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Author Topic: Transgendered Women Excluded from Dianic Ritual at PantheaCon  (Read 33990 times)
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« Topic Start: February 23, 2011, 08:08:04 pm »

Well, I had a very interesting PantheaCon.

On Saturday night a Dianic coven held a ritual to Lilith.   Several transgendered women attempted to get in, and were turned away.  They were told that only "Women born women" were welcome.

Transgendered advocates fought to have the issue addressed by the PantheaCon organizers.   Monday afternoon, an open discussion was held in the Fir Ballroom.   Dianic elders were there, along with many transgendered Pagans and their allies within the community.

Article from one of the event's organizers.

I was not there.  The discussion was not published in the bulletin but was announced in a small flyer.  The organizers did their best to get it out to everyone but I guess somehow I managed to miss it.   Two good friends of mine were there, and we met for lunch after the discussion. 

I was alarmed by the discriminatory practices but  impressed by the rapid response of the Panthea Con organizers.   The people organizing the debate were given a very large room on the spur of the moment.   The entire event was recorded by the Bay Area Pagan Newswire Collective Bureau.  I checked their website as soon as I got home and saw that this recording wasn't on there yet.  I emailed them to see when it would be up.   I actually got a response from the person who did the recording.  She says that she's going to be uploading the whole recording once the reporter who is writing the story has a chance to take notes on the whole thing.   Jason Pitzl-Waters of "The Wild Hunt" is also going to be doing a story.

Some people are calling for a non-discrimination policy at PantheaCon rituals.   Dianic Elder Ruth Barrett is saying that such a policy will make it impossible for her to hold events and the con. 

I thought people might be interested in having a discussion on this as things unfold. 

Mods:  I think this is worthy of the front page.  Would it be possible to get it up there? 
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« Reply #1: February 23, 2011, 08:15:31 pm »


I think that if entrance into the Dianic ritual is included in the ticket fee for PantheaCon and does not require an extra fee, they have no right to turn away anyone- whether they're male or formerly male. It is, ultimately, a public convention. While they have the right to discriminate as they please in their private work, I don't think they can do so at a public event.
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« Reply #2: February 23, 2011, 08:25:42 pm »


My first reaction was WTF how rude! But, I'm pretty unfamiliar with Dianic practices (aside from the generalizations and bad jokes) so there may be something I'm missing regarding that but, as has already been said, if purchasing entrance to Pantheacon explicitly includes entrance or participation in the ritual then limiting such participation is wrong. However, if such a purchase does not necessarily include participation then it's a very gray area indeed.

Personally, I would like to think that a person's spirit weighs more than their genetics in cases like this. The segregated thinking here is -again to me- uncomfortably close to the kind of thinking that justifies or permits the denigration or separation of any person based on an aspect they have no control over, whether that be skin tone, gender, freckles, eye color etc. This makes me uncomfortable, but as I've said I don't know much about Dianic worship.

I do agree that the response seems to have been both rapid and respectful/concerned. Very impressive.
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« Reply #3: February 23, 2011, 08:52:01 pm »

Some people are calling for a non-discrimination policy at PantheaCon rituals.   Dianic Elder Ruth Barrett is saying that such a policy will make it impossible for her to hold events and the con.

If a non-discrimination policy makes certain events impossible, maybe they are better off without those events.

I guess the Dianics can do what they want, but my opinion is that they are being sexist by only allowing women who were born women (and excluding men in general). I'm all for feminism and women-centered healing rituals, but by acting this way they are becoming exactly like the patriarchal institutions they accuse of being oppressive.
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« Reply #4: February 23, 2011, 08:53:22 pm »

On Saturday night a Dianic coven held a ritual to Lilith.   Several transgendered women attempted to get in, and were turned away.  They were told that only "Women born women" were welcome.

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« Reply #5: February 23, 2011, 08:54:54 pm »

On Saturday night a Dianic coven held a ritual to Lilith.   Several transgendered women attempted to get in, and were turned away.  They were told that only "Women born women" were welcome.

Wow, that's incredibly offensive.

Whereas I bet they'd let me in no problem, even though I don't identify as a woman. I just have all the "right bits" and they've been there since birth, so that somehow makes me more woman than someone who actually identifies that way.

Some people are calling for a non-discrimination policy at PantheaCon rituals.   Dianic Elder Ruth Barrett is saying that such a policy will make it impossible for her to hold events and the con.

If a non-discrimination policy makes it impossible for someone to practice hir religion, then ze's religion is bigoted. Cissexist and transphobic in particular, in this case.

Good job on resisting oppressive structures! Totally haven't replicated them at all. /sarcasm
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« Reply #6: February 23, 2011, 09:02:52 pm »

Personally, I would like to think that a person's spirit weighs more than their genetics in cases like this.

Agreed.

The priestess' argument was that trans women cannot participate in the Blood Mysteries. I get where they are coming from but the lines they draw seem arbitrary.

What about women who have had historectomies?  How about genetic conditions that cause them to not menstruate?  What about Crones?  Of course their transition into that phase is considered sacred.  I guess they draw the line with people who have had a period at some time in their lives (?).  Of course, you could say that about female-to-male transgendered person.  Then it becomes an issue of identity.  I'd imagine such a person would be excluded because they now identify as male.

But it identity is enough to get you out, it should be enough to get you in.

I'm not Dianic and my my period is not some great big spiritual thing.  Feeling crampy, bloated and depressed is usually a distraction from my connection with the Gods.   Undecided

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« Reply #7: February 23, 2011, 09:06:09 pm »

I think that if entrance into the Dianic ritual is included in the ticket fee for PantheaCon and does not require an extra fee, they have no right to turn away anyone- whether they're male or formerly male. It is, ultimately, a public convention. While they have the right to discriminate as they please in their private work, I don't think they can do so at a public event.

The ritual in question said nothing about it being women-only.  I believe trans women and guys were just turned away at the door.
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« Reply #8: February 23, 2011, 09:11:29 pm »

Whereas I bet they'd let me in no problem, even though I don't identify as a woman. I just have all the "right bits" and they've been there since birth, so that somehow makes me more woman than someone who actually identifies that way.

Yeah, I'm right there with you.

My transgendered friends are a lot more "femme" than me any day.

I'm more or less androgynous and get seriously uppity if somebody tries to define my spirituality by the junk I have in my pants.  I went to a ritual one time where I was told I could only invoke the Earth and the Water elements because I was a woman. 

Of course I'm much more of an air and fire time of person, but that didn't seem to matter.

Oh, and...being told I should be worshipping female Gods and connecting with the "Divine Feminine".   I worship several Gods and Goddesses but my choices on who to honor have nothing to do with gender.  I don't worship genders.   I worship Deities
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« Reply #9: February 23, 2011, 09:18:16 pm »

I'm more or less androgynous and get seriously uppity if somebody tries to define my spirituality by the junk I have in my pants. 

Lol I tend to be a bit androgynous m'self. I'm a heterosexual female but I tend to literally forget about gender etc sometimes and it's so gotten me into trouble. Like skinning down to change out of a uniform w/out thinking twice about the married male in your kitchenette 'cause you're in a huge hurry or answering a male colleague's phone and telling his GF that he's in the shower. Whoops!

Seriously, I'm completely oblivious sometimes. It's a bit of a pitfall lol.

But back on point, there doesn't seem to be a just way to discern who is or is not 'female' for such things. Again because I'm an oblivious idiot w/gender I really have less than no problem with a person identifying as another gender if that is what makes them happy. This goes doubly with religious concerns because, to me, it's the spirit not the flesh that matters. But then I'm not dianic sooo yeah.
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« Reply #10: February 23, 2011, 09:26:22 pm »



All Temple of Diana rituals are reserved for "woman born women". The religion is about women's mysteries, and what it like living in a woman's body. That is the main focus. The rituals aren't against men or transgendered people, but they aren't for them. They are not designed to cover the specific experiences those groups encounter.

I don't think that a religion should be forced to change it's practices just because some people feel left out. If you're not into celebrating women's mysteries, don't go to a Dianic ritual.

Now, it sounds like the situation was not properly explained ahead of time. If this was a Dianic ritual at Pantheacon, then people should have been told what the Temple of Diana is. If it was billed as a public ritual to Lilith and it just so happened that Dianics were leading it, then Ruth should have been prepared to lead an open ritual with all welcome.

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« Reply #11: February 23, 2011, 09:28:19 pm »

I think that if entrance into the Dianic ritual is included in the ticket fee for PantheaCon and does not require an extra fee, they have no right to turn away anyone- whether they're male or formerly male. It is, ultimately, a public convention. While they have the right to discriminate as they please in their private work, I don't think they can do so at a public event.

Dianic rituals never require a entry fee. Donations are sometimes suggested, but money is usually collected in a 'throw you dollars into that basket' kind of way, where no one sees how much anyone else has given.
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« Reply #12: February 23, 2011, 09:34:44 pm »

I don't think that a religion should be forced to change it's practices just because some people feel left out. If you're not into celebrating women's mysteries, don't go to a Dianic ritual.

And if you're not into welcoming all sorts of people, don't host a Dianic ritual at a public convention.
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« Reply #13: February 23, 2011, 09:36:39 pm »

Dianic rituals never require a entry fee. Donations are sometimes suggested, but money is usually collected in a 'throw you dollars into that basket' kind of way, where no one sees how much anyone else has given.

It's not unusual at conventions for a public ticket to grant access to most things, but a special ticket or fee might be required for other activities, ones that limit the number of attendees or the type. It sounds like such a practice might have been useful in this case; interested parties could then be informed of a "women born women" policy and save everyone some discomfort.
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« Reply #14: February 23, 2011, 09:38:48 pm »

What about Crones?  Of course their transition into that phase is considered sacred.
Yes.

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I guess they draw the line with people who have had a period at some time in their lives (?).
Yes.

Quote
Of course, you could say that about female-to-male transgendered person.  Then it becomes an issue of identity.  I'd imagine such a person would be excluded because they now identify as male.
I think it is more a matter of keeping the ritual participants limited to those who can relate with and are sympathetic to womanhood. The ritual circle is sacred space where woman expect they can be open and vulnerable and have others to relate to. If someone has decided that they just don't identify as a woman, and can't relate to those mysteries, then they won't be able to empathize and are not the company that's desired in that particular space and time.*

*I realize that last line sounds kind of harsh, and I don't mean for it to be that way. I mean it like this: I love my husband and want to spend time with him. But when I'm talking about my depression, I'd rather talk to someone who has dealt with depression personally. He's never had it, and though he loves and supports me, he just can't understand what I've been through.
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