Nova Roma Eagle, issue IV, 2000
|This article is from the Nova Roma publication "Aquila".|
Salvete readers. This issue of The Eagle has been long in coming. I have been plagued with computer problems since the Spring which has brought production of The Eagle to a crawl. You will notice a new format and a much shorter issue (still, a small issue is better than no issue). I encourage you to contribute to this publication for it can only be as good as its writers.
In the past it has been suggested that The Eagle should be bi-monthly. I was wondering what you think. In effect, that is what it has been this year due to circumstances. Let me assure all subscribers that you will get the issues you paid for. Your subscriptions have been extended appropriately and will be handed on as such to my successor.
Decius Iunius Palladius Invictus, Editor
From the Rostra: Political News and Views of Nova Roma
One of the computer problems I was plagued with over the last few months--or at least during a large portion of that time--was lack of access to the internet. As such, I have been out of contact with the political goings on in Nova Roma and will be unable to comment on them in this issue. I am so behind in what is going on politically in Nova Roma that it is doubtful I will be able to produce meaningful commentary for awhile. Rather than drop the column entirely, I will do it next issue in collaboration with Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix, who will provide up to date insight on the political goings on in Nova Roma. Election time is upon us in Nova Roma--time to concentrate on electoral issues other than the American presidential race, which has understandably taken the attention of many world observers recently.
In the last issue of the Eagle, I mentioned that this column would describe the actions that led to the edict being issued by Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix regarding the "gender" edict. Circumstances and time have largely made that issue a thing of the past, of little current interest. However, I will still briefly discuss those events as a prelude to Sulla Felix's article in this issue.
Last year, while censors, Flavius Vedius Germanicus and I were approached by a citizen who desired a name change inconsistent with that citizen's physical gender. We were given a large amount of information to consider, both of a personal nature and information about names themselves. It was a busy time in Nova Roma, right after the end of the dictatorship. However, we gave the request speedy attention. After individually reviewing the information, Germanicus and I spoke on the phone and agreed to deny the name change. Our reason was simple: such name changes (inconsistent with one's physical gender) too closely resemble gaming personas. Nova Roma is not a role playing game, contrary to what some might believe. If we have pretensions to being a real nation we should act like one. As such, we must act according to physical reality, namely in this case one's physical [configuration] or gender. That is all we can judge. We are not in a position to judge how one feels internally.
Not long after, the citizen in question appealed to us to review her petition in a "live" setting. At the citizen's request we heard the appeal in the forum chatroom. We three chatted for about an hour. The citizen presented information, we listened and asked questions and answered questions in turn. After conferring privately, we decided to let the ruling stand upon the original reasons given. I admit that this was a difficult case and one I never anticipated. However, as a nation, within the realm of law we must deal with tangible facts and physical reality. This did not affect nicknames or chatroom personas. People use those all the time online and that is fine. We were dealing with physical identity within the nation itself. That is what one's official name is based on.
Let me state that I stand by Censor Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix's actions regarding this case and the gender edict. He has received a great deal of unfair criticism for doing an exceptional job in the office. He has dealt with difficult circumstances and has always put the good of Nova Roma first.
The Gender Edictum
Given the debates that continue to rage on in Nova Roma, I have decided to write an article for the Eagle specifically to explain why I published the Edictum. I have been Censor for about 10 months, and I believe there are more important issues in Nova Roma other than this Edictum that need attention. However, given the volume of discussion, arguments, and knock-down drag out fights I want to spell out to each citizen what brought this issue on and why I felt a need to publish this Edictum in the first place.
Prior to being elected as Censor of Nova Roma, a particular citizen--at the time a close friend--and I discussed this issue. I told her personally I didn't have a problem with her name change, due to the fact that since I first met her, I always referred to her by her masculine chatroom persona. Once elected Censor, I had a phone conversation with my colleague, Flavius Vedius Germancius [sic]. I broached the subject with him and he informed me that he would not favor the change and explained to me his reasoning. I therefore informed my friend that it would not be done during the Censorship of Germancius [sic] and she would have to wait. Well, on March 1, my colleague resigned his position. That very day, I received an e-mail from my friend asking for her name change. Once I received that e-mail I took it as her petition and immediately began investigating the possibility.
During a two to three week period, I investigated numerous websites, went to the Los Angeles County Law Library and investigated 4 other macronational countries for their dealings with transgendered issues and their internal procedures. While I was investigating these sources I also contacted the previous Censor Decius Iunius Palladius Invictus. As a result of my ongoing investigation to this, I uncovered that Transgendered individuals are not a protected class in the United States, therefore they had no special protections under Civil Rights Legislation (1964 or 1991 or under Title VII or IX) or under the American Disabilities Act. The other nations that I investigated had similar policies, or more precisely, a similar lack of policies. While there are currently efforts to try to make "alternative genders" a protected group, to date that has [not?] been accomplished. Given the results of my research I upheld the ruling of the previous Censors. During my conversation with Decius Iunius Palladius Invictus, I discovered that the previous Censors of Nova Roma were originally petitioned by the aforementioned citizen. They rejected her request, thereby setting a magisterial precedent.
Via e-mail, I informed Lucia Maria Fimbria and once I did that, I felt a bit insecure about my ruling. Not so much because of the decision I made, but because I had no colleague to assist me in such a ruling. Because of that reason, I notified the Senate of Nova Roma, giving them a copy of my e-mail to the citizen and the justification for my ruling. By notifying the Senate, I created a controversy that I did not really expect. I was questioned as to procedure, the validation of my ruling, and the fact that I had no colleague. As a result of seeing Marcus Iulianus Cassius's [sic] point of view regarding a lack of procedure I passed an Edictum establishing procedures for future petitions. However, I stood by my ruling. And, it was during this time that the citizen tried to petition the Praetors for a lawsuit against me for a personal injury. By this time the friendship I had with her was gone. This was very painful to me because I have been friends with her since she became a citizen and we actually met! As each day passed with the result of the ruling and the ongoing Senatorial Debate the strain on our friendship reached and even surpassed the breaking point.
As this issue continued within the Senate I began to get the idea that maybe an Edictum might be the best way to solve this issue in the future. Many of the criticisms that I heard dealt with mainly procedural issues, therefore I began creating procedure with a series of edicta. I had already published several edicta and heard only praise with each edicta I published. I believed the best course would be to publish an Edictum create procedure, and the issue would fade away.
Prior to publishing the Edictum I went to my core group of citizens whom I trust and informed them of my intentions regarding the "Gender Edictum." I explained to them the fact that up to that time I only published three Edicta and it was suggested to me by Senator Equitius that I should not publish any more Edictas until I had a colleague. I also explained to them some of the other Edictas I wanted to publish and from these individuals I heard nothing but praise for the work I was doing for Nova Roma and the office of Censor and was told to go ahead and publish them, it wasn't my fault that I had no colleague. So, within 2 days I published 7 more Edictas. One of the last ones was the "Gender Edictum."
My own personal thoughts when I published my Edicta's was that they weren't at all controversial. The one I thought that would get discussion was the honesty Edictum, due to the harsh penalties I imposed for prospective citizens who lied on their application. Never did I dream that the Gender Edictum would be the controversial one. In my mind it was common sense. Two Genders: Male and Female. Both based on physical appearance. Well, we know how that turned out. And, I will be completely honest, I have learned quite a bit during these discussions. I learned that it isn't just a matter of physical appearance alone. However, my own personal view has not been changed but the frame of reference for this view has. My personal view is one thing, enacting law and following and establishing magisterial precedent is another thing entirely.
While the people of Nova Roma are not privy to the discussions that take place in the Senate, I am going to set the matter straight. When this issue was placed on the Senatorial agenda for the month of May, I was concerned. Not so much for having my Edictum null and void, but just for the viability of it, and with the recognition of my broadening views of the issue at hand. With that in mind, and with the assistance of Senior Consul Quintus Fabius Maximus we went to work on a revision of the Edictum and it was this revision that made it on the Agenda. The resulting Edictum satisfied most of the Senators who were adamantly against the first one that was published. This Edictum would have definitely passed. However, increased communication voiced some displeasure that my colleague was not involved in any capacity. This was not meant as an insult. The Revised Edictum was my own fix for an issue that I created. I firmly believe if you make a mess then you clean the mess. But, given the communication I was receiving I believed that for the good of Nova Roma and the Edictum, I should get some input from my colleague, and I did. Together we made some changes (actually we changed it from a Gender Edictum to a name change Edictum and ONLY added a few paragraphs). But, given the closeness to the senate vote and me seeking approval to revise the Gender Edictum to this new "Name Change Edictum," and finally only having about an hour to post this new Edictum to the Senate things just did not work out. The new Edictum was incomplete, inaccurate and basically was no where near as concise as the revised Edictum that was originally placed on the Agenda. In the end it lost by two votes.
The changes that would have been implemented would have given a lot more leverage to applicants who are transgendered. However, they would have to prove via documentation their transgendered macronational status. This view I completely support and it was ultimately how I rationalized my decision when I ruled on the citizen whose case started this chain of events. Let me expound on this a bit further. If you are physically a man, but truly believe you are a woman, you are then transgendered. However, if your drivers license, income tax form, or passport say you are a man, then in the eyes of the macronation you reside, you are a man. Therefore, when you sign up to Nova Roma, you will sign up as a man. However, if you have gone through the trouble and effort to physically change your macronational status to reflect the female gender, then and only then, will you be admitted to Nova Roma as a woman. Also, included in this revised Edictum would be an appeal's process to the Comitia Populi if you disagreed with the ruling of the Censors. Another advantage of the revised Edictum was the clause on aliases and its spelling out of issues for hermaphrodites and other related issues. Basically, the revised Edictum is so much more thorough than the one that is currently law. I personally believe that the new revised Edictum would have solved many problems that many citizens have with the original Edictum.
During this whole time, I have been dragged through the mud, cursed at, and basically been told I am a liar. But, let me ask you, People of Nova Roma, would someone who has tried to compromise and tried to fix this issue really want to hurt Nova Roma? Also, ask yourselves this: those individuals who are against the Edictum, what have they done constructively to try to end this issue? What suggestions, concerns, or ideas have they offered to contribute ending this issue? On my end, I have taken all constructive ideas and tried to incorporate as much as I can while retaining the beliefs that I personally have. People of Nova Roma, please think about those people who have tried to compromise and end this, and then think about those individuals who just complain for the sake of complaining. And, decide for yourself if this law is just or if it is unjust.