Final Words on PantheaCon 2012

As the fire dies down to ashes around the PantheaCon 2012 trans-exclusionary ritual by Z. Budapest, I want to leave one last post here - this one, to highlight some of the best voices I've seen raising some really excellent points about just how wrong Budapest and her apologists are, and why.

Firstly, blogfriend and regular commenter here, Sonneillon, wrote a fantastic post about some more of the common apologia for trans-exclusionary rituals, and this particular paragraph, addressing certain people's claims that to draw attention to such things is "politicizing" a religious practice, leapt out at me.
What struck me the most about Gus's piece was his assertion that he thinks Trans* rights are political, and therefore have no place in religious discussion. As if religion is not political. As if the personal is not political, and the political is not personal. This speaks to an ignorance of the root of these issues that is so astounding I'm not even sure where to begin fighting it. If Gus, and others like him, do not accept that Paganism can and should wrestle with such issues as trans* acceptance, then Gus and others like him do not think we can and should be a community. Any community, politicized or not, has to wrestle with those issues, because trans* people are people and they exist in our communities. To imply otherwise is the height of naivety. It's the height of privilege, much like "I can't be a homophobe because I have gay friends!" which also shows up in that essay. It means that you think trans* people are too minor and too invisible to be part of a greater dialogue.
(Emphasis mine.)  Yes.  A hundred times yes.  Issues of identity cannot be confined to neat little boxes marked "politics" that have no intersection or interaction with the other facets of life and community, because identities are borne by people, and people make up communities, therefore the politics of various identites are present because people who live those identities are present.

Secondly, longtime Twitter (and now Tumblr) acquaintance Katie, a trans pagan woman who has written a fair amount about the PantheaCon fail, addressed the "well then trans people should just have their own exclusive spaces, so it will all balance out" fallacy so many apologists have trotted out.
To me, “trans only” spaces feel hurtful - they feel like being exiled to a leper colony. I need space to unpack my transness and let my transness be sacred - but I need that sacredness - need - to be firmly within the context of my womanhood. The first grows off the second - I cannot be trans without being a woman.
And thirdly, paganism and sexuality blogger who I deeply admire, Meliad the Birch Maiden, on how misogyny and oppression of women is not actually about vaginas, so we really don't need to be defining womanhood by that particular organ:
As a cis woman who knows that my reproductive system and the primary and secondary sexual characteristics[1] are used as justification for trampling my human rights in every single arena from legislature to the bus stop, from the school system to my own damn marriage bed, and punishing the audacity of my existence with every conceivable form of violence from micro-agressions to murder. (Stay with me here folks, I’m getting to it); as a cis woman in the context of a seriously woman-hating culture… yes, I absolutely found the treatment of cis-female biological functions like menstruation as Good and Powerful to be a really big, really wonderful deal. 
The thing is… trans women? They get exactly the same bullshit[3], exactly the same trampling of their human rights, exactly the same systemic violence from micro-agressions to murder as cis women do, but in their case, it’s justified because of their lack of a bleeding, baby-growing, factory-direct vagina + reproductive-system. 
So. Big reveal here: It’s not about vaginas.
Whether the assholes are assuming we have them, or assuming we don’t, we’re all systemically hurt, disempowered, and generally down-trodden by a culture that says, at every possible volume, in every possible way, that Girls Suck.
(The endnote [3] does reference a comment about how oppression of trans women is not *exactly* the same as the oppression of cis women because intersectionality, lest anyone think she was erasing that distinction; I read it as meaning how, specifically with reference to misogyny, we get shat on in the same way.)

So there it is.  Thank you to those who have read, those who have commented, and all those who have stood on the right side of things in this issue.  And I will leave this issue for the time being with the wish that, unlikely as it might be, we come out of this round with actual substantive change in our community, instead of a shiny anthology and nonpologies.


CaitieCat said...

I wish I'd had more allies like you, back in 1994. Thanks.

Jadelyn said...

I wish I could have been there, then.  

Sonneillon said...

Yay, more for the blog roll!  It's been a bit decimated of late, what with all the privilege flying around getting splattered all over everything..

Jadelyn said...

Always a pleasure to help - I really love both Urban Meliad and her sexuality/kink blog, Syrens (though I realize that may not be to everyone's taste).  

I actually just realized like last week that I hadn't fixed my blogroll links on the sidebar in forever, and was still linking to Hathor Legacy and Feministe, neither of which I support anymore for various reasons.  Note to self: check that more often!


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