Internet quizzes always rely on forced choices, which is why I find them so annoying. Ninety percent of the quizzes I’ve seen that ask about one’s taste in music, for example, name performers I’ve never heard of. There is no Internet personality quiz that gives me the option to name the Irish choir Anuna, or Tudor lute repertoire, or Puccini’s opera Gianni Schicchi among my favorite types of music.
Probably the most annoying question on any quiz, for me, is, “Dog or cat?” Because, of course, the answer is BIRD. And because the answer is simply more complicated than any single choice. I like dogs but prefer not to own one. I like cats but am allergic to them, so my interaction with them has to be limited. Birds are my companions of choice, but I’m also very fond of bearded dragons. I like reptile pets in general but not rodents; bunnies are photogenic, to be sure, but a sweet-looking pet rabbit chomped on my finger once. The same owner’s bearded dragon didn’t.
In the past couple years I’ve realized that asking if someone is male or female is about as useful and accurate as asking whether they are a dog person or a cat person. Gender is just more complicated than that. I myself am a comfortably cisgender female person. I’ve never had reason to disagree with the gender I was assigned at birth. On the other hand, I have lots of experiences of not fitting into female or feminine roles. As a child, I was neither a tomboy nor a little princess, but more of a little nerd, whether I was in a skirt or in pants. I can do femme but not high femme. There are things in myself I see as masculine because my culture calls them masculine–like being handy with tools, for instance–but I’m not butch in the conventional sense. I can’t sew a button on a coat, but I replaced a part in my toilet by myself. And yet I identify as a woman with no dysphoria, even if I’m too smart, too fat, too butch, too femme, too whatever for some people’s ideas of what a woman is.
The past few years have been an era of coming into visibility for transgender people, and for other people who can’t just tick off cat or dog, boy or girl on the quiz and move on. No doubt my own better understanding of the multiple possibilities of gender is part of that. Still, I wasn’t exactly prepared when the first deities to “tap” me, to seek my attention, turned out to be a group of deities who expressed those expanded possibilities.
I have written about participating in the Rite of Trans Ancestor Elevation last November and being contacted by these deities. I would like to say a little more about them here.
Collectively, they are known as the Tetrad++, because they first revealed themselves as a quartet, but two more joined their number. They are Panpsyche, “all-soul”, who is a trans female goddess; Panhyle, “all-body”, a trans male god; Paneros, “all-love”, a metagender deity; Pancrates, “all-power”, a pangendered deity; Paneris, “all-strife”, a genderfluid deity; and Panprosdexia, “all-acceptance”, an agender and asexual deity.
My initial contact with the Tetrad++ was during the Rite of Elevation when I was praying to them for the first time. I had a strong sense of a group of people standing over me, very tall people with staffs, or spears, or something, peering down at me the way an adult peers down at a small child playing on the floor. (In fact, I was sitting on the floor at the time.) I had a feeling of being noticed, of their attention, and of interest coming from them–almost of recognition: “Ah, here’s one of ours.”
On another night, while reciting the prayers, I had an experience I can only understand as Paneros and Paneris attempting to possess me, jointly. It felt like something was trying to open up my skull and get in, from above and behind me, yet not in a hostile way. I panicked and rejected the idea, and they backed off. I explained that I was not wholly unwilling, but I was untrained and unready for the experience.
Since then I have read about the Tetrad++, prayed and offered to them, written prayers for them, and accepted that, in whatever way, for whatever reason, although I’m not trans, I am “one of theirs”. I am definitely one of theirs in the sense of being a devotee, possibly in the sense of being, in future, a priestess or mediator for them. Maybe my gender is less important to them than my sharing their values: self-esteem for all, proper self-care for all, joyous erotic love for all, free gender expression for all. Because I’m neither a dog person nor a cat person, and apparently the gods can’t take Internet quizzes, either.