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Thread: Dianic Rites, Gender Identification and Gender Essentialism

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    Dianic Rites, Gender Identification and Gender Essentialism


    At a recent womyn's ritual to Lilith at Pantheacon, several transgender MtFs were turned away at the door and told that the ceremony was only for "women born women." While the organizers and the event sponsors work toward a mutually agreeable compromise and consensus, the blogosphere continues to hum with the questions of what happens when the right to gender identity and freedom of association and religious expression run headlong into each other. And though there has been a great deal of heat, we have also seen a fair amount of enlightening discourse.

    Anya Kless, a priestess of Lilith, offered commentary on Fruit of Pain, and received a rather heated response from legendary witch and elder Z Budapest<img alt="" style="border: medium none ! important; margin: 0px ! important; padding: 0px ! important;" border="0" height="1" width="1">. Budapest's post follows, as does my response. There is a great deal more discussion on Anya's blog regarding this and many other topics: if you haven't bookmarked Fruit of Pain yet, you really should.

    Z Budapest in italics.

    *****

    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.


    This comment ill suits your status as an Elder, a Witch, and one of the most important philosophers and thinkers in contemporary Feminism and Neopaganism. I urge you to consider the importance of your words, and to remember that there are sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, lovers and allies on both sides of this argument. If we must disagree, let us do so in a spirit of love. If there must be boundaries between us, let them be drawn in a spirit of cooperation.

    I do not dispute the right of CAYA, or any other Dianic group, to define “Womyn” as they see fit. I accept your right to exclude me. Since I identify as third-gendered rather than female, I would never seek entry into your Mysteries. I also accept your right to exclude my transgendered sisters or anyone else whom I might identify as a woman. They are your Mysteries, and you are welcome to share them as you will. I respect your rights to association, belief and expression.

    However, I also respect the right of my transgendered sisters to their identity – an identity for which they have suffered and for which they continue to suffer. I will speak out against discrimination and hatred when it is aimed at them, and I will encourage others to do so. If Dianic Wiccans wish to shut out transgendered women from public events held by Pantheacon (particularly if they do so with hateful remarks about “being made on operating tables” and the like), I would encourage the organizers of Pantheacon to withdraw their public support for those workshops and those rituals.

    This would not stop Dianics from holding private ceremonies and rituals in their own suites, as many groups do. And just as the OTO or other lodges and orders can restrict events to members only, the Dianic groups would be free to open their doors to whomever they saw fit. This would strike me as an appropriate compromise which would at least go some way toward acknowledging everyone’s rights and feelings. (Granted, it’s sure to dissatisfy just about everyone on one level or another, but that’s the nature of compromise).

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  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by KenazFilan View Post



    At a recent womyn's ritual to Lilith at Pantheacon, several transgender MtFs were turned away at the door and told that the ceremony was only for "women born women." While the organizers and the event sponsors work toward a mutually agreeable compromise and consensus, the blogosphere continues to hum with the questions of what happens when the right to gender identity and freedom of association and religious expression run headlong into each other. And though there has been a great deal of heat, we have also seen a fair amount of enlightening discourse.

    Anya Kless, a priestess of Lilith, offered commentary on Fruit of Pain, and received a rather heated response from legendary witch and elder Z Budapest<img alt="" style="border: medium none ! important; margin: 0px ! important; padding: 0px ! important;" border="0" height="1" width="1">. Budapest's post follows, as does my response. There is a great deal more discussion on Anya's blog regarding this and many other topics: if you haven't bookmarked Fruit of Pain yet, you really should.

    Z Budapest in italics.

    *****

    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.

    This comment ill suits your status as an Elder, a Witch, and one of the most important philosophers and thinkers in contemporary Feminism and Neopaganism. I urge you to consider the importance of your words, and to remember that there are sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, lovers and allies on both sides of this argument. If we must disagree, let us do so in a spirit of love. If there must be boundaries between us, let them be drawn in a spirit of cooperation.

    I do not dispute the right of CAYA, or any other Dianic group, to define “Womyn” as they see fit. I accept your right to exclude me. Since I identify as third-gendered rather than female, I would never seek entry into your Mysteries. I also accept your right to exclude my transgendered sisters or anyone else whom I might identify as a woman. They are your Mysteries, and you are welcome to share them as you will. I respect your rights to association, belief and expression.

    However, I also respect the right of my transgendered sisters to their identity – an identity for which they have suffered and for which they continue to suffer. I will speak out against discrimination and hatred when it is aimed at them, and I will encourage others to do so. If Dianic Wiccans wish to shut out transgendered women from public events held by Pantheacon (particularly if they do so with hateful remarks about “being made on operating tables” and the like), I would encourage the organizers of Pantheacon to withdraw their public support for those workshops and those rituals.

    This would not stop Dianics from holding private ceremonies and rituals in their own suites, as many groups do. And just as the OTO or other lodges and orders can restrict events to members only, the Dianic groups would be free to open their doors to whomever they saw fit. This would strike me as an appropriate compromise which would at least go some way toward acknowledging everyone’s rights and feelings. (Granted, it’s sure to dissatisfy just about everyone on one level or another, but that’s the nature of compromise).
    I am a bisexual woman born a woman, but, I do agree with you that transexual women, and the men that support them should be allowed to take part in some way. I also agree that comprimise would be a good solution to this problem.
    Blessings.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by KenazFilan View Post
    This comment ill suits your status as an Elder, a Witch, and one of the most important philosophers and thinkers in contemporary Feminism and Neopaganism.
    Not to mention that it's just really poorly written!

    Gender questions are being raised all over Paganism. In Reclaiming, we're discussing the possibility of change to the Principles of Unity, the only document that defines our tradition, to soften or eliminate gender-specific language in regards to both practitioners and Deities. Our process, being consensus-based, is slow, but everyone gets their say. Because we have many trans and genderqueer practitioners, the issue is vital to us, and we're trying to handle it in ways that respect all participants and viewpoints. We've had a lot of time to get used to the idea that change has to come, and now we hope to bring about the best change for all.

    Budapest's comments seem to be the other end of the reaction spectrum: a knee-jerk defensiveness that comes from being suddenly forced to deal with an issue you aren't ready for. I wasn't at Pantheacon, but my understanding is that, while the exclusion was definitely an issue, a bigger problem was the lack of communication beforehand as to who would be allowed in (also, as an aside, learning that this was a ritual to Lilith, the poster-child for gender role transgression, makes the debacle hilariously horrifying on a whole new level). The situation probably got Budapest's back up. I like to hope that, given time, she'll calm down and behave civilly.

    Pagans, in individual traditions and as a broader community, need to take up gender issues. Dianic and other women-only groups that exclude transwomen need to examine the ramifications of their exclusions and explore the possibilities of change.

    On the other hand, I would hope that Pagan MTFs can acknowledge that they have some differences from cisgendered women. Unless they were fortunate enough to live as female from, like, age 3, they were enculturated as male and raised with certain expectations and behaviors that some women raised as women have discomfort with. I've had two significant others who are MTF and two who are cisgendered female. The transwomen are in no way "less" women or "fake" women, but they are different women, and it's down to the gender expectations they were raised with. If our trans-sisters hope for their rightful integration into women's circles, they need to be aware of behaviors that might, all unknowing, create the kind of atmosphere that women come to these circles to escape.

    In other words, we all have to talk to each other, rather than at or about each other. May we come to the table with open eyes, open hearts, and open minds.

    (There's also room, somewhere in this conversation, to explore the role of intentionally childless cis-women in traditions that lay such weighty emphasis on the almighty power of the womb and the zomgsuperawesomegoddessness!!11!! of child-bearing and motherhood. But that, as they say, is a rant for another day.)
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    From what I understand; this whole thing started with a misunderstanding. I applaud CAYA for their quick response and it seems as if they're going to be rethinking their policies.

    That said, I must say that I am not surprised by Budapest's comments. I do, however, find it ironic that the language she uses is so similar to the "patriarchs" that she rails against. Have the oppressed now become the oppressors?

    BTW, Kenaz, I absolutely LOVE this comment you made on Fruit of Pain:

    Quote Originally Posted by Kenaz Filan
    If I ever make it back to Pantheacon, I am going to organize a Northern Tradition ritual specifically for people of Northern European ancestry. To make sure I get the appropriate audience, I will ask respectfully that all people of color not attend. And when people protest, I will talk about all our members who have been mugged by Mexicans and raped by black men and how it might traumatize them to share ritual space with these non-Europeans.

    (It’s not that I have anything against them, mind you — it’s just that they were socialized differently as children. And no matter how much they might WANT to be Northern European, they never will be. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, mind you: it’s just that we want to have a space where Whites Born Whites can feel comfortable.)

    Soon afterwards I will pull the “oppression” card, talking about how those damn non-Europeans want to silence my rights to expression and religious freedom. You see, I’m not being the oppressor by keeping out those damn darkies — YOU are oppressing me by calling me on my racism. After all, if I can’t hold rituals only for my fellow White people you are denying me the right to hold rituals at all. Fascists.

    I don’t dispute CAYA’s right to hold rituals for “women born women.” I question whether this sort of exclusionary ritual is appropriate for a gathering like Pantheacon. I would not attend a ritual which discriminated against transfolk, nor would I attend a convention which tolerated discrimination against transfolk: I would also urge my fellow transpeople and trans allies to follow suit.
    My thoughts exactly.

  5. #5
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    I find Z's comments really appalling. I thought she was a lesbian herself, one would think she would be a bit more accepting of the greater queer community. Transpeople have been oppressed and abused by society just as much, if not a whole lot more, than women (especially cis-women).

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    This whole thing is why I tend to steer clear of the so called women's mysteries. A woman isn't defined by the status and function of her womb. I may 'moon bleed', but I can also be a doctor, a lawyer or a soldier who dies for my country alongside men.

    Budapest's transphobic bull appals me but does not surprise.

    I too applaud the quick response of the CAYA coven and pantheacon, and realise that this incident has sparked some VERY long overdue examinations of the role of gender in modern paganism. For this, I am glad.
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    Wow... as an Eclectic Dianic Witch (and a lesbian too), I really frown upon Z Budapest's response. I respect transgender people. If a MtF wants to join a Dianic coven, then why not? If she identies as she, than she has the right to do so. It's sad that our gender identity is determined by our physical bodies.

    It's also why I'm not a Dianic Wiccan. I don't like traditions.
    Last edited by shebear; March 13th, 2011 at 11:18 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by patch View Post
    A woman isn't defined by the status and function of her womb.
    Hear, hear! Are post-menopausal women, sterile women, pre-adolescents, or those childless by choice excluded?
    If the Goddess is all women, and all of us are Her, and the God is all men, and they are all Him, everyone fits somewhere!
    Artemis is Virgin to men, prefering the company of women. Others are straight, or Bi. Why do we seek to impose our choice of worshippers on the Divine - They/It are/is surely above all that.

    And feeling safe when worshipping - the Gods are not "safe". They challenge us, making us face the scariest thing of all - our own inner natures.
    In Wiccan terms - " My law is Love to all beings" "my love is poured out upon the Earth".
    When all's said and done, there's a lot more said than done!


  9. #9
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    Oh brother I feel like I have been thrown back into the dark ages, masonic lodges , or ancient Jewish orthodoxy traditions - If one wants to know spiritually where they are heading just look into the spiritual company you keep!

    Public sky clad - well they should have stated the attendance is limited to those born with a vaginal cavity A used tampon with your DNA coding will be required at the door - Oh geez I should be reverent but it is a truck load of human insanity no matter what side of this I look at.

    If I feel like a male stuck in a females body will I be let into a masonic lodge if I promise to stick a sock in my pants!


    There are gender exclusions in many groups – why do we not hear about men stuck in a woman's body trying to get into one of them???




    I can see the transgenders desire to fit into social spiritual groups , be more than accepted but included and seen as part of society nothing wrong with that my suggestion is find a more accepting spiritual practice - Many ancient cultures speak of those who are born as two spirited people - Transgenders spiritual heritage is a proud one and should be researched and brought into the forefront of of pagan practices where it rightfully belongs - so blow off this gender bias and start your own spiritual recon and shine right on past these priestess holy womb.

    I also understand a private groups rights to determine who to include and who not to. Pushing guilt upon them because they want members who are born women renders paganism just another form of dogma. No one is forcing guiltily feelings onto Native Americans, the masons of accepting member that fail to fill their criteria for membership why should we do this with the Amazon Priestess tribe?


    I frequently feel I was born the wrong gender but I do not try to attend male only events because I know what gender my physical being falls into and the physical is all most people who place exclusions based upon such are willing or able to see.






    For my money there is no mystery to the spiritual realms – it is home. The mystery to me is why some feel the need to make mysteries where none exist.



    Hail Satan – LMAO!!!
    Last edited by Umbress; March 26th, 2011 at 04:48 AM.

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    The bleeding heart in me (a queer lady-girl) wants to say that if anything, transwomen should be welcomed with love above all, and given the acceptance and embrace they don't get many other places in life, and that they're looking for.

    Sure, they weren't biologically born "Womyn." But they identify as such, and their existence means they weren't just BORN female with no consent of their own, they WANT to be fully, and they hold femininity just as beautiful if not sacred.

    I guess I just don't think anyone who values it that deeply should be turned away. And don't believe in perpetuating hurt and exclusion.

    They've suffered enough in the mainstream. Et tu, paganism?
    ... And while you're at it, keep the nightlight on inside the birdhouse in your soul. <3

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