“[nita] munus-ra munus nita-ra ku-ku-dè ᵈinanna za-kam”
trans. “to transform men into women and women to men is yours, inanna.” from in-nin ša-gur-ra. enheduanna, ca. 2250 BCE (via patrexes)
ok, so I was gonna infodump in the tags, but I think this is important enough to talk about on the post itself.
Inanna was the supreme Goddess of ancient Sumer, a region of what is now known as the middle east. She was a queen who ventured into the underworld to save her husband, and came back alive. (Her story is one of the many pre-Christian stories of death and rebirth/resurrection.) She was heavily revered, more so than any male god at the time (even though she did have a male consort, as mentioned before).
Enheduanna was a priestess to Inanna. Not only was she one of the first (if not the first) priests or priestesses whose names are still known today, but she was actually one of the first authors to still have her name still preserved. Pretty much all the writing we have that was from before her time was written by anonymous scribes or chisel-workers; her writing is the oldest (or one of the oldest) with a name attached to the writer.
It’s already known that many ancient and Indigenous societies accepted trans people, but…seeing writing that’s pretty clearly supposed to be about trans people, written by the oldest, most ancient priestess we know of, which says that trans people are under the *direct* care and domain of the most important goddess in the society of that priestess…sure is something.
thanks for adding some context! here’s actually some more, because i’m real fucking weak for inanna.
trans people played a major part as priestesses and other staff in her cult (it’s even been argued that trans people were the only people who served as her cultic staff, though that’s generally received with some discontent). transness was considered inexplicably tied to the goddess and imparted by her in some respect, as we see from erra IV, “lú kur-ĝar-ra lú issini ša ana šuplu niše ištar zikarussunu uteru ana sinnišuti”, trans. “the kurĝarru and assinu, the people beneath ištar/inanna whom she has transformed from virile men into women”.
now, note, all of the english translations of erra IV i’ve come across (i’m mostly affording my own translations here, because people use slurs a lot when they translate sumero-akkadian and i ain’t about that life) add something like “in order to strike fear into the people” when quoting that transliteration, but a) there’s nothing in that passage i can figure to get that meaning and b) that description is inconsistent with other descriptions of the kurĝarru and assinu (who are also called, variably, gala, pilipili, sag-ur-sag, kalu, kulu’u, and ur-sal). in “the descent of inanna to the underworld”, we see the creation of the first of these by enki for the indisposed inanna: as you noted, inanna does indeed survive the trip, and it is solely because of her explicitly transgender priestesses.
[the gala-tur and kur-ĝar-ra] flitted through the door [to the underworld] like flies. they slipped through the door pivots like phantoms. […]
[ereš-ki-gal-la] asked: “who are you? i tell you from my heart to your heart, from my body to your body – if you are gods, i will talk with you; if you are mortals, may a destiny be decreed for you.” they made her swear this by heaven and earth.
they were offered a river with its water – they did not accept it. they were offered a field with its grain – they did not accept it. they said to her: “give us the corpse hanging on the hook.”
shining ereš-ki-gal-la answered the gala-tur and kur-ĝar-ra: “the corpse is that of your queen.”
they said to her: “whether it is that of our king, or whether it is that of our queen, give it to us.”
they were given the corpse hanging on a hook. [the kur-ĝar-ra] sprinkled on it the life-giving plant, and the other the life-giving water. and thus, inanna rose.
when the fuck have your faves ever, am i right?
and, hell, inanna herself in a šir-namšub (”incantation hymn”; a hymn or poem written in voice, for the sake of performance) says this: “e kaš-a-ka tuš -a-[ĝu-ne] / nu-nus-ĝen šul giri-zal-la me-e-ĝen-[na]”, trans. “to sit in the tavern, i go as a woman [or] i go as a joyful young man”.