Warning to Goddess-Worshiping Women in SoCal: The Goddess Temple of Orange County is Actively Transmisogynist

[TW: transmisogyny, misgendering/third-gendering, biological essentialism]*

Via The Wild Hunt's weekly Unleash The Hounds linkspam post, I found this blog entry by Tracie Welser, a pagan woman in Southern California, about her experience with transmisogyny at the Goddess Temple of Orange County.  The short version is, at a women-only service honoring Cybele - which gives this story an extra layer of fuckery, as several Hellenismos friends of mine have pointed out that Cybele had one of the most famous orders of trans priestesses in history** - the Temple's "Presiding Priestess" Ava (I don't see how that's different from High Priestess, but in comments to the linked post she disavowed that title, so I will respect her expressed identity, which is a damn sight more than she is willing to do for trans women) made a series of comments about "the truth of womanhood" that referred to trans women as "mutilated", "not truly women" and "denying the truth of who they are".  According to Tracie, who was at the service in question, it was spoken dogmatically by a person in a position of spiritual authority, and members were then asked to "meditate on this unreality [of trans-ness versus cis-ness]".  This was not a dialogue.  This was dogma.

So, with Tracie's permission, I am sharing this information for the benefit of any pagan female readers I have who are in that area, or who may be there at some point.  The Goddess Temple of Orange County is NOT a safe space for trans women or their allies.  It is headed by a 2nd-waver who defines womanhood by the possession of a uterus (apparently, even if you have had yours removed, if you were born with one, she considers you to have an "etheric womb", which begs the question of why she doesn't consider trans women to have the same sort of "etheric womb"...).

If you want to head over to Tracie's post and jump into the conversation, be warned that Ava has showed up in comments and is defending her bigotry with the usual litany of bullshit (which she asked me to post on here when I commented to ask Tracie if she would mind me blogging about this, lolno).

*I swear to fucking god I almost feel like I could TW for "2nd-wave bullshit" at this point, and it would be pretty easily understood.  Although it might be unclear as to whether I'm referring to their cis-supremacy or their racism, so...maybe not.

**Much like the fact that it was a rite to Lilith that was the site of transmisogynistic exclusion at PantheaCon 2011, which...just read this fantastic post about the absurdity of holding a trans-exclusionary ritual to Lilith in particular.  


Sonneillon said...

People who don't bother to do their f*ing research just kind of... make me headdesk.

I feel like "... I should be more upset, but this person is such a MORON."  How do you research Cybele without KNOWING she had a whole order of trans* priests?  How do you do a rite to Lilith without acknowledging...?  Just... *headdesk*

Jadelyn said...

From some further reading of stuff people have added in comments, which I hadn't seen when I wrote this, it seems that perhaps that's what *sparked* this whole issue - that Ava started out by referring to the historical order of Cybele's trans* priestesses as "mutilated men" or something similar, and then it turned into a thing against trans* women in general.  (Although it seems in terribly poor taste to bash an ancient order of priestesses dedicated to the goddess you're holding a ritual to, during said ritual no less.)

The Lilith rite, though, I have no clue whatsoever how that happened. >.<

Sonneillon said...

It happens because people who are bigots, or sometimes even just ignorant, write descriptions of gods and goddesses in books and on the internet, and they fail to include these things.  Other people then read these descriptions and go, "Oh, that's so cool!" and promptly appropriate the god/goddess for their personal use without bothering to find out who they are.  And that whole mindset is so antithetical to me, as a natural pedagogue and a research fiend, that I almost can't comprehend it.  Especially since cultural appropriation is such a big deal in Paganism.  WHY wouldn't you read?  Why wouldn't you look?  Why wouldn't you want to know exactly who you're invoking before you invoke them?

Jadelyn said...

Yes yes yes yes!  Also this is why I came to you for advice on researching the Celtic pantheon, because I have definitely learned the lesson about being wary of what you find on the internet.  :-/

I think I might take a field trip back to UCSC to use the library for some of this research...you don't actually need a student ID to get in, or to access and read the books on the shelves, just to check them out.  At least, you didn't when I was there.  Might be interesting to see if that's still the case...because those works, I would trust to be actual scholarship and verified research.

Katie B said...

I can't help but see this "etheric womb" stuff as being a way to continue excluding trans women at the point in the not-very-distant-at-all future when transplant technology has improved to the level that physical-uterus-having/bleeding is no longer a valid excuse to exclude trans women (who actually DO bleed, quite a lot, and don't die after gender confirmation surgery)...

Jadelyn said...

Oh hell, you're probably right.  Because they've already shown their willingness to shift the goalposts over and over again.
  "Penises are triggering!" "Not all trans women have penises..." "Womanhood is defined by having a uterus/period/childbearing!" "Not all cis women have those experiences..." "ETHERIC WOMBS!"

They will twist themselves into absurd pretzels to try to defend their bigotry.


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