The Tarot and Gender/Sexuality: aka, don’t be afraid to queer up your tarot


One of the interesting things I’ve been noticing about doing the DIY posts is how to talk about the tarot without placing an emphasis on “traditional” gender and sexuality. As someone who is genderqueer and identifies as bisexual, it’s interesting how much some of the common online descriptions of the tarot rely so much on antiquated roles. The Empress, The Emperor, and The Lovers come to mind as posts that were a touch hard to do as I researched my usual haunts.

I’ve been trying my best to write the posts in a way that addresses this. I personally love female Emperors and I loved finding examples of them to show. Ultimately, I think when you try to remove stereotypical gender roles from the card, you find a much deeper meaning – the Empress is someone who is defined by what they create and what they nurture, the Emperor is someone who is defined by what they lead and what they control. You can then go forth and explore various concepts of masculinity and femininity with these cards, or not. But there is no need for it to be a stark dichotomy or emphasis unless that’s what you want to use your deck to say. 

There’s nothing wrong with wanting a strongly male or strongly female card either – the Empress can be your power woman, power mother, center of inner femininity card, and many people of all kinds draw sincere inspiration from this. Or, she doesn’t have to be. What I’m getting at is that there’s always a choice, and there’s always way to take what you need from a card and remain true to the original vision without having to uncomfortably acknowledge a gender or sexuality that does not suit your need. If an archaic or overly gendered definition or depiction you find is bothering you, do not be afraid to rework it or look deeper for something that does include you. 

If you are queer (and even if you aren’t), I strongly encourage you to apply queer ways of thinking to your deck. Make these cards something you can relate to! I wrote my Lovers post with asexuals and aromantics in mind and ultimately felt like I researched and uncovered something more meaningful. It was more rewarding than just regurgitating a shallow description that would alienate a good degree of the population, and not speak to the actual depth and power of the card. 

In short, recognizing where the tarot can be used to invert, upset, remove, work in lieu of, or deeper extrapolate gender and sexuality of all kinds can make for a richer, more powerful deck. 

You say it much better than I ever would, thanks! Even before I became aware of queer and non-binary gender and sexuality, I always saw these traditionally gendered cards as qualities that applied to people, whatever their gender definition. Tarot cards are very rarely literal, they use metaphors to unravel the imagination and intuition and expand it, not to limit it.