Letter to the Editor: CisWomen only ritual at PantheaCon

Instead of taking part in a ritual which I needed I’m sitting in a hotel room writing this letter.  I didn’t attend the Sacred Body ritual hosted by Z Budapest because I couldn’t face the protest.  A protest sparked by pain.  I know pain.  I was sexually abused in my marriage for 17 years.  Then I was abused for 5 more years by different men.  I hated my womanhood and my body.  Rituals like the one offered by Zsuzsanna have helped me begin to heal and I need them.  I’m not a bigot.  I don’t hate you.  Please, sisters, hear my words.

My marriage was a nightmare I wouldn’t have thought would happen to me.  I didn’t start out feeling like dirt.  Despising myself so much that I would agree with my husband this was what I deserved.  He would abuse me himself and with objects in place of his penis.  A wooden spoon from the kitchen.  A tool from the garage.  Dear sisters, my body is hurt and scarred.  When I undress I can see the damage.
After years of my family and friends pleading with me to leave him, and then abandoning me when I couldn’t, I found the Goddess.  I found community.  And that helped me to leave my husband and move to another state.  I circled with a small group of women.  I wasn’t free, though, not yet.  I was ashamed and didn’t own my body.  I sought out men who were as bad as my ex-husband.  They hurt me and the small coven tried to understand and help.  If a man wanted me, I couldn’t say no.  I let him and hated myself.  I had not yet reclaimed my body, sisters.  I didn’t deserve the love of my coven and I hurt them when I moved away.  I ran.
I was alone in the small town I moved to.  Alone and sick at heart.  I worked with a therapist and no longer slept with any man who demanded it.  I could no longer stand the thought of being naked with a man. After a few years I attended Heartland festival and there was a women only ritual for healing and for reclaiming our bodies.  I was sick and shaking when I went to circle with them.  I didn’t know if I could be naked in front of strangers.  They would see what a miserable bad person I was because these women would read it in the marks on my body.  I underestimated their wisdom and that night they saved me.  That ritual was my first step in no longer hating myself.  Hating my weak, ugly female body.

I am sorry if these next words hurt any of my transgender sisters, for you are my sisters.  When we disrobed, if I had seen a penis I would not have been able to stay.  Even today I can’t contemplate being naked with a male.  I am sorry, sisters, for my weakness.  I know you are not a man, but when I see a penis, I feel fear and pain.  This is my work that I need to do and I’m sorry my work hurts you.  I’m trying.

This is why I was at Pantheacon.  I am alone where I live.  I do not have a coven, I do not have pagan sisters where I live.  I go to festivals and I was at Pantheacon 2 years ago so I can be with my community and gain strength from my sisters.  All my sisters.  But I need these rituals of healing and of reclaiming my body as sacred.  I’m ashamed to say I need to have them without seeing a penis.  I hope this changes soon as I long for the day when a safe space includes everyone.  But I need this.  Can you sisters, all my sisters, find it in your heart to understand this?  To forgive me?

I did not go to the ritual at Pantheacon this year.  I wasn’t aware there would be protesters until I was at the hotel.  People at the convention have been talking about the ritual and emotions are high.  My friend that I’m attending the convention with was called a bigot and hateful because she planned to attend the ritual.  I am not hateful.  I am not a bigot.  I could not walk walk past those silent people sitting and standing in the hall in front of the doors to the ritual.  I am not defiant or strong enough to walk past the reproachful looks.
I thought there was a place for us all.  A place where we can all come together and a place where we can be apart working on what we need.  A place for celebration and a place for healing.  Yes, this ritual excluded all men and some women.  It excluded my transgender sisters so people like me can find healing.  So I can have a safe space in which to do this deep work.  To look at this body and have others look at this body and see something sacred.  I’m sorry this has hurt you.

The community has spoken and rituals like this will go away.  Or the women who attend them will be shamed.  There are fewer of these rituals now then there used to be at the festivals but even one is too many and too hurtful now.  There is no place for women like me in our community.  Our views and feelings are judged bad and wrong and outdated.    Please, sisters, accept my most profound apology.

Blessed Be,
Addendum: A asked me to add her answer to a question a few readers have asked.  The question is:   If there was a ritual with a post op transgendered M to F and she did NOT have a penis, would you still be upset?  The answer is:  No, I would not be upset.
Editor’s Note:   As with all such letters, the views held are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of PNC.  The issue of inclusion and exclusion in rituals at PantheaCon and other Pagan festivals has been a very contentious one over the past year.  PNC-Bay Area and the Wild Hunt are covering the developing story at PantheaCon.  We welcome comments, but please respect our comment policy. 
Comments are now closed.

85 thoughts on “Letter to the Editor: CisWomen only ritual at PantheaCon

  1. Leanne Pemburn says:

    Thank you, sister, for your words. Observing these events unfold from across the country, I wondered why this ritual needed to take place: now I know. We are all wounded in some way, and all healing in our own ways. And sometimes we cannot do this work together, at least not yet. Can we let the Piscean need to merge and meld fade with the age, and accept that there is validity in Aquarian separateness and diference, *without losing our connection*? Can we have both? Please?

    • Kate LBT says:

      Before you can have separateness, you need to have unity. There hasn’t been unity, so separation only inflicts hurt.

        • Desiree Renee Arceneaux says:

          Can you honestly say you’d feel the same way if someone was demanding that all women of color be categorically excluded from women’s rituals because she finds non-white skin triggering? I don’t think so. It’s ONLY trans women who are ever judged this way, because transphobia is one of the only forms of bigotry which is still considered socially acceptable even by progressives.

          The fundamental premise being argued here is that the hurt and pain of ONE cis woman “needs to” be considered more important than the hurt and pain of EVERY trans woman put together. I fail to see how anyone can accept that.

  2. PNC_Jen (@PNC_Jen) says:

    The thing that hurts me the most about this whole divide is that it brings back into stark focus the ways in which men have and still do hurt women.

    It hurts me that all women can’t be in sacred space together, supporting one another, but I completely understand it.

    Sending thoughts of love and healing and support to the writer.

    Blessed be.

  3. Fern Miller (@Fernwise) says:

    I’m sorry you have been abused. I worked in women’s shelters with women in the middle of violent relationships for years. I understand the need for healing.

    What I dispute is the appropriateness of discriminatory rituals subsidized by everyone’s fees at Pagan conferences, and I dispute that standing up and saying to Ms. Budapest that what she has and continues to say about ‘trannies’ – her term, not mine, thank you VERY much – is wrong, hurtful, and will NOT be tolerated any more is about trying to shame you.

    I also have serious reservations about rituals expected to have life changing results at conferences far from home, then going home afterwards and having to deal with the life shattering results alone, without coven/group or community, but that’s an issue for a different time.

  4. Lori F - MN says:

    I find it amazing that other Pagan’s would protest a healing ritual for women. I have never been abused but I am very private about my body. I won’t even have a male doctor except for non-personal exams, like a broken finger. I completely freaked out when I scheduled an appointment and got a Chris that turned out to be a man. Even though I had specified having a female.
    But the protest was uncalled for. These women had come for a healing ritual for their femininity. The women had the right to attend this ritual. There shouldn’t have been a protest. It should have been a cheering line, as in a marathon finish line.

      • Tinnekke Bogucki Bebout says:

        If a TG woman has not fully transitioned, she looks like a man in a way that can make someone dealing with the kind of trauma this woman has suffered bring things into stark reality of fear and pain. If the ritual wasn’t sky-clad, maybe it wouldn’t have mattered so much, but the ritual is done skyclad. So rather than have a note that said: cis-women and fully-transitioned TG women only, they played it safe so there would be no accidents of unhappy, unintentional induction of fear.

        • Kate LBT says:

          To be blunt? If a non-surgically-altered trans woman’s body can trigger you, you – not they – need to be the one absenting yourself.

          This kind of discrimination in religious space is the same as the kind of discrimination in nonreligious space that results in domestic violence and sexual assault resources being denied to trans women.

          • eruca says:


            “If a non-surgically-altered trans woman’s body can trigger you, you – not they – need to be the one absenting yourself.”

            I’m watching how little by little the the expectations keep eroding. First people decide they will alter their bodies (their right) and then they expect others to accept their delusion that they are something other than what they were born. You know, it’s one thing to declare yourself of a different gender or species (it’s been done) or even the more variable category of race, but it’s something else to expect everyone else to go along with it. You have a right to think, do and call yourself whatever you want. You have a right to not get evicted or fired from your job b/c you’ve chosen to enforce an oppressive binary gender system. (That’s right, read that last sentence again.) You do not have a right to invite yourself to someone’s ritual anymore than you have a right to invite yourself to someone’s party. Only the person putting on that ritual has a right to determine for whom it will be.

            I don’t see anyone sitting vigil outside of men-only ritual and space. If you are really serious why not campaign against the Bohemian club? Oh that’s right, you’ve chosen the most vulnerable link you can find, women-only space under patriarchy. Brave cowards! I guess forcing yourself into spaces and ritual meant for youth (ageism!) would also look real bad. Maybe you could pick a fight with traditions that don’t want you there for other reasons, like that you are not of their particular race or diaspora, though you might have to deal with guys, male guys I mean, so I can see why that’s not as appealing.

            To say that a woman – a biologically born female person who remains so- who needs safe space in a ritual which was created with her in mind should have to absent herself from it if she can’t feel safe skyclad around male nudity is tantamount to telling someone who has been raped to ‘get over it’!

            Freedom of religion is guaranteed by the Constitution. Nothing can force a religion to do something it doesn’t wish to do.

            You may think that you are a force of progress and change by insisting that men who believe themselves to be women be allowed into women-only space but in reality you are a force of regression and oppression. You are right in line with the Islamist regime of Iran which will pay for sex-reassignment operations, so great is their love of gender-enforcement and dichotomization.

            You are upholding the patriarchal traditions of encroachment upon women’s space and of erosion of female power. This is not ‘progressive’ or ‘revolutionary’ it is the very foundation of a system of domination and enslavement that has led to so many of the world’s woes.

            • Kate LBT says:

              You wield the hammer of kyriarchal aggression – the invalidation of people’s lives – as well as any man. You should feel proud of yourself.

              • caraschulz says:

                These comments are crossing the line into personal attacks. Kate and Eruca this is an official warning. Talk about the topic, please don’t talk about each other.

            • Deirdre Hebert says:


              I think that you, as well as a great many people have a very serious misunderstanding about what transsexualism is. There also seems to be a very grave misunderstanding of gender.

              Our gender is not as simplistic as being born with a vagina or a penis. The most complex sex organ of all is the brain. It is the combination of brain and plumbing that determines whether we are male or female.

              The Navajo recognize this. They have historically recognized girls and boys – girls who were born girls, and girls who were born boys; boys who were born boys, and boys who were born girls. And there are very special people who are completely integrated, able to cross any boundaries.

              One part of our healing must be the ability to recognize people for who they are. It is our patriarchal upbringing that demands that we must fit fully into one box or another. It is our patriarchal upbringing that doesn’t allow us to see that someone might be born without a penis, but still have a male spirit or mind, or that they might be born with a penis, yet have a female spirt or mind.

              This is not a debate about “men who believe themselves to be women forcing themselves into women’s space”. This is about women who were born with *some* male parts hoping that the rest of the world will catch up to where many Native Americans and other cultures once were centuries ago – before a patriarchal society imposed their lies and their strictly polarized view of the world upon people who once knew better.

              I find it strange that a group of people who believes that black and white thinking is something to be shunned, still hold on to it so tightly. We believe magick to be neither black nor white, but green and gray. We follow a religious path that presumably leads people to personal autonomy, yet still wishes to force them into out-dated boxes, and we try to define for them, who they are.

              What we are doing is giving more credence to our own fears than to the reality of many people’s lives. We are perpetuating the stereotypes of the religious right.

              I would have you watch a film called Two Spirits. You can find the trailer here: http://twospirits.org/ I also believe it’s available on Itunes. Please look into how other civilizations looked at this whole idea of transsexualism. I ask you to free yourself from the pre-conceived and patriarchal ideas of the sexes. I beg of you to open your mind to other ideas and other ways of thinking, and to reject the simplistic black-and-white ideas that have poisoned society.

              It is attitudes that suggest that transsexuals are simply deranged or deluded people – sick people – that results in transsexuals having the highest rates of suicide, highest rates of murder, and highest rates of assault among just about every demographic. And for as long as we maintain the sort of thinking that suggests that transsexuals are simply sick people, or “men trying to intrude in women’s space” this will not change.

              Z quite simply is wrong on this one. We may all respect her for many things, but in this one arena, in suggesting that transsexuals are simply phony women created in an operating room, she is dead wrong, and she is part of the problem. She has bought, lock, stock and barrel, a patriarchal lie.

              If we buy Budapest’s brand of gender identity, then the only thing that defines gender is our gonads. By extension, removal of these things leaves genderless people. I don’t know about you, but I think that most people – even after some radical and unwanted surgery, would still define our selves as who we *KNOW* our selves to be. It’s not our ovaries or testicles that define our manhood or womanhood. We quite simply KNOW.

              And if we still KNOW – even after some surgical event leaves us without sex organs, how can we suggest that it is only those girl bits or boy bits that define so completely our gender? Why is it that intersexed children assigned by some doctor at birth, grow to realize the doctor made a mistake?

              It’s not the genitals, it’s not how we are raised. Our minds, our spirits, our brains – these are the things that define us as men or women. Plato recognized the difference between substance and accidence. The substance is the essence of a thing. The accidence is its physical appearance. Our substance can be male or female without the accidental qualities agreeing. Let’s not confuse substance and accidence.

              Sorry this is so long, but this is very important to me.

        • Ruadhán says:

          > If a TG woman has not fully transitioned, she looks like a man in a
          > way that can make someone dealing with the kind of trauma this
          > woman has suffered bring things into stark reality of fear and pain.

          Not really….

          Pro Tip: Don’t judge trans women’s bodies universally by the unrealistic standard set up by the industry for “shemale” porn: In TS/TG circles, it’s generally accepted that a handful of the subject of such media are of male identity and not on HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy); most of the rest are generally either very early in HRT or pop viagra prior to a shoot in order to bypass the chemical castration effects of androgen blockers and oestrogens. There are a handful of trans women who may still be able to achieve wood without additional chemical assistance for several years into HRT, but this isn’t very common. According to almost every single one of the trans women I’ve discussed this with (literally 11/12), after about six months, there’s significant shrinkage, as well. So no, trans women who haven’t had genital reconstruction don’t really “look like men” –at least none of the 50-some men I’ve been with.

          And for the record, “fully transitioned” varies between trans people. Some women (and many trans men) consider themselves “fully transitioned” after the general public starts consistently reading their gender properly, regardless of the state of their genitals.

  5. Kate LBT says:

    Lori F – You mean a healing ritual for SOME women. For women who are, physically, socially normative. For women like me, these rituals tend to be systematically barred, deepening feelings of isolation, pain and violation.

    No cheering is deserved for that.

  6. elfkat says:

    I wish I could be there to go to the ritual. It’s wrong to protest a ritual. Not every spiritual practice has to include everyone, sorry that’s just life and if pagans can’t be free to practice at a ritual safely and in their own body then we are guilty as any Christian would be for saying we can’t practice our way. Z may offend people but if you don’t or haven’t bled you don’t know the mystery that binds the tradition any more than I would know the mysteries of the Unnamed Path because I’m not a gay man. If you don’t like that tradition start your own. Don’t tyrannize other traditions you don’t happen to like.

    • omgsitstasharose says:

      I know and love a number of Transgendered Women, however, not having bled is the very reason I do not allow my pre-pubescent daughter to attend first moon rites that she has been invited to. She doesn’t know the mystery. When she does, then she will be joyfully permitted to attend…


      • Kate LBT says:

        Only 45 years ago, the “lavender menace” was kicked out of NOW. At that point, it was claimed that (cissexual) lesbians could not understand other women’s experiences enough to work in community with them.

        Have we learned so little since then?

      • Rosemary says:

        I know and love many Trans women as well. My feeling is this-those who have gone through the surgery have bled and gone through the same initiation into womanhood as I did during my puberty. And for those who haven’t gone through the surgery yet or may not, they are still going through the same journey I have (and will until I pass on) that teaches me what being a woman is and means on this planet and in this life. I feel my sisters of non-traditional origin know more of the mysteries than I do because they don’t take any aspect of those mysteries for granted like I sometimes have. They have had to fight society, fears and even their own doubts just to be able to rise, stand and be who they truly are. That is the ultimate mystery of why we are here-to become, be who we really are and stand tall.

  7. Kate LBT says:

    I feel sad for Ms. A’s story, and angry that she was put in this position. No one should be abused by their partner, nor should anyone have so much of their self-esteem shorn away that they feel they only deserve abusive partners. My heart aches for her and I hope she finds healing both within and without.

    At the same time, I feel profoundly violated when someone else reduces me to a set of genitals on legs, and upset when someone does something like THIS: Pitting her pain against ours. Trans women and our thin handful of allies are not the bad guys, and a small silent protest that was by all accounts grossly outnumbered by the number of supporters of Ms. Budapest has no serious force other than moral. Any shame she feels is her own. We didn’t bring it to the party.

    • eruca says:

      There were 25 participants and 89 protesters, some were bussed in for the occasion and are probably not even Pagan.

      • dheideman says:

        Bussed in? Really? Only if you mean “took the con shuttle from an overflow hotel to the Doubletree like the majority of attendees did”.

        The protest was barely publicized, only by word of mouth and Thorn’s blog. Wasn’t in the program, wasn’t made a big deal of. In fact, I’ve heard countless folks go “darn, I’d have joined you if I’d had any idea at all the protest was going on, but I didn’t hear about it!”

        And as a cis woman who’s attended Pantheacon for 6 years, and in fact attended Z’s ritual in 2010 and 2011? I knew personally or by sight at least half of the protesters–who I chose to join this year–as repeat Pantheacon attendees, many very actively involved in the Pantheacon and Pagan communities.

        And the ones I didn’t recognize from previous years? I saw nearly all of them at various workshops and lectures earlier in the con weekend. That’s an awful lot of effort for “bussed in non-Pagans”.

  8. Deirdre Hebert says:

    I’m a transgendered woman, and I can understand your pain, your fear, your hesitation. But as a transgendered woman, I still have a problem with a policy that permits cis-gendered women only. And here is why:
    You expressed your fear of a person with a penis being there. I can accept that. But allowing post-operative transgendered women would have not placed you in such a position. A post-operative transgendered woman has no penis – yet these women are excluded from such a ritual.
    You explain in a very real way why such a healing ritual was so beneficial to you. I understand that, and I’m pleased for you. But I must ask this – what of the transgendered women who have experienced horrible abuse in a society that tells them “they aren’t really women”? What of those who have suffered every bit as much as you? Where do they go?
    The problem is that there are far fewer of us. And I don’t see leaders like Budapest stepping up to help this situation. Instead, the attitude seems to be that “these uppity trans-women” are trying to insert themselves into a circle where they don’t belong”. It causes us great pain to be told “You’re my ‘sister’ but you’re not really a woman”. Instead – we’re resigned back to the category of “it” – neither man, nor woman.
    As a child, in school, those were the words I heard – fag, fem, queer, it, shemale … never quite a boy, never quite a girl, never quite human – it. Beatings and assaults were almost a daily thing. Verbal bullying, constant.
    I don’t begrudge you your space, or your healing. If I am, as you suggest, your sister, then permit me to be truly your sister. If you see me as your sister, then allow me to heal as well, and allow me to help you heal. Please don’t presume that I’m simply trying to usurp something that is not mine.
    We have all been wounded, we have all been hurt. We all need to heal. We all need to understand, to care for each other, to love and honor each other. I honestly don’t know what the answer is for each of us, but the moment we say “You’re not really a woman”, we have inflicted another wound.
    I’ve not yet attended Pantheacon. I’d very much like to next year. I don’t know how I’d handle this situation though.
    In any case, please feel free to write me if you wish.

    • Dave of PCP says:

      Thank you for verbalizing many of my concerns with the attitude expressed by the author of this latter. I’m not trans, I’m not female – but I know many trans-females.

      Speaking generally now:

      It’s not a penis or a man they fear, if it was then post-op would have been okay. Instead, we have a ritual with a genetic requirement.

      I abhor it when people treat trans, especially post-op, as genetically inferior abominations as happened here. Sorry, these people aren’t some abstract concept to me, these are my friends who have made a difficult life choice and are doing a lot to perpetuate that life choice both in financial investment and societal outcasting. To see my friends, outcasts as they are, further abused like this over some issue of genetic purity is infuriating – especially coming from a Pagan community.

      If you don’t want to respect a choice, fine. What about those born intersex, deemed genetically inferior by the de-facto Fuhrer herself in writing? These people need to make a choice about which gender to be and often identify as trans. To fit into society, they often must decide which sexual organ gets chopped off. How sad is that for us as a society? How sad is it that we as Pagans are joining in discriminating against these people because of their genetics.

      • eruca says:

        How sad it is that you as Pagans are fighting so hard to destroy what little women-only safe-space there is.

        • Ruadhán says:

          No-one is doing nor even advocating any such thing.

          The fact of the matter is, your definition of “woman” (and, presumably, “man”, for that matter) is rather antiquated, and encompasses only a portion of those who actually are women. Not even all cisgender (“assigned-female-at-birth”) women have that womb and are part of the “menstrual mysteries” that you seem to hold as a pinacle of women’s spirituality –yet I’ll bet you a hundred dollars that you’d still consider them “women” even though, by your own apparent definitions, you’ve made an arbitrary decision to do so.

          The fact of the matter is, now *all women* are claiming a right to “women-only” spaces.

        • dheideman says:

          Trans women ARE women, and thus deserve access to women-only safe-space just as much as any other woman.

    • eruca says:

      Going to a ritual is not a “right”. You are free to create your own rituals. Why do you have to go to mine when I wish to circle ONLY with other female-born women who bleed or have bled and remain female? If you were having a transgender-only ritual, how would you feel about someone who had never shared your experience and had not grown up being anything like you insisting that it is their RIGHT to be included and embraced?

      • Deirdre Hebert says:

        You seem to misunderstand. I don’t begrudge women women’s space. The problem I have is in being defined by someone else. I resent the fact that you refuse to accept that I am who I say I am. I reject your efforts to define me – in the same way that you would reject my efforts to define you, were I to try.
        There are many types of men, and many types of women.
        If you restricted this ritual to “Only women who have bled”, would you reject an older woman who had cancer as a child, and whose ovaries were destroyed through chemotherapy or radiation therapy?
        If you had a ritual that was “for mothers”, would you reject women who were unable to bear children, but who had adopted?
        If you wish to be discriminatory, that is your right. I have never tried to attend a ritual that was based on discrimination. I have never advocated that such rituals be eliminated. I understand the fear-filled nature that results in discrimination.
        What I do know is this: When we categorize some people as “less than people”, some women as “less than women”, some men as “less than men”, we harm all of us.
        Z’s bigotry is well-known. She is downright hateful toward trans-women. That is her right. And her language is the main issue here. I, for one, do not wish to attend any of Z’s rituals. You can’t build love and healing on a platform of hatred and discrimination. This isn’t feminism. Z, with her strict adherence to a dichotomy, with her strict and false definitions of women and men, is still displaying a pathological infection of patriarchal thought. And I truly feel sorry for those who attend such rituals, thinking that they are healing anything. If we can’t accept all women as women, then this world is still very sick. And anything that promulgates such bigotry is still part of the problem.

        Again, if you want to have rituals for women that are still bleeding, I have no problem with that. If you want to have rituals for crones, that’s fine too. I’ll never try to attend any ritual that I’m not invited to. But don’t ever try to define me – who I am. That is not your right. And where Z does so, in disparaging terms, she is wrong, and she is part of the problem.

      • Desiree Renee Arceneaux says:

        There is a massive, categorical difference between an oppressed minority group having safe space to itself and a privileged majority group excluding a minority out of bigotry. In this case and context, the privileged majority group is cis women and the oppressed minority group is trans women.

        It is truly sad to see women who claim to be feminists taking the tools of the patriarchy and turning them on other women.

  9. Peter Dybing says:

    No one protested “a Ritual” we protested the hurtful speech on an individual in a respectful manor. These are real issues that need to t discussed openly in our community. The protest was the response to hateful language uttered by its organizer. The attempt to make the conversation about the larger issue is intended to side step the very real issue of hate speech in our community.

  10. T. Thorn Coyle says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. It is harrowing, and you must be brave to be able to share it with us. It saddens me that you did not feel able to access the healing you need.

    The people who gathered with me simply sat in silent prayer and meditation, in a space set out for us that ensured free access was kept open to the meeting rooms.

    My prayer is that we all continue to share our stories, learn from one another, and move forward to create a world in which there is love and healing for all.

    • eruca says:

      I want you to know that I have lost respect for you and that I won’t be supporting any of your endeavors in the future.

  11. witch33 says:

    This womans pain is heart breaking. She is pleading to connect to the divine femine which is in all women and I agree.

    What she endured didn’t stop when she left her husband it continues to this day and that is a concious pain that may never go away.

    To protest such a wonderful healing part of reclaiming your soul is shameful and disrespectful.

    I don’t believe none of us escape life with out some damage to the body, mind or spirit but we do have solace in knowing healing is a breath away, a connection to the sisters of the circle, a rebirthing of ones beauty inside and out with out shame, titles and barriers that bind us to that we once endured we shall not endure any longer.

    Like a phoenix from the ash, arise ye sisters and dowse your inner flame with compassion and wisdom of the elders whom stand by your side.

    To the author, you are bound by those you allow to bind your spirit dowse your inner flame and I want you to lift your head, hold your self to your own standards and join us in the energy of the femine divined aspect we each call unto our selves the Goddess.

    She is inside you, your mother your sister your aunt and your grandmother. We walk into the empowerment of love and exceptance of all we see and all we have yet to discover with in our lives. Our body’s may be scares like our spirits do but we can not nor will not be broken for we are women who birth from our loins, we bare the fruit from our wombs and from that comes all life.

    Arise ye sisters, throw open your arms and embrace the love of your self and yours sisters.

    With respect,


    • Kate LBT says:

      No one is protesting her healing.

      What was being protested were Z Budapest’s words which have not been adequately challenged by her peers nor repudiated with understanding by herself, and accompanied by the fact that her only offered material this year was a ritual specifically excluding trans women. NO ONE is protesting healing – what was protested were killing words.

  12. Jason says:

    When I first saw the title of this post in my inbox, I opened it prepared to speak up on behalf of my daughter, who is a trans-girl. Then as I read Cara’s post I felt a great deal of empathy for her on behalf of my wife, who’s a sexual abuse survivor, so I wanted to speak up on her behalf. And as I’ve read the comments, I’ve just become overwhelmed by the amount of pain on both sides of this. Both sides have legitimate feeling and valid points, and I found myself agreeing with both sides. I was tempted to leave the discussion entirely, as a “women’s issue” where I had no place, but that option didn’t feel right either, as this issue was largely brought about through pain caused by men. And I realized that my role here is to LISTEN and to LEARN. Even though I myself am not an abuser or a transphobe, I have still benefitted from a system set up by men at the expense of women, and so I am culpable for the damage caused by that system. My sisters, please accept my heartfelt apology for the pain you have experienced, and my humble thanks for this learning opportunity. Blessed be.

  13. omgsitstasharose says:

    To expand on what I posted above…
    I know and love a number of Transgendered Women, however, not having bled is the very reason I do not allow my pre-pubescent daughter to attend first moon rites that she has been invited to. She doesn’t know the mystery. When she does, then she will be joyfully permitted to attend…

    As an adult woman who bleeds and bears children, I have been in women’s rituals with Trans Women- rituals I have enjoyed. I was a part of a WONDERFUL women’s ritual at Sacred Harvest Festival last year. It was one of the more moving women’s rituals I have taken part in. There were Trans Sisters there. That is the type of ritual that I would expect them to have innate knowledge of women’s mysteries. They have a woman’s perspective like no other woman does and certainly like no man does. They have the pain of not one, but two minority groups to account for in rituals like what I was a part of. In that context I am so appreciative of their wisdom.

    I have a personal preference for being in certain women’s rites with only women who have bled. I do not think it makes me a bigot, or anyone else a bigot to want to be in a Moon Rite or a Dianic Rite (I am not Dianic FWIW) with exclusively women who have known the power of blood coming from their womb. It is simply preference…an ability to relate to something I know another woman has experienced.

    Trans Women are not less of a woman by any stretch. I cannot imagine the struggles these women have daily pre and post-op. I cannot reasonably begrudge them of their identity as a woman. What I can do though, is practice how I feel Spirit has led me, and in most cases in women’s mysteries, that is with women who know first hand the cycles and seasons of a woman’s life and body from menarch to menopause.

    • Rosemary says:

      Part of the journey that trans women go through is hormone therapy. In that essence many do experience the same cycles genetic females do.
      The experience of new budding breasts, and the discomfort that can bring. The mood swings of cycles. The crushes that one experiences as a teenager/pubescent girl. The discovery of your style in clothes, talents, intuition, woman’s wisdom.

      Now one could argue, a trans woman will never give live human birth, but then I would argue just because I haven’t given birth does that make me a non-woman who shouldn’t be in woman’s space? Just because I haven’t had the experience of giving birth, does that mean I don’t know how to create, and nurture and mother others?

      One day, in spite of my lack of experiencing pregnancy, I will experience menopause. Again I have heard many of my sisters of non-traditional origin complain of hot flashes and many other symptoms that go along with menopause.

      Cycles and seasons of life and the Goddess can be experienced in many ways. It would be really nice if we all could acknowledge that and recognize womanhood/Goddess hood in all it’s forms and open up to it. and make sure there are no second class citizens, which is another thing all woman have had in common and have had to fight against.

      • eruca says:

        This is not the place to begin to “make sure there are no second class citizens”. Being excluded from a ritual does not equate with second-class citizenship anymore than not qualifying for veteran’s benefits if you haven’t served means you are being discriminated against. If someone were doing a ritual only for women who had given birth and were or had been mothers, would you feel entitled to go? Why or why not?

  14. Kate LBT says:

    This breaks my heart.

    It breaks my heart even more to know there are trans women who need exactly the same kind of healing, who don’t have a place for it, and who will never have a place for it so long as we have a Pagan culture that says that naked trans women’s bodies in ritual space are a step too far. Some will disappear from Pagan space. Others will disappear entirely.

    • Leanne Pemburn says:

      Are we so small that we can’t make a space for both? Z has the ability to facilitate for cis-women: who can step up and do the same for transwomen? Kate? Does this work speak to you? It is not the Pagan culture that says transwomen’s bodies are unacceptable – it is ONE PERSON, and those who are too damaged to be open enough to accept. We have to start from where people are – you, me, the OP, Z, and everyone who’s chimed in on this discussion. Unity is a goal, not a reality. In the meantime, do we have the right to say that people cannot make their own space for safety? I get that Z has opinions that are hard to take, but think for a minute about how those opinions grew. Do you think she set out to be a bigot? This is fear speaking: holding the space in silence is done in compassion and respect, in the hopes of healing for ALL, including Z.

      • Kate LBT says:

        At some point, intention doesn’t matter anymore. I’ve been dealing with cissexuals beating, insulting and attacking me for being trans since I was FOUR YEARS OLD. I learned to be ashamed of who I was before I even knew how to write. So yes. Yes, I understand bodily self-loathing and internalized misogyny ALL TOO WELL.

      • Deirdre Hebert says:

        I get that some people are scared.
        But what I find unacceptable is a person who, in a leadership role, uses her position to bash transsexual women.

        Her own words:
        “Transies who attack us only care about themselves.
        We women need our own culture, our own resourcing, our own traditions.
        You can tell these are men, They don’t care if women loose the Only tradition reclaimed after much research and practice ,the Dianic Tradition. Men simply want in. its their will. How dare us women not let them in and give away the ONLY spiritual home we have!
        Men want to worship the Goddess? Why not put in the WORK and create your own trads. The order of ATTIS for example,(dormant since the 4rth century) used to be for trans gendered people, also the castrata, men who castrated themselves to be more like the Goddess.”

        It seems that any transgendered woman, by wanting to be included, is considered a man. In other words, a “real woman” would just sit back and take it.

        I’m sorry, but whatever happened to Z, for whatever reason she happens to believe as she does, she has become part of the problem for transsexual women.

        I’m not a man trying to intrude on women’s space. I am a woman, who happened to be born with a body that society today does not accept as such. The Navajo did – they recognized women who were born as boys, and men who were born as girls. It wasn’t a problem. It is for Z.

        How are we going to change this? By having groups and rituals that are open to women – not just women who Z. or anyone else defines as women, but open to women who define themselves as women. Likewise we need groups for men – not men that have been granted imprimatur by someone checking their bits, but men by virtue of them defining themselves as men.

        We aren’t who others tell us we are – we are who we are, who we say we are.

        I am not a woman because of what I have or haven’t got “down there”. It is not my ability to bear children, or to bleed that defines who I am. There are plenty of women who cannot bear children, who have never bled. I am not a woman based on the perceptions of others. I am a woman because that is what I know to be true about myself. I am a woman because that is how I relate to myself, to the God and to the Goddess.

        Yes, I have had the experience of growing as a boy, but I always knew that I was never a boy – as did those around me.

        Certainly there could be “Trans mysteries”, But I am “trans” only in the sense that I was “other”. I am at peace with who I am today. “Trans” is a journey, and like most every journey, it has a destination. With that part of my life, the journey of self-discovery is over, and now I experience the being that is me. Any surgeries are an aside – I know who I am.

        I think that the solution would be to allow Z. to continue her cis-women only group for those who are fearful of something larger, and perhaps there could be another group ritual for ALL women.

        We don’t need a protest – we need women’s space open to all women, – a space where the word “woman” isn’t defined by anyone with an agenda. Where women with breasts or without, with or without body hair, those who are rounder and those who are rail-thin, trans-women, post-op, pre-op, non-op, those who have had children, those who haven’t. cis-gendered women and trans-women are mostly in the same boat. We deal with the same attitudes in society.

        Z stated – regarding trans-folk, “but if you claim to be one of us, you have to have sometimes in your life a womb, and overies and MOON bleed and not die.” This excludes a lot of women who are cis-gendered as well. (http://fruitofpain.wordpress.com/2011/02/27/in-response-to-the-lilith-rite-at-pantheacon/)

        She also issued a challenge – that “Men want to worship the Goddess? Why not put in the WORK and create your own trads.” Well, I’m not a man – despite what Z. might call me. And I want to celebrate, as a woman, in women’s space. So maybe it’s time to make that happen.

        If anyone wants to work with me, I’ll make a commitment to be there next year and try to arrange something open to all women. This won’t be a protest, it won’t be a slam against Z. but to fulfill that challenge. It will be open to all women regardless of how they happen to have been born.

        If you would like to work with me, feel free to contact me at dee(at)paganfm(dot)com, and I will commit to contacting Pantheacon and create something for all women. Let’s stop talking and start doing.

        • Jenn Jett says:

          I agree with much of what you have to say.
          It is important to note that, at the same time as Z. Budapest’s ritual and the vigil protesting the derogatory statements that were made, there was an inclusive ritual to the Bear Mother. A partnership of Come As You Are Coven (CAYA) and the Living Temple of Diana.
          This ritual was open to anyone, regardless of gender/ gender identity that wanted to worship the divine feminine.
          There are many people taking steps to come together as best we can, as a community with needs that are sometimes in direct conflict.

          • machanightmare says:

            Attending the Bear Mother ritual was where I chose to meet these issues.

            It’s totally appropriate to have rituals for exclusive groups. I’ve been temporarily separated from some of my dearest friends when they attend all-male rituals where I’m not welcome. I’ve been unwelcome at some rituals when in my moon time (no longer a problem). I’ve also benefited from years of working in women-only groups in ways I could not have learned if there were men there.

            Over the past few years I’ve been learning much more about our transgendered population, tho I’ve been friends with TG folks for decades.

            I believe we are a big enough movement to honor the diversity that makes us stronger. We can do this by having rituals exclusive to whatever group feels the need — children only, crones only, singles only, couples only, triads and multiples, males, females, TG only, mixed, colors, ages, persuasions, ethnicities, blends — as well as inclusive ones that celebrate all manifestations of the divine life force in humans.

            We can create many ritualized ways to foster healing. We can create many ways to foster bonding. Let us continue to build our multifaceted, multihued, glorious movement together.

            Yours in changing culture,

            • Jenn Jett says:

              To the moderator- Iaccidentally hit post while still editing. This is the response I intended to post.

              Macha, I agree with you deeply. I write this not as a true response, in that I have no counter-points to your wise comments. I merely feel moved to share my own process as a result of these dialogues. I am a cis-woman with trans-folk of many identities whom I count among my chosen family.
              For myself, I have chosen not to attend rites that exclude transwomen. That is easy for me, as I have never felt drawn to blood mysteries, and feel a stronger affinity with queer and trans people than I do with an essential sense of femininity. This discussion coming to a head last year forced me to do much soul-searching. I came to realize that I can never truly know the experiences of anyone other than myself. Therefore, who am I to judge with whom others feel they can create magic and come to power.
              I was deeply moved by the Rite of the Bear Mother as an inclusive working towards healing our community/s. But I don’t feel that that is the end. I hope for a way for all of us, as a pagan community, to have the space that we need, while honoring, respecting, and understanding each others’ deepest selves. Intellectually, I understand that this issue is so triggering of lifelong trauma for people on all sides of it (as with gender, I do not believe that this is a binary issue). We need to disagree with each other, and make multiple attempts at paths to move forward.
              It is a great strength of our community that we have so much fire and passion. Unity in Diversity does not mean that we will all eventually think the same things, or ever find a destination of resolution. As we are ever-evolving, I hope that we continue to identify practices that no longer suit us, and ever be open to growth.

      • eruca says:

        Heal thyself. Z is not a bigot anymore than Harriet Tubman was a racist. The affirmation of your own gender and oppressed group is NOT about oppressing any other group. You are absolutely right that someone should step up to the plate and create powerful ritual for transwomen. Z, believe it or not created a template for precisely this but I guess no one took her up on it. After all it’s so much easier to squat someone else’s home than it is to create your own.

  15. Ruadhán says:

    I can’t help but wonder if people would be so quick to “feel her pain” and be all sympathetic to how “wrong” it is for certain women to want the same spaces as all other women if she’d been in an abusive relationship with a Black woman, and now the sight of Black women makes her uncomfortable? If she’d been in an abusive relationship with a fat woman, and now the sight of fat women makes her profoundly uncomfortable? Even if she said she “knows” that they’re her wonderful and dear sisters, but OMGZ TEH PAIN of seeing these women naked, while she is equally naked and so, so vulnerable to be victimised again? I can guarantee you that no practical percentage of people would keep playing the same tune, and instead be appalled that she could reduce any woman to something so petty as a skin-tone or a waistline.

    But because it’s not about skin-colour, or waistlines, or anything else “like that”, but instead about trans women, it’s OK? In all seriousness, trauma triggers are not only illogical, they can be literally ANYTHING. A friend of mine is a rape survivour, and she’ll laugh at that infamous George Carlin joke, will even crack her own about how the Lifetime Movie Network is “like Law & Order: SVU, but with more rape stories, and 24-7” –but then every so often, a scene in a film or a book will strike just the right chords, and it’s a total traumatic flashback, and it wasn’t even necessarily a rape scene, maybe a character used a specific tone or voice, or had just the right haircut to trigger something in her. Triggers are not at all logical, and to treat them as a logical thing with an “easy answer” of simply removing a perceived problem, then why draw the line at just trans women? Why not all tall women? But then, not all trans women are tall, so clearly all muscular women with square jawlines are also potentially triggering, as are all flat-chested women, hirsute women, etc…. And why not just remove any woman who’s too loud –clearly she’s “acting masculine”, which might just be part of her personality, but it also might be a sign of “residual male privilege”, so her very presence within a ten mile radius could be traumatic!

    I mean, really now…. I understand the need for certain kinds of ritual energies, and that these energies can be just as much a manifestation of our meat-bodies as our souls, but at the same time, from what people have said about the Budapest rit, it was about healing, and seeing one’s body as sacred and good…. What makes one woman’s body any more sacred than another? What makes one woman’s trauma more worthy of respect and healing than another?

    Then there’s the fact that, according to the program guide I downloaded, Budapest’s ritual wasn’t merely designated a “penis-free zone” –no, it was for “genetic women only”, meaning that even trans women who had “the surgery” thirty or forty years ago would not be allowed, should their presence be known to Budapest. Meaning any trans woman born in Ohio (or any of the other three United States remaining where birth certificate and ID annotation isn’t permitted by the state), not even if she’s had “the surgery”, would not be permitted, should some-one feel the need to check ID’s at the door. I mean, it’s nice that this woman is willing to accept her failings with regards to her sisters who still have genitals that are best defined, physiologically, as a penis, but what about the fact that even her trans sisters who’ve long cast that off and may still need some body-acceptance and healing rit aren’t welcomed, either?

    • witch33 says:

      I found your article refreshing and made a lot of sense to me. I agree that the body is our beautiful temple reguardless of what others feel about our figures. I don’t know any woman who’s come through life that doesn’t have psychical and emotional scaring. Thanks for sharing your input and insight.

  16. lupa says:

    Being an abuse survivor myself I am familiar with the relict triggers that can result. However, if you had been, for example, assaulted by a black man would you then refuse to share sacred space with any black man simply for the color of his skin?

    Understand too that by reducing trans women to genitalia that you are actively participating in their oppression and (re)traumatization, and you are thereby subjecting them to the very same type of experience you are conveying here.

    Yes, our hurt and triggers and scars are our own. But protecting and healing ourselves should not be at the price of oppressing another minority group. Cisgender some.

  17. Jocelyne Houghton says:

    Sister A,

    Thank you for sharing your story. You deserve healing from the terrible wrongs done to you, and there must be space for all of us at the table, including those who need to draw tight boundaries in order to heal.

    From what I have heard about the sit-in around Z’s ritual, the intent was not to protest the ciswoman-only space, but rather to protest Z’s words in describing the ritual which excluded transgendered women *as being women.*

    The hurt around this issue of gender and inclusion is palpable and raw on all sides. This issue is so incredibly important for our community/s – our Beloved Community – and my fervent hope is that we can all cultivate patience and compassion in this long-term working for healing and integration.

    In solidarity,

    Jocelyne, Lady Jake

  18. caraschulz says:

    Editor’s note: I’m putting out the ‘caution flag.’ Emotions are high and people are skating close to the line. Discuss the issues, but do not attack the author of the letter. When persons are willing to open up about sensitive issues we will police comments much more closely.

  19. Kate LBT says:

    In a sense I wish this hadn’t been brought to my attention. I just feel so helpless. I feel like nothing is ever going to change, and the people who hold all the cards will continue to hurt those who only want to be given the respect due any human being.

    • Rosemary says:

      Don’t despair. It is discussions like this that will open the doors of change. Also, I will relate an experience my wife and her other wife got to experience thanks to our collective daughter having her first moon and thus creating her first blood.

      First, my wife and my sister wife (we are a poly family) and my sister wife’s partner are trans. Someday the one I refer to as my sister wife’s partner may consider a journey further into manhood but for now. I’m the only one, other than our daughter who would be considered “cis” though I do remember questioning my gender or if I was feminine enough, etc, in childhood and other times in my life. I’ve decided I like being a girl, though I get grumbly once in awhile.

      The women who were helping all of us prepare for our daughter’s first blood, realized that our daughter wasn’t the only one who needed a first blood ritual. So in essence, they gathered as many woman as were willing and held a first blood rite for my wife and my sister wife. Some men also were involved in that they cut the ties, severing them from the world of men. As I was sitting with the women waiting, I physically felt the cutting away from a distance and my wife and sister wife felt that cutting away/separation in every fiber of their being as well. Then they joined us and had their first blood initiation/ritual.

      As a side note, I hadn’t had a first blood ritual either. Many women haven’t.

      Anyway, I’m hoping what I’ve written about this experience will help alleviate some of the helplessness and give you hope for change. Paganism is a living, growing, changing religion and as such we as people live, grow, learn and change. The need arose for this ritual. Maybe many others will be inspired to ask for this kind of thing as part of their journey and ask for more beyond it. And as future leaders, many will be called to create and fulfill this need. Unity, acceptance and inclusion can and will happen more and more as the healing, growing and learning does.

    • eruca says:

      Please put things in perspective. Z Budapest does not “hold all the cards”. She is defending very hard-won safe space for women, very little of which exists in this world. The protesters are a reactionary force attempting to destroy this.

      • Ruadhán says:

        Maybe she doesn’t “hold all the cards”, but the hand she was dealt still routinely beats out that of any given trans woman on any given day. The fact that she refuses to recognise this fact makes her a problematic presence, at best; the fact that she has said some of the nastiest things I’ve ever seen, and refuses to actually apologise for it makes her a bigot.

  20. Christopher Blackwell says:

    The sad thing here is to read the pain and in the case of the responses the pain and anger. Pain is pain, suffering is suffering whether it is mine as a male of someone else’s. Nobody is at fault not the person who wrote the article nor those that are upset about it, each is suffering from their pain, and in some that leads to anger. So now the real question is how do we address the pain each side is facing. It is not a case of one or the other, pain is pervious to the person suffering from it.

    We must start where we are to get to where we want to be. So I would suggest we have healing ceremonies varied enough to handle all the pain, not just the pain that is popular right now. Yes that might include just those who have always been women, It might include those who are transgendered and their may be one that includes both, Let the person heal step by step.This oman needs a safe place while she is very fragil. As she over comes her self hatred and understand it is no necessary nor worth of her, then she may well be able to work with transgender people, after all they too were harmed by men. As she heals more she will need healing in ceremonies that include men, but men who treat women with respect, men worthy of being allies, big brothers and protecters. That may well take awhile before she reaches that latter stage.

    Trans gendered women may need healing at different levels, as they have been hurt not only by men but also by women. Again that depends on at what stage of healing they have attained.

    Trans gendered men also have a variety of needs and because they may have been hurt both by men and by women. Should not the healing rituals be formed around the needs of the person hurting, not of do it our way or else no?

    The same say be the case of men. Gay or Straight. Straight men may need to deal with their own manhood issues, including the nearly impossible rules of what makes a man a man, that most men can never begin to fulfill. It is this feeling that they are failures that causes a great many other non social actions of straight men.

    Gay men have a variety of healing needs, including some that have problems relating to women.

    So perhaps we need a variety of healing rituals and then as we heal to a certain stage we are ready as humans to try for the next stage, until all humans are comfortable and decent with all other humans

    • Stella Omega says:

      Christopher– in this case, Z described her ritual in inclusive terms, as encompassing ALL forms of the feminine, then excluded some of those forms.

      I would be the first to agree that we need a wide variety of healing ritual. We cannot live together unless we can retreat to private spaces as well.

      But the protest isn’t about that. It’s about Z’s exclusionist and transphobic wording.

  21. Bellatrix O. says:

    While it is true that we all need safe spaces, it is even more true that we cannot create them at the expense of others. Seperate rituals do not work. Its called segregation. Some women here the “other” women are over there. It is an outdated non-solution to any problem. Menstruation is just one of some women’s mysteries, not the be all end all.
    If you need an intensive ritual done for yourself and you only want non transwomen, invite your friends whose genitalia you trust. In making a public ritual open to all women, you make it open to all women.
    Our pagan paths are varied and diverse, when we come together we cannot exclude.

  22. Jade Rowe says:

    In reference to the TG silent protest at this year’s Pantheacon (Pagan convention ) in San Francisco, where transgender/transexual women were excluded from women’s rituals, and Pagan author Zsuzsusanna Budapest’s counter protest in response to same, and speaking as a transexual women, I don’t dismiss cis women wanting their own space, and I respect that, although I find Budapest’s argument based on “moon cycles” and uteri being specious and somewhat of a rationale based on convenience. My problem with the ban was two-fold: first, that Pantheacon’s organizers allowed rituals that excluded anyone on such thin grounds, and second, that Budapest and her supporters used such hateful and bigoted speech to further their transphobic agenda.

    It felt to me that their male-hatred was transferred onto trans women with no realization, or desire to understand, the traumas (VERY severe traumas and often death) inflicted on TGs by men (and yes sometimes even women) as well. To have one’s experience ridiculed and invalidated by a community that one expects and anticipates acceptance from (both Pagan and lesbian) is one more time I felt dehumanized, denied, labeled, accused and monster-ized in the very same way Christian fundamentalists, right wingers, redneck tweakers, Klansmen and homophobes of every stripe behave in the media and in person.

    As a transexual woman I have endured numerous death threats by neighbors, lost thousands of dollars to vandalism, suffered verbal abuse and physical assaults, been denied health care, have been denied employment for three years (since I came out), and have had handguns stuck in my face twice all for being a transexual woman. (Never mind the glares, the whispers, the giggling ridicule, etc.) Now I’m being called a “man,” a “violator,” a “patriarchal aggressor” and a lesser being not even fit to be called a “real” woman by Ms. Budapest and her followers. And I’M the violator? Apparently so, because many of Budapest’s supporters claim my “male energy” is enough to revive their traumas at the hands of men in their pasts and my “male energy” may possibly trigger a PTSD breakdown. Please.

    As stated, many of these posts cite rape as a rationale for exclusion of trans women. This reminds me of the same excuse we see for laws in Tennesee and Alabama for imprisoning trans women for using the women’s room — implying that trans women are really, once again, not only “men in dresses” but are all rapists as well. Even the post-operative trans women have the “rapist energy,” or something like that, and are therefore unwelcome.

    Somehow it never occurs to those same self-righteous victims of male priviledge that many trans women have also been raped or molested, including myself.

    Do they really think only cis women are victimized? Do they really think trans women are unworthy of “healing?” The stories of the abuses perpetrated upon many trans women are horrific, and implying that trans women are really just closeted rapers is just more salt in the wound. Again, trans women are not men — we are women. We do not have male privilege, or even cis female privilege (obviously) either for that matter. We are viewed as the detritus of society, the freaks. The unworthy, the monstrous, and now the potential rapists. Thanks.

    Ms. Budapest and her followers deserve a pat on the back from big-box Christian churches — their rhetoric has probably driven more people from Paganism and/or Wicca than any fundamentalist rhetoric ever could, including this former Pagan. Nicely done. I hope Ms. Budapest is proud of herself. Her apology is not accepted.

  23. Rachel B says:

    I have a deep empathy for this woman. Trans woman have just as much pain. Why is one pain more important than the other? Why is what one woman needs more important than another simply because she isn’t what most of society think a woman should be? A trans woman can easily be seen as have a birth defect. If a woman with a different birth defect who suffered abuse needed these rituals to heal would they be allowed in? What next? If someone attaches their trauma to black people will we next ask for an all white ritual because someone needs that? No, it wouldn’t be allowed. Everyone’s money paid for the con, so everyone should be allowed in. I’m not saying all female rituals should be banned and that they are wrong. But a public Con should be open to all, especially a Con who’s preaching diversity and acceptance. Find some way to have the rituals, but not endorsed by the Con. Even hold the rituals, but in private. Like a flier given out at registration saying “At X date, and at Y time, Z is holding a private female only healing ritual. This is in no way endorsed or supported by the Con.”. I don’t think she should be invited back. (I’m not saying ban her. Let her come as a guest like anyone else) We wouldn’t support a Whites only ritual. I don’t see condoning other discrimination. Many of us have dealt with a lot of discrimination and hate from others and while I think these views have to be accepted, they can not be condoned or promoted in anyway. We were planning to attend next year, but I’ll not fund discrimination and/or views that it’s ok to harm one in order to heal another. That’s what this is. Hopefully next year the Con will handle this better.

    • Jade Rowe says:

      In reference to the above post (“gooey center”): Your post does not clearly seem to understand why transgender women and men were upset about the ritual. To use your metaphor, it’s fine to “not like Nickelback,” but it’s another thing to accuse anyone who does as being frauds, liars, monsters, perverts and rapists all for not liking your tune. Your post trivializes the issue, and dismisses the fact that women, not men, were denied access to a “for women” event by a person who actively promotes bigotry and hate speech against them. If an African-American person were denied use of a “whites only” restroom, would your answer to be to “simply go find another restaurant?
      Frankly I find your trivialization of the issue to be offensive.

      • caraschulz says:

        Jade, I’m not sure the author of that blog post will see your comment if it is posted on here. When someone links to one of our articles, it shows up as a link with a few word excerpt. It’s not really a comment and it is done automatically.

  24. Sam says:

    I feel your pain. I have a question for you, out of curiosity. If there was a ritual with a post op transgendered M to F and she did NOT have a penis, would you still be upset?
    I feel your pain, but the pain you feel is something that you have to work through. To exclude a trangender woman seems to perpetuate the pain and cause more pain.
    The two transgender women I know are both post op. Both have no penis. Both have breasts. Would you be uncomfortable seeing them in ritual? Don’t they have a right to be in ritual? It is not their fault that you have this pain, so I do not understand why they have to pay.

  25. Rosemary says:

    This is mainly in response to Eruca, but also to clarify some of the intent of my posts.

    First, I do not feel any entitlement to attend any ritual. To answer your question about a ritual only for mothers, I’m torn. If it is only for those who have gone through childbirth, no, I would not feel entitled to attend nor would protest especially if it is specifically advertised as such. Now on the side for mothers, I am an adoptive mother/parent along with my sister wife, her partner and my wife’s daughter who was adopted in her previous marriage. This child from the moment I met her and before I even got to know my wife and start dating her, is one who I consider my heart child. I did not know at that time that I would get the privilege to get more time with my heart child 6 months later when I met and started dating my wife. All I knew at the time was this soul touched my life forever at a Yule ritual and I hopefully touched hers. I have had other heart children through the years as well. So if it was advertised for mothers, I would consider going but probably ask the facilitator to make sure it’s ok out of respect. Also when faced with rituals where I wonder what aspect to take between maiden and mother, I’ve been in a quandry. I’ve not given birth but I am co-parenting a child. For my child’s first blood, circumstances or actually the Goddess, made it very clear I was to dress in colors of the mother aspect. In other rituals I’ve been invited to like cronings, I feel out what may be the right aspect for me. I’ve been in the mother group ever since, but have often worn a red skirt, with a white blouse or pink skirt. I also know I’m clearly not crone and therefore, have no issue about leaving when crone time has come or not being included at all.

    My intent of my posts was to challenge the words of Z, and others that they have the right to decide what is someone’s gender identity or any identity. To say that “transgender women are really men trying to usurp women’s space, etc” is radical feminism at best, bigotry and denying one’s personhood/identity/humanity at worst.
    I also wanted to express that being a woman (or man) isn’t just about body parts, and biological functions. In my statements, I was clarifying that many trans women have gone through most all of the biological things I’ve gone through in puberty and will go through in the future as a biological female. I do not want my identity as a woman to be limited to biological function. I am spirit (we all are spirit) and so much more. So,I was also trying to state that women as a general rule have gone through an experience of “second class citizen” in patriarchy and that trans women have that same experience. In essence, again I’m stating that trans women have experienced all that genetic woman have also experienced and thus have the right to be considered and recognized as women, not men, if that is their desire and identity. There are trans women and transmen out there who fully embrace “Trans” but for those who say “I am a woman”, we as a pagan society need to acknowledge that and respect their identity.

    I think that Z’s statements about “Trans women being men..etc.” is actually a perpetuation of the patriarchy’s meme of what an ideal woman is..which I will define as someone who gives birth, stays in the kitchen, does what men want and keeps silent about it and take what’s given to you. Thing is gender in general is a societal construct. Both men and women can be warriors and nuturers, gentle and fierce, there is no characteristic that is inherently feminine or masculine.

    But the real crux for me is accepting one’s identity. Identity is core to who one is. People get upset when their identity and their intents for their journey of becoming who they are is dictated by others. Again to say “such and such are really men, trying to usurp..and are selfish” is not appropriate.

    I do feel that many of those statements from Z and maybe others come from a place of pain or lack of education as to what trans people face and the lengths they will go to match their bodies to who they feel they are inside. Also maybe to defend spaces for healing, recognition, passing on wisdom, and empowerment.To clarify, that’s not a judgement but a recognition that I need to remember my compassion, ask myself where those things come from, and where my reactions come from.

    My reactions come from the space that I want to educate people about what trans people go through, educate that identity is instrinsic to empowerment and loving self and no one has the right to dictate who you are. That womanhood (and manhood) are not simply just biology, though it is an influence, experience is the other part of the equation. I think I also come from the space of expectation that those of the pagan community will educate themselves, re-examine previous beliefs, do much critical thinking and use compassion. I feel there is a great lack of education about eachother. To use myself as an example, I don’t know much about Dianic tradtion, also that there are Dianics that are inclusive of all women, and that there were other rituals where all expressions of womanhood/goddesshood were invited and included. However, I need to remember to put my expectations on others is inappropriate. My reaction comes from the space, to acknowledge and honor the life long journey all women take to become women, men to become men, other to become other and the desire to join with others and be included, honored, accepted, for all that one is and the right to their identity and to take a stand when I see that someone via words or actions is not honoring that intrinsic, soulful right.

    I want to make one thing very clear, I do respect and honor rituals that are advertised and designed for different groups. I know that non-intiatiates are often not allowed in rituals that are initiate or degreed people only to use an example. It is inappropriate and impolite to crash another’s party. We do need safe spaces. Maybe it was inappropriate to insert gender identity in this discussion but I not sure how one could separate it either, because the questions always come up for me “what does it mean to be a woman; am I woman because of the organs I have, because I bleed, can give birth, or is it more than that; my experiences, the injustices/joys I face, or is it something deep inside that has nothing to do with anything on the outside, what is a mother, one who gives birth, one who cares for any children or even adult children that come her way, or something deeper and creative, what is a crone, my old self, my menopause, wisdom and experience I’ve earned or something deeper, transcending time.?” So what is woman, what is man, what is transcending duality, gender roles, society. Also I so struggle with identifying gender by genetics only. At Michigan’s Women’s festival, women born women are only allowed. I’m faced with the quandry what does it mean ‘born woman” because many trans women have known from the age of at least 3 something is different or they are definately girls. Also what about trans men. I’ve heard and not varified that trans men are allowed into that festival because they were “born women”. The correct tem is genetically female (in trans women-male). I ask myself does this attitude deny them their identity of man hood, that they will always be considered women by others based on their outward appearance when they were born? Is it dehumanizing to tell a trans man, I see that you appear to be a man but you will always be a woman? Anyway, I honor that women’s festival their right to women’s space, but I’ve read about many things I simply can’t agree with, therefore, I don’t go. However, I’ve also heard there are women who attend who also want it to become inclusive of all identified women because they have probably asked themselves the same questions and had heart to heart talks with trans women. I also have to admit I also struggle with anything that doesn’t support the balance of male and female energies, and anything that villifies, or dehumanizes one gender or another. So chances are rituals which say “genetic woman only” would not be for me and I can say that in Minnesota with all the pagan community I know and experienced so far, I’ve been so very blessed that we have been very inclusionary, sensitve, willing to learn, grow and be creative.

    I have another situation outside of paganism that can shed some light. The girlscouts were faced with the decision of whether a male born child,(age 6) who identified as a girl wanted to be a girlscout should be allowed to become a girlscout. This created much controversy including one girl calling for a boycott on girlscout cookies when Girlscouts of America announced it would be policy to allow all girls who identify themselves as girls to join girlscouts. Again maybe not appropriate for this discussion but something to think about.

  26. happydog1960 says:

    The whole problem could have been solved if Z Budapest had chosen to have this ritual in a room or a hospitality suite. Private rituals go on in those all the time at Pantheacon. The troubling thing about this for me is that, in spite of the fact that last year’s exclusionary public ritual caused trouble, Z went ahead and put “Genetic Women Only” on a public ritual, held in a public space, at a convention attended by literally thousands of people. If you’re not willing to have everyone come to a ritual, then don’t make it public, make it private. And if you want to be exclusionary, then don’t be exclusionary at a convention whose theme is Unity. And to be blunt, “Genetic Women Only” reminds me way too much of the “Whites Only” signs in bathrooms and water fountains when I was a kid.

  27. dheideman says:

    I’m going to say here exactly what I’ve said in various other locations: It’s not only about what Z has chosen to say, but *how*.

    Having a ritual for “cis women only” is, in fact, Z’s right if she so chooses. That’s never been the argument. (However I, as a cis woman, have never felt threatened, imposed upon, or had my experience lessened in any capacity at at *any* ritual that allowed all self-identified women, and thus had trans women present.)

    Choosing to use insensitive language such as “genetic women” or “women born women” when there exists a better word? Not terribly cool.

    Using slurs and epithets such as “transies” or “trannies”, saying trans women’s clothing choices (day to day, or ritual garb) are just “costumes”, and telling trans women to their faces that they are really men? UNACCEPTABLE.

    • Amadea says:

      Two Things:

      “Cis” is not a better word. I really hate the sound of that term. It sounds ugly, like hissing, and I reject it. I also think it is inappropriate to name others. I choose to be a “female-born” woman. This is just a biological fact about me. “Female” is species neutral. It can’t be denied about me. I would like to suggest that “trans” women reconsider their name, too. Why always be in “transition,” which is what that term implies. I think many of you have arrived. Isn’t there a name for you that would recognize that? It’s up to you, of course.

      Also, many trans women and their supporters have said horrible, awful things about Dianics. I was at a Pantheacon session where Dianics were denigrated and nearly everyone in the audience applauded. And then no one seemed to notice the incongruity when the person who did the denigrating also said that respectful dialogue was needed — and was applauded for that statement, too. So, please, when there are calls for respectful dialogue, I hope it can begin to go all the way around.

  28. Pashy says:

    I understand what the author of this comment is trying to say, but the manner in which it is said is going over the line. Please discuss your point of view. Do not do it by discussing the author of the letter to the editor and what you feel about her character.

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