The Fimbria controversies (Nova Roma)

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Fl. Vedio M. Cassio cos. MMDCCLI a.u.c.

An individual with long-time gender identity questions, who had been known in Roman circles for over seven years as Lucius Marius Fimbria, became interested in Nova Roma. This individual, after some indecision (chiefly religious), applied for and was granted citizenship as "Lucia Maria Fimbria", as this person was a woman in appearance, and wanted to avoid any awkwardness in the event of a face-to-face meeting. This citizen otherwise functioned as a male, both within and without Nova Roma. All of this citizen's written contributions were as Lucius Marius Fimbria. This citizen was referred to by fellow-cives in the masculine.

L. Equitio Dec. Iunio cos. MMDCCLII a.u.c.

By his second year, Lucius Marius Fimbria had come to realise that he was in fact transgendered. He approached consul suffectus and longtime ally L Cornelius Sulla Felix about having his registered Roman name changed to reflect this more developed understanding of his being. He regarded his condition in Roman terms as his having been born with a genius rather than a iuno for a guiding spirit, and had come to feel that it was less important for his Roman name to be consistent with outward appearances than for it to be true to his soul. He wished to reconcile his entry in the Album Civium with the rest of his Roman life and Nova Roman experience. Lucius Marius regarded this action as a simple request for correction of records. Lucius Cornelius had no objection to Marius' request.

It was agreed to have Flavius Vedius Germanicus, then censor suffectus, meet with Marius "live" in the Nova Roma chatroom in order to gain a better understanding of the latter's request. The other censor, Decius Iunius Palladius Invictus, was also present and presided over the encounter. What followed was later described by Marius as "one of the more tactless, brutal and embarrassing 'outings' in the annals of the transgender condition" (personal correspondence, 18 Iun 2005). The conservative Germanicus expressed hostility to the whole idea of transgenderism. The debate soured into a discussion of Marius' physical configuration; for the conservative wing from then on, this became the only relevant concern. Former censor Germanicus' adverse opinion, though it was not a formal ruling and was never documented in any form, was nevertheless taken as Nova Roman legal precedent on the subject of transgender name switches.

Q. Maximo M. Minucio cos. MMDCCLIII a.u.c.

Newly-elected censor L Cornelius Sulla Felix had expressed support for Marius' name-change before he took office. However, his colleague, Flavius Vedius Germanicus, had resigned his own censorship shortly after Sulla's accession. Now without a colleague and wishing to avoid the appearance of favoritism towards a friend, Lucius Cornelius felt the need to consult [the Senate on the issue. This took at least some senatores by surprise, as the matter lay squarely within a censor's imperium, but they agreed to consider it.

The issue was not well-stated. Many senators were under the impression that Marius wanted to legally become his (male) chatroom persona, nothing more. It was thought that allowing him to do so could potentially foster the perception that Nova Roma was nothing more than an online role-playing game. This was a common concern at the time, as the Republic was young and still striving for respectability in the Roman world at large. Allowing a citizen to change official gender on little more than his or her say-so was seen as detrimental to this effort.]

[The section in brackets is being revised as further research clarifies the sequence of events. Still to come:]

  • The Gender Edict [1]

(first version) and "gender wars"
  • The Name-change Edict [2]

(revised/expanded from Gender Edict)

L. Arminio Ti. Galerio cos. MMDCCLX a.u.c.

Censors M. Octavius Gracchus and C. Fabius Buteo Modianus issued the following edict:



We, the Censores of Nova Roma, do hereby withdraw any Nota issued against the former citizen Lucius Marius Fimbria, who was then called a name distasteful to him, who is now known as Aldus Marius Peregrinus, and who is a thoroughly Roman person, though not presently a citizen of Nova Roma.

We condemn this misuse of a Nota to punish a citizen for a harmless prank that would have otherwise been swiftly forgotten. We condemn this Nota as an act which led to the fragmentation of the community of Rome.

The Nota is withdrawn, cancelled, annulled, voided, repudiated and despised by us. The former citizen Lucius Marius Fimbria is declared cleared of all wrongdoing, as far as this is within the power of the Censores to accomplish, and invited to return with a clean and unspoiled record.

We hereby issue an official apology to Lucius Marius Fimbria on behalf of the Office of the Censores of Nova Roma.

Having now revoked the Nota issued in MMDCCLIII, we, the Censores, now ask the Senate to officially revoke the reprimand against the former citizen Lucius Marius Fimbria.



pridie Kal. Februarias MMDCCLX a.u.c.

Aldus Marius Peregrinus replied in a likewise reconciliatory manner. [4]


  1. The Gender Edict
  2. The Name-change Edict

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