After she returned home, Melissa sent me this statement, upon further experience and reflection:
After the press event and while reading the response from the Pagan community at large who are affected by this, it remains clear that there is still confusion, pain, and healing that needs to be done. I am overwhelmed by the support of Ruth and myself. This shows to me that while we can come from different perspectives and beliefs there is a common ground. And while we don’t have to all agree with one another, that common ground can be a starting point for laying a foundation. That is what happened after this interview when Ruth and I spoke at length for hours. The conversation centered on misunderstanding, miscommunication, hurt, and healing around this event.
I finally began understanding where Ruth was coming from in regards to her perspective. I want to thank her for her time, voice, and passion. She told me that this was the first time a trans-woman had sat down with her and really talked to her about these issues in this way.
And I listened while she voiced a real passion for helping trans-women and men shape ritual experiences around our own paths and experiences, and that we would have to do this because we alone understood and experienced this path to womanhood and manhood. And that this was simply not a path she shared.
My part in the conversation centered on education and labels that were used that could be painful for our community and the process of healing. I offered my own perspectives as a trans-woman, who had seen this gender oppression from many different eyes as transgendered people walked on their path to find their own truth. I spoke of the parallels between the Feminist movement, Civil rights, and struggles each movement has encountered and how we as a Transgendered civil rights movement can learn from these movements. I also asked for understanding as we came together to work towards the same goals. These goals are to eliminate the division within ourselves and outside in the community that are not part of our empowerment.
Out of this conversation, Ruth and I parted ways but I feel that a great shift had begun. I was looking at where she was coming from and understand her perspective in a way that I had not been even considered before. I felt Ruth had come away with new insight from my workshop and our discussion also. She changed her language and spoke of “both/and” instead of “us/them”. That time was instrumental as we were able to connect before PSG’s media event. And my perspectives prior to this conversation had changed as well. While the ritual was hurtful in its exclusion, I acknowledged that the need for this space was necessary, as well as space for all people who share common experiences together. I believe when trans-men and women have space to connect, heal, and emerge that the conversation might change. And we can share a space together in main ritual events!
Overall, this has been a process that has evolved from pain on both sides. When we are given space and a voice to speak of this pain, healing can take place. The community of PSG gave each one of us that voice, space, and healing. The work on civil rights and liberties are not over. The womb politics are very real and threaten all of us. The divisions that are created threaten our solidarity in fighting this threat as backlash continues around the U.S. and globally. Each one of us can help this by confronting hate speech and language that we encounter in our daily lives. And as Circle has asked, please give feedback about universally inclusive rituals in the main ritual space. Also, speak of the importance of honoring the space of each Tradition to do the work that needs to continue for our people to heal and become empowered in a space that is safe for all who share common experiences.
Circle Sanctuary has requested feedback surrounding this issue and to aid assessment in establishing future policies be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org