Review “Transgender Spirituality: Man into Goddess”
by Joanne von Spanien
I can’t really begin to talk about the problems I have with this book.
On the surface, it’s acually an interesting anthropological survey of transgender spirituality through the ages. The author touches on everything from Mediterranean antiquity to the Celts , ancient and modern India and New World peoples.
Specifically, he talks about how men took on feminine identities, sometimes permanently in the worship of their particular gods or goddesses. He includes some really great quotes, including contemporary peoples talkinng about their calling to take on feminine or third-gender identities very early in life. So far so good.
There’s some “nobel savage” mythologizing going on here too. I’m not saying that some aspects of ancient culture’s weren’t more enlightened than the modern West, but let’s not pretend that they were exactly more open-minded than we are today. For that matter, for every culture and religion named that permitted transgender identities and worship, I’m sure there were others that were incredibly jingoistic.
And my main issue: the author seems to be a cross-dresser. And there’s nothing wrong with that perspcetive at all, had he gotten pronouns right, had he not called trans feminine folks “transgender males” and had he not, in his last chapters implied that “you shouldn’t transition or you should be damn sure if you do because it could adversely affect your spiritual life.” Really?
Might I add, I HATE IT that pop science or pop psychology and anthropology books don’t have in-text citations. I’m busy, I really do appreciate the pop format at times, but I’d like to be at least granted the knowledge that the author isn’t pulling this out of their ass.