Back in the bad old days of the mirage of online “Pagan community” I wrote two posts on the controversy that blew up around Z Budapest and her attitude to transwomen, as focussed through the lens of PantheaCon. The posts got a lot of traffic, and you can find them here and here if you want to read them.
Sometimes I feel like deleting the posts as it was such a long time ago now, and I know I wouldn’t write them the same way today. It is not that I don’t support transmen and transwomen gaining both equality and understanding, and equal protection under the law in full. I certainly do. But getting in on Budapest’s game? I mean if a transwoman wants to join the Nazi Party or the KKK, I support her having the same rights as anyone, but there is an elephant standing in the room right? I didn’t just imagine that.
Of course I’m a long way from the Pagan community now, and every time I get a glimpse of its concerns I’m relieved to be out of it. The hand wringing (and finger wagging) over “privilege”, “cultural appropriation”, straight-white-cis-male guilt, “rape culture”, “triggering” and whatever else it is now that must be sincerely debated. It just confirms that the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party really was what it last looked like.
I support transmen and transwomen because they deal with real things that won’t go away, and they are on for the long haul, and as far as I am concerned, if you can take on the job of living 24/7 as a man or a woman then you are a man or a woman, and don’t give me that crap about having a penis or menstruating and giving birth. Nature is a train wreck, so give your fellow human some support. That’s just how I see it.
As for the whole queer/gender-fluid/whatever-I-say-I-am-whenever-I-say-it thing; well that’s great, but if someone isn’t talking about the long haul, their whole life, it just isn’t going to get to register socially, and that’s just how the world works. No one is a man or a woman for a day, or a year, or just 10 years. As a man or a woman you don’t get a pass on that. Gender roles and characteristics are obviously not the same as gender. I hated being a boy due to gender expectations, but I never thought I was anything other than a boy. I would have rather been a girl when I was small. That didn’t make me transgender. I think there are precedents for genders other than man or woman (they are found throughout history in various cultures), but those were very definite things for those people in those cultures. I’m not sure if we are helping to bring about that kind of accommodation with the extended menu on facebook say.
People do need to define their terms and their experience, I think they owe it to themselves, and I hope the world will be open to genuine learning (and no one should be persecuted or discriminated against for being anything, understood or not), but the words “man” and “woman” can’t mean just anything anybody wants, when it suits them, and still be meaningfully intelligible. We don’t live in a world without consequences or boundaries, however much post-modernism tries to pretend.
We have to try and make the consequences and boundaries that we have power over reasoned and humane, for every individual we can.
As someone who values the individual, that’s what I’d like to see anyway.