The issue of a transgendered nun came up in a small corner of Blogwarts last week, which reminded me of a few saints stories. It's very possible there is some precedent for the curious case of a transgendered woman becoming a nun. Kinda.
First of all, the man discussed extensively yesterday here, went through sexual reassignment procedures and lived as a woman, formed a pious association of the faithful with another woman and intended to live as a consecrated woman. This after abjuring his former way of life - or something to that effect. The aspiring religious found approval, but a devout lay woman, concerned about scandal, appealed to the Vatican and the nascent little community was disbanded. It's over and done with, the poor transgendered person cast out onto the existential periphery.
Nevertheless, the revival of the story reminded me once again that stranger things have happened, that the road to salvation, the way of holiness is indeed open to all. Even transgender persons. Recall, if you will, what Jesus said in the Gospel when speaking of celibacy, how some men were made eunuchs by men, while some were from birth, and so on. Likewise, it was to a eunuch the Apostle Philip was sent and baptized in Acts. As far as I know, eunuchs were not transvestites, neither were they made so with the intention of becoming a woman, but their condition was not an impediment to conversion.
Make of that what you want, but there is evidence in history that women posed as men to enter religious communities. I doubt anyone way back when would have been so foolish as to want to be a woman - women had no rights or freedoms in those days. It used to be good to be a man - before American entertainment media and advertising emasculated him, but I digress.
Once upon a time.
Long ago, there was a little girl named Marina. Her dad wanted to be a monk but was responsible for the little girl's welfare, so he took her to live as a monk with him - disguised as a boy. (Nature-nurture?) The little girl-disguised-as-a-boy grew up to be disguised as a man. After Marina's father died, she remained living as a monk - undetected by the other monks.
One day, an innkeeper's daughter became pregnant and accused Marina of fathering the child. Marina never defended herself and was sent to do penance. After five years of expiation, she was received back into the monastery. Once again, the fact that she was a woman went undetected. At her death, her sex as well as her innocence was discovered. Today her story is regarded as simple legend by some scholars, although there are feast days set aside for her, one on February 12. Her cult remains active in the Orthodox Church. - Adapted from Attwater, Dictionary of Saints
Then there is St. Hildegund...
There once was a very big girl named Hildegund. The boys of the village all called her Bruno. She loved to chop trees in the forest and play log rolling on the Danube. She was also very pious and wanted so much to be a monk and write pretty hymns and make Liebfraumilch wine. Hildegund was never very attractive, and a bit manish, so it wasn't at all difficult to convince the abbot of Schonau to accept her as a novice. The monks believed she was a he until her death in 1188. Partly edified, partly disgusted by the sight, the majority of the monks were grateful God had made them men and granted them the grace of celibacy.
Actually, I made that up - about Hildegund that is - the St. Marina story is accurate.
More seriously, the real story about Hilde:
Hildegund (died 1188) was a German woman who lived under the name Joseph disguised as a male in a monastery. She is often described as a saint (feast day April 20), though her cult has never been formally approved.
Her father, a knight of Neuss in Germany, took the 12-year-old Hildegund on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land upon her mother's death. For her protection during the voyage, he dressed her as a boy and called her Joseph. The father died on the way back, and Hildegund was robbed and abandoned in Tyre by the man charged with her protection. Still dressed as a boy, she managed to return to Germany, where she became servant to an old canon of Cologne. The two began a voyage to visit the pope, who lived in Verona at the time. Accused of being a robber and condemned to death, Hildegund was saved by undergoing the ordeal of red hot iron, only to be hanged by the true robbers' companions. She was cut down in time and survived. After having returned to Germany, she joined Schönau Abbey as a Cistercian novice. She attempted to run away two or three times and never took the vows.
She had described her adventures (though not her cross-dressing) to the monk charged with her instruction. Her true sex was discovered upon her death. An abbot of a nearby monastery wrote an account of her life in 1188, the year of her death.
Hildegund should not be confused with Saint Hildegund (c. 1130–1178), whose feast day is 6 February. - Wackipedia
So you see poodles, anyone can enter the Church, but religious life? Maybe not so much.
Song for this post here.