How Dune Might Actually Be The Best Trans Movie

Photo by Wolfgang Hasselmann on Unsplash

Editors Note: This story is a Creative Commons reprint of an essay by “jalvarez”, who posted the story on a NYU website under the title “The Queerness Behind Dune’s Kwisatz Haderach”. We’re reprinting it here under the CC license for its timeliness, relevance and entertainment value. We’ve edited it for clarity and style.

It is not possible to say whether Frank Herbert had a transgender agenda in mind when he envisioned Dune in 1965, but his idea of the Kwisatz Haderach, whom his main character Paul Atreides is discovered to be, is a perfect metaphor for the current rhetoric surrounding queer, trans and non-binary bodies.

While Mr. Herbert’s magnum opus has been analyzed and dissected in countless ways and through the lenses of many different philosophical, anthropological and social studies, it is important to point out that ultimately, the author has rested the fate of his galactic world in the hands of a human who transcends gender.

The Kwisatz Haderach, the savior of the Empire, is a trans/non-binary person, and it is actually because and through this subject’s trans-ness that they bring peace to the universe.

What is the Kwisatz Haderach?

Within the magical world of Dune (1965), an elite sisterhood of space witches, the Bene Gesserit, hold to a prophesy: that the sisterhood will genetically cultivate a male member of their sisterhood. That male will end the thousand-year-long feud between royal houses.

The Bene Gesserit, being female, can access only feminine aspects of their consciousness and eternal memories. But this male will be able to access both the male and female regions of knowledge. The Bene Gesserit’s hundreds-of-years-long breeding program eventually fulfills its prophesy: They end up producing their prophet, the Kwisatz Haderach in the human Paul Atreides.

Paul Atreides eventually does evolve female/male consciousness. That consciousness allows him to bridge time and space. With the blending of Paul’s gender also comes unbelievable knowledge and power. By becoming something outside of the gender binary, Paul discovers and launches both a terrifying and thrilling new human reality.

As Elana Gormel says in Science (Fiction) and Posthuman Ethics: Redefining the Human. The European Legacy (2011) “The post-man subject is both a vision of the future and an echo of the past.” (p340) Thus Paul becomes a non-binary, post-human entity capable of all knowledge. With that knowledge comes tremendous power.

Further commonalities with trans people

If gender is indeed a “norm” as Judith Butler says in Undoing Gender, “Gender Regulations,” (2004) and “a norm operates within social practices as the implicit standard of normalization” (p41) Then Paul can be seen as the echo of the gender binary that produced him. The same binary construct that dictates his life. That is, until he assumes the opposite gender’s consciousness.

However, the parallels between Paul’s experience and the trans experience do not end here. Despite being a conscientious person, Paul, like many trans people, is shoved into society’s margins, just as all minorities have been historically shoved in our reality.

Through all this, Paul doesn’t only think like a trans person, his experience very much mirrors the trans experience. Like trans women of color and non-binary folk, he is pushed to the limits of survivability: out into the desert, the wastes of Dune. Dune, also known as Arrakis, is seen as a backwater itself. The Empire only values its spice. The desert waste Paul finds himself in is even more desolate than the planet itself.

But what he finds there is a rich culture, much like trans people find among themselves. A culture that embraces and enriches him, further expanding what he is (the Kwisatz Haderach). It’s in the desert among the Fremen that the Kwisatz Haderach really comes into its fullness. Much like how trans people often blossom once they find their place among those like them.

Exile’s end brings peace

But after many years living and creating a community with all the other unfortunate souls hiding, but thriving, in Dune’s wasteland, it is Paul’s ultimate return to the very mainstream civilization that exiled him that brings an end to an era of conflict.

To quote Butler once again, “Persons are regulated by gender. To veer from the gender norm is to produce the aberrant example that regulatory powers […] may quickly exploit to shore up the rationale for their own continuing regulatory zeal.” Imitation & Gender Insubordination (1990) (p317).

In Dune, the emperor repersents the ultimate of regulatory powers. But he uses the Harkonens and his Sardukar to express those powers. But Paul’s outside-the-binary-norm status grants him sufficient power to resist the emperor. To resist him and ultimately defeat him. In doing so the Kwisatz Haderach introduces a new set of norms.

It could be said trans people undergo a similar path. Not all of them succeed, of course. That must be acknowledged. In fact, a fairly small number do, if we measure success as “significantly influencing a societal expansion beyond binary consciousness.” That influence success often looks like severe push-back from the binary.

And isn’t that what we’re seeing today in the resistance brought towards Dylan Mulvaney and others who achieve mainstream status? How about reactions towards trans kids and their parents?

The rise of the power inherent in trans people

Perhaps this is what Dune’s Kwisatz Haderach represents. After years living on the “outside,” Paul comes back to the palace he once inhabited. He confronts the royals, the Bene Gesserit sisterhood, and the powers that expelled him. He asserts his place as the rightful heir and ruler of the Arrakis. Then he exerts his dominance throughout the empire for thousands of years. It should be noted that his rule goes way off the rails after that. But that’s another story.

We see trans people have this kind of influence today. Laverne Cox, for example and other transgender actresses are influencing Hollywood. Trans women are significantly changing business, science and technology and more. They’re doing so with changes that have altered humankind’s trajectory.

And this is where the metaphor between Paul and the trans experience reaches its apogee. As more trans people own and expresss their authenticity, much like Paul does as the Kwisatz Haderach, we could perhaps bring stability to the increasingly unequal and unbalanced social and economic structures that people find so oppressive. So oppressive they become vulnerable to leaders who use marginalized people as scapegoats for people’s suffering, thereby gaining control over the suffering masses.

Frank Herbert created the savior for his fictional world as the Kwisatz Haderach. Perhaps he was aware that there already is such a being in the real world: the trans people living among us. Perhaps he wasn’t aware. In any case, the comparisons between his Kwisatz Haderach and trans lives are hard to ignore. As is the newest installment of the Dune Franchise, which is in theaters now. Go watch it.

The world is getting better for transgender people

Photo by Simon Ray on Unsplash

Every step made in supporting the transgender community benefits the community. And… those out there protesting angrily for and against the community benefit the community too. It’s hard to see how that’s happening though, if regular meditation and spiritual expansion aren’t part of our lives.

Without spiritual expansion it’s easy seeing a lot going wrong and people “against us” as against us.

But a lot is going right. In fact, one could say the more strident “opponents” of the transgender community get, the more positive the world becomes for transgender people. And for people who love them.

At The Transamorous Network we’re doing our part to realize the better world we know is possible. A world where transgender and trans-attracted people can freely, openly come together in love. In love as expressions of the greater spiritual beings they are.

I spoke with a transgender woman recently who gets this. We met one day in the middle of a business district. It was such a magical coming together. What really made it special was how Phoebe saw the world. Like me, she sees the magic behind physical phenomena. She can’t stay in that perspective consistently. But she’s there enough to know everything is working out.

I like knowing everything is working out too. Evidence I see supports my contention. In fact, the more I see the world working out for trans and trans-attracted people, the more excited about the world I get. It’s a wonderful place from which to view the world. I’m empowered, and eager for the future. That’s why I share what I share. In doing so, I’m positive what I share helps…a lot.

Benefiting more than the trans community

Which is why I’m writing this post. Lately, I’ve received quite a few messages from people who are not part of the transgender community. But they are allies with friends and family they want to support. Or they’re wanting to expand their understanding.

Some, however, don’t know where to start. Then they somehow find us. Like this person, who found what I write on Medium:

The world works in mysterious ways. It also benefits from high levels of redundancy. When it comes to the transgender community, that means untold numbers of people working to create the better world for transgender people.

What we resist persists and gets bigger

On April 6, two African American Tennessee legislators were expelled from their legislative seats. Not long after they regained their seats for racist reasons. White Tennessee lawmakers hoped expelling these men from the State House would make them an example.

But the spectacle white lawmakers created backfired. Both expelled legislators, Justin Jones and Justin Pearson not only regained their seats, they also became national heroes. But that’s not all. They gained tens of thousands of new followers on social media, and massive increases in political funding. Funding for both themselves and for the left.

There’s a lesson here. It’s this: we can’t push against something and not cause it to persist. Indeed, push hard enough and it will GROW.

That’s what’s happening with the trans community. As people push against us, they unwittingly foster more support for us. In other words, the more those who push against us push, the better the world will get for us.

I wish I could successfully encourage all trans community members to not worry about the future. If they could suspend their worry, they’d discover what I see: the world improving for us all. And those fighting us are helping us. Just as those white lawmakers in Tennessee helped both Justins.

But I can’t reach everyone. I can only reach those ready to hear what I have to say. That’s alright by me.

Welcome To A New Season

Season Two

It’s Season Two of The Transamorous Network. Welcome.

We’re bringing changes to our content making our material easier, more consistent and with more content variety. There are great changes coming. That’s what this post is about.

Rhythmic Changes Mean More And Better

I know. It’s been a while since we produced a show. To be honest, we had a long run of shows…over a hundred. All in a couple years.

Remy and I interviewed great guests, including a famous political operative and a famous actress.

That rhythm, frankly, couldn’t be sustained. So we took a break after all those podcast and YouTube episodes and all those Facebook Live shows. We’re taking a different approach this year.

That approach copies existing successful programs. We’ll produce somewhere between 10 and 15 episodes each season. With one season per year. This way, you get consistent content in a format you’re used to. This will help organize our episode line-up too.  And Remy and I can have some down time.

Most future interviews will be in person rather than over the internet. That limits us to local area guests, unless we meet a compelling person online we must interview. We think in-person guests make the experience more interesting.

Remy’s gorgeous mug.

Another thing you’ll see is Remy doing most of the guest interviews solo. I want to be more “behind the camera”, guiding and directing, developing the organization and handling content scheduling, program editing and community networking. I’m not opposed to a transgender person taking my place in front of the camera. But for now, nothing is planned.

Remy and I will still do “between the guest” shows where she and I talk about current news, culture and a main topic we talk about. But expect Remy to be the main (solo) host.

It’s All Good News

We also are expanding our guest line up beyond transgender women and trans attracted men. Transgender men and other community members including allies and supporting organizations will be guests going forward. Including more of the LGBTQIA community in our guest representation makes sense given feedback we’ve gotten over time. Expect more variety in our guest line-up.

Remy really liked the Facebook Live program. But again, honestly, it was a lot of work every week. We may bring that show back. Maybe not.

Meantime, look for us on YouTube, the podcast and our blog later this year, likely just in time for summer.

Our Season Two guest schedule is pretty full. But we’re always interested in potential guest. So if you have anyone you think might make a good guest, let us know.

So that’s it for now. We know our content benefits many. We’re excited to keep doing that.

Transgender Ban Sparks Positive Responses

Fight the ban FB blog

A new nonprofit created public space for transgender veterans as Trump’s transgender military ban went into effect Friday*.

The Minority Veterans of America (MVA), based in Seattle, hosted rallies in three cities. New York, Philidelphia and Seattle. While attendance was light, the message loomed large: we support you and will do so until the ban is lifted.

The crowd blog
A nice crowd braved the weather Saturday in Seattle.

Partnering agencies included, National Center for Transgender EqualityTransgender American Veterans AssociationThe American Military Partner AssociationGender Justice LeagueSeattle LGBTQ CommissionU.T.O.P.I.A., King County Veterans ConsortiumIngersoll Gender Center, Seattle Women’s CommissionNYC Veterans AllianceIraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and Steel City Stonewall Democrats.

What I particularly liked about participating in the rally was its purpose:

“To build community space for our transgender service members and veterans to express themselves and find community as well as to build power through standing in solidarity with those impacted by this policy.”

I resonate with that. It’s better helping transgender veterans find empowerment. Doing so has far more beneficial effect than “fighting against”. This applies to anything people want to improve or change.

It’s standard practice these days to push against that which is unjust. The ban is unjust (and perhaps illegal). But pushing against it or trying to shout it down fuels the ban’s continued existence.

Lindsay Church, MVA President and co-founder reiterated her organization’s message at the Seattle event. This this was not a time for shouting or anger, she said. Rather, the rallies serve to build solidarity among underrepresented military veterans.

That’s a story me and The Transamorous Network can get behind.

Lindsay Church blog
Lindsay Church, MVA founder, speaking at the Seattle event.

In your personal life, if you’re a transgender service person, you may feel, angry, disempowered, depressed, anxious or fear. You don’t have to experience that. Negative emotions come from somewhere. They come from stories you’re telling yourself about what you’re looking at. You can just as easily tell positive stories about what you’re looking at. Instead of the ones creating your negative emotions. In doing so, you create exactly what you’re wanting: improvement. However that looks.

Even with the ban, there are a lot of stories you could tell that will empower you. They’ll conjure positive emotions about the ban (yes, actual positive emotions). Focus on those stories long enough and you’ll create a reality where the ban has little if any impact on your life. Down the line, you might discover the ban no longer exists.

There stories can replace ones making you feel angry, disempowered, depressed, anxious, or fear. They are as true as the negative stories you’re telling yourself today. But you’ll notice, if you tell them, you’ll feel better about what’s happening.

Feeling better is important. It’s telling you you are connected to an improved future as opposed to a future of more of the same. Feeling better is more powerful than you may know. If you’re new to our content, this may sound alien. But it’s accurate.

The following stories will trigger positive emotions even though the ban is in place:

  • This has happened before. And in every case such bans have fallen
  • I’m happy to see so many people working on my behalf to lift the ban
  • It’s incredible how many people are working on my behalf
  • I know I am on the right side of history
  • I know the world is becoming safer for transgender people
  • I know more LGBTQ and women are wining local, state and federal elections and so the future is bright for me
  • The California National Guard is refusing to implement the ban, that’s freaking awesome!
  • Over 100 congress persons oppose the ban, with many working behind the scenes to eliminate it. That’s awesome, there are a lot of people working on my behalf.
  • I appreciate those transgender service people directly impacted by the ban. They are the true casualties of this “war” on civil rights. While there are casualties in every war, it’s clear we will win this one. So the casualties will not be for nothing.
  • I appreciate those transgender service people speaking their truth out loud. They’re becoming celebrities in their own right. That alone may change their lives for the better. Were it not for this ban that may not have happened. So there’s good stuff coming from this too.

There are a lot more I could offer, but I feel better reading those ten. Maybe you too. And of course, your reality must fall in line with any story you tell consistently in your life. Any story triggering emotional response creates reality if you don’t oppose it. Yes, such stories even change political reality.

A state of freedom, empowerment and positivity is the only state from which one can help others. MVA’s rally Saturday recognized community can be more powerful than resisting. It was beautiful to both watch and take part in.

Particularly impressive was U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Patricia King. She zeroed in on the main culprit sparking this ban: ignorance. The people acting out of ignorance aren’t bad. They’re ignorant. Can you get mad at someone who’s ignorant? Maybe. But does that fix anything? Or is it better to help that person rise out of ignorance?

I think the latter is so much more productive. And, it can create an ally.

Patricia King blog
U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Patricia King

One thing I shared during my speech was how important one-on-one conversations are. Patricia spoke about this too. One-on-one conversations with people on the opposite side of the issue can be powerful. That way, people can learn transgender people are human. Not boogymen.

Here are some helpful tips on doing that, from our sister organization Positively Focused. They’re worth looking at.

There’s so much more I could say about these events and MVA. They are rising at the right time in history. I met MVA’s senior leadership over the weekend. Quite an impressive team. Everyone has their hearts in the right place. And they overflow with talent, compassion and commitment for helping underrepresented minority veterans.

I’m eager to see how MVA creates space for community going forward. I can’t help think those results will help non-veteran transgender people too. After all, the minority veteran community is a reflection of our national one.

And as we’re all human, we’re all in this together.


*Over 13,000 transgender troops could be effect by the ban. Injunctions on the ban had been in place until late last week, when the last one fell. What this means is transgender individuals will be precluded from enlisting and serving in the U.S. military solely based on gender identity (There only exception that will be granted will be for current service members who enlisted between Jan. 2016 and April 12, 2019 who received a diagnosis of Gender Dysphoria and have a note from a physician and mental health professional that they have been stable in their gender for 18 months.).

An Open Letter To The Alleged Trans-Attracted Alex Jones

Info wars press kit AJ Transattracted letter FB blog
Photo: INFOWARS Press Kit

Dear Alex,

You’re invited to take a bold, positive step in your life. A step that could literally change the course of society in the United States and elsewhere.

No, we’re not suggesting you end you “war” against whatever you think needs to be fought.

It’s much more personal than that.

It has come to our attention that you yourself revealed your own deep secret: Seems as though you find transgender women sexually alluring. Maybe even attractive.

We know a lot of men who may be like you. We know, as many others do, that those who express hate towards people often harbor some deep affinity for those very same people. So it was no surprise to us that last Saturday, you may have revealed to the world your own appetite for transgender porn.

We know very early-stage trans-attraction manifests as a secretive fascination for transgender people. This is often expressed as an indulgence in transgender porn and is often accompanied by feelings of titillation and excitement followed by deep self-loathing, embarrassment and shame.

We know this emotional mix is often a potentially incendiary combination for men you may share this attraction with: Many times trans-attracted men in early stages revert to violence against the very women they harbor a secret love for.

In a real way, that’s what you are doing when you speak about transgender women the way you do.

We know the reason men like you – men like us – resort to deeply burying their trans-attraction in shame and repressed feelings, is because family, friends and society at large convince us to believe attraction to transgender women is perverse, unnatural, wrong and, in your own words [paraphrasing] “could end society as we know it.”

Thankfully, we know, the opposite is true: love for transgender women has the potential to radically reshape society: for the better.

So you have a powerful opportunity in what we’re sure you think is a terrible, embarrassing mistake.

Often, such events can be amazing turning points.

We are inviting you to come out of the closet. Join the growing number of men (and women) who are not willing to let society shame them for what they naturally know: transgender women are attractive and worthy of love.

If you need someplace to sooth your shame, we offer two options:

  1. Start following our work. We offer a LOT of content to help men like you come to grips with their trans-attraction. The men we have interviewed and helped (as well as the transgender women) attest to our effectiveness. Transforming your trans-attraction into transamory would be an amazing shift in your approach to save the world. Particularly with your status among your viewers/believers. Imagine what could come of that. Yes, your potential income may take a temporary hit, but is all that money really worth the internal hatred you are harboring? What if your income increased as a result of your coming out?
  2. Join our collaborating organization, The Trans Supportive Brotherhood, on Facebook. Here, a small but growing number of men participate in online asynchronous conversations, sharing their trans-attraction experience in a supportive, safe, anonymous environment.

Another option: get some counseling.

We’re not big fans of that route, but we know a lot of people benefit from it. You could too.

You’re in good company Alex. There are a LOT of men who share your attraction. There is no shame in it. If you could own your own attraction, and change the tenor of what you talk about transgender people, you could literally save lives.

Thanks for reading. See you in the Trans Supportive Brotherhood.

Perry Gruber, Founder, The Transamorous Network