Gender, Transgender, Politics, and our Beloved Community

Gender, Transgender, Politics, and our Beloved Community February 27, 2012

In a continuing effort to keep my readers up to date on the ongoing conversations centered around the 2012 PantheaCon in San Jose, where debate, protest, and controversy emerged around a scheduled “genetic women only” ritual led by Dianic elder Z. Budapest, I have rounded up another round of statements and meditations on the subject. For those just coming to this discussion, I advise you start with my February 21st post, then move on to my first discussion round-up, before engaging with this latest round of entries.

That’s all I have for now. Let me remind everyone who takes part in conversation here at The Wild Hunt, to keep comments civil, and avoid personal attacks. Let us all bring more light to this process. I want this to be a space where all voices can come to be heard, in hopes of encouraging productive dialog and working towards understandings that collectively enrich us.

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275 responses to “Gender, Transgender, Politics, and our Beloved Community”

  1. I agree w/the comment made somewhere that if this had been a private ceremony it wouldve been a non-controversy. For a conference-sanctioned event to foster discriminate like this just gives credence to the myth that transfolks are somehow not “real.” Shame on Pantheacon, & shame on Z. I used to respect her. No more.

  2. @Thaniel I still respect Z… I do feel she responded poorly to a tough call… But we’ve all done that, haven’t we? Please, don’t judge a person by one poor choice. (we’d all be in a mess if we did that with everyone!)

    That all said, I wasn’t there. But from the many unbiased reports I’ve read along side the biased ones, I stand by what I said above.

    Being LGBT is hard in this world as it changes and comes full circle in acceptance of us. Being Trans is (I think) even harder! People still don’t understand that a M/F transgendered person does not make them any less female. My friend Chloe is no less female than myself, who was born with the proper “parts” to match what I am inside.

    It will take time for the Pagan community to come around… Just as it has taken time for the mainstream communities… Hopefully it won’t take us as long!

  3. I think the ball is now really in the court of the Pantheacon organizers. I don’t think there’s much at all that’s been left unsaid by the wider community in the past week or so.
    Everyone who cares about the issue pretty well knows where they stand now, and has a decent grasp on why others feel as they do, and why they agree or disagree with that.
    The only way this is going to move forward is if the event organizers finally get down to some brass tacks to figure out for themselves what unity and diversity and free expression and mutual respect mean to THEM, in the context of the event. If they sort of just try to paper it all over with bland statements about “communication” and “hearing all sides”, this is going to blow up again in another 50 weeks or so. Patheacon will simply devolve into the “Life with Z” reality show.
    To begin to get a handle on this, they need to abandon the idea that they can reach some decision that will please all sides. If they make a real decision on this, some party or another is going to feel ill-used. However, people can respect a real decision, especially one that is well articulated and made with some transparency. Nobody much respects the politician’s approach of soft-shoeing toward a “consensus” by averting one’s eyes from the big issue in the room.
    Either Z’s exclusive ritual belongs at the event, or it does not. We have all said our bit on that numerous times I think, and it’s time for Pantheacon to decide where they stand. Unless they want to have events decide for them, make a real decision, explain it to the community, and then it falls to each of us to decide for ourselves how we will participate in the event or not.

  4. “Finally, you can listen to a (rather faint) audio recording of Devin Hunter’s “Pagans in the Media” panel, which ended up shifting its focus to being largely about topics relating to the debates already circulating at PantheaCon (though not explicitly). I did the best that I could, but felt that I wasn’t an ideal “leader” to guide or provide some special wisdom on some of the questions asked.”

    I’m actually a bit miffed at the fact that you and the rest of your panel were asked to discuss this at a panel about Pagan media. If they asked how to best cover a volatile issue as impartially as possible that would have been okay, but I can’t imagine that it was the appropriate venue otherwise.

  5. Thaniel: as I said in my most recent blog post, at this point I’m not entirely sure that will be a solution to the problem at hand. Right now a significant chunk of the attendees believe excluding trans women is as noxious and bigoted as excluding people of color. And moving those exclusionary rituals to a private space isn’t likely to make them feel better about it.

    As I also said, I don’t think that’s an entirely helpful comparison. But I do think those feelings need to be addressed lest 2013’s “move ’em to private space” solution turns out to work as well as 2012’s “advertise up front that it’s only for cisgendered women” solution. Unfortunately, while the organizers can take steps to mollify this situation it’s up to everyone involved – on all sides of the issue – to engage in reasoned and compassionate dialogue and come to some kind of mutually tolerable, if not entirely satisfactory, conclusion.

  6. I want to reinforce (I think) one point here. In 2011 the protest was over misinformation. In 2012 the information was clear but there was protest centered on the language used by Z Budapest in defending her practices. Now the discussion has moved to public vs private space. If ZB moves to private space in 2013 and there still is protest, she and her followers will have every reason to believe that their critics keep moving the goal posts, and give up on any possible effort to find common ground, let alone amity.

  7. I’m I getting this right? Z. Budapest, who seems to be anti-male with her words and actions (my interpretation from reading only) is asking MALES to “defend” her ritual? Whatzup wi’dat?

  8. In looking over Jason’s links I find myself in disagreement with Gus diZerega when he characterizes T Thorn Coyle’s silent meditation as a protest of Z Budapest’s ritual. As T made clear from the start, it was over the language used by Z and not about the ritual per se. Therefore it was *not political* in the sense Gus defines the term, but spiritual.

    I’m making this comment here rather than on Gus’s blog because one stream of angry/anguished comments in my inbox is enough for now.

  9. Baruch: absolutely. What I see as a big problem here is that any kind of solution is going to involve dialogue between the two conflicting factions. And right now neither side seems willing to do that. Any solution which is put in place by an outside party – no matter how well-meaning – is only going to result in this same drama being replayed in 2013, 2014, etc.

    I would invite both the trans community and the Dianics who support women-from-birth-only rituals to offer what they see as possible solutions to this impasse. Right now I’m seeing a lot of people on both sides digging trenches and putting up walls. What steps can both sides take toward a conclusion which addresses everyone’s concerns?

  10. Folks like that don’t grasp irony. Back in my newspaper days, I recall a Neo-Nazi who hired a Jewish attorney and only trusted one of the Jewish reporters in the newsroom!

  11. In one sense, there is no common ground to be had. Most of us will never be ok with what Z does or how she does it. But the issue really isn’t about who privately approves of what. The issue is whether conference attendees will be made to underwrite it or be put in the position of tacitly endorsing it. If Z’s group were to rent their own space, do their own promotion and invite their own participants who covered the costs themselves, I would have no issue with it. I think its still fair game for people to hold their own vigils or to express their opposition to the exclusion, but they would not have the same grounds for complaint they do now.

  12. The issue is not language per se – the issue is that Z by her language acts as if trans women are not women at all.

    I wrote on Facebook, I absolutely believe that feminism and women’s witchcraft go hand in hand – we are after all in search of the power within ourselves. What doesn’t work is expressing that power by suppressing the power of others, by dehumanizing them, whether through ungendering or through racism or any other form of prejudice.

  13. Baruch, you are right in the sense that that was what Thorn intended; she has been clear in her written statements since then.

    However, judging from statements from others in attendance at the vigil, and most certainly the forum conversations since, many Pagans did not and do not understand the action in that light.

    I’m also not sure that an objection to Z’s use of language would not be political but an objection to the ritual would be… But then, while there’s a lot in Gus’s essay that speaks to me, I’ll also admit that I don’t find the distinction between political and religious to be especially helpful to me. (I tend to think in terms of secular vs. spiritual; however, I agree that imposing our secular understandings on a spiritual tradition as outsiders is a clumsy and probably self-defeating thing for the Pagan community to begin to do.)

    On a semi-related note:

    I wish Chas Clifton’s comments on Kenaz Filan’s blog had not been so heavily laced with snark, because I’m afraid it obscures a point that I had not considered–the parallel with discussions of cultural appropriation. I do realize that the parallel only holds if one allows a possibility that there may be spiritually significant differences between trans and cis women (something I have no clear understanding on either way, however politically charged it is to admit here that it isn’t clear to me that there are no such differences). And I disagree with Chas that cultural appropriation is a “bugaboo”–I see it as a legitimate concern.

    Though one, like this, of a clash of a unique religious tradition with the importance of inclusivity, that is likely to be charged, to have relevant ties to multiple histories of oppression, and to be too complicated to sort out equably nearly as easily as some of the most strident voices among us would like to believe.

  14. I believe the concept is related to the idea that men cannot be feminists, per se, but may have a role to play “as allies.” (Not my brand of feminism, fwiw, but one that is out there on the market, and far from exclusive to Z. It’s a big ol’ world out there… Says this proud 2nd wave feminist.)

  15. Unfortunately the panel was miss-titled this year. Pagans who have covered these topics on their blogs, books, and shows were invited to speak on topics from their own view. Ultimately we were very pleased with this panel and look forward to adjustments next year.

  16. Jason, truly you did a fabulous job. Journalist or not your work has been highly influential in the community and many look to you as a leader. Specifically you were asked to join us again this year because listeners and those who watched the videos from last year’s panel were very interested in your opinion. You were great and I wish you a million thanks for sharing with us again this year.

  17. “Pagans who have covered these topics on their blogs, books, and shows were invited to speak on topics from their own view.”

    Hm really? That seems even more grossly inappropriate to me. But I wasn’t there, I wasn’t on the panel so I can’t really say! Thanks for the reply tho Devin 😀

  18. “Z has used male “guards” for women-only rituals for years.”

    Interesting. That sounds like something straight out of Sherri S. Tepper’s wonderful novel “The Gate To Women’s Country”.

  19. Cat –
    My thoughts on it, regarding both Gus’ blog and Kenaz’ (and also Chas’ response), is that there are important things to take from each.

    From Gus’ post, I would certainly agree that there is a difference between the ‘political’ and ‘religious’, but I disagree with him on the extent of the separation. Was Thorn’s vigil political? Yes, absolutely, especially in the way that Gus defined political; it was a measure to persuade or show approval/disapproval for actions. However, I disagree that Z’s actions were not political – her use of ‘genetic women only’ and exclusionary terminology at a conference designated “Unity in Diversity” seems like a deliberate slap in the face to those whom she would exclude.

    Additionally, and I’ve brought this up previously in comments, how exactly does Z plan to check for ‘genetic women’? I am an XXY male, for instance.

    Also, while I agree with Gus’ comments about different magical risks/strengths for various genders, I don’t think that is germane to the conversation at hand. I think was IS important is that for a conference that was supposed to be about welcoming diversity and finding strength in it, having an open yet exclusionary ritual is entirely hypocritical on Z’s part.

    Now, to address Chas’ comments to Kenaz’ blog, I do agree that the parallels with cultural appropriation are, well, appropriate – TO AN EXTENT. Yes, there are certain biological functions that the Dianics revere that are not generally available to people who have transitioned, however, there are plenty of cis-women who have never bore children or menstruated either – are they not allowed in Z’s ‘genetic women only’ rituals? Will Z check, via complete medical histories? Of course not.

    That being said, I think that the majority of the uproar centers around the fact of having an open yet exclusionary ritual, with a rather arbitrary exclusion criteria, at an event for celebrating diversity.

  20. Katie: so as I am hearing it, you would not be OK with a private “women’s ritual” at PCon which excluded transgender women? What I’m trying to figure out here is what sort of conclusion, if any, would be mutually tolerable to all sides.

    In 2012 PCon tried to resolve the issue by advertising clearly that particular rituals (or “ritual” – so far as I can tell, there was only one ritual which was not open to trans women) were only for “genetic women.” That effort at conciliation failed in a rather spectacular fashion. I’m trying to ascertain if the trans community – or a sizeable percentage of the trans community – would be satisfied with allowing Z or others to hold exclusionary rituals in private suites.

    From where I stand it looks like the argument has crystalized into two camps:

    1) Rituals which exclude trans women are bigoted and those who hold them are bigots: there should be no “women’s ritual” which is not open to anyone who self-identifies as a woman.

    2) Our rituals are solely for women born and socialized as women and those transpeople seeking admission are just men trying to steal our Mysteries. Anyone who tries to limit our right to hold our exclusionary rituals is oppressing our right to freedom of religion.

    And I’m not seeing either side showing a lot of interest in compromise or discussion with the other. I’m not saying this to minimize anyone’s feelings or their very real grievances. But I am not seeing any way in which a third party – the PCon organizers – can create a “solution” to this issue without dialogue between two parties who just seem to be moving further apart with each post.

  21. What was the offending ritual even about? Context is important here. If the ritual contained some element that certain women would be unable to participate in then it’s all a moot point really.

    For example I am non-maternal. I don’t do babies, I utterly lack the instinct for reproduction. So I don’t go to motherhood rituals that focus on actual childbirth and would likely not get invited anyway. Motherhood rituals that focus on the concept of creation would be fine and perfectly appropriate for me and trans women alike. If I want a rite that focuses on the power of the childfree, I’ll write one, and run it.

    I think the Pagan community is too eager to be offended and upset. We waste so much time on disclaimers, footnotes and bending backwards to explain ourselves only to have someone somewhere find something to be upset about anyway. If we could learn to assume most of the time people aren’t actually being the evil caricatures we imagine them to be we would all be better off.

  22. Truth in advertising was never the underlying issue. It was a precipitating one. The underlying issue is that transgender folks and the majority who I think support their position, are being made to underwrite the performance of an exclusive ritual. An exclusion which we feel is rooted in ignorance of what our own consciences and the best scientific information tell us about the nature of gender. It is also an exclusion which is clearly rooted in bigotry on the part of the organizer, not simply “love of one’s own tribe.”
    No amount of dialogue is going to present a “solution” to this dispute. One principle that has won near-universal acknowledgment in this discussion is that you do have an unqualified right to free expression. You have no right at all to do it on our dime or a right to our uncritical approval.
    Could moving Z’s thing to a private suite solve it? Potentially, yes. If I knew that none of my entry fee was being used to facilitate it, I would have no ethical qualms about attending Pantheacon with Z doing her thing there. If someone rents their own hotel room or conference room there, it’s none of my business whether they hold an origami workshop, an orgy, or a ritual.
    If Westboro Baptist or Focus on the Family wants to hold an event in their own space at Pantheacon and doesn’t bother the rest of us, they have a right to be there. Again, people also reserve the right to express their disapproval, but if this ritual is truly privatized, it would move it into a mode where I think we could “agree to disagree” and move on.

  23. Cat, I would have not trouble calling Thorn’s actions political as I understand the term. Gus set up his own definition of political, however, and I don’t think it captures Thorn’s actions.

  24. Since I was born female, I suppose I must be a ‘cis’ woman, whatever that means (and I wish someone would tell me what it means; I never heard the expression until the post-Pantheacon hurricane.) I’m BTW, which means, most of the time, hetero or at least comfortable with hetero imagery. So I expect many will think I have no right to comment on the rightness or wrongness of Z’s born-women’s ritual. Well, I’m commenting anyway.

    I fully support Z’s right to host a ritual that includes only a specific type of participant, in this case, women who have or could have menstruated. Those who never have can never know what it’s like, any more than I could know what it’s like to have an erection and ejaculate. The ritual was exclusive because the experience is exclusive.

    I fully support the right of gender-reassigned women to the name of woman. I support the presentation of ritual and other events where they are accepted as women and take women’s roles.

    What I can’t support is the use of bullying, shaming, and denial of rights to prevent anyone from holding an unpopular ritual. You don’t like it, go to one you like. You disapprove, get on the blogosphere and express your disapproval. But you’re not allowed to destroy other people’s sacred experiences in a fit of pique at not being invited.

    As a BTW, I’m used to being accused of elitism, exclusivity, and all sorts of other evils because our rituals are closed to non-initiates, by people who do not understand our motives. I see what’s happening first to CAYA Coven and now to Z as more of the same. It’s a pernicious example of what’s going on all over the country: “I wanna so you have to let me!” And you know who it reminds me of most? Rick Santorum.

    This is not how Paganism is supposed to work, my dears. There IS a place for everyone among us, but it’s not all the same place.

  25. The issue for most of us is not the existence of a ritual that has exclusionary criteria per se. It is about exclusionary criteria which are arbitrary and serve no other purpose than bigotry – the use of discrimination to cement the power of one group by diminishing the humanity of another. It is fundamentally different from the example you pose, a ritual for those who have experienced motherhood, for example. Along those lines, we might envision rituals exclusive for those in addiction recovery, or who have served in the military, or survived domestic abuse etc.
    Those experiential exclusions have a reasonable purpose and cast no judgments about the underlying worth of those participating. Transgender exlusion, on the other hand, is specifically premised on the concept that trans-women are not real women because they struggled with biology in coming to their gender. Z Budapest and like Dianics are saying in deed, and often in word, that transgender women are nothing more than dudes in drag.
    That is rooted in ignorance, and in the face of overwhelming medical evidence to the contrary, it is malicious ignorance. Their use of the concept of “genetic women” further reveals their ignorance, and has no more basis in real science than the racial eugenics of the 1920s. We have no firm evidence that Z herself could even pass the pseudoscientific criteria she used to exclude people.
    They resorted to a strip search in the guise of “skyclad working.” That in itself should also set off alarm bells in pagan and feminist circles. That’s sexual harassment, cut and dried. If any employer ever held a workshop for women only, even with the best of intentions, and demanded to do a genital check of those entering the workshop, those participants would win a settlement big enough to own the house next door to Mark Zuckerberg.
    In short, all exclusion is not the same.

  26. I know Z and she is not anti-male. Anyone who says otherwise is trying to take her stand as pro-female to mean anti-male. It is not a zero-sum game. I am decidedly pro-female. I am not anti-male by any stretch of the imagination.

  27. It was a sky-clad Rite, so anyone with male genitalia would have been obvious. However, I know XXY manifests in different ways, and I personally think ppl born with a chromosome anomaly like yours can define themselves as they feel. I think that as far as fully transitioned TG women go, I think she was hoping they would respect the boundaries as requested.

  28. Kenneth, you are wrong in saying that “They resorted to a strip search in the guise of “skyclad working.”” That ritual is NORMALLY done skyclad. It is a celebration of the body through self-blessing. I do that ritual myself almost daily, naked in my own home as a self-affirmation, and have done it for YEARS. If you are going to make accusations, maybe you should know what you are talking about.

  29. I am well familiar with skyclad working. In its traditional form in Wicca, it was reserved for groups of people who had established trust as part of an initiatory circle. In the few instances I have seen it used in public settings, it was never mandatory. It is also clear that a major reason for Z’s use of it was as a strip search. She had no other means of even trying to make a crude determination of who was a “genetic woman.” This skyclad requirement would never have gone over if a man was holding the ritual for women or a mixed group.

  30. If it’s really all about full disclosure, to the point where its legitimate to inspect women like livestock to participate, I think it’s only fair that Z and her Amazons come clean. If genetic purity is to be the true standard, I don’t think it would be too much to ask for them to submit to karyotyping and other medical verification of their gender by independent physicians, and then to publish the results.

  31. Cat, I will give you the same challenge I gave to Chas: Go to a Transgender Day of Remembrance ceremony near you. Remember that every one of those women that we remember on a cold and dark day in late November, was murdered because somebody decided that they weren’t a woman, and that their not-womanness needed to be punished by death. Then think if treating trans women as “fake” women, as “wannabe” women, as “not genetic” women is something you can support.

    The murder of trans women starts with people closing their hearts to a kind of womanhood they’re not immediately familiar with.

  32. I feel like this is a very hard issue to nail down a solution for. While it bothers me greatly that there were trans-women who were offended by and hurt by being excluded by ZB’s ritual, I also feel as though she (ZB) is within her rights to share sacred space with whomever she wants as the leading HPS of the ritual.

    Whether or not she believes trans-women to be “fit” to attend/join in a Dianic ritual, is neither here nor there. For HER ritual, she wanted the ritual to include a specific group. I don’t believe that her exclusion was malicious or ill intended, but with something as controversial as gender identification it can become quite heated. Of course, this is an assumption on my part as I have not spoken to her directly regarding this issue. My assumption is solely based on what I have known her to be like in the past.

    My only suggestion for a solution of mutual respect & understanding to be met is that both groups meet and talk.

  33. The usage of “transies” in her previous commentary combined with the usage of Genetic women only” is rather like rubbing salt in a wound. As a person who spells woman with a Y, she knows the power of labels and chooses not use transwomen friendly vocabulary, but rather offensive vocabulary.
    Aslo, WHY allow Z to hold an “open” ritual at an open and paid for event? Get anyone else to do it but someone who has made bigoted statements in the past. They could have gotten any number of kinder, gentler, more loving and more open minded people to lead that ritual!
    Let her be exclusive and throw around slurs in her private suite. Or better yet, not at Pantheacon at all.

    IMHO: Bigots don’t have a place as Elders

  34. Anti male? Not the Z Budapest I used to know. I fondly remember her at the reception the BTW coven I belonged to hosted for her when she was on trial, when her parting remarks were “I always knew I had sisters; now I know I have brothers, too.” The following year I saw her gleefully dancing skyclad in a mixed-gender circle at the Church of the Eternal Source’s Egyptian New Year celebration. Being pro-woman over all else doesn’t necessarily mean she’s anti-men. This logic is IDENTICAL to the Christians who say that because we don’t go to their churches we’re anti-Christian.

  35. My point was, have we established that this rite actually had no good reason for the exclusion? Or have we just made assumptions and gotten upset about it based on the mental caricature of the organiser as a nasty deliberately antagonistic hater. Did the people getting upset discuss the rituals contents beforehand with the organiser and ask politely why the ritual had an exclusion? If they did, what was the answer given?

    This could all have been avoided if people used basic common sense, communicated with each other directly instead of sniping from a distance and weren’t so quick to demonise one another.

    It’s the passive agressive nonsense and shoddy communication from people on all sides that I feel is the real problem with the Pagan community.

  36. Katie-
    No disrespect was meant by my post – my best friend is transgendered, as have been several close friends over the years. I have been to multiple remembrance days, both as part of the GSA at my high school and as part of Wilde-Stein GSA at UMaine. I have been to several funerals for friends killed in hate crimes for being queer or gay. I empathize with your hurt, though I have never gone through it.

  37. I don’t know what the answer is – I just know it’s not what we’re doing now.

  38. Sky-clad in Dianic circles has been done at PantheaCon before by others, Z included. It has never been a form of strip search. Your ugly attempt to turn the traditional way the Rite is done into something it is not is just indicative of your own issues, which I will not discuss since I don’t know you. I do, however, know the Rite in question having done it by myself at home AND as part of several different Pagan gatherings where Dianics were part of the scene. You are the first person I have ever seen try to paint it what way. It is part of the Rite in Question because of the meanings and themes within the Rite itself. If you actually knew anything about it, maybe you wouldn’t sound so ridiculous when you try to follow this line of thought. I would say your own prejudices were showing from casual observation.

  39. The prefix “Cis” comes from Chemistry. It denotes “On the same side” vs. “Trans” which means “one of on each side” in molecular structure. It is rather clever, if a bit obscure.

  40. Well, she should have done “her” ritual in a space sponsored by “her” then, shouldn’t she? Otherwise, the paying attendees and management of Pantheacon get a say in it.

  41. It is important to remember that many transgender people, especially transgender women, are murdered every year for the “crime” of inappropriate gender presentation. It’s also important to note that, while Z has used offensive language and refuses to recognize trans women as women, I do not recall her ever calling for violence against them. (If somebody has a counterexample, please let me know). And I’m not sure how many of the people who murdered trans women in the past year were inspired to do so by attending the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival or by reading Z Budapest, Mary Daly or Janice Raymond.

    I disagree strongly with Z & Co’s contention that trans women are not “real women.” I don’t believe that sort of exclusion has any place on Pantheacon’s public calendar and question whether it has a place among Pantheacon’s private events. And I think the absolutely silly “trans women are mutilated men seeking to infiltrate us” line of thinking has done horrible damage to relations between two communities who should be natural allies. But I also think it’s possible to reject the idea that trans women are “real women” yet still treat them with the dignity and decency you would show to any human being of any gender.

    It’s not ideal, mind you – but I think it would be a great first step in establishing dialogue between two communities who have a lot to learn from each other. And I would urge Z and her supporters to take that step at their earliest opportunity. Even if your thealogy doesn’t accept trans women as women, I presume you can accept them as human beings deserving of your compassion and understanding. Try doing so in your dialogue here and on other forums.

  42. How is it POSSIBLE to treat someone with dignity OR decency if you claim that the basic level of who and what they are is a lie and a deception implemented in order to invade your space? That seems quite flatly impossible to me.

  43. A good starting point would be respecting them as human beings and taking steps to treat them with kindness and compassion. I’ve met Christians who treated LGBT people with kindness and compassion even though they disapproved of and didn’t understand their lifestyle and what they saw as their
    “choices.” I’m not saying that this is ideal, but it is a place from whence the two groups can begin communications. Getting a dialogue going and trying to build understanding will be more productive in the long and short term, IMO, than moving Z’s ritual to a private suite or even than banning “cisgender only” rituals from PCon altogether.

  44. My minimum parameters for a solution are:

    Everyone has the right to perform and participate in the rituals they need.

    Everyone also has the right to have the sacred center of who they are respected and inviolate.

    Beyond that…

  45. Kenneth, as far as not having your money underwrite a ritual that is percieved to be exclusionary… what about the lesbian woman who HAS to underwrite mixed gender and Male only rituals to attend ONE ritual she will actually enjoy? Goddess. give me a break!

  46. > I fully support Z’s right to host a ritual that includes only a specific type of participant, in this case, women who have or could have menstruated.

    Except that was not the way the ritual was described. Its description said something about “women in all their forms” (I forget the exact wording), and then issued a restriction to “genetic women.” It was contradictory, and not at all about menstruation, actual or potential.

    >What I can’t support is the use of bullying, shaming, and denial of rights to prevent anyone from holding an unpopular ritual.

    Shaming, I have seen. Bullying? Denial of rights? Of whom, by whom? On the contrary, criticisms of Z and her ideas have been pretty straightforward, and the few trans women who have tried to hold their own in this exchange have been insulted in just about every particular. And no one’s “rights” have been denied at all. Certain privileges have, however, been brought into question.

  47. Katie: how do we “have the sacred center of who you are respected and inviolate?” What are some concrete ways PCon organizers and attendees could do this?

    And how do we also reach out to the people who believe, for whatever reason, that they need to have cisgender woman/womyn born womyn only rituals and space? Would you be able to accept them setting aside private space for themselves at a convention (i.e. a “Dianic suite” only open to people whom they identify as women?) Or would you find the presence of such space oppressive and offensive enough that you would refrain from attending – or attend and protest?

    I’m trying to envision a situation in which Dianics and trans people and allies could at least agree to co-exist at the same convention with minimal sniping and drama. And I think it will help if all concerned offer their visions of how that might happen and what would be deal-breakers for them.

  48. It’s not a matter of communication, but radically different values and principles. Last year, an argument can be made that the debate was triggered by communication issues. This year, no. It boils down to incompatible viewpoints.
    There are differing opinions as to whether Z is a “nasty deliberately antagonistic hater.” I would argue that at the bottom of this issue, it makes no difference what her intention is or what is in her heart. Many of us feel the criteria she is using for exclusion is not a good reason. More than that, it is informed by ignorance and bigotry regardless of whether its proponents display conscious ill will toward anyone.
    Even if we attribute the best of intentions, the most charitable interpretation of what Z means by her exclusion, it is not acceptable to most of us. Whether it is malicious or just deeply mistaken in our view, the end result is something morally repugnant and not something we can be a part of in any direct sense. If it is to be truly separated financially from the main event – ie done in a private setting, that is a different matter.

  49. None of the examples you mention have the effect of telling you that you’re not a “real” woman, or of diminishing the humanity of other people who may be excluded.

  50. It’s a false solution, at best. People who demonstrate a contempt for you with their actions and yet speak kind words are worse than overt haters. They’re patronizing on top of their bigotry.

  51. I’m drawing the same line between Point A and B that Z herself clearly did in the announcements of this year’s ritual. The skyclad aspect may well have other, non-controversial roots, but it was very clear that it was also intended as a visual inspection of participants. I’ll believe otherwise if and when she holds a similar ritual where participants are allowed to wear clothing. It’s also interesting that a group of feminists, who purport to be all about respecting women’s sense of safety and the body image issues they sometimes suffer in our society reserve the right to roll roughshod over that to enforce their own agenda.

  52. In what way? You asked if it was established that the rite “had no good reason for the exclusion”? Well that’s a subjective thing. The organizers certainly felt they had a good reason. It seems they communicated that to some degree in advance. I still fail to see how that makes any difference in the end. Most of us who oppose the exclusion find it unacceptable on its face and independent of whether the organizers meant well or not. No amount of communication or goodwill exercises are going to fix that. They might improve the tenor of the debate, but not the outcome of our positions. In the right circumstances, I might find Z. Budapest to be one of the nices, funniest people I’ve ever met. That would still not change my underlying position nor enable me to underwrite what she’s doing by attending a conference.

  53. Rayma, the way Z chose to word the description of her ritual was very explicitly malicious and ill-intended. She chose to use the most hurtful words possible short of outright hate speech, and given the previous incidents there is _no possible way_ she could have not known what those words meant.

  54. Kenaz, “ciswomen only” space is inherently oppressive and offensive in exactly the same way as “whites only” space. Ceremonies for women are entirely acceptable; ceremonies which which single out and exclude specific kinds of women on the basis of arbitrary definitions of womanhood are not. Doubly so when privileged cis people take it upon themselves to tell trans women that they aren’t “real” women.

  55. kenneth – sorry if this sounds like a silly question but for the sake of clarity here, which “Amazons” were you referring to in “it’s only fair that Z and her Amazons come clean”? I keep seeing “Amazon” being used (in various discussions on the web about this subject) and in some cases the author is using “Amazon” generically and some are referring to Yeshe Rabbit’s Amazon Priestess Tribe (who did not, I should point out, take part in Z’s ritual at PCon this year). I’m curious as to which use of the term you were using here.

  56. I think it’s very dangerous to suggest that the skyclad nature of this ritual was intended as a “strip search”. In my experience as a priestess with rituals centered around women’s mysteries where a womb and/or yoni blessing was to be performed, being skyclad is *not* uncommon.

    I sincerely hope you would consider that just because *your* personal experience of skyclad ritual didn’t include reasons why it would be mandatory that this doesn’t mean you should make the leap to saying that the reason for a woman’s ritual being skyclad was to do a genitals check at the door. (It could be that being skyclad just makes it easier to gaze into one’s yoni during a ritual!) I believe, with all the emotion that is already all tied up in these discussions, suggesting that this ritual was skyclad for reasons so sinister is just foolishly pouring gas onto an already roaring fire. But.. that’s just me, your mileage may vary and/or you may have information I am not aware of that leads you to this conclusion.

  57. The problem is that I don’t see Z and Co. opening up their Mysteries to trans women anytime soon. Nor do I see any mechanism by which they may be forced to do so – they have the right of free association and religious freedom on their side in this instance.

    If we are to assume that this is inherently bigoted and degrading to trans women – and you can make a decent case that it is – then does allowing them private space at PCon to hold bigoted and degrading rituals solve the problem or merely shift the argument?

  58. So for you the very presence of private “ciswomen only” space would be as objectionable as i.e. a private Asatru suite with a “whites only” sign on the door? That’s what I’m trying to figure out here. Is shifting Dianic rituals to their private suite a solution to this problem or merely a bandaid which will quickly get rubbed off at PCon 2013, leading to a repeat performance of this sad and painful drama?

  59. We could also start by taking each other’s word.

    I for one would be willing to accept Z’s assurance that she is not “the enemy” when she and her apologists stop referring to trans women as mutilated, mentally disturbed men acting as agents of an eternal patriarchal plot to invade women’s space and bodies.

    But in no case would I consider a “solution” that amounts to passing privilege-based ghettoization.

    If we cannot get past these points then no… there will be no rapprochement.

  60. The ritual was billed as “The Sacred Body of Woman (Self-Blessing),” theoretically about “healing for all women and love of the divine body of woman in all its forms”…except for the bit about it being for cisgendered women only.

  61. Looks like Barach’s comment may be correct that “critics keep moving the goal posts” (or hiding/not speaking of them but being ready with censure, another passive-aggressive technique)
    There’s other traditions than the Dianic who care about the physical sexual representation in their Rites, and not all use the same criteria in each tradition. That’s also an obvious next replace of the goal-post to villainize all those, too. Nobody should have to go and assure another person at a Pantheacon they are not “the enemy” and saying that achieves nothing anyway, since whoever wants to hear that is obviously terrified, which is not measured reaction to what occurred.

  62. I don’t think anyone believes Z is going to meet you at the door with a DNA test. Self-identification is likely the mechanism she’s looking at, and my sense is that if you had a question, you’d likely contact her in advance to ask it (“Is my inclusion a problem?”) if you were simply looking for clarity.

    The existence of intersex and genetically complex individuals is a good argument for moving beyond a simple binary of gender in how we think about the world. It is much less relevant as a critique of Z’s philosophy, because it seems to be the very fact of her deciding to draw a line around eligibility for her ritual that is the issue… not the detail of where, precisely, she draws it.

    Incidentally, I’m not among those who see surgery (or hormone treatment) as the point at which a trans woman “becomes” a woman for purposes of ritual. I’m far too aware of the lack of access to such treatment to think that’s a very reasonable bar.

    I think that the Kenaz’s observation above is 2/3 right; that the nub of the controversy is a disagreement between those who believe that simply:

    “1) Rituals which exclude trans women are bigoted and those who hold them are bigots: there should be no ‘women’s ritual’ which is not open to anyone who self-identifies as a woman.”

    And on the other hand, another camp that believes, ” 2) Our rituals are solely for women born and socialized as women” and that “anyone who tries to limit our right to hold our…rituals is oppressing our right to freedom of religion.” (Potentially inflammatory language omitted.)

    The 1/3 I think is being omitted is the segment of the Pagan world who are not convinced either that trans women are clearly identical to cis women in all magickal or religious senses, OR that they clearly are not.

    Some of us are clear that we don’t know for sure what’s relevant to Z’s branch of Dianics, nor the value that should be placed on preserving those rituals unchanged if there is some relevant quality that differs, relative to the social justice argument around allowing access to (another) oppressed class of people to those rituals. And speaking for myself, at least, I don’t think I’m going to be able to figure out what I think or stand in solidarity with anyone until the shouting stops long enough for a few open-hearted conversations.

    I understand impatience in the face of personal histories of pain; I also understand there are a lot of those to go around, and that competitive misery is a sport where everyone loses. Neither those who accuse trans women of being “infiltrators” (and thereby presuming they are aggressive and male outsiders crashing women’s safe space) nor those who accuse Dianics of Z’s school (I’m not speaking of Z as an individual here) of being “bigots” (and thereby assuming there can be no valid reason for exclusion of trans women) are advancing the dialog much at all.

    I’m sorry, to my trans women sisters, if my lack of clarity around the matter of how your gender fits with other people’s Mysteries offends you. But in fact, I am NOT clear, and while I can perhaps be shouted down or intimidated into silence, I’d rather be quietly convinced.

  63. Katie, there’s a difference between thinking that trans women _may_ not be magickally equivalent in all ways to cis women, and to thinking that trans women are “fake” women or “wannabe” women. Let alone thinking that trans women deserve to die.

    Your anger at my being open to the possibility of magickal or spiritual differences between cis and trans women is very clear. Accusing me of being an accomplice to murder is a vivid turn of phrase… but not one that helps me answer the question, “Are there in fact any subtle spiritual differences that might matter in a women’s ritual?”

    For that, I think we’re going to have to build up a body of experience, as women who are familiar with such Mysteries are encouraged to explore the similarities and differences of such work with and without the presence of trans women. That will take a lot of courage and open-heartedness on all sides.

    Accusing those are not in agreement with you of partaking of violence against the transgendered is not a good way to cultivate that courageous openness.

  64. There’s been a number of references to a “private space” solution here. Has anyone made a semi-official proposal along those lines? What would it entail? Would Z’s group effectively be doing their own thing and taking no general conference entry fees to do so?
    If so, it might pose a workable solution. I can’t speak for anyone else, but if I knew I wasn’t underwriting such a thing in any way, I could do my own thing at a conference and be happy. I still wouldn’t approve of their exclusion on principle, but I could not complain because it would not be happening “in my name” so to speak.
    As to the idea that people are “moving the goal posts” I would disagree. The goal posts are set up where they should be: justice. The shift from last year to next happened because the issue did morph from one small group’s surprise last year to the wider community’s look at the underlying issue since then.

  65. > Accusing those are not in agreement with you of partaking of violence against the transgendered is not a good way to cultivate that courageous openness.

    It is, however, well-established feminist practice in (properly) equating misogyny with violence against women.

  66. > But in fact, I am NOT clear, and while I can perhaps be shouted down or intimidated into silence, I’d rather be quietly convinced.

    Silenced by whom? Intimidated how?

  67. By a tiny, nearly-powerless minority of women with nothing but truth on our side, apparently.

  68. We ought to talk more about this “private space” solution that keeps coming up in vague form. Depending how it is done, it could either pose a real solution or a meaningless semantic distinction. If Z’s thing were to be done truly independent of Pantheacon – put on, promoted, funded by her and her supporters, and just happened to be on site at the conference, that might work. If “Private space” just means another conference -supported suite on the program that is private by virtue of exclusion, than no, that solves nothing.
    At some level the issue becomes “is Z’s exclusive ritual officially part of Pantheacon, or not?” If it is to be a truly private event, no one really has a say in it. She’s free to rent her own space there or anywhere else at any time. The conference organizers still need to engage this issue on a level beyond that of Z. They need to figure out some real guidelines going forward for sorts of exclusions will be allowed for their presenters and which ones cross an unacceptable line.

  69. Werd.

    I’d be interested to hear from women who were actually at Z’s ritual, and if it was even able to be accomplished, how it was, felt, etc.

  70. i think they’ve been doing this rite the same way, skyclad and women-born-babygirls for over 20 years now, no?

  71. Cat –

    I understand what you are saying, but this I think is the point of departure:

    “The existence of intersex and genetically complex individuals is a good argument for moving beyond a simple binary of gender in how we think about the world. It is much less relevant as a critique of Z’s philosophy, because it seems to be the very fact of her deciding to draw a line around eligibility for her ritual that is the issue… not the detail of where, precisely, she draws it.”

    On the contrary, I believe that it doesn’t matter where Z draws her line, or if she wants to exclude everyone but her own coven – my issue, and the issue that I see from many others, is that Z’s ritual was described as “The Sacred Body of Woman (Self-Blessing),” and for the express purpose of “healing for all women and love of the divine body of woman in all its forms” (except those that Z decided aren’t women). That she chose the forum of a conference named “Unity in Diversity” as a place to showcase her exclusionary-ness seems to me to be a deliberate and intentionally provoking stand.

    (in the interest of disclosure, I’m male, and self-identify as such…to me, my karyotype is an interesting bit of trivia and the reason for some medical issues, but is otherwise unimportant).

  72. – Larger suites for exclusive groups, possibly repeating events if they are popular/too crowded. A flyer on the door with information about their group, basic philosophy, and about WHY the event is exclusive. Visiting hours posted on flyers.

    – The #1 challenge would be maintaining fire codes if folks have to wait in the hall to get into the suite, or hours get late for nearby sleeping guests. This fire code was pretty enforced this year and I can already see it clashing with the regular events… can’t imagine how messy suites and halls might get but recalling the old Absinthe Parties, I have an idea!

    – Alternative events arranged by the folks who felt excluded. Make a healing of your own and make it HEALING, not just venting or showing support for ‘another team’ from the other side of the hotel. Do the work and make it nice. These could be a series of discussions in exclusive suites that go with, or riff off of, a public event in PCon for all.

    – For public programs, the PCon organizers need to LOOK OVER the self-written presentation blurbs (that are printed in the program) and EDIT or ASK presenters to explain or reword when necessary…well in advance.

    In this instance, I don’t know any other good way to say “if you were born with a pussy, you are welcome” because it sounds pretty bad. xD Genetic, womyn-born-womyn, whatever, it all sounds terrible from a copywriter’s point of view! There’s no thesaurus that’s going to make a blatant statement sound good.

    It brings up bigger and bigger questions about womanness that are a separate discussion from the logistics of exclusive events.

    So it is on the Dianics to figure out a way to say ‘we’re celebrating such and such’, using indoor words, that will describe their event while demonstrating this supposed healing power and positive energy…demonstrating the strength of their Way. And it is on the PCon programmers to catch text before it’s distributed, talk with the presenters to clarify, edit text if needed, and make a consensus or vote about what to do.

    If the presenters are under someone else’s banner (PCon) then it’s fair to limit their events somewhat.

  73. Also, I don’t like automatically proposing private space and ‘banishing’ when she’s been at it for years.

    It’s like kicking out my grandma, no matter what she has said or where her understanding is at. 🙁

  74. One point the those such a Z and the hard line dianics need to realise , in the pagan community men are not the enemy . We pagan men are feminists by definition, we fully support pagan woman and their rights . Actualy most if not all pagan men want a strong , confidant , powerful woman at or by their side .In modern paganism , even in some ancient paganism woman were/are valued members of our groups , never 2nd class . Most modern pagan groups are lead or co lead by woman in lead roles. Society as a whole needs to catch up w/ us .We are here to support all pagan woman , pagan men are NOT your enemy , we are your cohorts , freinds , supporters , and yes ,[gasp] lovers and husbands . Kilm

  75. correction , sorry. One point that those such as Z and the hard line Dianics need to realise . One other point , altho we understand there are things that need to done within Dianic settings, we pagan men wouldn’t mind helping harmed pagan woman . I also believe it is a good idea to let all pagan woman to know they are safe within the entire community , not just Dianic groups . That we are all concerned about their healing and protection . Some, not all ,Dianic groups spout anti men sentiments this in itself is not healthy , nor is anti LGBTQ rederic spouted by some involved . Kilm

  76. Desiree, if your standard for “acceptable” is “nothing can happen in any public or private space at Pantheacon that might offend me,” then we’re never going to find a way out of this. Z and the like-minded practitioners supporting her have the same rights to their private beliefs and private associations as you or I or anyone else in this discussion. The question is, as Kenaz I think is trying to articulate: what standard can be applied fairly to everyone? I think that the suggestion that official Pantheacon events must be open to all comers is probably the only one that can be applied fairly that does not grossly violate our community sense of justice. It is clearly unfair for Pantheacon’s organizers to decide on some arbitrary basis that certain exclusionary criteria are acceptable and others are not, and I think that we would all recoil at the idea of allowing *every* possible set of exclusionary criteria. In private spaces (hotel suites rented by con-goers, nearby non-affiliated ritual areas, whatever), people would be free to hold private ritual with whomever they felt moved to accept.

    This means, of course, that lots of other groups would be forbidden from having their rites as official Pantheacon events: no gay mysteries, no men’s mysteries, no First Peoples events, and in fact no events limited to women *even if* they openly welcome transwomen. A lot of people would be unhappy with that situation, I think. It still seems to me to be the most evenhanded solution.

  77. Elayna: One’s reactions are one’s own responsibility.

    It feels so absurd for such an out of proportion reaction to come from the desires of a relatively small minority to share space and sisterhood with other women. Absurd, and frustrating.

  78. At no point has Desiree (or anyone else, as far as I can tell) asserted that Z does not “have the same rights to their private beliefs and private associations as you or I or anyone else.” Nor have her comments been so vacuous as to give any honest person reason to believe that her “standard for ‘acceptable’ is ‘nothing can happen in any public or private space at Pantheacon that might offend [her]’.”

    If your own standard for discussion is to raise pointless objections to your own straw men, then you’re right… there is no way that you’re going to find any way out of this.

  79. My interpretation of the murders was that “I can kill this person and get away with it, and society will let me, because of their gender / surgery / otherness / whatever…” So the reason for the day of remembrance was not only to honor the victims, but to remind society that those victims were actually people… and also to let murderers know that NO, they can’t just get away with killing someone, no matter what their rationalization. Perhaps society needs this kind of reminder again, here and now… People. Humans. Conscious beings.

  80. You raise an interesting implicity question here. *Do* Pagan women, on the whole, feel safer in a Pagan setting than in society at large? I’d like to hear about that.

    On a related point, if my septuagenarian cis-male memory serves, one reason for women-only, Goddess-only rituals is that some women with bad experiences of men cannot be open to the Spirit in a male presence, in the circle or on the altar. So this sense-of-safety matter may be foundational.

  81. It sounds like something out of a dime store fantasy novel. Not saying “The Gate To Women’s Country” is, I’ve never read it.

  82. If they were fully transitioned and Z still didn’t want them to attend, the initial excuse of not wanting to cause alarm to those who had suffered male on female violence is all bunk, isn’t it?

  83. Not really. Let’s set aside (if we can) the cis/trans issue and just consider a women’s ritual. One issue for some of those women is likely to be safety. A wider circle of supportive men, out of sight of the ritual but completely surrounding it, adds another barrier against threat.

    I recall a story about such an arrangement in an outdoor rural setting, in which the male guards prevented the outraged husband of a participant in the women’s ritual from disrupting it.

    If my wife’s spirituality drew her to such a ritual, I would be proud to serve in the guard circle.

  84. It seems to me that many of the stories we Pagans tell ourselves about what we do and why we do it could be construed as sounding like something out of a dime store fantasy novel.

    There’s a lot to critique in Z’s brand of feminism, but I don’t think we need to go shopping for more.

  85. It seemed a reasonable conclusion based on her statement that “‘ciswomen only’ space is inherently oppressive and offensive.” If I’m wrong, I’m wrong – I’m happy to have her correct me.

  86. Well, hypothetically, by popular opinion, I suppose. It does seem to me from a casual inspection of the forum that voices raised in opposition to the notion of it ever being acceptable to limit a ritual to cis women are in the majority. Those of us who are not sure that is the case are either a minority, or are feeling pressured to keep our opinions to ourselves.

    The Pagan community is clearly pretty sympathetic to the argument being raised against offering rituals like Z’s. A few Dianic Pagans believe that this is a reflection of male/patriarchal aggression attacking women’s Mysteries as a whole.

    And a certain number of other Pagans, myself among them, don’t believe that trans women are seeking to enter such ritual spaces as “infiltrators” or for bad motives, but also are not certain there is no legitimate purpose to confining a ritual to cis women only.

    I know that I have had the experience more than once on this thread of being accused of hateful motives that I don’t hold. Some people would likely feel silenced by that. I admit, I’m not one of them… though I also don’t find assumptions about my motives or character very convincing evidence one way or another in a complicated argument.

  87. Well, you know, it is possible to doubt someone’s self-description without being hostile or disrespectful about it. For instance, you may have heard of something that goes under the heading of the “ex-gay movement.”

    Now, I have to tell you, everything I know about sexual orientation and psychology makes me highly skeptical of anyone’s self-description as “ex-gay” (let alone, obviously, the whole question of why it would be considered to be a good thing to want to be “ex-gay”!). And yet, such people do exist.

    I can be quite skeptical of their claim and/or belief that they are former gays and lesbians, and indeed, reject the entire notion that the “therapy” to reorient someone’s sexuality is in any way advisable to attempt or possible to accomplish, without attacking them on a personal level.

    Or, in fact, without being closed to the possibility that, you know what? Maybe they’re right, and thousands of psychotherapists are wrong, and that’s actually an accurate description of who they are.

    It is a fact that there are Dianic Pagans out there who consider trans women who seek entry to women’s rituals to be invaders, with bad motives. I think those women are wrong.

    However, it doesn’t follow from that that anyone is disrespectful or bigotted who questions whether self-identification as a woman means that someone is in _every_ important spiritual way, a woman.

    It is very possible that self-identification IS the only metric that matters.

    It seems to me, however, that it is possible that it is NOT. I simply haven’t been present at enough rituals with and without the presence of trans women as well as cis women to have an informed opinion on that.

    Calling me a bigot because I think there may be layers of complexity that aren’t always reflected by self-description may relieve your feelings, but I think it misses my point… and makes it much harder to figure out an answer.

  88. Fair enough, Cat, though I’m not sure that holding a minority position qualifies as being silenced in the way I’ve understood that term in social criticism.

    On the question of motives, though, I have to be honest… while your own appear straightforward, the more I read and think about how Z went about all this, and viewing the inevitable fallout, I can’t help but think that there was some (perhaps ill-formed) strategy involved, or at least purposes at work beyond the supposedly salutary. Do I suggest vile conspiracy? No. Do I consider ego and gamesmanship at work? Yes.

  89. Scott: for many trans people and trans allies, “ciswomen only” space IS inherently oppressive and offensive. They see it in the same way a person of color might see a “whites only” space or a ritual held by a group only open to Europeans and Euro-Americans. (Or the way almost everybody at PCon might feel about an Evangelical group renting a party suite where they could “witness” to the Devil-Worshippers…).

    So far as I know, nobody has objected to rituals open to those WHO IDENTIFY AS women or men. The problem comes when someone else sets up an arbitrary standard other than self-identity and is compounded when that person makes hateful statements about a significant subset of attendees.

  90. Kenneth you have still missed my point. Did anyone who is now upset even try talking directly to the organiser? Saying it wouldn’t have made a difference anyway is a passive agressive cop-out. The problem is not that someone is being offensive but that no one has bothered to honestly attempt to understand why. What use is it to shout oppression if it gets in the way of real problem-solving. How exactly do you know that if people hadn’t just discussed it with the organiser in a calm and upfront way that either the organiser or the offended would have been able to amicably come to a satisfactory solution. All this public slanging match nonsense is not getting trans people less oppressed. It is not changing minds. All it is doing is polarising people into irreconcilable camps and I for one am leaning towards the “damn Pagan community can’t act like grown-ups, I’m outta here” camp.

  91. Cat,

    I wanted to come back here because it seems that you don’t understand what hurts so much about what you’ve said. It seems that you are looking for reasons to continue a situation that many trans women, myself included, have said we find painful, divisive and unnecessary.

    The idea that trans women are different from cis women in “spiritually significant” ways papers over the fact that in fact all women are different in ways that could be considered spiritually significant. However, in the context of ritual, all differences save one seem to be seen as secondary compared to unity as daughters of the Goddess.

    So when we look at that one difference, why is that one difference more important than any other difference of uncontrollable circumstance?

  92. “Scott: for many trans people and trans allies, “ciswomen only” space IS inherently oppressive and offensive. They see it in the same way a person of color might see a “whites only” space or a ritual held by a group only open to Europeans and Euro-Americans.”

    How about if it is “white only including everyone who identifies as white”?

  93. No. Space is space… it’s inherently space. People gather as they really WANT to gather.

    ‘Acceptable’ in this case has to be a policy determined and clearly stated by the organizers. You can’t banish people from private rooms. That is… nutty.

    If people rent private rooms, and their events are not in the official program, it does not have to affect you. Unless you let it.

  94. The prefix pair “trans” and “cis” is Latin, and its earliest major use was geographical. When a territory is divided into two parts by a mountain range or other topographical feature, the near side is prefixed “Cis” and the far side “Trans”, as in Cisalpine and Transalpine Gaul. Or if you lived south of the Great Lakes, the Canadian side would be Transpontine America.

  95. Not only that but the group in question has been engaging in conversation and made a point of making their ritual space more open and more accepting, whereas Ms. Budapest came to the conference with the apparent intention of stoking a wider conflict (I would personally like there to be more nudity-not-required women’s events because honestly making trans women jump through a $11,000-25,000 hoop is a LOT to ask, but that’s beside the current point).

  96. Same root word, different meaning. 🙂 As I’ve said in other places, transition brought me to believe in magick – if an act of Will could effect such a dramatic transformation in my body, what else can it do?

  97. Al, PantheaCon is not a democratic organization. It is a profit making event owned and managed by Glenn Turner. The paying attendees can express opinions and vote with their pocketbooks, but Glenn has sole authority over the programming. She decides who gets to be a presenter and what kinds of activities are allowed. Sometimes Glenn delegates programming decisions to staff, but she has the final say.

    PantheaCon is hugely and widely popular, so Glenn can do whatever she wants about this without worrying very much about what other people think.

  98. Who says that PantheaCon policies have to be evenhanded? It’s a privately owned event, not a Federal Court.

    There are more groups and individuals who want to do something at the Con than there is time or space available. Glenn applies various criteria to decide who makes the cut. Among the criteria are whether her program staff think people will be interested, whether Glenn herself thinks it’s worthwhile, previous track record of the presenter, attracting additional communities of faith or demographic groups to the con, whether the hotel management will object, was the paperwork sent in on time, etc.

    For those who have never attended, PantheaCon is not like a small Pagan festival where almost everyone winds up standing in the same ritual space. About 2300 people attended this year, and there were 13 scheduled Con activities running concurrently, plus additional organized activities in 21 hospitality suites, plus booksignings and shopping. For most of the run of the Con, every meeting space is in use. To a certain extent, PantheaCon resembles a climax forest in which every ecological niche is filled. If a big tree falls, a lot of understory plants will move into the sunny spot.

  99. – “Larger suites for exclusive groups, possibly repeating events if they are popular/too crowded. A flyer on the door with information about their group, basic philosophy, and about WHY the event is exclusive. Visiting hours posted on flyers.”

    Some of the organizations hosting suites are doing all of these things already. Demand for suites exceeds the supply. A group that puts on some well-attended open activities is more likely to be allowed to rent a big suite than a group that mostly does closed activities or only uses it as a hangout space. Also, the group has to have the financial resources to pay for whatever suite it is renting.

    None of the suites is large enough to hold a circle of more than about fifty or sixty people. If a particular type of ritual draws hundreds when scheduled in a ballroom, not allowing that sort of ritual to be done anywhere but a suite is effectively a form of invidious discrimination. And that’s the intent of at least some of the people proposing that rule as a resolution.

  100. PantheaCon is hugely and widely popular, so Glenn can do whatever she wants about this without worrying very much about what other people think.

    So what you’re saying, as a friend of the organizer and as someone who works on PantheaCon staff(?) is that Glenn doesn’t really care about piddling issues like trans inclusion or the feelings of trans people OR Dianics so long as the tickets keep selling?

    I suppose if for nothing else you deserve credit for your honesty.

  101. A private “ciswomen only” suite would still be fundamentally objectionable as a matter of principle, but it’s infinitely *less* objectionable than an officially sanctioned event which is subsidized by conference fees.

  102. That is an excellent and very helpful observation. So it sounds like at least some trans people would find private space which excluded them to be acceptable if not ideal at PCon.

  103. I think most trans people would agree that private exclusive space, while not ideal, is a better position to start from than public, con-endorsed events.

  104. Private space isn’t a banishment – it’s an acknowledgment that what Budapest is doing is making some women feel unwelcome at the conference and a commitment that the conference won’t use funds collected in part from a particularly vulnerable minority of women to discriminate against them.

  105. Apparently, whether or not true, “this ritual works with the Blood Mysteries” can be used as a blanket excuse to bar trans women from any ritual space at any time desired.

  106. That one difference is something that creates the potential for experiences that only cis-gendered women can have. Not all cis-gendered women have those experiences, but the potential is there.

    There are some Rites for cis-gendered females that only those who have gone through that particular experience can attend, such as a Maidening, which can only be attended by those who have achieved first menstruation.

    Unfortunately, some of those experiences are things that you cannot share with anyone who has not had them. It’s like going through a Mystery Rite: one who has been cannot describe it to one who has not – not because they are lesser or less human, BUT because there is no common context for something life-altering.

    All that being said, I have a deep knowledge of the Rite they were going to do, and I do not see any reason a TG woman could not partake in it except one small one: one of the blessings is for the womb specifically. I know of cis-women who have had hysterectomies that have had emotional issues come up during the self-blessing when the womb blessing occurs because they feel the loss of it. I have known others who do not feel anything of the sort. It is hard to say. So why not leave the womb part out? Because for cis-gendered women the womb is both symbolically and energetically/spiritually an important part of who we are after we achieve first blood. Would being in a ritual that blesses the womb make a TG woman feel more left-out than if she hadn’t participated in the first place? I don’t know. I cannot answer it because that’s not my experience. I would be interested to find out from those who can answer. I welcome dialogue on this.

  107. Scott may consider himself correctly corrected. We’ve apparently gotten so deep into nesting comments that I can’t reply directly to his.

  108. Your position appears to be that anti-trans Pagans are somehow entitled to a special guarantee of space and funding, therefore putting them in the same position as every other private group at the con is somehow unfair. I see no reason to support such an entitlement, and every reason to oppose it.

  109. Yes, and that is exactly why trans women need and deserve to have equal access to women-only, Goddess-only rituals. Trans women as a rule suffer *horrifically* traumatic interactions with men and with patriarchy, so women’s safe space is if anything even more important for us than it is for cis women.

  110. Katie, unfortunately but definitely on topic, the visible physical difference between a pre-surgical transwoman and a ciswoman is that dangly bit that some men — far too many men — use as a weapon, as a tool of dominance, as a status symbol … and often against or to control a woman. Not all men, of course. But enough that the culture is full of it and it sparks a painful reaction in many women that triggers the fight-or-flight reaction well before critical thinking can put it down. THAT, i think, is at the basis of the fear that is at the basis of the anger that is being directed into this discussion.

    You, Katie, had nothing to do with that. You didn’t cause it or buy into it or perpetuate it. But you can’t make that fear trigger go away. I don’t know you or your history, but I am guessing that there is fear that letting a transwoman into that particular ritual — any transwoman — risks finding one present who has that dangly bit where it will do damage just by being seen by someone who has been particularly traumatized. Or by several who have been. And they will be afraid to let down their barriers as they must to even begin healing.

    That is why that one difference is more important than any other — not because of she who has it and, being skyclad, it is there to be seen, but because someone else who has been assaulted with one like it, physically emotionally mentally psychically, will see it and re-experience the trauma.

    Personally, I think a transwoman presurgical who can bring empathy, compassion, and extreme patience into such a circle under the very competent guidance of a Priestess could be a wonderful instrument of the Goddess for healing (since She doesn’t generally have one of Her own). But that wasn’t about to happen at the ritual in question.

    Blessed Be and Be Well,

  111. Aging ciswoman Pagan here — yes, on the whole, I have felt far safer at Pagan events than at other events. I certainly don’t trust society at large were i to close my eyes and sleep in a roomful of strangers, get up in the night and head to the intersex bathroom skyclad, and wander back to bed to sleep some more. I don’t know about other festivals, but the ones I have attended here for almost 20 years have always felt safe in that regard. even the adults-only Beltane.

    I just posted a long reply to Katie. I won’t repeat it here except to say that there is and has been an undercurrent among some men — certainly not your good selves here — and portrayed in movies and the news, of the penis being used as a weapon, to dominate and subdue, to claim as property, and any of a number of other uses not related to loving conversation. That meme? sticks and logic does not overcome it. Wand? Sword? Club?

  112. Agreed, Kilm, but what you are up against hits the brain faster than logic and triggers fears embedded deeply. it will take more than rational discussion. Thank you for caring and compassion. RB

  113. It’s a profit making event and hugely and wildly popular only as long as its client base decides it is. If the owner exercises her right to stop caring what anyone thinks, she could well find herself hosting an empty event.
    Even if attendance does not drop off immediately, the event will gain a reputation of being a backwater of atavistic thinking in the pagan community, the equivalent of country clubs which clung to minstrel shows and racial membership criteria long after the rest of the world moved on. Pantheacon can allow itself to become the bunker of a few of the old guard or the premier event of the future. If they’re tempted to the former, they ought to consider that they aren’t making any more of those folks….

  114. Most of those now upset were not at the event and so had no timely opportunity to talk to the organizer in advance of the event. I’m not sure who you mean by “the organizer”. If you mean Z, there is nothing she has said, or quite frankly, could say, that would make the format of her exclusion acceptable to most of us.
    If you mean the overall conference organizers, this is the discussion they should be paying attention to. What might have been in ideal circumstances is moot. This year’s event is water under the bridge. My guess is the organizers, and Z, probably did not appreciate the full impact this would have in the wider community as they analyzed it. The point is not about recriminations for what has happened but a serious discussion about what will and what should happen going forward.
    The fact is there are quite likely some underlying positions that are irreconcilable. That’s not passive aggressive anything. It’s human nature and the result of people doing some serious work developing their own consciences. For all that, there may still be some practical solutions that are livable for all involved. The “private space” option has real promise.

  115. You’d be surprised and probably depressed at the number of trans women for whom being judged and othered is a trigger.

    If we have rituals that are causing this much pain, horror and personal alienation… the rituals need changing. Because the people can’t.

  116. I can’t get right with the ever increasing tone that some are using toward regarding “paganism” as a religion in it’s own right. Everyone seems to be headed in that direction. It seems to me that the ire should not be toward “paganism” and it shouldn’t even be worded as such. It should be toward the one religion’s adherents under that heading that might be causing such ruckus. This isn’t “paganism’s” problem, it’s Z Budapest’s and perhaps the Dianics as a whole. It doesn’t affect anyone that isn’t transgendered or Dianic.

    Also, I don’t see anyone getting all bent out that she doesn’t allow males in her rituals. Why is that? Because it’s not cool to champion men? It would really shake Z to her core if a natural born woman, transgendered and now male, tried getting into her rituals, now wouldn’t it?

    Not that I don’t think pagans as a whole should discuss the issue, but I approach some of the responses with trepidation because they elude to trying to “change” something about pagan religions (or just “paganism” in a few of them) and it sounds a whole lot like the problems that already exist in organized religion and I think we could use a whole lot less of that in life.

    You can’t change the Dianics, you can’t change Z Budapest and you shouldn’t even want to. Because next, someone’s going to want to change YOU and you might not like what they want you to be. Like maybe a Christian for starters.

    As it was last year, it’s a horrid attitude for Z to take towards transgendered women. But, as a woman, I don’t like man hating, either. Seems she just doesn’t like quite a lot of things.

  117. Desiree: Thank you. I apologize for assuming too far based on your comment.

    Kenaz: Yes, I understand that feeling, and I am in no way attempting to make excuses for Z’s statements or overall handling of the situation, which I personally find offensive as well. My point was that it is as much an infringement on the religious beliefs of Z and other like-minded Dianics to tell them that they *cannot* limit their Pantheacon circles to ciswomen as it is to tell transwomen that there are religious spaces “for women” in which they are not welcome.

    Like Cat, I am not convinced that there is never a valid reason to limit a circle to ciswomen only. The energetic argument is an interesting and subtle one; the abuse-trauma argument is, to me, substantially more compelling. My personal concern here is not to resolve that question, nor to mediate any tension between the Dianics and other parts of the community; my concern is “what can we do at Pantheacon that is *as equitable as possible* for all parties?” To me, the best answer seems to be the one that I and others (including yourself, I think) have proposed: no official Pantheacon rituals that are not open to all comers, with attendees free to circle privately in whatever configurations they choose.

  118. “Who says that PantheaCon policies have to be evenhanded? It’s a privately owned event, not a Federal Court.”

    Profit motive? It’s in Glenn’s best interest to move quickly to defuse tensions over this situation before it becomes a reason for people to stop buying tickets, agreeing to sign books, work as vendors, etc. That puts aside the question of whether she feels any responsibility to the community because of Pantheacon’s *de facto* status as a central networking and cross-tradition educational event.

  119. Is it forgotten that Pcon organizers did address the concerns voiced last year? Therefore how is it that they are getting “shame”d, blamed, and criticized for doing exactly as requested this year?
    Also, all that hard work – and the interest is only giving them crap for it. Anybody building space in the pagan community eventually gets torn up and burned out and it’s terribly sad. If you want to to have something exactly your way, run it yourself, and in a way that doesn’t try to paper out and sabotage other spaces. Or you’ve dropped any high ground you had.
    This argument was about Z, yes? I think the thought here is that since an older lady may or may not be interested in changing her tradition of many years, you’ll pressure and harm another group in the hopes they can change her mind. That’s ridiculous.

  120. It keeps going unacknowledged by many here that Pcon did address the voiced concerns from last year in this year’s Pcon.

  121. I hear you. I doubt that I would be surprised (you don’t know me or my history, either). In the case I was describing, the triggering starts with being skyclad in the first place. If that ritual needs to happen for some women to heal, then truth in advertising needs to be accompanied by compassion in advertising, as well — which it wasn’t. THAT change could have been accomplished — and wasn’t.

  122. I’m not shaming, blaming, or criticizing anyone at P*con for their response to last year’s controversy. If you read my comments above, I’m suggesting a way that P*con policies might be changed to respond to *this year’s* controversy, and thereby produce a more equitable environment for everyone going forward. I’m certainly not suggesting that P*con or anyone else put pressure on Z to change her stance on inclusion of transwomen, any more than I’m suggesting that P*con should put pressure on transwomen and their allies to accept official P*con rituals that discriminate against them.

  123. And kudos to them for doing so. Those measures were, in hindsight, not enough to prevent this year’s difficulties. Asking “OK, so what do we do *now*?” is not a criticism of the P*con organizers.

  124. Then why not specify exactly what those shared experiences are? If the rite is about menstruation, say that. If it’s about childbirth, say that. If it’s about just having a uterus, or ever having one, or whatever, say that up front. Women who don’t have those experiences, or simply don’t care about them won’t show up.

    Why choose flowery words about the beauty of “all women” but then turn around and essentially say, “except you people over there, you don’t count because I’ve decided you’re a not a real woman”.

    It’s hard for me to believe that after all of the controversy of last years event, someone wouldn’t have realized how inflammatory it would be to tack on “genetic women only” to the end of a description like that. The only conclusions I can come to are that either nobody cared, or that it was a deliberate smack in the faces of transgendered women.

    Either way, I personally find it despicable.

    Oh, and in case anyone cares, or thinks it’s relevant, I’m a cisgendered women.

  125. Katie, I don’t read what Dana said the same way you are restating it. This just adds to confusion and ill feeling.

  126. kenneth, visual inspection of f sex organs participants by said participants is not a strip search. just *stop*

  127. > By those who yell words like ‘Bigot’ at people who are seeking their own answer and are honest about it.

    Tinnekke, I’m fairly sure that the actual accusation of bigotry (as opposed to the discussion of it) has been pretty limited. While I’m sympathetic to your idea of silencing, I think you’ve overstated the case here.

    Those who have actually been “seeking their own answer and are honest about it” have been fully and reasonably engaged, I think.

  128. I think this is really sad Thaniel. It is not good that anyone co-opt a ritual leader’s right to set any boundary they see fit. It is very sad the earth religion folks are sounding like the xtians and it bodes UNWELL for the movement. Inclusion is just as obscene as exclusion. Balance in all things. I respect Z. totally, unlike many, she knows what she believes and stands by it. While that may appear as prejudice to some, it is strength and conviction to others and is to be respected. Condemn it if you want to, it only reflects poorly on you.

  129. I think it is perfectly fine for women born women to have their own rituals. This “forced inclusion” thing is misogyny in faux-progressive clothing. Respect Z’s tradition if you want yours respected, period. It is no more complex than that. Nobody ought to be “forced” to circle with those with whom they do not feel comfortable, even at a large public conference. This beating up on Z for standing by her own beliefs and expecting her to embrace what she does not believe is like the xtians torturing women before burning them at the stake. It is unfortunate and all the more reason for women to stand on their own and promote their own traditions without interference from those who demand “inclusion.” When you all grow wombs, we shall reconsider. And this may make me a “bigot” but I disagree.

  130. Or katie, is it prejudice to co-opt women’s mysteries? The feminist arguments of the early 1970’s are still going on, nothing has been settled. It is okay for women to circle with women who are born that way, it is not bigotry or exclusion. This is just a reversal of the reversal. Mary Daly talks a lot about this tactic in GynEcology, a book that definitely applies to this conversation.

  131. So what do you think of the comments that triggered the silent meditation/protest outsider her ritual? In a post by Anya Kless someone purporting to be Dianic elder Z. Budapest offered the following statement:

    “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.“

    Do you think this comment is bigoted?

  132. Since when did pagans have to become homogenized? What happened to our own individual traditions? Is it too much to ask to not have women’s mysteries co-opted by those who have chosen to change their gender? How is being a woman who only wants to circle with women bigoted? I fear for the earth religions movement. Is this really about money and power or about respect?

  133. Katie and Kenneth, I am really amazed that folks have forgotten the hard road that women and lesbians have trod and the foolishness of the menfolk that are trying to take away our rights! I think we are in the republican congress with this regressive conversation!

  134. And next you will be electing a pagan Pope to regulate how everyone honors their own tradition? Sadly this looks to be happening and is a true and good reason to remain apart.

  135. You may want to reconsider your use of phrases such as “those who have chosen to change their gender”.

  136. I agree Tinnekke, Z is not anti-male. I think this is a cheap shot at her, as she is older and of the wave of feminist thought that seems to have been thrown out the window. I wish folks would go back and read the classics, they might understand how hard we women fought to gain our rights. Personally I do not want to circle with men, much as I love my husband and son.

  137. Ruth, no one is asking her to do that. We are saying that for an open ritual that was advertised as ‘honouring women and the feminine divine in all its forms’, and then saying something as ridiculous as ‘genetic women only’ at an open conference that was specifically designated “Unity in Diversity”, was either poorly thought out or deliberately offensive.

    Most of us couldn’t care less what people do in their own traditions – it is the fact that an open to the public ritual, at a public convention, was not actually open, and that Z was being either ignorantly or deliberately offensive in her wording and actions.

  138. No. Z did not “respond poorly to a tough call.” What she did LAST YEAR could be seen as that, although even then it would be severely stretching credibility to spin her actions so favorably. What she did *this* year was to throwing gasoline on a fire after sucker punching the firefighters who were just starting to get it under control.

  139. A point of correction: while many transgender people face physical, spiritual, and psychological violence on a depressingly regular basis, it is in fact extremely rare for transgender people *other than* trans women to be outright murdered.

  140. In response to Jason, (sorry I can’t figure out how to get the comment to go under what you said to me,) I believe that this is a MOOT issue. It is obvious, women born women, those who have bled, birthed and menopaused, ought to be respected without interference from even those of transgender. THIS IS NOT BIGOTRY. It is simple biological bonding. But do understand I am of the Mary Daly feminist variety and take to heart many of her deconstructions of patriarchy. This has been my view for many, many years. And being from that root view, this argument seems to “stink” of misogyny of the traditional variety. I say leave women’s mysteries to them and allow women to honor our bodies as we will, no prejudice to the transgendered folk. I cannot wrap my head around this issue because it is hair-splitting one that has been moot for me since the early 1970’s. Perhaps it is seen differently by the younger folk. In my opinion guys – as much as I adore them – cannot understand my mysteries, period. Nor can I understand male mysteries – and I leave men to unfold them in their own sacred ways. We can come together under a different and unifying ceremonial banner. That would be nice.

  141. “Katie, there’s a difference between thinking that trans women _may_ not be magickally equivalent in all ways to cis women, and to thinking that trans women are “fake” women or “wannabe” women. Let alone thinking that trans women deserve to die.”

    Even if that were actually true, the words chosen by Z and her supporters completely rule out any rational possibility of their actions being based on the former as opposed to the latter. Being obsessed with the “possibility” of kinda, sorta, maybe reasonable alternate justifications for overtly hate-driven behavior is not in any way productive.

  142. Ywendragoneye I do not know what other language to use – because those of transgender are at choice and changing their gender – if this offends you and makes me appear uneducated, then so be it. Oddly everyone’s opinion and beliefs are in line to be respected according to the way this particular conversation is unfolding philosophically. If you want to be respected, offer it. Don’t bonk folk on the head with your politically correct amendments to their use of language. I don’t know any transgendered persons so have no idea how the issue ought to be addressed. I do know that as a woman born woman I would feel deeply uncomfortable being asked to circle sky clad with someone other than a woman born woman. This makes me archaic perhaps, a traditionalist perhaps, but a bigot and misogynist, no. It makes me a person whose choice is what it is, as others have their choice. I will never understand why this has turned into a schoolyard brawl. Perhaps it is too much to ask for the earth religions folks to learn from what the abrahamic traditions have done in converting by the sword and pillaging cultures for resources.

  143. Take your comments and replace “trans woman” with “woman of color”, “dangly bits” with “skin color”. NOW does it make sense to you why this is not a legitimate argument?

  144. Yes, we have in fact established _beyond any reasonable doubt_ that this rite had no good reason for excluding trans women.

  145. Katie this still is not the point. It is okay for women born women to have their own circles. IT is not misogyny. Transgendered persons ought to respect their biological sisters as well.

  146. The point is that we all need to be comfortable in circle. Otherwise, what good is being accomplished? Transgendered persons are clearly in a position to create a magnificent tradition founded on mysteries that I know nothing of! I celebrate that!

  147. Katie please understand that women born women are still abused, marginalized and deeply harmed all the time in many ways. I don’t think transgendered persons have a corner on that. Look at the abortion and contraception issue. Clearly sometimes we need to allow our circles to close in ritual to those with whom we are comfortable. If this is hurtful then look at your own will to harm.

  148. I’m sorry, Desiree, but I have trouble picturing skin color inflicting damage when somehow employed as a weapon — and I was truly speaking of an erect penis as a physical weapon. When you miss that bit of what I was saying, you miss my entire point.

  149. I stand corrected. But I think my original point is still valid – while I may find the MWMF policy and the anti-trans rants from Mary Daly, Janice Raymond, Z Budapest etc. distasteful, I doubt that they are the impetus for many (if any) murders of transgender women. I also doubt that Daly, Raymond, Budapest etc. have called for violence against or death to trans women (if they have please let me know).

    This is important because it’s possible to come to some kind of agreement with people who have serious theological disputes with you. It’s really not possible to make accommodations with those calling for you to be exterminated. I say this not to minimize the pain caused by their words but to suggest that there is actually some ground for discussion and compromise between these camps: there would be no such ground with people who practice violence or who loudly cheer for those who do.

  150. Desiree, I disagree. I have not seen anything here that, for the whole group discussing this, establishes “_beyond any reasonable doubt_ that this rite had no good reason for excluding trans women”. This unilateral declaration only adds to the confusion and emotional overload.

  151. “But do understand I am of the Mary Daly feminist variety and take to heart many of her deconstructions of patriarchy. This has been my view for many, many years.”

    Ah yes, Mary Daly. The one who stated that the mere existence of trans women is a Frankensteinian act of violent necrophila.

    ” In my opinion guys – as much as I adore them – cannot understand my mysteries, period. Nor can I understand male mysteries – and I leave men to unfold them in their own sacred ways.”

    What part of TRANS WOMEN ARE NOT MEN do you refuse to comprehend?

  152. Hmm. That said, I wonder if the rage behind those killings of transwomen might be a consequence of extreme homophobia in a cisman who is terrified that he might be accused of being gay or accuse himself of being gay (which to him is a great fear but may actually be true and more fearsome because it is true) when he finds the woman to whom he was attracted is really, to his understanding, a guy! Born a guy, anyhow. He’s been almost deceived into the sin he most fears revealing the truth he most fears. Bends people’s heads, it does.

  153. Someone described to me what the ritual in question entailed. Not only was nothing in her description “mysterious,” it’s a ritual I’ve done myself!

  154. Ruth – I had no intent of disrespect by suggesting that you choose your phrasing more carefully. Much of this conversation has been about the use of inflammatory language, in fact I would say it is the main issue at hand. Saying that transgendered persons “choose” to “change” their gender is equivelent to saying that gay people “choose” to be gay. It is this very type of rhetoric that has caused this issue to begin with.

  155. Sometimes I get the feeling the real reason why people don’t like talking about Mystery Rituals is because they worry that if they do, more people than they want to think will actually understand said rituals…

  156. It’s not about what we CHOSE it’s about what we were all GIVEN before we had ANY choice – from childhood on. Socialization.

    The whole damn Cis vs Trans argument in my community over who is or is not a bigot/lying invader, etc. etc. is making me nuts. Socialization, people – that’s the key issue here.

    Not a Goddess-blest soul is looking at the fact we have essentially 5 gender-cultures in our society, (TransWomen, TransMen, CisWomen, CisMen & “Liminal” – people who are fine with being “between”) ALL of whom have experienced wounding as a result of the ridiculous requirements of the Dominant Culture that we fit into one of two ridiculous boxes (Straight Men or Straight Women). (Yes an argument can be made for more. I won’t disagree. I also won’t take more time to do it.)

    As those who’ve experienced any of the “empowerment” social movements over the last century (stand up, people of color, LGBTQ persons, women & men) have figured out, a great deal of healing takes place (at least at first) in groups that understand one’s particular experience (and damage).

    I am personally completely fine with people doing their healing in this way. I also feel that while the wounds of TransWomen & CisWomen may be similar (and similarly terrible), they are NOT the same. The experience of acculturation/socialization is DIFFERENT for all of these groups. This does NOT make one “less” and one “more” or better spiritually or any of that crap. We are ALL “others” somewhere. The sooner we start recognizing that and being decent & kind to one another the sooner relationships between all us humans here on Planet Gaia will improve.

    We ARE a society that discriminates by gender and against those who are gender non-conforming (which, ultimately, everyone is – some just “pass” better than others). As a result ALL are wounded. Intersectionality of our other cultures further complicates this, but let’s be clear here, IMHO there IS a place for separatist ritual. There is a place for inclusive community. I’m okay with both being at the same place (i.e. Pantheacon). I would be proud to know that we can provide a SAFE space in which healing can take place – healing that hopefully assists us in rejoining our beloved community.

    There is also a responsibility for us to CARE for one another and refrain from wounding each other in these terribly tender places by using inflammatory language or refusing to recognize the suffering of others because our own seems so terribly much more important.

  157. I agree with Ruth that Women Born Women have a right to define their own identity and boundaries.

    I’d also like to add in reference to Jason’s comment that there is no conclusive evidence that Z Budapest actually made the inflammatory “transies” remark attributed to her.

    This entire drama is based on gossip and hearsay, which seems a very sad way to treat an Elder who has devote her entire life to her faith and tradition.

  158. Budapest has had an entire year to disavow and distance the comments that were posted in her name. There were vocal attempts at the time to get her to do so, she refused all of them. Therefore, whether she actually typed those words or not, she owns them and she’s responsible for them.

  159. Has it been performed at a large, paid, very diverse ‘community’ event for the past 20 years, requiring explicit exclusions??

    Or has it been, as it ought to be, a considerably more private affair?

  160. Ruth, the issue ha nothing whatever to do with “men trying to take away [your] rights,” and your persistent mischaracterization of it, supported by references to virulently transphobic ideologies, is at the heart of this total fail.

  161. > What steps can both sides take toward a conclusion which addresses everyone’s concerns?


    Pantheacon will include the Dianics because they’re a vital component of the community.

    The Dianics will continue to read Daly and Budapest, confuse prejudice with empowerment, and provoke conflict in the name of defending women’s mysteries.

    Trans people will continue to protest, giving credence to the Dianics’ claims of victimization and to bystanders’ perception of trans people as shrill and demented.

    And so it goes.

  162. “whether she actually typed those words or not, she owns them and she’s responsible for them.”

    This defies logic. Why is it her responsibility to “own” something if it’s never been proven that she even said it?

    Maybe she’s distancing herself from the entire divisive debate.

    She did offer an apology at Pcon, but no one seems to acknowlege that. Instead everyone seems to focus on the words from last year that aren’t even proven to be hers.

    My feeling is that no apology she offered would be good enough. She’s very courageous for standing her ground and holding her boundaries in the face of all this.

  163. “Women born women” is a category born of discrimination and should not be given a thread of respect. And your mentor, Mary Daly, started this horror show by issuing death threats to Beth Elliott.

  164. Apparently Dianics need to read less Daly and more Lorde. The Master’s tools will NEVER dismantle the Master’s house.

  165. I think that’s the core problem. Some(but not all) Dianics seem to believe that what you are born is the end of the story in regards to gender. If you were born with a penis you were, are, and always will be a man.

    The vast majority of transgendered individuals seem to believe that gender can be much more fluid, even without gender reassignment surgery.

    I think that core is something that both sides will never see eye to eye on.

  166. It is ABSOLUTELY her responsibility to disavow words written in her name if she didn’t write them!

    You’re partly right – at this point, no verbal apology would be good enough. Any apology at this point has to be backed by action for it to be meaningful, otherwise the apology is just a responsibility dodge.

  167. So, really this has nothing to do with “women’s mysteries” and everything to do with penis fear.

    So trans women who do not possess the organ would be ok, then?

  168. > Mary Daly talks a lot about this tactic in GynEcology, a book that definitely applies to this conversation.

    Indeed it does, insofar as it supplies senseless rationale for paranoid delusion.

  169. I can’t speak for Dianics but as for myself, the answer would be yes.

    Of course, this whole thing has caused me to rethink my opinions on transgendered individuals so I don’t know for sure.

  170. I’d also like to add in reference to Jason’s comment that there is no conclusive evidence that Z Budapest actually made the inflammatory “transies” remark attributed to her.

    I’ve had people post inflammatory remarks in my name before. I was quick to point out that it wasn’t me. In a few cases I was even able to finger the culprit, thanks to the wonders of magical tools like Traceroute, Whois and NSLookup.

    Z knew about that remark for a year. She could easily have either apologized for it or pointed out that it was a forgery. WordPress (where Anya Kless’s blog is hosted) saves IP address information for commenters: it would have been a simple matter for Anya to look at the post from “Z Budapest” and provide information which might have allowed us to find the forger. (Or, at the very least, to point out that the OP and Z posted from different computers and networks).

    I’d like to see this discussion continue in good faith. But if Z’s idea of “good faith” is playing the Urkel “did I do thaaaat??” card and pretending that somebody maybe possibly forged her name, I question whether there’s any value in doing so with her or her followers. Being a bigot is bad. Being a lying bigot who refuses to own your hateful words is even more contemptible.

  171. Trans people will continue to protest, giving credence to the Dianics’ claims of victimization and to bystanders’ perception of trans people as shrill and demented.

    Alternately, the Dianics’ stubborn refusal to address this issue will bring it to the forefront for others who hitherto had not paid a lot of attention to transgender issues or issues in general. There’s a cynical side of me that thinks the best thing that could happen to the trans community is for Z & Pals to keep up their attention-seeking behaviors. Because every time they do, they draw more sympathy to the trans community and more distaste and scorn to their own cause.

    Z’s comments in 2011 made her look like a bigot. The efforts made by her and her followers to neither deny nor admit her statement but instead cast doubt on whether or not she said it make her look like a lying and cowardly bigot. This hardly gives credence to her claims of victimization but only serves to make her and her allies look even more outdated and hateful.

  172. One fundamentally cannot have constructive dialogue when one side’s ideology literally demands the complete and total extermination of the other side, and that’s exactly what the second-wave feminist bullcrap the Dianics base themselves on advocates when it comes to trans women.

    I am NOT exaggerating. Mary Daly called trans women Frankensteinian necrophiliacs. Germaine Greer declared our existence morally equivalent to murder. Janice Raymond said we should be exterminated — “morally mandated out of existence” was her euphemism. The fucking KKK was less overtly bigoted than these women.

  173. Thank you, Cigfran. I can’t speak for others, but I think this might be the case. Now, whether or not the HPs or others would relinquish that hold on “sanctity” or something is another matter. This is very tender territory.

    But this possibility gives us a different lens to look through — the eyes of the traumatized women.

  174. We can discuss “co-opting” women’s mysteries when men are actually trying to do so. Trans women are not men, so your entire argument is moot.

  175. Katie (below): Self-blessing ritual. One of Z’s great contributions to us, and very potentially very powerful — all the more so if you need it pretty badly. Like any ritual, its power is in what the participants bring to it. Blessed be your every part = body, mind, spirit Self. RB

  176. @Kenaz Radical feminists do in fact call for death to trans women. Germaine Greer called the existence of trans women morally equivalent to murder, and Janice Raymond outright stated that trans women should be exterminated through government action.

    It’s only possible to come to agreement over a serious theological dispute when both parties are negotiating in good faith; radical feminists have never been willing to do so when it comes to trans women. It is also necessary that neither side be implacably hostile to the mere EXISTENCE of the other; when it comes to responding to trans women, radical feminists are on the same level of overt, fanatical hatred as the KKK and the Nazis.

  177. One will note that Dianics of this sort are the equivalent of young-earth creationists clinging to absurd dogma in spit of comprehensive and definitive evidence to the contrary.

  178. Desiree, I just want to point out that what happened at PCon last year (Re: The Rite of Lilith) had *nothing* to do with Z. Please do not mistake the miscommunications and subsequent apologies and corrections made by the Amazon Priestess Tribe, of Yeshe Rabbit’s lineage, with Z’s actions this year.

  179. I do NOT believe you have to be 100% comfortable to do healing work. In fact, some healing is by definition uncomfortable. The slang for physical therapy, both by patients and by practitioners, is “torture” – because it IS. Physical therapy by definition requires you to work muscles in ways that are uncomfortable to them – but that discomfort is CRITICAL to restoring as close to full function as is possible following a severe injury.

    I also don’t believe that you have to be 100% comfortable to do religious work. When we work we call fire into the circle – fire can warm, but fire also burns us. Sometimes it burns things we’d rather not have burned, but that burning is likewise necessary to reach that which we need to refine (also by fire). Working with death, working with fire, working with the stone (yes, stone is solid and comforting – but stone is also the avalanche, which will break your bones if you’re LUCKY), working with water that can drown you, working with wind that lashes you… you are NEVER doing deep work when there is no possibility for being hurt by what you’re doing.

    We are shaping the energies of reality with the work that we do in circle – that never comes without risk.

    I think the Pagan community as a whole overrates comfort – and in doing so demonstrates our privileged white middle-class roots.

  180. Healing for one group which is paid for by willfully inflicting massive, severe trauma on another group is never ethically acceptable. Doubly so when the group being helped is massively privileged over the group being harmed and is overtly using that privilege to make it happen.

    Rule of Three, anyone?

  181. As a trans woman who has done work (granted long-distance work, but sacred work nonetheless) with the Amazon Priestess Tribe (in particular Rabbit and Yansumi), I will back up this statement. The conflation of Z’s statement and the Tribe’s position is not warranted.

    *sends hugs to both Yansumi and Desiree*

  182. Just to clarify — by “what she did last year”, I am referring not to the Rite of Lilith itself but to the overtly hateful comments which Z made in response to that incident.

  183. Katie, I understand that you feel very hurt by this whole discussion and some of the things that people have said (and rightly so). However, I would ask that you reconsider the use of your own words that are coming out in the very same way that you have stated as your perception of the hurtful words of others towards you. This comment you make, about using “this ritual works with blood mysteries” solely to keep out transgendered women, comes off as an incendiary distraction to the work at hand. I ask you to consider that perhaps even cisgendered women need this kind of notation so that they know they shouldn’t participate in a ritual dealing with blood mysteries as they may not have experienced such things or have no interest in working with blood mysteries. I know a lot of cisgendered women to whom this would apply.

  184. Why is it her responsibility to “own” something if it’s never been proven that she even said it?

    I’ve dropped a note to the owner of the blog where the original comment was made, asking if she would be so kind as to forward me that commenter’s IP address. I’m also going to see if anyone who has corresponded with Z Budapest will send me a header from one or more of her e-mails. That may well help us to ascertain from whence the original post came, and provide you with the “proof” you appear to be asking for. It will certainly go a long way toward clearing up any questions about who said what and when.

  185. I wish I could say that I absolutely agree with that but, in my heart of hearts, I know I don’t.

    I think that transgender individuals should be able to self-identify their gender in regards to ritual, presentation, preferred pronouns, etc.

    However, from the point of view of my personal sexuality, if someone has very similar sexual organs to me I just can’t say that that individual is a woman in the sexual sense. I can’t think of it as anything other than a penis.

    Because of that, unfortunately, I can’t say that I absolutely disagree with Z’s original premise without being a hypocrite. I can say she was hateful, offensive, inappropriate, insensitive, and stubborn as a mule(and I do).

    But I can’t say that I really 100% believe that gender is self determined because if I did the presence of what I would identify as a penis would have 0 impact on who I want to relate to in a sexual manner. And that simply isn’t true.

  186. James, most (not all) trans people would not say that gender is self-determined, but that they are responding to a deep sense of self-knowledge… that their gender (not just their socially-structured performance of it but their “identity” for want of a better term) is inherent.

    Your sexuality doesn’t really enter into it. No one expects you to have a heterosexual response to a trans woman “just because” she says she’s a woman. But at the same time, your sexual response, or lack of it, does not define the woman.

  187. @Cigfran

    That is totally fair.

    Especially considering that if my heterosexual response was a determining factor in gender than that would mean that all sorts of women would be off the list which is ridiculous on its face.

  188. Either she said them or she didn’t, and if she never said them, there’s no way she “owns” them or owes anybody a denial.

  189. It is ABSOLUTELY her responsibility to disavow words written in her name if she didn’t write them!


  190. It has been performed at PantheaCon for years, actually. Not 20, but at least as long as I’ve been going to PantheaCon (six years).

    The wording in the Con program has been similar, sometimes identical, to this year. The only major change was adding ‘genetic’ in front of ‘women’.

    I’m incredibly surprised it took this long for the current issues to be raised, given the confusion regarding requirements for some of the exclusive rituals at P-Con — there have been a number of gender exclusive rituals that were incredibly unclear that they WERE gender exclusive (see: Lilith last year), Z’s is actually one of the few that is explicit about it and properly uses the ‘entrance requirements’ sigil in the program.

    I’ve seen this particular blessing done at the small, intimate coven level, and at large events like PantheaCon.

  191. I’d also like to add in reference to Jason’s comment that there is no conclusive evidence that Z Budapest actually made the inflammatory “transies” remark attributed to her.

    Here is a copy of the original comment, from the blog in which it was posted, complete with identifying e-mail and IP address information.

    Z Budapest x

    Whoever posted that information did it from a SBC DSL account located in or around Berkeley, California.


    Domain name:

    Registrant Contact:
    Women’s Spirituality Forum
    NA NA ()

    P.O. Box 11363
    Oakland, CA 94611

    Administrative Contact:
    Z Budapest (
    P.O. Box 11363
    Oakland, CA 94611

    Technical Contact:
    Z Budapest (
    P.O. Box 11363
    Oakland, CA 94611

    Status: Locked

    Name Servers:

    Creation date: 08 Jun 1999 22:01:31
    Expiration date: 08 Jun 2012 22:02:00



    Are you a member of Generation Z? Do you have a teaching event that you’d like to bring Z to be a part of? Contact Z directly to chat with the foundering foremother of the feminist spirituality movement (zbudapest AT


    I’d be interested in seeing headers from e-mail sent by Z Budapest. If it comes from an AT&T/SBC DSL line, I think we have a conclusive answer as to who did or did not send that comment.

    (Also posted to

  192. > It has been performed at PantheaCon for years, actually.

    Interesting info, thank you.

    I would bet that trans women have participated in the ritual in the past, known or not. It seems to me that the reason it’s “become an issue” is because Z chose to make it one.

  193. I can’t see ‘no exclusive rituals’ as a solution. I don’t see respecting the trans community’s right to having their gender acknowledged and treated fairly as requiring a mass end to exclusive rites. The women-only, men-only, adult-only, etc rituals of Con aren’t exactly numerous, and they serve an important function. I think PantheaCon would be lesser for such a loss. I think we can negotiate this particular issue without throwing the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak. And a lack of any exclusive events would also mean an end to children’s rituals and adult-only ritual — I would *not* want to be the person to announce ‘no Pomba Gira’ and have to deal with THAT fallout

  194. I would love it if PantheaCon adopted some sort of standard sentence that would be tacked on to the end of any sort of exclusive ritual with pre-determined language. Just flipping through some of my past programs, it’s astonishing how many groups imply a ritual is men only/women only/adult only without flat-out stating it. If there were standard language that could be pasted in for all ritual with attendance requirements, that would at least solve confusion issues and get THAT part out of the way.

  195. Verb
    founder (third-person singular simple present founders, present participle foundering, simple past and past participle foundered)
    Fill with water and sink.  [quotations ▼]
    To fall; to stumble and go lame, as a horse.
    To fail; to miscarry.

    Sometimes typos speak more truth than we think they might…

  196. We now have demonstrated evidence that the posts, at very least, came from her neck of the woods.

  197. “I just can’t say that individual is a woman in the sexual sense.”
    “Zero impact on who I want to relate to in a sexual manner.”

    This is a problem only if you assume that you want to relate to every woman in a sexual manner.

    In the context of the unavoidable exposure of skyclad ritual, I don’t approach that venue with the idea of relating to what I see in a sexual sense. We are skyclad because we were born naked, and that is sacred. Because our bodies reflect Deity, and that is sacred.

  198. @Baruch – Except, the message seems to be coming from a lot of people in this debate, when your body comes some-assembly-required.

  199. I don’t think trans women are men, but
    have you never witnessed the situation where when during feminist discussion, some creep passionately sobs “what about the men?”
    If not, okay, good you’re lucky.

  200. I became Pagan in 1987 and my first training was with a skyclad eclectic Circle. Trans people and trans issues were not as widely pondered then but the subject was out there; I recall Bay Area lesbians arguing about womyn-born-womyn a decade earlier.

    So I had no idea whether any of the people in Circle with me had had gender reassignment. It never became a qualifier for my developing concept of the sacred.

    Twenty-five years later, in the manner of a debater who can restate an opponent’s position to the latter’s satisfaction, I can imagine a concept of the sacred to fit either side of this dispute. So I’ve pretty much kept out of it.

  201. I have posted the results of some basic IP address-checking to my blog and to this forum. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on that. I’m also trying to get hold of some headers from messages posted by Z to her various Yahoo groups – especially messages posted around the time that comment was sent. That should provide us a bit more of the “proof” you seem so desirous of finding.

  202. Being told not to come is not inflicting massive, severe trauma.
    Why does exaggeration keep being used in this discussion?!

  203. Sorry, the blog you linked to doesn’t show the alleged comment in its original context. I think the jury is still out on this. The blog you linked to seems somewhat dodgy in the first place. I think you will need more than this to convince the skeptical.

  204. If someone else is appropriating your name and reputation to spread hurtful shit about someone else, then yes, you really do have an ethical obligation to repudiate it. Doubly so if you find out that people are buying that shit because your name has been attached to it.

  205. That’s the blog the comment was originally made on, and the post you’re complaining about includes a direct hyperlink to the original context.

  206. Crystal, Z quite explicitly didn’t want fully transitioned trans women to attend — hence her use of the “genetic women” qualifier.

  207. Fair enough. Here is the original post, with the comment from “Z Budapest. That should provide you with the context you are looking for.

    And here is the post wherein Anya Kless, the owner of that blog, provides the information (IP address, website and e-mail address) connected with that comment from “Z Budapest”.

    I would be interested in hearing what exactly you find “dodgy” about this information? Please do be specific about what you find unconvincing or what you believe is or may be forged?

    As I said on Facebook, WordPress doesn’t verify e-mail and website information, so anyone could have signed in as “Z Budapest” and provided her website and e-mail address in the open fields. All we can conclusively state from that information is that it was posted from an ADSL line in the Berkeley/Oakland area. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it was Z Budapest who posted it — but it does mean that the poster lived in Z Budapest’s immediate vicinity and did an excellent job of copying her idiosyncracies of grammar, spelling and syntax. Make of that what you will.

    I hope to get some copies of Z’s postings to her various Yahoo forums in the near future: I’m especially looking forward to seeing the IP address connected with her posts from around the date that original comment was made. Even if she is running on a DHCP setup instead of a static IP, a post within the weeks or even months of that comment would likely show the same IP address. Which should be more than sufficient to convince the truly “skeptical,” as opposed to those who are just trying to muddy the waters and deflect questions about their fearless leader’s intolerance and hate speech.

  208. Some years ago, someone appropriated my name online before because he was a creepy stalker, and it doesn’t matter what he said.

    Police might care, not me.

  209. If this is a “creepy stalker” Z had better contact the police quickly since s/he appears to have access to Z’s computer 😉

  210. Kenaz, I’m not saying it’s not Z’s, because I don’t know.
    Just saying if it isn’t her, she doesn’t bear any responsibility.

  211. I’ve had people post inflammatory remarks in my name before.
    such wonders of the internet. You chose to respond, but that is not a requirement.
    One good reason someone might not respond is so as to not engage with them.

  212. If someone says something under your name and you’re made aware of it, and you don’t deny it or repudiate the sentiment expressed in it, then you either did make that statement or you’re tacitly agreeing with it. Simply brushing it off by saying “it’s below me to even comment on it” is THE classic scumbag politician’s dodge. It’s what we get from Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich. Throw the question back in the asker’s face, express moral outrage for even being asked such a thing, and yet be careful to never confirm or deny so as to avoid getting caught in a lie.

  213. I’ve gone into a bit more detail on the post in question. Basically, I think it’s extremely unlikely that these messages came from anyone but Z for a number of reasons which I enumerate on my blog.

    Given the damage this comment has done to her reputation in the community, it would have behooved Z to stand up and speak out as soon as the storm broke — especially since the “forger” disappeared after posting to Anya Kless’s blog. This could have been nipped in the bud months ago, either by a refutation or an apology.

  214. And so we sit here in peace and safety at our expensive computers, protesting in pained tones about how ‘bigoted’ it is that one ritual at a huge event didn’t include everyone who wanted to go to it, while REAL hatred against women is being promulgated — and in many instances written into law, all over the country. The latest:

    Bothers and sisters, we are in serious danger. But not from Z Budapest.

  215. “This is a problem only if you assume that you want to relate to every woman in a sexual manner.”

    Well, maybe not a sexual manner per se but at least can visualize some type of heterosexual response without a visceral physical reaction.

    The way it lays out is this. If I meet a transgender woman she can refer to herself any way she wants. Full stop.

    However, in order for me to be able to legitimately agree that I see her as a woman I have to be able to at least conceptualize a heterosexual response without having a negative physical response. The reason for this is that I only get a negative physical response when I am involved with a penis that is not my own. If I have that negative physical response then part of me believes that the transgender woman is still a man, to my shame.

  216. Z Budapest may not be the most imminent threat, but neither is she a real ally of women in the widest sense of the word.

  217. Choosing not to respond when the attributed remarks are relatively harmless is one thing, but when people are actually “buying” falsehoods on the strength of your reputation, you do have an ethical obligation to step forward.

  218. Oh, no doubt we’ll hear some sort of hemming and hawing and weaseling by unknown apologists of Z’s who will dangle conspiratorial “skepticism” in the absence of any plausible alternative theories or unequivocal denial by Z herself.
    So you have a message written in her style in her location and expressing a highly controversial idea that would be in her interest to correct if it were not true.
    Sure it sounds like a very well-fitting collection of highly suggestive, if not conclusive evidence, but that’s just what The Man would want you to see if it were a setup! If we’re to give Z the benefit of the doubt even in her conspicuous absence, who is this mysterious, malicious, and relatively sophisticated hacker who struck this uncanny blow and then vanished without a trace?
    Maybe the Smoking Man from X-Files. His masters, the aliens, are no doubt patriarchal predators, and who more needs to be discredited than Z Budapest. Maybe we ought to canvass Z’s neighborhood for closely smoked Morley cigarette butts!
    Maybe it was the Shin Bet. We can well imagine that the “Womyn Born Womyn” ethic could have encouraged more females to go into science in Iran, and maybe the nuclear program is running a little too fast for comfort by their efforts. Maybe Dianics were the spark or catalysts for the Homs uprisings in Syria, and Assad’s secret police apparatus is legendary.
    Maybe Z has, in fact, desperately been trying to get a message of denial out to the world and Anonymous is shutting her down at every turn. Maybe the patriarchy and “transies” are holding her penned up in her own home like Aung San Suu Kyi. Maybe Z.’s refusal to confirm or deny is based on legitimate national security concerns. Maybe the real truth is so deep and so dark that it can only be hinted at to the highest level initiates in the mystery rituals of “women who bleed,” and there to be preserved by oral recounting to the daughters down through the millennia until humanity is at least ready for the truth about the Priestess Z…..

  219. In any other context, I’d be 100% with you. In this context, it feels like you’re derailing.

  220. This isn’t really perspective. This is pulling in an unrelated outside event to try to make trans women’s concerns look petty (please note that Limbaugh is doing greater damage to his own reputation with this petty act than to women – sound like anyone else we know?).

    99% of women – literally – use birth control, many for reasons other than preventing pregnancy. You of course know this. Many people don’t seem to.

  221. “Everyone is gender nonconforming” is the same as “everyone is bisexual.” Technically true, factually misleading. While everyone might be in some way gender nonconforming, the policing of a femme cissexual woman’s gender or a masculine cissexual man’s gender is rather different in quality and tone from the policing of an ACTUAL gender nonconforming cis woman or cis man’s gender, which is at least similar to though lesser in intensity than what ANY trans person, gender conforming or gender nonconforming, experiences.

    Assuming for the moment you are a conventionally femme woman, the gender policing you receive, while negative, does not fundamentally invalidate your gender identification. A butch friend and I compared notes and discovered that while we are each gender policed in different ways, there are similar overtones of invalidation in each (for example, in her case, being mistaken in a restroom for a boy; in my case this entire PCon issue).

  222. So you DON’T see how constantly forcing someone to undergo interrogation or negation of their gender can be massively traumatic?

  223. There is no observation anyone could ever make for which ‘larger perspective’ could not be provided. This is worthless.

  224. One could just as easily point out that Limbaugh’s comments do not amount to actual physical violence against women, and therefore trivialize your concerns.

    But no one is likely to, because it would be as dishonest as your are being here, and would be far less likely to go unchallenged because such trans women’s issues are generally considered subordinate.

    So yeah… thanks for putting trans people in their place again, Dana.

  225. I’ve decided to look at it, not as derailing, but as a concession. Having exhausted any pretense of legitimate argument, anti-trans antagonists are forced to claim that the argument is over because it’s not worth having in the first place.

  226. I point out this is more exaggeration. Z is also not “constantly forcing someone to undergo interrogation or negation of their gender”

  227. Right. So Dana’s the bad guy now.
    I personally guess she’s a feminist, instead. But at least you’ve nicely proved you’ll always shift the goal posts.

  228. Now you’re the one nitpicking over who is the right gender and what they get to call themselves.

  229. Bisexual people have been fed the hell up with that patronizing “everyone’s bisexual” garbage for years, and “everyone’s gender nonconforming” is basically the same thing aimed at a different subgroup. It’s a way to trivialize actual oppression by equalizing it with mild inconvenience.

  230. Dana is the one shifting the goalposts, by claiming that the argument isn’t even worth having.

    You are behaving as an anonymous bully – sniping at the tiny handful of actually gender-variant people left, believing that the prejudices which you presume the many to share will shield you from any repercussion as surely as your shroud of anonymity.

  231. If your definition of feminism involves ignoring, patronizing and marginalizing the needs and issues of a minority group of women while trying to draw attention to a group of women with greater power and privilege then I guess Dana is indeed “a feminist.”

    (Hell, by that definition she’s pretty much a textbook Second Wave feminist!)

    And I’m curious as to how pointing out a red herring involves “shifting the goal posts.” Of course, I am also curious as to what exactly was “dodgy” about the blog on which the original post from “Z Budapest” appeared and what else makes you “skeptical” regarding the claim that the message came from Z’s keyboard. But I doubt I’ll be seeing any answers to those questions anytime soon.

  232. Katie, You really can’t think of any other explanation for people to feel they’re bisexual or gender nonconforming than everybody’s out to hurt or trivialize your situation in life?

  233. I believe he is suggesting your “skepticism” is rooted in a cynical desire to protect Z from criticism. The absurd conspiracy theories he provides are intended to show just how silly the alternate “explanations” for who posted that comment really are.

    While I know that nothing ruins a joke like explaining it, I trust others will still find some humor in his post.

    Hope that helps.

  234. Katie, you aren’t a child, I’m not a bully, and if you were a child I wouldn’t have talked this way to you. Not because its wrong, but because maturity is required to handle complex opinions when someone’s of the age that it seems the whole world is out to get them.
    That last viewpoint is not real. It gets better.

  235. Long as it made sense to you, Kenaz..
    Oh. there’s more than one Guest here, too. 🙂
    (aka Agent Skully)

  236. If Katie were a child would you explain to her what it is you found “dodgy” about the website whereon Z made her infamous comment and provide some speculation as to who made the post if it was not Z?

  237. As a matter of fact, it generally only “gets better” for college-bound, able-bodied cis gays. The rest of us have to make it better for ourselves at great cost, and people like Z — and you — very much stand in the way of that.

    By the way, what the hell makes you think adults don’t bully? No one has said anything about children other than you.

  238. That’s not what you actually said.

    You said that everyone is gender nonconforming, which ignores and erases the fact that there is a massive difference between the way someone who is “nonconforming” in some minor and socially acceptable way is treated and the way someone who is transsexual, transgender and/or genderqueer is treated.

    Being a tomboy makes you gender nonconforming by technical definition; it does not make you a victimized minority any more than eating at an Asian restaurant makes you interracial.

  239. Guest: yes, there are several people here who are unwilling to stand behind their thoughts with even a pseudonym. It’s really not THAT difficult to create a Disqus identity or use your ID from one of a number of other sources like Facebook, etc. – so I presume they are doing so out of cowardice and/or a desire to obfuscate and interfere with the debate between people who are actually willing to be identified – even pseudonymously – for their words. Accordingly, I lump them all together as one amorphous trolling blob and treat them in an appropriate fashion.

    If you wish to be distinguished from those people, try taking the time to create “JaneDoe57” or the like on Disqus. If you don’t, then you can hardly be surprised if I and others decide there’s nothing to be gained in distinguishing between a turd and a lump of poo.

  240. I understand your concern here, but I worry about the potential consequences of saying “*this* exclusive ritual is OK, but *that* exclusive ritual isn’t.” A rule that doesn’t apply equally to all comers just sets us up to rehash the argument again in the future. On principle, I think “no exclusive rituals” is a better applies-equally rule than “any set of exclusionary criteria is permitted,” since the latter allows a range of outcomes that I think *most* of the community would find offensive (“whites only”) as well as some that are just ridiculous (“left-handed heterosexual Irish-American men named Steve only”).

  241. Kenaz, different Guest so maybe they will answer, but I’ll note that I think sometimes Anonymous are the cool cats.

  242. Thanks for pointing that out. Perhaps you could point out what exactly was “dodgy” about the website wherein “Z Budapest” commented? And why you think we should remain skeptical that a comment which is written in Z’s unique style, expresses thoughts she is well known to hold, and which comes from her immediate neighborhood at the very least was in fact posted by Z?

  243. First Wave, Second Wave, Third Wave, New Wave, I love them all.
    People aren’t perfect and all got their own blind spots and err, but this doesn’t erase the good.

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