LETTER 22, TO EUSTOCHIUS
Paragraph 27 [describing cross-dressing women:]
Others, embarrassed to be the women that they were born as, adopt a masculine dress, change their clothes, cut off their hair, and immodestly fix their faces so they look like eunuchs.
11. And he says to them: "Not all understand this saying, but only those to whom it is given." Let no one think that in this saying either fate or luck is being introduced, because only those are virgins to whom it is given by God or who are led to it by some chance happening, but rather it is given to those who have sought it, who have desired it, who have worked to attain it. For to all who ask it shall be given, and the one who seeks shall find, and to the one who knocks it shall be opened.
12. "For there are eunuchs who are born so from their mother's womb, and there are eunuchs who are made by people, and there are eunuchs who castrate themselves [se ipsos castrauerunt] for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Whoever can grasp this, let him grasp it." There are three kinds of eunuchs, two of them fleshly and the third spiritual. There are some who are born so from their mother's womb, and some who are made through captivity or through matronly pleasures. The third are those who castrate themselves for the sake of the kingdom of heaven, and who, though they could be males [viri], become eunuchs for the sake of Christ. To these the reward is promised, but to those for whom chastity is a necessity and not will, nothing at all is due. We can express it another way as well: The eunuchs from their mother's womb are those who have a frigid nature and have no appetite for lust, and those who are made by people are either those who are made by philosophers or those who are softened into women for the sake of the cult of idols, or who simulate chastity due to heretical persuasion so as to fake the truth of religion. But none of them obtain the kingdom of heaven except those who shall castrate themselves for the sake of Christ. And he adds: "Whoever can grasp this, let him grasp it," so that every single one will consider his strength as to whether he can fulfill virginality and the rules of purity. For chastity is pleasant per se, and attractive to anyone. But one's strength has to be considered so that let him who is able to grasp this, let him grasp it. The voice of the Lord is, so to speak, encouraging and exciting his soldiers toward the reward of purity: Whoever can grasp this, let him grasp it, whoever can fight, let him fight, conquer, and triumph.