Update: Gender, Transgender, Religious Rites, and Inclusion

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  March 5, 2011 — 516 Comments

If one topic dominated the Pagan web this week it has to be repercussions over the exclusion of transgendered women at a public women-only ritual during this year’s PantheaCon, and the subsequent discussions between Dianic Goddess worshipers, transgender advocates, and eventually, Pagans of all stripes, that emerged from it. When I first mentioned the matter on Sunday, only a few sites were addressing the issue, that ballooned by Tuesday, grew further the next day once official statements were released by CAYA Coven and PantheaCon organizers, and has now gone truly viral in scope. One of my entries relating to this discussion has garnered around 400 comments, and the topic is buzzing on Pagan blogs, social networks, e-lists, and message boards.

I’m going to provide a fresh round-up of voices on this issue, but first I wanted to quickly touch on why this one incident, clearly not intended to cause hurt or offense by CAYA organizers, has grown into a far larger conversation than many could have foreseen. In short, CAYA’s Amazon Priestess Tribe’s Rite of Lilith acted as a catalyst for a long-overdue conversation about the role of gender, and transgender individuals, within modern Paganism. If you look at how quickly modern Paganism has grown in the span of a single generation, particularly in the United States, it shouldn’t surprise anyone. When Margot Adler’s “Drawing Down the Moon” was initially published in 1979, gay and lesbian Pagans were just emerging from decades of silence and marginalization within our interconnected communities, now, 32 years later, we’re having serious discussions about “Gay Paganism’s Second Wave.” In such an atmosphere, the issue of how we treat, respect, and integrate transgendered individuals was destined to stop being a fringe topic dealt with only in passing, or in isolated corners, and demand a wider discussion.

Here are a new batch of links relating to this discussion:

We are at a crossroads now with this discussion, and despite a few sour notes, most of exchanges I’ve seen have been reasoned, open, empathetic, passionate, and willing to create a dialog that is inclusive and productive. I have few illusions that all problems will be “solved,” but I do think what we are witnessing here is historic, and will change us in ways we can’t envision now. I think the future that Foxfetch demands will become a reality far quicker than any of us might realize, and that modern Paganism, a movement so ready to accept change, challenges, and differences, yet still remain identifiable and vital, will ultimately benefit from it. The collective maturity and willingness we’ve displayed so far in these discussions is a credit to our family of faiths, and when future historians look back at this time they will say “this is when transgendered Pagans began to receive the full embrace and respect of their coreligionists.”

Send to Kindle

Jason Pitzl-Waters

Posts

  • http://erynn999.livejournal.com Erynn

    *when future historians look back at this time they will say “this is when transgendered Pagans began to receive the full embrace and respect of their coreligionists.”*

    I certainly hope you're right. I'm currently working out a statement about my own work and inclusiveness, but actual composition is important and I have to sort a couple of things first. It probably helps that the stuff I do isn't centered around gender, so inclusiveness, to me, seems like a no-brainer.

    • freemanpresson

      Yes, that.

      Of course I have a shortcut key that types out "I agree with Erynn."

  • http://www.facebook.com/OberonWhitethorn James Russell Rusty Broach

    I've said it before, I'll say it agan.

    The Dianics are bigots and this event proves it.

    • https://www.facebook.com/people/Melody-Petersen-Christensen-Dickson/100000363410928 Melody Petersen Christensen Dickson

      Not all Dianics are bigots. They have a different trad that emphasized Blood Mysteries and are having a difficult time figuring out how that might include other genders. Z Budapest on the other hand… from her comments I think she may have a problem with transgender people. She's old and will eventually leave this plane and her trad to the third generation being born in events like the happening at Pantheacon. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure there will always be a select few who still follow the hard line. It's the way humans are built apparently :(

      • Dydan Waters

        Z definitely has a problem with transgender folk. I left her yahoo group when she went on one of her rants about it and kicked someone off the list who was trans. She also has issues with bisexuality – apparently we "cant make up our minds". She refers to them in derogatory terms and its clear that she views them as being somehow less than human than she is. I find her attitude disgusting and I will NEVER support her again by purchasing her books.

        • http://twitter.com/widdershins_cat @widdershins_cat

          My 76 year old Catholic grandmother accepts who I am more than Z Budapest does. Ms. Budapest should be ashamed of herself.

        • Bookhousegal

          Gotta chuckle about what she calls bisexuals. 'Can't make up our minds' between what? Her binary categories? I think I can see a pattern *there.* :)

          That's just about insisting everyone in the world must fit into one of two categories, with guess-who deciding who fits into which, and to Hel with reality, bi people are just 'indecisive' and 'suspect regarding promiscuousness.'

          You'd think that if she knew women so well, she'd have figured *bisexuality* out by now, we ain't exactly the rara avis out here. Bisexuality's only 'confusing' if you're trying to cram people into absolute binaries of straight/gay to *start* with. :)

          • Sihaya

            Yep.

          • http://www.facebook.com/kkampmiller Kat Kampmiller

            No shit. Considering the work that's been done in the scientific community that shows women are more likely to be bisexual or "sexually fluid" and find a variety of things sexually arousing, I think Z is an absolute moron.

          • Nestis

            I think part of the problem is that many who became lesbians during the women's lib movement, renounced any acknowledgment of previous sexual desire for men because it had been so hurtful, unsatisfying, and problematic for them. It was easier to just consider oneself a lesbian and leave it at that.

            Z is obviously sexual fluid herself, whether she recognizes the concept or not. In her books she talks about being in love with men before she started to fall in love with women. Who we are now doesn't erase who we've been, although it is far easier and less painful for many people to pretend that it does.

      • http://egregores.blogspot.com/ Apuleius

        "She's old and will eventually leave this plane and her trad to the third generation being born in events like the happening at Pantheacon."

        Really? Seriously? "She's old"?

      • http://vsf.blogs.com/ Victoria Slind-Flor

        I am a member of an all-woman coven that I suppose some might characterize as Dianic. I'm not so eager to embrace the term anymore. But in any case, my coven does not discriminate against transwomen. We never have in our seven years of existence and we never will.

        As I have stated elsewhere, I do not agree with Z Budapest on this subject. I find her point of view to be both ignorant of the complexities of gender and mean-spirited toward those who've made difficult journeys of self-discovery and self-definition. .

      • http://twitter.com/widdershins_cat @widdershins_cat

        Old age doesn't excuse bigotry. Z had – and still has – the option of wisdom. That she refuses to exercise it is her problem.

    • http://egregores.blogspot.com/ Apuleius

      Unfortunately, I think that James Russell Rusty Broach's anti-Dianic attitude helps to explain a lot of the intensity surrounding this issue. Obviously for some people this is just an excuse to vent against "feminazis".

      The problem with Broach's ire is that the people who are raising this issue are not demanding that Dianic events be open to all, they just want to dispute over the definition of who should be excluded.

      • http://secher-nbiw.blogspot.com Cobalt

        For some people it may be about finding excuses to hate on feminism and feminists (and as a self-identified feminist I have certainly seen enough of it that I won't discount it even among Pagans). However, there's an important element here that sometimes gets missed. For some people (I'm speaking mainly for me here, though I doubt I'm the only one) the problem is not that the Dianics are too feminist, but that the "women born women" Dianics are insufficiently so. Transphobia and cisnormativity are definitely feminist concerns, and it's a credit to a lot of Pagan traditions that they're immediately accommodating this greater level of awareness into trans issues. It's a shame that the "women born women" Dianics have gotten so used to calling other people on their privilege that they've apparently stopped checking themselves. I get the impression that these are not representative of all Dianics, though, and the groups which are including all kinds of women (rather than erasing or misgendering trans people) are obviously not included in my criticism.

        • Baruch Dreamstalker

          If one looks at this conversation as a dispute within feminism, as opposed to one within Paganism, then no new ground is being broken. I recall the same boundary disputes decades ago over who was woman enough to attend the annual Michigan Women's Music Festival, and an intra-lesbian pro- and anti-BDSM war of words triggered by who could march in a Bay Area pride event. Paganism comes late to this dispute, but we now own it and must seek justice as we understand it, within a spiritual as well as a political context.

          It always did have a spiritual dimension inasmuch as denigrating a class of people on gender grounds is a spiritual affront in any context, whether articulated as such or not. I hope we can stay as far away from that as possible.

    • Fire

      Michael wrote:

      "From the shrill, strident reply, I concluded that humour, in addition to inclusiveness, is not one of their strong points."

      You got that right.

      You heard the one about how a guy walks into a Dianic bookstore and ask the clerk where the humor section is. The response: We're feminists, we have no humor.

      Unfortunately some gay men's groups have the same problem. I have a few FTM friends who have had similar problems.

      • femmeguy

        My sense of humour is what tells me that Michael's joke isn't funny.

    • femmeguy

      I'd ask you not to use a thread about the oppression of a particular group of women as a place to tell sexist jokes. It demeans the discussion we're trying to have.

      • Fire

        Some people use humor as an allegory. Don't tell people how they're allowed to communicate.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegory

        • Jaclyn Desiree Arceneaux

          Contemptuously describing women's opinions as "shrill and strident" is entirely sexist and Not Cool, even if those women happen to be rabid bigots.

  • http://meadowsweet-myrrh.blogspot.com/ Ali (Meadowsweet & Myrrh)

    This news has me thinking back on the stir that was made last October when the UK Charity Commission approved The Druid Network’s application for religious charity status, and major newspapers all over the world covered the story as a tremendous step forward for Druids and Pagans. In many ways, I think what’s going on right now is far more important and has much broader-reaching implications for the growth of our communities, though I don’t know if it’s even made the slightest ripple in mainstream media.

    I really do think a very big part of this developing discussion is thanks to you and the PNC for providing coverage and facilitating conversation. I’m sure this conversation would have happened anyway, but I doubt it would be so far-reaching and include so many people with so many different perspectives. Article round-ups like this one are worth their weight in gold. So I just wanted to take the opportunity to say thank you. The conversations of this past week, more than anything else this year, have convinced me of just how vital it is to have a news service dedicated to Pagan communities and their unique (and sometimes way ahead of the curve!) interests and concerns. THANK YOU.

  • http://secher-nbiw.blogspot.com Cobalt

    I'm really glad that these conversations are happening. One of the things I initially found sort of alienating about modern Pagan traditions and reconstructions of older ones. They can be really heteronormative (and cisnormative), and I'm tired of religions that don't have a place in the cosmos for so many of the people I know and love.

    • Robin Artisson

      So, "heteronormative" and "cisnormative" religions and reconstructions need to stop what they're doing and make radical changes because you just want them to, or because you think they should have a place for the people you love?

      Why don't you and the people you love, who are "seeking your place in the cosmos" (not that any tradition could ever "give" you that) create homonormative and transnormative traditions and practice those? I mean, wouldn't that really effectively solve this issue fairly for everyone?

      • http://secher-nbiw.blogspot.com Cobalt

        You are misunderstanding the goal of basically all LGBT activism ever. The idea is to not normalize anybody or otherize anybody.

        I mean, when the LDS church wanted to exclude non-whites, I don't think it was some kind of wacky oppressive thing for others outside the tradition to talk about this like it was a real dick move. In the end the Church of Latter Day Saints was the entity who controlled that and had the right to decide (and no one is talking about removing their freedom to do so), but there was nothing wrong with putting public pressure on them to stop being contributing to oppression and exclusion of people of color.

        I don't get why some people are so against religious organizations being called on their oppressive BS. Criticism isn't the same as censorship, and telling a religion that they're having negative impacts is not the same as shutting them down or stopping them from practicing. I get really tired of being treated like I'm trying to get rid of these traditions (whether we're talking about LDS, the RCC, or "women born women only" Dianic groups) every time I point out that they're behaving in ways that harm people.

        • Robin Artisson

          "I don't get why some people are so against religious organizations being called on their oppressive BS."

          Because the Dianics aren't oppressing ANYONE. They are merely maintaining the boundaries of their tradition. They have a RIGHT to do this. They aren't taking away transgender people's rights to practice elsewhere, or believe what they want. You throw the term "oppression" around rather quickly. This is not oppression. Dianics aren't going to the homes of transgender people and kicking their doors in and beating them or killing them. They aren't campaigning to have trans people excluded from the neo-pagan world as a whole. They are merely maintaining their own traditional boundaries.

          • foxfetch

            Robin, I'm going to reply to you seriously here, rather than assuming you're a troll.

            The fact of the matter is, approximately every two days a trans person somewhere in the world is murdered because they're trans. Normally trans women. Promoting the idea that trans women are not women, or not as valid women as cis women, or anything other than *trans people are the gender we say we are*, contributes to the culture that enables this. Whether or not the Dianic practitioners in question are aware of this, whether or not they intend this[1], they are feeding stories, tropes, lies *that kill us*. THIS is why it is oppression.

            I recognise that it is very unlikely that you'll do this, based on what you've been writing here, but I'm going to ask: please, sit down, shut up, listen and learn. By virtue of being a self-proclaimed straight, cis (or non-trans, if you prefer) man, you are massively privileged. Please be aware of your good fortune, and use it honorably, rather than to continue treading on the necks of those with less privilege. What you are doing here is massively unworthy not only of the Heathen you seem from your words to be, but also of any spiritual person – or any human being full stop.

            [1] http://genderbitch.wordpress.com/2010/01/23/inten

          • Robin Artisson

            You don't get to decide, pursuant to your new-agey, radical liberal agenda, who is an "honorable" Heathen, nor anything of the kind. People can be honorable and still disagree with you.

            I don't believe that womanhood is something you can just "claim" to be, nor do I believe that manhood is also "just a choice". I'll never believe that. Nor will the other Heathens I know who have already weighed in on this issue, in other forums. You're going to have to accept that other people are going to have different opinions from you, full stop. If you are any sort of "honorable" person- which I can see from your writings here that you are not- you'd get that.

            I respect "trans" rights to live, work, worship, call themselves what they want, and do all those things. I don't approve of violence against them in any way. But I also support the right of Dianic wiccans to set boundaries for their tradition. I do not, in any way, believe that some women setting boundaries for THEIR own tradition means that they are automatically saying that trans women are somehow lesser beings, or beings worthy of marginalization. That you make that connection automatically is only more evidence of the underlying agenda you maintain.

            When people won't stop, agree with you, and change how they think and believe, you have a swarm of "bigot" titles for them. You demand that everyone else "sit down, shut up, listen, and learn"- immediately establishing yourself as the only real authority here for how others have to think.

            You are no such authority. You are part of the real problem here, not the solution.

          • foxfetch

            I see I touched a nerve.

            The fact that Robin sees trans people as "the…problem", in need of some vaguely ominous "solution", says everything anyone needs to know about where he's coming from in this debate.

          • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

            Wow, real mature there, Foxfetch. Why don't you just come out and call us reconstructionist heathens "Nazis" while you're at it. Wouldn't be the first time. Seems ironic that it's a terrible sin to dare speak out against or "oppress" a trans person, but it's perfectly okay to drag an innocent religion through the mud of something We never had anything to do with, but have been persecuted for time and again as we try to reclaim what was lost!

            Does it make you feel like a big person, Foxfetch? Does if fill your soul with pride? "Oh look, the Nazi Heathens want to 'Final solution us trans-people!"

            I find you weak. Instead of rational arguments and an attempt to understand, You accuse an innocent person and their entire path, along with those who walk that same Heathen road, of being Nazis. You bash them, accuses them of crimes they have not committed, views they do not have, and have shown that in your own heart you have nothing but intolerance and hate.

            I leave you to be judged by the Gods and Goddesses, as well as the members of this forum.

          • foxfetch

            You are reading too much into what I said. I was speaking only to what Robin said himself, NOT about Heathens. As I said above to Robin himself, I believe that Heathenism is a deeply honorable, spiritual path, worthy of better sentiments than Robin was expressing. I understand why a Heathen would be sensitive to what you're reading into my words – dear gods do I, considering that I come from Europe and some of my dear ones are German pagans who have struggled with this issue first-hand. But that was *not* what I meant, nor would I ever want to imply it.

            I hope that in the same way you can understand that, when there are people who openly, vocally and violently wish to erase you and people like you from the surface of the earth – when you have lost friends to murder and neglect – someone speaking about you as a problem in need of a solution *does* make one a *bit bloody touchy*.

            Also, I think that you have a flawed understanding of the word "bash". No one is being "bashed" here. That is what happens to people like me in the goddamn street, and has. A pointed comment on the internet is not "bashing", and I honestly think you're lucky if that's your only experience of it. Nor do I find Robin "innocent" – the hatred he has been expressing is not innocence.

            No, Heathens (reconstructionist or otherwise) are NOT Nazis. Of course they're fucking not. When *an individual*, however, starts ranting about my "radical liberal agenda" and denying my right to exist as a man, then yes, I will fucking well *call that individual out*.

          • Leea

            In reading the above comments from Foxfetch and Robin, I did NOT see Foxfetch implying in any was that ALL HEATHENS are bigots. Fox and Robin were disagreeing. Fox stated his impressions of what Robin was saying. Not ALL heathens. I think you over-reacted, big time…

          • Amadea

            I think it is unfortunate that this particular thread is resorting to insults and name-calling, rather than addressing the issues.

            Also, it is important to try to "get" what the other person in the discussion is trying to say, rather than jumping to conclusions. For example, foxfetch misunderstood "the . . .problem" Robin was identifying as being "trans people." But what Robin was identifying as the problem was the establishment of an authority that does not respect difference and labels anyone who does not fit the mono-culture as a bigot. And foxfetch was trying to make the point that trans people have a very difficult (even horrific at times) experience in society at large that needs to be taken into consideration as we think about all of these issues. Both are right, in my view.

            What I try to bring to the discussion is an understanding about different spaces, defining one's own tribe, the collective of tribes in our larger community and society, and how thinking about all of this outside of the particular dichotomy that defines most of this discussion can lead to real respect for difference — and ultimately to the value of pluralism.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Foxfetch, bad feminist statistics are the intellectual shame of the movement. Please cite some authority for your claim of a trans murder every two days or so. Thank you.

          • foxfetch

            Baruch, I should have been more specific. Trans homicides have been recorded as being *reported* approximately every two days. The Trans Murder Monitoring project have been tracking this: http://www.transrespect-transphobia.org/en_US/tvt… They discuss some of the difficulties of the data here: http://www.transrespect-transphobia.org/en_US/tvt
            You can read some analysis of the statistics from the prior, interim report here: http://www.birdofparadox.net/blog/?p=8395

            Also, please note that we are not talking about "the feminist movement" here, although what impacts so hideously and disproportionately on trans women is of course a feminist issue.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Thanks for the stats, foxfetch. I hadn't realized you were citing global totals.

            I am talking about both feminism and Paganism here because this sheaf of issues overlaps both movements. As I said in an earlier comment, I've seen these boundary disputes arise within feminism since the 1970s and 1980s. It has been a sore point for me because I consider myself a feminist — a cismale feminist, if you will, but a feminist nonetheless.

          • Amadea

            Foxfech said: "Promoting the idea that trans women are not women, or not as valid women as cis women, or anything other than *trans people are the gender we say we are*, contributes to the culture that enables this. Whether or not the Dianic practitioners in question are aware of this, whether or not they intend this[1], they are feeding stories, tropes, lies *that kill us*. THIS is why it is oppression."

            Unfortunately, foxfetch, you are really mistaking two things and as a result are conflating them. Dianics (at least me and those I know) are not promoting the idea that trans women are not valid women in the community or society at large. We are just trying to define our own tribe as one that addresses a particular kind of experience, biologically and socially. As my other posts on this topic show, I think valuing difference in this way in our community is critical to sustaining the value of pluralism, and therefore not moving in a direction that makes us all one unified thing. That tends toward mono-theism and mono-culture. I hope we don't go there.

          • http://secher-nbiw.blogspot.com Cobalt

            "Dianics (at least me and those I know) are not promoting the idea that trans women are not valid women in the community or society at large. We are just trying to define our own tribe as one that addresses a particular kind of experience, biologically and socially."

            Do you at least understand why it is coming across as though Dianics are saying, "trans women are valid women in the community and society at large… but not in our ritual circles. Here, you're just a man in disguise." Even if that is not what these particular Dianic groups are trying to say, it plays into and reinforces ideas about transpeople which are more than distasteful–they literally get transpeople killed.

          • http://www.facebook.com/kkampmiller Kat Kampmiller

            I'm not a Dianic, but I also respect their right to have it be a "biological woman only" tradition, if that's what they want. Trans-women are women, in my opinion, but their experience is not the same as biological women, and there should be places for both to have their own mysteries, rituals, or whatever, if they so choose, just as hetero men, gay men, trans men, and whatever other category should be able to have their own groups, just for them, without other people bugging them to get in and accusing them of discrimination. It's nice to be able to have that, to be with a group of people who have gone through similar experiences, and trans-women just don't have the same experiences we do. They have different ones. They don't have some of the basic, painful, biological and hormonal experiences, for instance. They don't grow up the same way, or have the same thoughts and feelings we do, and we should respect that, and respect THEIR thoughts and experiences and problems that they face. I think that some of the Dianics handled this in an awful way, and it makes them look really fearful and discriminatory (as I've said, I hate Z for various reasons), but others who aren't bigots should not fall into that category just because they want a place for biological XX chromosome women.

          • http://secher-nbiw.blogspot.com Cobalt

            I still sort of would like an answer to the direct question I asked Amadea. Maybe you can help.

            Do you at least understand why it is coming across as though Dianics are saying, "trans women are valid women in the community and society at large… but not in our ritual circles. Here, you're just a man in disguise."

          • http://www.facebook.com/kkampmiller Kat Kampmiller

            Yeah, I can see how it could come across that way. I would say transwomen are women, they just took a different route to get to womanhood and have different experiences and things to offer. Personally, having trans friends, I couldn't imagine not letting them into something I was doing, even if was "woman only", which I'm not into anyway. I think SOME of the Dianics just come across very poorly.

          • http://twitter.com/DesiArcy @DesiArcy

            " Dianics (at least me and those I know) are not promoting the idea that trans women are not valid women in the community or society at large. We are just trying to define our own tribe as one that addresses a particular kind of experience, biologically and socially."

            And that's precisely where the bigotry comes in — the way you define this "particular experience" to categorically exclude trans women based on blind, ignorant, stereotype-based assumptions about trans women.

        • Baruch Dreamstalker

          Cobalt, I fear you are missing one of the major points of spiritual feminism, which is to recover the valorization of those things about women that patriarchal culture has denigrated — wombs, vaginas, breasts, birth and, yes, moon blood. The Dianics have made the last their touchstone. One cannot say they are wrong to do so and at the same time celebrate the shamanic breadth of humanity in exploring the spiritual content of everyone's life script.

          The present flap is about a restricted ritual at an open convention, with the restrictions not adequately made clear in the program. CAYA has apologized, and I assume the managers of PantheaCon are not going to let this happen again. Little more needs to be said, and even less needs to be said over and over.

          • foxfetch

            You continue to define wombs, vaginas, breasts, birth and menstrual blood as "things about women" – yet there are women who lack each or all of these things, and men who have them. The present "flap", to use your dismissive language, is about a lot more than one ritual.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            I won't dignify with further reply something that takes my words so egregiously out of context, which is feckless since my original words are right up there to be read in context.

          • foxfetch

            Please explain how this is "egregiously out of context". Your words are indeed up there, and I for one would appreciate an explanation of how you actually meant them, if not in the way I read them.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Firstly, "continue" is misapplied when I put out that list only once.

            Secondly, I was explicitly referencing the attitudes of patriarchy, not my own attitude.

            Thirdly, the fact that not all women have these attributes and some men do, does not change the attitude of patriarchy toward them — indeed, it makes such people the targets of more patriarchal jibes.

            As a person with binary ID — as I gather from your other posts — this should not be especially opaque to you, because I'm sure you've been targeted incessantly, especially because binary ID threatens patriarchy by fuzzing up its favorite categories.

            No offense intended.

          • foxfetch

            Likewise, no offensive intended. By "continue" I meant, "continuing a cultural pattern" rather than "repeating your own words". I agree with what femmeboy said below and appreciate your clarification.

          • http://www.facebook.com/kkampmiller Kat Kampmiller

            Ok then, XX chromosomes. There.

          • http://twitter.com/DesiArcy @DesiArcy

            Mine are XXY. There.

          • Harper

            Win. (People forget this. It's funny how much people think biology justifies their binary when really… no.)

          • http://www.facebook.com/kkampmiller Kat Kampmiller

            I was being facetious, since I don't even know if I'm XX and most people aren't tested. You're one in a million. Awesome. Most people who are XXY would never even know it, though, and is there really a lot of difference between you and anyone else? See what I said above about transpeople and the right to have different groups of people based on shared experiences. Most people who identify as women are going to be XX, and while there's all types of different women, I think in GENERAL, most of us menstruate and have all these issues that we can identify with and share with. That shouldn't exclude transwomen, or women born with a vagina and a penis, or women with one breast, or women without a clit, or.. WHATEVER!

          • femmeguy

            Valorizing wombs, vaginas, breasts, birth and moon blood is truly holy and important work. The problem arises when they are assimilated to womanhood in such a way as to state that women who don't possess these attributes are not women, or when one doesn't do the work to deal with the fact that not all women have them, trans and cis women alike.

            I read the piece linked to above by Victoria Slind-Flor, in which she movingly describes how when this work is done thoughtlessly, it can hurt cis women as well as trans women.

            There must be ways to do this holy and important work without degendering and devaluing women to whom it does not apply, and identifying ways that it can apply that might not have been considered before.

        • Amadea

          If there could never be space for women who grow up biologically and socially female, with all of the attendant oppressions that go with that, wouldn't that itself be a form of oppression? This isn't about politics. It is about a particular kind of oppression that those of us who grow up with it experience and those of us who don't grow up with it, don't experience. That doesn't mean, of course, that there aren't some really good reasons for all women to have ritual space together, too. It just means that there is an appropriate space for a particular kind of experience. Not having those ritual opportunities would result in a "negative impact," too.

          • Califried

            If there could never be space for women who grow up biologically and socially female, with all of the attendant oppressions that go with that, wouldn't that itself be a form of oppression?

            Amadea, does your version of pluralism demand that no one ever comment on how your religious practice problematically essentializes cisgendered women and contributes to the broader cultural narrative that defines transwomen as not-women? Criticism does not mean that anyone in these discussions has the power to prevent you from choosing to exclude transwomen from your circles. You may not like being criticized, but you are not being oppressed through these discussions, and there is no possibility that you will ever be physically prevented from defining Dianic ritual space as you see fit.

          • Amadea

            I'm all for the discussion and for all sorts of views. I think it is just fine for you to express a view about Dianic practices that doesn't agree with them. I didn't say that there was no place for disagreement. I was engaging your disagreement and trying to change your mind. The whole purpose of debate, in my view, is to try to come to understanding of some sort. I had presumed that you were open to persuasive discourse and that's why you were participating in this conversation — to persuade and be persuaded. That's why I'm here.

          • Califried

            The whole purpose of debate, in my view, is to try to come to understanding of some sort. I had presumed that you were open to persuasive discourse and that's why you were participating in this conversation — to persuade and be persuaded

            Amadea, I think most of us are here for the same reason. Having said that, your response strikes me as a bit disingenuous. You are here to persuade folks that individuals who choose to practice Dianic Wicca in the specific way you do should be left to practice in peace. Your interlocutors, by and large, are not arguing that there can never be any "space for women who grow up biologically and socially female." Much like your earlier comment about the "emerging all-inclusivist norm," because no one has asserted that there can never be any such space, I'm not sure why you went out of the way to assert that it would be a form of oppression if no such space could exist.

            What your interlocutors are actually saying is that you possess privilege relative to trans individuals and that you exert (and continue to perpetuate the narrative [i.e. that transwomen are not women] that underlies that privilege) when you choose to exclude trans individuals from your circles. I am personally also pointing out that, while you personally claim several bright lines that allow you to unproblematically exclude transwomen, you do not consistently apply those same criteria to cisgendered women which, in my view, makes your exclusion of transwomen problematic. Added to the fact that some Dianic circles and organizations are trans inclusive, it seems to me that your cis/trans division is probably not as authentic and meaningful as you seem to believe. I'm glad to hear that you feel you are attempting to engage with my disagreement, but that's not really the impression I'm getting from your comments.

          • http://secher-nbiw.blogspot.com Cobalt

            "It is about a particular kind of oppression that those of us who grow up with it experience and those of us who don't grow up with it, don't experience."

            I can see where you're coming from here, but as a ciswoman myself I find this perspective a little hard to grasp. It wouldn't have ever occurred to me that a transwoman has nothing to contribute to discussions of the experience of womanhood, at least… not until I realized other people were claiming it to be so. If we're talking about misogyny, transwomen get hit with misogyny as well and even the ways in which those experiences are different from what ciswomen get hit with shed light on the oppression we all face. If we're talking about the joys of being a woman, the joy of feeling power in a particular kind of beauty, or feeling glory in a particular social function like motherhood, why wouldn't transwomen–who have to work harder and face more obstacles in order to have those experiences–have something beautiful to add as well?

            Maybe this is just because I come from a tradition that's very LGBT-friendly, but I find the division of ciswomen and transwomen into "women who have had authentic Woman Experiences" and "women who came late to the patriarchy party" to be extremely confusing and counterintuitive. (Probably because I wasn't raised or ever expected to practice a religion with the assumption that transwomen aren't authentically women, so arguments that are based on that distinction just don't parse for me.)

      • Baruch Dreamstalker

        Robin, for once I actually agree with you. Rather than contend with moon-blood-only Dianics, transwomen would restore some of the shamanic breadth of humanity by composing ritual exploring the spiritual depths of their own life scripts. (I say "restore" out of a confident certainty that shamanic societies have explored this in the past but it has been lost in the spiritual holocaust of monotheistic aggression.)

      • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

        I'm backing Robin on this one too. The Dianics have every right to their religion. Trans people are free to build their own traditions. I don't care who you are or if you're a majority or a Minority, you don't have the right to insist that someone else change simply because they don't agree with the person complaining.

        Paganism isn't about someone giving you a place. It's about building your own place.

        • cern

          I seem to remember a certain Norse God who would put on woman's clothing from time to time. Make room for your own Gods.

          • Nestis

            Wow. Way to oversimply things, but good job on getting in a zinger!

            The only God I worship is Dionysos, another very NOT gender-conformist deity, and precisely why I have a relationship with Him.

            However, there is a vast differance between gender-bending, and the feeling of many transexuals that they are wholly a man or woman, and not in a liminal gender-bendy space at all.

          • http://secher-nbiw.blogspot.com Cobalt

            There are trans people who see themselves and want to be treated by others the way they see themselves–as men or women or whatever their personal identification. I guess I'm not clear on what your problem is with that. You're cool with trans women who admit they're not "really" women, but if they forget their place (or at least the place you think they belong in) and start wanting to be treated like real women, suddenly it's time for pearl-clutching and gasps of disapproval?

          • Ainslie

            These people have no idea how total the spiritual transformation process in a human is. They want to play with change, but once their assumptions start getting questioned they can't handle it. Form is impermanent, guys. Get over it.

  • http://www.thorncoyle.com Thorn

    Nicely written, Jason. I loved Foxfetch's piece. That is a vision I can get behind.

    I was up until 3 am last night and ended up writing a personal response to my Patheos article: http://www.thorncoyle.com/musings/?p=995

    And I'd like to share this gorgeous poem from Gabe Moses: http://genderqueerchicago.blogspot.com/2011/02/ho

    May the conversations continue.

    • Nestis

      I guess what has been most hurtful to me about this whole dialogue is that this:

      I have known multiple women who went through times of being/feeling gender-queer (largely as a safety mechanism out of repeated social degradation for being female), but these women had unavoidable feminine markers.

      I'm reminded of Stephen Colbert's joke that he "Doesn't see race". It sounds like many have been claiming in this debate that they "Don't see gender". Which is just as insane, if you ask me.

      You cannot be a "gender-queer" woman unless you can pass for boyish or masculine in physical appearance, strong feminine markers have no place in a gender-queer identity for female-bodied persons, at least in a social context, and how we are treated by the world -is- significant, no matter how we feel on the inside. Trans people of course know this intimately.

      • Nestis

        I guess, what makes me cry is that I know women with huge breasts who wanted to be gender-queer, who wanted to be able to claim that liminal safety of not being defined by inherent femaleness (because, well, gender-queer is currently the empowering position as queer theory and the third-wave intersect, instead of being unapologetically male, female, or intersexed with a socially transgressive personality and interests), but well….they had huge breasts.

        Many of them have found huge degrees of healing in Goddess-centered traditions, because these traditions teach that a female form is just that, a female form, but that you are a WHOLE PERSON as a female-bodied person, that your body doesn't come with a set of personality stereotypes.

        • Nestis

          Claiming that someone should acknowlege the elements of "masculine" and "feminine" within them has in my experience only presented to individuals limited stereotypes of what personhood really is. It seems to claim that we are inherently transgressors, when we're just sentient organisms living in bodies. I've been told I have a very masculine personality for being such a feminine-bodied person, and I don't know even how to respond to that. This is my body. My personality is one with this body, there is no division. I am what I am.

          I wish we could all just celebrate the bodies we have while realizing we can be whoever we are inside of them. I wish for all people mind/body wholeness.

          • Nestis

            And before anyone belittles my final statement because I'm a ciswoman and therefore being who I am in the body I was given was "easy", I'd like to remind everyone here how much body hatred and self-mutilitation ciswomen go through. Accepting and loving our embodied forms has been the hardest journey back to self many ciswomen have undertaken.

          • Ainslie

            Try being a third gendered biofemale and getting rejected by everybody. If we permit ourselves to say this is about feminism, it's about feminism that doesn't go deep enough. Reading Taoist ideas in my teenage years taught me that if you go far enough into a thing, you approach it's opposite. I know about dysphoria as a female, and I have more of it than ciswomen do. Even when they used to let me into their parties, there was never REALLY a place for me. I lost plenty of ciswomen friends when I started talking about this because they thought I was ICKY. Our whole bond was about being feminists, and we supported each other through many battles, and getting strong together. At the end of the day, though, choosing for myself meant being relegated to a ghetto.

        • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

          "liminal safety"

          Where is this liminal safety of which you speak? I've been liminal my whole life and it has never offered me safety from anything.

    • Sihaya

      Thorn, that is a lovely entry.

  • Robin Artisson

    I understand how big of an issue certain teams in the neo-pagan world are making this into. But truly, it's an embarrassment to the rest of us for different reasons. All I've seen is a small tradition of women who never claimed to be universalists or universally accepting of any and all people to their rites being tarred and feathered as "bigots".

    All I've seen is our current big media neo-pagan "rock stars" writing tear-jerking letters about "love, light, inclusion, spirit" and other pink cotton candy catch-words which could fool any outsider into thinking that the mainstream of Paganism is nothing but nonsensical feel-gooder hippies or radical lefties.

    No one I've seen so far is speaking for my feelings, or the people like me. Have the mainstream of the Heathen world made a great gender-bending statement of glowing, spinning pentagrams and billowing love incense? No, and thank the Gods for that.

    This issue is not a "defining" issue for anyone but new-agers and their radical left priests and priestesses and super-left inquisitors. And I hope it calms down soon.

    I, as a natural born straight male (which seems, more and more, to be a minority which just lacks rock star power or any meaningful attention, especially around these parts, alongside natural born females of any sexual preference) have never been offended that I have been excluded and even disliked by the Dianic tradition. That's their right, their prerogative, and it's a sad day when our airwaves are choked by an over-focus on the hurt feelings of a tiny but vocal group of people who just can't let Dianics be Dianics, and go play in some other sandbox.

    • foxfetch

      No one is speaking for straight cis men? *looks around world* About the only thing anyone can really say to that is: lol.

      • Robin Artisson

        Would you please drop this stupid "cis" crap? I'm just a man, plain and simple. And I never said no one spoke for men. I said that within certain spheres- like the neo-pagan one- you can't get "star power" or really get heard without being something other than a regular, boring old man or a woman, or a person with a radical liberal slant on some social issue, or without being gay or bi or surgically altered. It's painfully obvious. There's no dialogue here.

        • foxfetch

          Countdown to bingo! Five, four, three… XD http://s3.amazonaws.com/data.tumblr.com/tumblr_l4

        • MertvayaRuka

          This is part of why I read Wild Hunt. The unintentional comedy.

          "I, as a natural born straight male (which seems, more and more, to be a minority which just lacks rock star power or any meaningful attention, especially around these parts"

          Followed, of course, by…

          "Jealous much? Need an oppressor, a bad guy, to give your life meaning? "

          That's right kids. Your issues, your feelings of oppression are just jealousy and a way of validating your meaningless lives. Robin, however, is the truly oppressed. Just listen, he'll tell you. Every day he has to worry about the danger of someone assuming he's not straight because there's so many gay pagan guys out there and the horror of people trying to tell him what neopaganism is and should be when they're supposed to be listening to HIM tell THEM what neopaganism is and should be.

          The additional funny here is Robin carping about the term "cis" and then later on railing about people being at war with reality because of how they choose to define themselves.

          Robin, it's really not a secret that I don't like you. But sitting here reading you yammering on about how hard life is for you as a straight boring old pagan guy nobody supposedly listens to when the focus here is people who are vastly overrepresented as the victims of actual violence in proportion to their numbers among the population, well, it's like to make me puke. Nobody refers to straight boring old pagan guys as intrinsically mentally disordered self-mutilators. Nobody says straight boring old pagan guys are secret agents of the patriarchy out to infiltrate women's safe spaces. Nobody routinely portrays straight boring old pagan guys as deranged serial killers in popular fiction. We're not talking about the plight of poor special little unappreciated snowflake Robin Artisson. We're talking about people that are treated like garbage, like vermin, that are routinely victimized and murdered using horrific force for doing nothing more than following the dictates of their own spirits.

          And I'd suggest that if you're feeling so marginalized, perhaps you should follow your own advice and create your own space where no one will question or criticize you again and where your only interaction will be the fawning adoration and deference you seem to be longing for. But my money says that it's more important to you to antagonize people who offend your easily-bruised sense of what neopagans should be and to play the vilified teller of truths.

      • http://secher-nbiw.blogspot.com Cobalt

        Nope! There are no cis men being represented anywhere. I can't even name a single famous cis male.

        • Robin Artisson

          Jealous much? Need an oppressor, a bad guy, to give your life meaning?

          • foxfetch

            "No one I've seen so far is speaking for my feelings, or the people like me."
            "which seems, more and more, to be a minority which just lacks rock star power or any meaningful attention, especially around these parts"

            …heh.

          • Robin Artisson

            You really think that the average FOX news watching Christian white man speaks for me? I was talking from within Pagandom, such that it is. So, find me the broad white male straight contingent of Pagans that "rule" everything and oppress you. Please.

          • femmeguy

            If it were true that nobody so far was speaking for his feelings as a raging transphobe who wants to arrogate to himself the power to define others' gender, the world would be considerably improved. However, his feelings are spoken for in government, medicine, law enforcement, the media, and the overculture at large, and to be quite honest it's one of the things I'm a Pagan in order to however temporarily avoid.

          • Robin Artisson

            Jason, is there some reason why you never cease to give me "warnings" about my personal attacks, but when someone like this comes in here and calls me a "raging transphobe", he doesn't get a warning too?

          • Jason Pitzl-Waters

            I never cease to give you warnings because you never seem to cease testing the bounds of my patience and good will. If your insults, forthright or otherwise, were truly rare, I wouldn't have to warn you at all. Yet, here we are. So please stop acting like the aggrieved, I have let so many nasty comments by you slip through my moderation, and you've dished out far more than any of your would-be attackers. So, as the kids on television say, respect my authority, or find yourself a new forum to play in.

          • Robin Artisson

            If you can't utilize your authority in a fair and impartial way, I won't have a reason to respect it. And you never answered my question- unless, of course, this is expected to be your answer. And that answer sounds like this: because I have (in your opinion) said innumerable "nasty" things in the past, and because you have allowed those to go through, now, anyone else who wishes to be nasty to me simply has the right to be so. The rules don't apply to those who specifically target Robin Artisson, due to his past behavior. Is that your answer?

            I merely ask because it's important to understand exactly how the situation lies, wherever one happens to be.

          • Jason Pitzl-Waters

            Has it really been so long since you've read my comments policy?

            "Please keep discussions civil. A civil discussion is free of personal attacks, rudeness, and aggressive behaviors that lead to conflict. We realize that you are human, so minor and isolated incidents of incivility will generally be tolerated so long as a pattern of incivility does not emerge."

            I am being entirely consistent with my own rules.

            Femmeguy hasn't gotten a warning because the incident of incivility was minor and isolated. A pattern has yet to emerge. You, on the other hand, have a laundry list of incidents of incivility. So, you get a warning. That you are getting a warning, and not a ban is only due to the fact that you sometimes seem capable of staying within the bounds of civil discourse. However, if you'd rather be banned, I can certainly help you out with that.

          • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

            I don't know. I can't say I'm that big a fan of Robin, but to be honest I do find femmeguy's comment to be far from minor. Isolated, perhaps, but certainly not minor. I fail to see how being called a "raging transphobe" is a slight insult. Nor do I see it as right to allow attacks simply because Robin has attacked before (though on this and other sites it is difficult to tell what is an attack and what isn't at times).

            I mean this with all respect Jason, but to me "raging transphobe" rates up there with "raging racist." I personally don't see where Robin has been transphobic (perhaps a bit whiny about the under representation of straight men, but he may have a point, I don't know). Allowing people to imply or outright state that those who walk the Heathen path are "transphobic" is to do those of us a disservice, especially since our paths typically are far from discriminatory about anything.

            I humbly ask that you do not let your rage with Robin allow others to be disrespectuf of hateful, regardless of how much you feel he deserves it. I've had my beef with him too, but I've seen too much hate already with the dianic/trans situation, most of which is growing wildly out of hand all across our Pagan and Heathen realms.

            As a heathen I have no problems with "violence" and attacking, but please, I call to everyone, if we must "wage war" let us do so for honor and glory, not for hate.

    • kenneth

      It's a defining issue for all of us who aren't willing to let our movement become a carbon copy of institutional Christianity, one that just happens to have a different clergy caste and pantheon. The discussion so far hasn't suggested that Dianics let men participate. It's a call to reconsider ignorant and backward reactionary thinking against people who are as possessed of a female mind and spirit as born women. If some hardcore Dianics still want to stick with "born woman" thinking, that is, of course, their right. But it's also the right of the rest of us to make it clear that we have no respect for that kind of bigotry and we increasingly will be unwilling to spend our time and dollars at public events which support bigotry or host rituals that way. That's not tarring and feathering anybody. That's two sets of people each living by their principles and finding that they are radically incompatible with one another.

      I suspect thinking will evolve in most quarters of the Dianic community on this issue. Transgenderism is a very confusing and scary thing for people, and one that is biologically and psychologically quite complex. I happen to have a deep education on the matter having had a high school friend transition in his 30s, and having written extensively on the subject as a journalist in consultation with medical authorities. I think as open minded Dianics probe this issue, they will indeed see that trans women are NOT some dude in a dress trying to punk them like Borat. They will come up with reasonable distinctions. Maybe it makes sense to demand that members have lived full time as female for a year and a day first. Maybe it will hinge on the change in legal identity to female. I don't know what that answer will be, but there IS a reasonable one which will accomodate trans women AND respect the female centered nature of such covens.

      We need to remember that as progressive or open minded as we think we are in paganism, we still come from the same parent society which struggles with all these issues. We forget sometimes that the early Wiccans were very homophobic because they were convinced that male-female polarity was everything. Over a couple of decades of practice, we realize there is masculine feminine polarity within each one of us that needs to be cultivated and balanced. The circle, it turns out, doesn't fall apart if we don't happen to stand boy-girl all the way around. We live and learn. We don't need to blindly accept the conclusion of the "lefties" or anyone else, but the day we close ourselves off to learning is the day we become Roman Catholic Paganism, and become a religious doctrine rather than a spiritual path.

      • femmeguy

        You're out of yours if you think you can expect to blithely ungender people without blowback.

        And you're right, for the wrong reason. Of course no amount of medical treatment can give a man a woman's spirit, because identity is not given on the operating table. It comes from within. Trans women are not men who become women through medical treatment. They're women, who may have medical treatment to deal with gender dysphoria; they're women whether or not they are able to access treatment, which many can't because the medical system is still beset with your cousins, who gatekeep, impede, and deny access and coverage, despite hormone replacement therapy and SRS being recognized as medically necessary for those who require it.

        Obviously I'm not writing this for your benefit, because you've shown you'll dismiss anything that trans people and their allies say, but for the benefit of other readers, for trans people who need to know that there are cissexual people on their side, and because I can't let this go unchallenged.

      • Robin Artisson

        No medical treatment, surgery, or hormones can give a man a woman's spirit.

        • Baruch Dreamstalker

          Robin, you are making here a purported statement of fact that can only be your opinion.

          It is entirely possible that a human being born with a man's body is infused with a woman's spirit, which requires surgery, hormone, counseling and supportive ritual to be brought fully forth — more pointedly so if the person is born with ambiguous genitalia and is arbitrarily assigned a social sex by surgery shortly after birth.

          I can't prove this and you can't prove the contrary. Expression of opinion as fact adds heat, not light.

          • Robin Artisson

            I don't have to prove it to the contrary. The weight of evidence is on the people making positive claims, as you are. Saying "you can't prove it to the contrary" is precisely what fundy christians say when atheists say "There is no god". The fundies say "Well, you can't prove that there isn't one." But the atheists don't have to prove that there is one. The fundies have to prove that there is. That's how debate works, and how evidenciary standards work.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Both the atheist and the fundie in your exemplary dialogue are expressing opinion, and neither can prove what they say. It is indeed a parallel, and my point is valid in either.

          • Robin Artisson

            That's where you'd be wrong. From the perspective of skeptical analysis, the positive unproven position is the weaker one. It is less valid than the contrary negative opinion. If someone says "I don't think there is a god", and someone else says "I think there is", you can say that there are two opinions here, and you'd be right. But one of those opinions doesn't have the burden of evidence that the other has, and one isn't as supportable as the other. They are different claims, one of which appears to be, even without evidence, more valid.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            You made the initial claim that neither surgery nor hormones can give a man the spirit of a woman. That's the parallel to "There is a god." You're the one bearing the evidenciary burden.

            The conventions of formal debate are social rules and subject to change. The difference between opinion and fact is enduring.

          • Robin Artisson

            My claim is a negative one. "No surgery can give a woman's spirit to a man." I'm not saying "A man can have any spirit he wants". I'm saying what a surgery can't do, not what a person can do just by choice or procedures.

            If we both believe in spirits, then we have a baseline for our debate. I'm saying what you can't do with spirits. You're saying, on the contrary, that we can do something with them, like just change them as if they were coats. So. Where's your evidence for that?

            I mean, if you want to strip this bare of metaphysics, we can. I can just say "there are no spirits" and watch you try to provide evidence for them, which I doubt you could. But that debate is playing out in too many other places. I was hoping for a better one here.

          • http://secher-nbiw.blogspot.com Cobalt

            I won't get into discussions of spirits or who has what kind or what they can do, since I've seen no evidence for claims that they even exist (and as a result it feels a little premature for me to start speculating as to how they work). Yeah, I'm still a practicing Pagan, but people who believe in spirits or souls of some kind probably don't want me trying to speak for them. =P

            That aside, there is some recent research to suggest that men's brains and women's brains do have some slightly different quirks of function, and that transpeople have brains that don't behave like the brains of people with the gender they were assigned at birth (wow, that was a mouthful–what I meant to say is that transmen have brains that act more like male brains than you might expect, and transwomen DON'T have brains that act precisely like male brains, which suggests there's more going on here than some people think).

            I'm not a strong subscriber to the idea of an absolute gender binary (as an anthropologist, it'd be hard for me to ignore all the cultures that have had a different setup), but it does lend some weight to the claims of transpeople that they didn't simply choose to start acting like a different gender than they were assigned at birth.

            Link: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20032-trans

            I hope that's helpful, since I saw a lot of discussion about what makes a person essentially or authentically one gender or another, and nobody was linking any of the actual research.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            Sorry to be tardy in this response; IntenseDebate is no longer delivering comments here to my email.

            That your claim is negative is important only in a convention of debate, which is transient. The difference between opinion and fact is enduring. I'll say that as often as needed until you can read it.

          • http://twitter.com/widdershins_cat @widdershins_cat

            Technically it's not possible for a human being to be born with a man's body at all. We are all born with babies' bodies, sexually differentiated by only a tiny bit of flesh but more importantly by the biological wiring that is developing in our heads.

          • Robin Artisson

            I think more than just genitalia "sexually differentiates" us.

          • Lillitu Shahar Kunning

            That is where you are wrong. We are virtually identical on a genetic level. Less than a fraction of a percent difference. And you are wrong on several other acocunts, but to itemize them all would take my precious time- which I will not gift to you.

        • http://twitter.com/SeaMist_au @SeaMist_au

          "No medical treatment, surgery, or hormones can give a man a woman's spirit. "
          That's the whole point really. Transwomen are women….with womens spirits, Surgery, hormones etc simply relalign the external with the internal.

        • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

          </>No medical treatment, surgery, or hormones can give a man a woman's spirit.

          This statement is true. Let me offer another true statement:

          No biological gender characteristics, socialization, or therapy can give a man a woman's spirit.

          That's why transmen go through "medical treatment, surgery, [and] hormones"…to allow their physical form to match their spirits, which are the spirits of men.

        • harmonyfb

          No medical treatment, surgery, or hormones can give a man a woman's spirit.

          Please don't attempt to speak for women, Robin.

        • Leea

          True. And no "straight" man would choose to transition to woman. The idea is that the man-is a woman mentally and emotionally. What I find interesting, actually is that you are a therapist. Now-I'm a psych nurse with an undergrad in psych. My daughter has a Master's in Social Work, as do many of my friends. We all studied this stuff in college-the folks with advanced degree's even more than I did. So-some of your statements don't really add up to me. I guess-I hope? that clinically you can set your feelings aside to do the work that needs done, or refuse to see clients with gender issues (a luxury in todays climate)…but still…as a professionally I find some of your attitudes confusing, at best…

    • harmonyfb

      I, as a natural born straight male (which seems, more and more, to be a minority

      Allow me to play my tiny violin for you.

      • Robin Artisson

        Yeah, go ahead. I understand how your fragile psyche needs to hate men for their supposed "great privilege", and I know how you need an oppressor. I don't hold out hope that one day you'll be able to see beyond the persecution complex that is central to your personality.

        • Jason Pitzl-Waters

          Robin, consider this a warning to keep personal insults out of your comments. You can disagree, and you can debate, but you're skirting a line with your only-slightly-veiled insults against other commenters.

        • femmeguy

          Being threatened with death for existing in a metro station with a bag that apparently looked like a purse is not a persecution complex. Having my lovers denied basic medical care, employment, and identity documents is not a persecution complex. Having the ruling party of my country declare itself overwhelmingly opposed to human rights protection for me and mine is not a persecution complex. Freezing in a November night listening to the pages and pages of the list of trans women murdered this year is not a persecution complex. It is reality.

          • Robin Artisson

            Care to cite some actual statistics backing up your claim that transwomen are being murdered at an unprecedented rate?

          • Jason Pitzl-Waters
          • Robin Artisson

            This is good. I've never seen this info before, and it's well laid out. I deplore the loss of life. Of course, 29 deaths in 2008 (to cite what's inside) still falls woefully short of the "every two days a trans woman is murdered" claim made earlier here. One death inflicted on another over something like sexual orientation would be too many- don't get me wrong- but these numbers, however outrageous, hardly seem like the holocaust presented by so many.

          • femmeguy

            foxfetch cited above:

            "Trans homicides have been recorded as being *reported* approximately every two days. The Trans Murder Monitoring project have been tracking this: http://www.transrespect-transphobia.org/en_US/tvt… . They discuss some of the difficulties of the data here: http://www.transrespect-transphobia.org/en_US/tvt… . You can read some analysis of the statistics from the prior, interim report here: http://www.birdofparadox.net/blog/?p=8395 "

          • http://www.facebook.com/kenazfilan Kenaz Filan

            String Of Transgender Violence Haunts Memphis

            Transgender People Face Violence, Obstacles

            Violence Against the Transgendered Only Getting Worse

            Those three articles should provide you with a glimpse into the realities faced by many transgendered people. You are free to believe that transgendered men and women aren't "real" men and women. Hell, a significant number of Americans, probably the majority, would agree with you. We can argue all day about statistics and how many innocent victims constitute a holocaust. But can we at least acknowledge this: transgendered people are regularly subjected to unacceptable levels of mistreatment, violence, discrimination and harassment?

            Even if you can't bring yourself to use a transperson's preferred pronoun, can you at least acknowledge that their suffering is real: if you can't acknowledge them as a Real Man(tm) or Real Woman(tm), can you at least recognize them as human beings and treat them with the appropriate kindness and respect? I ask this not in a sarcastic sense but as a genuine attempt to find common ground. We obviously agree that murder and violence against transpeople is wrong. Perhaps we can find other areas of agreement from there.

            I acknowledge your right to distinguish between transpeople and cispeople, and would be happy to discuss and debate your thoughts on the topic: I may disagree with you but I'm hardly trying to silence or censor you. I also happen to agree with you that the Dianics (or more precisely, certain Dianics) have the right to reserve their mysteries for womyn-born-womyn or for whomever else they choose: I also support the right of their critics to comment on their policy in a reasoned or even an impolite manner.

            Finally, I note that a great deal of useful and productive conversation on the topics of exclusion, essentialism, gender identity and other topics has arisen amidst all this heat. We may still disagree on important issues, but we're talking and we're learning. And maybe in the future some of us will look at the other side not as words on a screen or shadowy enemies engaged in global conspiracy but as fellow human beings.

          • Robin Artisson

            Well spoken, Mr. Filan. I was just perusing a book of yours about Haitian Vodou, which I received as a gift from a friend who knows my long interest in Haitian religion. I'm from New Orleans, and our Louisiana/New Orleans Voodoo down here owes everything to Mother Haiti, and I am always a respectful worshiper, in my own way, of the Lwa. I happen to be a conjure man, as you may or may not know- owing to the fortune of my being born and raised in the shadow of the Old Sultan of the South, where such things aren't so shunned as some would like to believe.

            I like your book a good deal. It seems to be expressed maturely yet with a subtle humor I personally adore- a real feat for such a contentious subject matter. What I think I like the most about it is the picture of sanity you present for yourself- I'm always working to figure authors out when I read their books- and your brand of sanity runs just barely alongside a realization of something beyond sanity. It's a sign that, at least at the time of the writing of this book, that you had established a dynamic balance between what is seen and what is Unseen.

            Don't know about you presently, or where your path has taken you. Kenaz, I don't think anything I've said in any of my posts about this topic has presented me as hostile to trans people. I am fully aware of their full humanity and their rights to life and their rights to be protected from forces that would rob them of life and their human rights.

            I just view them as not really belonging to a gender at all- shape-shifters forever caught in the borderlands between this category and the other, or any others. There is something very powerful about their strange position in the great scheme of things. Beings that can look one way, feel one way, assume the emotional standpoint of other genders, freely choose to take up the roles of men or women, though nature itself sculpted them differently in so many ways. The Dianics haven't said what I would have said about them coming into my "bleeding woman only" circle- that their strange power may be too much or too unbalancing to the ceremony I intend.

            I truly believe that trans people need their own ritual spaces, and their own metaphysical realm of respect. Trying to force fit themselves into spaces like the Dianic one isn't just infuriating to the Dianics, for a multitude of reasons, but really, in my way of seeing, it's selling themselves short.

            But that's all just me. I hope that everyone finds a place for themselves that they feel comfortable in, and that everyone learns to get along… though I don't hold out any hope for the latter. I know humans- and their human history- too well for that. As for finding a place to feel comfortable… a sorcerer already knows that to do that often spells the death of power, not the birth of it, or the maintenance of it. Straddling one world and many others, not belonging here or there- that's a well of power. As I suspect you may already know from reading your book.

        • harmonyfb

          Wow, Robin, that's a powerful lot of assumptions, there.

          My husband would be quite surprised to find out that I hate men. ::chuckle::

          And your comment is an about-face from other discussions I've had with you where you accused me of collaborating with 'the enemy' because I argued that Christians should not be treated as monolithic oppressors. ::is amused::

  • Dennis Nock

    this an interesting and overdue conversation .altho i can't quite deal w/ some of the dianics rigidness. i understand it . the way women are treated in mainstream religions , been oppressed by them for 2 millennia . wanting their own strong tradition and the inclusion of the feminist movment into paganism in the 70's . not to even mention societal oppression of women .all of this and more lead to the dianic traditions , and thier exclusivness.dianics like all the rest of us , need to learn to be more flexible and inclusive and avoid inflamatory statements . there is a place for blood female groups , just seems to me a public ritual at a major pagan convention is not that place .altho this discussion was needed and this was the catylist for it , i don't think caya thought this one thru , and is getting alot more crap than they expected.in my opinion any exclusionary rituals should not be held at open public events . that way no one gets their nose out of joint.but paganism as a whole has always been inclusive of all , genders, ethnithities etc [race, color, creed sexual, preferencnce etc], looks like the dianics need to catch up

    • Robin Artisson

      The Dianics don't have to "catch up" to anything. They have a right to be who they are, as they decide to be. So much for neo-pagan "tolerance" of other people's rights to practice and believe as they will…

      • http://secher-nbiw.blogspot.com Cobalt

        Criticism isn't the same as censorship.

        No one is or can or would want to be stopping Dianics from practicing as they please. We are just replying with our opinion of it. Nobody is talking about taking away their right to practice; people are just talking about their practices. We have as much right to express our disagreement with certain Dianic groups' treatment of trans people as they have to practice that way.

        • Robin Artisson

          You are excoriating Dianics within an inch of their hides. This isn't just "criticism". This is a witchhunt among witches and Pagans, and everyone can see it, who isn't already part of the radical agenda you represent.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            In other words, treating Dianics the way you treat anyone you dispute, Robin.

          • Robin Artisson

            Not anyone. Just certain people, who actually deserve it, due to their true wickedness, wherein I don't think the Dianics do deserve it here.

          • Baruch Dreamstalker

            But evidently some people think Dianics do deserve it. As in another sub-thread appending to this post, duelling opinions.

          • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

            I will give Robin that he has a valid point about how much hate the dianics are getting. That said, I'm not entirely sure we should be giving any group this kind of hate, whether we feel they deserve it or not.

            Then again, I don't think i'd be the first to point out there's been a lot of hypocrisy from some commentators on both sides.

          • http://secher-nbiw.blogspot.com Cobalt

            If questioning the level of education "women born women" Dianics (to distinguish them from the Dianics I am not criticizing) have about transwomen (both what transwomen experience and how transwomen happen and what makes them what they are) is "excoriating Dianics within an inch of their hides," then how should disagreement be voiced? How can a conversation even happen if any criticism will be met by a man who comes along defending the poor bruised flowers of the Dianic traditions from all these mean people who aren't treating them gently enough?

            Dianics are grown-ass adults, and they can handle my tone. It's important to note that I have not called them bigots, and I have stated multiple times on this very page that I am not interested in denying them their right to practice in accordance with their beliefs. However, I don't think they should be any more protected from criticism than the Church of Latter Day Saints was when they still excluded people of color. I am not asking Dianics to put up with too much, and you do them a great disservice by suggesting that I should be silent because my criticism is more than they can handle.

          • http://maewitch.livejournal.com/ Maggie

            So much agreement.

          • femmeguy

            *thunderous applause*

          • Nestis

            I can't speak for other Dianics, but I am certain I am more aware of trans issues than some (uh, Z Budapest for example). Feminism and queer theory were kinda my "thing" at university, and I have participated in the Transgender Day of Rembrance.

            The thing I will say about the Church of Latter Day Saints comparision, and this is something I've stated else were during this discussion, is that there is a huge difference between a polytheistic, non-universalizing religious practice focused on biological females and a universalizing monotheism that claims it can speak to the experiences of all people.

            As others have said, Pagans are pluralists. We may be disagreeing on where we draw the lines of our particular path, but we're all willing to acknowledge at the onset that our paths are not for everyone, and that's not just a tolerable thing, but actively for the good. And then we're generally willing to come out of our personal hidey-holes and specific mysteries to celebrate life in all its mystery with the greater community.

          • http://secher-nbiw.blogspot.com Cobalt

            "there is a huge difference between a polytheistic, non-universalizing religious practice focused on biological females and a universalizing monotheism that claims it can speak to the experiences of all people."

            Yes, there is. However, that doesn't mean that Dianics aren't feeding into ideas about transwomen being "fake women" or "women in disguise" when they treat transwomen like they have no reason to be included in women-only spaces. Dianic traditions are not as large, as powerful, or as monolithic as traditions like LDS, but religions are (among other things) cultural systems. They are cultural systems that both generate and reinforce the values of whoever's got enough clout to set the tone.

            I don't like the effect that ungendering trans people has on the culture I live in, because it literally gets people killed. If you're participated in the Transgender Day of Remembrance (as I do every year, and I'm certain we both have Many Trans Friends, as well), you know this. I'm not going to give Dianics a free pass and exempt them from criticism about how their practices are impacting our culture just because other religious cultural systems are making a bigger contribution to the mess.

            And yes, we are pluralists. This is why nobody is talking about hindering their ability to practice as they will. We are, however, responding to the effect that (certain) Dianic teachings about what counts as "authentic" womanhood have on transwomen. I don't care if somebody else out there (I'm looking at the RCC and the CJCLDS here) is also showing their whole ass, even if the damage they're doing is greater. The fact that somebody else is worse doesn't make the Dianic teachings' impact any better–it just means that they stand out less from the general ambient transphobia.

  • http://twitter.com/Mjausson @Mjausson

    I'd like to thank Jason for the thoughtful, progressive framing of the conversation.

    Having said that, what I'm missing is the subject of sexual violence, particularly "rape culture". I would love to think that rape culture and actual acts of sexual violence weren't part of Paganism. Perhaps if we lived in a Pagan Utopia, it wouldn't be. But we live in a larger culture that has harmful sexist and misogynist streaks.

    Wikipedia on Rape Culture: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_culture (Trigger warning)
    "Rape culture is a term used within women's studies and feminism, describing a culture in which rape and other sexual violence are common and in which prevalent attitudes, norms, practices, and media condone, normalize, excuse, or encourage sexualized violence."

    Shakespeare's Sister has a Rape Culture 101 post (Trigger warning) http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2009/10/ra

    I would like to ask that we do not ridicule women who are genuinely afraid of penises and penis bearers. Acknowledging that most people do not choose their gender, sex or genitalia, the shape of some bodies signifies rape culture and sexual privilege to a higher degree than others. That does not mean that they are bad, just that in some contexts we choose not to engage with them.

    Part of what makes Dianic rituals that include only women-born-women attractive is that they afford women who have survived male sexual aggression a place to be openly and freely naked in a female-body-positive place without that particular trigger. It's a valuable healing space in a culture that increasingly conflates nakedness with sex and sex with male-on-female aggression. I would like to see it preserved, in ways that also take into account the feelings and needs of transgendered women. We're not a dualistic religion — we can have both.

    • Charise Spirit Clarke

      Thank you so much for this I was trying to come up with a way to explain my feelings thank you

    • http://www.facebook.com/kenazfilan Kenaz Filan

      Thank you so much for this. I have been struggling for words on why this whole issue is about more than "EEW PEENORZ!!!" May I quote this on my blog? I think it is an important message which has been missed amidst the noise in this debate.

    • Nestis

      Thank you SO MUCH. I've been trying to explain this for days, to no effect. Thank you for putting it so clearly and succinctly.

    • http://www.sihayadesigns.com Sihaya

      On one hand, I can understand why only female-presentation would be desired in some very specific types of ritual– specifically ones that deal with healing from sexual assault. I truly do understand the gut-reaction that a survivor might have to being confronted with a body that appears not biologically female in that context. I don't want to minimize that or shame that reaction.

      However– transwomen are also deeply affected by rape culture as its victims. In part because a) they are women, and women are affected by rape culture as a default, and b) there is a very high occurrence of sexual assault upon transwomen in general as a reaction to their trans-ness.

      I have no answers here. I can only hope that one day, transwomen can be accepted fully into the Dianic fold for the women they are.

      • Wyse1

        Transwomen ARE raped as well and ARE murdered. I too have no desire to deminish the pain that ciswomen who have been raped in any form. BUT we have people who ARE women in every sense of the word except for a womb and breast that may have the same issues the same pain. Again this was a public event not a private circle. IF a group needs to be exclusive then do so in private and not a public event.

        • http://www.sihayadesigns.com Sihaya

          I agree with you, Wyse1.

          I was only speaking of very private (hypothetical) rituals that aim to perform healings upon cisgendered rape survivors– not the public event in question.

          • Nestis

            Some Dianic covens always practice ritual skyclad. This isn't about ciswomen rape survivor rituals, this is about whether ciswomen-only skyclad rituals are appropriate at PCon. The psychological baggage of suffering at the hands of anatomical male violence doesn't check itself at the door anymore than transwomen who don't "pass" should be checked there in lieu of those who do.

    • http://rootandrock.blogspot.com Scylla

      My question, probably best addressed to a Dianic elder would be this: Is Panthea-Con really the place to address such a deep, inky, coven-type-with-coven-types, ritual?

      I don't discount the need, right, desire, or drive for it – I question the wisdom of making public ritual out of something so private and delicate.

    • http://twitter.com/widdershins_cat @widdershins_cat

      What has gone unrecognized is that "women-born-women-only" space in itself is an act of violence against trans women. It is designed by its very nature to denigrate the womanhood of trans women, to stigmatize our bodies and trivialize our lives and our pains. It is wrong, and unacceptable. Especially because there seems to be no limit to it: Any cissexual woman who wants to make an issue out of it can easily turn "women's space" into "cissexual women only" space.

      If it must exist at all, its existence should be HIGHLY limited. It should not be the default for women's space.

      • http://twitter.com/DesiArcy @DesiArcy

        The sole purpose of the concept of "women born women" is to continue perpetrating oppression against trans women while *nominally* acknowledging the reality of our womanhood; it is to insist that, "If trans women are women, they are women in name only and still need to be excluded from 'real' women's spaces."

      • elnigma

        Upsetting and emotionally hurtful, yes, and probably 99% unnecessary but an "act of violence??"

  • foxfetch

    "I think the future that Foxfetch demands will become a reality far quicker than any of us might realize"

    I pray you're right. I've been saddened but unsurprised by the anti-trans bigotry and cissexism I've seen cropping up, but also surprised and overjoyed by the number of people who *are* standing up against that bigotry, whether it directly affects them or not. I pray that the tide is truly turning.

    • Elfwreck

      It affects us all. Societal privilege and bigotry are poisons that taint every community; ability to blithely think "what matters to those people is irrelevant to me" is how we set ourselves up for some of our most horrific mass tragedies.

      Because of homophobia, AIDS wasn't acknowledged as a real problem for many years; it was considered a "gay men's disease" until it reached epidemic levels. There's no such thing as a "just those people" problem.

      Pretending that the pain, rage, and violence caused by transphobia aren't relevant to cis people is kind of like pretending that the pain, rage, and violence caused by racism aren't relevant to White people.

      • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

        But, in the interests and nature of pure logic, are people calling for "trans-rights" not being bigoted as well? Sure it must be acknowledged that those people who are either trans or siding with the trans have acted in what I see as a bigoted manor to the dianics and to "cis-women" during this whole debate. "Cis-women are bigots who need to be bashed until they let trans-women in" certainly doesn't seem unbiased to me.

        Elfwreck, you have a good point about AIDS being allowed to get out of hand, but you seem to forget the flip side of that. Had those affected with AIDS been Quarantined at the outset, you would have seen thousands of people screaming about Homophobia and Concentration camps. If you tried to do that today, you'd get the same result. Correct me if I'm wrong, but many attempts to control AIDS have been stopped as being anti-gay and homophobic in nature.

        The pain, rage, and violence of transphobia is relevant. But what fo the pain, rage, and violence of misogyny or misandry? I don't see too many people telling the trans people to be respectful of the sufferings of cis-women and allowing them to have their own spaces. I don't even see them calling for the Dianics to let in Trans-men or Cis-men. I just see a lot of people yelling at the trans people "You go X! Take down those Bigoted Witches!"

        Frankly, I am saddened by this. It seems in stopping bigotry, people are happy to be bigots.

        • femmeguy

          " "Cis-women are bigots who need to be bashed until they let trans-women in" certainly doesn't seem unbiased to me."

          Which is not surprising, because 1) nobody said this; 2) characterizing advocacy for trans women as "bashing" is really damned appropriative of oppressed people's experiences, thank you very much. When the kid at the end of my street threw a beer bottle at my head while screaming at me that I was a fucking faggot, that was bashing. When people chased my boy down the street threatening to kill him, that was bashing. Bashing leaves queer and trans people terrified, injured or dead. Calling out privilege and working for trans equality in religious space is not bashing. I will thank you not to use the word we use to describe the violent oppression we suffer to mean being asked to check your privilege by people on the Internet.

          • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

            Femmeguy.

            1) No one may have outright said it, but oh unto the gods and goddesses has that been the subtext of so many posts, including yours. The fact that the Dianics, and those who have even merely mentioned their right to practice as they see fit, have been labeled transaphobic and bigots. The generally attitudes I've seen has been one of attacking the Dianics and pressuring them to change their path. Now, I may be wrong, but going by a little test I have for such things, such actions strike me as meeting the criteria of being "bigoted" and biased against the Dianics. You and others may feel that these actions, taken in the name of "Equality and Justice" are acceptable, but I do not.

            2) I'm sorry, but you cannot own the word "Bash" or any of it's derivatives. I am sorry to hear your experience of violence, and that of your child. That said, you don't get to own the term or claim that such actions cannot be taken by trans-sexual/gender people against hetro-sexual/gender people. It doesn't work that way. Either everyone is capable of hate, because if only certian groups can hate, then you have to discuss if a group is superior or inferior for being able to experience an emotion that others cannot.

          • femmeguy

            You missed my point. "Bashing" is the only word we have to describe the particular type of random assaults and murders to which we are subjected. In recent decades it has been increasingly appropriated by anti-queer forces and other privileged groups to refer to being criticized or called out on their privilege ("Christian bashing," "rich-bashing," "Republican bashing," "conservative bashing,") in order to suggest that criticism is equivalent to random violence based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. That is an act of appropriation.

            Here is some more insight:
            http://amptoons.com/blog/2007/05/23/q-since-when-

          • harmonyfb

            Calling out privilege and working for trans equality in religious space is not bashing.

            This cis-woman fully agrees. I'm frankly appalled and disappointed at the venom I've read here directed against trans individuals who just want to be treated like human beings.

        • http://secher-nbiw.blogspot.com Cobalt

          "Sure it must be acknowledged that those people who are either trans or siding with the trans have acted in what I see as a bigoted manor to the dianics and to "cis-women" during this whole debate. "Cis-women are bigots who need to be bashed until they let trans-women in" certainly doesn't seem unbiased to me. "

          I appreciate your consideration for cis women here, but I will tell you that I am a cis woman and I don't need a white knight. My sense of self is in no way threatened by the activism of trans people; all they want is what I have. Considering that they and I am still working to improve the lot of women (both cis and trans) in our culture and others around the world… I welcome their solidarity, and I think cis women who scorn it because they haven't kept up with evolving understanding of gender are making a huge mistake. Trans people will suffer for that mistake, but y'know? So will cis women like me.

          • harmonyfb

            Well said.

          • Wyse1

            I agree with you Cobalt in saying that I as a cis woman do not need a white knight and I do not feel threated or a lessor woman because of the plight of transgender. What kind of a woman would I be if I felt threatened. Doesn't this remind us in a sort of the plight of marriage equality. Where some of the branches of main stream religions feel that gay marriage would some how lessen or be a threat to their own marriage. I feel I am a true feminist as well. I am also a part of the movement to improve the lives of all women (cis and trans). The defense of those who support exclusiveness is a natural response, but it is one that will be overcome to be met with understanding and healing. This is a painful but necessary process in order to shed light on areas that need more education.

  • foxfetch

    I know several other trans Pagans who work with our dead, both around TDoR and throughout the year.

    Purely form my personal perspective, back when I read it I found "Hermaphrodeities" too third-gendering, though I know it's spoken to a lot of people. I do remember enjoying reading your article in it.

    I'm interested to know how you think it's "not about simple discrimination by the Dianics"?

    • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

      Ironically, when I read the first edition, I found it too focused on physical genders and transition experiences, and not enough on the experience of being third-gender without reference to bits. Maybe it's an example of what happens when you try to please everyone at once.

      I also have had some experiences with what appear to be trans ancestors. I can't say that I work with them, but they seem to work on me occasionally. Though mostly they just laugh at me and offer me cups of tea.

  • Pitch313

    I think that Trads are entitled to qualify attendees to their rituals. So Dianic Pagans can determine that some or all of their rituals are to be attended only by cis-women.

    I do not think that Trads should put on such "qualified attendees only" rituals on the event schedules at large, relatively open, more or less public gatherings such as Pantheacon. These gatherings are, at heart and by mission, for getting together and for sharing with each other. Not for any one Trad to get on the event schedule and keep curious folks who want to explore and share out.

    All my muddlings over this aside, I feel deep down that plenty of Deities, Guardians, Powers, Entities, and Magical Beings are laughing at us Pagan humans for GETTING IT WRONG here. I mean, getting it wrong about CHANGE and about WHAT CHANGES and about HOW MAGIC CHANGES.

  • http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/ Cat_C_B

    I fear you have a different definition of "reasoned, open, empathetic, passionate, and willing to create a dialog that is inclusive and productive" than I have, Jason–or we have been reading different comments.

    I'm sensing a lot of heat, but little light.

    • Jason Pitzl-Waters

      Cat, due to the nature of my comments system, I get an e-mail for every single comment. I'm not going to say I spent a great length of time with every one, but I have at least given a cursory read to the bulk of what's been said here at The Wild Hunt. That, coupled with the many, many, links I've followed this week, points to more constructive dialog going on than some of the more heated moments might suggest. I am hopeful.

    • Nestis

      Me too. :(

    • Bookhousegal

      Well, Cat, I'm a little more optimistic, here, and agree with Jason: as this debate goes on on the Net, it'd seem that those with the strongest, perhaps most controversial opinions *about* the situation are proportionally taking up more of the space, here, but the initial comments were for the most part have shown some pretty widespread reasonableness.

      The Z. Budapest thing would seem to be all about her trying to throw gasoline on the fire but I think a lot of this shows that her views just aren't representative, either of the group in question, or the community in general. :)

      • http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/ Cat_C_B

        I very much agree regarding Z's remark. I'm a bit chagrined (though I've never been a Dianic) that her views are being presumed to represent all Dianics, however.

        I guess I'm just spoiled–I mostly hang out with people who can disagree without nearly the level of animosity I'm seeing in some posts. But it is probably a good idea for me to consider the source in the case of some of the more inflammatory responses–not just in Z's case, but generally–and not allow the self-righteousness of the few to color my perceptions of the many.

        • http://twitter.com/DesiArcy @DesiArcy

          Considering that Z is pretty much the *founder* of Dianic Wicca, I don't think it's at all unreasonable to assume that her views are strongly indicative of the views of the Dianic community as a whole.

          • Nestis

            Considering the fact that many Dianics do not even consider themselves to be Wiccan, considering the fact that Dianic Craft is inherently anti-authoritarian and anti-hierarchical in philosophy, considering the fact that many of us are equally if sometimes not more inspired by the work of Shekhinah Mountainwater (whose "Womanpath Witchcraft" caught on in practice if not in name), considering the fact that Z Budapest is as flawed as the rest of us and can have good ideas as well as patently awful, hateful ones, considering the way Rabbit and the other Amazons have responded, considering, considering…

            I'm a Dianic. I don't agree with what Z said. I think it was completely inexcusable. I didn't check my brain at the door when her good ideas helped me to find my own path.

  • caraschulz

    I don't know which causes me more sadness – that some people don't see transgender women as women or that some people feel the need to tell a religious group (that they are not a part of and don't wish to be part of )how to run their religious affairs.

    • catkisser

      Ok, I'll wade in at this point………I was born intersexed, surgically made transsexual at birth by a doctor's decision so I should have some standing here, not to mention four intense years of trans advocacy lobbying federal and state legislators and testifying before legislative body. I organized the only LGBT Katrina relief fund and when I first became physically disabled I took everything I had in the world to pool with a couple of others to start a place for newly transitioned women to get back on their feet.

      Now that said, the vast majority, like more than 90% of disrespect of my own womanhood came from the trans communities themselves because although I am quite in favour of freedom of identity, I am decidedly binary by nature and will not allow others to define me as something different. We have seen the term cis tossed around, it's a term transgender people invented to separate themselves from men and women. It would seem self evident that if you separate yourself from something, you aren't that something. If you go to woman only space as anything other than a standard garden variety woman, you don't belong there. As for attacks on womanhood, my own is in no way diminished because some random second waver had a problem with it…….and the weird thing is, most of them do not as a result. I would never dream of demanding entry to a group that had a problem with who I am, it simply isn't worth the time and effort and again, does not have a real effect on who I actually am.

      • foxfetch

        "We have seen the term cis tossed around, it's a term transgender people invented to separate themselves from men and women. It would seem self evident that if you separate yourself from something, you aren't that something."

        Straight men, gay men. White women, women of colour. Disabled people, currently enabled people. Are any of these less than men, women, people? No. You may not choose to use particular language yourself, but please do not ascribe motivations to those of us who do use it. I am firmly binary IDed and do not "separate myself" from other men.

        Or are you suggesting that women who use other adjectives to describe themselves do not belong in women's space? Should women's space exclude, say, Deaf women, because they "separate themselves" from other women by describing themselves as Deaf?

      • femmeguy

        "We have seen the term cis tossed around, it's a term transgender people invented to separate themselves from men and women. "

        This is exactly the opposite of the case. It's used to point out that men and women come in numerous varieties: trans is a variety, and so is cis. If foxfetch is a transsexual man, and I am a cissexual man, we are both men, just of different flavours, just like he's an English man and I am a Canadian man.

        Conversely, referring to "women and men" on one hand, and "trans people" on the other hand, does separate trans women and men – against their will – from cis women and men.

      • Nestis

        According to Ruth Barrett, intersexed people forcibly made female at birth and raised as girls are fully welcome in Dianic circles.

        I want to thank you for your unique and thoughtful perspective on this issue, btw.

        • Jaclyn Desiree Arceneaux

          Privileging birth-assigned gender in this way is exactly what's wrong with Dianic ideology — they're assuming that female-assigned intersex people are always women and male assigned-intersex people are always men, neither of which is actually true.

    • kenneth

      For my part, I'm not telling any group how to run their affairs. I support the right of a Dianic group to have a born women only policy. I support the right of a coven to be whites only, if that's what they really believe in. However, they don't have a right to our approval or support. We're a non-dogmatic movement by and large, and that's our greatest strength. Some people take that to mean we're not supposed to ever form any moral or ethical judgments on anyone for any reason. I don't buy that. I don't expect Dianics to change their view or practices to accommodate me, or even to care what I think. On the other hand, if organizers of public events want me, or a great many other people to participate, they shoudn't incorporate bigotry into the program in any form.

      • caraschulz

        So……no festival or con should have events, workshops, or rituals which exclude attendees? No military only rituals, no sexual abuse survivor only roundtables? No more mens mysteries sessions? Or adult only?

        I think many Pagans do enjoy those events that restrict attendees and find them to be very meaningful. They may lose you as an attendee, but they would probably lose more attendees if they change policy that all rituals, workshops, and sessions have to be open to all attendees.

        • kenneth

          It's not a matter of having to have everything open to everyone, at least not in my eyes. To me, it' s matter of drawing arbitrary distinctions out of bigotry. Take the example of a military only ritual. That's reasonable to have something designed for people who share a common experience. On the other hand, if the folks running that workshop start turning people away because they feel your military experience wasn't "real enough" based on your branch of service or lack of intense enough combat experience, that's not a productive or healthy distinction. Or what if we decided a sexual abuse survivor wasn't good enough to join the circle because we didn't believe their experience was sufficiently traumatic. I see a value in men's mysteries. But not if every man coming to the working has to "prove" their manhood to the satisfaction of some arbitrary and ludicrous criteria set by the organizers. It's reasonable to have things designed primarily for men who love men, or women who love women, until we get to the point of turning people away who don't seem "gay enough" "butch enough/femme enough" etc.

          If we want to take this to the big picture, I've been to some events that give the cold shoulder to anyone who doesn't seem "pagan enough" because they don't have long enough hair, hippie/tribal dress, sufficiently cool craft names and on and on. Maybe I'm a minority on this issue, but I just don't want to support that kind of dynamic. If I wanted that kind of mentality, I could just as easily be a Christian evangelical.

          I think there can be a place for certain exclusionary events at public cons, but they ought to be few and far between and based on reasonable criteria. I think it would be more productive to use these events as opportunities to bridge differences, not reinforce them. Save most of the deep tribal men only women only ritual for your own time. Use some of the public events to teach each other about the kind of work you're doing. We're not going to ever solve the "culture of rape" or patriarchy by hiding away from everyone with a penis all the time. And men are never going to achieve healthy manhood if we only hide out in the woods with other men, even if there's value in both such things.

          • kenneth

            Hey Jason, can you have a look at the "pending admin approval" folder? The auto censor held my comment, and that's very often a graveyard on forum sites. I don't think I said anything obscene or even angry. I hope I haven't landed on your "no fly" list somehow!

          • Jason Pitzl-Waters

            It's been released. You must have unintentionally triggered the spam filter through a certain combination of words. It happens from time to time. But I always get an e-mail when it happens, and try to release those posts in a timely manner. Sorry for the inconvenience.

          • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

            Yes, but who defines the bigotry, kenneth? Is it the person who feels they are the victim? The person who does the act? Or a third party who might be prejudiced one way or the other for not having all the facts?

            If one man's trash is another's treasure, who gets to be the one defining trash and treasure for the larger populace?

        • Califried

          So……no festival or con should have events, workshops, or rituals which exclude attendees? No military only rituals, no sexual abuse survivor only roundtables? No more mens mysteries sessions? Or adult only?

          Cara, I personally think the line has to be drawn pragmatically. As the Michican Womyn's Music Festival has found, it's very, very difficult to enforce restrictions that are drawn along as arbitrary a line as gender presentation and identity. What is the difference between a transwoman who passes as female and a cisgendered woman? What is the difference between an intersexed individual assigned male at birth and a cisgendered woman? From a practical standpoint, how do you propose to identify cisgendered women? How do you propose to enforce cisgendered women's only space? Further, what burden falls on the shoulders of the festival's organizers? Do you expect them to identify transwomen? Do you expect them to remove transwomen from cisgendered women's space? In my view, the only sensible answer to these questions is that rituals held at public festivals be open to individuals based on gender identity.

          You mention a few other types of restricted presentations, but I think they all represent very bad analogies. For example, sexual abuse survivors. Do you think that there is some type of screening process to exclude individuals who are not actually survivors of sexual abuse? Do you think that identifying a presentation as "for sexual abuse survivors only" has a negative impact on anyone who is not a sexual abuse survivor? Age is a specific class in and of itself – organizations like PantheaCon have to be very concerned about age limits for rituals with sexual content, and it's a simple enough restriction to enforce.

      • http://meadowsweet-myrrh.blogspot.com/ Ali

        "We're a non-dogmatic movement by and large, and that's our greatest strength. Some people take that to mean we're not supposed to ever form any moral or ethical judgments on anyone for any reason. I don't buy that."

        Very well articulated, Kenneth. What's especially important (and what I think is becoming more obvious as responses from Dianics and other traditions roll in) is that even these groups, some of whom may draw community boundaries we don't agree with, are responsive to the conversations and open to new possibilities for engaging with these issues. The group that hosted the Lilith ritual at Pcon has already released a statement saying that they are in a period of discussion and discernment about how to make their rites more inclusive and welcoming in the future. Dianics who have responded with explorations of their understanding of "women's mysteries" broaden the conversation and both shape and are shaped by the larger Pagan community.

        What's important to keep in mind, I think, is that these are all evolving traditions. Engaging in these conversations with honesty and authenticity – whether that means expressing our disapproval or objection to exclusionary practices, or defending the practices that we have found valuable and meaningful – will end up shaping all of us and how we understand our practice. It brings to light questions of community boundaries and self-identity that some of us might take for granted as being non-issues (especially if we're in traditions that tend to have a self-selecting process that weeds out the "Other" long before they're standing at the door asking to come in). These conversations force each and every one of us to confront these issues and ask ourselves how we can and do handle them, and how we can do better.

        I doubt that all but the most entrenched Dianics have walked away from this without at least some new perspective on issues of gender and the blind-spots they may have taken for granted. At the same time, I for one know a lot more about Dianics now than I did before, and can understand (even if I don't agree with) the value and meaning that they place in mysteries and traditions that before now never held the slightest interest for me. Despite a lot of the vitriol and silliness in many of these conversations, I think overall they have been incredibly fruitful.

        Like I've said over and over: community boundaries and self-identity aren't things that only bigots and phobics struggle with. We all struggle with these questions, and we can all learn something by engaging in these discussions, especially if we stay honest and honorable in our interactions.

        • Nestis

          Well said.

        • Maggie

          Excellent post.

    • http://www.facebook.com/enodiaofthestar Lindsey Vaughn

      you took the words out of my mouth…

  • leea

    gee…Robin’s back.

    • Robin Artisson

      Robin never went anywhere.

      • Leea

        You WE'RE quiet for a few days there.Then you we're commenting as your norm. I hope you weren't sick or anything (and I mean that sincerely)!

  • VCL

    I for one am glad to not be involved in any group or path that believes that sexuality and gender identity is so narrowly defined as by the biological body you have you been given. I see no reason why male and trans females should be excluded in these traditions and rites. We all have male and female elements to our nature and just because for instance I happen to have been born a woman it does not mean that I feel that my so called 'feminine' energy is greater. femininity and masculinity to me is a human construct that is constantly shifting with time and cultural standards/norms. It saddens me that my own community is so rigid and closed to other peoples identity when it does not fit into their box of what someone should or shouldn't identify as. I hope that these women set up a transgender friendly Dianic tradition that includes all including non transgender folk.

  • http://www.sihayadesigns.com Sihaya

    Thank you for your continued coverage of the issue.

  • Zef

    Robin, saying that you have privilege is not the same as saying you are an oppressor. You just have privilege. -I- have privilege. Most, if not all, people have -some- kind of privilege.

    I agree that Dianics should be able to practice and exclude whoever they want….we just also have the right to vocally disagree with such exclusion. I’m not calling for Dianic’s to be ‘tarred and feathered’, and I do indeed acknowledge the discomfort the inclusion of transwoman could bring. It’s a tough issue, and I fail to see how we’re waving around flags of ‘love and light’.

  • Nestis

    Jason, if you don't mind my asking, could part of your coverage of this issue be to find out about the experiences of transmen in regard to men-only mysteries? I know many of us are curious, and if their experiences have been different, it might shed greater light into the questions involved when it comes to trans inclusion as a whole.

    • Zef

      I would be very interested in seeing this as well, though such information may be hard to find.

    • Jason Pitzl-Waters

      I'm certainly open to exploring this from a variety viewpoints. Perhaps a series of interviews? I'll explore the options for future coverage.

      • Nestis

        Thank you.

    • http://www.thorncoyle.com Thorn

      Tangential to this question:
      I asked recently if transmen were allowed into the gay male gathering Between the Worlds and was told that those who have gotten legal status as men were welcomed in. How or why this demarcation point was reached, I don't know. It would be interesting to hear what the process was.

  • Zef

    And because of my brief lack of javascript, my comment is out of order. Oh well. In any case, thank you so much for your coverage of this, Jason.

  • Steward Creace

    "Love unto ALL beings"… including TransFolk!

    Blessed Be,

    Steward Creace,
    Portland, Oregon

    • Wyse1

      RIGHT ON

    • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

      Well said, but does that include the Dianics?

      • http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/ Cat_C_B

        I believe it actually does–with the exception of a few, like Z.

  • Tea

    What does "cis" mean?

    • http://egregores.blogspot.com/ Apuleius

      "trans" means, "on the other side", while "cis" means "on this side".

      Back in the day, the "cis-Alpine" Gauls were the Gauls who lived south of the Alps, so the Romans called them "cis-Alpine", because, from the Roman's point of view, they lived "on this side" of the Alps, as opposed to those other Gauls who lived "on the other side" of the Alps (in what we normally think of as Gaul, proper).

      Actually, the Gauls provide a good example of how cis/trans are used with respect to gender, except in reverse. When we hear someone speak of Gaul we assume that this is "trans" Gaul, that is, Gaul where we expect it to be. But Gaul is really wherever Gauls live, and many of them lived not in "Gaul", but in what is today northern Italy, just south of the Alps. But "cis-women" are the people we "normally" think of as women, whereas "trans women" are women who do necessarily fit conventional assumptions about "normal" women.

      • Tea

        Ah, I see.

    • Nestis

      Physically biological female or male persons who identify as female or male persons.

      • Robin Artisson

        This notion that a person's will to identify with whatever gender they want, and that this takes precedence, somehow, over any other aspect of their person, has to be one of the most extreme and ridiculous aspects of new-agery that I've ever come across. New-agers were already at war with most other aspects of reality that they felt uncomfortable with, to the point of denying reality wholesale, in favor of their fantasy version of reality. This is no different- they can't even bring themselves to admit that there is something non-chosen, spontaneously arisen, and outside of their control with respect to gender.

        • kenneth

          Trans folk wholeheartedly agree that there is something non-chosen and outside of their control with respect to gender. Where they disagree is your notion that external genitalia "makes" them male or female. A huge and growing body of evidence in science supports them on this. No sane person would ever go through what they go through if there was not something deep seated and immutable about gender identity which transcends physiology.

          I do not know of a single trans person who did not fight like hell for years to try to come to peace with the gender nature outwardly assigned them. In the case of my own high school buddy, he was a guy's guy outwardly. We did all the stuff young guys did – fireworks, sports, petty vandalism, getting into trouble drinking and cruising women. Nobody every tried harder to live as a man, and that's the key. He had to try. I came to find out later that he was miserable and confused that whole time. Every day of that time, he dressed the part and played a role that was not true to who SHE was. He did that not only to convince us, but to convince herself that maybe somehow today would be the day she would feel like one of the guys. It almost destroyed her – depression, alcoholism, you name it. Most of these folks reach a point where they have to live as their true selves or end their lives to stop the pain. It's no accident that many transitioning people are in their 30s or well into middle age before they go through with it. The put up a heroic effort trying to be what society and their anatomy told them they're supposed to be.

          Making that transition is no treat either. Many tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket for hormones and surgery and years of counseling and learning late in life all of the things born women have a whole childhood to master. Do you really think anyone would do all this out of some kink or New-Age aesthetic or as a piece of freak performance art? Apart from what anyone thinks the Dianics should be doing, it seems to me that pagans, of all people, should at least be able to appreciate that trans people are on a journey to their true selves. Regardless of trads, I think we share that common insight as pagans: we all started on our paths because we were called to become who we really are. To reconnect with our ancestors and our gods and ourselves. All of us have withstood ridicule and worse to practice our beliefs because we weren't satisfied with the easy answers society had given us. We refused to sit passively and be told who we are or who god is. If we don't believe that we're on paths of self discovery and creation of who we were meant to be, then we're all of us just play acting. Most of us were born into Christianity and baptized as such. Catholics, in particular, tell me all the time that as baptized Catholic, I can never be anything else. To do so would be to "deny reality in favor of fantasy." I don't buy that, and I'm guessing you don't either. If we can give ourselves permission to jump over such "natural law" claims to pursue who we really are before the gods, why is it so tough to honor the journey trans people make to reclaim something that is even more fundamental to identity than religion?

          • Nestis

            You touched on one of the most upsetting things for me that I continually hear from trans people. That a man has to do "manly" things (oh, like objectifying females for example) to be a man, or that a woman has to do "womanly" things to be a woman.

            These are the misogynistic, stereotypical restrictions put on us by the dominant culture. They are not who we are.

            Lesbians and transmen are hated by the dominant culture for being "uppity", for denying men sexual access or for trying to "imitate" their betters.

            Transwomen and gay men are hated by the dominant culture for what is viewed as their willingness to degrade and pervert themselves by being "feminized".

          • Sihaya

            I agree with you that our culture puts a lot of mysogynistic, stereotypical expectations on each gender. Patriarchy hurts women by ascribing gendered roles. A lot of what you said above is absolutely true.

            However, I find it important to note that we live in a deeply sexist society, and you can't live in a fishbowl without getting wet. Trans people are every bit as likely to fall prey to what our culture constantly reinforces as cis folk are. It's upsetting, to be sure, but not moreso coming from one than the other. It's not like it's a solely trans notion, even though it is a flawed one.

          • femmeguy

            I want to point out here that trans people are constantly ungendered by others when they don't conform to those kinds of roles.

            Until a recent and merciful change in policy, in order to get funding for the SRS he needed, the man I love was facing being forced to go to a notorious so-called gender clinic in another province, where he would have been subject to intense, humiliating scrutiny of how he lives and acts. Even if he had successfully concealed his sexual orientation, which would have constituted an instant no, he would have had to make sure to conform in every particular to a horrible caricature of stereotyped cis hetero normative masculinity in order to be approved in order to receive funding for a medically necessary procedure, something we Canadians take for granted. He might have even been told, as friends of his were, that the very name he'd chosen for himself was "too androgynous" and therefore supposedly meant, to these awful gatekeepers, that he was not "fully committed." Not surprisingly, this Jurassic institution approves fewer than one trans man and fewer than seven trans women per year. This institution is using its power over trans people — its control over their access to health care — to impose gender roles with overwhelming force.

            Thank all the gods that the province has changed its procedure and he can now be approved by a doctor, practising in his own city, who is a very strong trans ally and is aware that trans men and women come in all the varieties that cis men and women come in.

            Then there are the people who use every conceivable non-normative behaviour as an excuse to ungender you, and it's a Catch-22. On another community I'm on, a trans man posted about the singularly upsetting experience of being told he wasn't really male because he knit. A trans woman commented wearily, "And yet, people keep calling me a man no matter how much I knit."

            Gender role policing hurts us all.

          • http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/ Cat_C_B

            Very, very much agreed!

          • femmeguy

            I want to add that in her book Whipping Girl, Julia Serano discusses how trans women are in a double bind in this department: if they are too feminine they are denounced as caricaturing cis women, but if they are not feminine enough they are denounced as obviously-male unwomen. Again, can't win for losing.

        • http://secher-nbiw.blogspot.com Cobalt

          "This is no different- they can't even bring themselves to admit that there is something non-chosen, spontaneously arisen, and outside of their control with respect to gender."

          Actually, all of the trans people I know treat their gender identification as something they have no control over. if they could choose to simply fit the gender they were assigned at birth, most of them would. A transwoman doesn't choose to be a woman any more than I have chosen to be a woman–she was simply assigned the wrong thing at birth while I was assigned the right thing.

          Elsewhere on the page I linked you an article about recent research into the ways transwomen's brains differ from the brains of cismen, and the ways transmen's brains differ from the brains of ciswomen. You're right; it would be ridiculous and contrary to evidence to suggest that people simply choose their gender. What you're wrong about is that this supports your (apparent) position that transwomen aren't women, but are men in disguise.

    • http://www.sihayadesigns.com Sihaya

      The short explanation:

      A cisgendered person is a person for whom their biological sex (male/female) line up with their socially-proscribed gender (man/woman). IE, a person who is born biologically female and also identifies as a woman is cisgendered. It gets shortened to "cis" in a lot of discussions, just as "transgendered" gets shortened to "trans."

    • R
  • Amadea

    It is troubling to me that the emerging "inclusive" view in this conversation is not recognized for what it is becoming—another manifestation of dominance. This is an inclusiveness that does not really value difference. In my view, the main value should be pluralism, not an inclusiveness that marginalizes difference.

    Pluralism valorizes difference and sacred, separate spaces. But the view that is emerging as "good" in the conversation on the Wild Hunt Blog is the dominating worldview that the Christian Right sees in the Left, and that I try to identify in my work. That worldview mistakes harmony with inclusiveness in all spaces. But harmony is not an inclusive unity, but an embracing of multi-facets — as they are. As friend and colleague, Diana Eck, Executive Director of the Pluralism Project at Harvard says:

    “[P]luralism does not require us to leave our identities and our commitments behind, for pluralism is the encounter of commitments.” (www.pluralism.org/pages/pluralism/what_is_pluralism)

    Would we tell the people of a Native American tribe that they are "discriminating" against people of other races and religions, if they wanted to do an ancient ritual with people of only their own tribe? Would we think they were bad, if they distinguished some people as "other" than their own and excluded them? Would we think they were especially bad, if we thought certain people belonged in their tribe, but they did not think so and excluded them? Of course not.

    The value of pluralism would valorize the tribe's exclusive ritual and then welcome the tribe into the larger community of tribes when they want to join it. Pluralism would not attempt to make one tribe out of everyone. That's the kind of dominance I’m trying to bring to light here. It aligns with a monotheistic worldview that is inclusive of everyone, so long as they all "fit" within the prescribed theological and moral framework.

    Of course, we can all share our differing perspectives about what constitutes public or private spaces (and I have my own views), but when the conversation turns to denigrating Dianics for wanting to define their own tribe, I think we are walking away from the higher value of pluralism at the heart of who we are.

    I think it is worth noting that accepting a norm of all-inclusiveness, no matter the consequences for those who seek separate ritual space, has patriarchal overtones in that it is more about a dominant worldview than about respecting all people in their multifarious beauty. The “other” naming of female born women as “cis-women” is an example that recalls Euro-patriarchal naming of peoples around the world as Hindus, Natives, pagans, etc., and is evidence that dominance is looming.

    I hope the emerging all-inclusivist “norm" in this conversation will not be embraced by the majority of the community. But I fear that is where it is heading, to the detriment of what makes this community strong.

    • kenneth

      To me pluralism supports the right of people to live and practice as they will. It does not demand that we recognize every practice and idea as equally valid or something we need to honor and share our sacred space with. We all know there is a small but very real segment of folks whose traditions are based on Aryan/White Power racial identity. They have every bit as much right to "define their own tribe" as any of us. Does that mean we should welcome that tribe into the larger community when they want to join it? If I refuse to circle with them and register my disgust at what they stand for am I guilty of trying to dominate them with my norms?

      • Amadea

        You are right, of course, that you might not recognize a group as standing for something with which you agree. However, if we are going to be a community that values pluralism (which also includes respect for difference and the inherent worth of every person), as I hope we are striving to be, then I would hope that even if you don't agree, you would accept the group into the larger community when the time comes.

        The analogy to Aryan/White Power racial identity is different because those who adhere to that view are seeking to assert their power over others and they ascribe to a view that they are better than others and more qualified to dominate. Dianics are not about anything like that — at least not the ones I circle with. Dianics just want their own space to practice, defined by them.

        The better analogy would be an all-white or all black circle of people who want to explore whiteness or white privilege or blackness and white privilege, or just the ritual experience of being together — whatever. In that case, it is just about having that experience together, trying to find out what that means, learning from each other. I may not like it that they want to have a separate space for that work, but I would still want to welcome them into the larger community when they want to join it. After all, that's what would make them and me partners in pluralism.

        • Amadea

          I should have said also that the Aryan/White Power racial identity group would not be pluralists — and that is what makes them dominators, just as all-inclusiveness can be all about domination, if we are not careful.

    • Califried

      I think it is worth noting that accepting a norm of all-inclusiveness, no matter the consequences for those who seek separate ritual space, has patriarchal overtones in that it is more about a dominant worldview than about respecting all people in their multifarious beauty.

      Amadea, I have to admit that it's pretty difficult to read your comment without seeing it as a deliberate attempt to reframe the conversation in a way that is difficult to square with reality. By seeking to be recognized as women, transwomen are not seeking to assert dominance over you, nor does their desire for inclusion have patriarchal overtones. You may want to put your dogwhistle away and engage with the discussion at hand. Have a good day!

      • Robin Artisson

        She's not trying to reframe this in a way that is difficult to square with reality. She's reframing the conversation to be simply more in line with reality. She's correct in every way.

      • Amadea

        I think you misunderstood my comments or I wasn't clear. I'm not talking about transwomen dominating. I'm talking about a whole ideological worldview dominating, one that requires everyone to "fit" into a particular dominant perspective. Those who are making comments that indicate that some transition or healing is needed in the Dianic community so that Dianics can "come to the light" are in the dominant ideological worldview, whether or not they are Trans.

        I think that the perspective I'm trying to bring into the discussion is difficult for people already imbued with a worldview within the current dichotomy of this discussion to understand. That's why there is a tendency to place me and others in one camp or the other of this discussion, rather than trying to see where there is much more room for understanding and pluralism than is thought — understanding that would include a view of separate, sacred space defined by those who want to experience it as being a wonderful and beautiful thing at times.

        • Califried

          I'm not talking about transwomen dominating. I'm talking about a whole ideological worldview dominating, one that requires everyone to "fit" into a particular dominant perspective.

          Amadea, please don't take this the wrong way, but some of the people reading this blog are quite used to reading the exact sentiments you expressed above in comments on feminist blogs written by Mens Rights Advocates. You can't reasonably expect anyone to believe that you just happen to be expressing your concern about the patriarchal overtones of insisting that everyone conform to the dominant worldview in a community in this specific thread when you actually have a dog in this hunt. Sorry :(

          • Amadea

            It would be great if you could provide more explanation and context for your comment. I'm always happy to have my perspective broadened. Are you? I appears to me that you are not focusing on the value of pluralism, which was the main point I was making. How are the comments by Mens Rights Advocates on feminist blogs the same thing. Are they pluralists and the feminists aren't? Or the reverse?

            Also, why does having a "dog in this hunt" make my thoughts unworthy, if that's what you meant? Certainly, those with real experience of the issues have a say, too. No? Otherwise, the only legitimate discussants on this issue would be people other than Dianics and Transwomen. That wouldn't seem to make sense to me.

          • Califried

            It would be great if you could provide more explanation and context for your comment. I'm always happy to have my perspective broadened. Are you?

            Amadea, that's a bit of a loaded question. I'm perfectly open to having my perspective broadened. Unfortunately, an appeal to pluralism made by an individual who believes there is a genuine division between transwomen and cisgendered women in the context of a discussion of cis exclusion of trans individuals doesn't really count. Because you specifically believe that there is a legitimate difference between transwomen and cisgendered women, your comment comes across as an attempt to derail an ongoing conversation. I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, but even if that wasn't your intent that's exactly the effect comments such as yours tends to have. Have the discussion of trans inclusion now, talk about the value of pluralism and how concerned you are about the patriarchal overtones of "accepting a norm of all-inclusiveness, no matter the consequences for those who seek separate ritual space" when it's actually relevant to the discussion at hand. Hope that helps!

          • Amadea

            Thank you. That really does clarify your views for me. You are right. I do think there is a difference between growing up in a female body and growing up in a male body, both biologically and socially, even if the spirit of both is essentially "woman." I'll give you an example from an exchange between one of my trans/male-born woman friends (if another identifying term is more acceptable, let me know) and me recently. She said, "Wow, I really don't feel right unless I have my estrogen." And I said, "Same with me. And I really wish when I was growing up I had known that that sinking feeling I had every month (which felt like a very negative emotion) had to do with the cycles of hormones, especially estrogen. I would have felt a whole lot less crazy." So, yes, I am making a distinction between two different types of women. However . . .

            The distinction I'm not making is that trans/male-born women (or whatever term works for them, I'm not wedded to this one) are not worthy, or are not women in our community or society generally as regards respect, inherent worth and dignity, humanity, equal protection, and their liberty to express themselves however they want.

            Because I'm trying to make the distinction between the two different spaces (Dianic ritual space and community/larger society space), the issue of pluralism is front and center. Otherwise, people in this discussion mistake Dianics wanting to define their own tribe with being "bigots" and therefore as not recognizing the inherent humanity of trans people–male or female. But I can assure you, I do recognize them in this way and try to understand their particular struggles as much as I can and how important their contribution is to the larger community when all the tribes come together.

          • Califried

            Because I'm trying to make the distinction between the two different spaces (Dianic ritual space and community/larger society space), the issue of pluralism is front and center. "

            Amadea, you're a bit behind if you think that this public/private distinction is new to this discussion. I have been saying since the first Wild Hunt post on this topic that everyone is free to practice as they choose in private, but that community space (for a variety of practical and ideological reasons) should be reasonably inclusive. At no point have I (or most of the others involved in this discussion) described Dianic practice as "bigoted."

            What I have done is point out more than once that Dianic Wicca as you practice it claims a number of bright lines but does not appear to apply those criteria consistently to cisgendered women. Because of this fact, and because there are many Dianic circles and organizations that are trans inclusive, it seems unlikely to me that your cis/trans division is actually a valid one from a ritual and religious standpoint.

          • Amadea

            I get your perspective, I think. Here is what I hear you saying in effect: "Dianics have a right to their own space, but I do not adhere to the value that groups can define their membership in their own way." In other words, you seem to be saying that you aren't going to challenge Dianics' right to their own space, but you are challenging the way they define it, based on your idea of what is right or wrong about their criteria for membership. I was hoping to change your mind on that latter viewpoint. I think groups should be able to define their own membership — what I've been calling a "tribe" based on my earlier post — and I actually value that. I think you don't hold that value. Right? You think groups shouldn't be able to define their own space; you think there is a basis on which to criticize them if they define it on a basis with which you don't agree. Right? (Hence, your comment about "validity.")

            I think "public" space is different and by that I really mean the public square of legal/political rights. I also think community space is different, e.g., Patheacon. In all my posts, I've been trying to raise up the value of pluralism for the community — where difference is valued and appreciation (i.e., various tribes), but where all tribes can come together in community.

          • Califried

            "Dianics have a right to their own space, but I do not adhere to the value that groups can define their membership in their own way."

            There's that tricky phrasing again, Amadea. Groups can inarguably define their membership however they choose – no one here is going to disagree with that phrasing. Clearly, however, you would agree that there are organizations who exercise their right to define their membership however they choose who also deserve criticism for their choice of membership criteria, which is generally intimately linked with ideology – this set includes but is not limited to White Power and other hate groups. To be clear, the point here is not, of course, to draw a straight line analogy between hate groups and Dianic Wicca, but rather to establish that we all agree that 1) groups have the right to define their boundaries and 2) groups do not necessarily deserve to avoid criticism for exercising that right.

            In my opinion, by exercising your right to define what constitutes a woman for the purposes of your ritual practice, you are exerting and continuing to perpetuate the narrative (i.e. that transwomen are not women) that underlies cisgender privilege. That is, in my view, a reasonable basis for criticism of your choice to exclude transwomen from your circles. That is not at all the same thing as saying that "groups shouldn't be able to define their own space" (i.e. your preferred framing of my comments). To the contrary, as I have said repeatedly groups should be able to exclude whomever they want; the alternative would simply be nightmarish. The downside to exercising your right to exclude transwomen is that you risk other people exercising their right to speak to you about your choice. You pays your money, you takes your chances.

          • Amadea

            Perhaps we are getting close to understanding here. I also think that groups who define themselves in ways that do not respect others and do not embrace the value of equal dignity of all peoples (e.g., hate groups, white supremacist groups) ultimately are not pluralists. It's that pluralist value that I am putting front and center and I am proposing as a main value for our community — one which I think really does lie at the heart of who we are. So, I would criticize those who frame their group membership based on supremacy etc., too, for not being pluralists. I am with you there. What I'm trying to change your mind about is the view that by distinguishing different women in their ritual spaces, it necessarily follows that Dianics do not respect the inherent worth and equal dignity of transwomen. In other words, it is possible (as in the Dianics example) to be a pluralist (who respects all as equally worthy), but still want to define a particular space and membership.

            It is important for this discussion that you understand that I get that you are not saying Dianics don't have the "right" to define their own group. However, you are criticizing them (which is your right too) on the basis that there is something wrong with the way they are defining their membership. I'm trying to change your mind to help you to see that there is nothing "wrong" with defining membership in a way that excludes some types of women from the group, so long as those doing the defining ultimately do respect everyone and can join the larger community in circle with those other types of women — as well as others.

            For example, I think it is just fine for men to get together for their own experiences — ritual or otherwise. If they get together to denigrate women or because they are trying to create a space for superior people, they do not value women as inherently worthy and equal. Such men are not pluralists.

            Dianics aren't creating their separate space because they think they are superior to other women. Speaking for myself, I have to say it would be a very real loss in my life if I could not have experiences like the one I had a week ago with Gaia's womb in Wisconsin. I would miss out on a kind of healing that is a rare and beautiful thing. It isn't that I don't value transpeople in all sorts of other spaces. It isn't that I can't find another kind of beautiful and healing experience with transwomen in another defined space.

          • http://maewitch.livejournal.com/ Maggie

            Amadea, I think part of the issue we're having here is that we have very different ideas about what kind of separate space is morally acceptable, within a pluralistic community.

            If that separate space is established for the purpose of celebrating or ritualizing a particular lived experience, whether socially or biologically-based, I don't anyone within the community would consider that problematic.

            Separate space becomes very problematic when it is used as a way of excluding categories of people within a group, especially when those categories are already marginalized within the dominant group.

            An example of the first: Having a ritual honoring the menopausal transition. this would be an exclusionary ritual, self-limiting to those individuals who have experienced or are experiencing this process.

            An example of the second: Having an entire tradition that accepts all women, except for those who were born deaf. This would be an exclusion based on belonging to a category within the larger group. While it can be claimed that no one is calling Deaf women 'lesser' women, the reality is that they are the only category being excluded from a definition of womanhood, based on an aspect of their biology and a different way of experiencing the world as women.

            When the Dianic traditions choose to define their parameters as inclusive to every single kind of woman BUT THIS KIND, then the intrinsic message is: you are not one of us, you are not as much of a woman as we are. And just as it would be wrong to do so in the case of Deaf women (and would be met with an equal, if not greater, wave of criticism), it is wrong to do so in the case of trans women.

          • Amadea

            Well, Maggie, I think you have hit the nail on the head here. You are right. We have different views of what kind of separate space is morally acceptable within a pluralistic community. I don't think Califried gets it, however, because Califried is still talking about privilege, which I think obscures the issues involved — especially because what the Dianic tradition addresses in large part is uncovering privilege and the lack of privilege.

            But you are right that some may see excluding some categories of people as problematic in some instances, e.g., those you suggest. For me it boils down to WHO gets to define one's own space?

            When that space is being defined in a way that does not denigrate or have the purpose of seeing someone else as "less," then it is up to the group no matter that others don't like it. And I hold that value so high that I wouldn't criticize the group, for example the gay fairy group, if they wanted to exclude people they didn't think fit their tradition, so long as they are pluralists in the end.

            Califried does not hold the value of group definition as a high value. Califried will recognize the "right," but not the value — hence, all of the criticism (but without any real understanding of my point). I think you do understand, but are just closer to that side of the argument. Right? A group's own definition of itself isn't a high value for you when balanced against the exclusion of people who want to define themselves into the group. Right?

            I refer to my original post about Native Americans: "Would we tell the people of a Native American tribe that they are "discriminating" against people of other races and religions, if they wanted to do an ancient ritual with people of only their own tribe? Would we think they were bad, if they distinguished some people as "other" than their own and excluded them? Would we think they were especially bad, if we thought certain people belonged in their tribe, but they did not think so and excluded them? Of course not." I think this example shows that there is some "discrimination" against the chrom-women who want to define their own group, since we would not think it appropriate to criticize Native Americans who wants to define their own tribe.

            I'd be willing to bet that Califried will raise the issue of "privilege" again. However, I think others, e.g., Nestis, have made excellent points about the supposed privilege of chrom-women and the overall patriarchal culture that denigrates all who are "female" in the broadest sense of that word. I refer that point to those posts.

          • http://twitter.com/widdershins_cat @widdershins_cat

            It is GROSSLY, MASSIVELY inappropriate to compare the relationship between trans women and cissexual women to the relationship between whites and Native Americans.

            In fact, it might be more appropriate to suggest that the reverse relationship is in fact more correct – cissexual women have MUCH more organized political power, much greater strength of numbers, and easy access to levers of power which can destroy a trans woman's life, subject her to brutal beatings and even more brutal sexual assault, and kill her.

          • Sihaya

            EXACTLY. so much this.

            In the Native American analogy, the Native Americans are the less privileged in the paradigm. It is an entirely different thing when the marginalized party forms a group then when the more privileged group excludes the marginalized group.

          • Amadea

            You need to read more carefully. My example wasn't about Native Americans and whites.

          • http://twitter.com/widdershins_cat @widdershins_cat

            Your example is incredibly self-serving.

          • Califried

            Califried does not hold the value of group definition as a high value. Califried will recognize the "right," but not the value — hence, all of the criticism (but without any real understanding of my point).

            Amadea, it's unfortunate that you continue to completely misunderstand everything that I have written in response to you. I can recognize the value of group self-definition while still believing (as I do) that:

            1. failure to be pluralistic is not the only failure deserving of critique even assuming that pluralism is the main value for our community
            2. pluralism does not demand silence when worldviews or value systems conflict
            3. critique of power relations and of privilege, and giving those critiques a respectful hearing, is a necessary and important part of being part of a broader community that includes oppressed groups.

            I have heard and fully understood your argument, I agree that groups have a right to self-definition, and I agree that group self-definition is of value. What I don't believe is that critique of privilege (particularly when a privilege group chooses to exert their privilege with respect to an oppressed group) is inconsistent with the belief that group self-definition is of value or with pluralism in general.

            You, Nestis and others like to point out that cisgendered women experience oppression. Unfortunately, that fact simply isn't relevant to this discussion (i.e. exclusion of transwomen from "women's only" ritual space) given that you possess privilege with respect to transwomen. This is not to say that you are not free and welcome to exclude transwomen from your religious practice. In a spirit of community-building and healing, however, I have offered a critique of your decision which concludes that transwomen experience your choice as oppression – you have made no response except to imply that by offering this critique, I "do not hold the value of group definition as a high value." To be frank, your assertion couldn't be more wrong. There isn't much more to say than that.

          • http://maewitch.livejournal.com/ Maggie

            Amadea, I need to be very clear on this – privilege is NOT something that is being 'used' to obfuscate other issues. It IS the central issue.

          • Califried

            I also think that groups who define themselves in ways that do not respect others and do not embrace the value of equal dignity of all peoples (e.g., hate groups, white supremacist groups) ultimately are not pluralists.

            Amadea, I'm really not sure how to help you understand that I get what you are saying. I understand that you're trying to show that you are internally consistent – that is to say, in your framing the highest value is pluralism, and groups that are themselves not pluralistic deserve to be criticized for not being pluralists. My response is threefold:

            1. Failure to be pluralistic is not the only failure deserving of critique even assuming that pluralism is the main value for our community
            2. Pluralism does not demand silence when worldviews or value systems conflict
            3. Critique of power relations and of privilege, and giving those critiques a respectful hearing, is a necessary and important part of being part of a broader community that includes oppressed groups

            I have explained several times why I personally criticize your choice to exclude transwomen from your circles. My critique is based firmly in an analysis of the broader cultural narrative that underlies cisgender privilege and how your choice represents an exertion of that privilege as well as a perpetuation of the aforementioned broader cultural narrative (i.e. that transwomen are not women). The point is not really to say that "something wrong with the way [Dianics] are defining their membership" or to frame you or other individuals who practice Dianic Wicca as seeing yourselves as "superior to other women." The point is that your choices are experienced by transwomen as oppression. I am offering my analysis in a spirit of community-building and healing in the hopes that you and others will reconsider the necessity of excluding transwomen from your religious practice. Whether you choose to do so or not is entirely up to you and your sense of social justice – you are now aware that your choices are experienced by an oppressed population as oppression. Hopefully that awareness will inform your decisions over time.

          • Amadea

            An experience of hurt at being excluded is not "oppression." I think you throw these words around too much without real reflection on what they mean. The dominant culture is the oppressor, not a small group of Pagans who want to define their own group. I acknowledge the hurt, but not the oppression.

          • http://twitter.com/widdershins_cat @widdershins_cat

            You are so obsessed with the idea of yourself as oppressed that you can't even see the power you wield over others.

          • Sihaya

            Your response is basically "you don't understand what oppression is… also, it's not oppression because I don't think it is."

            You should rethink that. It's offensive in the extreme in the context of the discussion of trans identity and inclusion, especially coming from someone who is in the more privileged party in the paradigm being discussed..

          • Califried

            An experience of hurt at being excluded is not "oppression."

            And I recognize that that is your opinion of the situation. Unfortunately for your bare assertion, no one is asserting that "an experience of hurt at being excluded" in and of itself is oppression. Instead, I have offered an analysis of the privilege enjoyed by cisgendered individuals and how your choice to exclude transwomen represents an exertion of that privilege as well as a perpetuation of the broader cultural narrative (i.e. that transwomen are not women) that underlies it. In my view, your choice to exert privilege with respect to an oppressed group as well as your perpetuation of said cultural narrative is what transwomen experience as oppression. Hope that helps!

          • Amadea

            But I'm not exerting "privilege" when I define my own small group. I would be exerting privilege if I took status over others in the larger community or public spaces, which I don't.

            Thanks for the discussion. I have to say that it makes me very sad to think that there are people in the Pagan community who think it is immoral for me to define my own space, no matter how small it is — because someone else is hurt that I haven't included them. If the community were to act on that view (which I understand many of you are not suggesting — but some are), we would have to take a look at who would be the oppressed and who would be the oppressor in that instance (that is: community/oppressor — Dianics/oppressed). I think considering that might help everyone understand what is truly valuable — pluralism.

            Signing off now. Good luck everyone. I hope all find their way.

          • Califried

            I have to say that it makes me very sad to think that there are people in the Pagan community who think it is immoral for me to define my own space, no matter how small it is — because someone else is hurt that I haven't included them.

            Amadea, simply repeating this assertion doesn't make it any more true. First, no one is calling you "immoral." Second, the oppression experienced by transwomen is only tangentially related to their "hurt that you haven't included them." Rather, they experience your exertion of cisgender privilege and your perpetuation of the broader cultural narrative (i.e. that transwomen are not women) that underlies that privilege as oppression. For all the reasons laid out in my overly large number of posts on this topic, offering that critique of your choice to exclude transwomen is not incompatible with pluralism or with a belief that group self-definition has value. Be well, Amadea.

          • Jaclyn Desiree Arceneaux

            Not being invited to someone's birthday party is not oppression. Being categorically segregated *is* oppression, and being segregated based on the idea that I do not qualify as a "real" woman is doubly so.

          • Jaclyn Desiree Arceneaux

            There is a line between private organizations which (unfortunately) have the legal right to discriminate and public accommodations which everyone has an equal right to access. That's where transphobic bigots pull the old bait-n-switch — the only way they *aren't* saying that their events are simultaneously open to the public and closed for members only is the pretense that trans women are not actually women. For the record, the Supreme Court settled that particular bit of sophistry in Roberts v. United States Jaycees: a private organization has the right to discriminate, but it cannot say, "This event is open to the public, but not *you*."

          • Wyse1

            Exactly Jaclyn. I too detest exclusion. I know there is not anything that can be done in private settings but at a public event, yes we can. A civil right was violated and the sooner people take steps to make amends the less of a mess this will be. you are also correct in saying a private oraganization can not say "this event is open to the public, but not *you*" is discrimination and is a serious violation.

          • Nestis

            Ciswomen are oppressed the world over just for being ciswomen. Cismen are not unless they are of a minority race, are queer, are poor, are disabled, ect…. Conflating all cisgendered people together and acting as if they all have some kind of universal privilege that makes them gender dominators is obscufating the reality what living with a female-body is really like, and I'm getting really tired of it.

          • Sihaya

            You may have a faulty understanding of privilege.

            Male/female privilege is a different paradigm than cis/trans privilege.

            You are correct in saying that (cis)men have privilege over (cis)women. No matter what the circumstance, institutionally, this is true.

            That does not negate that institutionally, cis people (even women) have privilege over trans people. Because they are two separate paradigms, and privilege is not cumulative. It is entirely possible to be privileged or not privileged, depending on context. For instance: I am white: privileged. I am a woman: not privileged. I am cis: privileged. I am queer: not. It all depends on the context at hand. These things intersect, most certainly, but they are all different paradigms in the greater context of social justice discussions.

          • Nestis

            You know, I really don't think they are separate paradigms. Sex and gender deviants are all punished by patriarchy ultimately because anything associated with the female and the feminine is degraded.

            A transwoman is brutally attacked for being seen as a man perversely transgressing into "feminization" if she isn't simply seen as a female, a degraded state of being that we're all being raped and killed for. The transmen are being uppity when they don't pass and are also being raped and killed for it. I think race, class, disability, ect… are genuinely separate and intersecting paradigms of oppression, but those that deal with sex and gender? No, not really. It all comes down to perceptions of "femaleness" being treated the way it is across the board, up, down and sideways.

          • Nestis

            When you've split the human species roughly down the middle and dehumanized half of them from the onset you're going to have a profoundly messed up society when it comes to anything that is seen as violating the boundaries of that essential sex-based oppression.

            White is privileged. Male is privileged. Wealth is privileged. Able-bodiedness is privileged.

            Het is privileged only because the patriarchy is fueled by it. It seems to me that het privilege has more to do with male privilege and control than whether het women are actually privileged by it.

            Queerness and transgenderness are violently oppressed because they flagrantly violate the patriarchal sysem that is male-centered, male-dominated, and male-interested by females refusing sex to males, females "imitating" males, and by males refusing to be interested in controlling one another, "feminizing" themselves in position to other men, or actually becoming women themselves.

            Femaleness of any stripe is never privileged in Patriarchy. It is the Other to which it always defines itself.

            I may have a faulty understanding of privilege, or I may have come to a different understanding on it based on my own studies.

          • femmeguy

            "Femaleness of any stripe is never privileged in Patriarchy. It is the Other to which it always defines itself. "

            And trans women, being at the intersection of misogyny and cis supremacy, suffer special intersectional oppression, which Julia Serano names and cogently discusses as transmisogyny.
            http://www.bilerico.com/2009/03/what_transmisogyn

          • http://maewitch.livejournal.com/ Maggie

            Thank you so much for linking to that article.

          • http://maewitch.livejournal.com/ Maggie

            "Femaleness of any stripe is never privileged in Patriarchy. It is the Other to which it always defines itself. "

            Yet when cis women tell trans women that they are not 'real women' by creating a definition of womanhood that specifically excludes them, then that is, in fact, an Othering process.

            Women are oppressed by institutionalized sexism because that system de-values female space, whether it is biological or social in nature. Trans women are oppressed on two levels – both when they are viewed as women by the patriarchal system, and when they are viewed as less-than-women by other women.

          • Amadea

            My view is not that transwomen are "less." But it is my view that they are different for the purposes of ritual space where biological women are addressing biological issues (and the sociological issues that go along with them) in ritual space. Difference is not less.

          • http://twitter.com/widdershins_cat @widdershins_cat

            Which is somehow, mysteriously, virtually all ritual space which deals with womanhood, which leaves trans women out in the cold for community ritual.

          • Amadea

            Now that's a really good point. I think it would be great to have ritual space that does deal with womanhood in all its manifestations. But that's a different issue than criticizing Dianics for wanting a particular sort of space.

          • Sihaya

            "Sex and gender deviants are all punished by patriarchy ultimately because anything associated with the female and the feminine is degraded. "

            — soooo, explain to me again why even feminist-identifying ciswomen routinely oppress transwomen by declaring themselves the arbiter of female identity? I am not speaking of the issue within Paganism– rather, this has been a distinct issue since the beginning of feminism as a movement.

            They are different paradigms. They intersect, but they are different.

          • http://twitter.com/widdershins_cat @widdershins_cat

            I feel it necessary to correct the record here and say that trans MEN typically are NOT the ones murdered. If you look at the statistics of the history of TDOR, the victims are almost entirely trans women. There are a handful of exceptions – Robert Eads' slow death of cancer in 1999 (which though transphobic and miserably wrong was not the same kind of death as the violence suffered by trans women); the death of Brandon Teena in 1993 (which was several years BEFORE TDOR even started) are the ones that come immediately to mind – but virtually all trans murders are trans women. And we die in BRUTAL ways. Krissy Bates was stabbed twenty times in her apartment in Minneapolis in January of this year. Angie Zapata was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher so many times the coroner couldn't determine how many times she was hit.

            Trans men who don't pass get interpreted as butch lesbians. Trans women who don't pass get murdered.

          • Califried

            Conflating all cisgendered people together and acting as if they all have some kind of universal privilege that makes them gender dominators is obscufating the reality what living with a female-body is really like, and I'm getting really tired of it.

            Nestis, I'm afraid you may have responded to the wrong person. Amadea's comment is similar to MRA comments on feminist blogs in two ways: first, it proceeds from a privileged perspective, and second it represents a derailment of a conversation about the rights of an oppressed group.

            Separately, it's also true that, because you present and pass as a cisgendered female, you possess a certain degree of privilege with respect to transwomen. This is true of all cisgendered women who pass as female. As I've noted previously in responses to you, privilege does not have to be universally applicable to exist – you can simultaneously be oppressed in certain situations and possess privilege in others. You may not like the fact that, as a cisgendered female, you possess privilege, but your distaste does not constitute a refutation of cis privilege.

          • Nestis

            It's not out of distaste that I question the helpfulness of talking about ciswoman privilege, it's out of a genuine desire to understand how gendered and sexual oppression works and what we can do about it.

          • Amadea

            I actually agree that female-born women have a form of privilege over trans/male-born women (what term should we use?), as Califried argued. Privilege comes in many stripes. But I also agree that femaleness is an overall "other" that is central to all of the issues of privilege we are discussing, as Nestis has argued. However . . . see my response to Califried above. Califried is confusing two spaces when Califried conflates my perspective with exercising a form a privilege over trans-male-born women. Dianic ritual space is not about privilege, it is about real, lived experience joined in ritual.

            I would be exercising privilege if I were advocating for "discrimination" against trans/male-born women's rights in the overall community or society space, which I'm not. There is a real difference between these two spaces, one that is critical to understanding the value of pluralism, which I think should be and even is at the core of our community identity, if we want to remain open to difference, that is real diversity.

            BTW, I really, really dislike the term "cis-women" and using this label for us, when we (all of the female-born women I know at least) reject it, is a form of naming dominance, as I've stated elsewhere in this discussion. I propose that the term "female-born woman" is much more respectful. That's who we are. That said, in all contexts where making a distinction between the two types of women is not relevant (which is most of the time), e.g., in the community/society at large, we are all just "women," in my view.

          • foxfetch

            It is not respectful to tell trans women that they are not born female. Please check yourself. Denying the femaleness of some women is not respect.

          • Sihaya

            Foxfetch: I agree with your sentiment 100%, but allow me a teeny Virgo-tweaking.

            Female/Male are sex terms. Woman/man are gender terms.

            Therefore it's not respectful to tell transwomen they're not born women. It's biologically true that they were not born femaile.

            (I made the same mistake up above. It's an easy one to make!)

          • Sihaya

            Of course, it is true that it's disrespectful to point out "you were not born female!" in these discussions, too. But that's a whole other ball of wax.

          • Bookhousegal

            Right. Transwomen are transwomen: there's no need to emphasize the 'born 'male' part, (Especially since it's not always accurate or completely accurate: transwomen are pretty much by definition 'assigned' male early in life, usually from birth, there's some overlap with intersex in various ways, and in fact woman assigned female from birth who become athletes and end up being chromosome-tested might suddenly finding themselves experiencing a taste of what life's like for those without 'cis privilege.'

            In fact, as far as 'accuracy' goes, definitions of what it really *means* to be 'born male' or 'born female' aren't as sharp and certain as people tend to assume, not chromosomally, not hormonally, not anatomically, not developmentally, and not in terms of brain differences.

            A lot of these labels are really aggregations of overlapping sets, but 'transwomen' will do, or, more broadly, 'trans people.'

          • http://secher-nbiw.blogspot.com Cobalt

            "In fact, as far as 'accuracy' goes, definitions of what it really *means* to be 'born male' or 'born female' aren't as sharp and certain as people tend to assume, not chromosomally, not hormonally, not anatomically, not developmentally, and not in terms of brain differences."

            Yes! I mentioned this in my reply to Robin Artisson earlier, but I wanted to link it here as well.
            http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20032-trans

          • Bookhousegal

            Heh. :) That ought to really put a stopper in the 'You're all just crazy/making it up' claims, (as if previous evidence wasn't enough to point there.)

            Of course, 'ought to' and 'what happens' isn't always the same, but one wonders if it'd be enough to get Z. Budapest to reexamine what she's been saying about others. :)

          • Sihaya

            Good points.

          • Califried

            Califried is confusing two spaces when Califried conflates my perspective with exercising a form a privilege over trans-male-born women. Dianic ritual space is not about privilege, it is about real, lived experience joined in ritual.

            Not really, Amadea, but you can see my response above for more information.

            Unfortunately, it's difficult to conclude that Dianic ritual space (as you define it) contains no elements of privilege. To arrive at your definition of "woman" for the purposes of your practice, you elide or erase the very real differences between the way cisgendered women are raised based on socioeconomic status, geographic location, creed, etc. The very fact that you possess cisgender privilege and use it to exclude an oppressed group makes it impossible for me, personally, to conclude that there are no elements of privilege in your definition of ritual space. Again, I affirm your right to define safe space or ritual in any way you see fit, but for me it quacks like a duck.

          • Amadea

            See my post responding recently on an above comment. It is relevant here too.

          • Califried

            It's not out of distaste that I question the helpfulness of talking about ciswoman privilege, it's out of a genuine desire to understand how gendered and sexual oppression works and what we can do about it.

            Nestis, I'm afraid you have a very different understanding of what a "genuine desire to understand how gendered and sexual oppression works" looks like if you think that its expression includes attempts to preclude discussion of a major element of "how gendered oppression and sexual oppression works." Understanding the privilege possessed by cisgendered individuals relative to trans individuals is actually vital. Also, as with Amadea's "norm of all-inclusiveness" comment, I have to question your understanding of the various comments made in this discussion if you think that anyone is "conflating all cisgendered people together and acting as if they have some kind of universal privilege."

          • Sihaya

            Well said.

          • http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/ Cat_C_B

            We are not only talking about the rights of oppressed groups, Califried, because this is not simply a political discussion.

            We are also talking about magick, about ritual, and about religion. And it is not derailing the discussion to point out that those interests may not lie neatly in line with the political ones.

          • Califried

            We are not only talking about the rights of oppressed groups, Califried, because this is not simply a political discussion. We are also talking about magick, about ritual, and about religion.

            Cat_C_B, we're talking about the rights of an oppressed group within the context of the broader Pagan community, which includes necessarily some elements of magick, ritual and religion. It's a conversation that a lot of people simply don't want to have, hence the dozens of posts containing poor analogies to, say, age, or asserting that this discussion is about freedom of religion or that it's unhelpful to describe cisgendered women as privileged. Rhetoric like that can be addressed in a way that doesn't derail the discussion. Rhetoric like Amadea's, however, cannot. I'm personally quite happy to have a conversation about pluralism and dominant modes of thought, just not 1) when there's already a robust conversation ongoing on an important topic such as trans inclusion and 2) when no one has actually advocated "a norm of all-inclusiveness" in any substantive manner. Hope that helps!

          • http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/ Cat_C_B

            I'm sorry, I do not find Amadea's post rhetorical or a derailment. I think she is simply talking about a dimension of this conflict than you find less important than other dimensions. Which it may be, to you, but I don't believe you are being fair or accurate when you generalize from your perception in this way.

          • Califried

            I'm sorry, I do not find Amadea's post rhetorical or a derailment. I think she is simply talking about a dimension of this conflict than you find less important than other dimensions.

            And you have every right to that opinion, Cat_C_B. For me, the fact that 1) Amadea literally responded to me by saying "I'm not talking about transwomen dominating." and 2) she was talking about a viewpoint that no one has actually espoused or supported (i.e. "an emerging all-inclusivist 'norm' in this conversation") is sufficient to call her comment derailing of the current conversation about trans exclusion from "women's only" ritual space. I'm more than willing to believe that Amadea would much rather have a conversation about pluralism. As I said earlier, however, have the discussion of trans inclusion now, talk about the value of pluralism and how concerned you are about the patriarchal overtones of "accepting a norm of all-inclusiveness, no matter the consequences for those who seek separate ritual space" when it's actually relevant to the discussion at hand. Have a good day :)

          • http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/ Cat_C_B

            *quizzically raised eyebrow*

            I'm having trouble parsing your syntax here, Cali. I'm literally not comprehending you here.

          • Amadea

            Right. Political space is a different space than ritual space. Making distinctions like this is critical to the value of pluralism that I hope we all embrace. Thanks for this.

        • http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/ Cat_C_B

          I know that several of my comments have been misconstrued as being that dominant view, Amadea, to my consternation.

          I support trans women and their right to affirm their gender identity. I also support the freedom of Dianic groups to limit particular rituals and circles to cis women, or to women who have given birth, or to women who are past menopause. I realize that it is more controversial to bar trans women from participating in a women's ritual than, say, women who are before menopause, because there is a history of rejecting trans women, both by the overculture and by parts of the women's movement; trans women have a history of oppression, and that matters.

          However, when we are attempting, as a people, to create and recreate embodied spiritualities, we need the freedom to experiment with form–to draw temporary boundaries within our communities–in order to discover and experience different kinds of relationships with our gods and our bodies.

          To impose a political theory on this process is to cut off the experiment before we can have result, to say, "we don't care if there are things cis women can experience that they cannot share with their trans sisters, it is wrong for them to try."

          I am sorry that this form of pluralism has been rendered invisible by our political angst. And this is true despite my understanding that trans women are indeed women, are often marginalized by both women's culture and the overculture, and my personal indifference to ever participating in Dianic ritual. (Been there, done that, for me it was… meh.)

          But I think most of us aren't even able to hear these distinctions, yet. As a community, we are way earlier in the process, fielding ignorant remarks like Z's and some others' here.

          • http://maewitch.livejournal.com/ Maggie

            "I also support the freedom of Dianic groups to limit particular rituals and circles to cis women, or to women who have given birth, or to women who are past menopause."

            I think there is a world of difference between limiting a ritual to women who have had a particular experience, versus limiting a ritual to women who conform to a certain definition of womanhood.

            The former relates to a specific experience that not all women have had – giving birth, sexual assault, raising children. (Note that not all of these experiences are biologically based.)

            The latter relates to a collective life experience that all women (cis or trans) share, though of course the specifics of that experience intersect with a variety of factors. Growing up black, or wealthy, or bisexual contributes to your identity as a woman, but doesn't define it. Neither does growing up trans. A trans woman may have grown up with the expectation that she should be a man, but that doesn't make her any less of a woman.

          • http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/ Cat_C_B

            Yes, Maggie, I think many of the readers here will agree with you on the difference between limiting ritual to trans women and to the other categories of women I described–though, note: all of the categories I listed can be construed as women "who have had a particular experience" and not necessarily as "limiting a ritual to women who conform to a certain definition of womanhood."

            Cis women's experience has generally been different from that of trans women; this may involve both details of anatomy and socialization. (This is perhaps changing, as trans girls are sometimes now being recognized at younger ages and supported in transitions in ways previous generations could never have dreamed of; however, the old ways are not dead yet.)

            Please note that I am not saying that a trans woman is "less of a woman." I would say that there are differences, distinctives. And to me, the question is, are those collective socialization and embodied differences important enough that at least some ritual practices will run differently in groups of both trans and cis women? You seem to be saying either they are not, or even if they are, we have no business asking the question.

            That is the point where we differ.

            I don't need you to agree with me; I understand that you feel that the distinction between trans and cis women is simply and always unacceptable as a point of boundary for ritual.

            I would like for you–or anyone who reads my words–to understand what the point is that I am making, however, and not to assign to me an acceptance of the idea EITHER that the Dianics had no right to offer a ritual that excluded trans women OR that this means I reject trans women as women.

            I have been finding it very difficult to have this point heard–not accepted or agreed with, because I'm just fine with the fact we don't agree with one another. But I am aware that I am being falsely assigned to–what was it Robin called it?–one or another "team" in this discussion.

          • http://maewitch.livejournal.com/ Maggie

            Cat, I think we might be coming at cross-purposes to each other. I certainly don't believe that there are two 'teams' to this discussion, or that it is a simple matter of agreeing or disagreeing with a certain set of ideas. I think it is an extremely complicated discussion that requires clear communication and a willingness to listen and empathize.

            I do agree with you that there is room for having rituals that are specific to a certain experience and therefore are, by their very nature, exclusionary. I also don't think that these are rituals that are necessarily all defined by the inherent biology of their participants. Rituals surrounding motherhood, for example, can be about the process of childbirth, but can also be about nurturing children, which I don't doubt you'll agree is not biologically determined. I 100% support the right of any religious group to have a ritual to address any particular experience, and restrict participation accordingly.

            To clarify on a point you raised – it's not that I feel that there shouldn't be room for rituals that address distinct experiences. But the key words for me here are "rituals" and "experiences".

            What I find more problematic is a tradition (or factions and important voices within that tradition) establishing a selection protocol that denies a woman her identity based on an aspect of biology. As I mentioned in a comment on the previous article, I understand that there are core theological concepts at stake here as well (the Blood Mysteries) and that including trans women within Dianic covens is not necessarily just a question of social justice. But social justice is often at odds with religious tenets, at least until the principles in question become integrated within that religion's worldview.

            What I'm hoping for is a significant shift within Dianic traditions as they begin to internalize the critical feedback that has been raised here. Raising consciousness is never easy, but as Witches we have an advantage – we've been doing it for decades. ;-)

          • http://maewitch.livejournal.com/ Maggie

            Also, I think there are two overlapping areas being discussed here.

            One is socio-political, addressing issues of social justice that are both timely and necessary for our community to engage in as a whole. They concern aspects of Dianic traditions, but have broader implications as well.

            The other is theological, and has only been touched on. And while the critical feedback raised here informs it, it is rightly a conversation that needs to be explored and deepened within the Dianic tradition as a whole, and as a dialogue between its current initiates and those who would be part of it.

          • Amadea

            Note the language here: Dianics need to "deepen" and need to "raise consciousness." These are highly loaded moral perspectives that should be investigated as well. Could it be instead that the community as a whole needs to "deepen" and "raise consciousness" about what a truly pluralistic Pagan religion would look like? — one that values differently identified tribes, but welcomes them all together in the larger community with equal dignity? Any tendency to create norms that equate the value of all-inclusiveness for all groups with social justice, doesn't really value diversity. (Although overall, I think this particular discussion between the two of you is one of the most enlightened of the threads of this discussion.)

          • http://maewitch.livejournal.com/ Maggie

            I don't think 'deepen' in the context I used it is a morally loaded term – it was just a cleaner way of saying "needs to be gone into in more depth', which sounded grammatically clunky to me.

            "Raise consciousness" is definitely a more loaded term, which I acknowledge fully. Since I view the position espoused by at least some Dianic traditions as problematic on a socio-political and ethical level, my hope is that this position will change through a collective examination of the issues raised here. In saying that, I am most certainly making a judgment (ethical, moral, what have you). If I support freedom of belief, then I also support that as person capable of rational thought, I can discern when something is just plain wrong. But her's the beautiful thing about pluralism – we can disagree about that as well. The ideal of a pluralistic Pagan community needs to be, in my mind at least, balanced with the capacity to be critical of aspects of that community.

          • http://maewitch.livejournal.com/ Maggie

            Er….here's the beauty, not her's the beauty.

          • Amadea

            Thanks for the clarification. I value pluralism. I think it lies at the heart of our community. I worry that we are moving toward an "all-inclusiveness" that dismisses difference. I do think there is a difference between chrom-women (my new attempt at a better term than "cis" which I really, really dislike or women/female-born-women) and trans-women and that both are equally worthy and beautiful expressions of the divine. I think we have reasons to ritualize our experiences separately and together.

          • Califried

            These are highly loaded moral perspectives that should be investigated as well. Could it be instead that the community as a whole needs to "deepen" and "raise consciousness" about what a truly pluralistic Pagan religion would look like?

            Amadea, you have spent most of this discussion trying to equate criticism with denial of your right to define "woman" for the purposes of your religious practice. For those playing along at home, this is a common derailing tactic that anyone familiar with social justice work recognizes. The intent is generally to move the basis of a discussion from a focused conversation about the specific impact that a group's choices or rhetoric has on an oppressed population to a meta-conversation about a critic's right to criticize.

            To answer your question, however, a truly pluralistic Pagan community would hopefully have room for criticism of choices made by privileged groups, particularly when those choices perpetuate a dominant narrative about or otherwise harm an oppressed group. Pluralism demands a recognition that other people will have different value systems and worldviews, not silence when value systems and worldviews conflict.

          • Amadea

            See my recent response above to you. I am not denying anyone's right or privilege to criticize. I'm trying to use persuasion in a discussion/debate to distinguish groups defining themselves based on privilege or superiority and those distinguishing themselves based on a particular set of experiences or differences that don't have to do with a superiority. But I think I said it better above. You may never agree, but I think I would still like to try to persuade you to see where the "wrong" really lies.

            Also, I would like to say that I have ignored several posts you have made where you seem to be taking status (e.g., "anyone familiar with social justice work recognizes"). I hope you don't mean to do status-taking in this way. You don't know me. If you did you would be embarrassed to be taking the view that I'm not someone who is familiar with social justice work. I also don't know you, but I would like to refer you to Deborah Tannen's book "You Just Don't Understand Me." It has some good points in it about status-taking attitudes and gender.

          • Califried

            Also, I would like to say that I have ignored several posts you have made where you seem to be taking status (e.g., "anyone familiar with social justice work recognizes")

            "You Just Don't Understand Me" is a very interesting book. Of course, a much more straightforward interpretation of my comment is that anyone familiar with social justice work would recognize attempts such as yours to completely redefine the basis of a conversation. In point of fact, you've ignored, failed to notice, or otherwise failed to respond to a number of my comments, the vast majority of which cannot reasonably be interpreted as "taking status," which makes your implication that you've ignored several comments where I "seem to be taking status" a bit problematic.

            I feel compelled to note that anyone familiar with social justice work would also be familiar with the form of your most recent comment – it's a close cousin to the tone argument, the generalized form of which is: "I would have replied to you, but I didn't like the specific words you used to express yourself." I don't actually think your intent was to make the discussion about me rather than the actual topic at hand (i.e. exclusion of transwomen from "women's only" ritual space), but that's the effect comments like yours tend to have.

          • Amadea

            I think you experience me as avoiding your comments because you haven't really tried to understand my point. This is due in large part to your view of the term "oppression," which really has to do for you with who is hurt, not really about oppression, which is a social issue. I think I see your points and don't agree with them is all, and there isn't any movement in the discussion between the two of us. You haven't addressed any of my key points either.

            But see my exchange with Maggie above. There is movement there to understanding if not agreement.

            Your comments in your last paragraph are just more status-taking and sort of attacking, which aren't helpful and don't move the discussion along, so I'll leave them as they lie. But thanks anyway for engaging in the debate. I've learned a lot from everyone and moved in my own position in some ways.

          • http://twitter.com/widdershins_cat @widdershins_cat

            What needs to happen, the consciousness that needs to be raised, is the consciousness that trans women's bodies are NOT an inferior attempt at replication.

            That is not who we are. That is not WHAT we are. Our bodies are Goddess bodies in their own right, and need to be treated as such.

          • Amadea

            It is not about inferior/superior. See my posts to Califried above.

          • http://twitter.com/widdershins_cat @widdershins_cat

            Not good enough. When you are excluding one group of women specifically while bending over backwards to include all other women, you ARE by force stating that they are inferior.

          • http://secher-nbiw.blogspot.com Cobalt

            What some people seem to be arguing is that ideally there would be separate but equal spaces for transwomen, whether the transwomen in question feel they would benefit from that or not. This is unsurprising, considering the level of concern for the experiences or needs of trans people that "women born women only" Dianics are displaying. After all, we've seen this before. "X Group has some special need or experience that is better served by hiding them away where we don't have to be around them."

          • Bookhousegal

            Well, I think there's more agreement on this view of things, Cat, than some seem to want to see or accept. (even from the people whose ritual was the focus of all the rest of this: I'm certainly in agreement on the pluralism aspect, and that there should be able to be subdivisions, as long as it's not about denying the validity of others to do it…. which is where this seems to have gone off the rails, given the ritual was promoted as 'For women,' and they meant, 'Well, women by *this* definition,' etc, etc. )

            Some have taken this as reason to say, 'Well, we have to define transwomen as men so we can be all-inclusive of 'women,' and that's imposing certain definitions on tat broader community.

            I think for transpeople there's the fact that the Pagan community is a *lot* more comfortable than is the wider society with the idea that there even *is* a 'third gender' of value or reality, while *into* that category go a lot of people that may not even fit, say, a *transsexual* in particular's self-image, particularly compared to that wider society, the political marginalization of LGBT prople and T people in particular, etc.

            Trans people in general are also a bit accustomed to a certain amount of being the 'even smaller group' for members of some other communities to look down on, which isn't the better part of anyone, I should think, but also can make things fairly sensitive. Especially because a certain amount of transphobia traditionally *did* come from certain feminist-spirituality circles, and some of *that* clearly still smarts.

            (I think it's also contributed to a certain amount of isolationism on the feminist-spirituality set's part: sometimes general-purpose 'women's space' can seem a little oddly-territorial to at least my mindset, maybe that of many others. One finds herself bracing for 'Here comes the gender politics.' )

            Boundaries and expectations, I suppose. I do think that pluralism has to mean ability to be different or subdivide, but again, it shouldn't have to involve denying the lives and identities of others to *do* it. There ought to be trans space, cis space, queer space, straight space, any combination we need, but what there shouldn't be is people imposing boundaries and definitions on the community as a whole, or, as CAYA actually recognized and apologized for, no suddenly springing those definitions on someone at the door like that. :)

            I hope I'm speaking clearly-enough, there. I plead these odd hours I've been keeping. :)

        • http://www.facebook.com/kenazfilan Kenaz Filan

          I think you misunderstood my comments or I wasn't clear. I'm not talking about transwomen dominating. I'm talking about a whole ideological worldview dominating, one that requires everyone to "fit" into a particular dominant perspective. Those who are making comments that indicate that some transition or healing is needed in the Dianic community so that Dianics can "come to the light" are in the dominant ideological worldview, whether or not they are Trans.

          My problem is that many posters have tried to frame this debate in terms of whether or not the Dianics should hold "womyn-born-womyn" circles or deny admittance to transwomen. The real question here is much more narrow: what are the ramifications of holding X-only rituals at a public event and how do we deal with controversies over who qualifies as X?

          To many transpeople and their allies, the distinction between "transwoman/mutilated man" and "womyn born womyn" is as repellent, stupid and wrong-headed as the distinction between "the White Race" and "Mud Races." We can argue until the cows come home as to whether that is a fair analogy or whether the trans camp is overreacting. But the fact remains that a significant percentage of attendees at PCon or most public events do not like the cisgender-only policies of Dianics and take it as a personal insult when their people are turned away from Dianic events.

          Most of us agree that Dianic groups have the right to their theology and to choose their membership: they can invite or disinvite whom they will. I'm not even denying their right to hold rituals and meetings in private space at a convention. What I question is this and only this: is it appropriate for a public convention to provide its imprimatur to a group whose policies of membership are controversial at best? And is it appropriate to ask them to function as security and enforcers when that policy is questioned?

          And before you answer, think about the transwoman who is removed from a CAYA event, then decides to sue CAYA and the Pantheacon organizers for gender discrimination. The CAYA Amazons could almost certainly get the suit dismissed on grounds of religious freedom. Could the organizers of Pantheacon get a similar dismissal … or would the plaintiff's attorney claim that they had knowingly and willfully promoted an event that discriminated based on gender identity — a protected class in California? And how much would it cost everyone involved to get the whole mess sorted out?

          Many would like to turn this into a "Dianics BAAAAD" argument. If Z Budapest and pals can reframe this debate as a case of "the evil patriarchy and its minions are bullying us," they don't have to question their own privilege and their use of hateful language. Trans activists see this as a stepping stone toward inclusion and recognition – first PCon, then Michigan – and a chance to further muddy the reputation of people they view as transphobic and bigoted (in the case of Budapest at least, it would seem they are correct). We might do well to limit the discussion to the specific question at hand rather than getting distracted by tangential issues, no matter how important those tangents might be.

    • Robin Artisson

      Amadea, I think I love you. Thank the Gods for you and this insightful comment- hail pluralism! Down with liberal agenda "inclusiveness" that will try to destroy any and all hint of difference or right to dignified and necessary discrimination! And thank you for pointing out that the true "oppression" going on here- mentally and linguistically, on this board- has to do with the way it's suddenly okay to start screaming "BIGOT" at anyone who dares to question the emerging party line in any way.

      • http://quakerpagan.blogspot.com/ Cat_C_B

        I don't think you understand her comment, Robin.

    • cigfran

      On the one hand you call for the valorization of pluralism – a condition, I take it, where differences are named and celebrated – but then you assert that "cis" is somehow an "othering" term.

      How is "cis" any more "othering" than "trans"? And how is it not exactly a pluralistic way of speaking that still permits all parties a certain lexical equality?

      • Amadea

        I would like to call transwomen what they would like to be called. My trans-friends use that term, that's why I was using it. When we get together, we just hang out together like anyone else — as human beings being together, often talking "girl talk" when my friend is a women — trans or not.

        I'm happy to use another term of anyone's own choosing to identify her. My issue was about naming by others. I am a "female-born woman" (which is a new term I'm using now due to this discussion because I began to see the identifier "women-born-women" as creating a category that seemed to mean that transwomen aren't women, which is a view I don't hold). I don't accept the term "cis," which has been applied to me by others. It sounds like a snake to me. If male-born women would like me to use another term, I am totally on board with that.

        I do think a good discussion about how we would all like to be named would be a good one to have, and I'm open to it in every way.

        • femmeguy

          How is referring to us as cissexual any more "othering" than referring to people who are heterosexual as heterosexual?

          Please read this: http://dglenn.dreamwidth.org/1588929.html

          "Stop a minute and ponder for a moment the magnitude and type of privilege that is contained in not having to think about or acknowledge a label. Compare that to TVs, TSes, DQs, DKs, GQs, and all other subgroups of transgendered people. You don't like it? Pick and popularize a different label, but pick one that doesn't stigmatize everybody else in contrast to it. That you now have a label doesn't 'other' you; it merely makes you like everybody else who has a label. If one group gets to insist on not having a label, that 'others' everyone else. If we remove the "default class" from you, that loss of privilege you have a gut reaction to isn't because you're being insulted; it's because the field just got a tiny (tiny!) bit more level."

          • Ainslie

            I can remember a time when heterosexuals routinely objected to being called such. They were used to a world in which gays and lesbians were never considered.

          • Amadea

            Just to be clear on my perspective on this: I wasn't objecting to having a label. I was objecting to having THAT label — "cis". I prefer "female-born women." I'm hoping to hear more about what trans-male-born women would like to be called. Presumably, it would be "women" in all contexts other than those where making a distinction is relevant. But when it is relevant, as in this discussion, what would be the best identifier?

          • Sihaya

            As a cis woman, I would object to "female-born women" only because people (including me from time to time!), mix up biological words (female) vs gender words (women). My fear is that "female-born women" would be interpreted all too easily as "women-born women," and I would include transwomen among "women-born women."

            I like cis precisely because it is so different, it would be hard to mistake, semantically.

          • http://maewitch.livejournal.com/ Maggie

            Ditto.

            I like 'cis' because to use it to describe oneself also indicates that you comprehend that you have privilege within this paradigm. The normative group, by virtue of seeing itself as normative, is usually the one deciding on which terms and definitions should be used.

          • Amadea

            I'm evolving on the issue of the term to use. I started with women-born-women. Then through these discussions I came to understand why it is problematic. So, I changed to female-born women, which I think is fine, but some said it would still create the sort of confusion that women-born-women creates (because some confuse "sex" with "gender"). So, now I'm moving to chrom-women. I really, really dislike "cis".

          • http://secher-nbiw.blogspot.com Cobalt

            I also prefer ciswoman as an identifier. When I refer to myself this way, what I am trying to say is that I am not merely "Default Woman," but a kind of woman. I'm not the "normal" and "unmarked" woman, and my chromosomal sex isn't a huge factor in my identity.

            I will also say that switching my terminology for myself and other ciswomen was easier with the "cis-" prefix rather than with "female-born" or "XX/XO/XXX/etc.-born." The latter is sort of clunky compared to "cis."

            I agree with Sihaya that "female-born" is also more likely to be confusing for people whose understanding of the distinction between sex and gender is not as precise and meticulous as ours. How the words we use are received by others does matter in any communication, especially when the people who are hearing us are people who are going to treat us a certain way based on the understanding they take from the conversation. As a result, while "female-born woman" or "female-born man" can definitely communicate the same thing as "cis" or "trans," the likelihood that they will instead muddy the issue and get in the way of the understanding we're trying to create is greater than with "cis," and for me that's a big big problem.

          • http://maewitch.livejournal.com/ Maggie

            "When I refer to myself this way, what I am trying to say is that I am not merely "Default Woman," but a kind of woman. "

            Exactly. And i think that gracefully illustrates that using such language is actually both inclusive and respectful of different experiences and co-identities.

          • Amadea

            I see the point about having a term that that avoids "default woman." I just really dislike "cis" and will never use it. How about "chrom-woman"?

          • http://twitter.com/widdershins_cat @widdershins_cat

            Using chromosomes to determine anything about gender is tricky and full of pitfalls at best.

          • Amadea

            If that's so, then no term can work because they are all tricky.

          • Sihaya

            Cis isn't semantically tricky, though. You just dislike it, for reasons you can't express. There is a distinct difference.

          • Amadea

            Chrom isn't semantically tricky in the same way that "cis" isn't grammatically tricky. I think "chrom" is a better term because it is really closer to what the distinction is about, although I don't think any term can get at the whole picture. "Cis" is more about identity, as far as I can tell — and saying the word sounds like hissing.

          • Bookhousegal

            Well, it seems we're really down to one person trying to defend a personal quibble for some reason, (That'd be you, here, Amadea: After all that was explained before about how chromosomal karyotype doesn't even define the category you'd like to draw, …you don't like a Latin prefix, so you want people to say 'Chrom-woman,' and generally accept what, that some implied blood test defines some deterministic binary it *actually doesn't define at all? *

            The idea that chromosomes are that reliable a sex test is used to harm a lot of women who would fit all those sex-categories *perfectly,* until that chromosome-screening is done.

            And, as I mentioned, when this happens to female athletes, they find out a few things pretty quick, as regards what 'cisgendered privilege' is, and what one's treated like when it's taken away.

            What this sounds like to me is that you want everyone around to label humanity according to your own standard, which isn't even *true,* for the comfort of certain ideological insistences about sex and gender binaries, which as the kind of absolute you want to claim, also aren't even true.

            If you karyotyped every woman at any major gathering, you'd start finding a distinctly-non-negligible number of XY females and others who don't match your chromosome test, who never even had an *inkling,* pretty quickly. :)

            The idea that this is not the case is used for a *lot* of purposes, including general claims that not only are there only two sexes, but there's only one 'biologically-(or otherwise) ordained' way for each to be. And that won't stop with the transwomen: it never does.

            Look at Ann Coulter, anyway: as reprehensible a media figure I may think she is, if she looks a certain way, steps out of certain bounds, her 'womanhood' is fair game. And 'trannies' in general take a huge share of the scorn in the process, not at all unlike 'Witches' got mockery over Christine O'Donnell, and no doubt 'Warlocks' over something Charlie Sheen said.

            Yeah, you could profile out Ann Coulter to resemble a self-hating transsexual, …Or a self-hating bulimic… Or…. Whatnot, maybe she's any of these things, but do you *really* think a chromosome test would solve matters?

            Or just 'validate' them.

            I'm just not down with that by any standards, and perhaps you should consider what your 'demand' that people don't say 'cis' before you talk about who gets 'labeled,' ….and to whom you may serve to give permission to label *you.*

            Ever take that test yourself, Mr. Deckard? ;)

          • Amadea

            Wow. I'm really sorry you saw my attempt to be sensitive to the issues, but still define myself as a real problem. I see that unless I agree with you entirely, I will not receive any quarter. That is, there is no movement to understand my concerns, hurts, oppressions, etc. This makes me realize that perhaps I should just go back to the term I began with. Making attempts to move in a more inclusive terminology direction doesn't really make any difference. I think that is really sad. Signing off now. Good luck with everything. Best Wishes, Amadea

          • Sihaya

            The problem was that though you were /attempting/ to move towards a more inclusive term, all of your suggestions were equally problematic on logical grounds. The most logical and non-problematic word you don't like, because "it sounds like hissing."

            I'm pretty sure people understand your oppressions. Not a one has denied that as a woman, you are institutionally oppressed in the male/female paradigm. The problem is that you are not acknowledging the oppression of others, and have instead told people that they don't really understand the word they are "throwing around."

            Please take a look at your own words.

          • http://erynn999.livejournal.com Erynn

            Who's going to stand at the door with a genetics test?

          • Amadea

            No one is standing at the door checking "cis" either.

          • http://erynn999.livejournal.com Erynn

            I believe that was my point.

          • Amadea

            There is some hope on my part that Pagans on their own would come to respect everyone's particular ritual space. But that won't happen unless pluralism is a value that is embraced.

        • femmeguy

          Here's something I said in Ladybug's blog here http://ladybugsadventures.blogspot.com/2011/03/ge… , about "female-born":

          "For example, when cis women are referred to as "women-born" or "female-born," it inevitably says that trans women are not "women-born," when many of them do know themselves to have been female since birth even though they were misgendered by others.

          […]If you say "female-born," you say that someone can be female when they are born. Now obviously a newborn child is too young to express their gender identity, so what that suggests is that being female is a matter of genitals (specifically, how your genitals are interpreted by the doctor).

          That's how it centers the body (or the way the body is interpreted by others) over identity and says that cis women are better exemplars of femaleness than trans women.

          Furthermore, it feeds into the idea that trans women who have had genital surgery are "more" trans or "closer" to womanhood than other trans women. This has a deeply hard history behind it because so many transsexual women are prevented by institutional oppression (classism, homophobia, gender normativity, sexism, etc.,), or by medical issues, from accessing genital surgery, and also because many trans women don't want genital surgery.

          It's also problematic for intersex women and for anyone, including cis women, who doesn't believe womanhood is about having a particular genital format. […]

          It also suggests that cis women are more "real" or "correct" women than trans women are. The same problem obtains with phrases like "natal," "biological," etc. (I'm "biological"? Was I raised without pesticides?)

          That's why we have words like "cis" (cissexual, cisgender), which etymologically is simply the converse of "trans" (cisatlantic, transatlantic; cisalpine, transalpine), just as we have the word "heterosexual" as the converse of "homosexual" (instead of using words like "normal" or whatever, as they used to). Other phrases like "non-trans" are also used.

          The advantage is that it implies that cis and trans are simply different and equal ways of being of a particular gender, rather than one being the original and the other simply an imitation.

          As a cissexual person myself, it was a great relief to me to find terminology that didn't centre my gender at the expense of that of my friends and loved ones."

          • Amadea

            Thanks for this thoughtful commentary on labels. Definitions and terminology are always difficult. I have come to agree that the term "women-born-women" really does do the disservice you describe above. But the word "female" is in my view an identifier that goes with biology, not spirit or identification. There is in my view a distinction between "sex" (biology) and "gender" (identification). That's why I think of "female" as going with sex and "women" as going with gender. But I'm willing to think about another term. I just really, really dislike "cis." It is ugly. It sounds denigrating to me, like an insult — something you would throw at someone in an argument when you lost your temper.

          • femmeguy

            And, see, that's something that I don't get as a cissexual person myself. As pointed out, "cis" is simply the Latin prefix that is the opposite of "trans"; cisatlantic versus transatlantic. To me it's no different than "heterosexual" as opposed to "homosexual" or "bisexual." There's always the option of using the full forms, "cissexual" (who was assigned at birth to the same gender identified with later in life) or "cisgender" (whose gender identity is acknowledged by society at large).

            Perhaps it sounds like something you'd hear in anger because it only tends to get brought up in fraught discussions of oppression. Lots of perfectly decent words for privileged groups ("man," "white," "straight") can sound that way, because since they're taken as default by the overculture, they tend to get brought up more when there's a conflict.

            As for "female" going with "biology" as opposed to identification, unfortunately if you do it that way, you can't help but once again set up a dichotomy between "female women" and "male women" that in turn, can't help but reinforce the idea that cis women are the real ones and trans women the cheap imitations.

            I really appreciate your engagement on this subject and your kind words about my comment.

          • http://secher-nbiw.blogspot.com Cobalt

            "I just really, really dislike "cis." It is ugly. It sounds denigrating to me, like an insult — something you would throw at someone in an argument when you lost your temper."

            Why? You said earlier that your problem was not with there being a label for chromosomally-female people who are comfortable with the gender they were assigned at birth, or for men who are similarly okay with what they were assigned as (but which is less ridiculously wordy than what I just typed).

            I'm not sure how to reconcile that statement with what you just wrote here, so it'd be much appreciated if you could clarify. I think it'd give me a better idea of where you're coming from.

          • Amadea

            I just really dislike "cis" and will never use it. How about "chrom-woman"?

          • http://twitter.com/DesiArcy @DesiArcy

            "Chrom-woman" is ALSO tacitly asserting that trans women are less than fully female. It really feels like you're reaching as hard as you can to find terminology that makes that distinction, just in shiny new ways that haven't been objected to yet.

          • femmeguy

            Also, appeals to chromosomes elide the fact that:

            1) there are any number of conditions in which a person who is assigned female at birth, is raised female, and identifies as female may not have an XX karyotype; and

            2) only vanishingly rarely do we have any idea what another person's karyotype may be; and

            3) when we do, it may frequently be used to deny the womanhood of women as well. For example, a woman may be assigned female at birth, be considered a cissexual woman by all, then immediately start to be misgendered when she fails a blood test when competing athletically — witness the furore over Caster Semenya when the entire world felt entitled to issue an opinion as to her gender.

          • Cigfran

            "Chrom-woman" already has an equivalent in the trans lexicon: GG, or "genetic girl."

            Let's just say it's got some baggage.

          • Jaclyn Desiree Arceneaux

            Baggage bitterly illustrated by the fact that certain parties promptly started redefining GG as referring to "genuine girl".

        • Cigfran

          The normative group, the ones who see themselves as the default, never like it when a minority class identifies and equalizes the language of a distinction.

          When they insist on a significant distinction from trans people, cis people are the trans people's "others."

          Very well… if you don't like being referred to as "cis", are you willing to actually consider trans women – women of transsexual history, as some call it – simply women, and set aside the pluralism that you have called for?

          Or does the pluralism work, as some trans people believe, only in your favor?

          • Amadea

            You don't understand what I mean by "pluralism," so I won't address that here. I've already explained it fully elsewhere in this discussion. Go back and see what I'm really saying.

            I will say this here, though: There IS a difference between different sorts of women, as many people in this discussion have acknowledged. This whole discussion is about that difference. I would just like to say that those differences are all beautiful, wonderful, expressions of the sacredness of each and every one of us — Dianics too! Ignoring those differences won't make them go away. Better to embrace them, I say. Feminists recognized this a long time ago in the women's movement: Women ARE different than men; trying to be the same or to ignore the difference does a disservice to women and men. I think the same point is worth noting here as well as regards different sorts of women.

      • Ainslie

        That's my reaction as well. Amadea wrote beautifully enlightening words about the nature of organization, but if we consider scientific terminology as neutral, cis is about as non-inflammatory a term as it gets.

        • Amadea

          It's still naming others (me included, in this case) a label they (I) don't like. No matter how neutral those doing the naming think the term is, insisting on it, is a kind of domination, too.

          • Charise Spirit Clarke

            I don't like the term either not what it is about it but I don't like it.

          • Sihaya

            Not an attack on you at all– I am genuinely curious. What fault do you find with the term 'cis' as a simple explanation of gender orientation?

          • Charise Spirit Clarke

            honestly it just rubs me wrong and it's another label I really don't or need. I didn't understand the reasoning for another term or label. I find labels to help people come together. the labels I like are parent, partner and human. And spirit

            I know the label isn't meant to hurt feeling or anything and it helps some women when talking about others but I don't like it. doesn't mean it's wrong just means i don't like it

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=671619506 Ainslie

            As a default to the Latin, it has a solid base, one well appreciated by those with too much shitstorm to cater to such tender sensibilities.

            As Joanna Kadi once said, being "safe" should not be an excuse to avoid criticism, or in this case, calling things as they are.

            I still think you should take a break from this as it is a bit out of your league.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charise-Clarke/100000667437978 Charise Clarke

            while you are free to think that I am trying to educate myself on everything and see if there is something that would make everyone happy. i get and understand where the word comes from i just don't like as I don't like labels either. I will use it out of respect when I need too. thanks.

          • http://egregores.blogspot.com/ Apuleius

            "What fault do you find with the term 'cis' as a simple explanation of gender orientation?"

            As with any such labeling, one of the primary things that people object to is simply the fact of having a label applied to them by others. How is that not obvious?

          • Sihaya

            I suppose i don't understand the objection to a label that is both accurate and bereft of any kind of judgment/connotation. It makes discussion of inequalities that exist much easier, and in many cases, when the more privileged party claims "you labeled me X and I don't like it," it merely accomplishes derailing the discussion and returning focus to the more privileged party in the paradigm.

          • http://egregores.blogspot.com/ Apuleius

            "I suppose i don't understand ….."

            No, I suppose you don't.

          • Sihaya

            The "don't use accurate labels to describe our differences" is a common tactic to silence the discussion, because without words to accurately describe the differences, we cannot therefore discuss the inequality.

            Basically, you're using the cis/trans version of "we should all be colorblind! I am not white, I'm a PERSON!" …and frankly, that just doesn't fly.

          • femmeguy

            As the link I posted said: if you don't like the word "cis," come up with something else, whatever you like, as long as it doesn't just mean "normal" and doesn't ungender trans people.

          • Amadea

            In some other threads in this discussion I made clear that I don't have an objection to having a label, I just don't like THAT label. How about chrom-woman?

          • femmeguy

            See above.

          • Ainslie

            The refusal to be labeled is all too often a symptom of privilege. I've known countless white hippies and new agers who refuse to be called "white", yet have no problem appropriating and desecrating other people's religious traditions.

          • Sihaya

            Agreed.

            As I said above, this is the "I'm not white, I'm a PERSON!" variant for trans discussions. and there are tons of reasons why, even for the most anti-racist person, 'colorblindness' is deeply problematic.

            Aside from brilliantly illuminating privilege, it also makes it harder to have the actual DISCUSSION, when the privileged party protests simple, accurate, non-judgmental words used to describe the differences between the two sides in an inequality paradigm.

          • femmeguy

            Trans people don't get a choice about whether or not they get to be labelled. Either nobody gets labelled, or else we need a level playing field. As the quote above says, "You don't like it? Pick and popularize a different label, but pick one that doesn't stigmatize everybody else in contrast to it. That you now have a label doesn't 'other' you; it merely makes you like everybody else who has a label. If one group gets to insist on not having a label, that 'others' everyone else. If we remove the "default class" from you, that loss of privilege you have a gut reaction to isn't because you're being insulted; it's because the field just got a tiny (tiny!) bit more level."

          • Charise Spirit Clarke

            is there something wrong with the label human? i am having a very hard time saying what i want which I think means it's time to quite i wish you the best in life and most importantly I wish you happiness and hope you find it and don't push others away because they disagree with you

          • Sihaya

            Charise, I appreciate the spirit of what you are trying to say: that all people should be equal. That in itself is noble.

            However, the hard thing is that that isn't the world we live in, unfortunately. We live in a world where lots of inequities exist, and therefore terms like "cis" and "trans" are very useful in talking about those inequities. Labels, in and of themselves, are not a bad thing– they help us to have discussions that we, both as a community and a species, are very in need of having.

          • femmeguy

            That is more intelligent than what I was going to write; thank you.

    • Nestis

      Thank you Amadea. Beautifully written.

  • Wyse1

    TransWomen go through pain, shame and rejection. We CisWomen have been through pain, shame and rejection as well. We are on the verge of being as close minded as Evanglist Christians. We may can not do much about the ones who refuse to open their circles but we can let it be known that is NOT the norm for the whole of Paganism. I will from this point forward be questioning event co-ordinators if they are truely inclusive. If it is not then I will make sure to spread the word and I will boycott the event along with most people in my group of over 500 Pagans.

    • deerwoman

      Respectfully, I do not think we are becoming nearly as close-minded as the Evangelical Christians you cite. Evangelical Christians would likely blame the devil for the "deviant" ways of transpeople and then seek to actively persuade them to return to their biological gender. They might even go so far as to create programs aimed to "correct" their differences and bring them back into the fold (similar to existing Christian programs claiming to "correct" homosexuality).

      Even among those who've asserted that Dianics have a right to determine the boundaries of their own traditions, I have not heard anyone state that transwomen and transmen are they way they are because of the influence of some malefic force. I have not heard anyone suggest that they should not be the way they are or question their right to even exist.

      This is a valuable debate. I've realized that there are issues relating to gender and Paganism that I need to explore further before being able to come to an educated, thoughtful conclusion. At the moment though, I'm inclined to agree with Amadea's observation about the overall direction of the conversation here. I fear that the demand for inclusiveness above all else by some individuals here is actually detrimental.

    • Amadea

      I would hope that we don't have a non-inclusive "norm" like you are suggesting, which could be every bit as close-minded as some Christians are. Take a look at my posts about pluralism in this discussion, if you get a chance. I'd like to know more about what you think in light of them.

  • Sihaya

    Rather, that should say "Patriarchy hurts both men and women by ascribing gendered roles."

  • Nestis

    And I guess what I'm saying is that when you're a survivor of sexual violence perpetrated by anatomical males who wishes to practice her craft skyclad with other anatomical females, your need to avoid triggers is not limited to the rites that are explicitly intended to address your healing.

    • Sihaya

      This is the sticky place. On one hand, I want to agree with you, but on the other, I don't believe that "separate but equal" should apply to all skyclad rites within a tradition– it sends a message to transwomen that their very bodies are shameful and triggering to ciswomen. It's perpetuating a cycle of oppression against transwomen.

      This is a hard discussion to have. I understand very much the triggers of an assault survivor. On the other hand, I guess I draw my personal line at a tradition discriminating against a group /as a rule/ due to personal triggers.

      • Nestis

        Do you think there is any valid reason for a tradition to discriminate against the inclusion of a particular group as a rule?

        • Sihaya09

          Honestly, I can't think of one.

          I am cool with womens' groups. I am cool with mens' groups. Just with the caveat that anyone who genuinely IDs as "woman" or "man" may participate as a fully-functioning member.

      • Charise Spirit Clarke

        this is why as someone who was raped many many times by a trusted partner i have yet to do a sky clade rite the thought of it scares me and if I was in a womens only one and a woman had a penis it would scare me not the woman but the penis and I would remove myself from the ritual. it's my issue i know but it's even hard when it come to my husband a penis was a weapon used against me. and to be honest it's hard to be that close to a woman with one it's like she has all the power the power of a woman and a man.

        • Nestis

          It was very brave of you to share this with us. Thank you. Stories like yours are why I still feel there is a real need for ciswomen-only spaces. We can't heal all our sisters in one place, unfortunately. Patriarchy does too much damage to too many different kinds of women (and men) for that.

          • Charise Spirit Clarke

            Thank you it was hard it's a hard thing to admit. but in the day it's a reason i don't do much with local groups because I don't want to be in the spot that I might hurt someones feelings

    • http://twitter.com/DesiArcy @DesiArcy

      Referring to trans women as "anatomical males" is NOT ACCEPTABLE.

      • Nestis

        *sigh* I'm speaking from the perspective of a ciswoman who is a survivor of sexual assault purpetrated by a male/s. I don't know how to talk about it without offending someone, I'm sorry.

        Many transwomen have penises. That is all I meant to convey, I apologize.

        • http://twitter.com/DesiArcy @DesiArcy

          Given the nature of gender dysphoria, it would be *very* atypical — as in "practically unheard-of" for a pre-operative transwoman to be comfortable enough with her body to be skyclad in a public setting. The functional intent of "women born women" policies has always been to enforce second wave radical feminist ideology by excluding postoperative trans women who are physically indistinguishable from cis women.

  • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

    Alright, I'm going to come out and say that I have an issue with at least one of the rationals for all this Anti-Dianic stuff, one which I think has the potential to say a lot about some of those involved. I'm not saying the Dianics are right. I'm not saying the Trans are wrong. But in a rather snarky and humorous manner, I want to point out something people seem to be ignoring.

    Case in point, trans and others keep saying that this rage against the dianics (good name for a band) is about stopping a group of "Privileged" people from acting in a transphobic manner. Alright, well and good, but what exactly is their privilege? The Dianics are a small group by my understanding. They hold no real political or religious power, here in the Pagan realms or in the larger world, so I don't think that could be it. As best I can tell, they are open to both hetero and homo sexual women, so it can't be that they're discriminatory against that. And to listen to the Dianics, they're the subjects of Patriarchal aggression and sins…so they can't be favored there…And it can't be because the Dianics have a space all their own, because it would be more than easy for the Trans to create one of their own…

    Oh…wait…there is an underlying factor there. Something they have that transwomen don't….

    A vagina! Ye Gods and little fishes, it's so simple! That's the privilege! They were born biologically women! By dent of dna they were born with female bodies. After all, since "cis" women and "trans" women are both really women (something I am willing to agree with after much research) this can only be the source of the privilege.

    So where does this take us? Well, I'm not going to get into the field of land mines of "Vagina > Penis" which imediatly jumps to my mind when I think that trans-women are claiming that by dent of being bio-women, the Dianics are "privileged" and the only reason I can discern is biological. Certainly, if all beings are equal regardless of gender or sexual orientation, it shouldn't matter what what bio-parts you have.

    Perhaps, one might conclude that transwomen are experiencing "Vagina Envy." After all, the privilege appears to be biological. I should hope we were all bigger than such a thing. I would hate to think that all this has been about a subconscious hate for biologically born women.

    Indeed, would we even be having this conversation if a cis-woman tried to get into a transwomen's circle and was refused? or would we be saying "Good on you for protecting your space, you poor abused transpeople." I certainly don't see anyone complaining that cis-men and trans-men were banned from the Dianic event. Looks like the brush was biased from the start.

    I personally am tired of this. Rather than solving anything, this discussion has caused those on the trans-women's side to dig deep trenches, call bigot and transphobic on anyone who doesn't agree with them, and seriously harmed any arguments anyone could make for religious freedom. Those who have sided with the dianics, or even just taken neutral ground like myself, have faced ridicule and charges of hate for "Refusing to strike down privilege." And I know by stating the above that I have opened myself to even more hate and charges of Transphobia, when I certainly feel none of those emotions.

    I don't see a privileged group. I don't agree with the Dianic's philosophies, but they certainly are not a "privileged group" that has oppressed anyone.If anything, they sound like victims trying to heal.

    So I say enough is enough.

    • http://twitter.com/SeaMist_au @SeaMist_au

      Cisgendered simply means people who have never had an issue with their own gender and are therefore privileged. Believe me you don't know how privileged you are having that certainty. Mainly because being trans mostly sucks. In some cases people are so certain about the binary nature of gender that they cannot concieve if another person not staying with their birth gender. It is this attitude that is usually labelled cisgendered but it applies to everyone blessed with the certainty that their current gender was their birth gender.

  • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

    Alright then, for my ears are open and my mind seeks understanding. Tell me, what is the privilage of the Dianics? How are they privileged? Is it political power? Is it they have faces less discrimination? Is it their religious power? Is it that they have a sacred space all their own? Is it that they are born women be they straight or gay?

    You say I do not understand, then tell me what it is I do that I truly do not understand. Tell me how the Dianics are "privileged" over the Trans-women

    • Ainslie

      Widdershins was referring to the spiritual truth that trans people feel (Something that can teach us all about not just the strength of spirit, but it's primacy), and you claimed to be listening and then promptly changed the subject! ;P

      • Ainslie

        I know I have things to teach cismen about maleness, mostly I end up getting them to accept their feminine side!

    • Sihaya

      I will give you a short explanation as it exists in the context of social justice discussions. If you are truly interested in understand the arguments that are being made here, I strongly urge you to not reply right away, but to do research about social justice discussions, privilege, and related terminology, then come back to this discussion with enhanced knowledge of discussions that are already underway in the broader field of social justice.

      Privilege is advantage, often unasked-for, on an institutional level. There are various paradigms in our society in which privilege is a central concept– including, but not limited to:

      White (privileged) / people of color (non-privileged/marginalized)
      Straight/ Queer
      Male/Female
      Cis/Trans

      (ct'd…)

    • Sihaya

      The first name in all of the pairs above are institutionally privileged in our society.

      Dianics, as women, are oppressed/marginalized because they are the less privileged in the paradigm of male/female privilege. Their policy of cis-women only (as stated by Z Budapest), makes them the MORE privileged party in the cis/trans paradigm. Privilege is not cumulative– ie, one can be more privileged in certain contexts, but less in others. Example: I am white: privileged. I am female: not. I am cis: privileged. I am queer: not. This does not make me only 50% privileged. It means that I am or am not depending on context.

      There's not a lot written at the introductory level about the cis/trans privilege paradigm. There has been a LOT written at an introductory level about the male/female paradigm and the racial paradigms. If you can apply the concept to what's being discussed here, it might help you greatly in understanding privilege as it is being discussed here.

      Here are some links to get you started:
      http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2007/03/1http://academic.udayton.edu/race/01race/whitenesshttp://nnhs-gsa.org/transwhat/

    • Bookhousegal

      Well, that much should be obvious: cisgenderedness is a favored status, compared to transness.

      Frankly, your own little 'humorous' rant there illustrates a lot of it, by your assumptions, what you consider 'ridiculous,' even by what you think defines transwomen, (ie, gross anatomy: in fact, btw, lots of trans and intersex women have vaginas, or were born with them.)

      'Dianic Pagans not being a particularly privileged group compared to other cisgendered people doesn't mean they don't have cisgender privilege, or aren't using it, if, for instance, they use that to redefine others, see?

      • Sihaya

        'Dianic Pagans not being a particularly privileged group compared to other cisgendered people doesn't mean they don't have cisgender privilege, or aren't using it, if, for instance, they use that to redefine others, see? '

        Well said!

      • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

        I never said "Gross anatomy" defines what makes a woman. Rather I was pointing out that it appears the only thing Dianics have that makes them privileged according to their detractors is their "gross anatomy" of being female. This seems to be panned out as correct by the nature of the Social Justice that seems to be determining that the Dianics are a "privileged' group over the Trans, by dent of being bio-females.

        I do not think trans women are any less women than those born as bio-females.

        • Bookhousegal

          Fair enough, Norse, if that's how you feel, but *I* was pointing out that you were in fact referring to 'gross anatomy' when you said 'Vagina envy' and talked a lot about transwomen being defined by presumptive penises. :)

          That is a gross anatomical structure, which much, to the chagrin of some, can be altered.

          There's some repetitive semantic arguments in this comment section, but also some content that might inform you.

    • http://maewitch.livejournal.com/ Maggie

      Privilege relates to how a group views its socio/economic/cultural experience as normative. For example, in our society, being white, male, not-poor, heterosexual and cis gendered are regarded as normative. Women do not have privilege compared to males, but they may have privilege along these other dimensions.

      When cis women define 'woman' as being a restricted definition, they are asserting that their experience is the normative one, and thus are expressing their privileged position vis-a-vis trans women.

    • http://secher-nbiw.blogspot.com Cobalt

      "Privileged" and "marginalized" are not mutually-exclusive categories. Any given individual is not going to be either in one or the other. They're descriptors of whether certain demographics give the person who's got them an advantage or a disadvantage.

      People can be privileged in one area and oppressed in another. See: poor white people, straight black people, rich gay people, etc. Women can be marginalized by their gender, and still be privileged by the fact that at least they're the gender identity they were told they should be.

      Aside: "Privilege" here can feel like a bit of a misnomer, since the "privileges" which are often being discussed are not experiences or power that nobody should have, but rather things that everybody should have… but only some of us actually get.

      For example, it's a part of cis privilege to know that I will not be refused medical treatment because of my gender identity. That's not some kind of terrible thing that nobody should have; it's a great and vital thing that (unfortunately) is given or denied to people based on whether they conform to certain social expectations.

      Because of this, the problem with privilege is not always that it gives people rights, expectations, or obstacles which are wrong in themselves. The problem with privilege is that those things are doled out NOT based on what people need or really deserve, but based on BS assumptions about which sorts of people are inherently better or worse than others because of innate characteristics like color or orientation.

      If you already knew this stuff, I apologize. I just remember these being the pieces of the discussion that I had trouble with at one point, so I thought I'd make sure to mention them here. I hope that at least something in there was helpful.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Diare-Turtlemoon/1031407074 Diare Turtlemoon

    "shape-shifters forever caught in the borderlands between this category and the other, or any others. There is something very powerful about their strange position in the great scheme of things. Beings that can look one way, feel one way, assume the emotional standpoint of other genders, freely choose to take up the roles of men or women, though nature itself sculpted them differently in so many ways"

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Diare-Turtlemoon/1031407074 Diare Turtlemoon

      Somehow my complete comment was not published. Robin's words reminds me of Judy Grahn’s analysis in Gay Words, Gay Culture. She examines the role of transgender shamans in tribal cultures and their lasting impact on our culture. Once their roles and power were sabotaged by white christian power structures, the tribes’ religions dwindled.

      I have been touched and forever changed by the magic and brilliance of transgendered priests and priestesses in witchcamps all over the U.S. I claim them as my tribal members and encourage all pagan communities to welcome transgendered peoples. We need the deep magic they offer as they need our healing inclusion. If Judy Grahn is right in her look at tribal histories, transgender peoples can spark the magic that will be the future of our flourishing cultures.

      I also identify with the Dianic’s struggles and need for boundaries. We struggled for years at the Michigan Womyn’s Music festival to maintain woman born women separate space. And truthfully, I experienced the insistence by transgender women to be there as a violation and an expression of a patriarchal male attitude. Just because transgender woman decides she has a right to be somewhere doesn’t make it so. If you insist, it only sparks the Amazon warrior instinct, which we do want, but not directed against our transgender cousins.

      My suggestion to transgender women is to wait for the invitation. Dianics who want separate space have decided this is what they need for their own reasons, what ever those are. This doesn’t mean forever, or for every group. It just means respecting another’s boundaries.

      • http://twitter.com/widdershins_cat @widdershins_cat

        "We struggled for years at the Michigan Womyn’s Music festival to maintain woman born women separate space. And truthfully, I experienced the insistence by transgender women to be there as a violation and an expression of a patriarchal male attitude."

        Whereas the community of trans women saw and continues to see the cissexual-supremacist attitudes of MWMF as a very explicit expression and sanction of violence against us; an expression and sanction which refuses to allow itself to be examined or criticized. When you use the language of violation to try to push us away, we rightly interpret this as an act of violence and violation AGAINST US. You are refusing to honor our identities. You are refusing to honor our lives. You are hiding behind the shield of cissexual privilege and refusing to have community with a marginalized people on any grounds other than an absolute maintenance of supremacy and privilege. This may not be how you see it – but it IS how WE see it.

        I ask you: What legitimate aim does it further to push for the exclusion of people who are excluded virtually everywhere; who are systematically pushed out of our communities and out of our spaces and into the fringes?

      • http://secher-nbiw.blogspot.com Cobalt

        "I experienced the insistence by transgender women to be there as a violation and an expression of a patriarchal male attitude. Just because transgender woman decides she has a right to be somewhere doesn’t make it so."

        You experienced the behavior of other women as an expression of a patriarchal male attitude? This statement makes very little sense unless I assume you believe–on some level–that transwomen are simply men in disguise. You don't seem like you want to treat them that way, though, so I wanted to know how else I should be interpreting this. It sounds like you're saying that just because a transgender woman identifies as a woman doesn't make it so. Is this an accurate interpretation?

      • http://secher-nbiw.blogspot.com Cobalt

        Continuation of previous comment:

        Seondly, you said, "My suggestion to transgender women is to wait for the invitation." As a fellow warrior woman, I am guessing you're well aware that if women wait for invitations to be treated as whole and equal human beings, we will be waiting forever. Thankfully, feminists have been ignoring accusations that we're too pushy, uppity, angry, and obnoxious and have made great strides.

        I think that transpeople would probably appreciate some awareness on the part of certain Dianic groups that no marginalized group has ever gotten anything they needed or wanted by waiting patiently for it to be given to them. A group of Amazon warrior women ought to understand that better than most.

        • http://twitter.com/widdershins_cat @widdershins_cat

          To quote Dr. King, "The time is always right to do what is right."

        • Sihaya

          I want to kiss this comment.

          • http://twitter.com/widdershins_cat @widdershins_cat

            I do too. It beautifully sums up everything.

    • femmeguy

      Just a note — some trans and genderqueer people see that kind of imagery as accurate and appropriate to themselves, and others very firmly do not see themselves that way.

      • http://maewitch.livejournal.com/ Maggie

        It's also a question of who is defining and applying the imagery.

        It's the difference between:

        "This is how I identify myself. It's empowering and relevant to my experience, and I find it spiritually meaningful".

        Versus:

        "This is the space that I've defined as appropriate for trans people, regardless of their needs and self-identity, because I don't feel comfortable with them in my space."

    • Bookhousegal

      Well, I think these posts below, between you and Widdershins here, pretty well sum up some of the background to this, (particularly in terms of MWMF: I think they're a little past 'Wait for the invitation' and more toward, 'call the trans community when you're ready to apologize,' actually.

      That *includes* years of portraying transwomen as false, deceptive, intrusive, patriarchal, invasive, worthy of humiliation and police-state tactics, etc.

      Not a good model for *anything* to do with the Pagan community, I think.

      Actually, I'd like to think none of us have to treat each other that way.

      I think we can and often do do a lot better, and that may be why this all comes as a bit of a surprise in some ways.

      Now, the 'special magical shamanical nature' of trans people is certainly real for many, but it's also sometimes just used as a feel-good excuse to *push* people to the fringe and deny the fact that, yeah, a lot of that 'special magic' comes with a lot of pain and fear and things people *wouldn't* freely choose or necessarily wish on anyone.

      A lot of 'queer theorists' particularly like to think it's as simple for, say, transsexuals as 'celebrating sexuality' or 'the way they were born,' which in an anatomical sense is often a huge source of pain, a sense of *disfigurement,* even, (saying 'Hunchbacks are considered magical' would be no good reason to say 'Celebrate your spina bifida' or something) …and socially, particularly in the very same society which is pretty obsessed with binary gender roles, a source of a lot of abuse, dehumanization, and alienation.

      Trans people have no employment or housing rights in a majority of states, and are even denied jobs about what *toilet* they might use, ….so talking like it's all a magical wonder trans people should 'accept' while reinforcing all that social prejudice and oppression *isn't* something that'll always be received well.

      It's like, sure, the Moon-lodge or weaving circle may be wonderful and specially-magical, but you'd find it a whole different story if it were a time when 'women born women' were *locked in there,* right?

      Yes, everyone's got their own Mysteries, by a lot of categories. Let's not forget what else is involved here. And also remember that we should be aiming for that 'perfect love and perfect trust,' …..That means trusting *each other* with definitions, of ourselves and themselves…..and to learn what we need to do that with and without each other.

      If you want to talk about what shapeshiftey people can learn. ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=671619506 Ainslie

    I like the structural observation that what is oppressed in the bigger picture is femininity itself, and the manifestation that takes in different people's lives is different. For transwomen it means routine risk of murder, job, housing and social discrimination. For cismen it means being policed into a role which may or may not have anything to do with who you really are. For ciswomen it means never quite being seen as real, denigration of childbirth, sickness process, healing arts and women's mysteries. For transmen it means having to divide yourself in two just so you can live.

    I could go on and on and on. I didn't even get into the rape thing as that is a bit too much for the brain at the moment.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Diare-Turtlemoon/1031407074 Diare Turtlemoon

    "shape-shifters forever caught in the borderlands between this category and the other, or any others. There is something very powerful about their strange position in the great scheme of things. Beings that can look one way, feel one way, assume the emotional standpoint of other genders, freely choose to take up the roles of men or women, though nature itself sculpted them differently in so many ways"

    obins post reminds me of Judy Grahn’s analysis in Gay Words, Gay Culture. She examines the role of transgender shamans in tribal cultures and their lasting impact on our culture. Once their roles and power were sabotaged by white christian power structures, the tribes’ religions dwindled.

    I have been touched and forever changed by the magic and brilliance of transgendered priests and priestesses in witchcamps all over the U.S. I claim them as my tribal members and encourage all pagan communities to welcome transgendered peoples. We need the deep magic they offer as they need our healing inclusion. If Judy Grahn is right in her look at tribal histories, transgender peoples can spark the magic that will be the future of our flourishing cultures.

    I also identify with the Dianic’s struggles and need for boundaries. We struggled for years at the Michigan Womyn’s Music festival to maintain woman born women separate space. And truthfully, I experienced the insistence by transgender women to be there as a violation and an expression of a patriarchal male attitude. Just because transgender woman decides she has a right to be somewhere doesn’t make it so. If you insist, it only sparks the Amazon warrior instinct, which we do want, but not directed against our transgender cousins.

    My suggestion to transgender women is to wait for the invitation. Dianics who want separate space have decided this is what they need for their own reasons, what ever those are. This doesn’t mean forever, or for every group. It just means respecting another’s boundaries.

    • http://twitter.com/DesiArcy @DesiArcy

      A simple transposition reveals just how absurd your position is:

      "My suggestion to black people is to wait for the invitation. Whites who want separate space have decided this is what they need for their own reasons, what ever those are. This doesn’t mean forever, or for every group. It just means respecting another’s boundaries."

      Never in the history of humankind has civil rights progress ever been achieved by a minority docilely submitting to oppression until the majority gets bored of kicking it.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=671619506 Ainslie

        Comparing this to the historical and current oppression experience of African Americans is disingenuous and overly abstract. One of the main things I hear from African Americans about this is that they hate being used as a symbol of oppression dynamics by people who never get deeper into an actual sense of solidarity, and btw, that is hard and neccesary work. In fact the process of liberating the entire society from patriarchy is being done in steps, there is a larger context, and there often has to be a boundary between one step and the next. There are trans women who do this waiting precisely because they are secure in their femininity and they recognize the big picture. It is tempting for oppressed people to fight among themselves instead of challenging the larger culture where the big guns are out. It is tempting because on a primal level, we feel safer with other people who experience oppression. All the more reason to embrace a combination of boundaries and mutuality as we raise each other up and make each other stronger.

        • http://twitter.com/widdershins_cat @widdershins_cat

          So basically if we let you take just this little bit, you'll come back for us? You promise?

          We've been through this already in the LGBT civil rights movement. All that happens is that the cis-queers keep going for more and more, and the promised return for trans rights gets pushed back later and later. Trans people have come to justly believe that if we are going to wait for you to be ready to invite us in, we will be out in the cold forever.

          Therefore we fight, even though it is not our preference, because the alternative to fighting is death.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=671619506 Ainslie

            I'm not talking about stopping with fighting, I'm talking about leaving the separitist Dianics out of the fight. I'm talking about fighting smart.

        • http://twitter.com/DesiArcy @DesiArcy

          As a woman of color, I reject the right of anyone to claim that I lack the perspective to draw valid parallels between the oppression I face as a woman of color and the oppression I face as a trans woman.

          Or did you think all trans women were white?

          • Ainslie

            Ha ha! Shame on me. It just sounded like an overly simplistic formulation. Obviously you've got the experience to back this one up. I recognize the need to be frank and simple from my own intersectional oppressions. As a European american it looks to me as though the comparison of white/black with cis/trans is problematic because there is a gradation going on there. I think a more applicable race analogy would be biracial or multiracial people, who can do profound advocacy or profound betrayal.

      • Nestis

        The problem with your analogy is this that white is privileged. Female is not. Transwomen are the victims of more rape and murder than transmen because they are the ones transgressing into the female. "Uppity" transmen and lesbians aren't as threatening to the patriarchy because well, they are just seen as uppity females who are ultimately powerless. But transwomen and gay men? Since patriarchy is male-domininated, male-centered, and male-identified, the real violation that must be violently squashed is males "feminizing" themselves. Men "de-maning" themselves is what truly threatens the patriarchy because it upsets the male-centered, male-dominated, male-indentified fear/control framework in which it functions. So again, I find this tendancy to of transwomen to talk about any kind of percieved femaleness as privileged to be missing the central factor in their own oppression.

        Unless you want to make some argument of how blacks are more or less privileged than hispanics, or some other interracial comparision with another oppressed group, your analogy is not an accurate portrayal of perceived femaleness in our society and does not illustrate your point about ciswoman privilege.

        • http://twitter.com/DesiArcy @DesiArcy

          Being female is not privileged. Being cissexual, however, is massively privileged, and that applies to both cissexual men and cissexual women.

          • Nestis

            Femaleness is inherently not privileged, but unquestioned femaleness is?

            That is not logical.

            I just think we can do better than eliding the inherent oppression of all femaleness in our argumentation for trans rights. I think we can probe deeper and get more effective results if we look at the way sexual/gendered oppression works within patriarchy as a whole. We won't get there by eliding or diminishing the inherent degradation of all that is perceived of as feminine. Talking about some women being privileged for being perceived as a female when being perceived as a female is inherently not privileged makes some transwomens' interest in feminism seem disingenious, even if that is not the intent.

          • Sihaya

            You are still not understanding that male/female and cis/trans are two separate paradigms. They overlap, they intersect, but they are DIFFERENT.

            Case in point: feminism has had serious issues with oppressing transwomen since its inception. It is possible to be both privileged and marginalized at the same time– in different contexts. I can be a woman (marginalized) and cissexual (privileged), at the same time.

            Your logic is faulty.

      • Amadea

        This analogy mixes spaces in a way that is not analogous to the issues at hand. If white people or black people want to get together in groups, that shouldn't be a problem for anyone — so long as they don't take those distinctions to the larger community — that is, so long as they are ultimately pluralists which I think is should be our highest value (together with respect for all people and equal dignity). The mistake is to think that taking separate space at times is the same thing as lack of respect and loss of equal dignity in the community or society at large. If a group of black people want to go out to dinner together, should some white people be able to say, "Hey, you guys are wrong/bad for not including us?" See? Dianic separatist space has nothing to do with "civil rights."

        • Califried

          If a group of black people want to go out to dinner together, should some white people be able to say, "Hey, you guys are wrong/bad for not including us?" See? Dianic separatist space has nothing to do with "civil rights."

          Amadea, that's a spectacularly bad analogy. For one thing, you've reversed the power relationship in the discussion at hand (i.e. trans exclusion in "women's only" ritual space) – black men are an oppressed class with respect to race, while cisgendered women possess privilege with respect to transwomen. Second, you've tried to shift the basis of discussion to a one-time or occasional social arrangement. Third, you've completely obfuscated the stated reason for the arrangement.

          I don't generally like drawing analogies between axes of oppression, but a much closer analogy would go as follows: if a group of white men chose to eat together every day while publicly proclaiming that they "valued the shared experience of growing up white in our society," I think we can all agree that although they technically have the right to make that choice, they would be deserving of critique for exercising that right. Hope that helps!

          • http://twitter.com/DesiArcy @DesiArcy

            A more accurate analogy would be a group of white people having a "People's Lunch" which excludes people of color, then renaming it a "People Born People Lunch" and arguing that they have a right to exclude people of color from people space because, really, they just aren't the same as us and we're not comfortable around them.

          • Amadea

            If the issue is privilege, then the analogies get very confounded. The reason is that Dianics are dealing with a kind of oppression in their experience that has to do with being born female, living with the biology and socialization of that, etc.. If there is no space for them for that, then they are further oppressed.

            I've been wondering what would happen if all Dianics decided to include transwomen and then tried to continue their/our practices about blood mysteries and their particular oppressions in a patriarchal society. Would such issues addressed in ritual space be considered to be discriminatory because by the nature of them, those issues would exclude transwomen?

            Even if you didn't like my analogy, I note that you didn't address the main point of my response: The mistake is to think that taking separate space at times is the same thing as lack of respect and loss of equal dignity in the community or society at large.

          • http://twitter.com/widdershins_cat @widdershins_cat

            When "at times" is "all the time unless specifically otherwise stated," it is definitely discriminatory and needs to be addressed.

            Even if we can create all the trans-only space that is needed (hint: We can't – partially due to lack of resources but mostly due to intersectionality issues that continuously go unaddressed), there is STILL the need for communal space with other women. And that will go unaddressed as long as cissexual Pagan women continue to insist that their space be trans-woman-free.

            To be blunt, we can't reach agreement unless you are willing to step out of your comfort zone. As long as you're only willing to do what's comfortable, there will not be an agreement on this issue.

          • http://xkcd.com/285 Eran Rathan

            Widdershins_cat wrote:
            To be blunt, we can't reach agreement unless you are willing to step out of your comfort zone. As long as you're only willing to do what's comfortable, there will not be an agreement on this issue.

            After reading a lot of these comments (440~ in 2 days!), I think that a good portion of it boils down to this. "We don't want them in our group because we aren't comfortable with it." That's really sad.

          • Wyse1

            I think you are correct Eran.

    • Susie

      I am deeply moved by your respect for all parties in this issue and how your empathy is at the core of it. Want you to know there are others who, like you, want to include our transgendered pagans while respecting our Dianics need for separate space. Thank you for posting. My hope is something constructive will come out of this.

  • Desiree Arceneaux

    The differences in social experience between cis women and trans women are no greater than the differences in social experience between white women and women of color, or between upper class women and lower class women, or between any other sorts of women. Second-wave radical feminists do not accept this because they arrogantly define their own experiences as the end-all, be-all of "women's experiences" and wilfully refuse to comprehend any womanhood they cannot project themselves onto.

    The sole purpose for terms like "womyn born womyn" or "female born women" is to perpetuate this second-wave bigotry against trans women into the era of the third wave, nominally recognizing our femininity but gleefully othering us as "women in name only" and continuing to exclude us from women's space by rebadging it as "womyn born womyn" space. Those who support this ideology are shameless hypocrites who wield the language of social justice in one hand and the master's tools of institutional power and social privilege in the other.

    • http://secher-nbiw.blogspot.com Cobalt

      Agreed. It's disappointing to see and hear people who claim to be celebrating their own power and worth and beauty as women, but then turn around and say, "But only these kinds of women are woman enough for us." I think a lot of the transphobic Dianics (and I mean this in the literal sense of "averse to transpeople," as well as using it to ensure that non-transphobic Dianics don't think I'm applying this to them) need to remember how much damage has been done to ciswomen who didn't live up to other people's standards of "woman enough." Let's not turn around and do to transwomen what misogyny has done to us–put us in boxes and categories of "good/authentic" women and "bad/fake" women.

    • Nestis

      I really don't think it's that simple. I guess I'm more second-wave than I thought I was, but I think a lot of the divisions between the waves is illusory and defeating feminism where it stands, but that's another issue. Basically, the second-wave isn't the demon the younger generation (which I'm a part of) likes to pretend it is, Alice Walker, bell hooks, and Pat Califia are all second-wave thinkers. What I see is third-wavers rebellioning against the straw woman they label the "second-wave" without acknowledging the depth and diversity of what it really was/is. Talk about matricide!

      It needs to be acknowledged that some ciswomen are angry that transwomen will never admit to every having had male privilege. Instead transwomen say that they were always a woman inside (privilege isn't about our insides!) so it never existed, or that they were treated so badly for wanting to be girls that any privilege they might have had was nullified. And yet privilege doesn't work that way they tell me, its what we're not aware of having, remember?

      • Nestis

        These same transwomen certainly don't let a ciswoman's lifetime of abuse for being a girl/woman nullify the concept of her supposed privilege for that same unquestioned womanhood. It seems hypocritical to me.

        I think this issue is particularly tricky with ciswomen and transwomen because effectively transwomen are transitioning into an underclass while simulatainously telling that underclass how privileged it is and how ignorant they are for not seeing it, when these women-only spaces only exist in the first place because of a lack of privilege.

        There has to be a level of sensitivity when moving into an underclass (and women are a class of people in patriarchy, not just an identity) that many don't seem to feel needs to be acknowledged.

        • http://maewitch.livejournal.com/ Maggie

          I think maybe part of the difficulty here is seeing trans women as people who once benefitted from male privilege, and are coming into women's space with that privilege intact. The reality is that the majority of trans women did not identify as gender-male, even in childhood, and often live their lives transgressing normative -gender-male behavior – for which they were punished and oppressed just as much as cis women are, and were vulnerable to the same kind of sexual degradation and abuse.

          • http://twitter.com/DesiArcy @DesiArcy

            Maggie, that difficulty is no accident — anti-trans bigots have invested an enormous amount of time and energy into imposing the false narrative of trans women as privileged middle-to-upper-class men who get "sex changes" as a combination of of mid-life crisis and sexual kink.

          • http://maewitch.livejournal.com/ Maggie

            Fifteen-twenty years ago, my feminist consciousness was developed in part by reading the works of ecofeminists like Mary Daly. I only went back to those original texts very recently – after reading the comments attributed to Z, actually, to see what could possibly be informing this idea of trans women as covert males invading female space. I was shocked to read the unbelievably transphobic arguments Daly made, as well as those of her student, Janice Raymond, such as "All transsexuals rape women's bodies by reducing the real female form to an artifact, appropriating this body for themselves …. Transsexuals merely cut off the most obvious means of invading women, so that they seem non-invasive."

          • http://twitter.com/DesiArcy @DesiArcy

            Yeah, I've noticed that a lot of older feminists *never even noticed* the blazing transphobia of the Daly-Raymond-Greer troika. Greer's comments were even nastier than Daly and Raymond:

            "When a man decides to spend his life impersonating his mother (like Norman Bates in Psycho) it is as if he murders her and gets away with it, proving at a stroke that there was nothing to her. His intentions are no more honourable than any female impersonator's; his achievement is to gag all those who would call his bluff. When he forces his way into the few private spaces women may enjoy and shouts down their objections, and bombards the women who will not accept him with threats and hate mail, he does as rapists have always done."

            That isn't from the 70s, either; it's from Greer's 1999 book "The Whole Woman".

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=671619506 Ainslie

            It may be interesting to note that at that time gay male culture-the only visible queer culture- was pretty darn mysogynist? Gay men were the jesters of the patriarchy, playing the only role straight men would give them. It's easy to see how the misunderstanding would occur, since drag queens have always been part of that culture. Trans women were just starting to be seen, the ones with enough resources to transition and to bear the burden of taboo breaking coming often from privileged places of heterosexual marriage and job security.

          • http://twitter.com/DesiArcy @DesiArcy

            The lack of visibility of trans women had very little to do with privilege and everything to do with the forcible imposition of cultural norms on trans women by the psychological establishment. If you were anything but a socially conservative middle to upper class straight white trans woman, they would not let you transition.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=671619506 Ainslie

            true.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=671619506 Ainslie

            Remember Audre Lorde's Open Letter to Mary Daly? She critiqued Daly for making all her descriptions of patriarchy from non white nations. In addition to the Raymond trip, this was another example of oppressed people eating their own-white middleclass feminism attacking only the weakest target, instead of finding solidarity with men of color and transwomen.

          • http://twitter.com/DesiArcy @DesiArcy

            Second wave feminism was called out by women of color *from day one* as a neo-colonial imposition of white women's experiences and opinions as the "one true way" that all women needed to find freedom.

            As such, the white view of third wave feminism as a follow-on movement that patched up the innocent mistakes and oversights of the second wave is revisionist history at its worst; the truth is that the third wave is the authentic community-based, diversity-centric movement which was suppressed by upper-class white cis female academics for as long as possible so they could make a profitable career out of "feminist studies".

            The third wave as we know it is simply when the ideological elite of upper-class white American cis women academics lost its ill-gained ability to silence and speak in place of all other women. It's when minority civil rights finally caught up to feminism and spanked some sense into it with a clue-by-four.

        • http://twitter.com/DesiArcy @DesiArcy

          Cisgender women are not an underclass. Women are an underclass, and trans people are an underclass; cisgender women are an underclass as women and a dominant class as cis people, just as white women are an underclass as women and a dominant class as white people.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=671619506 Ainslie

          I think that is well said. I think underlying this is the current of transwomen feeling outrage at having to bear the burden of accountability for everything that the cismale patriarchy has ever done.

          • http://twitter.com/DesiArcy @DesiArcy

            The patriarchy belongs to all men, not just cis men. Refusal to acknowledge that trans men are equal participants in patriarchy with cis men is just the flip side of refusing to acknowledge that trans women are women.

          • Nestis

            The patriarchy belongs to all of us, unfortunately. We all participate in it. It's how we participate in it that matters.

      • http://twitter.com/widdershins_cat @widdershins_cat

        So what your saying is that while you have your boot on our necks, we're expected to make nice for whatever privilege we may have encountered in the past, before you'll agree not to stomp?

        • Nestis

          Not at all. I just don't think transwomen get to excuse their own history of privilege while claiming that they're just like ciswomen, except not, because ciswomen are bad oppressors holding all the privilege, when to be a ciswoman in patriarchy is by definition to be oppressed. Just like to be non-white, or poor, or disabled is.

          I would be willing to say that to be transgender is to be universally oppressed, except for the fact that those transsexual women who pass completely are no longer oppressed for being trans. They are ciswomen now as far as the external fuctioning of privilege is concerned, and oppressed for that.

          I just think we need to be honest, and respectful of diverse experience.

          I have never, and will never, deny the authenticity of your identity as a woman. But when it comes to oppressive structures our identities are not the only piece of the puzzle.

          • http://twitter.com/widdershins_cat @widdershins_cat

            Being cissexual is by definition a privileged position in society vis a vis being transsexual. This is where your analysis – and that of most second-wave feminists – breaks down: You are analyzing cissexual + woman as a single unit when they are two separate privilege interactions.

            If you tried, you could not have made a better example and case for the invisibility of privilege.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=671619506 Ainslie

            I think this can go in the direction of amelioration, instead of impasse, when instead of looking at the tiny details between two particulars, vision is expanded to the interplay of all the different societal dynamics. How does the conversation change when we acknowledge class privilege? Race and ethnicity privilege? All the richness of history and wisdom in our communities?

            How bout when we acknowledge the birth families we escaped from?

          • Califried

            How does the conversation change when we acknowledge class privilege? Race and ethnicity privilege? All the richness of history and wisdom in our communities?

            Ainslie, since cisgendered individuals always possess privilege with respect to trans individuals, the essential nature of the conversation doesn't change very much. It would simply become too broad a conversation to have in a space like this. The "tiny details between two particulars" you refer to actually represent a significant power relationship that we can discuss without broadening the conversation to a point that it's practically impossible to have in a space like this. Intersectionality is important, but it's not actually necessary to acknowledge all oppressions that exist to have a conversation about the oppression experienced by trans individuals or the privilege possessed by cisgendered individuals.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=671619506 Ainslie

            I think that is too simple. Different types of oppression have definite qualitative differences. There are lessons of temperance and long term survival in these aspects of history.

          • Califried

            Different types of oppression have definite qualitative differences.

            Ainslie, that is very true but ultimately irrelevant given that Nestis started this tangent by disclaiming cisgender privilege because she is oppressed as a cisgendered woman in a patriarchal society. There is simply no reasonable way to have a conversation that takes into account all axes of oppression in a venue like this. Analyzing the intersections of all, most or many types of privilege and all, most or many types of oppression is simply not possible without writing many, many thousands of words, and at the end of the day the answer that is relevant to the discussion at hand (i.e. trans exclusion from "women's only" ritual spaces) is that cisgendered individuals possess privilege with respect to trans individuals.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=671619506 Ainslie

            May I suggest study, if conversation is too clunky?

            Yours for a solution to all of this,
            Ainslie

          • http://twitter.com/widdershins_cat @widdershins_cat

            So… how do you know what it feels like to be oppressed as a transgender child? How do you know that it was qualitatively less-bad than to be oppressed as a cisgender girl?

          • Nestis

            I don't think anyone is trying to claim that here. All I'm asking is that you do not make the reverse claim.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=671619506 Ainslie

            Hi,
            The point of my saying that was to promote studying non-gender oppression axes as I've seen this type of multidimensionality loosen up many a knot in my 26 years of radical political engagement. I was specifically trying to conterbalance the endless debate between cis and trans women on who is more oppressed.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=671619506 Ainslie

            I grew up a transgender child ;)

          • Ainslie

            I know I recieved rejection from many women in my life because of my masculine energy, and I experienced all the oppression that comes with being born female bodied (With enormous tits I might add.)- even more, since due to the ubiquitous transphobia of society I was not merely seen as "woman" or "girl", but as trash, nothing, something not human, to be abused or used with impunity.

          • Ainslie

            Unfortunately when people truly get abused, the instinct of EVERYBODY is to turn a blind eye.

          • http://twitter.com/widdershins_cat @widdershins_cat

            To continue here: Passing or not, being transgender automatically makes you subaltern. You cannot lose your trans status, ever – legally, currently, there is no "exit clause" for the diagnosis of Gender Identity "Disorder." Once you are diagnosed with it, that diagnosis and that designation stays with you for life, even if you are years or decades post-transition and fully functional in society, you are diagnosed and designated "disordered" because your sex differs from your assigned sex at birth. Socially, if one outs oneself as trans, all cissexual privilege ceases. This is why "stealth" and "deep stealth" exist: To prevent being directly victimized by cissexist oppression.

            Freedom in exchange for silence is no freedom at all, but another form of oppression.

            To quote Tobi Hill-Meyer: "When trans women are afraid to analyze or discuss the role of male privilege in their life because of the way accusations of male privilege have been used as weapons to silence, shame, and misgender trans women, that's transmisogyny.

            "When trans women do analyze and discuss the role of male privilege in their lives and come to different conclusions than the dominant cis feminist perspective and are told it is because they simply don't understand privilege or are ignorant of feminism, that's transmisogyny."

            Think about it, please?

          • Nestis

            I am thinking about it, and continuing to do so.

          • Ainslie

            I would say that to confront your privilege and associated power and responsibility to others while oppressed is the hardest thing. But it may be where the real work is.

      • http://twitter.com/DesiArcy @DesiArcy

        Anyone who believes that mainstream second wave feminism was diverse badly needs to read what women of colour had to say about it, especially the writings of Patricia Hill Collins and Mary Ann Weathers.

        • Nestis

          Who said anything about "mainstream" second-wave feminism? I was simply pointing out some famous second-wave thinkers that get elided out of herstory because it's inconvenient to the narrative that the second-wave was homogenous. The Goddess movement wasn't mainstream either.

      • Ainslie

        as far as I can tell those 3 authors were more harbingers of 3rd wave than strict 2nd wave.

  • Amadea

    Perhaps you'd like to create that space.

    • http://twitter.com/widdershins_cat @widdershins_cat

      That's not in my hands. I can create trans-welcoming space, certainly, but all it's going to be is trans space unless cissexual women are willing to put aside their egos and join us. That's not what I want. I want space for community. I want space to celebrate the diversity of womanhood – not just centered around a specific, singular experience.

      When all ritual space for women is connected to the experience of menstruating, it pushes out more than just trans women. It pushes out the women who can't, for whatever reason. It pushes out the women who have never. It pushes out the women who have had hysterectomies.

      It pushes out the women who identify as more than just a walking uterus.

      Now, as it happens, I know that not all ritual space for women is defined that way. But the idea that large, community women's rituals MUST center around menstruation MUST. DIE. We are more than reproductive capability, let's start honoring ourselves as more than just that.

      • http://twitter.com/widdershins_cat @widdershins_cat

        (and let me add that it is ONLY due to a significant amount of privilege – wealth privilege and cissexual-passing privilege – that I have the ability to create trans women's space… if I didn't pass, if I didn't have money available? Not happening)

      • Ainslie

        Well said. The way you put it, it makes a lot of sense.

      • Amadea

        I think you don't know enough about the Dianic tradition to comment on it. It doesn't exclude any of these: " It pushes out the women who can't, for whatever reason. It pushes out the women who have never. It pushes out the women who have had hysterectomies."

        But let me say this: I would join a ritual that celebrates woman in all of her manifestations. I think those who feel strongly about it (chrom or trans) ought to make that happen. In fact, I have been in ritual space with transwomen plenty of times and loved it.

        • http://twitter.com/widdershins_cat @widdershins_cat

          So you admit that ANY non-trans woman is welcomed in Dianic circles?

          Fine. Then you just admitted that the Dianic tradition discriminates against a tiny, powerless, oppressed minority of women for NO OTHER REASON than the fact that we are a tiny, powerless, oppressed minority and you have the power to do so. That is something that you have the legal sanction to do, certainly, but it's not RIGHT.

  • Bookhousegal

    Frankly, Norse, that's just trying to put a mystical gloss on Fox News talking points about how 'opposing social justice by not pointing out social injustice and claiming you're just that cool, is really 'social justicier,' '

    Also, you display a lot of ignorance, there, actually: apart from expecting people to accept a priori that there are 'Men's bodies and men's souls' and 'Women's bodies and women's souls,' that's actually just insisting on two forms of binary determinism and trying to make them into a mathematical equation of some kind.

    Transwomen, contrary to what some claim, do not enjoy 'male privilege' as such, because even before transition, they usually do not conform to the 'price' of that male privilege, at least not well, and immediately forefeit all of *that* as well as straight privilege, (regardless of their actual orientation) as well as forefeiting 'cisgender privilege' and almost invariably at least most of any class and race privilege they may have originally-been assigned. Generally with a *vengeance. *

    Conflating social inequality with some presumption that social inequality is inherently a character flaw on the part of anyone seen as less privileged is the *problem,* here, not the solution.

    You're just trying to conform people to *two* binary ideologies, here, Norse, not doing any favors by claiming to be blind to differences on one hand and supportive of them on the other.

    Trans people don't necessarily fit any of them, even if you associate them with Loki, (Who doesn't fare well in dualistic judgments to begin with, never mind *more* of them.)

    Seeing all beings as equal is a nice abstraction, insisting people *are being treated so when the opposite is the case, because you can arrange words and laugh at people,* …Is not.

    And if you claim to be a scholar on Norse things, you should know that those 'special powers,' never mind Glenn Beck talking points, are nothing that means 'equality' when it comes to how people are treated and defined in society.

    As for alchemy, well, you should know primal androgyny don't come from just two, or four, ingredients. Never mind the 'Heritage Foundation.' :)

    Even then, what's the hard part about manifesting these wondrous elixirs and all? Those damn ingredients refusing to be absolute? Or…. Is there something about the Work that doesn't reduce to talking points like that?

    Phenomenal magic powers, yes.

    Itty bitty living space.

    Whose bottle? In both senses of the term, not yours. :)

    • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

      Bookhouse, you raise good points, but I fear you're letting something get in the way of understanding me.

      You say I am ignorant because I brought up the concept of Male and Female bodies and souls. I'm not sure how I'm being ignorant here, as the Masculine and the Feminine is an important dichotomy in Paganism, Heathenism, Eastern Religions, and philosophies and religions all over the world. Now, to be honest, we have Male bodies, Female bodies, and Hermaphroditic bodies (though they are rare). Now, perhaps we have a Sliding Scale of Masculinity and Femininity, rather than a solid division. I'm willing to argue we do, both from what I've seen and my own personal experiences. No where have I insisted there is only the dichotomy.

      That said, be it solid or sliding scale though, we do have Masculine and Feminine energy. Now if a transsexual woman is indeed a woman (as many have stated, and which I agree too) then she is a woman who is (assuming she's pro-op) inside a body that would be considered Male. Yes she is a woman? What makes her a woman? I would argue that she has the spiritual energy or soul, of a woman. Perhaps there is an added element to this that I don't know about. The Egyptians believed that a person had Three Souls. Irregardless though, I have used the term Soul to describe the woman living in the Male body. I fail to see how that is ignorant, but if it is, I would appreciate a better way of explain how a transsexual woman is a woman existing in the male form. I fail to see how this was an ignorant a priori statement.

      I didn't say a woman in a man's body got to be more privileged. I asked if this was so. You say they are not because of a "price" for that male privilege. Could you please explain what that "price" is? Is it conforming? Is it being a male inside that male body? I truly wish to understand this, because I don't really buy into the idea that men are all that privileged above everyone else. I can see why some might believe we are, but I'm not sure I agree.

      As for the implication that social inequality is based on a flaw, that's not my point of view. That's how I said it sounded. Though to be honest, I wonder which side is the victim. Is it those born to privilege, who never asked for it and now are told that because they are privileged that they are inherently oppressing and must now give up that privilege, irregardless of that "privileged" person's nature and attitudes? After all, since a person can't help being born what they are, is it fair to insist that they must change their ways or cannot live their life a certain way, because someone is less privileged than they are? The cis-women dianics couldn't help being born cis-women, yet it seems justified that they should be made to change their ways and how they practice their religion simply because they are "privileged."

      I'm not sure I really see the justice of forcing a person who can't help how they were born to conform to the way another group thinks society should work, simply because they are judged as "privileged" by the group that wants them to changed.

      I'm not trying to conform people to a binary ideology. I'm talking about a sliding scale, perhaps in a circular form that closes in on itself and allows for all types. I don't see how i'm being supportive of one system of differences while claiming to be blind to those differences. I see those differences, I just don't care about them. People are people, they are different to be sure, but that doesn't change the fact that they are people and worthy of being judged by that alone, not what makes them different.

      • http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com Norse Alchemist

        By saying trans people don't fit, are you not in a way insisting that they couldn't fit? (I'm not sure what you mean about Loki not fairing well in judgments, but then I'm a bit kinder heart-ed towards him.)

        As for my "laughing" I never said they were treated equally. I merely said that I treated them more equally than the people calling for equality. I treat them that way. Society is another matter.

        I know the ways of alchemy. the many are one, they are both solid and mutable. It is both Objective and Subjective. Everything is what it is, and yet it is not. It is the same above as it is below, and below as it is above. The four elements are states of being, forms of matter, archetypes, guidelines, roads, and secrets, all at the same time. they make the fifth element when brought together, yet the fifth can exist without them and become each and everyone of them. The hard part of manifesting the elixirs is that they are all and one, different and the same. Men are women, women are men. the boundaries you see are not the boundaries that are. What you see is both real and illusion.

        All that you know is nothing. The nothing you know is all that is, was, and every will be in the universe. Ignorance is bliss and knowledge is agony, and we live in blissful agony. There is One Truth, and that truth is that there are many truths, all of which are true, even when they would seem to make each other false.

        This is the nature of Alchemy. This is the nature of all things.

  • http://twitter.com/widdershins_cat @widdershins_cat

    As we get further from the event, I am more and more having the sinking feeling that we are going to see a “resolution” which reifies the status quo and ensures that anti-transsexual-discrimination space continue to dominate women’s rituals, instead of a development of space that is inclusive and welcoming of all self-identified women

  • Ainslie

    What would happen if men started circling all over the place with trans men included?

    • http://twitter.com/widdershins_cat @widdershins_cat

      I think that would be EXTREMELY awesome.

      • http://twitter.com/SeaMist_au @SeaMist_au

        Probably just a lot of men circling……..

  • http://twitter.com/widdershins_cat @widdershins_cat

    Good night… I hope wisdom and compassion come to everyone here.

  • Susie

    This is an ongoing debate that gets reignited too often, fueled by hurt feelings and charged accusations of discrimination. Sadly I don't think we've found the right solution to create a inclusive safe space for everyone. It just isn't as simple as we'd like. That said, I *am* optimistic that we as a community are now more committed to finding a better way to address the issue.

    Our transgendered brothers and sisters have a unique experience. I can't even begin to imagine how difficult it must be to live thru adolescence knowing you're in the wrong body, your family and society telling you that everything you feel is wrong, that you are male or female dependant on plumbing. To make the decision of gender reassignment requires years of therapy and a mind boggling series of surgeries. Clearly worth it to look in the mirror and recognize that your inner self now matches your outer self. It enables these people to have relationships and to be honest in expressing themselves in a way they could not before.

    But none of that will ever give a MtF transgendered the experience of growing up female. They are distinct and separate journeys.

    Many of these women-only groups were born out of a need to create safe space, to heal from childhood violence or even to find a voice after a lifetime of being silenced in a male dominated culture. A defining element that creates a feeling of commonality is knowing the people you are with have also experienced their lives as women. All of their lives. And if that is what these individuals need, who are we to disparage them for it? Whether this is a temporary measure to purge damage or a lifetime devotion seems less important than their right to this space.

    I don't think CAYA – or any other group – intentionally set out to exclude anyone, but in creating a safe space focus has become very narrow. Maybe the way to address this in public gatherings is to have red tent rituals, men only rituals, rituals open to everyone *and* a ritual for those who want to sanctify the experience of transformative gender identity. Perhaps our trangendered pagans could help us walk the path of Dionysus, Loki and so many others who transformed themselves beyond the boundaries of one sexual identity. It's not about pretending you've been this gender all your life, it's about celebrating the extraordinary journey into the shadow to embrace what was missing and complete yourself. Inanna is surely smiling on these individuals.

    Above all, it must begin with respect for these separate spaces and the people who seek out the sacred in whatever way they choose, be it as the God, the Goddess or both together. Dianics and transgendered alike.

    *Originally posted on http://witchofstitches.blogspot.com

    • Jaclyn Desiree Arceneaux

      Frankly, the fact that you insist on referring to transsexual women as "MtF transgendered" is pretty much all we need to know about your point of view.

      • http://maewitch.livejournal.com/ Maggie

        "It's not about pretending you've been this gender all your life"

        I think that bit right there is just as indicative.

        • Jaclyn Desiree Arceneaux

          Well, at least she's being honest about the fact that "womyn born womyn" is and has always been entirely about excluding trans women from women's space.

      • Susie

        Actually, I don't have a particular point of view beyond trying to respect eveyone's feelings in this. And I'm deeply sorry if you felt the way I referred to a group was indicative of an opinion, mostly it was to be specific. At the end of the day we're talking about women, those born women and those who have taken a profound journey to self-identify as women.

        • Jaclyn Desiree Arceneaux

          You still don't get it, or perhaps you don't *want* to get it. The idea that cis women are "born women" and trans women are not is DEAD WRONG; we're all born babies. "Women born women" is a morally bankrupt and counterfactual philosophy designed to inflict even more oppression on women who were already horrifically traumatized by being forcibly socialized as boys.

    • http://twitter.com/widdershins_cat @widdershins_cat

      There are times when I suspect that a lot of pagans – when they see us at all – have the tendency to think of trans people in a helping/serving role, as you are doing here – which really denies us the opportunity to have a spirituality defined to ourselves. So when we say, "No, we need a spiritual role that isn't magic-teach-others-a-lesson people," we maybe get a little bit of incomprehension.

      If you deny our gender, you deny our souls, and the harm you do? Well… law of return.

      • Susie

        I don't deny your gender, your soul, or your experience. I did think you could help us understand your journey more but that is a personal decision and not mine to make for you.

        I want you to be included, embraced and accepted as a part of our community.

        As I'm sure Dianics want to be included, embraced and accepted as part of our community.

        What we should be having is a dialogue, listening to each other rather than assuming we understand. Clearly we have a long way to go.

        I wish you well. I really do. And I'm going to keep listening.

        • http://twitter.com/widdershins_cat @widdershins_cat

          What are you willing to do?

          Specifically, how are you willing to step outside of your comfort zone? One of the difficulties that trans women have ALWAYS had with cissexual feminists is that we are often given nebulous promises of support and solidarity, but when it actually comes to the nuts and bolts of inclusion, the actual act of showing solidarity and creating resources for trans women to use, you're never there.

          Do you understand how difficult it is to trust, when Lucy keeps yanking the freaking football away?

          • Susie

            What am I willing to do? I'm willing to circle with women, both cis and self-identifying women. Men, too. I'm willing to invite you into my sacred space and share that experience with you.

            But I can only speak for myself. I can't and won't speak for anyone else.

            Trust. That's a tough one. I don't know how difficult it's been for you to trust when the trans community has been set aside by the LBGT community and women and every other civil rights movement, but I can imagine. I can empathize. As a person with a disability, I know how it feels to be excluded before being asked if I want to contribute, or even if I can. It's hurtful, I get it.

            Also, to be absolutely clear, I don't see "trans people in a helping/serving role". I thought that having you lead ritual would be an enriching experience for you and everyone involved. I thought it would help us be included in your community just as you want to be more included in ours. It was an honest attempt to bridge this gap, not at all to limit or predefine your contribution. I apologize if it seemed otherwise.

            I'm not entirely sure what you mean by "the nuts and bolts of inclusion, the actual act of showing solidarity and creating resources for trans women." Can you tell me what other ways we can be supportive, what resources we can create that would be helpful in a practical way? Aside from the issue that started this dialogue. I would like you to feel supported, just want a better idea how that looks to you.

          • http://twitter.com/widdershins_cat @widdershins_cat

            I'll talk a little more about this in the morning (I just realized that my difficulty forming coherent statements right now is probably because I'm dead tired), but… willingness is very good. And… yeah. I'm way too scrambled to be that coherent right now other than that. ;) More later.

          • Susie

            It all starts with a willingness to listen, from all parties.

    • http://twitter.com/widdershins_cat @widdershins_cat

      Epistemologies of ignorance are common because a simple lie is easier than a complicated truth.

    • http://twitter.com/widdershins_cat @widdershins_cat

      "The first principle of non-violent action is that of non-cooperation with everything humiliating." – Cesar Chavez

      "Womyn-born-womyn space" is humiliating to trans women. Therefore we must not cooperate with it.

      • Bookhousegal

        …Or, it can stop being inherently humiliating to be a transwoman. I really don't think that's on any one group.

        Transwomen shouldn't need to be begging for 'validation,' and women with certain plumbing shouldn't be the ones to be doling it out.

        Definitions are ours to deal with, but to my experience, Goddess is both patient with these little crises and not-waiting for words and definitions.

        No one can take that away.

        Not even us. ;)

    • http://twitter.com/widdershins_cat @widdershins_cat

      I no longer feel that continued education about trans issues within women's communities would change their oppressive behaviors in any significant degree, unless they are actually willing to change. It is not the lack of knowledge or information that keeps oppression going; it is the lack of feminist compassion, conscience and principle that is. -Emi Koyama, "Whose Feminism is it Anyway? The Unspoken Racism of the Trans Inclusion Debate"

      (http://eminism.org/readings/pdf-rdg/whose-feminism.pdf)

      This is pretty much where we are. Trans people have been out, and have been doing activism and education about ourselves for 40+ years. The reason we are where we are is not because of a lack of effort on our parts, but a lack of compassion on the parts of others, and we cannot change that; only they can.

      We can only keep fighting. As weary as we are, as numb as our proverbial sword arm is, as hoarse as our voices become; our only choice is to press forward.

  • Leea

    umm-that's were, as opposed to "we are". Either my eyes or my fingers, along with my brain, are getting old…

  • sagewind

    Not a particularly timely comment, but I just gotta say that in the USA, regardless of sensitivity to trans issues, women who want to worship with only women-born-women have the right to do so. I mean, not everybody has to agree with that or stay silent, and obviously many people don't. The fact remains that women who chose that can and will do so, regardless of the implications and effects on trans women.

    Just curious, does anyone know if Catholic nuns allow trans-women (or trans-men as priests, for that matter)? In my eyes, that is a similar religious calling – but we all know that the Catholic church is hardly tolerant of any form of queerness. That so many people in the pagan community are willing to even entertain this discussion puts us a far step ahead of many other religions. If nothing else, it gives one hope, yes?

    • Bookhousegal

      The day we're using Catholic orders as a reference for *anything* about sex and gender is….

      • http://twitter.com/widdershins_cat @widdershins_cat

        Yeah, that's not exactly the best standard for comparison.

        • sagewind

          Is there a better one? I'm not acquainted with many women-only religious orders, and willing to expand my knowledge.

    • Jaclyn Desiree Arceneaux

      No one is arguing that the Amazons don't have the legal right to be transphobic bigots, so I don't see why you felt you had to bring that up.

      • sagewind

        I'm rather surprised they're not arguing it, then. If the debate is "HOW COULD THEY?" and "SHOULD THEY GET AWAY WITH THAT?" it's a valid point. I'm not defending how it was done, nor that it was done in the first place. But like it or lump it, the fact is it's how certain women worship and even after this whole kerfuffle I'm willing to bet that many of them will continue in that vein. Doesn't make it right – for that matter, that it doesn't make it necessarily wrong (that is, if it's based on something other than "EW THOSE ICKY TRANSEXUALS WILL GIVE US COOTIES"), either. It's just how they choose to do it.

        Painting every woman-born-woman who only feels comfortable in a spiritual space around other women-born-women as a bigot is harsh, I feel, and automatically negates any argument to the contrary – they're just BIGOTS and BIASED and therefore nothing they say about their own faith practice matters because it's not what the majority/minority/those people over there/etc. want to hear.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=671619506 Ainslie

          Perhaps the crux of the matter is how much public space they claim, rather than if they do it.

        • http://twitter.com/widdershins_cat @widdershins_cat

          Why is it harsh?

          Why should people's unaddressed transphobia get a pass just because transphobia is normal and socially accepted?

          • sageonthewind

            You have to prove to me first that each and every woman-born-woman is doing this out of transphobia, first. Maybe it's not transphobia, but a sincere non-related wish to be with those like them on every level, including chromosomal. Maybe it's not transphobia, but an insecurity of their own ability to properly provide a healing, nurturing spiritual environment for transwomen – whose lives, as have often been noted, are effin' hard and like as not have scarred them in more ways than one. And hypothetically – not to be mistaken for anything else, HYPOTHETICALLY – there could be some instance where a group is willing to consider a transwoman joining up, but the transwoman in this instance shows up just doesn't work out well within that group. There are many ways that women-born-women can practice a strict interpretation of the Dianic trad without it meaning they're up in their little privileged treehouse and writing signs on cardboard in crayon going "YUKKY PRE-OPz GO AWAY!"

            Certainly, calling out folks such as Z. Budapest who announced her rather knee-jerk, frothing-at-the-mouth stance on the subject is quite all right. People who go around spreading hate – especially while they claim the title of 'feminist' is definitely someone to be angry at. I support transfolk in their endeavors for understanding and acceptance. I just think it's going to be a long discussion, and when you get to the compromise, it will piss off everybody on all sides.

          • Jaclyn Desiree Arceneaux

            "You have to prove to me first that each and every woman-born-woman is doing this out of transphobia, first. Maybe it's not transphobia, but a sincere non-related wish to be with those like them on every level, including chromosomal."

            This is not even remotely possible in light of the fact that they are ONLY excluding trans women and no other kind of woman whatsoever, and they are doing so in the context of a ceremony which was explicitly intended for all women and not some highly specific subset thereof.

            "Maybe it's not transphobia, but an insecurity of their own ability to properly provide a healing, nurturing spiritual environment for transwomen – whose lives, as have often been noted, are effin' hard and like as not have scarred them in more ways than one. And hypothetically – not to be mistaken for anything else, HYPOTHETICALLY – there could be some instance where a group is willing to consider a transwoman joining up, but the transwoman in this instance shows up just doesn't work out well within that group."

            Also not even remotely possible, since they were categorically excluding trans women — even going so far as to rudely slam the door in people's faces.

            " There are many ways that women-born-women can practice a strict interpretation of the Dianic trad without it meaning they're up in their little privileged treehouse and writing signs on cardboard in crayon going "YUKKY PRE-OPz GO AWAY!" "

            Only in your fevered imagination is there any possible way to categorically exclude all trans women, and trans women alone, from a public women's event without being a transphobe.

          • http://twitter.com/widdershins_cat @widdershins_cat

            According to Rabbit, there were a few women in the room believed to be trans women – because they didn't take their clothes off. For what was explicitly advertised as a skyclad ritual.

            And that should tell you all that you need to know right there about the massive load of shame, guilt, ridicule and insult that cissexual people heap on our bodies.

        • harmonyfb

          Painting every woman-born-woman who only feels comfortable in a spiritual space around other women-born-women as a bigot is harsh, I feel

          If one is "uncomfortable" with people who differ from oneself, then maybe one should bypass public rituals altogether, as the wider Pagan community is mind-bogglingly diverse, and there will most assuredly be people there who aren't like you.

    • http://twitter.com/widdershins_cat @widdershins_cat

      The reverse is also true: We in the trans community also have the right to express our displeasure and distaste at being excluded. Having the legal right to exclude trans people does NOT imply the legal right to not hear criticism for doing so.

      • sagewind

        Uh, yeah, I noted that already in my earlier post. Not telling anyone to shut up. By all means, dissent, discuss, object, take a stand, be outraged. More power to ya.

        • http://twitter.com/widdershins_cat @widdershins_cat

          The next time someone accuses trans women of possessing male privilege, remember this: The average lifespan of a transgender person is twenty-three years.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=636701735 JoHanna M. White

      I’d like to encourage folks to check out http://genderandpaganismconference.eventbrite.com to continue this discussion!

  • Circe

    It warms my heart to see someone standing up and saying the way to social justice is not paved by trashing another person's rights. The ideas of communism don't work in the economy or in the evolution of social equality.

    Also, thanks for having a sense of humor, even in a serious conversation. :-)

  • http://penisextenderreview.org Melinda Delorne

    very sensitive subjuect!

  • http://maleextrapill.org Melinda Delorne

    Great write up tho..:)

  • http://www.facebook.com/betoquintas Roberto Quintas

    As it is common here in Brazil, none even a note about Pantheacon is wrote. And in Pagan community, not a single note about the incident between the CAYA and transgender. Too much noise for nothing, said once Shakespeare. CAYA coven was attending the rite, so, as host, they can allow or not what they decide to. And is very clear for me that the rite os for woman. not persosn who tought is woman or become a "woman", as woman was simply a body with boobs and pussy. This is the result of making Paganism a place for pllitical or personal agendas. Paganism is religion. And there is room enought for everyone. Transgender doesn't like to stay out of the Lilith Rite? Made you one. Simply that. Fight among us just give strong to those who want to shut us up.

    • Ainslie

      Brazil no stranger to anti-trans violence. Trans woman recently shot 7 times in cold blood.

  • Elizabeth K

    The hate being spewed at Dianics is not new, but it certainly has intensified. There are so many groups open to transgender people in Paganism, why would they want to force their way into closed groups – perhaps they still retain their need to have power over women? It seems it's OK to hate and make derogatory, hateful comments about Dianics groups that choose to remain women-born, but not OK to say anything about transgender people or anyone else, for that matter, wanting to force their way into groups. It would seem this is the need for power over a certain group, to make them conform to someone else's ideas. Women have safe sacred space of their own? That really bothers a lot of Pagans, it would seem. The majority of Pagan groups and covens have guidelines and an admission process – they are not all open to everyone, so why bash the Dianics for their various restrictions? That this hatefulness is happening at all is a shame, but not surprising. Reading comments that Z Budapest is old and will soon die, the third generation and other crap just shows that nothing ever changes, people still want to control other people and just like most religions, this "new wave" of Pagans is doing the same old thing – your religion must be my religion or it is not valid.

    • http://twitter.com/widdershins_cat @widdershins_cat

      *sigh* Transphobe-Apologia Bingo.

      • Elizabeth K

        I am sighing too, because Paganism is becoming fundamentalist.

        • http://twitter.com/widdershins_cat @widdershins_cat

          Irony, thy name is apparently Elizabeth K.

          Fundamentalist Christians OFTEN couch their terror of treating gay, lesbian, bisexual and ESPECIALLY transgender people as human beings in terms that let them feel discriminated against. In the most recent rounds of anti-discrimination lawmaking, queer-hating Christians complained that they had a right to discriminate against LGBT people in all areas of life, not JUST in their religious services, and that making a law against that discrimination was compromising their ability to practice their religion. Sound familiar? It should!

          While you have the right to practice your religion in any way you choose, I have the right to point out the harm that you are doing. It's going to come back on you.

    • Jaclyn Desiree Arceneaux

      Your entire rant is based on the idea that transsexual women are not women, which is pure bigotry.

      • Elizabeth K

        No, bigotry has nothing to do with this. That cry is used for everything now, it is becoming meaningless.

    • http://twitter.com/widdershins_cat @widdershins_cat

      To give a longer and more involved answer,

      Why would needing to be fully accepted as a woman involve "retaining their need to have power over women?" – unless you categorically deny the fact that transsexual women ARE women? Trans women are critical – not hateful – of Dianics because they deny our womanhood and contribute to the culture of violence which slanders, murders and defaces us.

      It is only a closed mind that interprets protest as hate.

      • Jaclyn Desiree Arceneaux

        Indeed. The reason for the criticism is *not* exclusion in and of itself, but exclusion based on the argument that trans women do not qualify as women. It is the equivalent of turning away people of color "because this is an event for people".

        • Elizabeth K

          Transgender women are not born female – that's a biological fact. It has nothing to do with people of color – pulling the race card?
          And this whole discussion IS about exclusion – the exclusion of the right of people to decide whom they wish to circle with.

          • http://twitter.com/widdershins_cat @widdershins_cat

            That may have been a "biological fact" 40 years ago – but 40 years ago we knew barely a tiny fraction about the human brain that we do now, and as the song goes, "people change, seasons change." And in this case, scientific knowledge has done a 180, and discovered, in the memorable words of Julia Serano, "just how completely fucking female we are."

          • Jaclyn Desiree Arceneaux

            Don't claim to know the "biological facts" if you haven't bothered to keep up with the scientific literature.The truth is that it is a biological fact that transgender women are born female *where it actually matters*, which is the brain and not the genitalia.

          • Jaclyn Desiree Arceneaux

            The smug, arrogant certainty with which people proclaim "biological facts" despite knowing NOTHING about biology beyond the scope of forty year old general education courses at a liberal arts school is completely unacceptable. The truth of trans womens' experiences does not need to be validated by science, but we can rest assured that the bigots are dead wrong: science actually *has* confirmed it.

  • G.C.Y.

    There is a strong element of "What CAYA does on their own time is their own business" running through comments made here. That's true.

    What they do when they go out in the open and parade their beliefs in front of others and invite everyone to attend is not just their business. It is other people's business. They have made it other people's business. Trans women are not trying to "force" people to do something they do not want. CAYA made the choice of entering the arena already when they took their ritual to PantheaCon. If someone makes every effort to get out into the public, and attract attention, and then does something that snubs a group in a bigoted way, the group snubbed has the right to feel offended. CAYA can do whatever it likes on its own damn time, but PantheaCon is NOT its own damn time.

    The view that transwomen are trying to bully someone into accepting a paradigm that they dislike and oppress another's personal religious freedoms forgets that the Dianic ritual threw the first punch. They first invited women to attend and said "ah-ah-ah! Not if you are trans!" Does CAYA have the right to run its rite the way it wants? Yes. Absolutely. We neither can change that, nor am I or anyone else actually interested in doing so. Should they bring it out in front of other people and invite others to attend and then expect anything but a backlash? No. Not at all. That is the price they get to pay. Public rites should be for the actual public, not your version of such. You can either have security in private or risk it all in public.

    Which, interestingly, is what trans people get to deal with too. Funny that.

    That said I wonder if there would be any of this bitching over transmen and a men's rite. Double standards, go!

  • JoHanna M. White

    Hi all I'm not sure if people will see this but I wanted to announce :

    The 1st Annual Conference on Earth-Based, Nature-Centered, Polytheistic & Indigenous Faiths
    2011 Theme: Gender & Earth-Based Spiritualities
    The Pagan Alliance’s first annual on Earth-Based, Nature-Centered, Polytheistic & Indigenous Faiths,
    cosponsored by Circle of Dionysos, Earth Medicine Alliance, in 2011 will examine the interrelationship of
    Earth-based spirituality and gender. Presentations, workshops and panels will address the Construct of Dualism, Transgender Issues, Men's Mysteries, Queer Mysteries, Womyn's Mysteries, Gender & Indigenous Beliefs, Gender in the Spiral of Life, Genderqueer Thealogy, Gender & Minority Faith Parenting.
    Saturday September 24, 2011 9am- 5pm
    Morning Session 9am -12pm
    Luncheon 11am-1pm
    Afternoon Session 1pm-5pm
    Special Mixer with the Presenters 6-8pm
    (2 drinks included in ticket price,
    Additional drink tokens available for purchase)
    Speakers will include:
    joi wolfwomyn of the Holy Order of the Epicene
    Lady Yeshe Rabbit of CAYA Coven
    MamaCoAtl

    First Unitarian Universalist Church and Center
    1187 Franklin Street
    San Francisco CA 94109
    Register online: http://genderandpaganismconference.eventbrite.com
    Catering for the Luncheon & Mixer by Melisabees Transformative Meals http://melisabees.com/

    There will be vegetarian, gluten-free, soy-free options

    Presenter Submissions NOW OPEN, please contact johanna@thepaganalliance.org for a copy of application
    Limited Work-Trade Available for more info please email: johanna@thepaganalliance.org
    If your organization is interested in being an event co-sponsor please email: arlynne@thepaganalliance.org

    Event Sponsors:
    Pagan Alliance http://www.thepaganalliance.org
    Circle of Dionysos http://www.circleofdionysos.org
    Earth Medicine Alliance http://www.earthmedicine.org/

  • Caliban

    I am coming back and reading this again after it was referenced in today’s (9/24/11) Pagan Community Notes and I am genuinely baffled by this. I was running a Wiccan coven (eclectic, but with an initiatory lineage) in 1990, and at that time at least where we were it was simply understood that people participated as the gender (if any) with which they self-identified. I wasn’t aware that this was even a matter of controversy, let alone long overdue for a frank discussion.

    My coven had men and women, gay, lesbian, bi, straight. One member at least has since transitioned to self-identifying as male. Now admittedly this was at a notoriously liberal – even radical – college, so arguably we were perhaps a little ahead of the curve. But twenty years? Is mainstream Pagandom truly only now grappling with this? The mind honestly boggles.

    • http://www.facebook.com/katie.l.berger Katie Berger Tremaine

      My experience seems oddly divided on the subject. My experience with actual real-world practice is pretty unanimous on the subject – you are a man, a woman, or something else entirely, if you SAY you are. That’s how it works here in Paganistan, at least. Unfortunately, on the internet people seem more likely to let their biases and bigotries fly unchecked.

      • Caliban

        Thank you for your reply, however late I am to the party. :)

        Maybe I have been remiss in investigating the issues trans folk face because, having personally found that I regard them as their genders of identity and personally being gay and out and accepted as such, I didn’t feel compelled to look deeper.

        Doing so now, I see that my experience has in many regards been atypical – such as being invited to share ritual time and space with nominally separatist Dianic groups by invitation.

        The transwomen controversy at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival missed me completely – I rather stopped paying attention to who could attend once I understood that I couldn’t (and am okay with that).

        So yes, this was a real eye-opener for me, and a wake up call that the LGBT community cannot be complacent, or content to focus on L/G issues like marriage equality or military service, but really need to be aware that trans folk face unique challenges which deserve our attention and support.

  • Caliban

    I am coming back and reading this again after it was referenced in today’s (9/24/11) Pagan Community Notes and I am genuinely baffled by this. I was running a Wiccan coven (eclectic, but with an initiatory lineage) in 1990, and at that time at least where we were it was simply understood that people participated as the gender (if any) with which they self-identified. I wasn’t aware that this was even a matter of controversy, let alone long overdue for a frank discussion.

    My coven had men and women, gay, lesbian, bi, straight. One member at least has since transitioned to self-identifying as male. Now admittedly this was at a notoriously liberal – even radical – college, so arguably we were perhaps a little ahead of the curve. But twenty years? Is mainstream Pagandom truly only now grappling with this? The mind honestly boggles.

    • http://www.facebook.com/katie.l.berger Katie Berger Tremaine

      My experience seems oddly divided on the subject. My experience with actual real-world practice is pretty unanimous on the subject – you are a man, a woman, or something else entirely, if you SAY you are. That’s how it works here in Paganistan, at least. Unfortunately, on the internet people seem more likely to let their biases and bigotries fly unchecked.

      • Caliban

        Thank you for your reply, however late I am to the party. :)

        Maybe I have been remiss in investigating the issues trans folk face because, having personally found that I regard them as their genders of identity and personally being gay and out and accepted as such, I didn’t feel compelled to look deeper.

        Doing so now, I see that my experience has in many regards been atypical – such as being invited to share ritual time and space with nominally separatist Dianic groups by invitation.

        The transwomen controversy at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival missed me completely – I rather stopped paying attention to who could attend once I understood that I couldn’t (and am okay with that).

        So yes, this was a real eye-opener for me, and a wake up call that the LGBT community cannot be complacent, or content to focus on L/G issues like marriage equality or military service, but really need to be aware that trans folk face unique challenges which deserve our attention and support.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=636701735 JoHanna M. White

    I’d like to encourage folks to check out http://genderandpaganismconference.eventbrite.com to continue this discussion!