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Can of worms, anyone? Short version: Dianics at PantheaCon refuse… 
28th-Feb-2011 09:17 pm
Can of worms, anyone?

Short version: Dianics at PantheaCon refuse to allow transwomen into their Lilith ritual, the event is dutifully reported on, Z Budapest spews a bunch of transphobic nonsense, hilarity ensues.

What do you think, dear NFP?

Personally, I do not support gender separatism at all; people are people, at core, and sharing is caring, y'all. Genital configuration and social gender presentation aren't enough of a difference for me to suggest that another person cannot understand my own experience. Not to suggest that understanding vastly different experiences is always a walk in the park, but certainly not impossible as some suggest.


As pointed out by jadeserenity, CAYA has released a statement about the event, clearing up their stance on gender inclusiveness.
1st-Mar-2011 01:06 pm (UTC)
I'm still working through the juxtaposition of Dianics and Lilith...

I am actually in favor of gendered worship in some circumstances, particularly those related to gendered issues or certain types of "magic". The inclusion of a trans individual would depend on a lot of factors, none of which are available to me.
1st-Mar-2011 01:20 pm (UTC)
Don't Wiccans in general have a problem with GLBT(can't remember the rest of the letters)? I thought there were problems including gays in the Great Rite. It wouldn't surprise me that Dianics, who by definition exclude males, would have problems with a transexual.

I don't agree with their stance but I am neither Wiccan nor Dianic so it is their right to do what they wish at their ritual.
1st-Mar-2011 01:27 pm (UTC)
I hope not. The Wiccan coven into which I was initiated was about 60% GBLT.

I also read "Dianic" as "Dianetic" at first.
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1st-Mar-2011 09:42 pm (UTC)
As a sidenote, it's not unheard of that some keep one gender through all incarnations.
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1st-Mar-2011 02:10 pm (UTC)
Very well said.

The issues seem to be: do "women born women" have a right to their own sacred space and mysteries? Do they have a right to hold these rites in a public venue like P-con without being called for discrimination? Would better communication/description of the rite have blown the tempest out of the tea cup before it erupted?
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1st-Mar-2011 01:46 pm (UTC)
Gender-specific rituals are meant to honor the commonalities that exist between people of that gender. A man who has become a woman through surgery still has never bled monthly, never experienced the lifelong prejudices that culture holds against women, never had a child, never gone through menopause, etc.... This person, no matter how well meant, is an outsider to the Women's Circle.

It is not a straightforward as the GLB issues within covens--because as long as someone can act fully within the roles that their given gender assign them, no one cares. Gay man/Lesbian act as priest/ess of the Gods and perform the necessary functions of the roles in ritual, regardless of their own biases of sexual orientation; many do and they are quite accomplished at it.

The transgendered have a very different walk with the Gods than the rest, and I feel that the more enlightened and educated among them need to knock their heads together and found religious frameworks in which their experiences can be framed--rather than the artless and uncomfortable ramming of people into a one-size-fits-all box.
1st-Mar-2011 02:29 pm (UTC)
Some women have never bled monthly and many choose not to give birth... do we then advocate questioning all women before allowing them to enter a circle? of course not, it would be quite ill mannered!
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1st-Mar-2011 05:41 pm (UTC)
I am pretty much in agreement with this. People can choose who they want to circle with, but they should be clear about any restrictions they do put in place, specifically for a public event. And of course other people are equally free to question their choices.
1st-Mar-2011 02:25 pm (UTC)
Wouldn’t you think that a group that gets crap from people and is often misunderstood, possibly through ignorance, would be more understanding of a group that gets crap from people and is often misunderstood, possibly through ignorance?

I’m not saying any group or ritual should be required to be open to anyone and everyone, but they should make it clear from the start that a) there will be exclusions and b) these are the reasons why. [Thinking of the time someone brought their dedicants to a Samhain ritual that was billed as “darker than most” and then had to deal with the resulting freak out – that was poorly planned and could have been avoided with an explanation and possible exclusion.]
1st-Mar-2011 02:35 pm (UTC)
There's no reason they can't have ciswomen only rituals and spaces, and there's no reason others can't critique such a choice. Critique, not harangue or slander. Which, frankly, I'm not seeing happen here. It looks like honest attempts at communication have been made by parties invested in various sides of the conversation.

And then Z spoke up and... Well...

Honestly, I'm surprised at the level of ignorant hate she spewed in that comment.

It does seem like a few things have happened at around the same time, which has led to this discussion. From what I've seen elsewhere online, the Lilith ritual wasn't the impetus. Rather, it was an issue already being raised by PCon attendees?

I do think that if groups insist on retaining "women-only" or "men-only" spaces, with woman/man meaning biologically born, then those of us who see it as prejudice will remove ourselves from that group. Most likely our friends and loved ones will follow suit. Maybe that's a natural development? I'm unsure if that will lead to ghettoisation of the less gender-essentialist groups or not.
2nd-Mar-2011 09:22 am (UTC)
A pagan equivalent of the MichFest/Camp Trans split?
1st-Mar-2011 02:35 pm (UTC)
Personally, my view is that it's ridiculous for any cisperson to dictate whether or not a transwoman's experience is truly that of a woman. It implies a a degree of uniformity in the experience of womanhood that just isn't there. We don't all bleed regularly, we don't all give birth, we don't all experience our femininity in the same way at all. I've got more in common with some of my trans female friends than with many of my fellow ciswomen. I for one would gladly welcome a transwoman into an all-female ritual.

That's my view. Obviously I can't impose it on anybody - people can invite who the heck they want to their rituals. But what is not OK is just saying "women" when you mean "ciswomen". When you talk about "the beauty, intellect, power, and wisdom of all women", that includes transwomen because they are women. Not some kind of third gender. Some people identify as a third gender, but they ain't transwomen.

You can exclude transwomen from your own private events if you want (though it's a shitty move in my opinion) but you can't be surprised when they turn up if you don't specify ahead of time that you don't want them. You can't just say "women" and expect them to understand that you don't mean them. You don't get to erase their identity.
1st-Mar-2011 02:48 pm (UTC)
A+ comment all around. Couldn't agree more.
1st-Mar-2011 02:40 pm (UTC)
If this person was spiritually the right side of the masculine feminine spectrum then it shouldn't matter, should it?
1st-Mar-2011 02:42 pm (UTC)
What if they don't identify with a conception of spirit as running along a M-F binary?
1st-Mar-2011 03:52 pm (UTC) - Mysteries? We don't need no steeeeeenking mysteries!!
I find I'm in some minor, partial, agreement with Cabbagemedley. I say this, because of a suspected fundamental difference in how I view "The Mysteries".
I strongly suspect Moon, Monkey, and perhaps a few more might remember this from rants at one time or another (perhaps around the fire at Wolvenwold).
My take on the "Mysteries" is fairly, overly simplistic:
Women's (or Womyn's) Mysteries: All women bleed for a few days a month for a significant portion of their lives.
Men's Mysteries: All men, without equivocation, hunt, fight, kill, drink, lie, boast, and fuck; in one form or another.
A cookie to everyone who understands the biggest glaring difference there.

So what's my point? With some (one would hope, very rare and) very specific exceptions, Paganism in all it's forms is about Balance. Balance with nature, balance within our lives, balance between things masculine and feminine. It boils down, in it's most basic levels, to what so many (and most newbie pagans) hold dear: a dualistic theology, a balance of male and female in the divine. Ok, so a lot of us (myself included) are polytheistic, but the point of balance within that paradigm is still valid.
So, if balance is supposed to be one of our key aspects, then why the bloody fuck do we still need to have these exclusionistic mysteries??!!??!!?? And yes, I'm including the "new and equally exclusionary queer and transgendered mysteries" in this WTF shinnanegans/bull-shit flag. All they seem to do is foster disunity and situations (spectacles) like at PantheCon.
(Hmmm...I do think I'm gonna try to post a slightly edited copy of this on the aforementioned blog by Z. Budapest)
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1st-Mar-2011 06:40 pm (UTC)
At Pantheacon, it's likely the trans women were just publicly known to be trans women. Or that one was, and was told she couldn't participate, and she argued about it, and someone announced "no trans women" to the people waiting to get in, and then several of the women in line came up to argue.
1st-Mar-2011 04:22 pm (UTC)
As far as various privilege spectra go, I'm generally on the non-persecuted end, therefore I tend to be careful weighing in on issues like this. However, it seems to me that this case can be made much more straightforward by imagining a group which advertised itself as offering "rituals designed to honor the beauty, intellect, power, and wisdom of all people." then turned away non-white attendees, because "people" of course means "people of the tribe", anyone who uses it in an inclusionary sense is wrong, and anyone else who identifies as a "person" is misguided.

Admittedly, other privilege spectra complicate the issue, but ultimately it comes down to this: The group is not just insisting on segregation, which is debatable as a concept, but also insisting on enforcing a definition of a word that dehumanizes others, in such a fashion that the targets of that treatment show up in person to be told that they are considered lesser beings to their face, and refused access to a self-affirmation on which they had planned.

Ultimately, matters of religion are not subject to the laws of reason - in the end, a religious group that insists on externally-imposed binary sexual identity doesn't care how convincingly you argue that there is as much shared experience among trans and cis individuals as between different individuals who happen to both be cis. You can't force a group to change in that fashion.

You should, however, be allowed to indicate that you believe their treatment of others to be callous, inappropriate, and atavistic. A religious group has the right to believe whatever they like, and I have the right to believe they are wrong-wrong-wrongety-wrong. That's the beauty of freedom of conscience and freedom of speech.
1st-Mar-2011 05:22 pm (UTC)
A religious group has the right to believe whatever they like, and I have the right to believe they are wrong-wrong-wrongety-wrong.

1st-Mar-2011 04:30 pm (UTC)
I have posted about this in my own blog and on the comments section of Anya Kless's blog. I also have some friends who are close to members of CAYA Coven and to the organizers of Pantheacon.

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. Z Budapest's opinions are her own and do not reflect those of CAYA or Pantheacon: if I have conflated them, or if I have not made that distinction clear enough in my posts, I apologize.

Amidst all this brouhaha, I note that people are talking about gender identity, gender liminality and gender-as-spectrum -- ideas which a few people obviously find threatening and which most rarely consider. Comfort levels are being tested and weaknesses are being exposed. That is about what I would expect after a visit from Lilith, so perhaps the ritual was more successful than anybody hoped.
2nd-Mar-2011 05:56 am (UTC)
Comfort levels are being tested and weaknesses are being exposed. That is about what I would expect after a visit from Lilith, so perhaps the ritual was more successful than anybody hoped

1st-Mar-2011 05:15 pm (UTC)
My thoughts are that a transwoman is a woman. Sure, there's a Y chromosome the can't be eradicated, but if one feels like, lives as, is recognized by others as a woman, then she is just that: a woman. I don't see any reason for exclusion.

As for the man that wanted to attend, I'm not really sure about that. If it was a skyclad right that was intended for women only, I see no problem with turning him away. Whether he's gay or not, I can see that his presence could make some of the women uncomfortable and take them out of the proper spirit for rituals. I guess the same could be said for transwomen, but I think that's different...for a reason I can't quite put my finger on. I guess because I see transwomen as women.
1st-Mar-2011 06:38 pm (UTC)
"is recognized by others as a woman"

Though this can be problematic. Some people pass better than others. Some people look for gender presentation, other people try to impose their own ideas of what a persons gender should be in terms of what their bodies look like.

(I've had people question whether I was born woman - which tickled me at the time, as I'm something of a gender nonconformist, but then irritated me when I realized the person in question thought it was an appropriate question to ask. And as it happens, I am cisgendered - tall, and with almost no hair, but...)
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