PantheaCon: Unity, Diversity, Controversy

PantheaCon: Unity, Diversity, Controversy February 21, 2012

On Monday I returned from the 2012 PantheaCon in San Jose, the largest annual indoor gathering of modern Pagans in North America. This is my third year attending the event, and for me it has become not so much about the panels and presentations, though they are often wonderful, enlightening, and oft-times challenging, but about connecting and reconnecting with the people I write about, network with on social media, or collaborate with in organizations like Cherry Hill Seminary or the Pagan Newswire Collective. PantheaCon is part of the glue that holds “Pagan community” together, that rare occasion when you actually see and experience members of The Sisterhood of Avalon hanging out with Thelemites, Feri initiates sharing drinks with Asatru, and ritual magicians discussing their work with Vodouisants. For that alone, Glenn Turner and the convention staff deserve special praise and recognition.

I think it’s vital to contextualize the uniqueness of PantheaCon, because we can sometimes lose focus on how important this event has become to so many, and just what a hothouse of our movement’s vast diversity and creativity is on display year after year. That PantheaCon succeeds where others fall short in mingling groups that can often have vastly different ideas about practice, theology, politics, and worldview. Because of this success it has become an unofficial annual meeting place of our movement’s leaders, clergy, scholars, and activists. Understandings are built, grudges resolved (and sometimes formed), and new projects hatched from talk over dinner, or in hurried conversations between presentations. If one had the time, and the people-power, a year’s worth of stories could be written from just these four days of intense activity. Due to all this, when controversies do arise, they tend to amplify throughout our movement, our interconnected community.

This year, debate, protest, and controversy emerged around a scheduled “genetic women only” ritual led by Dianic elder Z. Budapest, complicating a dialog begun on the issue of gender and transgender within modern Paganism the year before, re-exposing raw emotions and hurts from both sides that we as a community are still in the process of acknowledging, understanding, and responding to. These events have sparked a lot of comment and reaction by those watching from the outside, and I think it is necessary to begin by listening to the voices that were in attendance, and who directly participated in the events the Pagan community are now discussing.

You can find much more discussion on this across the Pagan blogosphere. As more voices emerge, I will document them and share them with you here. I am committed to giving all involved in this matter an opportunity to share their perspectives, what they think the relevant issues are, and what they think the way forward is from this point. You should also stay tuned to PNC-Bay Area, who are planning several articles and editorials around this issue.

While things unfold, I want The Wild Hunt 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. As someone who sits atop the pyramid of privilege in our society, I hesitate to offer off-the-cuff opinions or solutions, and instead hope to be an advocate for transparency, renewed dialog, and building respect between all parties. Considering the thoughtful responses I’ve seen so far from those involved, I want the emphasis to be on their voices, not mine. In the weeks to come I am committed to listening and documenting, to being a resource for those engaged in the direct work.

In the year leading up to the 2013 PantheaCon, I anticipate that The Wild Hunt will cover this matter extensively. I will also slowly unpack my own thoughts as they develop, and hope that I can offer additional light when it is called for. In addition, you can expect coverage of the many other events, panels, and presentations at PantheaCon, so that their good work is not lost amid this storm.

ADDENDUM: Teo Bishop from Bishop in the Grove, who sat with the protesters, has written up his experience of the evening. Working from notes taken that evening. It is matter-of-fact, and essential reading for anyone who is interested in what exactly happened.

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218 responses to “PantheaCon: Unity, Diversity, Controversy”

  1. Last night on the Pagan Weekly News, Zaracon, KaliSara and myself had a rather heated discussion about the issue. None of the three of us were able to attend PantheaCon, but we did our best to cover the issue and, I hope, show some respect for all parties involved. I cannot speak for Zaracon and KaliSara, but I myself have respected Z Budapest for years and hope that she will be able to explain her stance on the issue in such a manner that her part in the controversy can be laid to rest.

    You can hear the whole episode at .

    Pagan-Musings Podcast Channel
    Pagan Weekly News

  2. brillant, article Jason. I thank you for sharing. I’ve been a long time reader, and although I’m new to the craft and paganism, I follow news sources a lot. I appreciate your candidness and willingness to be honest and open. ~Ataro

  3. I do not have a problem with there being men-only or women-only circles. In fact I encourage them as there needs to be a place for people to explore the mysteries of their own gender, it is very insightful. Also, while I am an GLBTQ advocate and would prefer for all spiritual paths to be more accepting and open minded about the definitions of gender, I believe that Z Budapest has the right to define women how she sees fit for Dianic Wicca of which she is the head. I think Z Budapest is backwards on a lot of things but we live in a country where you have the right to hold backwards or antiquated ideas.

    The problem is the people running Pantheacon. The astoundingly hypocritical idea of having the theme of the year be diversity and acceptance and then approve a ritual to be part of your official event schedule that is the complete and utter opposite of diverse or accepting. That is where the fault lies and that is where the hypocrisy is at it’s greatest. Z Budapest may be a bigot, but at least she is consistent about it and owns it.

    -Andrew Lore

  4. I think in the case of healing ceremonies that you have to adjust the ceremony to fit the needs of the people being healed and there are many levels of healing. So a straight man trying to heal from his hatred of gay men, might first need a healing ceremony to get rid of his self hatred and put down, before he could then try working with gay men.

    A transgender person may have been hurt by both men and women,so perhaps their first healing ceremony might be to get rid of negative feeling of being whom they are, before going to healing their feelings towards other straight men and women.

    We have gay men whom have problems with dealing with women, so first they might have to work on their own issues of distaste with themselves before they could take part in a ritual with straight women.

    And so it goes, the restrictions on an healing ritual should be determined by those in need of healing so that in stages they can get to where they want to go. We will get to that love of our diversity a step at a time and that may require many different levels of healing. We must start where we are, not force ourselves to where we should be, other wise how much different than Christianity are we?

  5. Kudos to Jason for covering this arresting controversy while firmly putting it into the larger context of PantheaCon.

    Just FYI, a rare form of chromosomal damage can produce a person with a lifelong female body who is not a “genetic woman.”

  6. It’s good to read about this situation from a non-biased point of view. But as an outsider who has never gotten the chance to go to PantheaCon, I find this situation to be down right silly.
    I am a genetic woman, I am a wife, I am a mother of 2 children, a son, and a daughter. My son and my daughter are very precious to me. As a Pagan I honor the anima and animus in everyone. As a Pagan I honor the Goddess as well as her consort, God. Within each of us there is a certain balance of these two energies that makes us who we are. I have seen the worst of both sexes. I also understand though that a person’s character should not ever be judged based solely on someones sex. Having a penis does not make one “evil”, and having a vagina does not make one a “saint” and/or “victim”.
    This situation leaves me with a bitter taste in my mouth and more importantly, burning questions about Z Budapest. Since Z Budapest is an icon of the feminist struggle is she blind to the fact that many transgender people are the targets of hate crimes as well? Will she not raise her voice to speak against that hate against transgender women, her pagan sisters? Does she not agree that transgender women are also our sisters too? Was she oblivious that the words “Genetic woman” being just as wrong as “White’s only” signs were in the 60’s?

    And my final question: Wasn’t the whole “Unity in Diversity” theme brought about due to something similar happening last year?

  7. As a gay, male pagan, I have to say…there is such a thing as too P.C.
    As long as no one is being harmed, everyone has the right to practice their religion in their own way. The Dianix have been F-Only since they started and I see no reason why they shouldn’t continue to do so.

    However, as a community, the question is then brought;
    If we had a body of regulation…and we put it to a vote…would we vote to support the Dianics?


  8. They won’t get my vote, at least not Z.’s group. I don’t propose that we ever have a body of regulation, but I can “vote” as one person as to what I will be party to. I have no problem with Dianics as such. I don’t have a problem with women-only circles.
    I have a problem with an arbitrary and ignorant criteria which proposes to decide who is a “real” woman. I understand the thinking that leads to that criteria. I understand the reasoning that leads them to think it will create a “safer” space for women, but it is nonetheless rooted in some very backward and unscientific thinking. It has no more basis in science than the old rubrics which were used to define the “White Race.”
    I support Z.’s freedom to hold and practice such view. I will never help further them with my money or physical presence at any event which decides to host her or like groups.

  9. The very notion that there is an airtight correlation between body parts and gender or even genes and gender is absurd in light of what we now know about the field. There are XY females. There are XX males. There is every variation in between you can think of, and some you can’t. Gender is about self identity and social conditioning and can only be partially explained by genes, hormones or resulting body characteristics. That, at the root of it, is why I have no respect for Z.’s group and why I believe this is a thing that crosses the line from reasonable distinction and discrimination into just plain bigotry. The distinction they attempt to draw on who is a “real” woman is rooted in ignorance and has no other use but to diminish others. There was a time when this thinking could be excused by a true lack of understanding. It was once assumed that a drag queen was a drag queen and just a confused or gay duded in a dress. That time is past.

  10. Thank you Jason for providing links to a variety of voices on this controversy.
    This is an incredibly complex and emotionally charged issue. Some people have argued that biology excludes trans women from being able to participate in certain rites due mostly to a lack of certain “female” experiences (ie menstruation), and lacking the proper “equipment” (ie ovaries and a uterus). I am curious to know how they then view women with androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS), a condition where the individual has XY sex chromosomes (meaning they are genetically male) yet for some reason their bodies develop externally as female, their identities develop as female, but they lack uteri and ovaries. Are these individuals still “woman” enough to qualify? I don’t bring this up to attack the non trans position, but to further expose the complexity of the issue.

  11. Altho I can’t dispute and even agree with Z’s supposition that Dianics deserve a safe place to worship as do all other pagans .I appuade and honor all her work for woman and pagan woman in general. I am male , consider myself a feminist ,in principle But at a large , the largest in the US, pagan gathering is not the place for an exclusionary ritual . Especialy in light of last years hubbub.Didn’t she realise doing such a thing would open up unresolved issues /wounds from last year .We as a community are still dealing with issues from the blood woman only ritual from last year . This ritual was irresponcible and ignorant to be blunt . We on the east coast have a large gathering every few years called Between the Worlds as far as i know they avoid exclusionary rituals , seems to me Pantheacon needs the same policy.No one in the pagan community wants to limit what Dianics , Blood Woman , or any other group does on their own time , but such rituals are innapropriate at large public gatherings.We as a community are still coming to terms with our diverse membership , we don’t need to be alienating large portions of us .The LGBT groups within our community have every right to be upset about this kind of thing happening again . As a striaght man i am disturbed by this type of thing happening again . Kilm

  12. As a Thelemite, it would be hypocritical for me to argue that anyone has any limits on their right of association: everyone has the right to have a meeting or a ritual with those they wish to attend and not those they don’t.

    It may not be tactically wise to do so in a so public a venue as PantheaCon, but I must defend the right to do so. One might mitigate that right if the event was the only game in town, where it was the only place where access to some resource, for example, salvation. Then the case can be made that all should have access.

    This is not an argument that can be made at PantheaCon. No one can, or would, claim to be the sole dispenser of access to the Divine and It’s blessings. Nor is there only one ritual to attend, there were many.

    Also, it is the right of those who choose to protest to speak. Forcing silence is also against my values, even if I don’t like the speech or see it as unwise.

    Personally, this is awkward for me. I have friends on both sides of this divide. Further, while I deeply respect and have gratitude for the work Z. Budapest has done, but having observed her treatment of women at the Claremont Conference on Contemporary Paganism and general rude attitude towards anything that did not serve her agenda, or at least her emotional needs, my respect for her as a person has plummeted.

    So, regardless of my feelings, I have to return to my values, my morals. Everyone has the right called freedom of assembly, with those they wish, and not those they don’t. Even those I don’t like, even in ways I don’t like.

    You have the right to do your will and I will defend that right.
    sam webster, m.div.

  13. I read this and sighed. What,now Z. wants to decide who’s woman enough to be a woman? Dianics were a necessary step in the evolution of Neo-Paganism, but frankly, Dianics come across as the Catholics of the movement, saying my way is the right way, and I can’t possibly understand because I have a pecker. I’m willing to allow people some space to come to terms, but by the Goddess, when are we, as Neo-Pagans, going to stop the witch war crap? Has Z. Budapest looked at what’s going on in this country? There are folks trying everyday to inch us closer to theocracy, and this is what’s important? Thanks, Z, for working for the right-wing in this country,and wasting time with this separatist garbage. Grow up, wake up, and quit embarrassing yourself, lady. I have more important things to care about who you think is or isn’t a woman, like making sure my daughter can get health care without going to a back alley in Tijuana.

  14. Diversity doesn’t include the possibility of diverse individual rituals in amongst the “open to all” rituals?

    Isn’t suppressing one particular segment of the population that asks for a short span of time to do their own thing actually suppressing diversity?

    Cis-women aren’t allowed to be one of the groups within the diversity?

    Because that’s what I read when I see the suggestion that only open-to-all rituals are acceptable.

    I personally am not into the whole “genetic women only” Dianic dynamic, but if some find that a healing space for a time, who are you or I or anyone to tell them that no, their particular segment of the diverse population is not allowed to explore that for themselves?

  15. @Ursyl: “Diversity doesn’t include the possibility of diverse individual rituals in amongst the “open to all” rituals?”

    No, not in the forum of Pantheacon. Especially when the theme is “Unity”. It was HIGHLY inappropriate.

    Just because one has the “right” to do something, doesn’t make it RIGHT.

    At the very least, it was in very poor taste for Budapest to run a ritual like that. It was a slap in the face, and I’m quite certain it was MEANT to be. It would have served herself, her trad, and the whole community to – at least THIS year – have only sponsored a ritual where all were welcome. Interested cis-women could then be informed about Dianic trads they could join and practice whatever they want and exclude whoever they want in privacy.

    I don’t care how much of a Big Nose Pagan she is. She should have been told by the P-Con programmers that she would have to come up with a non-exclusive to “genetic women only” presentation for this year, in keeping with the stated theme of the gathering. if she refused she should have been told thank you very much but no thanks, see you next year. P-Con really dropped the ball on this one.

  16. As I said in my previous comment, just because one has the “right” to do something doesn’t make it the RIGHT thing to do.

    The KKK has the right to march in parades in the public square. Others have the right to protest them. What the KKK does NOT have is the right to whine and claim victimhood, to complain about their treatment when they do something that they KNOW is inciting to others.

    This was not the right thing to do. The right of cis-women to have their own private covens is not the issue. The issue is the crude political slap in the face that Budapest delivered at a public conference dedicated to “Unity.”

  17. I’ve been waiting for a report on Pantheacon, but I’m disappointed that the PNC so far has reported on the controversy rather than other things about the con. For example,this year for the first time the hotel decided to enforce the fire code regulations, which meant that many many people were turned away from workshops. People were lining up nearly 30 minutes before a presentation to make sure they could attend. For mobility impaired folk and others who can’t stand in a line, this is really hard. In addition, I feel that not being able to get in to any workshops because all of them are full, along with the entire hotel being booked, means it is time to search for a larger venue. Past time. I went and had a great time. But not getting in to workshops because I had to say, eat lunch, run an errand for someone, or simply didn’t have a friend to hold a place in line was not cool. If I had come at the last minute (I always pre register) and paid the $75 and only gotten to visit the hospitality suites and a few workshops, I’d be livid. I filled out a feedback form but didn’t get a chance to turn it in. My family and friends are on staff, and it was interesting hearing about this from their point of view, too. I know it’s hard to find a hotel as accommodating as the Doubletree is for P-con but I think it’s time to look.

    I’m looking forward to coverage of some of the other presentations at the convention, too. Also the interesting dynamic you mentioned which happens because of the Hospitality suites and the “lets have lunch” or dinner type thing that everyone staying in/near the hotel, seems to engender in the attendees.

  18. The problem here is not that there are women-only circles. The problem here is that Z. Budapest, who has a history if Trans* hatred and transphobia, thinks she gets to decide who is or is not a ‘real’ woman.

  19. I think the principle problem here that trans* people and their allies see is that Z. Budapest thinks she’s qualified to decide who is and who is not a ‘real’ woman. Transwomen are women. Full stop.

  20. This entire thing was badly handled by Z. Budapest, starting with the term ‘genetic women’… something is wrong with ‘cisgender’?… and ending with Pantheacon approving it despite the theme of unity. Transwomen are women, full stop, and Z. Budapest needs to get up-to-date on the genetic diversity of the human race, because just because someone was assigned female at birth does not actually mean that person has ‘female’ chromosomes. Think of the last convention, sports event, conference, or large church gathering you went to – statistics show that 1 in 300 men does not actually have an XY chromosome. Think how many men were at those gatherings. 1 in 300. That’s a hefty number of the male population alone, and we’re speaking here only of men who were assigned male at birth and still identify as cismen.

    Humanity is more astoundingly diverse and varied than we allow for in our general discussion. Unless Z. has had a DNA test, she doesn’t actually know for sure that she’s a ‘genetic’ female, so that BS needs to go. One of my best friends has cogenital adrenal hydroplasia, CAH, which is just one of many genetic conditions that means her chromosomes do not match her genitals. She identifies as genderqueer, as do I. And frankly, I think when one of our elders espouses such an ignorant viewpoint, that’s like a kick in the gut for those of us who would really like to respect them for the other work they’ve done, and it’s like a slap in the face to trans* folks who have become accustomed to pagan diversity, acceptance, and progressiveness. Z. Budapest and her coven have a perfect right to their bigoted viewpoints, but they’re still bigoted, and frankly I fail to see the difference between that bigotry and the monotheists who campaign against marriage equality and fair treatment of pagans in the public sphere.

    People pay to attend PantheaCon, and PantheaCon’s organizers chose unity and diversity as this year’s theme. To then allow this ‘genetic women only’ business, especially since it’s basically a repeat of last year’s incident, puts the lie to their claims of wanting to achieve real, progressive unity. And regardless of what contributions Z. Budapest has made to the craft, she is not qualified to decide who is and who is not a ‘real’ woman. That is not her business and it is not her look-out. If she wants to perpetuate bigoted attitudes, she should keep it in her own back yard, or expect those of us who are rightly appalled by her attitude to speak up.

  21. I’ve long felt uncomfortable with Budapest’s flavor of feminism, which seems to be based on an assumption that women are inherently peaceful and good and men are violent and dominating. I think that idea is extremely offensive to men and does no one of either gender any good. Yes, we have long been oppressed by authoritarian systems, but to characterize them as simply “patriarchies” totally misses the point. Men are not the problem, simply because they are the ones in the visible positions of power. Seeking to further separate the sexes will not bring equality. As a woman, I want equal rights and equal treatment, not to be placed above men! I think this flawed and toxic idea is at the root of Budapests’s current conflict within the Pagan community as we strive towards a greater level of understanding and appreciation for each other.

  22. More reports are coming, please hang with us. PNC reporters are all volunteer and some had jobs to get back to today or were traveling today. I’m sure there will be many reports, just as there were last year. But like last year, they will probably be published every day or so over the next week or so. The controversy was just the story that was most time sensitive so it came first.

  23. I have to wonder what people’s reactions would be if this was about transgendered men and a “genetic males only” ritual. Would things be getting this heated if someone said they didn’t believe transgendered men were “real men” or if the defense was saying that John Doe didn’t feel safe/comfortable being naked in a ritual where there may be a transgendered participant who still had a vagina instead of a penis.

  24. I can certainly relate to the expressed dissatisfaction with a separatist event being inserted into to a communitarian event like Pantheacon, which I was pleased to have had an opportunity to attend for the first time this year. I would urge in general that people restrain from ad hominem attacks and the like. The worst part of ‘drama’ is when people say stupid shit that remains lastingly divisive and contrary to the community building that we clearly wish to do over the long term. This probably was a moment when powerful forces and personalities have been out of place and misdirected. We just need a careful realignment, not a load of condemnation and recrimination.

  25. This is one of those moments when the outsider gets to put on a wry grin and say, “There they go again.” But semi -seriously, when it dawned on me that this last weekend was Pantheacon, I sat at my machines and mused aloud if my old girlfriend Eris was going to make another appearance and out the empty air came a very distinct giggle. So I laughed and sat back and said to the air, “Again?” And another giggle.

    So today I look at Jason’s blog…

    Ok, I’m having a bit of fun here, but really, you aren’t dealing with the usual PC crap here, you are dealing fundamental human emotions and there is no way out of it. You have a case where everyone involved is absolutely convinced that they are right, and while a few minds may go back and forth, the divide is going to remain. You are going to have to find a way to live with it and realize that no one is going to very happy.

  26. Sure they can explore that part of themselves all they want , on thier own time . I just believe it would serve all envolved , particularly at an event touting diversity and tolarence to not have exclusionary rituals .This type of ritual ” Real Woman only” is exclusionary and intolarent . This type of ritual is what set off the firestorm last year and should have been avoided this year , in general principle . The theme of Pantheacon this year was diversity and tolarence, does a ritual such as this , fit that theme? enuf said . Kilm

  27. Seems pretty simple to me. There are other groups who would practice “separate but equal” rituals. There are other groups that would like to be exclusive, because they find members of certain other groups “make them uncomfortable” or perhaps they “Had a traumatic experience with someone of that other group.” There are other groups that would rather “just practice with their own kind”.

    However, were an Asatru group to have a “Whites Only” blot to Thor, justifying themselves as feeling “more comfortable with their exclusive group” or whatever excuse, at a public gathering, they would be (rightfully) excoriated, and, I would hope, driven from the con, or at least prevented from organizing further programming.

    Justifications aside, I see no difference in the ethics of the rationalizations of the two groups.

    Many, Many years ago Trans folks scared the hell out of me. For the typical stupid reasons. For some reason (sarc.) the few I encountered in public weren’t exactly the friendliest of people, and I had my own fears.

    Because at Pcon, Trans folks (supposedly) don’t have to endure discrimination and feelings of judgement, and because I equally felt “safe” there, I met a trans person; A simple smile and a short conversation done in open trust and a safe environment instantly melted decades of senseless fear.

    I worry that this sort of exclusive “separate but Equal” nonsense will destroy what is a rare island of unconditional acceptance in an otherwise bigoted and short-sighted world.

    LAstly, I think it should be self-evident that ANYONE that pays to come to PANTHEAcon ought to not have to concern themselves with whether they measure up to standards of attendance for rituals. If We MUST have genital inspections to qualify for ritual standards, I think that this should be done by the strictest of standards, by trained professionals. Perhaps we should install a TSA checkpoint at the door of the ritual.

    Seriously though, this is a completely inappropriate venue for “separate but equal” If you want exclusivity, don’t do it in a public place. Excluding people from a ritual because they don’t meet your standards of Genital make-up is not only cruel, it runs against the “unity” principal of the gathering, and its ultimately completely unenforceable.

  28. If I were someone that considered myself female, that was not born female, but became so as the result of a wide variety of possible reasons ranging from genetics to simply the early choice of my parents and a surgeon, and I was told my femaleness “didn’t count” I would feel pretty harmed.

    What if the group was “White only” After all, the blacks could have their own, Separate, equal ritual, so nobody was harmed, right?

  29. Of course something is wrong with “cisgender” – it presents an alternative to “real.”

  30. From my trans perspective, Budapest seems pretty damn violent and dominating to me.

  31. One of the absurdities of this “genetic women” only ritual was that transgendered men – male mind, male energy, male identity, would have made the cut to be allowed into Z’s ritual based on the criteria and the junk inspection (oops, “skyclad format”).

  32. Greetings Andrew, do you feel as strongly and similarly to Fraternal Orders such as Freemasonry? (This question in no way reflects what opinions on the matter I have)

  33. I do! one of the things women have strived for was to gain equal access to ‘boys clubs’. I think that the transwomen should be allowed at ‘women only’ rituals. That is my main issue with this.
    But secondary I feel that the sorting of the sexes is what had led up to so many of today’s dysfunctional, why continue.
    Could it be that we are evolving into seeing ourselves and others as multidimensional, not first and foremost what gender.

  34. I have followed various links and read many comments, but I don’t think anyone has answered the fundamental question you ask. Would the Con-organizers have allowed a “whites-only” ritual?

    The answer is perfectly clear, and the reason they don’t want to address it is because they don’t want to state their own prejudices. Or even that they agree with Z Budapest’s prejudices.

    As con-organizers they can do what they like. But they shouldn’t expect that there will be no blow-back from their decisions. There is a lot of “duck and covering” and plenty of writing about “Pagan diversity” without looking too closely at exactly how some of that diversity would look if given official sanction.

    Someone on another blog commented that 45 years ago, “genetic-female” lesbians were booted from the NOW conference, because they couldn’t possibly understand what straight women were dealing with.

    In the past 20 years this exact controversy of genetic-female vs trans has played itself out at lesbian festivals/conferences all over the place. (Some of the comments from 15 years ago were almost word-for-word what Z wrote after last year’s con.)

    Nothing changes.

  35. I believe that Z Budapest has the right to define women how she sees fit for Dianic Wicca of which she is the head.

    Except that, as I understand it (as a non-Dianic and non-Wiccan), she’s not. At best, she’s “the head of” one specific Dianic tradition.

    The problem is the people running Pantheacon. The astoundingly hypocritical idea of having the theme of the year be diversity and acceptance and then approve a ritual to be part of your official event schedule that is the complete and utter opposite of diverse or accepting.

    I think a lot of people misunderstand what “diversity” actually means. Diversity isn’t about everybody being welcomed to everything; diversity is about many different groups interacting and learning from each-other and especially learning that those differences can be awesome and cool, and yes, doing our own things separately is just as awesome as doing them together.

    I have no problem with Pantheacon accepting Ms Budapest’s ritual as part of the line-up, and I myself am a man of TS history; what I have a problem with is that Ms Budapest, in describing her ritual, was acutely transphobic (first in stating that it was a celebration of the divine feminine and the female body in all forms –and then very bluntly stating “genetic women only” –which is nothing more than a sneaky way of saying that trans women are not a form of the divine feminine) and the so-called “apology” she issued to the silent protest wasn’t really an apology –it was a canned condolence for “hurt feelings”, and then more transphobic clap-trap.

    See, she could have actually apologised, and also been far more classy about describing her ritual which could have made it clear that it was for cisgender women only, but not at the expense of the dignity of trans women. “Only women who have ever experienced moon cycles” or something would have worked, or perhaps “this ritual is only open to those initiated in the menstrual mysteries” –while rare, there are cisgender women who also fall under the definition of “uninitiated into menstruation”, and since the majority of Ms Budapest’s spiritual message seems to be about “teh moon bloodz”, I doubt women with Turner’s syndrome get anything out of her message, as they’ve (typically) never experienced the “mysteries” she exalts.

    The problem that the TS/TG/GQ/GV/Ally community has with Budapest at Pcon2012 is *not* the fact that she hosted a separate “wombynne-only” ritual; it’s the fact that she has had nothing but disparaging and hateful things to say about trans women, and that the “apology” she issued just seconds prior her closed Pcon12 rit wasn’t actually an apology.

  36. That sort of situation wouldn’t have happened. You see, trans men don’t exist to most people, and on the occasions we do, we have to either willingly accept being typecast as “another sort of woman”, or simply bottle up and do our best to ignore any feelings about it, because of some warped idea of “that’s just how men handle things” that has permeated Western society for centuries.

  37. If we are to define “diversity” not as welcoming but as a learning opportunity, the question must become what, if anything, does a bigot or hate-oriented group have to teach us that is worth the time and money to host them? If the quest for knowledge precludes us from making any value judgments or curating anything and making PatheaCon the equivalent of a search engine are we bound to give all comers a spot in the lineup? Should we host a white-power Asatru group just so we can learn about it firsthand? If NAMBLA starts a pagan group informed by their beliefs, who are we to send them away?
    For that matter, on what grounds would we turn away an ex-Witch ministry group or even Westboro Baptists? They both certainly have lots to say about paganism, and it would be instructive, to say the least. How obligated are we to give absolutely all viewpoints a stage at something like this? I don’t pretend to know the answer, but I think on some level we have to be able to make a call whether a person or group really adds something to the learning experience and meeting of the clans, or whether they detract from it, bringing more heat than light.

  38. Very well said, Tara. And the way Z. Budapest seems to blame transgendered women for the way cis females suffered under the “patriarchy” is reprehensible. As a cis-female myself, I have always found her attitude that transwomen have more privileges than cis-women arrogant and presumptuous. If anything, it’s more of the opposite. Transgendered people suffer greatly and are discriminated against in ways that cis-women don’t have to deal with.

  39. As someone who has attended ritual meetings with both groups—all “genetic” women groups and groups that include transgendered individuals—I understand Z Budapest’s choice. I don’t think she is a “hater” or that she has any animosity toward transgendered individuals. There is just an energy that comes with “genetic” womens groups that doesn’t come when transgendered individuals are there. It’s as simple as that. That doesn’t mean that it’s better than the energy that comes when transgendered individuals are there…it’s just different. Z obviously prefers that energy for her rituals.

  40. One of the big ironies of this story is the assertion that was explicitly made last year and is remaining implicit but present this year that if trans women were “really” women, we’d understand where we’re not wanted and just silence ourselves and wait to be invited in.

  41. That was me, and it wasn’t just from a conference – lesbians were booted from NOW, period. You could not be an out lesbian and belong to NOW, Betty Friedan wouldn’t allow it.

  42. On the Magickal Media news feed, we’ve got as many links as possible to blogs and statements about this subject as posted on Monday’s and Tuesday’s pages… or links to links to other opinions. Both sides of the story. Well, actually, multiple sides of the story.

  43. I have one problem with the term cis-women, I’ve never heard of it before and have no idea what it means. On the other hand, “women born women” is much clearer. As for Z Budapest’s restriction on membership in her branch of the Dianic religions, I had been interested in joining her group until I saw that. I’m one of the “born woman” folks, have had three pregnancies with full term births of normal (as normal as you can get, I guess) children. I don’t like what seems to have happened at the Con either, and it definitely shows up one of the less “pretty” sides of the Pagan world.

  44. But if you speak with trans* folks, they’ll tell you they’ve been their true gender from birth, so ‘women born women’ doesn’t really work that well. That’s why, when discussing trans* issues, we focus on gender ‘assignment’… what the doctor said you were at birth. If you are trans*, then you do not agree with your assignment. If you are cis, you do agree with your assignment. It’s a relatively easy way to weed out all this conflict over what ‘genetic woman’ really means, and avoid denying trans* peoples’ lived experience when they tell us they really have been who they are since they were born.

  45. Cis- and trans- are scientific prefixes used in geography and chemistry. They mean “on this side” and “on the other side.” Transylvania means beyond the woods. Cisalpine Gaul means that part of Gaul on the near side of the Alps to Rome.

    Cis- is relatively new in this application. I first saw it here a year ago in discussion of the PantheaCon 2011 controversy.

  46. I do not agree with discrimination based on genitalia. Therefore I have not and will never consider walking the Dianic path. Though I would not tell another group what to do or who to include, I absolutely abhor the idea that someone would be excluded from spiritual activities and fellowship because of their genitals. It was my intent to leave discrimination and hierarchy behind when I first pledged myself to Witchcraft. I hope there are more who feel the same.

  47. Except that Z. is on record as saying that transwomen are nothing but men in disguise leveraging patriarchal privilege to invade women’s rituals for the purpose of intimidation.

    If that’s not vicious transphobia, I’m not sure what is.

  48. I dislike cisgender because cis- is unfamiliar terminology (unless one is used to discussing Cisalpine Gaul). But women-born-women is fundamentally inaccurate because transwomen were born women–male-bodied or intersex-bodied, but women.

    Personally, I use “conventionally-gendered women”. Everyone seems to recognize what I mean the first time I use it, and it subtly subverts the idea that categories based on biological criteria are objective.

  49. One of the ironies is that a key principle in 1970s feminism was that women need to learn to speak up from their personal experiences. Apparently, that isn’t supposed to extend to transwomen.

    (Yes, this response is sarcastic.)

  50. That might be Z’s opinion, but that is not “hate.” For instance, I could have a spiritual point-of-view that the God/dess made someone like this…instead of changing ourselves, we should figure out a way to creatively express ourselves in the form the God/dess has chosen for us. Also, there may be reincarnational problems that need to be sorted out. (ha ha! I sounds like a real right-winger here, don’t I?) 😉

  51. That sure as hell won’t happen to them in any men’s circle I ever run. Anyone who has climbed a mountain range of biology to claim his status as a man has much to teach us.

  52. Yesterday I read a detailed account of the events of the protest, written by a fellow who knew the Druids that were part of the “peacekeepers” – he wrote of seeing Z. Budapest coming out of the elevator and dashing over to the Druids to tell them she was approaching. It was one of the only extensive reports of the events as they happened, and I’ll be damned if I can find it now. Does anyone know the link?

  53. I remember last year’s P-Con, the hubbub was over language being too vague, which led to some being excluded from a ritual, and a lot of hurt feelings. Everyone said that if they wanted to hold a “women only” or “genetic women only” ritual, then they should make that clear. Z Budapest did exactly that.

    I don’t agree with what she did, because it seems in her mind (from the “apology” she gave) that “women” and “trans” are two utterly different categories. She said she supported the right for safe ritual space for the trans community, and safe ritual space for women–she doesn’t seem to realize that half of the trans community *are* women.

    I think, though, that the P-Con organizers should have been more circumspect, especially in light of what happened last year.

  54. Certainly, you have a point that such clearly bigoted groups, who are more an antithesis to the mission of diversity, have no right to be in a place with a mission in favour of diversity. On the other hand, that still doesn’t mean that “diversity = everybody is welcome everywhere” within the context we’re speaking. Just because you tout a popular misconcption of “diversity” doesn’t mean you’re right.

  55. I have one problem with the term cis-women, I’ve never heard of it before and have no idea what it means.

    There are many people who have no idea what “pagan” or “polytheist” mean the first time they see or hear those words —lacking familiarity with a particular word doesn’t mean it’s a bad word, it means you get to learn something new.

    On the other hand, “women born women” is much clearer.

    Except for the fact that it implicitly designates trans woman as another type of man (and trans men as another type of woman), which they are not.

  56. Fill in your comment about Z and replace transgender with race, and then tell me it isn’t about hate. Anyone who wanted to run an “all-white” ritual would be run out of town on a rail.

    Just because you feel that way too, doesn’t mean it isn’t hate.

  57. A few years ago, I was where you’re at on this, but I eventually gave up and decided that “cisgender” is usually a lot less clunky than any other alternative I could come up with.

  58. @Obsidia: “(ha ha! I sounds like a real right-winger here, don’t I?)”

    Yes, you do.

    How is that in any way different than White racialist groups like Stormfront who proclaim, “we don’t HATE blacks, Jews, etc. we just want to be separate so we can promote our own White culture!” Go look at their website (if you can stomach it) and that is exactly what they say.

    But still, the Southern Poverty Law Center defines them as a hate group. They can blather about “separate but equal”, but “separate but equal” is NEVER equal. They think they and their “white culture” are superior. And Budapest thinks her “women’s culture” is superior. She has never been shy about proclaiming that.

    Budapest gained her fame during the 2nd wave of feminism. In that era there was a need for things like “real” women-only rituals and a fetishization of menstrual blood. It was a needed reaction to the prejudices of the day, a counter to the “good old boys club”, to the fact that hardly ANY Christian of Jewish congregations had female leaders, to the prevailing view that menstruation was considered “dirty” instead of a natural biological process.

    That was then. This is now.

    Budapest grew up in the era of “Mad Men”, of sexism so ingrained in the public psyche that it was unquestionable. My 17 year-old daughter sees how it was then and is not simply aghast, but unbelieving.

    She can’t imagine it could have really been like that, not in her culture of today where our Secretary of State came within a hair’s breadth of being President. THAT would have been unimaginable in the era of “Mad Men”. Where there are TV commercials and billboards selling tampons. Where she can watch Ru Paul on her own drag queen reality show.

    News flash to Z. Budapest: it’s not 1969 anymore. You are now what we young hipsters used to call “old and in the way.”

  59. This wouldn’t have happened in Asatru because there isn’t a need to separate genders in any religious ceremony.

  60. I don’t think she is a “hater” or that she has any animosity toward transgendered individuals.

    You clearly haven’t read some of the nasty, hateful comments she’s made about trans women, then. I don’t blame you for thinking what you do, though, cos if I hadn’t seen her comments for myself, I’d have a hard time believing that she holds the aniosity that she does.

    There is just an energy that comes with “genetic” womens groups that doesn’t come when transgendered individuals are there.

    I can only speak to men’s spaces with experience, but if assuming a similar experience with women, I’d have to say I disagree. Now, if we were talking a rite specific to menstruating women, or specific to women who’ve given birth before, I’d say you’re right and than *any* woman who hasn’t had either experience, be she cis or trans, would be disruptive to those rites. On the other hand, if it’s a ritual that has nothing to do with that, then I don’t see how letting in a single trans women, let’s even say one who has lived her whole life since adolesence as a woman, who has had “the surgery” since a very young adult age, even, would sully that spiritual atmosphere.

    As a traditional polytheist, I do believe that our meat-bodies can influence our spiritual bodies, but I don’t believe it’s in as damning a way as the toxic genital essentialist philosophies of Ms Budapest and others want it to be.

  61. That might be Z’s opinion, but that is not “hate.”

    When you dare to tell some-one that you know what they are better than they do, and you know them to be something completely opposite what they’ve always known themselves to be, how is that not in any way hateful?

  62. It seems to me Z’s comment come very much from a victim’s point of view. This is something I have never understood.

    Empowering women has nothing to do with hiding them away in “safe” protected places, but rather empowering them to be in the world as full human beings. Genetic do dads should be irrelevant.

    I don’t get the “women are more physically vulnerable” arguement, either. Men can also be raped.

  63. So, by the definition of “real women”, would a trans male who identifies as male, who has spent years defining his sexual being, who grew up presenting as male, who has presumably partaken of the “male privilege” that Budapest denounces, be welcome at the “genetic women only” event? What if that trans male has had penile construction surgery? He’s still a “genetic woman”. Would he be welcomed? I doubt it.

    So what’s it to be next year? “Genetic women who have not transed to male and had penile construction surgery only?”

    No one is demanding Budapest give up her covens or open them to trans women. But if she’s going to make a public scene and behave like a whites-only hate group like Stormfront, and use the same arguments they use, she shouldn’t be spared from being criticized and denounced. What she did was in as bad taste as an Orange parade through the Catholic neighborhoods of Belfast, or a KKK rally in East Oakland. I don’t believe the woman is stupid. She knew what she was doing – a deliberate slap in the face to her detractors.

  64. Why target women-only rituals? There are other traditions and events that are exclusionary. But you choose the one place that is for people like me who wish to be with others like her. The answer is that it’s an easy target. By your actions you are destroying one of the few places IN THE WORLD where I can feel safe and comfortable. BTW, no one is obligated to offer a ritual open to all. Other people can claim that a “Dianic ritual” open to the general public or to transgender women is Dianic but by definition it can not be. Z has not obligation to change her tradition in order to accommodate men, even sensitive, wounded men who believe themselves to be women. There are so many other rituals at Pcon that are open and welcoming to everyone and anyone. Mtfs are like the cat that has to sit in the one chair where you don’t want it to sit because of your allergies. You have the whole world, please don’t destroy this, because it’s the ONLY space I have.

  65. Just my personal observation. Next year, I’m’a present a ceremony where everyone has to undergo genetic testing to see what their chromosomes actually are, and that one test where your ethnicity can be determined.

    Aw, com’on, it’ll be fun. There will be pizza and juice.

  66. I actually have been excluded from all-black spiritual gatherings. I understood why, too. And in many tribal societies, there are different groups that meet for their own purposes, including and excluding for their own purposes.

  67. “This skyclad rite honors the body of each and every woman present, the beauty and grace of the feminine form in all of her infinite variety. Allow yourself to be embraced by the glorious love of your sisters, with voices raised in sacred song in this central ritual of Dianic tradition. Genetic women only.”

    That is the exact wording of the blurb in the Pcon program.

    Dianic tradition celebrates the different stages of a women’s lives, therefore “in all its forms”. Frankly, saying that it’s for women or women-only should be enough. But last year (Pcon 2011) there was a huge flap b/c it was not clearly stated in the program what was meant by women or women-only. Everyone agreed that clarity was needed. So this year we got clarity. The women-born-women who wanted to go to a women-only ritual with other women-born-women could do so and the assumption was this exercise in freedom would be respected. The reality is they had to walk through a gauntlet in order to do so.

    There’s another priestess in the community who has opened up her (ostensibly) Dianic rituals to men who believe themselves to be women. She did so after receiving death threats. Where is your outrage about that?

    Well at least we agree on one thing: it was wrong for Z to offer an apology.

  68. Z has always been a Separatist, and her tradition of all-women groups has a long record. For what she celebrates and ritualizes, a group of (genetic) women is (or has been) the way it works. In many tribal societies, for instance, meeting in all-women groups has been a key spiritual practice. In these instances, the 2-spirit people were not included. However, there were other gatherings where the 2-spirit people were not only included, but were key participants.

  69. Other people can claim that a “Dianic ritual” open to the general public or to transgender women is Dianic but by definition it can not be.

    I doubt you own all Dianic traditions.

  70. Again, Budapest has the absolute right to associate or not with whomever she wishes. That isn’t the issue. No one I see here is saying that “genetic women” covens and rituals should not exist, or be forced to accept people they don’t want. But it was the WRONG VENUE at the WRONG TIME.

    CAYA coven had exactly the right attitude, and they are to be praised for holding an all-inclusive ritual gathering. That was the proper reaction to last year’s controversy. Budapest decided instead to double down.

    A real revolutionary will tell you that unless you get “the army” to support you, or at least stay out of your way, your revolution is doomed to failure. You will be crushed by the existing power structure. In this analogy, “the army” is men, whom she proclaims is the existing power structure. So if Budapest really wants to revolutionize social gender politics (and gods know the fight is far from over) she needs to get the army – the men – on her side, or at least staying out of the way. Separatism is not the way to do that. The answer to the patriarchy is not the matriarchy.

  71. So what’s stopping Z & Co. from holding a ritual in a private room or suite? That would be “safe space” for you and other like-minded people and would spare the feelings of others who find your beliefs bigoted and hurtful.

    Like many privileged people, you mistake your right to freedom of speech and religion with the right to a cheering section. Keeping “womyn born womyn” rituals off the official PCon card is no more a war on Dianics than keeping the 10 commandments out of courthouses is a war on Christianity.

  72. And the organizers of this convention should have refrained from offering her a place on the official calendar, just as they should (and would) refrain from offering a spot to a folkish Asatru group who wished to hold a ritual open only to people of northern European non-Semitic descent.

  73. Dianic tradition celebrates the different stages of a women’s lives, therefore “in all its forms”.

    Your apparent assumption that even all cisgender women go through all of these “life stages” is not only hilarious, but hilariously wrong.

  74. Honestly, I would question the wisdom of holding a ritual solely for “people of color” as part of a PCon official venue. I think there are good and valid reasons for holding such a ritual, mind you. But I’d hate to see the PCon administration put in the position of arbitrating a dispute over whether or not someone was actually a “person of color.”

    I’ve seen blue-eyed blond Cubans and Argentines who would qualify as “Hispanic on the government census. Are they people of color? What about very light skinned mixed-race people with black ancestry who could be mistaken for Italians or Sephardic Jews? What happens if one of these people get turned away at the door? And what about the wannabe James O’Keefe who claims to be 1/64 black on his mother’s side so he can stir up crap about “BLACK RACISM!!!” after getting turned away?

    It would be better to hold those rituals in a private space, IMO, where the organizers had the right to admit or deny anyone they saw fit. And the same goes for Z Budapest’s ritual. Getting con organizers involved in this kind of controversy is just asking for trouble and hurt feelings on all sides.

  75. I understand people feel hurt about being excluded (and they have every right to be). What about the woman who wrote that letter who had been abused and needed an area to heal? Is she not worthy? I don’t know if she went, but she said she wasn’t going to because of the protest. Would everyone be as upset if there were a trans-only ritual, no “women-born-women” allowed? I would guess not. After reading everything (and seeing only viewpoints over and over of those who sat outside to protest and not a peep from anyone who went). I say no one gets to play. If my kids were fighting over a ball and can’t play together, they lose it. That seems to be the only way to make anyone happy. And I have to say I’m very disgusted with “KKK” being brought up. Z made nasty comments, and I wouldn’t have even attended her ritual knowing what she said, but that’s going too far.

  76. Z. was born in 1940. Think about that. It is possible to love and respect your elders even as you see them hold outdated, views who’s time is coming to an end.

    Take the gifts (and there are so many) she has given the community and move forward with them. This is not about Z. It is not our job to drag her into the future, it’s our job to take this lesson, and conversation and build the future with it.

    We are evolving.

    Think about beloved elders in your family and circles. Often, our love and respect for them allows us to quietly shake our heads at their un-evolved perspectives, yet still appreciate them. Bless Z. for her long dedicated contributions. Bless her for steadfastly singing for women in a world that needs that voice. Perhaps even bless her for her role in this controversy as without it we might not have as many opportunities to move closer to a more evolved, inclusive existence.

    On a tree, older branches just aren’t as flexible as new growth tips, that’s natural, not evil. Lets take the elders gifts and stretch even further towards the sky. This is one knot in the wood, it doesn’t define the branch.

    Oh, and don’t forget to laugh when after a lifetime of believing yourself to be open and progressive, the next generation shows you where you aren’t.

  77. Strictly speaking, that is not true. Some heathen and Asatru groups practice rites such as entries into adulthood that include gender specific elements (for instance, a girl who just became a young woman will go off with only women and they will do whatever women do on such an occasion with no men present). These rites are certainly religious. I doubt anyone would try to do something like that with a bunch of strangers at a public gathering, though.

  78. That is word for word the same thing segregationists said to black students wanting to get into their schools. “Why do you want to go where you’re not wanted. You’d be better off with your own kind.”

  79. We all know and acknoweldge the good work Z has done . Even if there was a woman that needed healing , is a large pagan gathering the place to do it ?I’m sure the person could be directed to a real woman only ritual held away from Pantheacon. The whole point here is not the validity of these rituals or those doing the rituals The problems arose from Pantheacon allowing it , and Z doing an exclusionary ritual at a convention themed this time as diversity and tolarance , also in light of last years hubbub over the Blood Womans ritual at this same event . The community is still dealing w/ that one and coming to terms with our diverse membership. This ritual never should have occured , that is the point here . Kilm

  80. Is your one woman in need of healing more important than the a whole category of women in need of healing? That are not only subject to rape and abuse as well, but now are being told they are not women at all?

    Honestly, that ritual was not being held solely for her benefit, nor was it the only opportunity for her to find healing in Pcon or elsewhere; a private, small, and if necessary, ciswoman group might’ve served her needs just fine. And even that’s debatable: thinking further, how do you know that she wouldn’t have met a transwoman in that circle that might have held the key to her healing?

  81. And just for the record, i believed and would be disturbed if any exclusionary rituals was done at Patheacon or any pagan gathering . Such an event is not the place for rituals that excludes anyone for any reason. These events need to be open to all . The pagan community is becoming more diverse all the time.As a whole we , the pagan community, shuns no one ……..within reason . Public Events can not allow exclusive rituals period . Or these types of firestorms /controversies will continue.Not the good work , networking , and commeroddery that can be had at such events . We need to get a handle on this , not let this situation get worse . Kilm

  82. As a Dianic woman I did that ritual with Z Budapest a few years ago. Considering that it’s full nudity required I find it hard to believe that many transwomen would expose themselves and be so vulnerable in front of 100 strangers, considering how sensitive and potentially triggering the “what’s in your pants” issue can be for transfolk. It was difficult for me to feel comfortable naked in that ritual. All the transwomen that I’ve spoken to about these issues understand what their spiritual calling is and what rituals best serve them. I can’t speak for them though. Where are the transwomen’s voices in this discussion? Has the Circle of Cerridwen made any updated statements? Any transwomen bloggers post about this issue?

  83. I hope the PantehaCon organizers finally get down to dealing with the brass tacks of this issue. They really just papered it over last year by chalking it up to a “communication” issue and statements that no harm was intended. If there was any reasonable cause to believe that would suffice, this year proved otherwise.
    This is now the second year that this issue has overshadowed pretty much everything else about the conference, at least insofar as its value beyond the in-person attendants. If this is allowed to repeat itself next year with Z. doing the same sort of ritual with the same format, the whole event is basically done for, whether or not people boycott it or not. It will simply become Z.’s own reality show. It is a fire that will simply suck all the oxygen out of the event.
    As it stands, I’m sure there were some much more valuable and important developments that went on last year and this. Those are forever lost, to some degree. Yes, I expect the PNC folks will write up some very good accounts in coming weeks, but they’re simply never going to have the impact and staying power that they would have in the absence of this controversy.
    The con organizers really need to do some serious work about how they are going to define diversity of presenters and ideas versus a truly open and welcoming and productive conference.
    Even if that process ultimately yields the decision to welcome Z back as is, she needs to take a year off , either from the conference or at least from doing a “genetic women” only ritual. We need one year without craziness, and we need to see some deeper engagement than pledges for better communication and generic calls for mutual respect.

  84. Speaking for myself – trans woman here – I’ve felt massively dogpiled for the last several days on the issue, and I didn’t even ATTEND.

  85. I would love to see a link to your writing. I’m always interested in hearing transwomen’s thoughts and I hope my group is able to provide safe space for transwomen to fully participate.

  86. Katie, my blessings to you and my deep regret for the insults you have sustained. I believe that trans people are a model for us all. In this world, it takes incredible courage to name your situation even to yourself, much less the rest of the world.

  87. “This skyclad rite honors the body of each and every woman present, the beauty and grace of the feminine form in all of her infinite variety. ”

    This is exactly why transwomen should have been included. You can’t claim you celebrate the body of all women and the grace of the feminine form in her infinite variety while deliberately excluding the varieties you don’t like.

  88. Did you read the blurb for the ritual? “This skyclad rite honors the body of each and every woman present, the beauty and grace of the feminine form in all of her infinite variety.”

    “All of her infinite variety” includes transwomen. Celebrating the bodies of women includes transwomen. As they have consistently done in the past, Z. Budapest’s words deny the womanhood of transwomen.

  89. It is maddening and ironic that even the groups who have been on the wrong end of bigotry fall into that habit of mind themselves. There’s a whole sort of exclusive club dynamic that goes on with lesbian and gay communities. Many of the gay men can’t even get their mind around bisexuality, let along gender transistion.

  90. Do you realize that the vigil was not even about having women-only rituals at Pcon? It was about Z’s choice of wording in 2011.

    “Like many privileged people” I’m a disabled lesbian who doesn’t make a lot of money. What are you?

    The equivalent of your courthouse analogy would be to force everyone at Pcon to read Dianic literature. Nice try though.

  91. Please understand that the term “cisgender” is offensive.

    You seem to have a reading-comprehension problem. I did not say that all women go through all stages.

  92. And if I decide that I’m really male or young-at-heart I then acquire a right to go to a gay men’s rit or into youth space?

  93. Speaking of race, there was a guy in the late 50s or early 60s who wrote a book by the title of Black Like Me. He was white and darkened his skin in order to pass for black in the South. So tell me, was he really black?

  94. I really don’t understand why people keep conflating diversity with homogeneity. There is strength in diversity. There is great value in being able to have exclusionary rituals. You really want everything to be open to everyone until it’s YOUR community that’s on the chopping block. Btw MOST of Pcon is open to everyone and anyone and that is as it should be.There is nothing that great about whole groups of people NOT being able to hold rituals just for their own. Frankly, as a woman, I don’t see why or how it’s my “right” to participate in a gay men’s ritual. Even if I’m feeling male in the moment, how does that entitle me to force my way in? There’s a huge difference between putting your soup in the blender and overcooking it and gently simmering your ingredients so that all the flavors can stand out and be appreciated.

  95. No, it’s not.

    You perceive it as “offensive” because it shows you your privilege.

  96. You are conflating transness with doing something for shits and grins in the first place (hint: one is a state of being, the other should get you bounced). Additionally, the men’s rites at PCon this year, from all appearances, were inclusive of trans men, so you don’t have much of a leg to stand on.

  97. Here are the comments she made about transwomen last year. I’d link to her site (, but I don’t think they’re on it any more:

    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.

  98. Katie, actually it’s because I’m not too big on letting others name and define me, a theme that should resonate with you. The word woman is a fine word and I actually like it. Good enough for my ancestresses, good enough for me.

  99. The definition of diversity is the condition of having or being composed of differing elements : variety; especially : the inclusion of different types of people (as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization.

    and when exploring diversity, you’re going to run across opinions and ideas you’re not going to like or necessarily agree with.

    Being all butthurt with Z about not letting trans ladies into her ritual, to my mind doesn’t serve much of a purpose. I personally wouldn’t want to come to a party where I wouldn’t be welcome. I can see why she chooses to be that way, and it’s her right to hold to her opinion and keep her rituals the way she keeps them. She wants to create a space where ladies who were born ladies can revel and explore ritual in a space with others that can understand their experiences. Does that mean that trans-ladies should be banned from all women only rituals? Hell no. I’ve been in women only rituals with trans-ladies and it’s all good. But, there are indeed experiences that unique to natural born women, just as there are unique experiences to trans-women, and trans-men, and natural born men, and gay men and women, and straight men and women, and bi women, and hermaphrodite folk, and… well I can keep going but you get my point.

    Sometimes, rituals and sacred space need to include all aspects and experiences of the human condition, and sometimes to feel understood we need to share sacred space with people who are just like us. There is nothing wrong with that. I will never know what it’s like to transition from one gender identity to another, and to me that looks like a sacred journey, however there are aspects to it I will never understand even though it has my complete respect. But it’s not my experience, I don’t know what it’s like to have male parts or to be perceived as male. On the flip anyone born male doesn’t know what female puberty is like, or what it is to know someday my body may host another human life. Because of that I’m unlikely to bring to the table certain topics with folks who were born dudes, not because they can’t understand or empathize, but that there is something about the actual physical experience I may need advice on that they just simply won’t be able to give me. To me, that’s what rituals that are only for a small segment of people are about.

    You know, there’s this festival in southern Ohio, Between the Worlds. Sounds like a blast, I would love to go, but I can’t because it’s for gay and bi men only. Not even straight supporting gay men can go. Why? because those gents need a space just for them to do… whatever it is they do down there. A bummer for me because I can’t go but I 100% support them. They need that space, and sometimes I need that space.

    If folks don’t like what Z does, then don’t attend her rituals and don’t buy her books. There’s enough room in this world for you to start your own all inclusive lady-trad if you want. Diversity to me means we can all coexist even if we don’t all agree with each other… because we never will, and that’s ok.

  100. Katie, there was a 12 step meeting, a mother-child tea party, drumming for children, a POC support group, at least 2 other women-only rits, and quite a few that were over 18 or under 18. These are all exclusionary but no one insists on being allowed in to these rituals and workshops who isn’t in that particular subgroup. Why do you think it’s so okay to force open MY group?

  101. Eruca,

    Those groups weren’t excluding people who validly belonged in their sphere over irrelevancies. Budapest’s ritual? Does not get to say the same thing.

  102. People still aren’t getting the point. No one wants to force Budapest or anyone else to change her coven rules. She is free to associate or not with whomever she pleases.

    The *point* is that it was inappropriate for this year’s P-Con. Not that it’s inappropriate IN GENERAL, but for this particular venue in this particular year.

    As someone else here commented: what if an Asatru group held a Thor blot and put “Whites Only” in the description. Would the con have allowed it? Would people here be arguing for their right to exclude non-whites?

    Some (but certainly NOT all) Asatru are white supremacists. Many who are not racially prejudiced nonetheless are very invested in direct ancestor worship of their Northern European roots, and hold that non-Northern Europeans simply cannot understand their spirituality, since they don’t have Northern European ancestors – it’s not “in their blood.”

    So what’s the difference?

    There is none.

    So unless you can come up with an explanation that makes it OK for both of these groups to practice their exclusionary spirituality in a public ritual at P-Con during the year of “Unity in Diversity”, you don’t have a case. It cuts both ways, or it doesn’t cut it.

  103. Once again, the *point* is not that it’s your right to attend a gay men’s ritual. The point is that AT P-CON, a public gathering of all our diverse tribes, exclusionary rituals are out-of-place.

    What Dianic Wiccans (or any trad) should be doing is offering rituals that all can attend, to showcase themselves, so people can come to a better understanding of each others diverse paths. Diversity is not served by locking the doors to any given group AT PANTHEACON.

    If Dianics (or a gay coven like Fairy trad) want to have an exclusionary ritual at P-Con, they can get a private suite and hold anything they want in it. But as I see it, if I paid my money toward the renting of the PUBLIC spaces in the convention center, I should not be excluded from any PUBLIC gathering in it. Otherwise, I’m paying (in part) for a space where someone can put on a ritual and keep me out. But if a group wants to spend it’s own money to rent a private suite, they have every right to do what they will in it, and keep anyone they wish out, and I will not complain. In fact, I will defend their right to do so.

  104. “You have the whole world!?” What in the world are you talking about!? My “safe space” as it were is my apartment and nothing more. I can go into public only insofar as I am generally visibly indistinct from most other women (albeit a bit on the tall side). Visibly trans women are openly harassed, assaulted and killed with very little repercussion.

  105. I think a lot of the problem was that Budapest has been a presence at P-Con since the beginning, and as a “Big Nose Pagan” she’s a draw in the publicity. I’d love to know what the dynamic was in her discussions (or lack thereof) with programming. Did they raise the issue with her at all? Were they oblivious to the controversy that would surely arise? Were they “blackmailed” by Budapest, as in, “I get to have my ‘genetic women only’ ritual or I won’t come!”

    I think the programming people need to answer these questions. We need to know if this was a case of ignorance of the consequences, knowledge of the consequences but they made a bad decision, or if they were coerced into accepting it by Budapest threatening to stay away.

    In the first case, it was foolishness. In the second case it was a stupid decision. And in those cases, they bear the blame. But if they were presented with an ultimatum by Budapest, we need to know that, since then SHE is to blame.

  106. I’ve been wondering about this for some time. I’ve dated guys w/ and w/o a trans history and I’ve had people I know be all like, “why you going with her” and I’m like, “you mean him”.

    Even getting past that the assumption has always been (on the part of others) that he may well be a guy but he’s got the other bits. Now my point of view is that if the person we’re talkin about is a him than it must be a guy’s body. My logic is that if the body is his than it stand’s to reason that it’s his body no? So then if he’s a he then his body must be he too eh? Just come in a different way of manufacture so to speak.

    I was just wonderin’ if you could help me set the record straight for myself. Am I thinkin’ about this the right way or am I way off base?



  107. That really peeves me too Kenneth. Why can’t we just relax and take people in for who they are eh? Why do we gotta think we know better than them?

    Frankly I’d rather go with a guy who knew his head from his ass than a guy w/ a dick who didn’t. I mean what’s so special about a dick that it makes the man eh? I’ve got one and it’s pretty neat but it doesn’t make me a man. That’s all about what’s in your head and your heart no?



  108. I for one appreciate all the hard work that goes into sorting everything out as far as PNC folks are concerned. I know it’s all volunteer and I think that it’s great work. Keep it up please!



  109. Yeah except we all know that ain’t the way it would have played out. This whole thing is surreal as **** if you ask me. Can’t she tell women from women and men from men and all that? I’ll give her a hint: it’s up to them to tell you, not you to tell them who they are.



  110. “As a traditional polytheist, I do believe that our meat-bodies can influence our spiritual bodies,”

    That’s an interesting point of view.

    I was always of the mind, as an animist, that it was our spiritual bodies who had their way with the meat. I dunno how that would play out w/ trans folks though.

    Not to make any light of trans issues whatsoever, but maybe becoming trans from a spiritual point of view is like missing a highway exit. Like you were shooting for one but left at the other instead?

    The important thing to me is that folks are here now and should be all treated w/ dignity and respect for who they are.



  111. I think the main difference is the perception of groups as the oppressor or the oppressed. A ‘whites only’ ritual would not be welcomed because they as a group have historically held power and have used that exclusivity to maintain power and oppress others. Women on the other hand have not held that position in society. Sexism is rampant in our culture, and is not held on par with other -isms like racism in most people’s mindset. Many times I will take a comment or slur directed at women and change it to ‘African American’ or ‘Jewish’ as a test for outrage. The criticisms of Hillary Clinton are a great example of this.

    This issue should not be considered outside of the larger movement in American culture today by the Religious Right to infringe on the gains of the women’s movement. From Santorum’s recommendation that women be forced to birth their rape babies as ‘gifts from god’ to the Virginia law requiring what is in effect rape by ultrasound in order to receive a legal abortion. In light of this current climate a ritual to create safe sacred space for women (who have not struggled with transgender or non-traditional female bodies) seems appropriate. To deny women of ‘normal’ women’s bodies to gather based on their shared experience of being born that way, being raised as women in our society and experiencing existence from that perspective is to diminish and deny those women the healing they need from that unique experience. To equate their gathering to white supremacists (which is a choice, BTW) is rather extreme.

  112. Their mindset is informed by the same understanding, or lack therof, as white supremecists. There is that theory that historically oppressed people are justified in exclusion, but it holds no water with me. Bigotry is bigotry.

  113. We can co-exist, but she’ll have to do it on someone else’s time and money than mine. And so will PantheaCon, if it’s that important to them to keep underwriting this.

  114. I think the problem here is that there is one camp that seems to consider transwomen to be pretenders or people “dressed as women”. And while I know now that’s not true, when I was first exposed to the idea of transfolk it certainly seemed the case. There is this idea that since the ritual was for women only, then the men-dressed-as-women should know it’s not their thing.

    But that’s not what transwomen, (or transmen) are. They’re women, not damaged men. They’re women who often suffer abuse and stigma and horror and violence because for whatever reason they are wired differently. It’s not playing dress up or pretend – I certainly wish it was, personally – and it’s not a disguise or a trick. It’s people (if the current science is to be believed) who have the neurological development of a “genetic female” and often the physiology of a “genetic male”. And they’re just trying to live and be at some kind of peace with themselves, born into bodies that so many others are keen to mark as their own ideological territories.

    I have no interest in telling the Dianic tradition what to do. I have no problem with exclusive rites. What I – and it seems the bulk of others – have is a nauseated feeling in my guts when a place I was told was a safe place for transfolk supports and has official events that are open to ALL WOMEN! Except the ones who aren’t REAL. The ones who don’t quite measure up to Z’s standards of personhood.

  115. Yup. That is just what I was saying to my own spawn today. It seems that Z and other women of her generation sadly got sucked in a time warp and are unable to join the modern world. The wimmin’s answer to the old boy network. Sigh.

    I can just imagine if the Jewish Seder refused people who were not “genetically Jewish” or if a Norse group banned people of color, all with the flimsy excuse that White Born Whites share similar cultural stimuli or only Jews born of Women Jews can truly appreciate a Jewish ritual. Seriously, this line of reasoning is offensive.


  116. I have designed an even simpler test for defining a true man than morphology or genetics. 1)Do you feel like a man at your core? 2) Can you make women cry and throw things at you just by being who you are? If you answer yes to both, you’re one of us! 🙂

  117. Invalidating trans women’s identities as women is hate speech. This invalidation is at the root of so much hatred and violence aimed at trans people in general.

  118. You don’t think she should have offered an apology for her statements last year? So, I’m curious, have you never met a woman doctor? Frankly, as offensive as I think the statement that “women are born, not made by men on operating tables” is towards transgendered women, I think it’s equally insulting to women who are doctors and who may in fact be performing such surgery on an operating table. I’m quite frankly surprised that more people didn’t call her on that.

    Either way, she definitely ratcheted this issue up a few notches, not only last year with her hate speech, but this year by totally lighting a match to it with a ritual almost certainly designed to create controversy. And people criticize my controversial image. My only crime is wearing eyeliner, and MAC is readily available for men or women. ;-D

  119. Would everyone be as upset if there were a trans-only ritual, no “women-born-women” allowed?

    Since many trans women consider themselves to have been born-as women, simply women with a birth defect, a trans-only ritual would say such a ridiculous thing, making your entire comment irrelevant.

    And I have to say I’m very disgusted with “KKK” being brought up. Z made nasty comments, and I wouldn’t have even attended her ritual knowing what she said, but that’s going too far.

    Why’s that? Ms Budapest’s comment really was on par; I mean, you gotta love her circular logic where, any way you cut it, in her book “trans woen = men”: Trans women want in women’s circles? Oh, well that’s how you can tell they’re really men! If they don’t? Well, good then, no “men” allowed! The only reason you can think that comparing her commentary with other embarrassments to society is “too much” is if you’re a cis person who’s never taken a moment to examine their own privilege.

  120. Totally agreed, but at the same time when, like Zsuzsanna Budapest, your entire definition of “woman” and “divine feminine” and “women’s spirituality” revolves around The Almighty Uterus, it’s really easy to exclude those you don’t like rather than examine where one is possessing of privilege.

  121. Yeah, see, I’d take your “offense” seriously if not for the fact that you’re clearly just whinging because people you don’t like have as much right as you have to a certain identity you hold dear. “Cisgender” is no more offensive than “transgender”, and if you don’t like that, well, that’s your problem, not mine.

  122. I mean what’s so special about a dick that it makes the man eh?

    To be fair, you can write your name in the snow with it. Or smack the cat in the face with it. I mean, yeah, it isn’t the end-all-be-all of the male genders, but it’s pretty fuppin’ special, from where I sit. If I woke up tomorrow with my own wang, I’d probably get arrested for tea-bagging the world, but it’d be so worth it.

  123. Personally, I see nothing wrong with how you phrase this, but then, I also understand the paradoxical existence of being TS, that I have one existence socially, but at the same time, medically speaking, the “opposite” words are best used to describe my body in some ways, especially considering that my family history puts me at high risk of uterine and ovarian cancer, so really, there’s no way to get around admitting this paradox to myself –I can either learn to be comfortable with it (and I have), or not. I’m not privileged enough to go out-of-state and have an elective hysterectomy, so it’s far easier on my psyche to live with the paradox. A lot of other guys of similar history to mine, on the other hand, prefer the blissful self-delusion of denying that paradox even applies to them –it’s preferable to believe that, both socially and medically, they have “a male body”, and while technically only the former is true, I’m not going to argue with them about it.

    And really, the fact is, socially speaking, I *do* have but one of many kinds of male bodies. Other men have a different kind. And there are enough cisgender men who apparently use a strap-on dildo due to erectile dysfunction to warrant this comic (potentially NSFW), and apparently dildo f*cker is part of the hanky code, there are plenty of cisgender men who take HRT, plenty just as effete, and plenty who are just as short, if not shorter than I am, so yeah, it’s perfectly reasonable to say that outside of the doctor’s office, I have a “male body”.

  124. “Like many privileged people” I’m a disabled lesbian who doesn’t make a lot of money. What are you?

    You’re also cisgender –the privilege that’s relevant to this conversation. Don’t hide behind what marginalisations you do live with just because you don’t want to own up to whatever does privilege you.

  125. Immersive journalism does not make one a part of a marginalised race, but it can give one greater understanding of what it’s like to be of that race.

    On the other hand, trans women are not “men dressing up to learn” like John Howard Griffin. They are women living with what’s best described as a birth defect. Your failure to accept this fact is well-noted by now.

  126. It’s a very back-and-fourth sort of thing. Clearly, my soul is male, and a very effete one, at that, but the body has a physiology more typical of a female. This causes a spiritual unrest that ultimately led to transitioning, but due to the limits of FTM transitioning, and not to mention my own lacking budget, that can only go so far, which can lead to occasions of spiritual unrest. To say that my soul has complete say over the meat would be akin to saying that either the medical transition was unnecessary, or that transitioning somehow was able to cure all my problems –neither of which are true.

  127. A gay man’s ritual that excluded transmen on the grounds they “weren’t really men” – and whose organizer was on record as making nasty and hateful comments about transmen – would not be OK, no. Nor would a “croning” ritual wherein a woman was excluded because she had a hysterectomy before she could experience menopause, complete with comments about “mutilation” etc.

  128. If they were coerced by Z threatening to stay away, the proper response is “Don’t let the doorknob hit you in the ass on your way out.” Nothing Z brought to the table could be worth the hassle that her ritual caused.

  129. I’d be floored if white supremacists didn’t enter other traditions as well, Gareth.

    White supremacy is not an Asatru teaching; that there are racist assholes who seek out the tradition is not actually the fault of Asatru, but of racism in our wider culture, and in the misapplication of Norse mythology in service to racism by outsiders to Asatru.

    Whether or not one agrees with the need to have women-only rituals, or however one understands gender, Dianic traditions do specifically require women-only for some rituals. Ges is correct in his/her assertion.

    And it’s not actually witty to smear anyone’s tradition, not to mention being kind of tacky within the context of a discussion of bigotry and prejudice.

  130. And statistically speaking, are raped with much lower frequency, and that generally speaking as children or while incarcerated… or if gay. Further, perpetrators of rape are–again, statistically speaking–overwhelmingly gay.

    As to the argument that empowerment “has nothing to do with hiding [women] away in ‘safe’ protected places,” there is surely a point where we do not insist upon this, yes? Is it necessary, for instance, for the emergency room doctor who treats a female rape survivor to be male, in order to begin her “empowerment” as soon as possible? Surely not, yes?

    It is one thing to contest the definition of “women’s only” as rightly inclusive vs exclusive of trans women. It is another to deny the reality that women are sexually traumatized by male perpetrators with enough frequency that, yeah, some of us feel the need of religious ritual aimed (among other things) at recognizing that and helping us to move past it.

    I am not such a woman. But I don’t think it’s necessary to deny the significance of violence against women in our culture, or the need for mysteries to (among other things) address it in order to question whether or not trans women should be included in such rites.

    Let’s keep our apples separate from our oranges for purposes of debate, shall we? And while we’re at it, not insult the oranges? Victimization is a sad part of too many women’s realities, trans or no, and if a survivor of violence feels a need to address that in sacred space, I for one am not about to tell her she’s weak for wanting that.


    Sentence 2 in the first paragraph should read, “Further, perpetrators of rape are–again, statistically speaking–overwhelmingly MALE.” (NOT, most emphatically NOT “gay”–which would not only be a slander, it would be one which flies in the face of the research which shows that gay men are less likely to commit the most common form of sexual assault, the abuse of children.)

    Mea culpa, mea culpa, and let this be a lesson to me never to type anything important again before coffee! Oy, veh!

    I’ve gotta re-do my comments ID here, so I can EDIT my posts! ACK!!! (Hell, I’d much rather delete that one that let it stand with such a dreadful error! Shit!)

  132. Eruca: you presumably made enough money to attend a conference and pay for a hotel room. This suggests you have considerably more privilege than many of the trans people you so callously call “mutilated men.”

    It’s very common for privileged people to engage in self-marginalization for the purposes of trying to shed that privilege – look at all the white men who brag that “nobody ever gave me anything and look at me now: why should I give some black guy extra points just for his skin? Affirmative action is racism…” etc. You can call yourself a disabled lesbian all you like if it makes you feel less guilty about your white privilege and your gender privilege. You still don’t run the risk of getting beaten to a pulp and then arrested when you try to use the bathroom marked “W.”

    And nobody is forcing anyone who enters that courthouse to read the Ten Commandments if they don’t want to. The reason we don’t allow the 10 Commandments to be posted is because it is seen as a state promotion of a particular religious sect. And in this case PCon giving Dianics a ritual with controversial exclusionary categories is seen (by quite a few readers) as an endorsement of their bigoted anti-transgender policies. So the metaphor still stands, as does the question about “would it be OK to hold a whites-only or straight couples only ritual, especially one held by a presenter with a history of cruel and inflammatory comments?” I doubt you will address those issues: so far you have done a remarkably good job of willfully avoiding them.

  133. Cat CB already corrected that post above – it was a typo due to lack of coffee.


    Sentence 2 in the first paragraph should read, “Further, perpetrators of rape are–again, statistically speaking–overwhelmingly MALE.” (NOT, most emphatically NOT “gay”–which would not only be a slander, it would be one which flies in the face of the research which shows that gay men are less likely to commit the most common form of sexual assault, the abuse of children.)”

  134. And when I click the link to an inflammatory comment e-mailed to me, DisqUs doesn’t show me replies.

    And frankly, people can blame “lack of coffee” all they like, the fact of the matter is, 1) “typo” is short for “typographical error”, which is something like “pwn” instead of “own”, cos those keys are right next to each-other; 2) mis-typing inflammatory statements is understandable, but letting them go through without self-checking is just plain careless.

  135. TBH, my experience shows me that a ritual only for trans people, or only for trans women, is a hypothetical only – I’ve never seen one.

  136. I think that intention is everything. These rituals are not designed for a specific subset of people because they want to create power over others and therefore they are NOT informed by the same justifications as supremacists. Women gathering is not saying they are better than men, or transgenders or any other group.

    I can see a bit of your point by using the example of race. Like it is not socially acceptable for white people to hate other races, but racism found between minority groups is less stigmatized. But bigotry is bigotry. If a group of white males wanted to circle to raise awareness of and heal themselves of the negative effects of white male privilege and wanted the rite to exclude all other categories of gender and race so they could focus on their unique experience, would this intention be acceptable, or even though their intention was decidedly anti-white supremacist would they be labeled as such regardless?

    Men have historically feared women gathering together (look at our mass media for tons of examples… it is the basis for fear of the ‘coven’) and I see shades of this fear in some of these comments on this and other pages. It is not just pagans who have been denied the right to gather spiritually, but most specifically women. My point above is that our culture does not sufficiently assign the rights of ‘oppressed people’ to women as a gender. Possibly because of all the socially acceptable -isms, sexism is the most prevalent and stubbornly permissive in our culture. In your view it seems that “women” as a subset of our culture do not enjoy oppressed status and should therefore not be allowed their own rituals. And female blood mysteries should be open to those who were not born to experience this. Perhaps. Although there is a place for women to celebrate menstruation, childbirth, menopause with other like-bodied humans, and a place to share those mysteries with others. Is Pantheacon that place? Perhaps not. Should Pantheacon exclude sacred women’s rites because they are body-experience based? This is part of the question.

  137. I would also like to reiterate that right now in America we are experiencing a backlash against women’s reproductive rights and freedom. From the defunding of Plannded Parenthood to laws limiting access to birth control and safe abortions. This ‘war’ is aimed *specifically* at women’s reproductive organs. There is significant social and political pressure being directed at the control of women’s bodies and to deny women rights because of their bodies. I think a ritual specifically to support women with this plumbing is not only appropriate but timely. And the denial of women to gather based on this body type is not entirely divorced from this larger cultural climate.

  138. Not to sound mean, but welcome to the real world. Maybe you haven’t noticed the war on transsexual women’s bodies going on, but it’s been going on for a VERY long time.

  139. You know, making a hypothetical more and more specific in hopes of getting an answer you’d like is a common troll tactic.

    Just sayin’.

    It is not just pagans who have been denied the right to gather spiritually, but most specifically women.

    Yes, you’re right, Zsuzsanna Budapest has denied women the right to gather with other women. Full stop.

  140. Raven Kaldera holds (or used to hold) an FtM gathering at Cauldron Farm. As I remember, he asked that those who attend self-identify as FtM and there were no plumbing/top surgery checks at the gate.

    And I’ve also found that presentations on gender issues invariably seem to be attended solely by transfolks and people with trans partners. So we wound up with trans/genderqueer space by virtue of not being interesting to anyone who wasn’t sleeping with us 🙁

  141. As for Z Budapest’s restriction on membership in her branch of the Dianic religions, I had been interested in joining her group until I saw that. I’m one of the “born woman” folks, have had three pregnancies with full term births of normal (as normal as you can get, I guess) children. I don’t like what seems to have happened at the Con either, and it definitely shows up one of the less “pretty” sides of the Pagan world.

    One of the saddest things about this whole kerfluffle is that in her twilight years Z Budapest is working overtime to ruin the considerable good will she has built up in the community. She put in well over 40 years of work for women’s rights and for Paganism in general. Unfortunately, there’s now a better-than-even chance that she’s going to be remembered mainly for being a frothing at the mouth anti-transgender bigot. And that truly is a tragedy.

  142. Sorry, this is a reply to Katie, since I can’t reply directly.

    That did kinda sound mean. And I am in no way taking away their struggle. It would be equally unacceptable for me to say to a transgender person “Hey, welcome to the real world. Maybe you haven’t noticed the war on women’s bodies…” There is a war on BOTH and both require healing specific to their experiences. To say that is to deny me my experience and I in no way want to deny others theirs. Please do not negate one group’s struggle because there are others who are struggling more. Again, take the sexism and place it in racial terms.. it’s not acceptable for someone to say “hey stop complaining about your internment camps! We were slaves!” We are all on the same ‘side’. This is what is meant for me by Unity in Diversity.

  143. I haven’t been to PCon in years, but when I was last there the OTO had a suite where they did members-only rituals. That was perfectly acceptable: it allowed them to screen out who they wilt (sorry, couldn’t resist). I would guess that other fraternal orders would follow a similar course. And, as I’ve said repeatedly, I would have no objection to Z Budapest and her followers renting a suite and holding rituals which are open to anyone they wish to identify as fit to join their club.

    The argument here is not over the rights of Dianics to hold cisgender-women-only rituals (despite the efforts of a few to present it that way). The argument is over whether it is appropriate to hold these exclusionary rituals at a public event knowing they will cause a great deal of controversy and pain to a marginalized class which frankly has already suffered enough.

  144. Raven Kaldera holds (or used to hold) an FtM gathering at Cauldron Farm. As I remember, he asked that those who attend self-identify as FtM and there were no plumbing/top surgery checks at the gate.

    I remembered reading something about that before, but frankly, I know from experience that it’ll do no good mentioning anything about the FtM/trans male community to Ms Berger, as she’s less interested in “TS/TG spaces” than she is in “trans women’s spaces”, long story short.

  145. No. I don’t think of women as walking vaginas. The religious right does. I am focused on my parts because they are trying to exert control over them.

    And I don’t believe I’m trolling. I think the nature of much of this discussion has been where to draw the line. Therefore specific hypothetical situations are called for as part of the discussion. Where does it end? Is this an all-or-nothing situation? All people at all rituals? Or do some groups have the right to exclusivity based on their struggle as a group? Where are the exceptions?

    I am raising questions and discussing from my perspective. I do not agree with Z, and in fact disagree with much of her philosophy and approach. I am not defending her or her actions or words. Please do not direct your anger about her words on me, for I do not share her views. I am presenting arguments for the merits of a ritual to hold sacred women’s reproductive experience in today’s social climate.

  146. It is not just pagans who have been denied the right to gather spiritually, but most specifically women.

    |- Me banging my head against a wall

    NOBODY is denying the Dianics the right to gather spiritually. What we are questioning is whether they should be allowed to hold “womyn-born-womyn” rituals as part of Pantheacon’s official calendar. Big, big, BIG difference.

    If the Dianics want to rent a private suite, as many fraternal orders, groups, etc. do and hold whatever exclusionary rituals they would like therein, they should be welcome to do so. But is it appropriate to spit in the faces of the transwomen attending by telling them they are “mutilated men” and “not real women?” and to have the Pantheacon organizers give that their imprimatur?

    You expended a lot of words in your response, but somehow managed to avoid the question which is at the heart of this whole debate. The issue is not about “communication” or “labeling.” The issue is whether it is right for a privileged class to deny admittance to a marginalized one in a public gathering. Cisgender women have privilege and power which transgender women do not. The behavior of the Dianics in this case is not like a group of People of Color setting up an affinity space for healing and communication. It’s more like an all-white country club explaining that Jews and blacks have their own places to golf, and they’d be happier there anyway.

  147. Right, the only reason I knew what “cis” could have meant in these contexts was through my chemistry courses in college.

    However, it wouldn’t be too hard to add in an asterisk defining what “cis” means, and it wouldn’t take up more typing space than “women born women” would.

  148. Again, not defending Z’s words or Z in general. What she has said is offensive and wrong. But should we slap the label of “bigot” on women who have not made these statements who want to celebrate reproductive magic with other like-bodied women is a question to discuss, even outside the events at Pantheacon.

    And, at the end of my post, I raise the question if Pantheacon is the place for these rituals, and I say perhaps not.

  149. No. I don’t think of women as walking vaginas. The religious right does.

    1) I never said that you did. If you don’t know the difference between what I said, and what you said, then you don’t need Dianic Wicca, you need an anatomy course. 2) No… It’s FAR from just “the [Christian] right who sees things that way. See, I’ve read some of Ms. Budapest’s work, and she really does seem to believe that the whole of a woman’s experience in life is directly related to her uterus: In short, a woman = a uterus, and the rest is all just details to her. But hey, maybe you’ve read more than I have, and have absorbed some of the finer nuances that her glorification of The Almighty Womb™ made me too angry to.

    And I don’t believe I’m trolling. …. Where does it end? Is this an all-or-nothing situation? All people at all rituals? Or do some groups have the right to exclusivity based on their struggle as a group? Where are the exceptions?

    Considering that several people have answered this several times over, including myself, I think that’s evidence that you ARE trolling –but I’ve got nothing better to do, so I’ll bat around the toy on the floor for a moment.

  150. The behavior of the Dianics in this case is not like a group of People of Color setting up an affinity space for healing and communication. It’s more like an all-white country club explaining that Jews and blacks have their own places to golf, and they’d be happier there anyway.

    YES. Quoted for truth.

  151. Why do you find it necessary for other people to define new an unfamiliar words for you? You clearly have Internet access, and a basic Google search provides no shortage of accurate definitions.

  152. Not really appropriate – I genuinely had not ever seen/heard of a trans-specific (cis people not present) gathering.

  153. Thanks for clarification and an inside perspective. I was merely speculating as I’ve no idea personally.



  154. Replied to myself as I ran out of replies.

    That makes sense and helps clear things up, thanks.



  155. @ Ruadhán J McElroy

    Next time I see a cat I’m gonna slap it twice. Once for me, once for you. 😉



  156. Kenaz,

    I think that that’s only one of the arguments. Thorn’s protest, for example, was about Z. derogatory language after last PCon. Thorn made it clear that sie isn’t addressing the issue of exclusionary rituals at PCon because she feels ambivalent about them.

  157. Transwomen are “women-born-women”. That’s what you won’t accept. Just because they were born male-bodied or intersex-bodied doesn’t change the fact that they were born women as much as you were.

    As a third-gender person, I know this truth from personal experience. I was born male-bodied, and have no interest in changing my body. Yet, I was *never* a little boy or a man. Guys around me have always known that I wasn’t really one of them–even if they didn’t know how to classify me.

  158. Eruca wrote:
    “”I’m not too big on letting others name and define me”

    But it’s perfectly acceptable for Z. and you to name and define transwomen our of reality? You are a hypocrite.

  159. A minor correction: It is not accurate to say that “half of the trans community *are* women.” The trans* community includes a large diversity of identities, and some of them are neither men nor women.

  160. Sara , my freind …………..your missing the point entirly . No one here is doubting or trying to undermine Z’s work or how she runs her rituals . What all the fuss is about the fact this ritual happened at a public event . Pantheacon this year touted its theme as Diverity and Tolarance. Last years Blood Woman only ritual origonaly stired up alot of resentment and anger, mostly b/c of the exclusivity envolved . Most people involved here are as upset w/ the event organisers as they are w/ Z. In light of last years problems this ritual never should have happened . My opinion is that NO exclusionary rituals should held at a public event , EVER.Our community is getting more diverse all the time , we don’t need to be alienating a large part of our members this way , particularly at open , public events such as PantheaCon. Kilm

  161. AA and all others argueing about social issues , abuse of woman , etc you all are missing the point here altogether . The point here is about not being exclusionary at a event . Rituals held at public events such as PantheaCon. There is a need for healing rituals for wounded , harmed people of all stripes , but the point is a large public event is not the place for it . These types of rituals need to be done privately amoungst the groups envolved , not at public events . doing so , excludes a large part of our diverse community. Kilm

  162. As I said above, I’m not sure that public ritual at Pantheacon is the place. I like the suggestion of exclusionary rituals being held in private hospitality suites, and the public rituals being open to all. This would naturally include the all male and initiates only rituals as well. The point is the offensive statements made by Z, and the vitriol aimed at her and her participants. Cis-women only rituals have been conflated with bigotry in the aftermath.

    I wonder had a cis-women only ritual been held (and described in those terms rather than the more offensive ‘genetic women’) and facilitated by other women, not Z, if it would have been met with the same protest and accusations of separatism and bigotry. Z does not hold the patent on women’s mysteries by any means.

    I think part of the point is that since exclusionary rituals were allowed at this years gathering, would this particular ritual been accepted without Z’s participation?

  163. I stand corrected. Z’s derogatory language certainly added an extra urgency to the issue – given the controversy about “womyn born womyn” rituals I have a hard time understanding why PCon organizers chose the loudest and most hateful person on record to hold one this year.

    I’m still of the opinion that exclusionary rituals in general – ESPECIALLY rituals where the criteria for exclusion are as controversial as this particular issue – are best performed in private suites and kept off the PCon calendar. I have no particular objection to “men’s only” or “women only” rituals – so long as it is understood that the attendees are expected to identify themselves rather than being identified by some arbitrary standard.

    (Yes, I understand this can be problematic: I’d hate to see a horny guy put on a dress so he could stare at naked boobies at someone’s Dianic ritual. OTOH, he’d have plenty of chances to stare at naked boobies at PCon room parties, so that would be an awful lot of work for very little payoff).

  164. The point is the offensive statements made by Z, and the vitriol aimed at her and her participants.
    Who, pray tell, is “aiming” at the participants?

    Cis-women only rituals have been conflated with bigotry in the aftermath.
    And who, amongst those angry with Ms Budapest, makes such a conflation? Now, there are her supporters, building straw men and claims that *is* what we’re doing, but that’s not the case.

    I wonder had a cis-women only ritual been held (and described in those terms rather than the more offensive ‘genetic women’) and facilitated by other women, not Z, if it would have been met with the same protest and accusations of separatism and bigotry.
    Probably, though for the record, Zsuzsanna Budapest *does* endorse separatism –no-one is accusing her of it when she herself has advocated it.

  165. Please refer to the accounts posted by this blog today outlining the experiences of those at the event. There are accounts of being called a ‘bigot’ and a ‘liar’.

  166. I meant on the sign that Z put up, with the “women born women” written on it. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I don’t think everyone has internet access when they’re standing in line to get into a ritual space and reading the sign defining who goes where.

  167. Kenaz, you make a lot of assumptions. That I am white is another one. Your 10 commandments analogy remains bad. I’m well aware of why the 10 Cs shouldn’t be posted at a courthouse. Consider the avatar you posted of yourself, you have a lot of chutzpah lecturing me about “privilege” but I admit that I find the idea that I have some fascinating. Who would have known? There’s a world of difference between getting harassed and arrested for using the restroom and being told you can’t participate in a ritual. And in answer to your question, I have no problem with a het-couples-only ritual happening and would never attempt to go to a white’s only ritual. I think the problem is that you’re not grasping the freedom-of-religion concept.

  168. Ian, I’m happy to call transwomen (your word) whatever they wish to be called. I stated that I don’t wish to be referred to by the “ciswoman” neologism because I find it offensive. This does not make me a “hypocrite”.

  169. Yes, calling someone cis is definately trying to other them, instead of treating them respectfully and as wholes.

  170. I meant on the sign that Z put up, with the “women born women” written on it. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I don’t think everyone has internet access when they’re standing in line to get into a ritual space and reading the sign defining who goes where.

    Well, you weren’t very clear, and anyway, as a transphobe, Zsuzsanna Budapest wouldn’t use a term like “cisgender” because she doesn’t believe that trans women were born as women, in spite of the empirical, scientific evidence to support the fact that they have a brain of that gender. That said, “women-born women” is clearly a transphobic phrase, as it assumes only cisgender women are “women” since birth.

  171. To be fair, Eruca, people who tend to leave out certain disempowerments are people who tend to have privilege in that area, as they take it for granted. Are you honestly saying that you fall under an ethnicity typically characterised as “white”? Do you realise this is seriously the first time you ever mentioned being “of colour”?

  172. Yes it does. Trans women (not the othering “transwomen”) tend to prefer to just be called women –but society has deemed it necessary to modify this state of being for certain women, thus “trans women”. When words comes about that levels the table, “cisgender” and thus “cis women”, you decide it’s “offensive” in spite of all evidence that it is not. But yet you still refuse to concede that trans women are simply women, what the overwhelming majority prefer to be called, which makes you a hypocrite for insisting that only you get to choose what words define you.

    You want to have your cake and eat it to, but that’s not the way it works: Either trans women are just the same as cis women, or you accept that you’re cisgender and admit the reality that it’s not an offensive term.

  173. … with a ritual almost certainly designed to create controversy.

    In the same way the sun “almost certainly” rises in the East and sets in the West. This is the most attention Z has received in decades. The reason she won’t hold her rituals in a private suite is because that wouldn’t get thousands of people reading about her throughout the blogosphere. Granted, she’s following the Alice Cooper “no such thing as bad publicity” model – but she’s definitely getting a lot of notice from people who might otherwise say “Z Budapest? Is she still alive?”

  174. So, I’m curious, have you never met a woman doctor? Frankly, as offensive as I think the statement that “women are born, not made by men on operating tables” is towards transgendered women, I think it’s equally insulting to women who are doctors and who may in fact be performing such surgery on an operating table.

    …or at least facillitating in some part of a person’s transition. Not only as doctors (in my FTM transition, my surgeon may have been a man, but the rest of my facilitating medical staff have been [cisgender] women), but cis women have been partnered with trans women since pretty much the beginning.

  175. “with a ritual almost certainly designed to create controversy.”

    I just have to disagree with you on this point — as vile as Z’s comments were, this particular ritual being proposed likely has NOTHING to do with stirring up controversy. Z has done this specific, particular ritual at PantheaCon for YEARS, using pretty much similiar (and occasionally the exactly the same as 2012’s) wording in the program every single year. The “Genetic women” was the only change, as a response to be more specific, since it normally ends with “women only”. Which is likely trying to adhere to being specific while having absolutely no clue and doing no research into the appropriate term.

  176. It is not an attempt to other them. It’s an objective indication that they have not had gender reassignment.

  177. No, it isn’t. The prefix given is saying someone’s on one side or the other rather than simply saying they’ve not had gender reassignment surgery. And more importantly, it’s been seen as offensive since shortly after its coinage, and that alone should confirm that anyone still using it having read this or any other previous commenter has problems being respectful.

  178. I think anybody going on and on about which females have it worse should stop the nonsensical oppression olympics and think about making the world a better place for them (and for males, too – feminism isn’t just a women’s issue).

  179. “offensive” only because it draws attention to the fact that you have privilege where you would rather that privilege be invisible. That kind of “offensive” can DIAF.

  180. And more importantly, it’s been seen as offensive since shortly after its coinage, and that alone should confirm that anyone still using it having read this or any other previous commenter has problems being respectful.


    …and anyway, I’m sure there were some heteros who objected to “heterosexual” in the early 1900s as “offensive” because of “blah blah, I’m not heterosexual, I’m normal” –but you know, I can’t source their whinging on the Internet for some reason, so tough cookies, sparky, “cisgender” not an offensive word.

  181. Katie,
    Oppression olympics is both unbecoming and complete crap. Some ignorant person calling people ‘cis’ because they don’t mean it derogatorily is one thing, but you do that knowing it’s offensive.

  182. and Katie, since its well known that in this culture it’s typically not advantageous to be female, what you’re saying is plainly ridiculous.

  183. Why would I call someone heterosexual – unless they identify themselves as such to me, I don’t know who they like.
    A person taking offense at being called heterosexual should not be called that. Why is this hard?

  184. Silencing trans people about cis privilege is critical to cis privilege never, ever being properly examined. As long as you can call yourself “normal,” “genetic,” or the word you really want to use, “real,” you can portray trans people as “abnormal,” “artificial” and “false.” You can justify in your head all the obscenities, all the discrimination you want to justify, because those you are insulting and attacking aren’t “real” people, after all – only imitations of people. This does not become us as Pagans at ALL.

    By the way, Anonymous Guest, you are a damned coward for hiding behind an anonymous pseud instead of speaking in plain sight.

  185. Ruadhan, then you are, too.
    I think of calling someone hetero who doesn’t want to be called that as a habit of someone who enjoys bi erasure.

  186. Katie, love how both you and Ruadhan think you can read my mind instead of responding only to what I’ve said..
    If you get paid to be psychic, your customers must leave disappointed.
    Insults all you got? I’m not surprised.

  187. Guest, I’m replying to my post instead of yours because Disqus has run out of room.

    Wikipedia is a consensus, not an authority.

    As to “offensive,” I have to throw in with those who’ve remarked that people find offensive that which puts the spotlight on their own privilege.

    And let me hasten to add that privilege is relative. Men are privileged relative to cis-women, and cis-women are privileged relative to trans-women — eg, cis-women don’t get murdered for using the ladies’ restroom.

  188. That she tacked on “Genetic Women Only” after all the controversy of the previous year just smacks of throwing down the gauntlet. If she didn’t design it for controversy, she certainly had to know it would get quite a bit. I think at the very least it was insensitive. She might have at least chosen a term that the TG community would respect.

  189. Agreed. And, moreover, it isn’t whether a man performed your operation or not, it’s the idea that only a man could or would and that’s just a ridiculous assumption on her part.

  190. In my case, the same, but that’s not at issue here. We can look to all of the alternative cases as a means of deflection but the end result brings us back to what’s actually happening and not what isn’t.

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