As a man of transsexual medical status (as in female-to-male, for those tuning in for the first time and perhaps unfamiliar with either the few times I mention this publicly, or the term), it occurred to me just now another potential “Caution from Ares”:
Ares is a deity of War, which every major civilisation has benefited from, but Ares’ bloodlust is tempered by both Aphrodite’s sweetness and Athene’s wisdom. He is a deity of physical might and strength and masculinity, but He’s also been bested by a lame dwarf, and humiliated by an effete. He’s almost the Iron Butt Monkey of Hellenic myth, though certainly more as a caution than for comedy.
The primary attribute that biologists link with males, and so by extension, what laypersons link to masculinity is the hormone testosterone.
In excess, just about anything can produce a toxic effect on the human body — there have actually been cases where people have died from drinking too much water and not releasing it in one sitting (the most recent example, and possibly most famous one that I can think of was the death of a woman in a radio contest, “Hold your wee for a Nintendo Wii”). In rare cases, human bodies have naturally produced excess hormones to the point of toxicity, and TS individuals who take black market hormones without the supervision of their doctor are at risk of hormone toxicity. Too little of any one hormone or another doesn’t seem to have any ill effects, unless one is so attached to the idea of reproducing that they’d count sterility. But too much of one hormone or another can lead to certain death.
What’s interesting is that the threshold for testosterone poisoning (not just a female supremacist catch-phrase, kids) is far lower than it is for oestrogen poisoning. The nature of each hormone can essentially explain this: testosterone is an “aggressive” hormone (and I’m using “aggressive” here as a polar opposite of “passive”, with “assertive” being of neutral demeanour), and physiologically typical females produce a very small amount compared to physiologically typical males; pretty much just enough to create a sex-drive and body hair. Therefore, physiologically typical cisgender women are at a practically non-existent risk of testosterone toxicity.
Now, testosterone is an anabolic steroid, and any layman familiar enough with the oft-warned-against ill-effects of steroid abuse amongst athletes and body-builders can tell you the dangers of of too much anabolic steroid in the body. The risk with testosterone in and of itself seems especially great, linked with cardiovascular disease, and oral testosterone causes liver damage (the primary reason it’s so rarely prescribed anymore). This makes black and grey market HRT for TS men especially risky, while black/grey market HRT for trans women is considerably lower in risk.
Oestrogen is a more passive hormone. Testosterone can “cancel out” more than a certain amount of oestrogen, but oestrogen alone cannot “cancel out” testosterone, and so therefore TS women tend to take combined HRT: not only oestrogen, but also androgen suppressants; TS men, in comparison, just take testosterone. This being the nature of oestrogen, it’s very hard to produce hormone toxicity, and while I occasionally hear of TS men having an androgen OD (to varying degrees), I’ve never heard of an oestrogen OD from trans women (though, to be fair, that’s not to say it doesn’t happen, simply that I’ve not yet heard of it happening).
War is the political destruction of human life, and War is Ares’ primary domain.
Testosterone is the nectar of masculinity, and Masculinity is another of Ares’ domains.
Oestrogen is the nectar of femininity, and Femininity is one of Aphrodite’s domains.
Peace is the political preservation of human life. A common misconception of Aphrodite is as a Goddess of Peace1, and though this is not truly within Her domain, Peace is often described as a “feminine” pursuit or ideal.
War, in excess, has the potential to destroy all human life in a very short period of time. Peace, in excess, has the potential to very slowly kill human life as resources become exhausted more quickly without periodic waves of death from war creating the side-effect of population control.
Testosterone in excess within the human body can destroy life of an individual at a far greater rate, and far more quickly than oestrogen.
If that’s not basic biological chemistry reflecting ancient poetry, then some-one please explain what that is.
1: Though hitting the F3 button and searching all of Aphrodite’s pages on Theoi Project for the word “peace” produces almost nothing to suggest that this modern idea is Conformed Gnosis; on the other hand, She does have several war-related epithets, including “Αρεια [Areia]“, of Ares. It is Eirene who is the Goddess of Peace2, and I’ve also found nothing to suggest a possible ancient conflation of Eirene with Harmonia; while Peace and Harmony are similar concepts, Peace is the absence of War, while Harmony [outside of musical harmony] is the desired result of War, being an “orderly, pleasing arrangement; agreement”)
2: Though Eirene is named by Hesiod and Pindar, suggesting Boeotian reverence, the only surviving account of cult is of Attik cult.
PS: On a personal note, what with all the talk of Ares on the Intertubes this last week or so, I feel it necessary to state that I am a pacifist as a personal conviction — and by this, I mean that I refuse to fight in any war. While I acknowledge the efforts that my paternal grandfather made in his short time in the military (just before and during WWII, but unless he and my paternal grandmother were going at it like rabbits during periodic times at home, at least enough to produce two daughters and my father, who were all born in Michigan, it seems unlikely that he was stationed overseas during U$ involvement in the Second Great War), I also acknowledge my maternal grandparents’ hasty fleeing, due to war, of the home in England that they loved dearly, and my mother’s career as a nurse and brief time protesting the war in Vietnam. While I haven’t much issue with the historic presence of war, and the ecologic need for war as population control, there is a huge difference between the sustainable-tech wars of ancient times, and the resource-wasting wars of the current era. If we are to survive on this planet, we need to either re-tool war technologies to sustainability, like, yesterday, or we need to have far more periods of sustained peace to conserve resources. The latter would benefit from population control by other means, but China seems to be doing pretty well for herself, and with a population that increases at a far lower rate than this doomed experiment.
I’m going to cut off here before I start ranting any further, but to give you the “tl;dr” version: I acknowledge war as necessary for several reasons, but that does not mean I believe it is every man’s duty to go to war, nor do I believe that just because war is necessary, that war is somehow always necessary. That would be like saying “My diet includes meat, therefore I only eat meat,” which isn’t even a logical statement. I believe that periods of Peace are necessary for true Harmony, and I believe that the world is overdue for a period of peace.
PPS: Sorry no images with this post. I don’t have very many on the computer right now that I’d like to put with it, and at the time I write this, I have a small cat being very annoying at me, cos I haven’t scooped out Stinky Food for her and the other two yet, and I’m over three hours behind schedule.