King Louis XIV of France

Jom | they/them or he/him | agender

Imagine it’s 1618: you’re from what’s now present-day Germany. Galileo’s recently published about observing the Jovian moons; William Shakespeare’s just died. Suddenly there’s a war on your doorstep. Your country, which is Protestant, is going to war with a neighbouring country which is Catholic – it’s a Holy Roman Empire thing.

Now, despite coming from a Protestant country, you’ve dabbled in a bit of Catholicism in your youth: you did confessions, you ate fish on Fridays – you really believed that the communion wine was blood.

Yet in the same way that you never felt at home as a Protestant, Catholicism didn’t suit you either; you’re from a Protestant country, so everyone just thinks of you as a Protestant. And that was fine – but suddenly, there’s a war happening. People with sharp things will ask you if you’re a Protestant or a Catholic, and they’ll poke you if you answer the wrong way. No-one believes you when you say “well, in all honesty – I’m an atheist, really.”

“What’s an atheist?” they ask, sharpening their pointy sticks. And you explain, but – their retort is always the same: “Ahh, but you came from a Protestant country, so you might as well be just that.” And then, they poke you.

You’ve considered moving elsewhere, and becoming one of the Moors, or a Hindu, or something, but none of those sit quite right with you either. So… you decide to make your own religion. You give it a stupid name: people are so busy being flabbergasted by it that they at least stop poking you for not being Catholic or Protestant.

Is gender really so different? As an agender person, are you not that atheist sat in the middle of the Thirty Years’ War shrugging your shoulders and looking somewhat helpless? I know I am.

Is it not reasonable to absurdly and boldly claim a nonsense identity in order to distract from the fact that you really feel that you have no identity at all?

And, much like institutions such as the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, for me this lack of identity has meant a descent into absurdity. “My gender is King Louis XIV of France,” I claim. “My gender is an atheist during the Thirty Years’ War,” I say. These are the only way I have of engaging with something that is otherwise completely beyond my grasp.

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