Thursday, March 3, 2011
The Rite of Lilith and Transgendered Pagans
I know that I am probably a little late with this, but I felt compelled to put my two cents in on this issue. The internets have been a buzz with an event that took place at Pantheacon with the Rite of Lilith ritual and how transwomen were not allowed to participate in the event.
Although I want to put my two cents in, I have to admit that I'm not really sure what my two cents are....
Unlike many of the people who have commented on this Pantheacon discrimination issue, I actually attended the ritual. As we all stood in the hallway before the Rite began a woman left saying that she would not participate because the ritual leaders would not allow transwomen to participate. I don't know if this woman was trans or not, in fact it doesn't matter. My point is, I had this information ahead of time, but I chose to stay. Part of me was upset about people being left out, but there was another part of me that understood the decision.
There is a part of me that feels there is a place for for gender specific rituals. There are times when it makes sense. This shouldn't be about exclusion of anyone, but the work with a specific type of energy.
This specific issue was brought to everyone's attention due to a miscommunication. I don't know if this miscommunication was due to CAYA Coven or the Pantheacon people, but it wasn't the only miscommunication of the weekend.
I was involved with a Pantheacon presentation with the Reclaiming Tradition. Our ritual was marked at 'restricted' in the program, but it wasn't a restricted ritual. And in the lead up to Pcon it was never marked as restricted in our paperwork. I know our presentation was not the only one to be improperly labeled. (It feels odd to use the world labeled in this post and yet, there it is.)
If the Rite of Lilith had been properly marked as a 'restricted' ritual, would this conversation even be happening? I don't think it would. But the reason this has come into the forefront is really no longer important. Here is why I think this whole thing is actually good for the Pagan community...
In the Reclaiming community we spend a lot of time talking about gender, sexuality, and identity. We work very hard to make sure that everyone, no matter how they might self identify, feels welcome and included. This isn't always easy work, but it is so important.
The conversation about trans-inclusivity has been happening in Reclaiming, but has it been happening with other groups? These are important conversations for us, as Pagans, to be having and I am glad that they are happening now, even if the catalyst for it has been uncomfortable.
I do believe that there should be space for women to do magickal work with only women and men to do magickal work with only men. I don't have the answers as to how this fits into the bigger picture and how this works with trans-gendered folks in our communities, but I am glad it is being talking about openly.
This is a big topic, it is hard to have a clear yes or no, black or white answer. In fact I don't think there is one. In fact there are many articles up on Patheos about duality without gender and the Sacred Third. This is exciting for me because it goes beyond this one event into something bigger. Now that the conversation has started it needs to keep on rolling. What we must do is keep open, clear, and honest communication.