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Die and Live Free by Nigel Roth

Dernière mise à jour : 4 mars 2021

As the British Empire, and by default its colonies around the world, was casually losing twelve days to bring their calendar in line with Ugo Boncompagni’s Gregorian version, something wonderful was happening in Cumberland, in the northeastern corner of the small American colony of Rhode Island.

Jemima Wilkinson, the forgotten pioneer, was being born.

The colony Wilkinson arrived in was founded by Roger Williams, the theologian not the pianist, on the principles of religious freedom and the separation of church and state, and that boded extremely well for Wilkinson, one-hundred-and-sixteen years after William’s visionary creation.

Wilkinson’s early life was a literary one, and included the dedicated study and memorization of Quaker texts and Bible passages, though at some point Wilkinson switched from quaking in God’s presence to simply turning up with a bucket and praying with the New Light Baptists, whose emphasis on individual enlightenment may have appealed, at least temporarily.

While it took Wilkinson many years to outmaneuver the benighted idea that you are born to any given religion or doomed to a parentally-designated station, it took President Biden about four seconds to course-correct one aspect of the previous administration’s bizarre doctrine, by reenabling all ‘qualified Americans to serve their country in uniform’, whether they are transgendered or not.

Of course, transgenderism isn’t anything new, because we’re all just variations on a human theme.

You can wander back in time for thousands of years, to the southern Sumerians or the northern Akkadians, and find countless texts that describe all sorts of genders, or to ancient Greece and Anatolian Phrygia, where people embraced whatever gender they felt right, or to civilized Rome to meet the emperor Elagabalus, who sought sex reassignment surgery around eighteen-hundred years ago.

So, Jemima Wilkinson’s choice of gender at the age of twenty-four was really nothing that should've kept her Quaker parents awake at night, if they'd