The Oldest Transgender Tradition in History? The Gala of Ancient Sumer

Boys don’t cry, right? But the gala of Ancient Sumer did. In fact, they used a special dialect reserved for women to present as females when they sang lamentations in the temple. Could this be the oldest transgender tradition in history?

Don’t forget to subscribe, rate, and review. Support the show on Patreon at Research, writing, editing, and production by B. T. Newberg. Logo Design by Rachel Westhoff. Animation by Maxeem Konrardy. Additional credits, references, and more at


Assante, Julia. “Men Looking at Men: The Homoerotics of Power in the State Arts of Assyria.” In: Zsolnay, Ilona. Being a Man: Negotiating Ancient Construct of Masculinity. New York: Routledge, 2017.

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Lahtinen, Sarah. “The Naditum as Businesswoman: The Economic Role of the Naditum in Old Babylonian Sippur.” Thesis. Uppsala University. (n.d.)

Oshima, Takayoshi. Babylonian Poems of Pious Sufferers: Ludlul Bel Nemeqi and the Babylonian Theodicy. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2014.

Stuckey, Johanna. “Inanna and the ‘Sacred Marriage.'” MatriFocus: Cross-quarterly for the Goddess Woman, Imbolc, Vol. 4-2, 2005.

Taylor, Patrick. “The Gala and the Gallos.” In: Collins, Bachvarova, and Rutherford (Eds.), Anatolian Interfaces, 2008, pp. 173-180.

Zsolnay, Ilona. Being a Man: Negotiating Ancient Construct of Masculinity. New York: Routledge, 2017.

Audio Credits

Podcast theme music mixed from “Gregorian Chant”, “Mystery Sax”, and “There It Is” by Kevin MacLeod. Short Shorts theme music mixed from “Gregorian Chant” by Kevin MacLeod and “Short Shorts” by the Royal Teens.

“Lamentation” by Kevin MacLeod. Youtube.

“Speakeasy – Music of the Roaring 20s” by Prof. Davis. Youtube.

Image Credits

Statuette of Two Gala Priests from Wikipedia

Transgender Pride Flag from Wikipedia

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