For as often as ye shoot up this E, and swallow this spiro, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come...

15/04/2023 Holy Saturday/Μεγάλο Σάββατο Sixth Hour/Ώρα Έκτη - This morning after an engaging conversation with Shlomo on queerness, spirituality, and religiosity, I decided to do some deeper looking on the Church's history with gender nonconformity and trans people, and I found something most peculiar: a prayer for the name change of someone who has changed their gender, written in 1985 by the Mitropolitis of Nea Ionia and Filadelfia Timotheos Matthaiakis, a well-known and highly respected Mitropolitis in the 1980s, and published in the second edition of his prayer book Egkolpion Efxologion.
This is pretty incredible, because the position of the Orthodox Church in recent years has been one of hardline anti-transgender sentiment. When Aleksis Tsipras was trying to pass a bill that would allow trans people to change their name and gender on all legal documents (something that would bring Greece's policy closer to that held by the majority of EU states), the Bishop of Piraeus basically said that anyone that supported the bill was welcome to never come back to church ever again. And indeed, this attitude is evident in the few explanations of this prayer I could find online - Mitropolitis Giorgos of Kitrous, Katerini, and Platamon, for example, said that the prayer is for the "exceedingly rare cases of children that were born with a biological sexual confusion, with malformed or sexually ambiguous sexual organs", and that it "only applies to infants, after the sexual ambiguity has been resolved" (read more HERE, linked website in Greek but we live in the age of Google Translate).
I find this to be an inadequate explanation of the prayer - while operating intersex infants without their consent to make their naturally formed genitals fit an artificial sex binary is indeed commonplace, I don't think it's terribly common for this to involve a name change. This would fit with Mitropolitis Giorgos' assertion that it's for the "exceedingly rare cases", but also, the prayer is simply completely applicable to transgender people, and says that the "biological alteration of nature" (which could apply to surgery, as say the bishops who have spoken on this, but also is very much applicable to HRT) is "a miraculous work of Your all-powerful right hand and Your unfathomable will". This opens the door for a theological position that not only allows for, but celebrates, the act of gender transition within the Orthodox tradition.
The wording "biological alteration of nature" (ἡ τῆς φύσεως βιολογικὴ ἁλλοίωσις in the original Katharevousa) indicates the necessity for some form of medical transition or otherwise biological alteration of the body; however, the word "φύλο", as referenced in the title "Ευχή εις ονοματοθεσίαν νέαν επί αλλαγή φύλου" ("Prayer for a New Name upon Change of Gender"), and later on in the prayer in the phrase "οργανική μεταλλαγή του φύλου" (organic change of sex), can be translated as either gender or sex. I think this is more reflective of the fact that in Greece and other Orthodox countries, there really isn't this conception of the distinction between sex and gender, which has its roots in 20th century western sociology and has proceeded from there to become a cornerstone of how we in the West understand genderqueer identities both within and outside of the western cultural context. So the author certainly did not intend for this to mean "gender, and not sex" or "sex, and not gender". This ambiguity can definitely be spun to our advantage - even if you're not pursuing medical transition, you technically are changing what would be understood in the context in which the prayer was written as your "φύλο", and so you, too, can receive a blessing via this prayer. It's a tad disingenuous and I'm sure it wouldn't fly in any real life Orthodox spaces, but we can use it as a fun little akschuallypilled tongue-in-cheek justification.
Unfortunately, we will never know what Mitropolitis Timotheos' intention was for this prayer - he died in 1992, and at the time the prayer hadn't really garnered any particular attention, it was just one of many in his prayer book (in recent years during the increasing debate over trans rights it seems to have made its rounds online a few times, hence the comments from the various bishops). Whatever the case, I will certainly be making good use of this. Here is the prayer in the original Katharevousa Greek, as well as an English translation I found online and slightly adapted to more accurately reflect the original. Enjoy :)

Ευχή εις ονοματοθεσίαν νέαν επί αλλαγή φύλου

Πανάγαθε και Πολυεύσπλαχνε Κύριε, υπερούσιε και υπέρθεε, ο μόνος αναλλοιώτως και αϊδίως υπάρχων, ο ων εις τους αιώνας, Ου η δόξα ακατάληπτος και το έλεος αμέτρητων, ο κατασκευάσας παν γένος ανθρώπων, κατοικείν επί παν το πρόσωπον της γης και τη Ση εικόνι τιμήσας τον άνθρωπον και αναμορφώσας εις είδος και κάλλος, εκ ψυχής λογικής και σώματος ευπρεπούς, ο ποιήσας άρσεν και θήλυ και θέμενος εκάστω ιδίαν μορφήν και ειδώς την ηλικίαν και προσιγορίαν εκάστου, ο διδούς πάσιν ονόματα προς διάκρισιν, τω οικείω γένει προσήκοντα και την προσωπικότητα και αξίαν επισημαίνοντα.
Αυτός, Δέσποτα, ο τη σωτηριώδει Σου οικονομία το ασθενές ημών και πτωχόν περιβαλλόμενος φύραμα, πρόσδεξαι εν τη ώρα ταύτη τον δούλον Σου (δείνα η την δούλην Σου), ως προσεδέξω Πέτρον την πρωτοκορυφαίον, τον ποτέ Κηφάν, υιού Ιωνά, τας κλεις αυτώ δους της των ουρανών βασιλείας, Παύλον δε τον αοίδιμον, τον ποτέ Σαούλ, δι αποκαλύψεως κήρυκα του Ευαγγελίου και σκεύος επουράνιον, επί τη επελθούση οργανική μεταλλαγή του φύλου, ότι η της φύσεως βιολογική αλλοίωσις έργον θαυμαστόν εστί της πανσεθνούς δεξιάς Σου και της ανεξιχνιάστου βουλής Σου, ημείς δε, το καινόν τούτο και παράδοξον εκπληττόμενοι, ομολογούμεν την χάριν, κηρύττομεν τον έλεον και, τα μεγαλεία Σου διηγούμενοι, την Σην άφατον φιλανθρωπίαν δοξάζομεν.
Χαρίτωσον τον δούλον Σου (δείνα η την δούλην Σου) εν τω Σω αγιασμώ και αξίωσον αυτόν (αυτήν) τηρείν το ίδιον σκεύος άσπιλον και αμώμητον και φυλάττειν τον αρραβώνα του βαπτίσματος άσυλον και αμόλυντον, όπως προκόπτη, ως τέκνον Φωτός, εν τοις παραγγέλμασί Σου και εν ευσεβεία και πίστει τελέση τον υπόλοιπον της ζωής χρόνον, δόξαν Σόι αναπέμπων (αναπέμπουσα) πάσας τας ημέρας της ζωής αυτού (αυτής).
Πρεσβείαις της Παναχράντου Μητρός Σου, των φωτοειδών Αρχαγγέλων, του Τιμίου Προδρόμου και Βαπτιστού Ιωάννου, των αγίων και πανευφήμων Αποστόλων και πάντων Σου των Αγίων. Αμήν.


Prayer for a New Name upon Change of Gender

All-good and greatly compassionate Lord, above [all conceptions of] being and divinity, Who alone exists eternally and without change: He who is unto the ages; Whose glory is incomprehensible and Whose mercy is immeasurable; Who created the entire human race to dwell over the entire face of the earth; and Who honored the human being with Your image, newly shaped in form and beauty from a rational soul and dignified body; Who made male and female and gave to each its own appearance and substance; Who knows the weakness of our nature and knows the name and age of each; Who gives each a name to be distinct, distinguished in their own appropriate gender, personality and worth
Master, Yourself acquiring our infirm and impoverished blend [of soul and body] in Your saving dispensation, accept at this time Your servant (new name, if applicable) as You accepted Peter the first Chief [of the Apostles], formerly Cephas, son of Iona, to whom You gave the keys to the Kingdom of the Heavens; [as You accepted] Paul the Renown, formerly Saul, whom You showed to be the Herald of the Gospel by a revelation and a chosen vessel.
Likewise, send down upon [Your servant] Your heavenly grace upon undergoing the organic modification of gender, for the biological alteration of nature is a miraculous work of Your all-powerful right hand and Your unfathomable will, and amazed by this new and astounding work, we confess Your grace, we herald Your mercy and, declaring Your magnificence, we glorify Your indescribable love for humanity.
Grace Your servant (name) in Your sanctification and make his (or “her”) worthy to keep HIS (or “HER”) own vessel without stain and blameless, likewise guarding the pledge of baptism inviolate and undefiled, and as a child of light, advancing in Your precepts and completing his (or “her”) remaining years, ascribing glory to You all the days of HIS (or HER) life.
By the intercessions of Your All-pure Mother, the radiant Archangels, the Honorable Forerunner and Baptist John; the holy glorious and all-famed Apostles, and all Your saints. Amen.

by Timotheos Matthaiakis
Mitropolitis of Nea Ionia and Filadelfia.

Reduced version by AGP Bach (for more convenient use)
Πανάγαθε και Πολυεύσπλαχνε Κύριε, πρόσδεξαι εν τη ώρα ταύτη τον δούλον Σου (δείνα η την δούλην Σου) επί τη επελθούση οργανική μεταλλαγή του φύλου. Αμήν.
Panágathe ke polyévsplachne Kýrie, prósdekse en ti óra táfti ton doúlon Sou (tin doúlin Sou) epí ti epelthoúsi organikí metallagí tou fýlou. Amín.
All-holy and most merciful Lord, in this hour receive Your subject upon the achievement of his/her/their organic change of sex. Amen.

Happy transing!!!

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