looking back on lilithgate

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.

Participants of the ColognePride demonstration, Christopher Street Day Parade 2015 © Raimond Spekking / CC BY-SA 4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)



  1. It’s your decision, but I think you should leave your earlier posts on this subject up. I think they’re great.

    I think congregations have a right to exclude anyone they want from their assemblies, and for whatever reason. But if they are hellbent on excluding certain people, they probably shouldn’t be hosting public rituals at events that are suppose to be open to everyone. If one wishes to have a ritual for cisgender women only, one should do so on one’s own time and on one’s own turf. Not at a place and time that’s supposed to be neutral. If you don’t want the general public infringing on your territory, then don’t open it to them in the first place.

    Also, how the hell is one supposed to be certain that someone isn’t really a cisgender woman anyway? It’s not always easy to tell; I’ve met transgender chicks who made my parts stand up at attention just as well as any cisgender gal can. Are the women all supposed to line up and have their genitals inspected just so the Dianics can be absolutely sure that their participants are all cisgender women? Seems pretty goddamn ridiculous to me. All I know is, if I officiate a public ceremony of any kind, anyone who wants to be there is welcome.

    Anyhoo, great posts.

    • thanks GB, I will probably keep them up, as the public disagreement that occured with Budapest was I think an important point of recognizing the nature of a movement.

      I think your point about public ceremonies etc was very relevant, as no one was really objecting to a private circle arranging its own matters, much as a private club might. But these were events at a large convention which all the attendees paid for, but that Budapest and Co decided who could attend. In other words, it was part of the intention that “non-women” (which means *men* in Budapest’s world, as she didn’t recognize transwomen as anything else) would pay for “women”. But note here, this was the crux of Budapest’s approach as a feminist. The idea that men *should* pay for women’s space is absolutely mainstream feminist policy, such is their common sense of entitlement, and of being “owed” by “all men” (the equality line really has no traction once you actually look at radical feminist ideology, “patriarchy theory” etc as taught at Universities, which in no way meets the dictionary definition). Transwomen just got in the way of Budapest’s man-hate, because all she could see was men there. Thus my likening her Dianics to white supremacists etc.

      I also agree it was ridiculous to think they could even tell who was cis for sure, but yeah, why you would think it ok to be paid for by the very people you exclude, well that’s an old orthodoxy for the likes of ZB. I personally find the self-victimizing arrogance breath taking, and in this case it back fired for once.

      Thanks again for your comment.

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