [29]

In the Ivory Coast, trans women (especially sex workers) face harassment and violence, especially since the 2011 election since 2009, there has been an annual drag pageant, but it focuses more on gay men than trans women or travestis. [30] [31] [32] In modern Benin, one trans woman was supported by her mother and the French in organizing other trans Beninese, but abused by other relatives, threatened by police, and forced to flee abroad. [33] In Cape Verde, activist Tchinda Andrade came out in 1998, becoming so well-known that trans people are locally called tchindas in 2015, the documentary Tchindas followed her preparation for the annual carnival. [34] Trans people still face intolerance, but São Vicente, Cape Verde is today among the more tolerant places in Africa, which locals attribute to its small size requiring people to work together. [34] [35]

Central Africa Edit

In Cameroon, trans people face violence and discrimination in accessing healthcare, work, education and housing, [23] and trans women have been attacked and jailed. [36] [37] Trans people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo today also face harassment. [38] Trans and gay people in Rwanda live more openly and face less violence than in neighboring states, but face some stigma. [39] [40] In Angola, in the 2010s, trans singer Titica initially faced violence but has become popular, especially with young Angolans. [41]

East Africa Edit

Among Swahili-speaking peoples of Kenya, male-assigned mashoga may take feminine names, marry men, and do womanly household work (while mabasha marry women). [42] [43] Among some other Kenyan peoples, male-assigned priests (called mugawe among the Meru and Kikuyu) dress and style their hair like women and may marry men, [44] and have been compared to trans women. [13] [15]

Among the Nuer people (in what is now South Sudan and Ethiopia), female-assigned people who have borne no children may adopt a male status, marry a woman, and be regarded as the father of any children they bear (a practice which has been viewed as transgender or homosexual) [15] [45] [46] the Nuer are also reported to have a male-to-female role. [13] The Maale people of Ethiopia also have a traditional role for male-assigned ashtime who take on feminine roles traditionally, they served as sexual partners for the king on days he was ritually barred from sex with women with the introduction of modern transphobia, ashtime came to be viewed as abnormal by the 1970s. [47] The Amhara people of Ethiopia stigmatize male-assigned people in their communities who adopt feminine dress. [48] [49]

In Uganda today, transphobia and homophobia is increasing, introduced in the 1800s and 1900s by Christian missionaries [50] and stoked in the 2000s by conservative evangelicals [51] trans people are now often kicked out by their families and denied work, and face discrimination in accessing healthcare, though trans men are trying to challenge such transphobia and sexist gender roles. [23] [52] [53] Traditionally, Ugandan peoples were largely accepting of trans and gay people [50] the Lango people accepted trans women—male-assigned people called jo apele or jo aboich who were believed to have been transformed at conception into women by the androgynous deity Jok, and who adopted women's names, dress, and face-decorations, grew their hair long, simulated menstruation, and could marry men [15] [50] —as did the Karamojong and Teso, [50] and the Lugbara people had roles for both trans women (okule) and trans men (agule). [54] [55]

In Madagascar, the U.S. State Department reported in 2011 that "sexual orientation and gender identity were not widely discussed" and attitudes ranged "from tacit acceptance to violent rejection, particularly of transgender sex workers". [56] In the early 2000s, Balou Chabart Rasoana became one of the first publicly out trans women, and faced discrimination but was supported by her mother and, over time, her neighborhood much of the LGBT community remains underground. [57]

Southern Africa Edit

Traditional Bantu third genders Edit

Various Bantu peoples in southern Africa, including the Zulu, Basotho, Mpondo and Tsonga, had a tradition of young men (inkotshane in Zulu, boukonchana in Sesotho, tinkonkana in Mpondo, and nkhonsthana in Tsonga called "boy-wives" in English) who married or had intercrural or anal sex with older men, and sometimes dressed as women, wore breast prostheses, did not grow beards, and did women's work [13] [58] these relationships became common among South African miners and continued into the 1950s, [59] and while often interpreted as homosexual, boy-wives are sometimes seen as transgender. [13] [60]

Botswana Edit

In two cases in 2017, Botswana's High Court ruled trans men and trans women have the right to have their gender identity recognized by the government and to change gender markers the court said the registrar's refusal to change a marker was unreasonable and violated the person's "rights to dignity, privacy, freedom of expression, equal protection of the law, freedom from discrimination and freedom from inhumane and degrading treatment". [61] [62] [63]

South Africa Edit

From the 1960s to 1980s, the South African Defence Force forced some white gay and lesbian soldiers to have sex reassignment surgery. [64]

Since March 2004, trans and intersex people are allowed to change their legal sex [65] after medical treatment such as hormone replacement therapy. [66] Several Labour Court rulings have found against employers that mistreated employees who transitioned. [67]

North America Edit

Early history Edit

Prior to western contact, some Native American tribes had third-gender roles, [69] like the Diné (Navajo) nádleehi and the Zuni lhamana. European anthropologists usually referred to these people as berdaches, which Indigenous people have always considered an offensive slur. [70] [71] In 1990, some Indigenous North Americans, largely in academia, adopted the pan-Indian neologism two-spirit, as an attempt to organize inter-tribally. [70] [71] [72] [73] Though acceptance of this term in traditional Native communities which already have their own terms for such people has been limited, it has generally met with more acceptance than the slur it replaced. [70]

One of the first European accounts of Iroquois practices of gender was made by missionary Joseph-François Lafitau who spent six years among the Iroquois starting in 1711, [74] and observed "women with manly courage who prided themselves upon the profession of warrior, [and seemed] to become men alone", and people he called "men cowardly enough to live as women." [75]

There is archaeological evidence that trans- or third-gender individuals existed in California 2500 years ago at rates comparable to those at which they exist among indigenous peoples there in the modern era, [76] [77] and archaeological and ethnographic evidence suggests third-gender categories may be of great antiquity in North America overall Barbara Voss suggests they may go back to the first migrations of people from eastern Asia and Siberia over 10,000 years ago. [78]

Canada Edit

During the colonial period a European system of beliefs and values was imposed on the First Nations and enforced among the colonists. In 1738, the arrival of Esther Brandeau, a Jewish girl disguised as a boy using the male pseudonym Jacques La Fargue, caused a minor scandal in Quebec City. [79]

In 2002, sexual orientation and gender identity were included in the Northwest Territories Human Rights Act.

In June 2012, gender identity and expression were added to the Ontario Human Rights Code, and gender identity was added to the Manitoba Human Rights Code. [80] In December 2012 Nova Scotia added gender identity and expression to the list of things explicitly protected from harassment in that province's Human Rights Act. [81] In May 2012, after a legal battle to reverse her disqualification for not being a "naturally born female", Vancouver resident Jenna Talackova became the first trans woman to compete in a Miss Universe pageant, and was one of four contestants to win "Miss Congeniality". [82]

In March 2013, the House of Commons passed Bill C-279 to officially extend human rights protections to trans people in Canada. [83] In February 2015, the Senate of Canada amended the bill in ways that were criticized as transphobic. [84]

In December 2015, legislator Estefania Cortes-Vargas came out as non-binary in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta during a debate over the inclusion of transgender rights in the provincial human rights code. [85] While the provincial Hansard normally reports members' speeches under the gender honorifics "Mr." or "Ms.", Cortes-Vargas is recorded as "Member Cortes-Vargas". [85] On December 17, 2015, Kael McKenzie was appointed to the Provincial Court of Manitoba, becoming Canada's first openly transgender judge. [86]

In 2016, gender identity or expression was added to the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The same year, Jennifer Pritzker gave a $2 million donation to create the world’s first endowed academic chair of transgender studies, at the University of Victoria in British Columbia Aaron Devor was chosen as the inaugural chair. [87] In May 2016, Bill C-16 was introduced aiming to update the Canadian Human Rights Act and Criminal Code to include gender identity and expression as protected grounds from discrimination, hate publication and advocacy of genocide, and to add targeting of victims on the basis of gender identity and expression to the list of aggravating factors in sentencing, [88] the first time such a bill was put forward by the governing party in the House of Commons. [88] Since June 2017, all places within Canada explicitly within the Canadian Human Rights Act or equal opportunity or anti-discrimination legislation do prohibit discrimination against gender identity or expression. [89]

Since August 2017, Canadians can indicate that they are neither male nor female on their passports, using an 'x' marker. [90]

In January 2018, Canadian Women's Hockey League player Jessica Platt came out, the first trans woman to come out in North American professional hockey. [91]

Haiti Edit

In 1791, early in the Haitian Revolution, a black planter who had been raised as a boy led an uprising in southern Haiti [92] [93] [94] under the name Romaine-la-Prophétesse ("Romaine the Prophetess"). [95] [96] Romaine dressed like a woman [97] [98] [99] and spoke of being possessed by a female spirit, [95] [100] may have been transgender or genderfluid, and has been compared to the transgender feminine religious figures of West Africa, the area many black Haitians descended from. [96] [97] [101] Mary Grace Albanese and Hourya Bentouhami [fr] list Romaine among the women who led the Haitian Revolution, while Terry Rey argues calling Romaine transgender could be anachronistic. [101] [97] [102] Romaine has been compared to Kimpa Vita, who professed to be the incarnation of a male Catholic saint. [95] [96]

In the modern era, discrimination and violence against transgender people is common in Haitian society, though many LGBT people find it easier to be open about their gender within the Vodou subculture, [103] [104] in which it is believed, for example, that people may be possessed by divinities of the opposite sex. [100] Haiti's criminal code prohibits vagrancy, with a specific mention of transvestites. [105]

Mexico Edit

In several pre-Columbian communities across Mexico, anthropologists and colonial accounts document acceptance of third-gender categories. [106] Transvestitism was an accepted practice in the native cultures of Central (and South) America, including among the Aztecs and Mayans (as reflected in their mythologies). [107] [108] Spanish colonizers were hostile to it. [109]

The Zapotec people of Oaxaca have a third gender role for muxes, people who dress, behave and perform work otherwise associated with the other binary gender [110] [111] [112] vestidas wear feminine clothes, while pintadas wear masculine clothes but also makeup and jewellery. [113] They may marry women, men, or other muxes. [111] It has been suggested that while the three gender system predates Spanish colonization, the phenomenon of muxes dressing as women may be more recent. [114] Juchitán de Zaragoza, an indigenous community on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, has so many well-accepted muxes there is a myth attributing their numbers to a bag of third-genders carried by Saint Vicent ripping and accidentally spilling many out over the town [115] one study estimated 6% of males in the community in the 1970s were muxes. [116]

During the Mexican Revolution, Amelio Robles Ávila began to dress and demand to be treated as a man [117] and, gaining respect as a capable leader, was promoted to colonel. [118] Robles' maleness was accepted by family, society, and the Mexican government, and he lived as a man from age 24 until death [117] a neighbor said that if anyone called Robles a woman, Robles would threaten them with a pistol, [119] [120] and he killed two men who attacked him and tried to reveal his anatomy. [121]

United States Edit

Thomas(ine) Hall, an indentured servant in Virginia, reported being both a man and a woman and adopted clothes and roles of each at different times until ordered by a court in 1629 to wear both men's breeches and a woman's apron Hall is thought to have been intersex and is cited as an early example of "a gender nonconforming individual in colonial America". [122] [123]

In 1776, the Public Universal Friend reported being genderless, dressed androgynously, and asked followers gained while preaching throughout New England over the next four decades not to use their birth name or gendered pronouns [124] some scholars have called the Friend a chapter in trans history "before [the word] 'transgender'". [125] There were also cases of people living as the opposite gender in the early years of the Republic, such as Joseph Lobdell, who was assigned female at birth in 1829, lived as a man for sixty years, and married a woman.

During the Civil War, over 200 people who had been assigned female at birth donned men's clothing and fought as soldiers some lived the rest of their lives as men and are thought by some to have been transgender, such as Albert Cashier. [126] After the war, Frances Thompson, a formerly enslaved black trans woman, testified before Congress's investigation of the Memphis Riots of 1866 ten years later, she was arrested for "being a man dressed in women's clothing". [127] [128] [129]

In the late 1800s, We'wha, a Zuni lhamana fiber artist and potter, became a prominent cultural ambassador, visiting Washington, D.C. in 1896 and meeting President Grover Cleveland. The lhamana are male-bodied people who may at times take on the social and ceremonial roles usually performed by women in their culture, and at other times the roles more traditionally associated with men. [130] [131] [132]

In 1895 a group of self-described androgynes in New York organized a club called the Cercle Hermaphroditos, "to unite for defense against the world's bitter persecution". [133] They included Jennie June (assigned male at birth in 1874), whose The Autobiography of an Androgyne (1918) was one of a few first-person accounts in the early years of the 20th century which cast light on what life for a transgender person was like then. [134]

American jazz musician and bandleader Billy Tipton (assigned female at birth in 1914) lived as a man from the 1940s until his death, [135] while socialite and chef Lucy Hicks Anderson insisted as a child that she was a girl and was supported by her parents and doctors and later by the Oxnard, California community in which she was a popular hostess from the 1920s to 1940s. [136] [137] [138] In 1917, Alan L. Hart was one of the first trans men to undergo a hysterectomy and gonadectomy, and later became a pioneering physician and radiologist. [139]

The possibility of someone changing sex became widely known when Christine Jorgensen in 1952 became the first person widely publicized as undergoing sex reassignment surgery. [140] Around the same time, organizations and clubs began to form, such as Virginia Prince's Transvestia publication for an international organization of cross-dressers, [141] but this operated in the same shadows as the still forming gay subculture. In the late 1950s and 1960s, modern transgender and gay activism began with the 1959 Cooper Donuts Riot in Los Angeles, 1966 Compton's Cafeteria riot in San Francisco, and a defining event in gay and transgender activism, the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York prominent activists included Sylvia Rivera.

The 1970s and 1980s saw organizations devoted to transgender social activities or activism come and go, including activist Lou Sullivan's FTM support group that grew into FTM International, the leading advocacy group for trans men. [141] Some feminist and lesbian organizations and individuals began to debate whether transgender women should be accepted into women's groups and events, such as the women's music collective Olivia Records where trans woman Sandy Stone had long been employed, or the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival which had a "women-born-women" in policy.

The 1990s saw the establishment of Transgender Day of Remembrance to honor those lost to violence, Paris is Burning documenting gay and trans New York ball culture, transgender marches and parades around the time of Pride celebrations, and—increasingly in the 2000s and after—the visibility of transgender people rose, with Monica Roberts starting TransGriot in the mid-2000s to model accurate media coverage of the trans community, [142] actress Laverne Cox being on the cover of TIME in 2014 [143] [144] and Caitlyn Jenner coming out in 2015. [145] Early trans officials like Joanne Conte (elected in 1991 to Arvada, Colorado's city Council) [146] and Althea Garrison (elected to the Massachusetts house in 1992, serving from 1993 to 1995) [147] were not out when elected in the 1990s while Kim Coco Iwamoto became the first openly trans person elected to statewide office when she won election to the Hawaii Board of Education in 2006 (and later to the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission in 2012), [148] and Danica Roem became the first openly trans person elected to a state legislature when she won a seat in the Virginia house in 2017. [149]

Organizations such as the Girl Scouts [150] and the Episcopal Church announced acceptance of transgender members [151] in the 2010s. In 2016, the Obama administration issued guidance that clarified Title IX protections for transgender students, the most well-known being allowing trans students to use bathrooms and locker rooms matching their gender identity. [152] However, some legislative bodies passed discriminatory bills, such as North Carolina's HB 2 (in 2016), and beginning 2017 the Trump administration rescinded the Obama-era protections of trans students, [153] rescinded rules against healthcare providers discriminating against trans patients, [154] [155] and issued a series of orders against employment of trans people by the department of defense. [156] In 2020, the Supreme Court ruled in Bostock v. Clayton County that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects employees against discrimination because of gender identity (or sexual orientation). [157]

South America Edit

Bolivia Edit

In 2016, Bolivia passed the Gender Identity Law, which allowed people over 18 to change their name, gender, and picture on legal documents. [158]

Chile Edit

In March 1973, the first sexual reassignment surgery in Latin America took place in Chile, when Marcia Torres underwent it in a Santiago hospital. [159] [160] This took place just months before the 1973 Chilean coup d'état, and the new dictatorship under Augusto Pinochet began adopting policies which criminalized and marginalized the activities of gay and trans people. [161] Torres, however, was able to acquire the changed identity documents she sought from the courts after her surgery. [162]

In 2018, President Sebastián Piñera signed the Gender Identity Law, which allows transgender people over age 14 "to update their names on legal documents and guarantees their right to be officially addressed according to their true gender." [163]

Colombia Edit

In December 2018, Davinson Stiven Erazo Sánchez was charged with the murder of Anyela Ramos Claros, a transgender woman, as a gender-based hate crime. Under the Rosa Elvira Cely law, feminicide, defined as "the killing of a woman because of her gender, or where there were previous instances of violence between the victim and the accused, including sexual violence," was made punishable by a prison sentence of 20 to 50 years. Claros was only the second transgender woman to have her murderer punished under this law. [164]

Peru Edit

Prior to the 16th century arrival of Spanish conquistadors, the Inca Empire and their Moche predecessors revered third-gender persons and organized their society around an Andean cosmovision that made room for masculine and feminine ambiguity based in "complementary dualism." Third-gender shamans as ritual practitioners were subject to violence as the Spanish suppressed pre-colonial worldviews. [165]

In 2014, the Peruvian Constitutional Court ruled against a transgender woman changing her gender on her national identity document, but in October 2016 the court reversed the earlier decision, acknowledging "people are not only defined by their biological sex, but one must also take into consideration their psychic and social reality." Following this, trans people in Peru can apply to a judge for a gender change without undergoing sex reassignment surgery. [166]

Uruguay Edit

In 2018, Uruguay passed a law granting rights to transgender people, giving them the right to sex reassignment surgery and hormones paid for by the Uruguayan state. The law also mandates that a minimum number of transgender people be given public jobs. [167] Transgender people can now self-identify and change their legal names without needing approval from a judge. In addition, transgender people who faced persecution during the 1973 to 1985 military dictatorship will receive compensation. [168] The law also lets people under 18 legally change names without the previous requirement of parents' or a court's approval. [169]

Ancient Sumer and Assyria Edit

In Sumer, androgynous trans priests known as gala [170] used a women's-speech dialect called eme-sal [171] [172] and sometimes took female names. [173] During the Akkadian period, similar people known as kurgarrū and assinnu served Ishtar wearing feminine clothing and performing dances in her temples the goddess was believed to transform them from masculine to feminine. [174]

In ancient Assyria, transgender cult prostitutes took part in public processions, singing, dancing, wearing costumes and sometimes women's clothes, carrying feminine symbols, and even at times performing the act of giving birth. [175]

West Asia (the Middle East) Edit

For the history of Roman and Byzantine Asia, see § Rome and Byzantium.

Arabian peninsula Edit

Khanith are a gender category in Oman and Arabia who function in some sexual and social ways as women, [176] and are variously considered to fill an "alternative gender role", [177] to be transgender, or (as they are still considered men by Omani standards and laws) to be transvestites. [178] Discussing the (male-assigned) khanith, older mukhannathun and Egyptian khawalat, and the (female-assigned) ghulamiyat, Everett Rowson writes there is "considerable evidence for institutionalized cross-dressing and other cross-gender behavior in pre-modern Muslim societies, among both men and to some extent women" which existed from Muhammad's day and continued into the Umayyad and Abbasid periods [179] and, in the khanith, into the present.

Iran Edit

Under Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, transsexuals and crossdressers were classed with gays and lesbians and faced lashing or death. The religious government established under Ruhollah Khomeini initially treated them the same way, but beginning in the mid-1980s, transsexuals were officially allowed to undergo sex reassignment surgery. As of 2008, Iran carries out more sex change operations than any other nation except Thailand [180] the government pays up to half the cost for those needing financial assistance, and a sex change is recognized on one's birth certificate. [181] However, trans people in Iran still face widespread harassment. [182] Some gay people are also pressured into sex reassignment. [183] Transgender director Saman Arastoo directs plays about and starring trans people in Iran. [184] [185]

Israel and Palestine Edit

In 1998, Israeli pop singer Dana International became the first trans person to enter and win the Eurovision Song Contest. [186] [187] In 2008, singer and trans woman Aderet became popular in Israel and neighboring Lebanon. [188]

The second week of June is the Tel Aviv Pride Parade, during international LGBT Pride month. In 2008 it coincided with the building of an LGBT Centre in Tel Aviv. [189] [ non-primary source needed ] In 2015, the parade was led by Gila Goldstein, who in the 1960s became one of the first Israelis to receive sex reassignment surgery. [190] The festival is popular, with over 200,000 participants in 2016. [191]

Israel is sometimes accused, including by transgender Palestinians, [192] of pinkwashing—projecting a gay and trans-friendly image to appear more progressive or distract from mistreatment of Palestinians—while others argue its actions on trans issues should be regarded as sincere. [193] [194] [195] Trans people in Israel face widespread harassment and difficulty in accessing employment and healthcare half have been physically attacked. [196] [197]

Ottoman Empire Edit

Eunuchs, who served in the Ottoman Empire from the 16th to late 19th century [198] (and were commonly exiled to Egypt after their terms, [199] where black eunuchs had served pre-Ottoman rulers as civil servants since the 10th century) [200] have sometimes been viewed as a kind of third gender or an alternative male gender. [201]

Central Asia Edit

In Kazakhstan, since 2009, trans people who undergo sterilizing sex reassignment surgery can change gender on legal documents, but have few other rights. [202] [203]

In Kyrgyzstan, especially since the drafting of discriminatory legislation in 2014, trans people face widespread discrimination in access to work, and such severe and widespread violence that many move to Russia. [204] In Uzbekistan, too, trans people are often beaten, raped, or murdered, though laws adopted by the Soviets in the 1980s under Western pressure enable a few Uzbeks to transition. [205]

Trans people also face harassment in Tajikistan, where reportedly just three reassignment surgeries were performed between 2006 and 2016, [206] and Turkmenistan, a repressive state notorious for violating human rights. [207]

East Asia Edit

China Edit

Eunuchs (who existed in China since 4000 years ago, were imperial servants by 3000 years ago, and were common as civil servants by the time of the Qin dynasty until a century ago) [208] [209] have sometimes been viewed as a third sex, [210] [211] or a transgender practice, and Chinese histories have often expressed the relationship of a ruler to his officials in the terms of a male relationship to females. [212]

Cross-gender behavior has long been common in Chinese theatre, especially in dan roles, since at least the Ming and Qing dynasties. [212] [213] [214] Today, Jin Xing is a well-known entertainer and trans woman. [215]

In the mid 1930s, after Yao Jinping's father went missing during the war with Japan, the 19-year-old reported having lost all feminine traits and become a man (and was said to have an Adam's apple and flattened breasts) and left to find him the event was widely reported on by the press. [216] [217] Du He, who wrote an account of it, insisted Yao did become a man, and Yao has been compared to both Lili Elbe (who underwent sex reassignment in the same decade) and Hua Mulan (a mythical wartime crossdresser). [216] [217]

In the 1950s, doctors in Taiwan forced Xie Jianshun, an intersex man, to undergo male-to-female sex reassignment surgery Taiwanese press compared the former soldier to Christine Jorgensen, who had sought out surgery, [218] [219] and the decade-long media frenzy over Xie led to increased coverage of intersex and transgender people in general. [220]

In the 1990s, transgender studies was established as an academic discipline. Transgender people are considered a "sexual minority" in China, [221] where widespread transphobia means trans people face discrimination in accessing housing, education, work, and healthcare. [213] [222] [223] China requires trans people to get the consent of their families before sex reassignment surgery, leading many to buy hormones on the black market and attempt surgeries on themselves. [222] [223]

Japan Edit

Historical documentation of male- and female-assigned transgender people is extensive, especially in the Edo period. [224] Trans-masculine people were found especially in Yoshiwara, Edo's red-light district, and in the modern era have worked in onabe bars since the 1960s. [224] At the start of the Edo period in 1603, Izumo no Okuni founded kabuki (dressing as a handsome man to tryst with a woman in one popular performance, and being honored with a statue near where she performed which depicts her as a cross-dressing samurai with a sword and fan) in 1629, when the Tokugawa shogunate banned women from acting, [224] male performers took on the roles of women. Some, such as onnagata actor Yoshizawa Ayame I (1673-1729) dressed, behaved and ate like women even outside the theatre. [225]

Outside the entertainment industry, however, trans people face stigma, and in 2004 Japan passed a law requiring trans people who want to change their gender marker to have sex reassignment surgery and be sterilized, be single, and have no children under age 20, which the supreme court upheld in 2019. [226] [227] In 2017, Japan became one of the first countries in the modern world to elect an openly trans man to office, electing Tomoya Hosoda as a city councillor in Iruma. [228] [229]

South and Southeast Asia Edit

Cambodia Edit

Under the Khmer Rouge, Phnom Penh's trans community was expelled or killed, and trans women and men were raped, jailed, or killed. [230] Some escaped and live as refugees in the US. [231] In Cambodia today, trans or traditional third-gender people are often harassed and denied employment some do sex work. [230] [232] [233]

Indian subcontinent Edit

Indian texts from as early as 3000 years ago document a third gender, which has been connected to the hijras who have formed a category of third-gender or trans-feminine people on the Indian subcontinent since ancient times. [234] In the Rigveda (from roughly 3500 years ago), it is said that before creation the world lacked all distinctions, including of sex and gender, a state ancient poets expressed with images like men with wombs or breasts. [235] The Mahabharata (from 2–3000 years ago) tells of a trans man, Shikhandi. [236] [237] In the Ramayana (from roughly 2000 years ago), when Rama asks "men and women" not to follow him, hijras remain and he blesses them. [238] [239] Most hijras are assigned male at birth (and may or may not castrate themselves), [240] but some are intersex and a few are assigned female. [241] Hijras wear feminine clothing and usually adopt feminine names, often live together in households (often regardless of differences in caste or religion) and relate to each other as female fictive kin (sisters, daughters, etc), and perform at events such as births and weddings. [238] [240]

The Buddhist Tipitaka, composed about 2100 years ago, documents four gender categories: female, male, pandaka, and ubhatobyanjanaka. [242] [243] It says the Buddha was tolerant of monks transitioning to nuns, [244] at least initially, though trans people did face some stigma, [243] and the possibility of monastic transition was later curtailed when the tradition of female monasticism was extinguished in Theravada Buddhism, [244] and between the third to fifth century, Indian Buddhists were hostile to transgender people. [245] These trans- and third-gender categories have been connected to the § kathoeys who exist in Thailand. [244]

Beginning in the 1870s, the colonial authorities attempted to eliminate hijras, prohibiting their performances and transvestism. [240] In India, since independence, several state governments have introduced specific welfare programs to redress historical discrimination against hijras and transgender people. [246] Today, there are at least 490,000 hijras in India, [247] and an estimated 10,000 to 500,000 in Bangladesh, [248] and they are legally recognized as a third gender in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan. [247] [249] In 1999, Kamla Jaan became the first hijra elected mayor of an Indian city, Katni, and around the same time Shabnam Mausi was elected as a legislator from Gorakhpur. [234] In Bangladesh, in 2019, several trans people filed to run for parliament, which currently has no trans or hijra members. [250]

In Hinduism, Ardhanarishvara, a half-male, half-female fusion of Shiva and Shakti, is one of several deities important to many hijras and transgender Hindus, [251] [252] and has been called an androgynous and transgender deity. [253] [254]

Indonesia Edit

Indonesia has a trans-/third-gender category of people called waria. [255] It has been estimated that there are over 7 million waria in the Indonesian population of 240-260 million people. [256]

The Bugis of Sulawesi recognize three sexes (male, female, intersex) and five genders: makkunrai, comparable to cisgender women oroané, to cisgender men calabai, to trans women calalai, to trans men and bissu, an androgynous gender. [257] [258] [259]

An all-transgender netball team from Indonesia competed at the 1994 Gay Games in New York City. The team had been the Indonesian national champions. [260]

Philippines Edit

Today, male-assigned people who adopt a feminine gender expression and are transgender or gay are termed bakla and sometimes considered a third gender. [261] [262] [263] Historically, cross-gender babaylan shamans were respected and termed bayog or bayoc in Luzon and asog in the Visayan Islands [261] until outlawed in 1625 and suppressed by Spanish colonial authorities. [264] [265] The Teduray people in Mindanao accepted two trans identities, mentefuwaley lagey ("one who became a man") and mentefuwaley libun ("one who became a woman") into at least the 1960s. [261] [266] Crossdressing was practiced during American colonial rule. Singer and actress Helen Cruz was a prominent trans figure, especially in the 1960s, and pioneer of Swardspeak. [267] [268]

Thailand Edit

Some (especially Thai) scholars identify the third- and fourth genders documented in the Tipitaka with the kathoey, a third-gender category which was already a part of traditional Thai and Khmer culture by that the time that scripture was composed about 2100 years ago. [244] Some (especially Thai) Buddhists say Ananda (Buddha's cousin and attendant) was born a kathoey/transgender in many previous lives, [244] but that it was to expiate for a past misdeed. [269]

The category of kathoey was historically open to male-assigned, female-assigned and intersex people. [270] Since the 1970s, the term has come to be used (by others) to denote mainly male-assigned transvestites or trans women, [270] [271] the latter of whom usually refer to themselves simply as phuying ("women") a minority refer to themselves as phuying praphet song ("second-type women") or sao praphet song ("second-type females"), and only very few refer to themselves as kathoey. [272] [273] Kathoey is often rendered into English as "ladyboy".

Thailand has become a center for performing sex reassignment surgery, and now performs more than any other country. [180] In 2015, the government proposed recognizing third-gender people in the constitution, [274] but instead only retained protections for individuals regardless of phet ("sex") which was interpreted to include trans people a third gender is not recognized on identity documents. [275] [276]

Earliest history Edit

Drawings and figures from around 9000 to 3700 years ago, depicting androgynous and genderless humans in domestic, religious and funerary settings, occur around the Mediterranean. [277]

Near what is today Prague, a burial from 4900 to 4500 years ago was found of a biologically male skeleton in a woman's outfit with feminine grave goods, which some archaeologists consider an early transgender burial. [278] [279] [280] [281] [282]

Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, and Byzantium Edit

In Ancient Greece, Phrygia, and the Roman Republic and Empire, Cybele and Attis were worshiped by galli priests (documented from around 200 BCE to around 300 CE) [283] who wore feminine clothes, referred to themselves as women, and often castrated themselves, [284] [285] and have therefore been seen as early transgender figures. [286] [287]

In Rome, cross-dressing was also practiced during Saturnalia, which some argue reinforced established gender identities by making such practices unacceptable outside that rite. [288] Romans also viewed cross-dressing negatively and imposed it as a punishment, as when Charondas of Catane decreed deserters wear female clothes for three days or when, after Crassus' defeat, the Persians hung a lookalike of the dead general clad as a woman. [288] [289]

Women who cross-dressed as men could have access to male opportunities, as depicted in the fictional story of an Athenian woman dressing as a man to vote in the ekklesia in Aristophane’s Ekklesiazusae, or when Agnodice of Athens dressed as a man to get a degree in medicine, Axiothea from Philus cross-dressed to attend Plato’s lectures, and the wife of Calvisius Sabinus dressed as a soldier to join a military camp. [290]

Roman emperor Elagabalus (b. c. 204, d. 222) is said by Roman historians to have depilated, worn makeup and wigs, rejected being called a lord and preferred being called a lady, and offered vast sums of money to any physician who could provide the imperial body with female genitalia. [291] Despite marrying several women, the Syrian's most stable relationship was with chariot driver Hierocles, and Cassius Dio says Elagabalus delighted in being called Hierocles' mistress, wife, and queen. [291] The Severan emperor has therefore been seen by some writers as transgender or transsexual. [291] [292] [293]

In the 500s, Anastasia the Patrician fled life in the court of Justinian I in Constantinople to spend twenty-eight years (until death) dressed as a male monk in Egypt, [294] coming to be viewed by some today as a transgender saint. [295] [296] Coptic texts from that era (the fifth to ninth centuries), like texts from around Europe, tell of many female-assigned people transitioning to live as men in one, a monastic named Hilaria (child of Zeno) dresses as a man, brings about a reduction in breast size and cessation of menstruation through asceticism, and comes to be accepted by fellow monks as a male, Hilarion, and by some modern scholars as trans the story of Marinos (Marina), another Byzantine, who became a monk in Lebanon, is similar. [3] [297]

Early Scandinavia, Viking-era Norse Edit

Norse society stigmatized effeminacy (especially sexual passivity, but also—it is sometimes said—transgender and cross-dressing behavior), [298] [299] calling it ergi, [300] At the same time, the characteristics the Norse revered in their gods were complicated [299] Odin was skilled in effeminate seiðr magic, [301] and assumed the form of a woman in several myths, [302] [303] and Loki too changed gender on several occasions [304] [305] (for which reason some modern works label or depict the trickster deity as genderfluid). [306] [307]

In 2017, archaeologists found that the bones of a viking buried in Birka with masculine grave goods were female some suggested the burial could be a trans man, but the original archaeologists said they did not want to apply a "modern" term and preferred to see the person as a woman. [308] [309]

Late Middle Ages Edit

In the 1322 book Even Boḥan, Kalonymus ben Kalonymus (from Provence, France) wrote a poem expressing lament at and cursing having been born a boy, calling a penis as a "defect" and wishing to have been created as a woman, which some writers see as an expression of gender dysphoria and identification as a trans woman. [310] [311] [312] [313]

In 1394, London authorities arrested a male-bodied sex worker in women's clothing who went by the name Eleanor Rykener. [314] Rykener reported having first gotten women's clothing, and learned embroidery (perhaps completing an apprenticeship, as female apprentices did) and how to sleep with men for pay, from Elizabeth Brouderer [314] [315] Rykener also slept with women. [315] Rykener's testimony offers a glimpse into medieval sexual identities. [316] Carolyn Dinshaw suggests Rykener's living and working in Oxford as a woman for some time indicates Rykener enjoyed doing so, [317] and Cordelia Beattie says "it is evident [Rykener] could pass as a woman", and passing "in everyday life would have involved other gendered behaviour" [318] historian Ruth Mazo Karras argues Rykener was a trans woman, and could also be described as bisexual. [319] [320] Historian Judith Bennett argues people were familiar enough with hermaphroditism that "Rykener's repeated forays into the space between 'male' and 'female' might have been as unremarkable in the streets of fourteenth-century London as they would be in Soho today", [321] while Robert Mills argues officials would have been even more concerned by Rykener's switching of gender roles than by sex work. [322]

A few medieval works explore female-to-male transformation and trans figures. [323] In the 13th century French Roman de Silence, Nature and Nurture personified try to sway a child born a girl but raised a boy, who longs to do some feminine things but also long enjoys life as a man before being put into a female identity and clothing at the end of the story [324] Silence has been viewed as (at least temporarily) transgender. [323] [325] [326] Christine de Pizan's Livre de la mutacion de Fortune (1403) opens "I who was formerly a woman, am now in fact a man [. ] my current self-description is the truth. But I shall describe by means of fiction the fact of my transformation" using the metaphor of Iphis and Ianthe [327] (a myth John Gower's Iphis and Ianthe also took up), leading some modern scholars to also view Fortune ' s protagonist (and Gower's) as transgender. [323] [325]

Balkans Edit

Balkan sworn virgins such as Stana Cerović are people assigned female at birth who transition to live as men, out of personal desire or at the urging of family or necessity they dress as men, socialize with men, do men's activities, and are usually referred to with masculine pronouns in and outside their presence. [328] They take their name from the vow of celibacy they traditionally swore. The gender, found among several national and religious groups in the Balkans (including Muslims and Christians in Albania, Bosnia, Macedonia and Dalmatia), dates to at least the 15th century. [329] [330] It is thought to be the only traditional, formally socially defined trans-masculine gender role in Europe, but it has been suggested that it may be a survival of a more widespread pre-Christian European gender category. [331]

In Serbia today, since 2019, trans people are able to change legal gender after approval from a psychiatrist and an endocrinologist, without undergoing surgery [332] [333] one notable trans woman is Helena Vuković, a former army major. [334]

Belgium Edit

Since 2017, Belgians have the right to change legal gender without sterilization. [335] Many Belgian hospitals specialize in sex reassignment surgery, attracting patients from other countries such as France. [336] On 1 October 2020, Petra De Sutter was sworn in as a deputy prime minister of Belgium under Alexander De Croo, becoming the most senior trans politician in Europe [337] De Sutter was previously a Belgian senator and a Member of the European Parliament, and is a gynaecologist and the head of the department of reproductive medicine at Ghent University Hospital. [338]

Denmark Edit

Lili Elbe was a Danish trans woman and one of the first recipients of sex reassignment surgery. [339] [340] Elbe was assigned male at birth and was a successful painter before transitioning. [341] She transitioned in 1930 and changed her legal name to Lili Ilse Elvenes, [342] and died in 1931 from complications after overy and uterus transplants. [343] [344]

Denmark is also known for its role in the transition of American Christine Jorgensen, whose operations were performed in Copenhagen starting in 1951. [345]

In 2017 Denmark became the first country in the world to remove transgender identities from its list of disorders of mental health. [346]

France Edit

The Chevalier d'Éon (1728–1810) was a French diplomat and soldier who appeared publicly as a man and pursued masculine occupations for 49 years, [347] but during that time successfully infiltrated the court of Empress Elizabeth of Russia by presenting as a woman, and later promoted (and may have engineered) rumours that d'Éon had been assigned female at birth, [348] [349] [350] and thereafter agreed with the French government to dress in women's clothing, doing so from 1777 until death. [347] Doctors who examined d'Éon's body after death discovered "male organs in every respect perfectly formed", but also feminine characteristics modern scholars think d'Eon may have been a trans woman and/or intersex. [350] [351] [352]

Herculine Barbin (1838–1868) was a French intersex individual assigned female at birth and raised as a girl. After a doctor's examination at age 22, Barbin was reassigned male, and legal papers followed declaring Barbin officially male. Barbin changed names to Abel Barbin, and wrote memoirs using female pronouns for the period before transition, and male pronouns thereafter, which were recovered (following Barbin's suicide at age 30) and published in France in 1872, and in English in 1980. Judith Butler refers to Michel Foucault's commentary on Barbin in their book Gender Trouble.

In March 2020, Tilloy-lez-Marchiennes elected—and in May, inaugurated—Marie Cau as mayor, making her the first openly transgender mayor in France. [353]

Germany Edit

Around 98 CE, at a time galli priests existed in Rome, Tacitus wrote that the priest of the Germanic Nahanarvali tribe also wore women's clothes. [354] [355]

In the early 1900s, transgender people became a subject of popular interest in Germany, covered by several biographies and the sympathetic liberal press in Berlin. [356] In 1906, Karl M. Baer became one of the first known trans men to have sex reassignment surgery, and in 1907 gained full legal recognition of his gender with a new birth certificate, married his first wife, and published a semifictionalized autobiography, Aus eines Mannes Mädchenjahren ("Memoirs of a Man's Maiden Years") in 1938, he emigrated to Palestine. [357] [358] The same year, Brazilian socialite Dina Alma de Paradeda moved to Breslau and became engaged to a male teacher, before committing suicide, after which a doctor revealed that her body was male. [356] This made her one of the first trans women known by name in Central Europe or of South American origin. [359] A biography published in 1907, Tagebuch einer männlichen Braut ("Diary of a male bride"), was supposedly based on her diary. [356] [359] [360]

During the Weimar Republic, Berlin was a liberal city with one of the most active LGBT rights movements in the world. Magnus Hirschfeld co-founded the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee (WhK) in Berlin and sought social recognition of homosexual and transgender men and women with branches in several countries, the committee was (on a small scale) the first international LGBT organization. In 1919, Hirschfeld co-founded the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft, a sexology research institute with a research library, a large archive, and a marriage and sex counseling office. The institute was a worldwide pioneer in the call for civil rights and social acceptance for homosexual and transgender people. Hirschfeld coined the word transvestite. In 1930 and 1931, with Hirschfeld's (and other doctors') help, Dora Richter became the first known trans woman to undergo vaginoplasty, along with removal of the penis (following removal of testicles several years earlier), [361] and Lili Elbe underwent similar surgeries in Dresden, including an unsuccessful ovary and uterus transplant, complications from which resulted in her death. [343] [362] [363] [364] In 1933, the Nazis burned the Institute's library. [365]

On June 12, 2003, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in favor of Van Kück, a German trans woman whose insurance company denied her reimbursement for sex reassignment surgery and hormone replacement therapy, who sued under Article 6 and Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. [366]

Italy Edit

Traditional Neapolitan culture recognized femminielli, a sort of third gender of male-assigned people with markedly feminine gender expression and an androphilic/homosexual orientation, who remain largely unstigmatized. [367] [368] [369]

In 2006 Vladimir Luxuria became the first openly transgender woman elected to the Italian Parliament and the first transgender member of a parliament in Europe.

In 2015, the Court of Cassation ruled that sterilization and sex reassignment surgery was not required in order to obtain a legal gender change. [370]

In 2017 Alex Hai came out as a trans man, becoming the first openly trans gondolier in Venice. [371]

Russia Edit

European Russia Edit

The Soviet Union performed its first sex reassignment surgeries in the 1970s, but since 2013 [372] —when the government passed a law against "promoting" "non-traditional relations" [373] —Russia has become notoriously hostile, [204] with trans people facing increasing harassment. [372] Dmitri Isaev's clinic, which provided medical authorization for half the sex reassignment surgeries, was forced to operate in secret. [374] In 2019, a court in Saint Petersburg, Russia's most liberal city, [374] ordered a business which had fired a woman when she transitioned to reinstate her. [375]

Indigenous peoples of the Far East Edit

Among the Itelmens of Siberia, a third gender category of the koekchuch was recorded in the 18th and 19th centuries, individuals who were assigned male at birth but dressed as women did. [376]

Spain Edit

There are records of several individuals in Spain in the 1500s who were raised as girls subsequently adopting male identities under various circumstances who some historians think were transgender, including Eleno de Céspedes [377] [378] and Catalina de Erauso. [379] [380] [381]

During the Franco era, thousands of trans women and gay men were jailed, and today fight for compensation. [382] In 2007, a law took effect allowing trans people to change gender markers in documents such as birth certificates and passports without undergoing sterilization and sex reassignment surgery. [383] [384]

Turkey Edit

Bülent Ersoy, a Turkish singer who was assigned male at birth, had a gender reassignment surgery in April 1981 [385] . Rüzgar Erkoçlar, a Turkish actor who was assigned female at birth, came out as a trans in February 2013. [386]

United Kingdom Edit

Irish-born surgeon James Barry had a long career as a surgeon and rose to the second highest medical office in the British Army, [387] improving conditions for wounded soldiers and the inhabitants of Cape Town, South Africa, and performing one of the first caesarean sections in which both the mother and child survived. [388]

In 1946, the first sex-reassignment phalloplasty was performed in 1946 by one British surgeon on another, Harold Gillies on Michael Dillon (an earlier phalloplasty was done on a cisgender man in 1936 in Russia). [389]

In 1961, English model April Ashley was outed as transgender she is one of the earliest Britons known to have had sex reassignment surgery, and was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 2012 for promoting trans equality. [390] [391] [392]

In 2004, the Gender Recognition Act passed, giving transsexual people legal recognition of their gender before the law subject to certain conditions. [393]

Australia Edit

New Zealand, the Cook Islands, Niue Edit

In 1995, Georgina Beyer became the first openly trans mayor in the world when Carterton, New Zealand elected her, and in 1999, she became the first transgender member of a parliament, winning election to represent Wairarapa in 2003, the former sex worker helped pass the Prostitution Reform Bill decriminalizing sex work. [394]

Some Maori use the terms whakawahine ("like a woman"), tangata ira tane ("human man") to refer to trans-woman- and trans-man-like categories. [395] The related term fakafifine denotes male-assigned people in Niue who fulfill a feminine third gender. [396] Similarly, in the Cook Islands, akava'ine is a Cook Islands Māori (Rarotongan) word which, due to cross-cultural contact with other Polynesians living in New Zealand (especially the Samoan fa'afafine), has been used since the 2000s to refer to transgender people of Māori descent from the Cook Islands. [397]

Samoa, Tonga, Fiji and Tahiti Edit

In Samoa, the fa'afafine ("in the manner of women") are a third gender with uncertain origins which go back at least to the beginning of the twentieth century. [398] Fa'afafine are assigned male at birth, and express both masculine and feminine gender traits, [397] [399] performing a role otherwise performed by women. [396] The word fa'atamaloa is sometimes used for a trans-male or tomboyish gender category or role. [395]

In Tonga, the related term fakafefine or more commonly fakaleiti ("in the manner of ladies") denotes male-assigned people who dress and work as women and may partner with men, and call themselves simply leiti ("ladies"). [396] [400] They are common—one of the children of former king Taufa'ahau Tupou IV (d. 2006) is a leiti—and still held in high regard, though colonization and westernization have introduced some transphobia. [400]

In Fiji, vakasalewalewa (also written vaka sa lewa lewa) [401] are male-assigned people who perform roles usually carried out by women. [395] [402] In Tahiti, the rae rae fulfil a similar role. [396]

Cross-dressing in historical perspective.

In 1825, Harriet Moore, a native of Sligo, Ireland, found herself the subject of national publicity after it emerged that she had lived as a man for the last six or seven years. At age 14, Harriet’s parents died and finding herself without protection, she donned her brother’s clothes and began working as an Irish grazier. She later came to England as a drover’s lad and went to work in the stables, where she got promoted to groom, then footboy. After two years Harriet was discharged and went to work in a salt yard, lodging with a woman named Lacy who discovered her sex by accident. Lacy blackmailed Harriet into marriage with her pregnant daughter Matilda, promising a never-received dowry. While successfully managing to work in the male guise, Harriet found that marriage unmanned her. Supporting a wife and child, and a wife’s mother into the bargain, was no easy matter- especially once Matilda became pregnant for a second time! Harriet left home to find work elsewhere, but found herself being prosecuted for wife desertion by the parish officers. As the law bore down, Harriet donned her petticoats, extricating herself from the obligations of marriage and fatherhood, and began looking for a job in domestic service.

Harriet was not alone in trying to pass as a member of the opposite sex. The history of cross-dressing and transgendering has highlighted both the numerous instances of individuals who dressed as the opposite sex and the multiple reasons for doing so. In the eighteenth century, there were numerous tales of female soldiers and sailors who enlisted and had long-successful careers in male guise. Their motives were varied from those who enlisted as it paid better than female occupations, to those for whom it was the only way to follow a male lover, to those who wished to fight for their country. There were often very practical reasons for donning male clothes with women, like Harriet, finding that being a lone woman was an unwelcome prospect and that male clothes offered a degree of protection against rape, seductions or other forms of violence. In Ireland, where the abductions of young women to force a marriage were common in the early nineteenth century, many a girl donned her brother’s clothes to protect her from raiding parties who invaded homes during the night. Some women may have been forced to cross-dress- the daughter who was born in place of a longed for son and dressed in male garb by parents was not just a modern phenomenon.

For other women, like Eleanor Butler and Anne Lister, cross-dressing marked their desire for other women, their affinity to a culture of like-minded women, and perhaps even suggested they wished to explore or challenge constructions of gender (like modern transgendering). Similarly, in the eighteenth-century dressing as women or behaving in effeminate ways began to be associated with some homosexual male sub-cultures, and some men chose to live their whole lives as women. Yet, men, like women, could have economic reasons for disguising themselves as women- a number of male thieves were found operating in female dress there were male prostitutes who dressed as women, while men who wished to get access to a lover trapped by a family may seek employment as her maid. A number of men also dressed as women to escape detection- like Bonnie Prince Charlie who clad himself in a maidservant’s outfit to escape capture.

Even when women dressed as men for more ‘practical’ reasons, the act of cross-dressing was a challenge to the status quo, destabilising the gender norms so central to cultural hierarchies. The woman who became a successful man disrupted traditional notions of women as the weaker or second sex. Indeed, that transgression was at the heart of cross-dressing meant it was often central to early modern festivals, where the ‘world turned upside down’ was a key theme. Women dressed as men, men dressed as women, children dressed as kings and queens, beggars disguised themselves as rich men- the powerless became the powerful, if for a day. Cross-dressing was often a key component of the carnival, allowing people to vent frustration at social hierarchies- seen as natural or God-ordained- and at the same time, reinforcing their importance to community order.

Part of this tradition also saw men dressing as women in order to participate in social protest. Across Europe, it was common for male peasants to dress as women when participating in acts of vandalism, violence, theft or kidnapping that were committed in the name of social justice. Their clothing made them difficult to identify and perhaps made them seem less threatening from a distance- but also highlighted the symbolic nature of their actions. It was not violence committed by individuals for personal reasons- but an act of resistance towards or punishment upon those in the community who had transgressed social norms or failed in their responsibilities.

Far from cross-dressing being a sexualised or secretive act performed in private bedrooms (although no doubt examples of this also existed!), cross-dressing could be central to social order within the community. It could be used to transgress gender norms, but also to reinforce them. It was a vibrant social phenomenon that held different meanings in different times and places- and perhaps leads us to ask complex questions about its role in the modern world.

Ballina Impartial, 13/07/1825.

Alison Oram, Her Husband was a Woman: Women’s Gender Crossing in Modern British Popular Culture (Routledge, 2007).

Dianne Dugaw, Warrior Women and Popular Balladry, 1650-1850, (Cambridge U.P., 1989).

David Jones, Rebecca’s Children : a study of rural society, crime and protest (Clarendon Press, 1994).

Katie Barclay finds it fascinating that women could pass as men for decades, working alongside them, without raising raising questions of identity. She wonders what this tells us about appearance and constructions of gender in the past.

The Ruins of Ancient Corinth

The Ruins Located on the Upper Terrace

The Glauke Fountain (#27)

Glauke Fountain in the Direction of Apollo’s Temple at Ancient Corinth

Ancient Corinth varies in elevation. Apollo’s Temple has been constructed on the highest terrace and there is a drop into the Agora. The lowest level is that of the Theatre.

The place to start is the historically Greek Glauke Fountain, a very difficult to miss limestone monolith that dominates the open green space adjacent to the entrance of the Administration Building. The fountain’s name is based on a well-known Greek myth.

Perhaps you have read ‘Medea’ by Euripides or alternatively, you may have enjoyed the film Jason and the Argonauts and can recall some of his seemingly impossible challenges in pursuit of the Golden Fleece. The details of both the myth and the identities of those involved are far denser than the film portrays.

When the good ship Argos arrived at the Caucasian city of Colchis, Jason gained the romantic attention of the young witch Medea, the daughter of King Aetes. Medea accompanied Jason for the remainder of his journey, often delivering him by her magic from significant threats. They settled in Corinth where Medea gave birth to three children.

Jason became attracted to Glauke, the daughter of King Creon, and in order to marry her sought a conciliatory arrangement with Medea who feigned her consent. Glauke could not resist enrobing herself in a gift from Medea in the form of a beautiful but poisoned garment. When she did so, she was consumed by flame. It was recounted that Glauke fell into the fountain. And Jason? He fell on his sword at the sight of his three dead children, murdered by Medea.

Glauke Fountain with Museum in Background

Make you way to the Temple of Apollo, labelled as #1, which is the first attraction within what are predominantly Roman ruins. It is very difficult to miss. You’ll be standing pretty well as shown in the image below.

The Temple of Apollo (#1)

The Temple of Apollo at Ancient Corinth

The 6th Century BC Temple Of Apollo will tower over you and no doubt because of its enormity it is an iconic symbol of the culture and religion of Ancient Corinth. It was built on the site of an earlier temple, and the local bedrock also appears to have been used to provide the temple’s foundation. The Temple of Apollo, although rebuilt under Roman governance, is characteristic of Greek Temples of Doric style in that it is rectangular, would have possessed a gable, and access was by ascending the steps that surrounded the entire structure. The dimensions of its Doric columns are imposing. There were 38 columns and as five of the six columns at the rear of the temple can be plainly seen, it is implied that there would also be six at the rear. The columns were about 7 metres high and nearly 2 metres in diameter at the base. Unlike the columns at the Temple of Apollo in Delphi which were segmented, the columns of this temple are in single pieces (see our description of the Temple of Apollo at The Sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi). The locations of the other columns are suggested when you walk around and inspect the temple’s base. Ancient Corinth was fortunate in that it was located in an area rich in fine-grained limestone and so it would be expected that it would feature in the construction of the temple. Of course, marble is derived from limestone under pressure and so it is not unreasonable to predict that it may have also been used in the temple’s construction or decoration. Can you see any?

The temple’s construction and design are evidence of the knowledge and skills of earlier civilisations. But nothing is more interesting than the people themselves and how they incorporated temple worship into their lives. The practice of religion at Apollo’s Temple in Ancient Corinth would not have been dissimilar to its practice in Ancient Delphi. You can get an idea of the cultural and religious significance of religion at Ancient Corinth by also comparing it with Ancient Delphi at The Sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi .

There were many divinities in Ancient Corinth culture and so the Corinthians worshiped many gods. Although the Temple of Apollo is the most obvious, there were also other temples, sanctuaries and shrines to many other gods and goddesses as previously indicated.

The North-West Stoa (#11)

Continue your tour by walking towards #17 with the Temple of Apollo #1 on your left and the Northwest Shops #19 on your right.

A Stoa refers to a covered linear walkway or portico that was usually built alongside the buildings. The roof projected away from the wall of the building and was supported along the length of the stoa by a colonnade. Large stoae often fronted shops and other commercial places which were often located in the rear. The stoae were busy thoroughfares and offered protection from the elements as citizens made their way around the city. They were also informal meeting places, offering cover as Corinthians swapped stories or plans. We could expect this area to be regularly populated given its proximity to the Temple of Apollo and to other temples at the western end of the Forum. Ruins associated with the Northwest Stoa are scattered on the ground on the right hand side of the pathway.

The Propylaia (#3)


Continue walking as previously with the ruins of the Stoa on your right and the Temple of Apollo on your left until you reach The Propylaia #3 (monumental entrance way), the main entrance to the Agora, or alternatively when referrring to Roman occupation, the Forum. The south side of the Forum is the open area looking in the direction of Acrocorinth. In the opposite direction a set of steps descends down into Lechaion Road #2 which leads due north towards the Gulf of Corinth.

The next image shows an overview of the area. The minor ruins of the Propylaia can be identified along the path midway between the stairs and the tree. The small sign on the face of the ruins on the right hand side of the path can be just made out. In the centre of the image are the steps leading down from the upper terrace into Lechaion Road. Immediately under the tree is the wall-like remnant of the Captives Façade. Behind the stairs is the Fountain of Peirene.

Overview of Location of the Propylaia at Ancient Corinth

The Propylaia consisted of three archways – one main archway and two smaller archways. Guilded bronze chariots once stood on this imposing structure. It is not difficult to visualise the animated Corinthians lining both sides of Lechaion Road, the area immediately surrounding the Propylaia and packing the Forum to welcome the triumphant processions of returning armies, dignitaries or similar. There is not a lot of the Propylaia left to see but there is much to imagine.

Immediately to the left of the Propylaia you will see The Captives Façade.

The Captives Façade (#18)

You can readily identify the bi-level Captives Façade under the tree to the left of the Propylaia. It is clearly signed. This marble monument functioned as an entrance and screen of the Basilica #17 (meeting place, law building) situated at the western side of the Lechaion road.

Captives Facade at Ancient Corinth

The figures on the relief allude to foreign territories under Roman occupation so it would be consistent that the structure would serve to commemorate Roman victories, particularly as it situated adjacent to the monumental gate through which the returning legions would enter the forum.

Phrygian Pillar used to support the Captives Facade

The Ruins Associated with Lechaion Road (#2)

Follow the unpaved path and descend the steps onto the statue-lined Lechaion Road which is located in the north-east corner of the site.

Lechaion Road in Ancient Corinth

Lechaion Road served as the major two kilometre thoroughfare from the Agora (Forum) to Ancient Corinth’s western harbour, Lechaio, on the Gulf of Corinth. Lechaion Road therefore played an important role in transporting goods to and from the Corinthian ports. It would have been a busy venue for civic workers, itinerant seamen, shoppers and merchants and was lined with temples, shops, markets and administrative buildings. It also served in Roman times as the major entrance into the Forum from the north and the main exit from the Forum to the south. The road was originally unpaved and available to wheeled traffic but was finally paved and restricted to pedestrians. The road was apparently walled and lined with statues all the way to the harbour. You will be able to see the limestone paving of Lechaion Road. Narrow pavements with gutters to carry away rainwater were also installed towards the edge of the road. Can you see them?

Western Side of Lechaion Road (looking in direction of The Temple of Apollo)

You will clearly see remnants of 16 shops within the excavations along the western side of Lechaion Road, at least within the precinct of Ancient Corinth. These were part of the façade of the North Building #17, at least within the precinct of Ancient Corinth. Further west of the shops and to the north side of Apollo’s Temple are other remnants of a large Roman Basilica #29 (administrative building or marketplace) which was probably used as a courthouse. Rows of both Doric and Corinthian columns found nearby suggested that this was the site of a fifth Century BC Greek Stoa and marketplace.

Western Side of Lechaion Road

The Eastern Side Of Lechaion Road

On the eastern side of Lechaion Road, closest to the Prolylaia, you will see an open space surrounded by marble Ionic colonnades. This was a commercial market named Peribolos of Apollo #14. An overview of the Eastern Side can be seen in the previous image captioned “Lechaion Road in Ancient Corinth”.

Click on the images to enlarge

Further north on the western side you will see ruins which may have been an enclosure, wall or colonnade around a sacred space such as a temple. A large bathhouse, the Eurycleus Baths #15, has been preserved to its north.

The Fountain of Peirene (#13)

Lechaion Road runs north (Gulf of Corinth) – south (Acrocorinth) and when you face south near to but to the left of the Propylaia you can’t miss the impressive and beautiful Fountain of Peirene. No imagination is needed here. The Fountain has been well preserved.

Click on the images to enlarge

Ancient Corinth’s water was supplied by tunnels which directed water to four sizeable reservoirs. Subterranean water conduits passed beneath the shops on the Agora and each shop had well-access to the supply. Merchants could keep perishables and other food products and wine cool by lowering them into the wells. Tradesman could also access the water, as could latrine users who required water flushing of waste.

The Sacred Spring (#25)

Sacred Spring (foreground) Ancient Corinth

The Sacred Spring is situated between #’s 19 and 18. Continue walking along with the ruins of the Stoa on your right and the Temple of Apollo on your left until you reach a shady tree. The images below show where the Sacred Spring is situated relative to the tree. In one of the images you will see the location of the Display Board and the sign identifying the Spring. The Sacred Spring originated in the Greek Archaic period and its longevity extended to the Roman occupation. The Corinthians obtained their water from another source and the Sacred Spring was associated with Greek religion.

Sacred Spring

The Ruins of the Agora of Ancient Corinth

Agora (Forum) Ancient Corinth

The Agora to the Greeks was a large, open space which served as the central marketplace and commercial area. The Roman equivalent is the Forum which was a public square used for political and religious assembly and markets.
Continue past the Fountain of Peirene and enter the large open space that was once the southern aspect of the Forum with its space dominated by the Agora. It is understood that in Greek history this large area had also been used as a Stadium #5. Ancient Corinth was a bustling crossroads of commerce and politics. Whereas its wealth was enhanced by the tolls levied on the cargoes flowing across the isthmus, it was also an industrial centre. The spacious, rectangular Agora, now the Roman Forum, was lined with monuments and colonnades, and public buildings and rows of shops occupied its centre running east-west along its length. Remnants have retained evidence of the sale of meat and other edible products, including wine.

Pausanias reported that ‘most of the Greek sanctuaries stood in the Agora with a statue of Artemis and wooden images of Dionysus, which are covered with gold with the exception of their faces these are ornamented with red paint.’ He also recorded that ‘in the middle of the market-place is a bronze Athena, on the pedestal of which are wrought in relief figures of the Muses. Above the market-place is a temple of Octavia the sister of Augustus, who was emperor of the Romans after Caesar, the founder of the modern Corinth.’

The remains of the Julian Basilica #12 can be seen at the eastern end of the Forum (partially seen in image). its steps leading down to the Forum. Its sign is mounted on its steps.

The Julian Basilica is hardly recognisable but it is thought that it once served as a law court. Its masonry was reused to build the wall immediately adjacent to it.

The Julian Basilica in Background, its Sign Visible

The Northwest Shops (#19)

You saw the ruins of the Northwest Stoa which lie opposite the Temple of Apollo when you entered the site. You are now looking at the same area of the shops and its Stoa from the Forum. The Northwest Shops define the northern margin of the Agora.

Click on the images to enlarge

Ancient Corinth was also an industrial centre, famous for its pottery and bronze ware. Its paintings, its sculpture work and especially its castings in bronze were done with the greatest of skill. The Agora was a thriving market.

The Bema (#4)

You will see the Bema immediately in front of the Julian Basilica within the Forum.

The Bema in the Forum of Ancient Corinth and Reference to Paul’s Trial

The Bema was an elevated public rostrum of carved blue and white marble on which the Proconsul stood to address the crowd in the Forum. Adjacent to the rostrum were two waiting rooms with marble benches and mosaic floors. Tradition has it that Paul was tried at this location before Proconsul Gallio when charges were brought against his theology. Gallio dismissed the charges without their being heard so the crowd maliciously beat Sosthenes instead. Sosthenes was the presiding officer of the synagogue and later converted to Christianity.

Paul and What We Learn about Ancient Corinth from His Letters

Paul arrived in Corinth about 50 AD and remained for 18 months. He may have lived in or near the port of Cenchreae. This can be inferred from two pieces of information. Firstly, when Paul left Corinth he departed from Cenchreae. Secondly, he supported himself financially as a tent maker. Perhaps this work also involved sewing sails for the many ships that would have docked at the port. Nevertheless, we do read that Paul ‘preached in the synagogue every Sabbath’ which reinforces the evidence that some of the Corinthian population was Jewish.

We ran our eyes over the two letters Paul wrote to the Corinthians and found our effort rewarded in three way within the context of this post.

The first way is that if we accept Paul’s letters as a historical record, they add insight into the culture of Ancient Corinth. For example, they confirm that meat was sold in the market place, that food was offered to idols, and that Corinthians ate inside the temples. However, three themes seemed omnipresent. The first theme was Paul’s call to reject human wisdom, particularly in the form of Greek philosophy, and that this type of wisdom promoted pride. The second theme was to reject Corinth’s moral climate and behaviour. The third theme was to reject idolatry. Taken together, these three themes build a certain perception of the city.

It must have been difficult for anybody in Paul’s time to buck the trend.

The second way our effort was rewarded was to learn of Paul’s skilled use of metaphor in his writing. Paul reinforced understanding by referring to identifiable features and activities of the city. Here are a few examples we identified.

Paul resided in Ancient Corinth circa 50 AD and would have observed the results of the building and restoration of Corinth started under Caesar. He likened the Christians at Corinth as ‘God’s building’ and himself as a ‘skilled builder’, metaphors that surely would have resonated with his readers.

Ancient Corinth abounded in temples and most of us have heard the expression, ‘your body is your temple’. The little fledgling Christian movement in Corinth probably didn’t have anywhere other than a house to meet, but would have seen Corinthians coming and going from their grand temples, particularly the Temple of Apollo. It must have been uplifting to read Paul’s words that, ‘your body is God’s temple‘, and ‘you are a temple of God’. What need of a building?

Not only did Corinth abound in temples, but its wealth and the wealth of its temples was unsurpassed. Paul seized on this imagery and again reinforced the comparative value of his group by referring to them as, ‘treasure in earthen vessels’.

Paul not only used metaphor in respect of structures, but also used metaphor to enhance understanding by referring to activities that were common in Corinth. We found three examples.

The first example was Paul’s metaphorically likening Christian exertion to a race ‘Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one gets the prize?’ Paul may have been implying an association with the Isthmian Games in order to encourage determination.

The second example relates to Paul’s use of the theatre in Corinth, advising his readers that they are a ‘spectacle (theatre) unto the world’.

And thirdly, Paul hints at the Roman procession into the Forum when he suggests that the faithful will be ‘led in triumph’.

The third way we felt rewarded was by becoming more familiar with the man himself. Paul’s description of ‘love’ at 1Cor 13 is quite remarkable, and his resilience as described at 2Cor 11:23-27 would make him a modern day legend!

Finally, what may have Paul’s view have been of the origin of all these Greek gods? Did he think of them as an intellectual creation of the Greeks? or a product of suspicion or fear? How did they assume their personalities? Our post The Areopagus and Did Paul Unmask the Greek Gods takes a look at these questions.

The South Stoa #9, Basilica #11 and Fountain

Acrocorinth lies to the south of Ancient Corinth and so the ruins along the southern side of the Agora are those of the South Stoa and its host building, the South Basilica.
The South Stoa dates to the late fourth Century BC and was extremely large, covering an area of about 0.4 hectares. It was beautifully ornamented with Doric columns and an extensive internal colonnade. The ground floor rooms made use of the subterranean water system through Ancient Corinth to keep their products cool.

West Shops #22 and West Terrace Temples #20

The western margin of the Agora (opposite end to the Julian Basilica) features a series of remnants which are believed to have been temples. Behind the temples is the location of the West Shops.

  • Western Shops Agora

Temple of Octavia #24 and Temple of Hera Acraia #26

In the area behind the West Shops is the Temple of Octavia, a first Century A.D monument to the sister of Emperor Augustus, and the Temple of Hera Acraia.

Temple of Octavia, Western Terrace

The Ruins of the Theatre and Odeon

The Roman Odeum #30 and Ancient Theatre #31

When outside the main site the Theatre and Odeum occupy a large area to the the north-west.
The Odeum was a small covered theater or roofed hall for musical competitions and rhetorical displays. The original Theatre of Ancient Corinth was built on a natural slope with stone seats and wooden stage. It had been successively rebuilt maintaining a capacity of about 18,000 spectators

The structure and evolution of the ancient theatre would have been very similar to the many other outdoor theatres in the Peloponnese. The primary example, famous for its acoustic properties, is the theatre at Epidaurus (The Theatre at Epidaurus Including its Acoustics), but other theatres which are very comparable and would have been constructed similarly are those at Delphi (The Sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi) and Athens (Explore the Athens Acropolis and What Surrounds It).


The school of religious history called the Religionsgeschichtliche Schule, a late 19th-century German school of thought, originated the systematic study of religion as a socio-cultural phenomenon. It depicted religion as evolving with human culture, from primitive polytheism to ethical monotheism.

The Religionsgeschichtliche Schule emerged at a time when scholarly study of the Bible and of church history flourished in Germany and elsewhere (see higher criticism, also called the historical-critical method). The study of religion is important: religion and similar concepts have often shaped civilizations' law and moral codes, social structure, art and music.

The 19th century saw a dramatic increase in knowledge about a wide variety of cultures and religions, and also the establishment of economic and social histories of progress. The "history of religions" school sought to account for this religious diversity by connecting it with the social and economic situation of a particular group.

Typically, religions were divided into stages of progression from simple to complex societies, especially from polytheistic to monotheistic and from extempore to organized. One can also classify religions as circumcising and non-circumcising, proselytizing (attempting to convert people of other religion) and non-proselytizing. Many religions share common beliefs.

The earliest archeological evidence of religious ideas dates back several hundred thousand years to the Middle and Lower Paleolithic periods. Archaeologists take apparent intentional burials of early Homo sapiens and Neanderthals from as early as 300,000 years ago as evidence of religious ideas. Other evidence of religious ideas includes symbolic artifacts from Middle Stone Age sites in Africa. However, the interpretation of early paleolithic artifacts, with regard to how they relate to religious ideas, remains controversial. Archeological evidence from more recent periods is less controversial. Scientists [ which? ] generally interpret a number of artifacts [ which? ] from the Upper Paleolithic (50,000-13,000 BCE) as representing religious ideas. Examples of Upper Paleolithic remains associated with religious beliefs include the lion man, the Venus figurines, cave paintings from Chauvet Cave and the elaborate ritual burial from Sungir.

In the 19th century researchers proposed various theories regarding the origin of religion, challenging earlier claims of a Christianity-like urreligion. Early theorists Edward Burnett Tylor (1832-1917) and Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) emphasised the concept of animism, while archaeologist John Lubbock (1834-1913) used the term "fetishism". Meanwhile, religious scholar Max Müller (1823-1900) theorized that religion began in hedonism and folklorist Wilhelm Mannhardt (1831-1880) suggested that religion began in "naturalism" – by which he meant mythological explanation of natural events. [9] [ page needed ] All of these theories have since been widely criticized there is no broad consensus regarding the origin of religion.

Pre-pottery Neolithic A (PPNA) Göbekli Tepe, the oldest religious site yet discovered anywhere [10] includes circles of erected massive T-shaped stone pillars, the world's oldest known megaliths [11] decorated with abstract, enigmatic pictograms and carved-animal reliefs. The site, near the home place of original wild wheat, was built before the so-called Neolithic Revolution, i.e., the beginning of agriculture and animal husbandry around 9000 BCE. But the construction of Göbekli Tepe implies organization of an advanced order not hitherto associated with Paleolithic, PPNA, or PPNB societies. The site, abandoned around the time the first agricultural societies started, is still being excavated and analyzed, and thus might shed light on the significance it had had for the religions of older, foraging communities, as well as for the general history of religions.

The Pyramid Texts from ancient Egypt, the oldest known religious texts in the world, date to between 2400-2300 BCE. [12] [13]

The earliest records of Indian religion are the Vedas, composed ca. 1500-1200 Hinduism during the Vedic Period.

Surviving early copies of religious texts include:

  • The Upanishads, some of which date to the mid-first millennium BCE.
  • The Dead Sea Scrolls, representing fragmentary texts of the Hebrew Tanakh. [14]
  • Complete Hebrew texts, also of the Tanakh, but translated into the Greek language (Septuagint 300-200 BC), were in wide use by the early 1st century CE.
  • The Zoroastrian Avesta, from a Sassanian-era master copy.

Historians have labelled the period from 900 to 200 BCE as the "axial age", a term coined by German-Swiss philosopher Karl Jaspers (1883-1969). According to Jaspers, in this era of history "the spiritual foundations of humanity were laid simultaneously and independently. And these are the foundations upon which humanity still subsists today." Intellectual historian Peter Watson has summarized this period as the foundation time of many of humanity's most influential philosophical traditions, including monotheism in Persia and Canaan, Platonism in Greece, Buddhism and Jainism in India, and Confucianism and Taoism in China. These ideas would become institutionalized in time – note for example Ashoka's role in the spread of Buddhism, or the role of platonic philosophy in Christianity at its foundation.

The historical roots of Jainism in India date back to the 9th-century BCE with the rise of Parshvanatha and his non-violent philosophy. [15] [16] [ need quotation to verify ]

World religions of the present day established themselves throughout Eurasia during the Middle Ages by:

During the Middle Ages, Muslims came into conflict with Zoroastrians during the Islamic conquest of Persia (633-654) Christians fought against Muslims during the Byzantine-Arab Wars (7th to 11th centuries), the Crusades (1095 onward), the Reconquista (718-1492), the Ottoman wars in Europe (13th century onwards) and the Inquisition Shamanism was in conflict with Buddhists, Taoists, Muslims and Christians during the Mongol invasions (1206-1337) and Muslims clashed with Hindus and Sikhs during the Muslim conquest of the Indian subcontinent (8th to 16th centuries).

Many medieval religious movements emphasized mysticism, such as the Cathars and related movements in the West, the Jews in Spain (see Zohar), the Bhakti movement in India and Sufism in Islam. Monotheism reached definite forms in Christian Christology and in Islamic Tawhid. Hindu monotheist notions of Brahman likewise reached their classical form with the teaching of Adi Shankara (788-820).

European colonisation during the 15th to 19th centuries resulted in the spread of Christianity in Sub-Saharan Africa, and to the Americas, Australia and the Philippines. The invention of the printing press in the 15th century played a major role in the rapid spread of the Protestant Reformation under leaders such as Martin Luther (1483-1546) and John Calvin (1509-1564). Wars of religion broke out, culminating in the Thirty Years War which ravaged central Europe between 1618 and 1648. The 18th century saw the beginning of secularisation in Europe, gaining momentum after the French Revolution of 1789 and following. By the late 20th century religion had declined in most of Europe. [17]

By 2001 people began to use the internet to discover or adhere to their religious beliefs. In January 2000 the website beliefnet was established, and the following year, every month it had over 1.7 million visitors. [18]

Alexander: Cross-Dressing Conqueror of the World

Oliver Stone’s 2004 film Alexander portrayed the great Macedonian king as bisexual. Was he also a transvestite? Tony Spawforth looks to uncover the truth.

This startling claim was made by a contemporary Greek, Ephippus, in his lost pamphlet depicting Alexander’s court in the last two years of the reign (324-323 BC). In a surviving fragment Ephippus alleges that the king liked to cross-dress as Artemis, the Greek archer-goddess of the hunt. Supposedly Alexander often appeared in her guise ‘on his chariot, dressed in the Persian garb, just showing above his shoulders the bow and the hunting-spear’.

Chariot and bow were stock attributes of Artemis in Greek art but she did not wear ‘Persian garb’. Remarkably, Alexander did. Xenophobic Greeks routinely derided Persian costume as womanly. A sardonic Ephippus was put in mind of the Greek iconography of Artemis when he saw Alexander in his Persian robes going out to hunt on a chariot and armed with a bow.

The passage that resulted is a libel. Most Greeks would have seen a king who impersonated the gods in this way as an arrogant autocrat inviting divine retribution. Ephippus was no fan of the world-conqueror, whose father Philip had destroyed his home city of Olynthus in 348 BC. Indeed, despite the nationalist fervor which Alexander’s memory inspires in today’s Greece, many ancient Greeks were deeply hostile to both Macedonian monarchs.

But there remains a tantalising question. What was Alexander doing on a chariot, hunting with a bow while dressed as a Persian? Neither the chariot nor the bow was a ‘national’ Macedonian arm. In fact the Greek writer Plutarch records that Alexander used to occupy himself while on the march in Asia by learning chariotry and archery.

A seal-stone now in the British Museum provides a clue. A Persian work of the fifth or fourth century BC, this masterpiece of miniature art depicts Darius I of Persia (522-486 bc) hunting from a chariot, which his driver steers while the king fires arrows into a rearing lion – one of the Asian variety, now all but extinct.

Famous reliefs from Nineveh, also in the British Museum, depict the lion hunt of the Assyrian king Ashurbanipal (668-627 BC). He too hunts from a chariot with a bow and arrows. An enthusiastic audience watches from a safe distance. The lions are released from pens. The ground has been cleared like an arena. This is a carefully staged royal spectacular in which the ruler displays his manly prowess and symbolically overcomes his most dangerous enemies.

In the Middle East the royal lion hunt descended from one ancient empire to the next as an unbroken cultural heritage. As the new king of Asia, Alexander seems to have made a conscious decision to associate himself with this tradition. The hidden nugget of Ephippus, as reinterpreted here, dates this remarkable development to 324-323 BC, years which Alexander spent touring the old Assyrian and Persian heartlands in what is now Iraq and western Iran. The evidence of Plutarch belongs to this same period. It comes from the so-called Royal Diaries, composed by a court insider to record the daily routines of Alexander at the end of his reign.

What exactly was Alexander hoping to achieve? He had twice captured in battle the chariot, bow and arrows of the ill-starred Darius III, the last Persian king. Surely it was this paraphernalia that Alexander now displayed to his Asian subjects as spoils of war. Manipulating the age-old Middle Eastern ritual of the royal lion hunt, was he bent on reminding the local population who was now boss?

His appearance in Persian apparel suggests something else. Alexander had first assumed a customised version of the royal costume of the Persian kings in 330 BC. More than two millennia before Elizabeth II wore a tactful shamrock green on her historic state visit to Dublin, Alexander was deploying royal clothing as a weapon in the battle for hostile hearts and minds.

Alexander’s adoption of the traditional hunting style of Middle Eastern rulers in the last years of his reign is best seen as a dramatic further step in his attempt to identify himself with local customs. It also helped him to build bridges with one key group in particular, the Asian elites, with whom Alexander would go hunting.

This aspect of the royal hunt is splendidly evoked by the so-called Alexander Sarcophagus, now in Istanbul but originally from ancient Sidon in today’s Lebanon. Dating from the late fourth century BC, its carvings show a young Greek king hunting lion alongside a companion in Persian dress no doubt the local worthy for whom the sarcophagus was made. Traditionally and surely correctly these two hunters are identified as Alexander and Abdalonymus, a Phoenician princeling, whom Alexander installed as puppet king of Sidon in 331 BC. Then the two went hunting.

Sport is a great unifier. Historically the royal hunt has often brought together imperial centre and subject periphery. David Cannadine’s Ornamentalism (2001), a book about the ideology of British imperialism, offers an eerie parallel to the Alexander Sarcophagus: the cover image depicts Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India, and the Maharajah of Gwalior posing for the camera as fellow huntsmen, each with a foot on a dead tiger.

The disinterment of a new grain of truth from a malign Greek writer on Alexander makes two points. We are forcefully reminded that Alexander (a Macedonian) did not share the Greek disdain for ‘barbarians’ and their customs. He had a bicultural vision of how to rule his Asiatic subjects, which would probably have produced political dividends had he lived longer. Secondly, our knowledge of Alexander ultimately derives from a first generation of (lost) Greek writers, including hostile witnesses such as Ephippus, intent on a ‘controlled misreading’ of the historical Alexander. We are bound to wonder: how much else did they deliberately distort?

Ancient History of Cross-Dressing: From Ancient Religions to the Theaters - History

The Splendor of Gender Non-Conformity In Africa

Above: The Dogon Tribe of Mali in ceremony

Author’s/editor’s note: In lieu of a dispute about the Igbo assignments of gender, a direct quote by the source of Transgender History & Geography has been added to clear further confusion, as several Igbos have pointed out the author’s information was incorrect (par. 3). Apologies for the mistake.

Africa, a continent comprised of 55 c o untries, is vast in its histories, ethnic groups, languages, and relationships to colonization. While Western societies glean the reputation of being forward-thinkers in regards to gender-identity and queerness, Africa is renown as being a site of violence and intolerance for queer Black Africans. As Black folks of the Diaspora look to learning about Africa’s past to combat the sting of white supremacy, there is yet another benefit to delving deep into the continent’s history — in particularly, its history of gender non-conformity and queerness erased by the brutality of colonialism (which led to the criminalization of queerness in 34 countries).

“Despite a long history of transgender realities in Africa, many modern transgendered people there experience well-warranted fear because of hostility in their families, tribes, or nations,” writes G. G. Bolich. “Much of this modern hostile response has been placed on the influence of European culture, both because of a colonial past and because of contemporary pressure, or the influence of foreign religions. Nevertheless, as in the past, so now transgendered people are active members of their communities, seeking to effect positive changes.” Africa’s rich past of gender non-conformity, coupled with transgender behaviors and transgender realities, is deeply embedded within various ethnic groups across the continent.

Before the implementation of rigid European rigid binaries, within the Dagaaba tribe of Ghana, Burkina Faso, and the Ivory Coast, gender identity was determined differently. Shaman Malidoma Somé of the Dagaaba says that gender to the tribe is not dependent upon sexual anatomy. “It is purely energetic. In that context, one who is physically male can vibrate female energy, and vice versa. That is where the real gender is.” The Igbo of Nigeria, also in Western Africa, “appear to assign gender around age 5” (Bolich 246). In Central Africa, the Mbuti do not designate a specific gender to a child until after puberty, in direct contrast to Western society.

In Mali, the Dogon tribe generally maintain that the perfect human being is androgynous the tribe worships Nommo, ancestral spirits who are described as androgynous, intersex, and mystical creatures, and whom are also referred to as “the Teachers”. In an uncircumcised penis, the foreskin is representative of femininity, while the clitoris is considered to represent masculinity.

The existence of intersex spiritual deities laid the foundation for the acceptance of transgender behaviors for other African tribes in addition to the Dogon:

“African spiritual beliefs in intersexual deities and sex/gender transformation among their followers have been documented among the Akan, Ambo-Kwanyama, Bobo, Chokwe, Dahomeans (of Benin), Bambara, Etik, Handa, Humbe, Hunde, Ibo, Jukun, Kimbundu, Konso, Kunama, Lamba, Lango, Luba, Lulua, Nuba, Ovimbundu, Rundi, Shona-Karonga, Venda, Vili-Kongo, and Yoruba. Transgender in religious ceremony is still reported in the twentieth century in West Africa. And cross-dressing is a feature of modern Brazilian and Haitian ceremonies derived from West African religions” (45)

The Lugbara people of Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda are among those in Central Africa whom still conduct spiritual ceremonies with transgender priests. According to the late Leslie Feinberg, “Female-to-male priests, most importantly, co-exist with male-to-female shamans. Among the Lugbara, for example, male-to-females are called okuleand female-to-male are named agule.” The Zulu of South Africa also initiate transgender shamans, calling them insangoma. Transgender women were diviners in the Ambo tribe of southern Angola, with the Kalunga, the supreme spirit.

Africa’s Eastern region is home to other tribes who appear to embrace gender non-conforming behavior, according to Bolich. When anthropologist Brian MacDermot lived among the Nuer people of Ethiopia, he observed the tribe’s acceptance of a transgender woman in a village:

“He encountered an individual among the Nuer people of Ethiopia who not only appeared in feminine dress, and acted as female, but was actually regarded as having become a woman. No physical change of sex had transpired, yet this person was free to occupy a feminine identity and role, even to the extent that marriage to a man was permissible. MacDermot was informed that the prophet of Deng had consulted the spirits and then declared the change in this individual’s status, which the people accepted. Here transpired an outcome more certain and favorable than many individuals who actually undergo sexual assignment surgery and legal identity change experience in our culture (which so commonly and arrogantly perceives itself as more enlightened” (245)

Elsewhere in Ethiopia, the Amhara, “allow room for intermediate, mixed, or ‘third gender expression.” The Otero, to the north-east in the Sudan, follow the same blue-print when it comes assessing gender identity.

As Africa comes to terms with the repressive legacy of gender essentialism, queerphobia and the violence it incited, transgender Africans in the 21st century are challenging the political and cultural vestiges of colonialism. In Cape Verde, Tchinda Andrade was the first to publicly identify as a transgender woman at the country’s Carnival in 1998, and, in the aftermath, was hailed as a “heroine”. Prior to Tchinda’s coming out, queers on the island of Cape Verde were in the closet : as a result of Tchinda’s local celebrity, LGBT folks, particularly those who are transgender, are now referred to as “Tchindas”. Tchinda’s story, and those of other transgender Cape Verde women, is chronicled in the 2015 documentary film Tchindas. Marc Serena, Spanish journalist and co-director of Tchindas, shared this about the necessity of films centering transgender people on the continent with i-D:

​”I think queer people in Africa need films that they can give hope to them,” adds Serena. “So they can see it’s possible to be African and gay or trans and have people respect them. For me, it’s an example, even to the rest of the world. In the film, you see how families if they go to work, they take their children to the ‘tchindas’ and that’s something that maybe even some parents here [in the US] wouldn’t do because they would feel uncomfortable if there was a trans person there.”

Tchindas has been nominated for Best Documentary at the African Movie Academy Awards.

As transgender activists, artists, and writers in other parts of Africa seek to bring beneficial changes to their countries from South Africa to Uganda, understanding the continent’s ancient past is affirming to their work. Queer history is deeply intertwined with African history, and variations of gender identity are just as much essential to Africa’s future as is its past.

Watch the video: Το Αρχαίο Ελληνικό Θέατρο - Τα μέρη του θεάτρου και τα μηχανήματα 3D


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