Traditions in Transition: Rites of Passage for Trans Girls

Traditions in Transition: Rites of Passage for Trans Girls March 23, 2019

In 2012, Ruth Barrett was a guest of honor at one of the oldest and largest Pagan camping festivals in the United States, Pagan Spirit Gathering (PSG), where she was asked to lead The Women’s Ritual. The ritual description, as found in the PSG schedule, specified that it was for “…women who bleed, will bleed, or have bled our sacred bloods…”

Understandably, there was some public outcry. Melissa Murray, who attended that PSG, had this to say in an interview with Pagan Newswire Collective Minnesota (you can find the whole transcript here):

…I thought in honoring and being respectful of diversity this was something that was not inclusive or respectful. You know everyone is excluded from some events at some point, but my point was this was the ‘main’ women’s ritual. It was explained that this was not the ‘main’ women’s ritual, even though that is what it is called in the program. It was offered at a time opposite the men’s ritual…There was a separation of programming for men and women, and so those of us who didn’t fall into either of those definitions within the language that was used to exclude people were going to be left without a place to go during that time. We were left to feel ostracized and made to feel outside the community of women. That is really the heart of where my pain comes from…I hope this is not done again in the future…”

The part of this which grips me, and won’t let me go, is the bit about a separation of the sexes/genders, and how this creates feelings of ostracization. How by defining anatomical function, rather than focusing on identity, people of trans experience, people who are non-binary, and people who are gender non-conforming, are automatically excluded. 

Seven years have passed since the Ruth Barret Women’s Ritual at PSG. When I visited the PSG website today, the Rite of Passage into Young Womanhood description reads like this:

“This four-day program is to honor maturing young women who have recently started their menses, and welcome them into the larger Community of women. All participants must have recently started their menses (or reasonable proximity) and have a female support person (parent, guardian or family friend) to attend the meeting on Monday and the ritual on Thursday…”

It has been seven years since the “women who bleed, will bleed, or have bled our sacred bloods…” language caused such pain for the adult women of trans experience in the PSG community, this current language of “…maturing young women who have recently started their menses…” cannot be a comfortable thing for our adolescent trans, non-binary, and gender-nonconforming youth to hear.

I think there are many who hold the understanding of trans identity as something that is an anomaly. That people who are trans, are outliers, and that people who identify with the gender they were assigned at birth, are the norm. I think this notion creates a dialogue where folks speak of trans youth as “exceptions” to existing systems, and discuss “accommodation.”

This perspective also creates a lack of proactive movement in programs such as PSG’s Rite of Passage into Young Womanhood. That, perhaps, there is a feeling of, “we will change programming when we have a young person who needs accommodation,” rather than, “we will modify programming to proactively avoid a situation where a young person would be made to feel like a special exception in contrast to their peers.”
Many trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming children begin to identify themselves as at a very young age, well before puberty. Children look up to older kids and teens for what is acceptable to do and be. We need to give LGBTQ kids spaces to witness what they could be when they’re older, for every stage of life, not just adulthood.

I believe that by relying on anatomy as criteria as to whether or not a young person can participate in an important coming of age ritual, is missing an opportunity to provide nurturing support during critical years of development, for youth who are already feeling marginalized by the larger culture.

Of course, PSG is not the only festival that has such programming; nor are festivals the only places where rites of passage during adolescence take place. It is, however, a very well documented example, of how an issue can arise, there can be lots of good dialogue around that issue, but effective policy changes may not immediately take place.

I especially sympathize with non-profit organizations which offer such diverse programming on a large scale, running on a relatively small operating budget, relying heavily on volunteer labor. At the end of the day, I don’t feel that blaming anyone in particular, is particularly helpful.

What I will advocate for, is more public community discussion of this topic.

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  • Gordon Cooper

    How would a girl without a womb enter into puberty in the community you describe? She can’t bleed, won’t bear children, and the only role the Procrustean 19th Century late Victorian paradigm allows for would be that of a Crone for life.

    The whole of modern society needs to cope with the differences between the Darwinist 19th century model of development and the ways life happens.

    What I find interesting is that the magical community in the US had more inclusion c. 1972 than it does now. Back then Green Egg Magazine (original incarnation) had a lively letters column. Lily Sabina Fairweather was a frequent contributor. She was an early and eloquent voice not just for diversity and inclusion, but brought a wider discussion of non-Western and non-binary paradigms into the emerging dialogues. All knowledge of these dialogues has dropped out of the current magical movement. I’m fairly certain that other journals from that era would have had at least passing consideration of these topics.

  • Carl Gustaf Lindstrom

    As disdain crosses my face…

    It’s at this point when I throw the “science book” at these people.

    Granted, I have my own spirituality, but when I read something like this, I think of the religious fundamentalists (like certain Christians), and go full blown atheist-humanist (because I am both) on this sort of thing.

    What about women born XY, who have androgen insensitivity, and who will never menstruate? These people, though genetically male, are considered women, because of how – *by Nature* their bodies turn out.

    What about those born Intersex, who identify as women, but as a result of their genitalia, and the way their reproductive organs turned out *by Nature*, cannot participate.

    Are any of these women in these groups, any *less* of a woman simply because they cannot menstruate?

    Amazing how some pagan/witchcraft paths deny Nature by denying Nature’s inherent diversity.

    *gets off soapbox*

  • Brianna LaPoint

    People do what they feel is right. Does not mean society has to accept it. In fact, i am well aware that some of the people hiding amongst the LGB community are also MAPS. I have therefore concluded, that people should stop seeking approval from others, accept themselves, or just accept that other people cannot and will not.

  • Arakiba

    Ignoring biology and the fact that most people are not intersex or inherently sterile is ignoring reality. Shall our rites of passage now exclude first menses and instead celebrate a first shot of estrogen or puberty blockers?

  • Gus diZerega

    Much of the symbolism with which NeoPagans began to become a major religious movement were explicitly based on biological cycles. Mother, Maid, Crone; the Wheel of the Year and the Sabbats. For many of us the Wiccan Goddess was the primary symbol even though others Gods and Goddesses were honored. Biological feminine cycles are deeply embedded in NeoPaganism.

    Add to this that natal women have powerful connections to biological cycles compared to men, and that a spiritual tradition that honors the sacred as immanent in the world quite reasonably honors those and other cycles.

    Add to this that what is most unique to natal women has long been denigrated in the larger society. In honoring what makes them natal women as [art of their sacred path in life, no one else is being denigrated.

    None of this is to deny that people transitioning into women (or men) do not have a authentic place in NeoPaganism- but when we get to those practices that focus on the spiritual as concretized in life experiences, these people can quite reasonably have their own rituals and celebrations.

  • Even though I am a biological woman, I do not want to live in a world were being a woman is reduced to biology. As an asexual I’ve struggled with that aspect quite strongly and I do not want to be reminded of it at every turn. It is precisely why I feel very uncomfortable about the idea of biological women only events: despite having the ‘right biology’ I do not feel I belong there. Why cannot we simply celebrate the divine feminine with everyone who feels that power flowing through them, independent of their genes?

  • Gus diZerega

    If you think in any way I am reducing women (or men) to biology you failed 100% to understand my argument. But unlike people who reject their materiality and the energies that create this world, many of us NeoPagans honor them. There are times when the divine feminine is celebrated by everyone who wishes. For Gardnerians it is ever Esbat to give one example. But I, a man, know many women who found women’s circles valuable and never was bothered by not being included.

    Seems to me, as you describe it, your religion has nothing in common with mine and the bulk of NeoPagans as we have been to now, and you would be happier finding people and gods with which to identify than seeking to criticize others with a different outlook. I wish you good fortune in finding them.

  • sheesh, thanks… I wouldn’t really mind if you told me I had no place in wicca (I know that’s not for me), but to essentially claim that I have no place in Neopaganism because I have a different opinion from yours is a bit extreme, don’t you think? And where did I ever say that I ‘reject my materiality’? What does that even mean anyway?

  • Gus diZerega

    Reread me. I believe I wrote “the bulk of NeoPagans” which for speakers of English is not “all.” I suggested that a path with Gods (a kinda Pagan idea, don’t you think?) that were more in keeping with your rejection of sexuality as an important part of who you are was more fitting. You just agreed, BTW.

    My position is to let other people alone in what they do spiritually, and not subject them to my particular ideological preferences. All women ritual? Fine. All natal women ritual? Fine. All trans women ritual? Fine. All Pagans ritual? Fine. All men ritual? Fine. All trans men ritual? Fine. All natal men ritual? Fine. All asexual people ritual? Fine. And spend no time criticizing others- just relate to the Gods as you think best and let others do so as well.

  • I am not even going to bother responding to the rest of your comment, but I want to make one thing clear. Asexuality is NOT an ideological preference. I DO NOT reject sexuality. I simply do not experience sexual attraction. That is NOT the same thing as saying sexuality is wrong or bad or anything like that. (I do masturbate if you must know, I simply feel no desire to involve other people in this – so I do take issue if you tell me I am ’rejecting my materiality’)

  • Gus diZerega

    When you argue your views should apply to others with different views, that is an ideological preference. You might have good reasons for such a preference or, as I think in this case, not very good ones. But either way it is an ideological preference. You justify it by ideas of some sort.

    I no where suggested you think sexuality is bad. I have no idea what you think of it, not do I much care. That is your business unless you use it to impose your standards on others. You admitted sexuality is not an important part of who you are- and that is all I wrote. Again- go read CAREFULLY what I wrote.

    You do not reply because you have none to offer.

  • Gordon Cooper

    Let me suggest taking this (sort of) to a few hundred feet and look at it from a distance. We have a public square. Within this public square we have a bunch of different pubs, bookshops, theaters, and temples with community and private ritual spaces. All of these take place in the public square. That’s society. Within an inclusive society or over-culture, there are voluntary affinity groups. These will overlap and interact-or not-in various ways.

    Who sets these rules inside the broader set of often unwritten rules? Those choosing to mutually follow them and engage in recognition as members of that group. There are outside considerations involved when social and economic opportunities are denied women or others based on the power structures inside a voluntary association that have disproportionate leverage in a democracy.

    I recognize the right of Objectivists to be Objectivists and peaceably assemble and do whatever else it is they do. I recognize their right to not admit me to a meeting. By the same token, I recognize that a voluntary assemblage of persons inside any broad grouping is going to happen.

    The positions “I do not recognize your right to automatically be included in my group because you want to be” and “I do not recognize your right to exist or hold your identity” do not need to be identical.

    The desire for inclusion and differentiation with the celebration of identity and life changes is something likely innate and deep in humans. “I am like you, but not the same as you” is true when any conscious being discovers another. Finding ways forward to recognize similarity and differences while coming together to break bread is the challenge of this era. Where there are strong emotions and unarticulated ideas around the definitions of me and you and us there will be dissent. Making rituals that can resolve and help explicate these tensions should be a high priority for all stakeholders.

    These are the sort of discussions that are best held in coffee shops, living rooms and elsewhere, recognizing what’s been said and done before. Has anyone done a deep study of feminist thought around this? Have the positions changed over time? If so, how and why?

  • This is a great post. Thank you so much for writing it. Wow, I’m trying to imagine how different my adolescence could have been if I had grown up in a religion that recognized my own passage through life as a trans girl/woman and I were actually surrounded by people who were loving and accepting of who I was as a teen (and as a young child, for that matter). That would have been truly wonderful and it probably would have helped save me from years of soul numbing depression in my teens and twenties. I hope trans kids of the newest generation and those to come are afforded the kinds of opportunities that you’d addressed in your post.

    Sadly, your suggestions seemed to have brought the narrow minded traditionalists out of their dogma holes. Every religious community has them, and more generally, every community has them, regardless of whether it’s a religious community or a community based upon some other commonality. The nice thing about narrow minded traditionalists, is that with time and natural attrition, there is the chance that they will fade away and their numbers can diminish to a minority. At least, that’s what I hope for. Millennials and those who are younger are generally far more accepting of trans people and also have a far higher proportion of trans people who are out to their families and communities. I look forward to the change they and their children will likely bring, hopefully clearing away cultural stagnation as they go.

    The universe and life itself are bound in the never ending tides of change, as are human cultures, as are the seasons, and as is the Earth.

  • I am asexual and I’m also a trans woman. I really appreciate your reply. Because the cis sex/gender binary and allosexual experience are so intertwined with common Pagan rituals, I feel little desire to participate. Like you, I feel that I don’t belong. So, I pretty much stay away. I don’t mind being solitary, but it would be nice to actually see this stuff grow more inclusive.

  • Thank you. The one thing that I find so tiring in these discussions is how a simple request for inclusion all too often is interpreted as if we want to take over the world. How is it so hard to see that making space for different perspectives within your practice does not need to erase your own perspective, but instead, enriches it?

  • Or the generational family of xy women…

    Posting The Guardian link rather than the journal abstracts…

  • “But I, a man, know many women who found women’s circles valuable and I never was bothered by not being included.”

    But Gus, in this instance, we are discussing women who ARE being excluded. Not men. Do you see the difference?

  • Wow.

  • Arakiba

    Time to quote one of those “hard to swallow pills” pics: Male and female brains don’t exist, but male and female reproductive organs do. To deny basic biology in the name of ideology is no different than what young earth creationists and climate change deniers do.

  • Gus diZerega

    The issue here is thinking in simple dichotomies when such thinking does not come anywhere close to reality. There are two broadly different types of women (and men) today. Those who were born in that gender in every respect, and who had important and often defining life experiences from the very beginning that shaped who they are in that respect, and those who deeply believe their psychology does not match their biological gender. All four have had unique experiences related to those four statuses, and it is entirely reasonable for them to devise rituals and practices that honor those experiences. I am 100% perplexed by those who fail to see this truth.

  • Gus diZerega

    Well said.

  • Be aware that the fellow you are arguing with thinks trans people should be relegated to “separate but equal” spaces in Pagan rituals. He uses the excuse of “but true Paganism isn’t about binaries” to segregate trans people as a kind of 3rd gender into separate spaces from cis people. This, in turn, allows cis people to ignore trans people and continue their adherence to a rigid gender binary which centers cis people’s needs and life experiences. Effectively, this approach shunts resources away from trans people and toward the dominant group, cis people. The “separate but equal” approach is a reliable, common place method that dominant groups use to continue their own access to power and resources while pretending to address the needs of people lower in a social hierarchy.

    Here’s a link in which he illustrates his thinking on these matters: (WARNING: This opens up a PDF file).

  • I would like to invite you both, Arakiba and Gus diZerega, to take 15 minutes, watch this video, and then continue this conversation with me:

    I look forward to your comments.

  • Gus diZerega

    Excellent and moving TED talk. I am 100% sympathetic to her. Her bravery, personal integrity, and emotional commitment to what she related was deeply moving.

    Before hearing her talk, I was unaware at how deeply complex this issue is biologically, or just how many people are intersex, and that makes some issues within the Pagan community more complicated. But the basic point I am making remains unchanged: people have the right to do ritual with whomever they want, and be respected for it, at least so long as it is not part of an aggressive
    putdown on others.

    Her talk also strengthens my argument that thinking in gender dichotomies is simply the wrong way to think about these matters. It doesn’t even always work biologically a lot more often than I thought. ALL those who say, as I have heard, a “trans women are women and that is the end of the discussion” are trapped in dichotomous thinking in a world that does not work that way.

    Male/female (or Yang/Yin if you prefer) SYMBOLISM lies at the very heart of modern NeoPaganism. Most American Euro-Pagans have a ritual cycle based on biological cycles of male and female, with the emphasis on the female. The moon is generally considered female in its symbolism, and the sun male. The wheel of the year is based on the fertility cycles of pregnancy, birth, growth, maturity, decline, and death, followed by renewal. The Earth is considered female- a time honored symbolism in many different cultures, and Her cycles are given pride of place in our practices. Mother, Maid, and Crone are ubiquitous in our songs, chants, and rituals. And I assure you, in this context the Goddess has come when invoked.

    Finally, historically, females and women’s spirituality has played a disproportionate role in our traditions compared to other religions.
    Starhawk, Adler, Valiente, and more are examples.

    Some physical traits fit one symbol better than another. In human beings mother fits yin and father fits yang. This does not mean one is all one or the other, but the values in that symbol are yin or yang. (and remember the yin/yang symbol, unlike how many see male/female. is not a dichotomy. Ever. The individual mother or father can and will be a mix. But the values are distinct enough that we can seek either to recognize and harmonize them or subordinate one to the other. Arikiba wrote about the differences in genitalia and I did not object because I equated those genitalia with male and female experiences. The TED talk demonstrated that distinction, while real, is a continuum not a dichotomy. But for me it is the experiences that matter in the cases we are discussing.

    NeoPagans do not say there is one right way- we embrace the legitimacy of many different practices other than our own, and some of us even practice other traditions, as I did African Diasporic ones for many years, and would again were one nearby and receptive.

    I got involved in this issue when some people involved with Pantheacon began attacking others who wanted natal women only circles and then expanded to purge any with views different from theirs. Natal women only rituals emphasize the unique experiences females have as females: mensuration, pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause, along with impositions wildly disproportionately experienced by them, such as rape. A spirituality seeing the sacred in the world would also see the sacred in these dimensions of it. Consider these experiences as initiatory experiences into what it is to be a natal woman, and circles of only such women are analogous to circles of only initiates in some Pagan tradition.

    I got more deeply involved in all this when I saw that the ferocity of the attacks on natal women’s spirituality as indicating something very basic was afoot. For example, the Red Tent was forced out of PCon. Apparently, women’s cycles and needs were illegitimate according to these people.

    A person such as Emily Quinn, who gave that brave TED Talk, would in the most literal sense, be a “Two Spirits” person. Others who are biologically one gender and psychologically another are called “Two Spirits” in many cultures. Often such people were honored as sharing both spirits. If I had my fantasies answered (which is unlikely) our community would offer opportunities for those with male experiences to engage in male oriented rituals, those with female experiences to do the same, and those with Two Spirits experiences to do the same, as well as opportunities for women (however defined) only rituals, men only (however defined), and all inclusive rituals to be held and respected.

    What about people who feel they are women born in a male body? Actually some long time prominent Pagans are such women and, so far as I know, had no trouble in our community before these other people began attacking natal women. They still don’t. But the ideologues could care less. Their target is natal women’s spirituality, and nothing else.

    I have a good friend who is a trans man. If I were asked to design a ritual honoring young men coming into manhood, I would not invite him. He would not have had the experiences that the initiation would honor and recognize. BUT if he asked to be a guest I would have no hesitation in saying yes, come. OTOH if he claimed a RIGHT to be there I would say “no” because he put his private desires over the reason for the ritual or respect for others, and so had no business being there. But he would not do such a thing.

    For many West Coast Gardnerians how a person self-identifies is how they are treated in ritual space. Would I feel the same way for a bearded person who was biologically male and claimed to be a woman? I doubt it. The person I am thinking of- one of the PCon crowd – even asked me to refer to them as “they” rather than he or she. That person is not a woman in their own eyes- that is just a part of their self-identification. Maybe they are Two Spirits? I suggest they create rituals for people with such identifications and respect the right of people who identify as one gender or the other to do the same.But, if other women invited this person to a woman-only ritual, it is none of my business.

    This entire issue arises because some people do not respect the choices other people make. I have even read pieces in the online magazine “Medium” where a trans woman with a penis attacked natal women for not being attracted to her! What greater disrespect can one have for another than to think they are defective in some way if they are not sexually attracted to you? This is sick

  • To be clear, this is what I’ve seen transpire in this comment thread. The original post suggests that Pagan sex/gender segregated rituals be more inclusive of children who are transgender. The response of most of the comments on this thread support excluding those children from these rituals, to be segregated to an outsider status in the religion they are being brought up in… during one of the most vulnerable times in a child’s life.

    Let’s be clear about something. Growing up as a trans kid is a constant experience of being discriminated against, of being excluded from the rest of your peers, of being sent a very clear message that you are the “other.” And because you are the “other,” you are abused emotionally and physically by your peers and the adults around you, from early childhood into your teen years. The intensity of the emotional and physical abuse intensifies as your peers grow older. You are beaten and ostracized. Sometimes this means a trip to the emergency room. After years of this, you start to consider that dying may very well be a better option than sticking around in a world that treats you like a disgusting freak.

    And then the circle of adults in your religion tell you that yes, you are too different to share rituals with other girls or boys in your age group. A clear message is sent to both you and your peers in your religion: yes, you are a freak, even among the supposedly understanding religion you grow up in. All you wanted to do was be accepted as the girl or boy you are, but your Pagan peers and elders treat you like the oddball that your peers at school do, as well. They’re maybe nicer about it, but you get the message, loud and clear.

    Suicide starts to look a little more attractive. Maybe they’ll survive this. Maybe they won’t. One thing is clear: the adults who never intervened in the discrimination, bigotry, exclusion, and ostracism are ultimately responsible for this child’s death. The adults that made excuses for treating this child as the other are responsible for this child’s death.

    They should be ashamed of themselves. Most of them will not be. They’ll either harden their hearts to this terrible reality or make excuses for the lethal outcome of their collective behaviors.

    Most of the people in this comment thread are behaving like bullies. I hope that no trans kids are reading this because y’all have been sending a very clear message to them. A potentially lethal one.

    You, like so many other cis people who excuse the ostracizing, shitty treatment that trans children suffer on a daily basis, hold part of the collective responsibility of dead trans children in this world. Excusing it with the fake, feel-good rationalizations of your religion doesn’t disguise the impact of your actions and beliefs to those who have actually experienced being transgender in this world.

    You remind me far too much of the Christians I grew up with.

  • Thanks for telling your story. I think transgenders are some of the bravest people on the planet! I wrote a blog post trying to explain a bit of the situation in a neutral way, hoping it may help people understand just how childish their objections really are. Feel free to share it if you think it might help:

  • To be clear, what I related was a compilation of trans people’s experiences living in a culture of transphobia. Some elements of my experience were included and some aspects were from others’ experiences. I didn’t come to terms with my own trans identity until I was 17. So, I was an adult when I experienced some of the elements of what I wrote and I was a child when I experienced other aspects related in this scenario. When I was a child, I was gender variant—meaning that I didn’t fit terribly well as a boy because of having a more feminine/androgynous gender expression—and I was heavily bullied and ostracized because of this, but I didn’t fully accept that I was trans feminine until I was 17. The sense of being a freak, of being judged by everyone, and of suicidal ideation because of all of this are fairly universal experiences for trans people, and can occur across a range of ages. I did not experience suicidal ideation and severe depression until my late teens, from about 18 to 20 years of age. I can say, with a fair degree of confidence, that had I come out as trans when I was a child, in the conservative community I grew up in during the 1970s/1980s, I probably would not have survived.

  • Gordon Cooper

    You might look to Nuinn’s druidry (OBOD), or to a group like the AODA for inspiration. Neither are rooted in a biological binary in so far as ritual goes. For what it is worth, biological gender is a fairly new idea, only about 1.2 billion years old. Life is around 3.8+ billion years old, and so far as can be determined, none of the Deep biosphere has biological gender.

  • I’m well acquainted with Gus, having known him for around 30 years. We disagree on many topics.

  • Thank you for the recommendation. I’ll check them out.

    Biological sex/gender doesn’t even divide out into the simplistic binaries that human societies and human systems of categorization have created. Religion is also a creation of humanity, and from what I’ve seen, too much of Paganism fails to recognize the shortcomings it has around fostering oversimplified understandings of sex/gender. Sadly, when people do recognize the faults in those systems, their response sometimes tries to reorganize previous social hierarchies in ways that continue to reproduce the marginalization of sex/gender minorities. Humans love their systems of social organization and the status hierarchies they assign to those systems. They tend to protect them at all costs.

    The aspect of Paganism that I like very much, and I find to be indispensable, is that, ideally, it’s a nature based grouping of religions. Nature doesn’t care about humanity’s social baggage around any of this stuff. Trees, mountains, the prairie, the very fabric of reality and being itself: none of those things care about humanity’s simplistic notions of sex, gender, and social organization. They just are and that’s that. Those realms serve as a spiritual space for me.

  • Arakiba

    Agreed this was a good talk. But I worry when I see transwomen and their advocates threatening violence against other people, people who are usually cis women who voice concerns about erasing natal female specific language and experience (like talking about periods and such). Someone saying they want to kill TERFS or that TERFS should die in a grease fire are threats. Wishing rape or death on women who want to have their own circles or rituals or who don’t want to have sex with someone with a penis is messed up. Acting like lesbians or anyone else owes them something is an extremely privileged view.

  • Did you consider that maybe they only acting that way after their patience had been used up, and they had felt every attempt at communication rejected before even having had the chance to say anything constructive? Nobody ever said anything about erasing natal females. But honestly, are you so obsessed with periods that you want to talk about them all the bloody time? A big part of being female is still psychological rather than biological. Why is it so strange for a transwoman to ask to be allowed to share in that? Asking for inclusion means being asked to be recognized as part of the group, understanding very well that that means there’s some compromises you will have to make yourself as well.

    The distinction that needs to be made is about what happens at public rituals. Do what you like in your own private witch-group, but at events that are advertised as open, effort should be made to honour all perspectives. And including the minority experience does not need to erase the majority experience. (For instance: I am asexual. I understand and accept that it would be rather weird to have a beltane ritual that does not mention human sexuality. All I will ask is that a PUBLIC ritual does not exclusively focus on sex between a man and a woman. I am fine with that making up up to 80% of the rite, I do not mind sharing in the miracle of human procreation at beltane, but I would very very much appreciate it if you also talk about the flowers and the bees a bit. Now, tell me where I am erasing sexuals by asking this little bit of inclusion for myself?)

  • Arakiba

    Did you consider that maybe they only acting that way after their
    patience had been used up, and they had felt every attempt at
    communication rejected before even having had the chance to say anything

    So threatening to rape and murder women is okay in some circumstances? No, it isn’t. It sounds like something Elliot Roger and his fellow “Supreme Gentlemen” would do. And one final thing – in all my years of life, I have never seen a woman threaten another woman with rape or death, no matter how angry they were. I’ve only ever seen men do it.

  • Look, as a pacifist, I’m not a fan of people threatening others with violence, even when their demographic has been threatened with violence from every quarter for ages, but there are violent individuals in EVERY demographic. Humans suck that way. Here’s the story of anti-trans cis feminist violence against other feminists over trans inclusion, if you don’t believe me.

    This notion that women do not rape and do not engage in violence flat out doesn’t square with reality. You know there’s an issue with domestic violence in lesbian/bi relationships between women, right? It doesn’t get talked about much but it’s a problem. Here’s an article at Slate about it.

    One of my ex-partners, a cis bi woman, was beaten so badly by another cis woman she had dated, that she was still suffering chronic pain when I was dating her. Ironically, my ex also forced unwanted sex on me one night after she had been drinking (and after we had broken up a few weeks before, ironically). She was much larger, stronger, and heavier than me. So yeah, that stuff happens.

    But, whatever. I read your comment history and I know that you’re dug in deep in your bigotry against trans people. If you’re reading The Feminist Current, which is a publication that’s notorious for its hatred of trans people, there’s not much hope for you.

    No worries, though. Whenever I read the kind of sentiments about trans people that flow out of the Pagan community with regularity, I’m further motivated to stay the hell away from the lot of you. Between the overwhelming whiteness of this community and the never ending shit show of anti-trans sentiment, this community has come to sicken me. The worst voices in Paganism have been sending a clear message that it likes the monochromatic cis-centrism that marbles its social circles. What that will buy you in the long run is an exodus of people who aren’t a part of the community’s dominant demographics. And then, in ten years, people will be posting blog articles wondering why the Pagan community is so bland and non-diverse.

  • Gus diZerega

    The silence in response to my effort is eloquent in its own way. I wrote a rather inclusive piece on this issue and presented it at the Conference on Current Pagan Studies at Claremont, CA.

  • Correction: The second link I gave to you in my previous post was a Slate article which addressed woman on woman sexual assault, and while that is relevant to what I was discussing, that was not the article I meant to link to. I meant to provide an article that specifically addresses domestic abuse between women.

    Here’s an article which covers rates of domestic abuse in same sex couples which was published in The Advocate:

    I’ve attached a screenshot of the relevant statistics. The statistics are, sadly, quite high. Again, the notion that women do not commit acts of violence, particularly against other women, is not true. As a woman who was once partnered with an emotionally abusive female partner (in addition to the incident I related in my first post), these statistics aren’t terribly surprising to me. Not only that, but as I said, my ex was physically abused by a former female partner.

    Women aren’t the gentle, Earth Mother Goddess, givers of life that we are stereotyped as being. Our rates of violence may not be as high as men in a number of contexts, but the whole of womankind does not fit the idealized, sexist stereotypes that some believe is true of us.

  • Hi Gus; I’m thinking 🙂 I appreciate the discourse, and I’ve skimmed over your article. I’d like to address particulars in it in the future, but I’ve had a busy week. Blogging is very part-time for me at present; I also work full-time as a non-profit manager and have a child. Silence isn’t always dismissal; and it certainly isn’t here. Reading the comments coming in from different perspectives has certainly given me a lot to think and write about; this series is growing longer, that’s for sure!

  • Gus diZerega

    I have been known to wonder why people have other things to do besides read my stuff. 😉

  • Whelp, now you know! 😉

  • Ok. I’m only a few pages into your article, but I wanted to bring up what I see as a communication snag (one which I feel stops a lot of good dialogue from happening between the “two sides” on this issue). I have the understanding of sex as a spectrum, and have the words male, female, and intersex as terms to describe physiological states of being, independent of any surgical procedures which might alter those states of being, such as gender affirming surgery or circumcision. I also have an understanding of gender as a spectrum, with more names and identities that I can count or am probably even aware of, but some of the words I have for gender include girls, boys, men, and women. There are cultures where the people that are viewed as transgender in our culture, have a distinct cultural label, which denotes a unique gender, which does not exist in our own cultural gender binary (at least, not in a mainstream identifiable way). All too often, when I’m reading discussions between people, or indeed, academic papers, terms for sex and terms for gender are used interchangeably, when in fact, they are distinct categories. To speak of “women’s natural cycles,” is to say that “women” are a sex, rather than a gender group, which I do not feel is accurate. There are indeed women who are transgender, intersex, or who have more typical XX chromosomes but who do not have a uterus or ovaries, or perhaps are very athletic and do not experience menstruation. If we’re going to delve into biology, we need to stick to medical terminology; male, female, intersex. If we’re going to talk about gender, again, we need to divorce it from specific anatomy, as there are indeed, men who have a uterus and have born children. If we’re going to talk about “blood mysteries,” then, yes, we also need to discuss men who bleed, men who bear children, men who suckle babies, and men who go through menopause.

  • Arakiba

    Go ahead and click on all my previous and future comments, and you’ll see that I support progressive causes ninety plus percent of the time. But I will never, ever back anyone threatening to enact violence against gender critical people. Upbringing and socialization have definite effects on people, no matter what their biological/chromosonal sex is…even if those two are in direct opposition.