Transgender Issues in Pagan Religions

Transgender Issues in Pagan Religions March 1, 2011

I did not attend the Lilith ritual at PantheaCon. I was busy drooling over the insanely gorgeous and talented Wendy Rule. So I don’t know what happened at the entrance. What words were used, what tone was used or what went down in general. So I can’t speak to that specific incident. It seems to be mainly a case of mis-communication where difficult interactions had to happen at the door. My impression of CAYA at Pcon was a good one, and so I hope this is just one unfortunate incident in the midst of all their good work.

Courtesy Transguyjay via Flickr CC license

Yet although the issue of transgendered folk in Paganism isn’t a new one, this incident has sparked a riot of discussion regarding how transgendered folk fit into our communities. Indeed, I don’t think I can ever recall there being this much serious discussion regarding transgender issues in Paganism on such a broad scale before.

Here’s a sampling of some of the more interesting comments on the issue bouncing around the web:

Psychopomp Valentine writes:

We are using “cis” language in here to indicate that both groups of women are marked cases, but this isn’t so, at least locally to me, with Dianic circles.  They are for “women,” not “cis women,” and therefore people who aren’t welcome in are necessarily “not women.”  I don’t believe comparing/hierarchizing oppressions is very useful, but as a queer woman, I am trying to imagine if they said they were for “all women” but turned away queer women at the door, and what message that would send.  As a woman of color, likewise, I am pondering the notion of a religious group/ritual/space that said it was for “all women” but turned away any women who weren’t white.  After the fact, you can say “this is just for the group of women who share a given experience,” and find an experience the excluded women don’t share to cite, but the semantic and symbolic damage is done.  As students of magic, we all ought to know how powerful naming is.  These groups all name themselves as for women, full stop, all women welcome, and then exclude some women.  It is disingenuous, I think, to take the after-the-fact justification “we consider trans women to be women–just a different kind of women who don’t share some experiences that we consider universal to women!” at face value–especially when cis women who do not share those experiences, like childbirth, are welcomed in.

Z. Budapest comments on this post:

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.

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus pointed out that this issue isn’t limited to transgendered people:

Gender-diverse and gender-queer people are even more in that category, and it sucks to be challenged on such issues whenever they come up. As one example, you might have a listen to the discussion from PantheaCon ’10 on “Earth-Based Religions: Are We Really?” which T. Thorn Coyle had with Z. Budapest, amongst others, and when Thorn identified as a masculine woman or “a gay man in a woman’s body,” she was immediately contradicted by several other people on the panel…see how this works? It sucks, and it shouldn’t have to be like that. But, for many of us, it is.

I’m a straight woman and about as square and conventional as they come. I’m also a Wiccan, with that infamous gender polarity as forming a core part of our religion. I’m probably the type of person least expected to be concerned about this issue. Yet I am concerned. Very.

To begin with, the language being used to exclude transgender women implies that women are all about their anatomy. If you don’t bleed monthly, give birth or go through menopause, are you any less of a woman? It seems to me feminism was meant to free us from being typecast by our anatomy, yet some of the language is confining us by that anatomy. I’m happy to have a uterus, but it doesn’t define me and I refuse to be caged by it. I am concerned about whether some forms of feminism have a stake in keeping us oppressed to some degree so we need their ideologies. A perpetration of victimization. This genuinely worries me.

Also, when we dismiss people’s reality or punish them for it, how can we call ourselves the loving bastions of tolerance? We don’t dispute people who say they are called by Odin, or who say they find more efficacy in casting squares than circles. We embrace so much, shake our fists at those who would seek to limit and define us, and then presume the right to tell someone the truth of their own body/spirit/mind? I tend to accept folks at face value. I’ve known transgender women for months without realizing they were MtF, and completely accepted them as fabulous women. Because they are. It wasn’t even a case of there being a question of their “femaleness”. If anything, they were more female than I.

I resonated with Thorn’s being “a gay man in a woman’s body” because I’ve had that said about me as well. At first I found it funny, but I’ve recently begun to embrace it as my own personal sense of “otherness”. Polarity is easiest to explain as male/female, dark/light or wet/dry, but I’m beginning to suspect that in essence it’s about the “Familiar” and the “Other”. Which has a rather Witchy ring to it, I think. Of course, it’s likely different for everyone, but I’ve come to see the square, straight, “mom-jeans” conventional Star as the Familiar and this strange Queerness in my soul as the Other.  Maybe it doesn’t have anything to do with gender, but I find the language and awareness of the GLBTQI community useful to process this understanding. I’m not lesbian, bi or transgendered, but I know I no longer feel comfortable in the category called “female” and all that implies.

Yet having a womb that sheds blood without wound makes me welcome in some circles even though I am uncomfortable with the whole “Goddessy thing”, and lacking that excludes someone who identifies more wholly with the whole concept of femaleness. From my perspective the whole idea of women’s circles doesn’t make sense if it doesn’t include people who fully inhabit and embrace the idea of femaleness, because I can tell you right now that that wouldn’t include me.

I think it’s an anachronistic waste of time for Pagans to be worrying about whether or not someone has a Y chromosome. Regardless of our sexual orientation or gender identity Pagans are already a “queer bunch” and to restrict, place unreasonable expectations on or punish folks for being a few degrees “queerer” is ridiculous. A woman is as a woman does. A man is as a man does. A human is as a human does. Christianity lost a lot of amazing female and GLBTQI spiritual leaders, writers, musicians and organizers by excluding them. If you’re concerned about the vitality, sustainability and continuity of your faith, maybe you should consider whether your biggest and most active supporters lie in communities and identities you exclude.

Personally, I’m very happy and content to be part of a tradition that emphasizes mixed-gender rituals, embraces people of different sexual orientations and ethnicities. We may call down a God and Goddess, but for me the God is Familiar, the Goddess is the Other and both are concerned with the quality of my character and the rightness of my action rather than my chromosomes.

I am pretty doggone sick but felt compelled to write this anyway. If I have erred or put my foot in my mouth please kindly point it out and “Puck will make amends”. Thanks.

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  • Atemu

    Hello! On this topic, I have a question…to those that do not like the tranies, what about those BORN that way? Like the intersexed females with male parts and males with female parts and then those like me, that choose neither side and have all the above. Would I be excluded from things like this even though nature herself deemed to create me this way? Why should anything be based off of genders? Are we not people? I love my fiancée but not her gender. I’m not straight but I’m also not gay or lezbian. I like the person. I worship those that are one both sides of the gendercoin and love them equally why should I exclude or be excluded from worship due to my nature? What are your thoughts?

  • Atemu

    Hello! On this topic, I have a question…to those that do not like the tranies, what about those BORN that way? Like the intersexed females with male parts and males with female parts and then those like me, that choose neither side and have all the above. Would I be excluded from things like this even though nature herself deemed to create me this way? Why should anything be based off of genders? Are we not people? I love my fiancée but not her gender. I’m not straight but I’m also not gay or lezbian. I like the person. I worship those that are one both sides of the gendercoin and love them equally why should I exclude or be excluded from worship due to my nature? What are your thoughts?

  • It’s pretty clear to me that you want to be inclusive about this issue but don’t know a lot about it. For instance, third wave feminism acknowledges intersectionality – that race, sexual orientation, and gender identity are also women’s issues because half of the population, including those populations, is made up of women. Transgender individuals are four times more likely to be sexually assaulted, particularly in prison situations, and this is a feminist issue. Gender, like sexual orientation, exists on a continuum, which is one of the reasons I am seriously not fond of the God/Goddess polar gender binary that’s so popular in some forms of paganism.

    One thing that might help to clarify things for you in this issue is to listen to the experiences of transgender individuals. Plenty of them blog, and when it comes to an issue like this that a cisgender individual can never really understand, the old rule of privilege applies – STFU&L, or shut the f*** up and listen. I’m not gonna lie… that quote by Budapest was so full of transphobia it made me rage. Cisgender individuals have a long history of believing we can decide for transgender individuals what their correct gender is, or how they should correctly present their gender, and if they don’t pass OUR standards then they are routinely ridiculed, excluded, and yes, assaulted. Having a womb that sheds blood means absolutely nothing about you except that you have a womb that sheds blood. Who you are inside is not dependent on the plumbing you were born with. And while I understand the wish of Dianics to have woman-only spaces, the simple truth is this: transwomen are women.

    Full stop. Seriously. No more argument. Transwomen are WOMEN. They are not men ‘pretending’ to be women, they are not ‘women in men’s bodies’, they are not ‘men in women’s clothing’, they ARE WOMEN. They are REAL women. Whether they have surgically transitioned or not, they are who they are. And Cisgender individuals who have way too much personal stake bound up in their genital arrangements need to lay off thinking they somehow have the right to ‘validate’ anybody else’s gender.

  • It’s pretty clear to me that you want to be inclusive about this issue but don’t know a lot about it. For instance, third wave feminism acknowledges intersectionality – that race, sexual orientation, and gender identity are also women’s issues because half of the population, including those populations, is made up of women. Transgender individuals are four times more likely to be sexually assaulted, particularly in prison situations, and this is a feminist issue. Gender, like sexual orientation, exists on a continuum, which is one of the reasons I am seriously not fond of the God/Goddess polar gender binary that’s so popular in some forms of paganism.

    One thing that might help to clarify things for you in this issue is to listen to the experiences of transgender individuals. Plenty of them blog, and when it comes to an issue like this that a cisgender individual can never really understand, the old rule of privilege applies – STFU&L, or shut the f*** up and listen. I’m not gonna lie… that quote by Budapest was so full of transphobia it made me rage. Cisgender individuals have a long history of believing we can decide for transgender individuals what their correct gender is, or how they should correctly present their gender, and if they don’t pass OUR standards then they are routinely ridiculed, excluded, and yes, assaulted. Having a womb that sheds blood means absolutely nothing about you except that you have a womb that sheds blood. Who you are inside is not dependent on the plumbing you were born with. And while I understand the wish of Dianics to have woman-only spaces, the simple truth is this: transwomen are women.

    Full stop. Seriously. No more argument. Transwomen are WOMEN. They are not men ‘pretending’ to be women, they are not ‘women in men’s bodies’, they are not ‘men in women’s clothing’, they ARE WOMEN. They are REAL women. Whether they have surgically transitioned or not, they are who they are. And Cisgender individuals who have way too much personal stake bound up in their genital arrangements need to lay off thinking they somehow have the right to ‘validate’ anybody else’s gender.

  • Seidhr is one of my favorite examples of men being permitted into women’s mysteries. In the practice, male practitioners were (generally) required to “live as women” for a time, or for the length of his career, depending on the tribe and region. Even Odin learned seidhr, which prompts Loki’s comments on his “womanly ways” in the poem of Lokasenna. After reading on seidhr practice, it always upset me when some Asatru in Columbus would oppose (sometimes violently) homosexuality or transgender.

    You can, of course, interpret this info any number of ways, but the way I see it, if Odin lived as a woman, there’s transgender and taking a male lover there (I really don’t think he’d have gone without a lover, this is Odin we’re talking about). Granted, this would be toned down or ignored in any favorable retelling by Christianity. I’ve also seen a couple of blog posts of how gender was possibly viewed by Norse culture (as Star says in this post, men are people who act like men, women are people who act like women, regardless of actual plumbing).

    In general, gender separation in rituals or whatever bothers me, but I can understand why it might be done. However, if you’re going to separate by gender, why not also include categories for those who are highly masculine AND feminine, or have a very low gender identity, even. Why turn away a man who acts more womanish from a women’s group? Why turn away a woman, for that matter, from a men’s group, if she’s more mannish, transgender or not? Gender identity is just that, IDENTITY. And for Ms. Budapest, who says a transgender woman can’t understand life growing in the womb, I’ve got two things: 1) You say in your books you believe in empathy, but do you? 2) Would you turn away a female-to-male, too? If so, your argument of turning away the male-to-female has no basis, for the FtM could possibly have had a kid before the transition.

    Ah, well. I’ll get off my soapbox.

    -C

  • Seidhr is one of my favorite examples of men being permitted into women’s mysteries. In the practice, male practitioners were (generally) required to “live as women” for a time, or for the length of his career, depending on the tribe and region. Even Odin learned seidhr, which prompts Loki’s comments on his “womanly ways” in the poem of Lokasenna. After reading on seidhr practice, it always upset me when some Asatru in Columbus would oppose (sometimes violently) homosexuality or transgender.

    You can, of course, interpret this info any number of ways, but the way I see it, if Odin lived as a woman, there’s transgender and taking a male lover there (I really don’t think he’d have gone without a lover, this is Odin we’re talking about). Granted, this would be toned down or ignored in any favorable retelling by Christianity. I’ve also seen a couple of blog posts of how gender was possibly viewed by Norse culture (as Star says in this post, men are people who act like men, women are people who act like women, regardless of actual plumbing).

    In general, gender separation in rituals or whatever bothers me, but I can understand why it might be done. However, if you’re going to separate by gender, why not also include categories for those who are highly masculine AND feminine, or have a very low gender identity, even. Why turn away a man who acts more womanish from a women’s group? Why turn away a woman, for that matter, from a men’s group, if she’s more mannish, transgender or not? Gender identity is just that, IDENTITY. And for Ms. Budapest, who says a transgender woman can’t understand life growing in the womb, I’ve got two things: 1) You say in your books you believe in empathy, but do you? 2) Would you turn away a female-to-male, too? If so, your argument of turning away the male-to-female has no basis, for the FtM could possibly have had a kid before the transition.

    Ah, well. I’ll get off my soapbox.

    -C

  • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

    Thank you for writing this, Star. I think you’ve done an excellent job of it!

    Among the many things that could be said about this ongoing debate and the issues raised in it, I’ll just do one that speaks from my own position as an atypically gendered queer person involved in a queer reconstructionist cultus. The Mysteries of Antinous that the Ekklesía Antínoou celebrates and observes, which are restricted to those who seek initiation and pass the necessary trials to achieve it, are limited neither by gender, physicality (genetic or physiological), nor sexual orientation. They are entirely tied up with Antinous himself, who hasn’t evinced any interest in separating males from females, gay men from straight men, or anything else of that nature that would end up separating people…with the possible exception of “interesting in doing the Antinoan Mysteries” and “not interested in doing the Antinoan Mysteries,” which should be a bit obvious but perhaps bears mentioning anyway. Antinous himself was not gender-atypical in his own day, but the desire to embrace anyone who is interested seems like a very positive thing…and, unfortunately (in comparison to some of the things that seem to be occurring now), it’s also a “queer” thing. But, we’ve made no bones about our status as a queer cultus, so perhaps that’s fitting…!?!

    I very much agree that mirroring the exclusion found in other religions and sectors of society is not a positive thing at all when it occurs in pagan groups. Sure, there is a need by some for gender-exclusive spaces or occasions, and if they want that, they should have it. Is there a way to do that which doesn’t offend vast numbers of people, though, by throwing the exclusion they face elsewhere in society in their faces with the justification that it is a holy directive? And why is it that the answer is always “Go and found YOUR OWN mysteries, and quit taking our own away!” If the mysteries in question are really from a divine source, I think it speaks very poorly of the deities concerned–or, more appropriately, their human representatives–to have such a limited view. Artemis/Diana, after all, did favor a number of men in her actual and attested historical myths, and was even the patron of young men in Sparta as Artemis Orthia…I wonder if Z. would object to some of those mysteries being re-enacted and excluding women. Hmm…

    To follow on from her suggestion, though: I know there’s a lot of trans women who have no interest in the mysteries of Attis and Cybele, for a variety of extremely legitimate reasons. For Z. to automatically say “Well go do that, because that’s more appropriate for you” is just as bad as [insert your own preferred misogynistic directive]. It is stereotyping and proscriptive spirituality on the most gross and misleading pseudo-divinely-directed level, and it’s appalling to see it so stridently employed in this case.

    To paraphrase Thomas Carlyle, if I am not mistaken: the wealth of a person is the number of things which that person loves and blesses, which that person is loved and blessed by. Can we try to love and bless more PEOPLE, not simply to be loved and blessed by them in turn or because we wish to be “wealthy” (though it’s a good kind of wealth to yearn for!), but because it’s a good and right thing to do…and, dare I say, the gods and the universe rather like it when we do so? I hope that becomes more the case in the future, with all of us, even if some individuals or groups never end up catching on to the notion…

  • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

    Thank you for writing this, Star. I think you’ve done an excellent job of it!

    Among the many things that could be said about this ongoing debate and the issues raised in it, I’ll just do one that speaks from my own position as an atypically gendered queer person involved in a queer reconstructionist cultus. The Mysteries of Antinous that the Ekklesía Antínoou celebrates and observes, which are restricted to those who seek initiation and pass the necessary trials to achieve it, are limited neither by gender, physicality (genetic or physiological), nor sexual orientation. They are entirely tied up with Antinous himself, who hasn’t evinced any interest in separating males from females, gay men from straight men, or anything else of that nature that would end up separating people…with the possible exception of “interesting in doing the Antinoan Mysteries” and “not interested in doing the Antinoan Mysteries,” which should be a bit obvious but perhaps bears mentioning anyway. Antinous himself was not gender-atypical in his own day, but the desire to embrace anyone who is interested seems like a very positive thing…and, unfortunately (in comparison to some of the things that seem to be occurring now), it’s also a “queer” thing. But, we’ve made no bones about our status as a queer cultus, so perhaps that’s fitting…!?!

    I very much agree that mirroring the exclusion found in other religions and sectors of society is not a positive thing at all when it occurs in pagan groups. Sure, there is a need by some for gender-exclusive spaces or occasions, and if they want that, they should have it. Is there a way to do that which doesn’t offend vast numbers of people, though, by throwing the exclusion they face elsewhere in society in their faces with the justification that it is a holy directive? And why is it that the answer is always “Go and found YOUR OWN mysteries, and quit taking our own away!” If the mysteries in question are really from a divine source, I think it speaks very poorly of the deities concerned–or, more appropriately, their human representatives–to have such a limited view. Artemis/Diana, after all, did favor a number of men in her actual and attested historical myths, and was even the patron of young men in Sparta as Artemis Orthia…I wonder if Z. would object to some of those mysteries being re-enacted and excluding women. Hmm…

    To follow on from her suggestion, though: I know there’s a lot of trans women who have no interest in the mysteries of Attis and Cybele, for a variety of extremely legitimate reasons. For Z. to automatically say “Well go do that, because that’s more appropriate for you” is just as bad as [insert your own preferred misogynistic directive]. It is stereotyping and proscriptive spirituality on the most gross and misleading pseudo-divinely-directed level, and it’s appalling to see it so stridently employed in this case.

    To paraphrase Thomas Carlyle, if I am not mistaken: the wealth of a person is the number of things which that person loves and blesses, which that person is loved and blessed by. Can we try to love and bless more PEOPLE, not simply to be loved and blessed by them in turn or because we wish to be “wealthy” (though it’s a good kind of wealth to yearn for!), but because it’s a good and right thing to do…and, dare I say, the gods and the universe rather like it when we do so? I hope that becomes more the case in the future, with all of us, even if some individuals or groups never end up catching on to the notion…

  • I got stuck at “transies”. That comment was so loaded with transphobia I’m having a hard time reading beyond it.

  • I got stuck at “transies”. That comment was so loaded with transphobia I’m having a hard time reading beyond it.

  • Seriously, I saw red at that point.

  • Seriously, I saw red at that point.

  • Thanks, Star. The bit about having a uterus also made me want to scream. I’ve had my tubes tied. I still bleed, but I will never be pregnant or give birth. That doesn’t make me not a woman. I could have had a hysterectomy; that wouldn’t make me not a woman. One of the fundamental tenets of feminism is “Anatomy does not equal destiny.” Not in the secular world, and definitely not in the Pagan religious world.

  • Literata

    Thanks, Star. The bit about having a uterus also made me want to scream. I’ve had my tubes tied. I still bleed, but I will never be pregnant or give birth. That doesn’t make me not a woman. I could have had a hysterectomy; that wouldn’t make me not a woman. One of the fundamental tenets of feminism is “Anatomy does not equal destiny.” Not in the secular world, and definitely not in the Pagan religious world.

  • I’m not certain whether you are replying to the blog post or the previous commenter. I am aware of Third Wave Feminism but find that it can be just as crippling as Second Wave Feminism when it promotes victimization rather than empowerment.

    I certainly don’t have the right to validate anyone else’s gender. Perhaps I can’t ever really understand the issues that trans folk face, but I would prefer that you not use language like “STFU” on this blog, even in “sanitized” form. This is a family site and such language is not conducive to constructive dialogue.

  • I’m not certain whether you are replying to the blog post or the previous commenter. I am aware of Third Wave Feminism but find that it can be just as crippling as Second Wave Feminism when it promotes victimization rather than empowerment.

    I certainly don’t have the right to validate anyone else’s gender. Perhaps I can’t ever really understand the issues that trans folk face, but I would prefer that you not use language like “STFU” on this blog, even in “sanitized” form. This is a family site and such language is not conducive to constructive dialogue.

  • Many native cultures had places for transgendered folks to participate in the community. In Cherokee culture women who took on male roles with valor were honored, and there was space for transgendered men even if they weren’t as lauded.

  • Many native cultures had places for transgendered folks to participate in the community. In Cherokee culture women who took on male roles with valor were honored, and there was space for transgendered men even if they weren’t as lauded.

  • I think the dialogue here is necessary, not to in any way “justify” inclusion of trans people — they need no more justification than any other human being to participate — but to help shift the way the Pagan community deals with these issues and looks at its own prejudices. All too often, the only way that inclusion broadens is when an egregious exclusion sparks in the public imagination. This may well be that incident.

  • I think the dialogue here is necessary, not to in any way “justify” inclusion of trans people — they need no more justification than any other human being to participate — but to help shift the way the Pagan community deals with these issues and looks at its own prejudices. All too often, the only way that inclusion broadens is when an egregious exclusion sparks in the public imagination. This may well be that incident.

  • Am I the only one who finds Z’s quote HIGHLY offensive? It obviously comes form the place that trans women are not women, and she does not get to decide that for others. Ugh.

  • Am I the only one who finds Z’s quote HIGHLY offensive? It obviously comes form the place that trans women are not women, and she does not get to decide that for others. Ugh.

  • “Go find your own mysteries” rather sounds familiar to “stop attacking marriage”, doesn’t it?

    You know, I chose to attend one of the queer events at PantheaCon precisely because I have GLBTQI folks in my life I consider to be family. If my friends and family have queer aspects, why not my spirituality? I do not avoid male Gods because I am a woman, after all.

    I was wholeheartedly welcomed to the Antinous ritual and no one asked my gender identity or sexual orientation. That’s the kind of inclusivity I find inspiring, and I had no interest in attending rituals that were built around “certain types of people”. I have no need to exclude in that way and can only learn and grow by being challenged by those who are different from myself.

  • “Go find your own mysteries” rather sounds familiar to “stop attacking marriage”, doesn’t it?

    You know, I chose to attend one of the queer events at PantheaCon precisely because I have GLBTQI folks in my life I consider to be family. If my friends and family have queer aspects, why not my spirituality? I do not avoid male Gods because I am a woman, after all.

    I was wholeheartedly welcomed to the Antinous ritual and no one asked my gender identity or sexual orientation. That’s the kind of inclusivity I find inspiring, and I had no interest in attending rituals that were built around “certain types of people”. I have no need to exclude in that way and can only learn and grow by being challenged by those who are different from myself.

  • The whole idea of feminists defining women by their biology just sounds medieval to me. *shudder*

  • The whole idea of feminists defining women by their biology just sounds medieval to me. *shudder*

  • My best friend in the world is a MTF transgendered woman. I can not, and will never see her as anything other than the beautiful, brilliant woman she is. I will not stand by people who disagree with that. Gender is more than your chromosomes, more than your anatomy; Gender is primarily in the mind of the beholder. I only refer to my friend as transgendered because it fits into this context in this discussion. In any other interactions I have with her, she’s not a trans woman to me; she’s just a woman, and a very dear one.

    The issues surrounding transphobia fall in line with creating limitations on oneself, one’s gender identity, and ultimately one’s potential. If I could wish for one thing for all of humankind, it would be that each and every one would discover, become, and shine brilliantly as the person that they are!

  • My best friend in the world is a MTF transgendered woman. I can not, and will never see her as anything other than the beautiful, brilliant woman she is. I will not stand by people who disagree with that. Gender is more than your chromosomes, more than your anatomy; Gender is primarily in the mind of the beholder. I only refer to my friend as transgendered because it fits into this context in this discussion. In any other interactions I have with her, she’s not a trans woman to me; she’s just a woman, and a very dear one.

    The issues surrounding transphobia fall in line with creating limitations on oneself, one’s gender identity, and ultimately one’s potential. If I could wish for one thing for all of humankind, it would be that each and every one would discover, become, and shine brilliantly as the person that they are!

  • Star, I forgot to say this the first time: I hope you feel better soon!

  • Literata

    Star, I forgot to say this the first time: I hope you feel better soon!

  • No, she does not. She is, of course, free to invite or uninvite anyone she wants to her ceremonies. However, the rest of the world is free to completely lose respect for her when she makes a choice based in ignorance. If she actually knew anyone who is transgendered and accepted that about themselves, she would pretty easily see how short-sighted her statement is. Oh well, I don’t worship with, respect, buy books or pay for seminars from people who are short-sighted. That’s MY choice.

  • No, she does not. She is, of course, free to invite or uninvite anyone she wants to her ceremonies. However, the rest of the world is free to completely lose respect for her when she makes a choice based in ignorance. If she actually knew anyone who is transgendered and accepted that about themselves, she would pretty easily see how short-sighted her statement is. Oh well, I don’t worship with, respect, buy books or pay for seminars from people who are short-sighted. That’s MY choice.

  • Yay, more examples! I was going to mention Greek, but I don’t know enough about it. I heard from a Hellenic friend that Aphrodite had a child who was intersexed; I’d think that to be a ringing endorsement right there.

  • Yay, more examples! I was going to mention Greek, but I don’t know enough about it. I heard from a Hellenic friend that Aphrodite had a child who was intersexed; I’d think that to be a ringing endorsement right there.

  • Yup. Hermes and Aphrodite had a kid: Hermaphroditus.

  • Yup. Hermes and Aphrodite had a kid: Hermaphroditus.

  • And Tiresias experienced being both cisman and transwoman (with menarche and children) then back to cisman.

  • And Tiresias experienced being both cisman and transwoman (with menarche and children) then back to cisman.

  • Nestis

    Speaking as a Dianic Witch, I am deeply hurt and saddened by what Z has said. I may even understand why she is feeling angry and lashing out like this, but attacking trans women and denying the sincerity of their womanhood is beyond the pale as far as I’m concerned. Yes, I feel that our tradition is being unfairly maligned by people who admit at the onset that they neither understand nor respect our mysteries, but using such cruel and hurtful language toward these women is completely unjustified. And unfortunately, Z saying these things probably discredits anything I have to say as far as many people are probably concerned, even though I do not agree with her on this issue.

    Dianic tradition has never been about stereotypes. In fact it is entirely about challenging stereotypes of womanhood. (It’s about acknowledging the Sun and Fire Goddesses instead of ignoring their presence and calling their energies “masculine” arbitrarily in the name of balance.) It has never been about polarity. It has never been about “reducing a woman to her biology” either. How dare a monthly celebration of a physical experience that some women feel to be intensely spiritual for them be called a “reduction”? How dare celebrations of the cycles of a woman’s life be called a “reduction”? How dare a safe place for biological women’s healing be discredited for the good it does just because it isn’t set up to function as a safe place for everyone?

    Just because you are not interested in the blood mysteries, it does not give you the right to claim they are not important. Obviously they are to Dianics. Many Pagans claim that our religions are “of the body” and “of the world”, yet how quickly people are turning on one tradition, a tradition that is all about people born in female bodies learning to love themselves and to have a fully embodied relationship to the Divine on their own terms. Dianic tradition is simply a mystery religion centered in the embodied experiences of biological females. It never claimed to serve the needs of all people. It was always intensely specific. Our initiation cords have always been the red color of our moonblood. It is not any more appropriate to condemn the pagans who practice moonblood and womb-space magic than it is to condemn the practitioners of Vodun for animal sacrifice. Not if you claim to honor the practices of others even when they are not your own, again as many Pagans claim.

    Instead, what I see here is people saying “You know, that whole Goddessy, menstrual thing ain’t for me” so it’s wrong for anyone to care about it, and to want their initiates to have related to that experience at least once in their lives. How dare you say it’s wrong for there to be a religion that celebrates biological femaleness and Female Proud-ness from birth till death?

    I absolutely acknowlege that intersexed people exist. That XX and XY are a continuum and not opposites. In fact, these are EXACTLY the reasons I was never comfortable in traditional Wicca. Dianic tradition says that ALL PEOPLE are part of the Goddess, but that our mysteries are here to serve one particular embodiment. I think Pagans need to stop claiming, and stop claiming NOW that our religions are “embodied” if there isn’t room for the religious exploration of particular embodiments in our vast diversity of traditions.

    This doesn’t make any other sex or gender in the continuum less sacred, but it does make their mysteries different then those explored in Dianic religion. And no, not all cis women bleed, but then again, these women tend not to feel the Dianic path is right for them. However, as a woman who does bleed and wants to work magic with other women who bleed, or have bled, and wants to embrace my female-bodiedness without apology or stereotype, it’s the path for me. It never was the path for everyone, and it has never claimed to be, unlike many other paths that claim inclusivity on the surface but whose practices effectively exclude just as many as Dianic craft does.

  • Nestis

    Speaking as a Dianic Witch, I am deeply hurt and saddened by what Z has said. I may even understand why she is feeling angry and lashing out like this, but attacking trans women and denying the sincerity of their womanhood is beyond the pale as far as I’m concerned. Yes, I feel that our tradition is being unfairly maligned by people who admit at the onset that they neither understand nor respect our mysteries, but using such cruel and hurtful language toward these women is completely unjustified. And unfortunately, Z saying these things probably discredits anything I have to say as far as many people are probably concerned, even though I do not agree with her on this issue.

    Dianic tradition has never been about stereotypes. In fact it is entirely about challenging stereotypes of womanhood. (It’s about acknowledging the Sun and Fire Goddesses instead of ignoring their presence and calling their energies “masculine” arbitrarily in the name of balance.) It has never been about polarity. It has never been about “reducing a woman to her biology” either. How dare a monthly celebration of a physical experience that some women feel to be intensely spiritual for them be called a “reduction”? How dare celebrations of the cycles of a woman’s life be called a “reduction”? How dare a safe place for biological women’s healing be discredited for the good it does just because it isn’t set up to function as a safe place for everyone?

    Just because you are not interested in the blood mysteries, it does not give you the right to claim they are not important. Obviously they are to Dianics. Many Pagans claim that our religions are “of the body” and “of the world”, yet how quickly people are turning on one tradition, a tradition that is all about people born in female bodies learning to love themselves and to have a fully embodied relationship to the Divine on their own terms. Dianic tradition is simply a mystery religion centered in the embodied experiences of biological females. It never claimed to serve the needs of all people. It was always intensely specific. Our initiation cords have always been the red color of our moonblood. It is not any more appropriate to condemn the pagans who practice moonblood and womb-space magic than it is to condemn the practitioners of Vodun for animal sacrifice. Not if you claim to honor the practices of others even when they are not your own, again as many Pagans claim.

    Instead, what I see here is people saying “You know, that whole Goddessy, menstrual thing ain’t for me” so it’s wrong for anyone to care about it, and to want their initiates to have related to that experience at least once in their lives. How dare you say it’s wrong for there to be a religion that celebrates biological femaleness and Female Proud-ness from birth till death?

    I absolutely acknowlege that intersexed people exist. That XX and XY are a continuum and not opposites. In fact, these are EXACTLY the reasons I was never comfortable in traditional Wicca. Dianic tradition says that ALL PEOPLE are part of the Goddess, but that our mysteries are here to serve one particular embodiment. I think Pagans need to stop claiming, and stop claiming NOW that our religions are “embodied” if there isn’t room for the religious exploration of particular embodiments in our vast diversity of traditions.

    This doesn’t make any other sex or gender in the continuum less sacred, but it does make their mysteries different then those explored in Dianic religion. And no, not all cis women bleed, but then again, these women tend not to feel the Dianic path is right for them. However, as a woman who does bleed and wants to work magic with other women who bleed, or have bled, and wants to embrace my female-bodiedness without apology or stereotype, it’s the path for me. It never was the path for everyone, and it has never claimed to be, unlike many other paths that claim inclusivity on the surface but whose practices effectively exclude just as many as Dianic craft does.

  • In the Welsh Mabinogion, as well, Gilvaethwy and Gwydion are transformed into alternately female and male animals (deer, boar and wolf) after Gilvaethwy rapes Goewin with Gwydion’s aid. They each bare male animals to each other who become boys after the spell concludes.

  • In the Welsh Mabinogion, as well, Gilvaethwy and Gwydion are transformed into alternately female and male animals (deer, boar and wolf) after Gilvaethwy rapes Goewin with Gwydion’s aid. They each bare male animals to each other who become boys after the spell concludes.

  • Nestis

    I agree with everything you’ve said here except for one thing.

    In Dianic tradition having a womb that sheds blood is the central mystery experience of our thealogy. Like other traditions hold up the Great Rite as their central estatic mystery, ours is The Moon Blood. We do not require that women bleed, or have bled in the past, but we obviously do expect them to feel connected to that mystery. And that is a tall order for any woman who does not actually experience it.

    I am not like Z, I do not deny the womanhood of trans women. But our initiation rituals and central mysteries are unlikely to speak to them. Does that mean trans women should be excluded? I honestly don’t know. I think personally, I would be open to having a trans women in a Dianic circle, if she felt truly connected to our practices. And it may not even hinder the group’s ability to practice skyclad, which would be a loss since reclaiming the naked bodies of biological females is an important part of our tradition, but whether this would be possible would depend largely on the group dynamic and everyone feeling totally safe. So it would definitely have to be taken on a case by case basis.

  • Nestis

    I agree with everything you’ve said here except for one thing.

    In Dianic tradition having a womb that sheds blood is the central mystery experience of our thealogy. Like other traditions hold up the Great Rite as their central estatic mystery, ours is The Moon Blood. We do not require that women bleed, or have bled in the past, but we obviously do expect them to feel connected to that mystery. And that is a tall order for any woman who does not actually experience it.

    I am not like Z, I do not deny the womanhood of trans women. But our initiation rituals and central mysteries are unlikely to speak to them. Does that mean trans women should be excluded? I honestly don’t know. I think personally, I would be open to having a trans women in a Dianic circle, if she felt truly connected to our practices. And it may not even hinder the group’s ability to practice skyclad, which would be a loss since reclaiming the naked bodies of biological females is an important part of our tradition, but whether this would be possible would depend largely on the group dynamic and everyone feeling totally safe. So it would definitely have to be taken on a case by case basis.

  • In my experience with the High Ones – they often tell people to go places and attend things that the person wouldn’t choose for her/him self. If Lilith Herself told transwomen to attend a Dianic ritual … what would you make of that?

    Would you say that the Goddess was wrong to do that?
    Would you sat that the transwomen didn’t understand Lilith?

  • In my experience with the High Ones – they often tell people to go places and attend things that the person wouldn’t choose for her/him self. If Lilith Herself told transwomen to attend a Dianic ritual … what would you make of that?

    Would you say that the Goddess was wrong to do that?
    Would you sat that the transwomen didn’t understand Lilith?

  • Trust me, you’re not the only one who was offended by Z’s comment.

  • Trust me, you’re not the only one who was offended by Z’s comment.

  • Nestis

    I cannot presume to truly know the heart of anyone but myself. Perhaps these women were called by Her to the ritual. How can I know this unless She tells me? I do not have a relationship with Lilith (but I am a huge fan of Wendy Rule) so had I been at Pantheacon, even as a Dianic, I do not know that I would have attended Her rite.

    I only feel it is my duty to clarify what Dianic tradition actually -is- so that we are having this dialogue about gender identity and inclusion in a context that makes sense. (Instead of people dismissing the blood mysteries and womb-space magic as totally minor and ultimately meaningless when within Dianic trad they are anything but.)

    And you must admit, one could make that argument for anything.

    Considering the fact that the issue of trans inclusion in women-only spaces is nothing new, and a major point of understandable trans activism, I tend to think that the lead-up to this controversy was rather more mundane. But one can never know for sure!

  • Nestis

    I cannot presume to truly know the heart of anyone but myself. Perhaps these women were called by Her to the ritual. How can I know this unless She tells me? I do not have a relationship with Lilith (but I am a huge fan of Wendy Rule) so had I been at Pantheacon, even as a Dianic, I do not know that I would have attended Her rite.

    I only feel it is my duty to clarify what Dianic tradition actually -is- so that we are having this dialogue about gender identity and inclusion in a context that makes sense. (Instead of people dismissing the blood mysteries and womb-space magic as totally minor and ultimately meaningless when within Dianic trad they are anything but.)

    And you must admit, one could make that argument for anything.

    Considering the fact that the issue of trans inclusion in women-only spaces is nothing new, and a major point of understandable trans activism, I tend to think that the lead-up to this controversy was rather more mundane. But one can never know for sure!

  • Norse Alchemist

    Reprinted from my blog: http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com/2011/03/matter-of-rights-and-religions.html

    A Matter of Rights and Religions.
    Okay, I’m gonna throw my helm into this ring about Dianic vs Transgender

    First of, I don’t know Dianic anything. I’m an Asatruar and an Alchemist, and I’m happy to stay in my little sandbox most of the time. Or mead hall, as the case may be. It’s what calls to me, and what fits me.

    I wasn’t there when it happened. Like most of us, I’ve learned about it second and third hand. Mostly what I’ve gleaned is that the Dianic path likes to hold their rituals for natural born women, and wouldn’t let trans-gender women join in. Trans-women got unhappy about this and felled the ban was prejudiced and discriminatory. What followed has got to be one of the larger blow ups in the Pagan community that I’ve seen. Even bigger than when you get into the Christianity and Islam battles that occasionally pop up in our Pagan realms.

    As it stands, most people seem to be siding on the Dianics are sexist side of the debate. This is probably due to both how it has been portrayed in our Pagan media, as well as the words of Z. who I believe is a Dianic elder. Her words should be easy to find, and are apparently rather sexist/discriminatory. I’ve read them, or at least part of them, but sense I’m not transgendered and don’t know a lot of transgendered people, I’ll leave it up to others to decide just how bad her words are.

    On the flip side, though, is the fact that very few are coming to the defense of the Dianics. About the only one I’ve seen on Patheos and The Wild Hunt is Nestis, who I think has done a pretty good job of defending that path. I don’t know if everyone agrees though, since again it seems to be hitting a lot on the Dianics are bad from most of the commentators.

    I don’t know that I really have a place to talk about this issue. To be honest, I probably don’t. For me, I’m going to try and take a somewhat neutral stance. This whole debate strikes me at it’s core as an issue of rights. Freedom of Religion vs Civil Rights. Do the Dianics have the right to practice their religion as they see fit, regardless of if it’s discriminatory, or do the trans-women have the right to join any religious group they please regardless of that group’s views on gender and sexuality.

    To be honest, I don’t know. I’ve been struggling for years to answer the question of who has the right to dictate for others, unless of course people have voluntarily give that person or group the right to dictate. I know that I don’t have the right to dictate what the Dianics teach or practice. I don’t think anyone else has that right either. Then again, I don’t think I have the right to tell the trans-women they don’t have the right to join either. The Dianics might though, since it’s their religion. Then again, they might not. But I know I don’t have the right to tell them if they can or can’t.

    I think that before we start jumping up and down and screaming about how terrible the Dianics are for not letting the trans-women join in, we take a step back and consider all sides and the rights of everyone involved. The last thing any of us Pagan and Heathens want is the knowledge that we could be forced to change our beliefs, traditions, and practices, simply because the Majority feel we’re being “offensive.” We all came to these paths because they didn’t dictate what we had to do. Let’s keep it that way, and think long and hard before we start down a path that could lead towards such a thing happening.

  • Norse Alchemist

    Reprinted from my blog: http://norsealchemist.blogspot.com/2011/03/matter-of-rights-and-religions.html

    A Matter of Rights and Religions.
    Okay, I’m gonna throw my helm into this ring about Dianic vs Transgender

    First of, I don’t know Dianic anything. I’m an Asatruar and an Alchemist, and I’m happy to stay in my little sandbox most of the time. Or mead hall, as the case may be. It’s what calls to me, and what fits me.

    I wasn’t there when it happened. Like most of us, I’ve learned about it second and third hand. Mostly what I’ve gleaned is that the Dianic path likes to hold their rituals for natural born women, and wouldn’t let trans-gender women join in. Trans-women got unhappy about this and felled the ban was prejudiced and discriminatory. What followed has got to be one of the larger blow ups in the Pagan community that I’ve seen. Even bigger than when you get into the Christianity and Islam battles that occasionally pop up in our Pagan realms.

    As it stands, most people seem to be siding on the Dianics are sexist side of the debate. This is probably due to both how it has been portrayed in our Pagan media, as well as the words of Z. who I believe is a Dianic elder. Her words should be easy to find, and are apparently rather sexist/discriminatory. I’ve read them, or at least part of them, but sense I’m not transgendered and don’t know a lot of transgendered people, I’ll leave it up to others to decide just how bad her words are.

    On the flip side, though, is the fact that very few are coming to the defense of the Dianics. About the only one I’ve seen on Patheos and The Wild Hunt is Nestis, who I think has done a pretty good job of defending that path. I don’t know if everyone agrees though, since again it seems to be hitting a lot on the Dianics are bad from most of the commentators.

    I don’t know that I really have a place to talk about this issue. To be honest, I probably don’t. For me, I’m going to try and take a somewhat neutral stance. This whole debate strikes me at it’s core as an issue of rights. Freedom of Religion vs Civil Rights. Do the Dianics have the right to practice their religion as they see fit, regardless of if it’s discriminatory, or do the trans-women have the right to join any religious group they please regardless of that group’s views on gender and sexuality.

    To be honest, I don’t know. I’ve been struggling for years to answer the question of who has the right to dictate for others, unless of course people have voluntarily give that person or group the right to dictate. I know that I don’t have the right to dictate what the Dianics teach or practice. I don’t think anyone else has that right either. Then again, I don’t think I have the right to tell the trans-women they don’t have the right to join either. The Dianics might though, since it’s their religion. Then again, they might not. But I know I don’t have the right to tell them if they can or can’t.

    I think that before we start jumping up and down and screaming about how terrible the Dianics are for not letting the trans-women join in, we take a step back and consider all sides and the rights of everyone involved. The last thing any of us Pagan and Heathens want is the knowledge that we could be forced to change our beliefs, traditions, and practices, simply because the Majority feel we’re being “offensive.” We all came to these paths because they didn’t dictate what we had to do. Let’s keep it that way, and think long and hard before we start down a path that could lead towards such a thing happening.

  • Poetheather

    As a Transgendered priestess running her own coven I am appalled at the words of Z. Budapest. To so blatantly deny the soul truth of Transgendered women by calling them men is to use the same sort of rhetoric that denied women their rights for so long. It is to stand there and call a woman who went through a lifetime of suffering and pain to stand before Deity as the woman they aways were a fraud, a liar, and it discounts that pain, that suffering. It is saying that Transgendered women are nothing but lies. That is one of the saddest parts of this whole mess.

    To want rights and space for yourself you need to get past the things that limit you. As the writer said, your body alone does not make you a woman. What about women born with Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, who have all the parts but are XY? What about women who do not have periods due to some sort of biological anomaly? Are they to be excluded simply because of their bodies? Are they honestly less women than ones who have had periods or have XX?

    Simon Beauvior once said that a woman was not born but made. People have to grow into their womanhood. It is a process of becoming. For some there are physical signs but not for all. But all women become themselves by their own power. Just because I happened to be born with a body that did not reflect my soul, but one that gave me new challenges and barriers to overcome in my quest for my womanhood does not mean that I am not a woman. I am a woman and I declare that before Deity, in Sacred Space and dare others to try and take my womanhood from me.

    To not accept and embrace all women is to deny Diana her supreme power. It is limiting Diana by assuming that you, a mere mortal, know the will of the Goddess. If She disapproves, She will make her will known. Transwomen are not entering in to steal mysteries but to embrace the mysteries denied them by biology. They are trying to let the Goddess into their hearts. Isn’t that what faith is about?

  • Poetheather

    As a Transgendered priestess running her own coven I am appalled at the words of Z. Budapest. To so blatantly deny the soul truth of Transgendered women by calling them men is to use the same sort of rhetoric that denied women their rights for so long. It is to stand there and call a woman who went through a lifetime of suffering and pain to stand before Deity as the woman they aways were a fraud, a liar, and it discounts that pain, that suffering. It is saying that Transgendered women are nothing but lies. That is one of the saddest parts of this whole mess.

    To want rights and space for yourself you need to get past the things that limit you. As the writer said, your body alone does not make you a woman. What about women born with Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, who have all the parts but are XY? What about women who do not have periods due to some sort of biological anomaly? Are they to be excluded simply because of their bodies? Are they honestly less women than ones who have had periods or have XX?

    Simon Beauvior once said that a woman was not born but made. People have to grow into their womanhood. It is a process of becoming. For some there are physical signs but not for all. But all women become themselves by their own power. Just because I happened to be born with a body that did not reflect my soul, but one that gave me new challenges and barriers to overcome in my quest for my womanhood does not mean that I am not a woman. I am a woman and I declare that before Deity, in Sacred Space and dare others to try and take my womanhood from me.

    To not accept and embrace all women is to deny Diana her supreme power. It is limiting Diana by assuming that you, a mere mortal, know the will of the Goddess. If She disapproves, She will make her will known. Transwomen are not entering in to steal mysteries but to embrace the mysteries denied them by biology. They are trying to let the Goddess into their hearts. Isn’t that what faith is about?

  • Anonymous

    On behalf of CAYA Coven, I would like to say that it is apparent that this is an issue that has hit a nerve for many in the Pagan community. We sincerely appreciate everyone who has taken the time to share their point of view on this, in this blog and others. As we encourage open discussion around this topic, we would like to also offer our own views on gender and ritual space, which can be found here- http://www.cayacoven.org/gender.html.

    Thank you,
    Pax,
    Thora

  • thewildegarden

    On behalf of CAYA Coven, I would like to say that it is apparent that this is an issue that has hit a nerve for many in the Pagan community. We sincerely appreciate everyone who has taken the time to share their point of view on this, in this blog and others. As we encourage open discussion around this topic, we would like to also offer our own views on gender and ritual space, which can be found here- http://www.cayacoven.org/gender.html.

    Thank you,
    Pax,
    Thora

  • Zevenster

    I agree with you that to some level it is more important to find the common denominator that binds us, than the facts that separate us as pagans. But I do think Szee Budapest has a point. Why is it so important for MtF’s to be alowed into a Dianic tradition? Why not create their own? It is different, when you have been female all your life, or that you have been in a male body before. It creates a different past, a different set of experiences, a different path of living, suffering, becoming “you”. Why put that all into one group? Why not be proud of who you are and allowing others to feel the same?
    For this matter, as much as I like Szee and the Dianic tradition – I could never enter it. Because it seems to be very often a tradition, inhabited by lesbians, and I don’t feel at all comfortable with that, being straight as I am. But I do feel that when you are among women, different things happen than when there are other genders around. And I find that sacred. I don’t want that trampelled because of some “equality” fight. We are equal in rights, and in duties, but we are not equal in gender. Fact of life- live with it.

    @Atemu: Why should anything be based off of gender – why not? Why is it so wrong to decide, as a group: we want to be amongst peers?
    You don’t go to your neighbours house to demand inclusion in their family – so why would you do so with a spiritual tradition?
    Inclusion comes from the group who allowes you – not from you demanding!!

  • Zevenster

    I agree with you that to some level it is more important to find the common denominator that binds us, than the facts that separate us as pagans. But I do think Szee Budapest has a point. Why is it so important for MtF’s to be alowed into a Dianic tradition? Why not create their own? It is different, when you have been female all your life, or that you have been in a male body before. It creates a different past, a different set of experiences, a different path of living, suffering, becoming “you”. Why put that all into one group? Why not be proud of who you are and allowing others to feel the same?
    For this matter, as much as I like Szee and the Dianic tradition – I could never enter it. Because it seems to be very often a tradition, inhabited by lesbians, and I don’t feel at all comfortable with that, being straight as I am. But I do feel that when you are among women, different things happen than when there are other genders around. And I find that sacred. I don’t want that trampelled because of some “equality” fight. We are equal in rights, and in duties, but we are not equal in gender. Fact of life- live with it.

    @Atemu: Why should anything be based off of gender – why not? Why is it so wrong to decide, as a group: we want to be amongst peers?
    You don’t go to your neighbours house to demand inclusion in their family – so why would you do so with a spiritual tradition?
    Inclusion comes from the group who allowes you – not from you demanding!!

  • Right on! This is one of the issues that drove me far away from Dianic Craft.

  • Right on! This is one of the issues that drove me far away from Dianic Craft.

  • Sunweaver

    In order to understand the fullness of the human experience in all of its mysteries, we must understand the balance between the masculine and feminine that lies within each of us, gender expression and identity notwithstanding. On the molecular level, we are each, in a sense, both male and female. If you can imagine the DNA double helix, one side comes from your mother and one side from your father. This is true whether you’re male, female, or neither (since we have not managed parthenogenesis yet). Both live within us and both male and female literally make up who we are.

    Many have mentioned the number of biological and chromosomal variants on the male/female dichotomy, so I will not repeat them here, but I will say that the whole of the natural world is not divided into two sexes (let alone genders), so why would I assume that the gods are so limited? My people call that “hubris.”

    While nature does not always divide into male/female, it does move toward balance and this is what I strive for as spiritual person. This is why I came to Paganism in the first place and I have no patience for exclusionary male-centric or female-centric worship that fails to acknowledge the divinity of all, no matter where you fall on the spectrum of sex and gender expression.

    So, where is the place for those who do not fall neatly into our male/female dichotomy? The place for such a person is where they are loved. Separate but equal is not acceptable to me. “Go find your own tradition” is not acceptable. In the grand lunch room of spirituality, you can come sit with me.

  • Sunweaver

    In order to understand the fullness of the human experience in all of its mysteries, we must understand the balance between the masculine and feminine that lies within each of us, gender expression and identity notwithstanding. On the molecular level, we are each, in a sense, both male and female. If you can imagine the DNA double helix, one side comes from your mother and one side from your father. This is true whether you’re male, female, or neither (since we have not managed parthenogenesis yet). Both live within us and both male and female literally make up who we are.

    Many have mentioned the number of biological and chromosomal variants on the male/female dichotomy, so I will not repeat them here, but I will say that the whole of the natural world is not divided into two sexes (let alone genders), so why would I assume that the gods are so limited? My people call that “hubris.”

    While nature does not always divide into male/female, it does move toward balance and this is what I strive for as spiritual person. This is why I came to Paganism in the first place and I have no patience for exclusionary male-centric or female-centric worship that fails to acknowledge the divinity of all, no matter where you fall on the spectrum of sex and gender expression.

    So, where is the place for those who do not fall neatly into our male/female dichotomy? The place for such a person is where they are loved. Separate but equal is not acceptable to me. “Go find your own tradition” is not acceptable. In the grand lunch room of spirituality, you can come sit with me.

  • Thank you so much for sharing this, Thora. It’s an excellent response and one that makes a lot of sense.

  • Thank you so much for sharing this, Thora. It’s an excellent response and one that makes a lot of sense.

  • I have my ideas, however how would you fit yourself into a religion that based their most sacred rites on menstruation if you’ve never experience it? Would you want to?

    I’ll post my ideas on this in a main post. But I would love to hear your take. :D

  • I have my ideas, however how would you fit yourself into a religion that based their most sacred rites on menstruation if you’ve never experience it? Would you want to?

    I’ll post my ideas on this in a main post. But I would love to hear your take. :D

  • After reading all of the comments I have an idea that may help the Dianic tradition grow spiritually beyond the dichotomy that Z has created. First, it’s going to have to get beyond thinking that men will always be men because they had/have the plumbing. If these people are genuinely women, possibly exposed to too much estrogen in the womb but not enough to change their biological plumbing, then they are women. Second, if they are women who have been forced to live as men all of their lives, these women have been just as damaged by our society and their biology as born women have in their own way. Finally, as compassionate women who have had the luck to have been born women, lived as women and experienced women’s mysteries through menstruation, we have the duty to our sisters of the heart to allow them to experience those mysteries spiritually even if they cannot experience them physically. These women have been denied by a quirk of biology the ability to experience the most sacred mystery of being a women. Why not as Dianics take it upon your tradition to initiate these women into the spiritual side of menstruation? These women already feel left out because of a quirk of biology, why leave them in this awful psychological place? Why can’t Dianics take it upon themselves to help these women? I mean, as born women in a patriarchal society we’ve been denied the mysteries. And trans women have been denied the mysteries by a quirck of biology. Why not use this a common ground? Why not use this as a way to help one another?

    I’m not saying that Dianics should let anyone into their group. But a screening process should be used for trans women to be sure they are serious and not just men faking it to get into a circle of women and take it over or to get to see naked women dancing. I know this is a fear of some Dianics.

    To the trans women who’ve been excluded: as a born woman myself I’ve still been excluded from their circles because I don’t buy into the ancient matriarchy theories. And I believe we should start our spirituality and religions from a place of power, not controversy. So I’ve been in your shoes too. The group I’m talking about was supposed to be safe space. I called them on their BS and left.

  • After reading all of the comments I have an idea that may help the Dianic tradition grow spiritually beyond the dichotomy that Z has created. First, it’s going to have to get beyond thinking that men will always be men because they had/have the plumbing. If these people are genuinely women, possibly exposed to too much estrogen in the womb but not enough to change their biological plumbing, then they are women. Second, if they are women who have been forced to live as men all of their lives, these women have been just as damaged by our society and their biology as born women have in their own way. Finally, as compassionate women who have had the luck to have been born women, lived as women and experienced women’s mysteries through menstruation, we have the duty to our sisters of the heart to allow them to experience those mysteries spiritually even if they cannot experience them physically. These women have been denied by a quirk of biology the ability to experience the most sacred mystery of being a women. Why not as Dianics take it upon your tradition to initiate these women into the spiritual side of menstruation? These women already feel left out because of a quirk of biology, why leave them in this awful psychological place? Why can’t Dianics take it upon themselves to help these women? I mean, as born women in a patriarchal society we’ve been denied the mysteries. And trans women have been denied the mysteries by a quirck of biology. Why not use this a common ground? Why not use this as a way to help one another?

    I’m not saying that Dianics should let anyone into their group. But a screening process should be used for trans women to be sure they are serious and not just men faking it to get into a circle of women and take it over or to get to see naked women dancing. I know this is a fear of some Dianics.

    To the trans women who’ve been excluded: as a born woman myself I’ve still been excluded from their circles because I don’t buy into the ancient matriarchy theories. And I believe we should start our spirituality and religions from a place of power, not controversy. So I’ve been in your shoes too. The group I’m talking about was supposed to be safe space. I called them on their BS and left.

  • TMI Warning for Medical Discussion of Menstruation, Fertility, and CAH

    I apologize for shooting from the hip up there. I didn’t mean to imply that a monthly cycle wasn’t a powerful thing, spiritually and magically, especially for those whose worship is particularly tied to the moon. I meant to speak purely in terms of gender, that having a womb that bleeds doesn’t make you a woman by default, and that NOT having one doesn’t make you NOT a woman. Transmen, for example, are generally born with a womb that bleeds, but they are still men, and some of them have perfectly good relationships with their genitals and keep them throughout their lives. Similarly, as you observed, some women are born with the parts, but they don’t work. My mother is one of those unbleeding, unfertile women – I’m adopted and so are her other two daughters. And some, like my Craft sister, are born with Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia, which can wreak all kinds of havoc on genital arrangement. In her case, she has a womb that bleeds – way too much and at completely random intervals, in tune with no particular cycle.

    Because I’m not Dianic, I can’t make a blanket statement about what Dianics should do about all this. I can only stand by my trans* and intersexed friends and family and say ‘transgender women are women’. If I were Dianic, I think I would be seriously wrestling with it, the same way I wrestle hard with polar gender binary in my own practice, because it shows up everywhere. I recognize the necessity of safe spaces for women, but I also recognize that cisgender women have privilege relative to transwomen, and leveraging that privilege to keep them out of cis-spaces is an unfortunate echo of the exclusion they face everywhere, because the whole world is cis-centric.

  • TMI Warning for Medical Discussion of Menstruation, Fertility, and CAH

    I apologize for shooting from the hip up there. I didn’t mean to imply that a monthly cycle wasn’t a powerful thing, spiritually and magically, especially for those whose worship is particularly tied to the moon. I meant to speak purely in terms of gender, that having a womb that bleeds doesn’t make you a woman by default, and that NOT having one doesn’t make you NOT a woman. Transmen, for example, are generally born with a womb that bleeds, but they are still men, and some of them have perfectly good relationships with their genitals and keep them throughout their lives. Similarly, as you observed, some women are born with the parts, but they don’t work. My mother is one of those unbleeding, unfertile women – I’m adopted and so are her other two daughters. And some, like my Craft sister, are born with Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia, which can wreak all kinds of havoc on genital arrangement. In her case, she has a womb that bleeds – way too much and at completely random intervals, in tune with no particular cycle.

    Because I’m not Dianic, I can’t make a blanket statement about what Dianics should do about all this. I can only stand by my trans* and intersexed friends and family and say ‘transgender women are women’. If I were Dianic, I think I would be seriously wrestling with it, the same way I wrestle hard with polar gender binary in my own practice, because it shows up everywhere. I recognize the necessity of safe spaces for women, but I also recognize that cisgender women have privilege relative to transwomen, and leveraging that privilege to keep them out of cis-spaces is an unfortunate echo of the exclusion they face everywhere, because the whole world is cis-centric.

  • The acronym I used was common-use shorthand. I appreciate that you don’t want curse words in use on your blog and apologize for that. The exhortation to ‘be quiet and listen’, phrased more strongly, is a common one to hear when one is exploring the spaces of marginalized people from a place of privilege.

    I’m not sure what you’re talking about in reference to feminism being crippling or promoting victimization.

  • The acronym I used was common-use shorthand. I appreciate that you don’t want curse words in use on your blog and apologize for that. The exhortation to ‘be quiet and listen’, phrased more strongly, is a common one to hear when one is exploring the spaces of marginalized people from a place of privilege.

    I’m not sure what you’re talking about in reference to feminism being crippling or promoting victimization.

  • Thank you for taking the time to write this out. It was very helpful for me personally to read about what the Dianic mysteries mean to you.

  • Thank you for taking the time to write this out. It was very helpful for me personally to read about what the Dianic mysteries mean to you.

  • Thank you so much, Star, Rose, and everyone else who has written in with support for transgendered folk. I am a MTF transsexual, and what so many take for granted (and why wouldn’t they?), I, and others like me, had to fight tooth and nail for. Z Budapest is very wrong here. I am not a man. I have never been a man. I was born with male parts, but it was never me. Why is this so difficult a concept to grasp? I have been with a loving woman for four years, and she says that I’m one of the most feminine women she’s ever met, and that doesn’t mean “forced” femininity like a crossdresser may exhibit. It comes from within. Wicca, like just any other religion, speaks to and from the soul. The body is but a shell. It’s the soul that lives on. I have the soul of a woman. It resonates through every aspect of my being. And I worked damn hard to be the woman I am today. It would be nice if Budapest and others would recognize that, just like they want everyone else to realize women’s sufferings and struggles. I think transsexual deserve a chance to be given the same respect that cissexual women do. Don’t confuse us with crossdressers or drag queens. We are NOT men.

  • Thank you so much, Star, Rose, and everyone else who has written in with support for transgendered folk. I am a MTF transsexual, and what so many take for granted (and why wouldn’t they?), I, and others like me, had to fight tooth and nail for. Z Budapest is very wrong here. I am not a man. I have never been a man. I was born with male parts, but it was never me. Why is this so difficult a concept to grasp? I have been with a loving woman for four years, and she says that I’m one of the most feminine women she’s ever met, and that doesn’t mean “forced” femininity like a crossdresser may exhibit. It comes from within. Wicca, like just any other religion, speaks to and from the soul. The body is but a shell. It’s the soul that lives on. I have the soul of a woman. It resonates through every aspect of my being. And I worked damn hard to be the woman I am today. It would be nice if Budapest and others would recognize that, just like they want everyone else to realize women’s sufferings and struggles. Transsexuals deserve a chance to be given the same respect that cissexual women do. Don’t confuse us with crossdressers or drag queens. We are NOT men.

  • Not by a long shot.

  • Not by a long shot.

  • A dear friend has written a swingeing call to action for trans Pagans who need to see themselves represented in images of the Gods and Goddesses, a blaring reminder that the Female Divine includes the trans female, the Male Divine includes the trans male, and that trans bodies are as sacred images of the Goddesses and Gods as all other bodies. Do read and signal-boost.

    http://foxfetch.wordpress.com/2011/03/01/in-our-own-image-transcentric-paganism/

    On a somewhat related subject, I’ve recently been thinking about issues of full representativity of realities of trans people on one hand and gender-variant people on the other, in case anyone may be interested (these were written before all this stuff went down):

    http://femmeguy.wordpress.com/2011/01/01/the-spirit-of-solstice-is-still-living-here-part-i/
    http://femmeguy.wordpress.com/2011/02/22/the-spirit-of-solstice-is-still-living-here-part-ii-when-the-sacred-masculine-isnt/

  • A dear friend has written a swingeing call to action for trans Pagans who need to see themselves represented in images of the Gods and Goddesses, a blaring reminder that the Female Divine includes the trans female, the Male Divine includes the trans male, and that trans bodies are as sacred images of the Goddesses and Gods as all other bodies. Do read and signal-boost.

    http://foxfetch.wordpress.com/2011/03/01/in-our-own-image-transcentric-paganism/

    On a somewhat related subject, I’ve recently been thinking about issues of full representativity of realities of trans people on one hand and gender-variant people on the other, in case anyone may be interested (these were written before all this stuff went down):

    http://femmeguy.wordpress.com/2011/01/01/the-spirit-of-solstice-is-still-living-here-part-i/
    http://femmeguy.wordpress.com/2011/02/22/the-spirit-of-solstice-is-still-living-here-part-ii-when-the-sacred-masculine-isnt/

  • Eelsalad

    Wow. The more I see and hear from Z online and at conventions, the more appalled I am by her utter lack of respect for people who are different from her. I was at the panel where she was so dismissive to Thorn, and I find her constant exclusion of men and non-femme females extremely offputting.

    It’s okay to exclude people from your Mysteries, but you have to state that clearly. I wonder how many cis women would have avoided that ritual if they had known it would be cis women only?

  • Eelsalad

    Wow. The more I see and hear from Z online and at conventions, the more appalled I am by her utter lack of respect for people who are different from her. I was at the panel where she was so dismissive to Thorn, and I find her constant exclusion of men and non-femme females extremely offputting.

    It’s okay to exclude people from your Mysteries, but you have to state that clearly. I wonder how many cis women would have avoided that ritual if they had known it would be cis women only?

  • Cara

    I’m not sure which I’m more unhappy about – not seeing transgender women as women or the idea that groups (that you don’t belong to) should change ritual participant requirements to suit your idea of ethics.

  • Cara

    I’m not sure which I’m more unhappy about – not seeing transgender women as women or the idea that groups (that you don’t belong to) should change ritual participant requirements to suit your idea of ethics.

  • You have a point. We either need to respect autonomy or start shopping for a Pagan Pope. (DuQuette would make a great Pope!)

  • You have a point. We either need to respect autonomy or start shopping for a Pagan Pope. (DuQuette would make a great Pope!)

  • Cara

    Silly Star – everyone knows that Sannion is the Pagan Pope.

  • Cara

    Silly Star – everyone knows that Sannion is the Pagan Pope.

  • I think there’s a misconception here.

    From my understanding, the debate is NOT about whether or not the Dianics have the right to limit who joins their tradition. It’s about whether or not they have the right to limit who attends a public ritual at an event such as PantheaCon.

    I have yet to see anyone (tran or otherwise) involved in this debate argue that the Dianics are obligated to admit transwomen to their tradition.

  • I think there’s a misconception here.

    From my understanding, the debate is NOT about whether or not the Dianics have the right to limit who joins their tradition. It’s about whether or not they have the right to limit who attends a public ritual at an event such as PantheaCon.

    I have yet to see anyone (tran or otherwise) involved in this debate argue that the Dianics are obligated to admit transwomen to their tradition.

  • Ouch!

    This sounds so very much like “we gay men aren’t like those transsexuals over there.”

    It would be so much easier to respect you if you didn’t disrespect crossdressers and drag queens.

  • Ouch!

    This sounds so very much like “we gay men aren’t like those transsexuals over there.”

    It would be so much easier to respect you if you didn’t disrespect crossdressers and drag queens.

  • Nowhere in my post did I disrespect crossdressers or drag queens, unless it is disrespectful to refer to them as men. If so, I humbly apologize. I do believe it’s possible that Z. Budapest has the three categories just a bit mixed up though, or maybe she just doesn’t care. I have nothing against men, or crossdressers, or drag queens when I say this, but I don’t live the life of a man. I don’t dress “en femme” one day and live the life of a man the next. Inside, where it counts, transwomen are female. I think that should be recognized. That’s all I was trying to say. I meant no disrespect.

  • Nowhere in my post did I disrespect crossdressers or drag queens, unless it is disrespectful to refer to them as men. If so, I humbly apologize. I do believe it’s possible that Z. Budapest has the three categories just a bit mixed up though, or maybe she just doesn’t care. I have nothing against men, or crossdressers, or drag queens when I say this, but I don’t live the life of a man. I don’t dress “en femme” one day and live the life of a man the next. Inside, where it counts, transwomen are female. I think that should be recognized. That’s all I was trying to say. I meant no disrespect.

  • Nestis

    As a Dianic, I am seriously wrestling with this issue. I do see how being cis-centric could be exactly the same kind of oppressive thing that many cis women are already feeling from the world at large.

    I guess part of the problem for me is (and this is the same problem feminist endeavors always have) that it seems like because feminists by-in-large believe in the inherent worth, dignity, respect, experiences, ect… of all people, and want to defend everyone and keep them from being oppressed and hurt, the end result is that cis women aren’t allowed to claim anything. And babies still only come out of one kind of human body, and sometimes it feels like the gender-queer third-wave is eliding it, pretending its a non issue because femaleness doesn’t really have anything substantial or meaningful to do with that bodily reality that is intrinsic to the suffering of a huge group of people.

    Dianics were called sexists for wanting women-only space in the first place.

    Now we’re transphobic for wanting to acknowledge that cis womanhood still exists as a condition with unique concerns and experiences that we want to explore with other cis women.

    This probably is going to ring hollow for a lot of people, but I do consider myself a trans ally. I participated in the Transgender Day of Remembrance this last autumn. I know the huge degree of suffering, and the genuine need for inclusion that is there, and as I have said, I am open to the idea that trans women have a place in a Dianic circle.

    But I know equally that there are huge numbers of queer Dianics who have taken all the abuse they can from our sexist/homophobic culture as it is, and when many of them are butch dykes who have struggled to maintain the authenticity of their female-bodied-ness in a world that treats them as male wannabes against their will, when their goals have always been to challenge the idea of what “woman” is instead of knowing that they are one sex internally but their body doesn’t match, you’re invariably going to run into trouble. These cis women look at their bodies, see that they’re female, and don’t question that fact, but they do question the meaning society puts to that female-bodied-ness. So what I’m trying to say is that there is a very real tension here that is going to the root of ideologies and senses of self on both sides, and because there are many different ways of being gender deviants within the majority culture, ways that often seem antithetical to one another, this conflict is a natural one.

    Dianic trad is full of women who have suffered from serious abuse already, and on the one hand it makes it totally reasonable to expect them to be open to trans women becaue of it, on the other, I think it is unfair to say that if it is a question between a cis woman’s healing in a trad designed with her in mind, and opening up for healing women on a wider scale, that those cis women who feel “I’m so tired…just let me have this one little thing for myself…” are bad people for having reached their limit.

    And maybe it’s selfish, but Dianic trad was designed with cis women in mind, as a safe place where they didn’t have to compromise anymore. Where the didn’t have to have their definitions of their womanhood challenged, and maybe it’s a good thing, but trans women do challenge that. Much more than a cis woman with a medical condition does. And the idea that someone who has lived as a man gets to claim womanhood in every way identical to a cis women -is- problematic, even if its true. Their definitions of womanhood -do- differ from that of many cis women, even allowing for all the reasons some cis women do not menstruate, or have hysterectomies, ect… ect… We still have the issue of feminine markers and the way they are continually objectified and degraded by the majority culture.

  • Nestis

    As a Dianic, I am seriously wrestling with this issue. I do see how being cis-centric could be exactly the same kind of oppressive thing that many cis women are already feeling from the world at large.

    I guess part of the problem for me is (and this is the same problem feminist endeavors always have) that it seems like because feminists by-in-large believe in the inherent worth, dignity, respect, experiences, ect… of all people, and want to defend everyone and keep them from being oppressed and hurt, the end result is that cis women aren’t allowed to claim anything. And babies still only come out of one kind of human body, and sometimes it feels like the gender-queer third-wave is eliding it, pretending its a non issue because femaleness doesn’t really have anything substantial or meaningful to do with that bodily reality that is intrinsic to the suffering of a huge group of people.

    Dianics were called sexists for wanting women-only space in the first place.

    Now we’re transphobic for wanting to acknowledge that cis womanhood still exists as a condition with unique concerns and experiences that we want to explore with other cis women.

    This probably is going to ring hollow for a lot of people, but I do consider myself a trans ally. I participated in the Transgender Day of Remembrance this last autumn. I know the huge degree of suffering, and the genuine need for inclusion that is there, and as I have said, I am open to the idea that trans women have a place in a Dianic circle.

    But I know equally that there are huge numbers of queer Dianics who have taken all the abuse they can from our sexist/homophobic culture as it is, and when many of them are butch dykes who have struggled to maintain the authenticity of their female-bodied-ness in a world that treats them as male wannabes against their will, when their goals have always been to challenge the idea of what “woman” is instead of knowing that they are one sex internally but their body doesn’t match, you’re invariably going to run into trouble. These cis women look at their bodies, see that they’re female, and don’t question that fact, but they do question the meaning society puts to that female-bodied-ness. So what I’m trying to say is that there is a very real tension here that is going to the root of ideologies and senses of self on both sides, and because there are many different ways of being gender deviants within the majority culture, ways that often seem antithetical to one another, this conflict is a natural one.

    Dianic trad is full of women who have suffered from serious abuse already, and on the one hand it makes it totally reasonable to expect them to be open to trans women becaue of it, on the other, I think it is unfair to say that if it is a question between a cis woman’s healing in a trad designed with her in mind, and opening up for healing women on a wider scale, that those cis women who feel “I’m so tired…just let me have this one little thing for myself…” are bad people for having reached their limit.

    And maybe it’s selfish, but Dianic trad was designed with cis women in mind, as a safe place where they didn’t have to compromise anymore. Where the didn’t have to have their definitions of their womanhood challenged, and maybe it’s a good thing, but trans women do challenge that. Much more than a cis woman with a medical condition does. And the idea that someone who has lived as a man gets to claim womanhood in every way identical to a cis women -is- problematic, even if its true. Their definitions of womanhood -do- differ from that of many cis women, even allowing for all the reasons some cis women do not menstruate, or have hysterectomies, ect… ect… We still have the issue of feminine markers and the way they are continually objectified and degraded by the majority culture.

  • Nestis

    Thank you for listening.

  • Nestis

    Thank you for listening.

  • I appreciate that you’re taking the time to write about all this.

    I have to say that weighing the accusations of sexism and transphobia against each other from a progressive standpoint, only one holds water in this specific instance. Having women-only spaces is not sexist because most of the world is a male-dominated, male-normative space. As you said, feminine markers are routinely ‘othered’, ridiculed, degraded, and femininity itself is marked as less sincere or natural than masculinity. However, claiming that the definition of a woman is inherent in her body is transphobic because it denies the identity and soul-truth of a transwoman. It seems to me that ciswomen already have full claim on all the markers of femininity, positive or negative, and the rigorous cultural enforcement of this claim is particularly noticeable to femme men and to transwomen, who are routinely policed, persecuted, and marginalized for daring to transgress it. As for babies only coming from one kind of human body, yes, that is true, but that ‘kind’ of human body occasionally belongs to a man, and some of them go ahead and bear children and are very happy about it and still are no less men for that.

    I understand the need of ciswomen to have spaces of their own, and done on a personal level in terms of individual covens, that doesn’t bother me so much. Particularly in the case of survivors of assault or abuse, who do need safe spaces to recover. In this specific case, with a Con-wide event that also wasn’t properly advertised, excluding transwomen is a glaring example of cis-centricism. Especially considering the Amazon Priestess Coven advertises themselves as celebrating ALL women, when that is (now) clearly not the case. And positioning cisgender people as the gatekeepers of gender is also very problematic.

  • I appreciate that you’re taking the time to write about all this.

    I have to say that weighing the accusations of sexism and transphobia against each other from a progressive standpoint, only one holds water in this specific instance. Having women-only spaces is not sexist because most of the world is a male-dominated, male-normative space. As you said, feminine markers are routinely ‘othered’, ridiculed, degraded, and femininity itself is marked as less sincere or natural than masculinity. However, claiming that the definition of a woman is inherent in her body is transphobic because it denies the identity and soul-truth of a transwoman. It seems to me that ciswomen already have full claim on all the markers of femininity, positive or negative, and the rigorous cultural enforcement of this claim is particularly noticeable to femme men and to transwomen, who are routinely policed, persecuted, and marginalized for daring to transgress it. As for babies only coming from one kind of human body, yes, that is true, but that ‘kind’ of human body occasionally belongs to a man, and some of them go ahead and bear children and are very happy about it and still are no less men for that.

    I understand the need of ciswomen to have spaces of their own, and done on a personal level in terms of individual covens, that doesn’t bother me so much. Particularly in the case of survivors of assault or abuse, who do need safe spaces to recover. In this specific case, with a Con-wide event that also wasn’t properly advertised, excluding transwomen is a glaring example of cis-centricism. Especially considering the Amazon Priestess Coven advertises themselves as celebrating ALL women, when that is (now) clearly not the case. And positioning cisgender people as the gatekeepers of gender is also very problematic.

  • starrdusk

    If a woman is defined by her ability to give birth, or her owning a womb, does this exclude the, those women who have never given birth, or have had to have their wombs removed, many even before being able to use them.

  • starrdusk

    If a woman is defined by her ability to give birth, or her owning a womb, does this exclude the, those women who have never given birth, or have had to have their wombs removed, many even before being able to use them.

  • Sith

    So glad someone set the right framework here. I don’t see this issue as a gender one, but a practice one. In the absence of a uterus or ever having had one, the specific mystery and practice of this specific ritual/workshop would be compromised. While transgender individuals might wish to attend such a gathering, their real-world contribution would come from an imagined positioning rather than a real-world experience.

    I as a pagan man, I would be interested to attend a Dianic led discussion (and indeed do discuss such things with Dianics of my acquaintance) but would never presume to think I can harness the same power from the moon blood mysteries. In the case of magical practice, sometimes biology does play an important role which is unfortunately independent of identity. This statement in no way implies a gender discrimination bias, and I do not wish to undermine the role or identity of any woman. However, harnessing the power of moon blood is the province of people who do shed, have shed or will shed.

    From another point of view, I will openly discuss sex magic and the power that can be harnessed via ejaculation with any interested audience, regardless of gender or physicality. However, if it were a practical workshop people without the requisite physiology would, by the nature of the topic, be excluded. I imagine something similar is happening here.

    I don’t think this physicality issue should hinder any woman from identifying as Dianic, regardless of their genotype. However, we must recognise the practical limitations in some instances, without accusing individuals of intolerance due to (a perhaps personally distasteful) reality.

  • Sith

    So glad someone set the right framework here. I don’t see this issue as a gender one, but a practice one. In the absence of a uterus or ever having had one, the specific mystery and practice of this specific ritual/workshop would be compromised. While transgender individuals might wish to attend such a gathering, their real-world contribution would come from an imagined positioning rather than a real-world experience.

    I as a pagan man, I would be interested to attend a Dianic led discussion (and indeed do discuss such things with Dianics of my acquaintance) but would never presume to think I can harness the same power from the moon blood mysteries. In the case of magical practice, sometimes biology does play an important role which is unfortunately independent of identity. This statement in no way implies a gender discrimination bias, and I do not wish to undermine the role or identity of any woman. However, harnessing the power of moon blood is the province of people who do shed, have shed or will shed.

    From another point of view, I will openly discuss sex magic and the power that can be harnessed via ejaculation with any interested audience, regardless of gender or physicality. However, if it were a practical workshop people without the requisite physiology would, by the nature of the topic, be excluded. I imagine something similar is happening here.

    I don’t think this physicality issue should hinder any woman from identifying as Dianic, regardless of their genotype. However, we must recognise the practical limitations in some instances, without accusing individuals of intolerance due to (a perhaps personally distasteful) reality.

  • Norse Alchemist

    I would argue the venue doesn’t matter, be it public or private, as far as right to limit. And I’ve seen a fair number of people, trans or otherwise, that if they aren’t saying the Dianics are obligated to let trans women in, that the Dianics are sexist/prejudiced as a group and need to either change or go away. At least, that’s the impression I’ve gotten.

  • Norse Alchemist

    I would argue the venue doesn’t matter, be it public or private, as far as right to limit. And I’ve seen a fair number of people, trans or otherwise, that if they aren’t saying the Dianics are obligated to let trans women in, that the Dianics are sexist/prejudiced as a group and need to either change or go away. At least, that’s the impression I’ve gotten.

  • Nestis

    Hmmm….well, to CAYA’s credit two of their three women-only covens are trans inclusive.

  • Nestis

    Hmmm….well, to CAYA’s credit two of their three women-only covens are trans inclusive.

  • Sonneillon, I adore you and would like to join the line for your taxes-doing.

  • Sonneillon, I adore you and would like to join the line for your taxes-doing.

  • To me, the issue is not about the inclusion of transwomen in Dianic circles. I think people can do whatever they want in their private time and space. As a trans friend commented to me as we were discussing this, lesbian separatism is not the source of trans oppression. The generation of women who feel deeply threatened by trans people, like Z Budapest, is mostly aging, and they are no longer at the center of Pagan culture-making. Let them have their spaces in peace.

    On the other hand, I notice that Pagans are treating events like Pantheacon as public squares (being that we have so few true public squares anymore). The fact that one of the Dianic elders argues her side of the case as a matter of religious freedom emphasizes this (http://cerridwen.st4r.org/wiki/index.php/Pantheacon_2011). But if Pantheacon is functioning as a public square, than the Dianics are clearly on the wrong side of history. The ethical implications of excluding anyone from participation in public events is well-established.

    I think it’s okay for private groups to exclude anyone they wish for any reason. But at Pantheacon, the purchase of a ticket (or work exchange for same) implicitly entitles a person to attend all official conference events. My thought is that groups that wish to exclude people on the basis of identity — whether that’s gender identity, or ethnic identity, or affiliation with a particular tradition — should only be permitted to hold events in which all Pantheacon attendees can join, such as presentations or lectures. If they want to hold rituals, there are private hotel rooms, and several adjacent hotels in which large rooms can be separately reserved. Pantheacon might even list these events in its program, as it does events in hospitality suites, with the note that these are separately sponsored events. I don’t feel that attendees should have to financially support events at which they are not welcome, however — the same way that, if any event receives public (government) funding, it becomes subject to anti-discrimination laws, because we are all taxpayers.

  • To me, the issue is not about the inclusion of transwomen in Dianic circles. I think people can do whatever they want in their private time and space. As a trans friend commented to me as we were discussing this, lesbian separatism is not the source of trans oppression. The generation of women who feel deeply threatened by trans people, like Z Budapest, is mostly aging, and they are no longer at the center of Pagan culture-making. Let them have their spaces in peace.

    On the other hand, I notice that Pagans are treating events like Pantheacon as public squares (being that we have so few true public squares anymore). The fact that one of the Dianic elders argues her side of the case as a matter of religious freedom emphasizes this (http://cerridwen.st4r.org/wiki/index.php/Pantheacon_2011). But if Pantheacon is functioning as a public square, than the Dianics are clearly on the wrong side of history. The ethical implications of excluding anyone from participation in public events is well-established.

    I think it’s okay for private groups to exclude anyone they wish for any reason. But at Pantheacon, the purchase of a ticket (or work exchange for same) implicitly entitles a person to attend all official conference events. My thought is that groups that wish to exclude people on the basis of identity — whether that’s gender identity, or ethnic identity, or affiliation with a particular tradition — should only be permitted to hold events in which all Pantheacon attendees can join, such as presentations or lectures. If they want to hold rituals, there are private hotel rooms, and several adjacent hotels in which large rooms can be separately reserved. Pantheacon might even list these events in its program, as it does events in hospitality suites, with the note that these are separately sponsored events. I don’t feel that attendees should have to financially support events at which they are not welcome, however — the same way that, if any event receives public (government) funding, it becomes subject to anti-discrimination laws, because we are all taxpayers.

  • Tyetknot

    Once again, Z Budapest demonstrates that she is hideously bigoted. I wish I could say I was surprised.

  • Tyetknot

    Once again, Z Budapest demonstrates that she is hideously bigoted. I wish I could say I was surprised.

  • Wes Isley

    I’m happy to be a gay man who embraces both his physical masculinity as well as his inner woman. I’ve always felt more feminine, however, I’m perfectly happy having a man’s body. So I can see both sides. No, I don’t have female anatomy, but I think for someone to say you have to have the plumbing in order to get it is, frankly, sexism. It’s what men used to say about women, so now women are using it against transgendered people. At the same time, I don’t understand why anyone would want to be part of a group that excludes. If I were transgendered, I’d form my own group or find one that accepted me for exactly who I am.

  • Wes Isley

    I’m happy to be a gay man who embraces both his physical masculinity as well as his inner woman. I’ve always felt more feminine, however, I’m perfectly happy having a man’s body. So I can see both sides. No, I don’t have female anatomy, but I think for someone to say you have to have the plumbing in order to get it is, frankly, sexism. It’s what men used to say about women, so now women are using it against transgendered people. At the same time, I don’t understand why anyone would want to be part of a group that excludes. If I were transgendered, I’d form my own group or find one that accepted me for exactly who I am.

  • “We do not require that women bleed, or have bled in the past, but we obviously do expect them to feel connected to that mystery. And that is a tall order for any woman who does not actually experience it.”

    So how is this dealt with for cisgendered women who don’t bleed, and have not bled in the past, in your tradition? You say that you don’t require this, so I assume you’ve found a way for them to work with these Mysteries. If so, why would that not be equally effective for transgendered women?

  • “We do not require that women bleed, or have bled in the past, but we obviously do expect them to feel connected to that mystery. And that is a tall order for any woman who does not actually experience it.”

    So how is this dealt with for cisgendered women who don’t bleed, and have not bled in the past, in your tradition? You say that you don’t require this, so I assume you’ve found a way for them to work with these Mysteries. If so, why would that not be equally effective for transgendered women?

  • Memeproduction

    I think transphobia is well and truly alive in Paganism. A T friend of mine had a bad experience. It’s distasteful and flies in the face of basic Pagan principles. Paganism/Christianity in th same sentence? Denounce bad Pagan behaviour.

  • Memeproduction

    I think transphobia is well and truly alive in Paganism. A T friend of mine had a bad experience. It’s distasteful and flies in the face of basic Pagan principles. Paganism/Christianity in th same sentence? Denounce bad Pagan behaviour.

  • Meme

    :) now all go out and hug a trans pagan, heal the wound.

  • Meme

    :) now all go out and hug a trans pagan, heal the wound.

  • Anonymous

    If Z Budapest is all about that “Moon Blood” thing, I think she rounded the corner past 70 years old recently, right? And she would be the rare exception if the moon invoked her womb to activity at that age. Just sayin’.

  • happydog

    If Z Budapest is all about that “Moon Blood” thing, I think she rounded the corner past 70 years old recently, right? And she would be the rare exception if the moon invoked her womb to activity at that age. Just sayin’.

  • Anonymous

    No, not alone by any means. I think it was extremely offensive and it definitely makes me rethink how I feel about her. It is very sad, as well as infuriating, when an elder in the community goes rogue like that.

  • happydog

    No, not alone by any means. I think it was extremely offensive and it definitely makes me rethink how I feel about her. It is very sad, as well as infuriating, when an elder in the community goes rogue like that.

  • “And unfortunately, Z saying these things probably discredits anything I have to say as far as many people are probably concerned, even though I do not agree with her on this issue.”

    Z’s words discredit herself, and her alone. Those who make similar statements also discredit themselves similarly.

    To say “I don’t understand how/why …” is a reasonable response to any situation, provided it does not lead to biased/bigoted conclusions being stated as fact. It is often the first step in gaining understanding.

    As for Z’s rant about hers being “the only tradition” that “men” (meaning transwomen) want in to – nothing could be further from the truth. There are transgender people in numerous traditions of the Craft, and have been for decades.

    This particular incident was about a ritual being offered at a public conventions, and as the authors of the program notice have so clearly stated (thank you again, members of CAYA) the initial problem was one of miscommunication, and had the program entry been written differently, much of the current discussion would likely be not taking place.

    Despite the pain, anger, angst and frustration being felt by so many, I think it’s a good thing that the discussion is taking place. Growth, much like birth, life and love (and for many, moon bleeding) is not always a gentle or comfortable thing. But it is often necessary for healing, and there is much need of healing.

  • “And unfortunately, Z saying these things probably discredits anything I have to say as far as many people are probably concerned, even though I do not agree with her on this issue.”

    Z’s words discredit herself, and her alone. Those who make similar statements also discredit themselves similarly.

    To say “I don’t understand how/why …” is a reasonable response to any situation, provided it does not lead to biased/bigoted conclusions being stated as fact. It is often the first step in gaining understanding.

    As for Z’s rant about hers being “the only tradition” that “men” (meaning transwomen) want in to – nothing could be further from the truth. There are transgender people in numerous traditions of the Craft, and have been for decades.

    This particular incident was about a ritual being offered at a public conventions, and as the authors of the program notice have so clearly stated (thank you again, members of CAYA) the initial problem was one of miscommunication, and had the program entry been written differently, much of the current discussion would likely be not taking place.

    Despite the pain, anger, angst and frustration being felt by so many, I think it’s a good thing that the discussion is taking place. Growth, much like birth, life and love (and for many, moon bleeding) is not always a gentle or comfortable thing. But it is often necessary for healing, and there is much need of healing.

  • Thora, again I would like to express my appreciation for the thought and concern that is displayed in the CAYA statement.

  • Thora, again I would like to express my appreciation for the thought and concern that is displayed in the CAYA statement.

  • Nimue

    “If you don’t bleed monthly, give birth or go through menopause, are you any less of a woman? It seems to me feminism was meant to free us from being typecast by our anatomy, yet some of the language is confining us by that anatomy.”

    This was just a metaphor, darling. Don’t take everything so strictly…

    I understand your points, but Zsuzsanna has some good point too. I’m fine with homosexuals. My best friend is gay, btw. But I understand that, the transsexuals didn’t feel the same things, like the womens (other lifestyle, other experiences, other life, other problems). And if somebody found a tradition, then she/he write the rules. That’s it.

    Can’t we have an own tradition? Can’t we be the amazons? We must share our tradition with every single being? No.

    If you want a tradition, go search, but don’t judge them for being tradition. Because the tradition means: master and their CHOSEN disciple.

    I’m fine with “mixed gender” traditions. But I understand that arguments what Zsuzsanna said.

    And relax, that’s how the traditions works. Sometimes open, sometimes closed. That’s all.

  • Nimue

    “If you don’t bleed monthly, give birth or go through menopause, are you any less of a woman? It seems to me feminism was meant to free us from being typecast by our anatomy, yet some of the language is confining us by that anatomy.”

    This was just a metaphor, darling. Don’t take everything so strictly…

    I understand your points, but Zsuzsanna has some good point too. I’m fine with homosexuals. My best friend is gay, btw. But I understand that, the transsexuals didn’t feel the same things, like the womens (other lifestyle, other experiences, other life, other problems). And if somebody found a tradition, then she/he write the rules. That’s it.

    Can’t we have an own tradition? Can’t we be the amazons? We must share our tradition with every single being? No.

    If you want a tradition, go search, but don’t judge them for being tradition. Because the tradition means: master and their CHOSEN disciple.

    I’m fine with “mixed gender” traditions. But I understand that arguments what Zsuzsanna said.

    And relax, that’s how the traditions works. Sometimes open, sometimes closed. That’s all.

  • Trish

    Thank you so much for voicing your opinion. I feel sad that it has to be said because as you say being Wiccan already makes us stand out. We should embrace anyone regardless of their gender or sexual orientation. It’s hard enough to be different for Pagans, we shouldnt be part of the group who makes being yourself difficult just because someone doesn’t fit into our version of something. We need to allow all people the freedom we would like to have. It has to start somewhere, why not with the very group of people who understand being what some people would say are already outside the norm.

  • Trish

    Thank you so much for voicing your opinion. I feel sad that it has to be said because as you say being Wiccan already makes us stand out. We should embrace anyone regardless of their gender or sexual orientation. It’s hard enough to be different for Pagans, we shouldnt be part of the group who makes being yourself difficult just because someone doesn’t fit into our version of something. We need to allow all people the freedom we would like to have. It has to start somewhere, why not with the very group of people who understand being what some people would say are already outside the norm.

  • Wyrd Designs

    The Lokasenna is a problematic source however. It appears to be yet another example of how the writers of the time liked to allude to the classics of the Greco-Roman world, in this case reference a formula of action as seen in Lucian’s Assembly of the Gods and putting into it the Norse Gods, sprinkling in items that may or may not be trued, but most definitely are heavily skewed.

    This is what Hollander, a scholar and one of the academics known for translating the Lokasenna had to say about it:

    “It is safe to say that the “Lokasenna” is not, and never was, in any sense, a popular lay. It is the product of a witty and clever skald who conceived the idea of showing the solemn and glorious gods from their seamy side.”

    “It is a veritable Lucianesque chronique scandaleuse of the Northern Olympus. Indeed, there is the remote possibility that the author–through Varangian intermediaries perhaps–had an acquaintance with Lucian’s amusing Assembly of the Gods.”

    The footnote attached to this goes on to say, “It is impossible to believe that the “Lokasenna” was composed in any spirit of serious propaganda, or even with a faith in the gods, as some eminent scholars opine.”

    What we do know is in the legal codes there is quite a substantial bit of evidence that calling a man ‘ergi’ could be a justifiable reason for murdering the slanderer. So obviously it was a term that provoked some high passion. Most of the laws were written during the period of conversion or shortly after, so we’re not sure if this custom dates to the pre-Christian peoples who recited the law orally, or was something we see appear in Christian times.

    Personally, I suspect that transgendered persons, or homosexuality were definitely NOT the norm, but just as we have this sense that their were seidhrkonnas who traveled from distant places, that most likely there was a liminal role for such persons that didn’t fit the cultural concepts of masculinity or femininity. But of course, these sorts of instances, wouldn’t be something that a Christian scholar would likely write about.

    The problem is, we know that our information about the historical culture is full of fallacies and holes, so then what should we do? While it’s great to look to the past, I think we need to look to the present, and rather need to follow the dictates of common sense and our values today.

    But it may be of note to you, that many of us proudly support and fly the banner for Heathens Against Hate: “we Heathens openly oppose hatred and prejudice based on the color of a person’s skin, their sexual orientation, marital status, creed, or nationality.”

    http://www.heathensagainsthate.org/

  • Wyrd Designs

    The Lokasenna is a problematic source however. It appears to be yet another example of how the writers of the time liked to allude to the classics of the Greco-Roman world, in this case reference a formula of action as seen in Lucian’s Assembly of the Gods and putting into it the Norse Gods, sprinkling in items that may or may not be trued, but most definitely are heavily skewed.

    This is what Hollander, a scholar and one of the academics known for translating the Lokasenna had to say about it:

    “It is safe to say that the “Lokasenna” is not, and never was, in any sense, a popular lay. It is the product of a witty and clever skald who conceived the idea of showing the solemn and glorious gods from their seamy side.”

    “It is a veritable Lucianesque chronique scandaleuse of the Northern Olympus. Indeed, there is the remote possibility that the author–through Varangian intermediaries perhaps–had an acquaintance with Lucian’s amusing Assembly of the Gods.”

    The footnote attached to this goes on to say, “It is impossible to believe that the “Lokasenna” was composed in any spirit of serious propaganda, or even with a faith in the gods, as some eminent scholars opine.”

    What we do know is in the legal codes there is quite a substantial bit of evidence that calling a man ‘ergi’ could be a justifiable reason for murdering the slanderer. So obviously it was a term that provoked some high passion. Most of the laws were written during the period of conversion or shortly after, so we’re not sure if this custom dates to the pre-Christian peoples who recited the law orally, or was something we see appear in Christian times.

    Personally, I suspect that transgendered persons, or homosexuality were definitely NOT the norm, but just as we have this sense that their were seidhrkonnas who traveled from distant places, that most likely there was a liminal role for such persons that didn’t fit the cultural concepts of masculinity or femininity. But of course, these sorts of instances, wouldn’t be something that a Christian scholar would likely write about.

    The problem is, we know that our information about the historical culture is full of fallacies and holes, so then what should we do? While it’s great to look to the past, I think we need to look to the present, and rather need to follow the dictates of common sense and our values today.

    But it may be of note to you, that many of us proudly support and fly the banner for Heathens Against Hate: “we Heathens openly oppose hatred and prejudice based on the color of a person’s skin, their sexual orientation, marital status, creed, or nationality.”

    http://www.heathensagainsthate.org/

  • Thank you so much for addressing and speaking up about this issue. As a genderqueer/genderless person who’s been pagan for the past 17 years, I struggle a lot with this topic. It has led to a lot of internal “issues” in how I am able to accept goddess worship and integrate it into my life and spiritual practice in a genuine way. If I get too caught up in the god/goddess binary instead of seeing them both as different aspects of one whole, I end up starting to view them both as “other” and feeling like something alien from Nature, instead of accepting myself as the natural creation that I am. It seems to be leading me toward a more Native American/two-spirit oriented practice, than what I started out learning about paganism. I guess I’m just lucky that I’m solitary, in this regard, and I’m not having to convince someone else (obviously not well schooled in the areas of gender vs. sex vs. sexuality) to agree with my own gender identity.

  • Thank you so much for addressing and speaking up about this issue. As a genderqueer/genderless person who’s been pagan for the past 17 years, I struggle a lot with this topic. It has led to a lot of internal “issues” in how I am able to accept goddess worship and integrate it into my life and spiritual practice in a genuine way. If I get too caught up in the god/goddess binary instead of seeing them both as different aspects of one whole, I end up starting to view them both as “other” and feeling like something alien from Nature, instead of accepting myself as the natural creation that I am. It seems to be leading me toward a more Native American/two-spirit oriented practice, than what I started out learning about paganism. I guess I’m just lucky that I’m solitary, in this regard, and I’m not having to convince someone else (obviously not well schooled in the areas of gender vs. sex vs. sexuality) to agree with my own gender identity.

  • Thank you. I couldn’t have said it better myself. <3

  • Thank you. I couldn’t have said it better myself. <3

  • Dragon

     In regards to Dianic traditions, it is their choice whether they choose to be inclusive of all women or not, and it may be good for them to NOT be so inclusive. However, should they choose to be so particular, they need to explain upfront and beforehand that it is their decision to be so particular, and not after the fact or as the ritual is beginning. It was this lack of communication that made what could have been a simple oversight into what looked very much like discrimination.

  • Dragon

     In regards to Dianic traditions, it is their choice whether they choose to be inclusive of all women or not, and it may be good for them to NOT be so inclusive. However, should they choose to be so particular, they need to explain upfront and beforehand that it is their decision to be so particular, and not after the fact or as the ritual is beginning. It was this lack of communication that made what could have been a simple oversight into what looked very much like discrimination.

  • Dragon

    It is the process of girl to woman, correct? If so, why would it then need to be something literally experienced? All women who feel themselves women, transwomen or not, will feel that transition at some point on their lives. For some it is marked by blood, for others, including some women-from-birth, it is not. I personally don’t see a difference between the feelings of a from-birth non-menstruating woman and a transwoman in that regard. If such women-from-birth are included, there aught to be no problem.

  • Dragon

    It is the process of girl to woman, correct? If so, why would it then need to be something literally experienced? All women who feel themselves women, transwomen or not, will feel that transition at some point on their lives. For some it is marked by blood, for others, including some women-from-birth, it is not. I personally don’t see a difference between the feelings of a from-birth non-menstruating woman and a transwoman in that regard. If such women-from-birth are included, there aught to be no problem.