PantheaCon Gender Issues

As a followup to Biology Does Not and Must Not Equal Destiny I figured I would provide a few links about what was going on.

  • Thorn Coyle has written a series of posts: Holding Beloved Community (along with Part 2 and Part 3: An Open Letter to the Women Attending Z’s Ritual at Pantheacon 2012), and The Beauty of Diversity: Notes on PantheaCon 2012.
  • PantheaCon 2012: Transgender Inclusion/Exclusion
  • Lupa of Therioshamanism wrote about her feelings and observations and then provided a followup. There’s some interesting discussion attached to both.
  • Letter to the Editor: CisWomen only ritual at PantheaCon provides another take, the comments are (as usual) worth reading through.
  • The Wild Hunt Blog has their own coverage and link roundups at PantheaCon: Unity, Diversity, Controversy and The PantheaCon Gender Conversation Continues
  • Also worth noting the discussion from the last time along with Transgender Issues in Pagan Religions by Star Foster, who wrote about this last year as well, has also been writing more about it this year.

    As a personal take, I believe that we as a community have two separate conversations that need to come out of this, and those conversations need to be kept separate. Conflating them is simply a cause for more hurt without actually fixing many of the underlying issues.

    The first is the matter of inclusion and exclusion from circles and rituals on the basis of things outside of our control. There are multiple important questions here about the degree of acceptable exclusion in any group. Whether it is appropriate to hold ciswoman-only rituals, transman-only rituals, gay/straight-only rituals, or even whether it is truly appropriate to even split women and men.

    The other–which Lupa and Thorn Coyle point out with more eloquence than I will manage–is the matter of language, education, and respect. If you say that a public ritual is open to “all women,” then don’t turn around and exclude non-cisgendered women. One can use moderated–or at least sensitive–language while still not accepting or believing something, and one can show sensitivity and understanding for the issues at hand even while not agreeing with the other parties.

    I am by many considered an outsider in this conversation. I am not female-bodied nor identified (my gender identity is tricky to pin down, really), nor was I there this year. But I have seen this now two years in a row, seen the statements and the hurt online, and feel that this is a conversation that we need to be having as a community, across community boundaries. I also believe that, as we move forward, we need to have both of these conversations. Separately.

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One Response to PantheaCon Gender Issues

  1. Cara says:

    The confusion and anger in these discussions is being exacerbated by unclear language and mixing together different discussions. Also, that people are in no way listening to one another is apparent when you read the comments on blog posts. I have seen intelligent people that I’ve known for years do this.

    A person will comment something like, “Z’ shouldn’t have been a ritual leader because of past comments.” And another person will respond to that by saying, “I agree with you that PantheaCon should allowed exclusionary rituals.” Those are very different positions.

    Or a person will comment that although they wouldn’t attend a ritual that made it sound as if transgender women weren’t women, they find value in rituals for subgroups that restrict on who can attend. Another person will respond, “How can you support trans-phobia?”

    Like you, I’m hoping that the conversations move in a more productive way. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/agora/2012/02/overview-of-the-pantheacon-gender-debate/

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