On Sunday I had very briefly mentioned a story regarding a Lilith ritual at PantheaCon in which transgendered women were turned away, and a subsequent discussion between Dianic Goddess worshipers and transgender advocates over the exclusion. I initially linked to a run-down of the issues, discussions, and conflicts from the perspective of Artifex Mentis (Sarah Thompson) a Witch and Ceremonial Magician who identifies as a transsexual woman. This resulted in quite a bit of intense discussion on my blog (which is now collected in a PDF file until I can get those comments properly restored) from a variety of perspectives. Initially, I was going to wait for the the Bay Area PNC bureau‘s forthcoming coverage before adding my own, but since my post on Sunday the discussion has spread throughout the Internet, and has included some incendiary commentary from a prominent Pagan elder.
First, let’s run down some of the essays, discussions, and opinions that are currently taking place around this issue.
- P. Sufenas Virius Lupus offers “PantheaCon and Gender Matters,” where he speaks about forms of gender identity and gender discrimination.
- Zaratha at Cultural Inappropriation speaks on “Truly Inclusive Gender-Based Mysteries”.
- Kenaz Filan weighs in with “Dianic Rites, Gender Identification and Gender Essentialism.”
- Lily Shahar Kunning’s “PantheaCon musings” speaks to the matter as an individual whose patroness is Lilith.
- Star Foster at Patheos.com offers “Transgender Issues in Pagan Religions.”
- Finally, Anya Kless, a priestess of Lilith, offers her own response.
“This struggle has been going since the Women’s Mysteries first appeared. These individuals selfishly never think about the following: if women allow men to be incorporated into Dianic Mysteries,What will women own on their own? Nothing! Again! Transies who attack us only care about themselves. We women need our own culture, our own resourcing, our own traditions. You can tell these are men, They don’t care if women loose the Only tradition reclaimed after much research and practice ,the Dianic Tradition. Men simply want in. its their will. How dare us women not let them in and give away the ONLY spiritual home we have! Men want to worship the Goddess? Why not put in the WORK and create your own trads. The order of ATTIS for example,(dormant since the 4rth century) used to be for trans gendered people, also the castrata, men who castrated themselves to be more like the Goddess. Why are we the ONLY tradition they want? Go Gardnerian!Go Druid! Go Ecclectic! Filled with women, and men. They would fit fine. But if you claim to be one of us, you have to have sometimes in your life a womb, and overies and MOON bleed and not die. Women are born not made by men on operating tables.“
This response has only further inflamed the controversy, as Erynn Rowan Laurie says: “Her response denies that transwomen are women at all, and treats them as male infiltrators attempting to usurp women’s mysteries in language that is actively offensive. What respect I had for her in the past has vanished in the face of this; it angers me and it makes me very sad, because it hurts so many people.” However, it is important to note, as Kenaz Filan does, that Z. Budapest’s commentary does not reflect the ongoing discussions currently going on between different parties over this issue.
“I have spoken with people who are close to both CAYA Coven and Pantheacon organizers. Based on what I have heard so far, it appears that this all started out as a misunderstanding and miscommunication. While there is a lot of public ranting going on, there is a lot of discussion between the parties. Serious efforts are being made on all sides to discuss these issues respectfully and avoid similar incidents. Alas, things have now taken on a life of their own, and outside parties have come in to offer their opinions on the subject.”
Some comments from this discussion seem tailor-made to inflame and entrench both sides, throwing more heat than light. Despite this, I do think progress and real sharing can still happen. I still plan on following up with this issue, and speaking to individuals engaged on this discussion from as many perspectives as is feasible. I hope that as we move forward, we can avoid lashing out, or being hurtful, and find a workable way forward. More soon.