MMWB2017 transphobia incident: Don’t you dare act surprised

There was another incident of transphobia in the Pagan community, this year, this time at the 21st Annual Michigan-Midwest Witches Ball. You can see the damage control unfold, here:

And in case you were curious about the trans position, my friend and local prominent Pagan community figure, Raven Brighid Larr-Gaetz, has said the following, publicly, so I’mma gonna share: (shared for the comments)

Her final statement is most important, in my opinion: the Pagan community has a big problem with unaddressed transphobia.

I made several comments in the MMWB posts telling people, ostensibly all cisgender or extremely new noobs, that this has been a long-standing issue in pagan paths, and even big national and international pan-pagan gatherings like Pantheacon. I really have no idea why people are surprised by this, and why so many seem reluctant to believe transgender Pagans who say this has been a persistent problem since at least Gerald Gardner –no, really, read his books. While he never explicitly mentioned trans people, his definitions of the Divine Masculine and Feminine are pretty bio-essentialist and based on procreative roles of anatomy. This insideous cissupremacist vision in modern Pagan communities has literally been there since the beginning, so why are people surprised? Even Crowley had these ideas, decades before Gardner.

You’re certainly allowed to be disappointed, even heartbroken that these notions of gender persist in the Pagan communities, where people are typically at least touting progressive social ideals, but don’t be surprised, don’t you dare act surprised.

When barely five years ago, trans people and our allies were being chastised for “burning our Elders at the stake” (as alleged by Chas Clifton), for speaking out about the transphobic language of Zsuzsanna Budapest’s Dianic ritual listing the Pantheacon schedule, don’t you dare act surprised that MMWB is still standing behind the transphobic utterances of Gerrybrete Leonard-Whitcomb, that if you “have a dangle” you’re a costume King candidate and need to use the Men’s lavvy, and if you lack said, you’re a Queen candidate and should use the Ladies.

When polytheist leaders I even have at least some respect for, like Galina Krasskova, maintain at least professional alliance with TERFs like de-transitioner Kenaz Filan (in my experiences, de-transitioners are usually amongst the most transphobic, so, again, I’m not at all surprised), don’t you dare act surprised that transphobia is still rampant in modern Paganism.

When transgender Pagans have been taken to task for grave-dancing on Mary Daly, who oversaw and influenced Janice Raymond’s infamous TERF handbook, The Transexual [sic] Empire, don’t act surprised at this.

Not even the more-distanced polytheist groups who maintain that they aren’t pagan are really off-the-hook, cos let’s face it: the airs of “traditionalism” play easily with regressivism, and a lot of more “binary”-identified trans women and trans men find the ideas of most traditional societies that we are another kind of woman and man, respectively, disheartening, to say the least. (As I’ve said before on here, that’s more in line with my own ideas about being trans, but I still acknowledge that not all modern Western trans people are going to like that designation –and it’s OK for them to be wrong, I suppose, but I digress.) Still, though, while I don’t think any one pagan or polytheist religion should dictate the rules of pagan-polytheist interfaith gatherings, such as Pcon or MMWB, I’m not at all surprised when objectively transphobic things are in policy or even simply said by people in power over those events.

If you fancy yourself an ally of transgender people in the Pagan communities, and you’re still genuinely surprised by the MMWB’s transphobic policy, the flip transphobia of MMWB chair Gerrybrete Leonard-Whitcomb, and the DOZENS of trans people in the Midwest saying that this is a long-standing issue in the Pagan community, frankly, you’re so sheltered by your own cis privilege that I find it hard to believe that you could even know a trans person — I mean, you don’t necessarily have to personally know any trans people to be an ally, but it’s certainly helpful in getting some perspective on the situation.

This is not at all surprising to trans people in the Pagan community, so if you want to be an ally to us, I have five words for you, when the next such incident happens (and it will):

Don’t you dare be surprised.

As I’m finishing this up, MMWB has issued a statement announcing the resignation of Gerrybrete, stating the MMWB governing body does not believe that her words were born of transphobia, but simply a lapse in judgement, following that “her heart will be known in her deeds” — which is kind of proving the point that trans people are all saying: her actions were transphobic. She literally said that trans women and trans men have to, respectively, use the Men’s lavvy and Ladies, by sole virtue of genetalia. This is not a mere err in judgement, this is a statement of transphobic violence. Don’t be fooled by this half-hearted attempt at damage control.

(Written from my phone app, on the bus. I might clean shit up later and add more links.)

5 thoughts on “MMWB2017 transphobia incident: Don’t you dare act surprised

  1. Blech. No, not surprised at all. If it’s anything like the Twin Cities Pagan communit(ies) there’s certain Supposedly Important Pagans that can get away with pretty much anything & no one calls them on it, They’ve Done So Much For the Community! Also really sick of the “elders” excuse. I believe older people are capable of learning new things, even if a person of any age or background doesn’t “get” an issue, they can simply not talk about it, and be reasonably polite. Making comments on people’s genitalia is pretty common sense impolite. Heck even with Pagans celebrating Beltaine or a similar festival, you can make naughty jokes in a general sense, rather than about specific people.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m pretty sick of the transphobic shit in modern paganism. I could probably write a book about how stupid it is (since so many ancient religions had often more than one gender, and a myth or two were a god or goddess had to pretend or actually exist as another gender (see Loki and horses for one)).

    I basically stopped existing in the public pagan sphere because of the transphobic shit that gets thrown around. We don’t really have a big community here in Australia anyway near as large as the US or the UK so finding trans friendly Pagans is very hard.

    Liked by 1 person

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