Thursday, January 05, 2006

What is a Woman, really?

I'm always disappointed when I find Pagans who exhibit the same prejudices as Christian fundamentalists. A women's circle forming in Florida is only open to 'WOMB-yn', explained as 'woman born women'. M-to-F transgenders need not apply. I'm sure they could justify this as merely upholding Goddess-designated gender, but Pagan mythology - and worship - is full of people & gods who change gender. Tiresias and the 'effeminate' Dionysus come to this Hellene's mind immediately. The Gallae, worshippers of Cybele, castrated themselves to come closer to the Goddess. And Aphrodite Herself was created from tossing severed male genitalia into the sea! Now, that is a transgender-type image in and of itself!

This woman-born woman wonders what fears actually underlie such a specific exclusion. Are these 'wombyn' worried about men invading the group under the pretense of being transgendered? In that case, they might consider admitting post-surgery MtFs as people truly committed to becoming female. Are they worried about their own social conditioning to kowtow to men in conversation and group actions? Maybe they need this sort of challenge, then, to break free of that conditioning. Are they hoping to achieve a group with a truly feminine perspective? Think of what a MtF could learn about true womanhood from a group like that! Rather than exclude transgenders, why not admit MtFs as acolytes to womanhood? They could be restricted to merely asking questions for the first thirteen moons (a traditional cycle) so they can learn true feminity at the feet of the 'wombyn' around them.

This group can exclude whomever they wish, of course. It is their right as a private circle to do so. I do think, though, that their aversion to MtF women indicates a fear worth confronting. We, as modern Pagans, have no business marginalizing other people when we have so often been marginalized ourselves.

Sarah G


At 9:47 PM, Blogger peregrine_eric said...

I have long wondered why it is that modern "wombyn" circles are so against those that would not be considered "bio female" in one way or another. The effects are not limited to MTFs but also those who are intersexed. Intersexed persons often receive the same level of discrimination because they are not wholly female, and persons of ambiguous sex have just as much right to find a spiritual home as anyone else.

At 12:34 PM, Blogger The Pagan Temple said...

It might have something to do with not wanting to be distracted from the main purpose of the circle, and an avoidance of politics being brought into it, or it could be something as simple as acceding to the sensitivitis of the general view, a fear not so much of the transgendereds being included, but in others excluding themselves.


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