I think this has been a kinda heady week on the Pagan blogosphere if you’re interested in LGBT issues.
The Wild Hunt blog reported a controversy at PantheaCon this year. This revolved around a ritual dedicated to Lilith, which due to miscommunication was not advertised as exclusive to women, and further more to “ciswomen” (women who identify as female and were born with a female body). Subsequently people lined up and waited for the ritual, but some men and a number of transwomen were turned away at the door. It was the exclusion of transwomen from what the organisers intended as a women’s ritual that cut deep here.
This led to subsequent discussion and work on these issues by CAYA coven who held the event, and others including trans-advocates. CAYA coven do not sound like terrible girls and boys, they sound like they really want to be inclusive and more than respectful of diversity. They actually sound like they are doing some amazing work there, and in a subsequent communique they apologized and took responsibility for the miscommunication. Kudos to anyone who can own up to a mistake in public, and do something about what it might have uncovered.
This event has since spilled out into an enormous amount of discussion on the issues of transphobia and trans-representation within the Pagan community, some of which has been unpleasant, but a lot of which has been trying to hit a true note. Truthfully, I think we could do with some trouble here in any case, because there’s a lot that needs looking at, and not just getting swept back under the carpet. It seems quite fitting in a way that a ritual for Lilith should end up exploding the issue of transphobia, through a ritual that took more for granted than it realized.
Of the unpleasant contributions, one in particular seems to have galvanized engagement in this whole thing, and for very understandable reasons. Anya Kless posted on the PantheaCon events in her blog , and got the following response from someone purporting to be Dianic elder Z Budapest:
“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.”
That was on 28th February 2011, and I have neither seen nor heard of any denial or retraction from Z Budapest since.
I think a lot of people’s heads exploded when they saw this vile, bigoted drivel from someone who was meant to be some kind of respected “elder” in the neopagan movement. Even people who knew that the basic position of the rant was indeed the one favoured by ZB. To have it out there so baldly was a real lancing of the boil.
The key thing here, the very thing I’ve seen reproduced with reference to a rejection communique from the ZB Dianics to a transwoman that was in contact with our own LGBT Pagan group, is the elimination of a person’s gender, on the basis of a righteously held ideological position. They weren’t rejected as women unqualified for the cult, they were redefined as non-women, and therefore eliminated as the persons they were. I found that, just as I find this, underhanded, undermining, disingenuous and subtly chilling. Common human insight and courtesy would, you would think, preclude such calculated strategies. But apparently not when you’re dealing with a very small and seriously disempowered minority, and you define their gender.
So let’s just be very clear here: Z Budapest is a transphobe, and a committed transphobe apparently.
I know, big surprise – but how appalling is that? And why have people protected this kind of bigotry for so long? And is it not now time up for pretending that transphobia can be hip and right on?
This really should be wake up time.
26th February 2012: my post on the persisting issues can be found here.
(This post was edited at 19.44 GMT on 5th March 2011, shortly after initial publishing).