Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pantheacon 2012: Here we go again...

After last year's controversy over rites which excluded transgender women, the organizers of Pantheacon learned their lesson and put no more "womyn born womyn" rituals on their calendar.  Unfortunately for us, this only happened in Bizarro World. In our dimension they scheduled a ritual which was not only advertised as "for genetic women only" but which was led by Z Budapest, whose hateful comments about  "transies" were among the low points of last year's argument.

As can be expected, the blogosphere is once again abuzz over the controversy. Thorn Coyle organized a silent protest outside Z Budapest's ritual (more from Thorn here). And Yeshe Rabbit, whose CAYA coven organized last year's ritual, chimed in as well.  But what I found most interesting was a comment from a Dianic who attended Z's ritual, a womyn who posted as "Sierra."
What about our right and women and girls to have our own rituals and space? When every other group can have their own rituals and space that is not challenged, why is it that only women are being attacked for seeking to take care of our own needs rather than the wants of others? This agenda by some transfolk to assert their patriarchal "right of privelege" to go where ever they want, whenever they want and yet to portray themselves as the "victims" of genetic females has gone far enough. Its time that people start questioning the assertions being made by the anti-Dianics and make some effort to listen to what is being said by the Dianics who celebrate women's mysteries. We will not give upour rites and our sacred space.
Z Budapest has a right to hold rituals for "genetic women only" and to refer to transwomen as mutilated men attempting to exercise male privilege. And others within the community have the right to call her on her beliefs.  Exclusion cuts both ways. If we are going to support the Dianic right to exclude transwomen as "mutiliated men," then we must also support the right of other groups to exclude those Dianics as "bigots." You may disagree with either or both parties in this controversy, but you can hardly disagree with anyone's right to free association.

I also find it interesting how the Dianics seem so caught up in the idea of "patriarchal privilege" that they are unable or unwilling to recognize their own privilege.  Is there anyone who would deny that transwomen have less cultural clout than cisgender women, or that they are disproportionally subjected to violence and discrimination? Frankly, all this talk by college-educated middle-class white women about the "privilege" of a marginalized class reminds me of the endless rantings about how "white men suffer more discrimination than anyone else in America thanks to Affirmative Action" or how there is a "secular humanist war against Christianity."

This privileged worldview can be seen in the whimpering about "[giving] up our rites and sacred space." Nobody is denying the Dianics the right to worship as they see fit.  But there's a big difference between acknowledging a group's rite to hold exclusionary rituals and giving them a venue to hold those exclusionary rituals at a public event.  Like the fundamentalists who see the separation of church and state as a direct attack on their faith, the Dianics seem bound and determined to declare that anyone who denies them a venue at any event - regardless of the cost in hurt feelings and marginalization to other attendees - is engaging in a war against Dianics.
Transfolk have their own amazing mysteries and rather than constantly trying to destroy and eliminate Dianic Mysteries, should focus their energies on building their own traditions, mysteries and rituals. They can then invite whomever they want to share their experiences with them. Why has this not happened? You might want to ask yourself this because it may clarify what is really going on. Make an effort to look into the history of the last 10 to 15 years of harrassment of women by some in the trans-community that has led to the elimination of nearly all genetic women's space. Anytime we attempt to gather, we are called bigots and it is said that we are somehow victimizing the trans-folk. We have very few safe spaces left. Space that we need to take care of ourselves physically, emotionally, spiritually. I am not anti-trans. I have no issues with an inclusive community. But I will not be bullied and harassed out of participating in my birthright as a female.
Again, nobody is bullying or harassing her out of "participating in [her] birthright." There is a big difference between a silent protest and a pipe bomb left on someone's doorstep. There's a big difference between saying that PCon will not provide official sanction to "womyn-born-womyn" rituals but will not and cannot stop Dianics from holding these events in their own suite and saying that Dianics are unwelcome to attend PCon as teachers, presenters or even guests. I also note that there used to be an official name for the solution Sierra offers.  Do the words "separate but equal" ring bells with anyone? (We can at least be grateful that she didn't tell us that some of her best friends are trans).

As for a lack of "safe spaces" - this gets back to what I said earlier. Christians are allowed to welcome or to shut out any potential congregants they see fit. They can rail against homosexuals, race mixers, Jewish bankers, secular humanists, Muslims and the like from their own pulpits. Those who find their teachings to be edifying are free to attend their churches. Last I checked, no one was seriously talking about making the practice of Evangelical Christianity illegal: neither is anyone saying that Dianics should not be allowed to practice their faith as they wish and to open their private events to participants of their choice. But like many others who are unwilling to own their own privilege, Sierra seems to mistake the right to freedom of speech and religion with the right to a cheering section.