Saturday, February 18, 2012

"Unity in Diversity" a Joke at 2012 PantheaCon

NOTE: The subject of this post has received a change of opinion on its perception from the author (me). Please view the updated posting here 

One of the biggest Pagan stories of 2011 was the subject of transgender exclusivity at last year's PantheaCon in San Jose, CA. The story surrounded the barring of a transgender female at a female-only ritual. Since the incident, the ritual organizers apologized for the misunderstanding and have taken great steps to discuss inclusive ritual practices at public events. Rather than rehash the entire story, you can read about all the coverage over at The Wild Hunt.

2011 saw an explosion of discussion in American Paganism regarding gender and the validation of transgender individuals as their chosen sex. Pagan leaders and writers form all over the nation stepped up and brought a subject to the table that has perhaps never received so much attention. I was personally thrilled to see that this topic was finally getting the attention it deserved. All of that changed a couple of days ago when I noticed the description of Z. Budapest's Women's Ritual for the 2012 Con:

9:00 PM San Martin/San Simeon
the Sacred Body of Woman (Self-Blessing)
Z Budapest
¡This skyclad rite honors the body of each and every woman 
present, the beauty and grace of the feminine form in all of 
her infinite variety. Allow yourself to be embraced by the glorious 
love of your sisters, with voices raised in sacred song in this central 
ritual of the Dianic Tradition. Genetic women only

Note the disclaimer line at the end. Genetic women only. Of course this means cisgender women (women who were born as social-recognized females with a vagina). Once again, the validation of transgender women as real women is ignored.

For the record, I don't wish to bring up a debate about the importance of exclusive ritual. I practice Traditional Witchcraft and fully see the importance of women-only, gay-only, men-only, etc. ritual space. Gathering only with other women to explore the mysteries of the Goddess in their own space is something I would never mock. The problem arises when trans women are excluded because they are not seen as "woman enough". I have been told by several people that "there could have been a trans-only ritual but no one offered one." This is separate but equal masquerading in the guise of "equal opportunity", folks! Trans women shouldn't have to be in a place where they need to make a special ritual to celebrate the holy women's mysteries. Any space that is women-only, should allow the admittance of transgender women...because they are women!

Regardless, there is no point in discussing Z. Budapest or her backwards discriminatory beliefs. Instead, we need to shine the light on the hosting organization, PantheaCon. Members of the community have been contacting PantheaCon for the past year asking that a fully inclusive nondiscrimination policy regarding transgender individuals be written into their laws. Allowing these exclusive practices to take place does nothing less than support the decades of hatred, violence, and even murder of transgender individuals across the world. PantheaCon refusing to make changes in policy shows that nothing actually changed since last year. Sure many have brought discussion to the table and have learned valuable bits of information on trans-inclusion, but where is the action? Talk is cheap, I want to see change. Further, PantheaCon organizers declaring the 2012 theme "Unity in Diversity" is a slap in the face to those asking for change. Z may never change, but Pcon can...and it must.

Clearly asking politely has not worked. Because of this, I hereby call upon our community to do two things:

  • I call upon the national Pagan community to boycott PantheaCon for years to come until they adopt a fully-inclusive nondiscrimination policy that acknowledges transgender individuals as the gender they identify as. This includes forbidding ritual that is cisgender-only. PantheaCon organizers can be contacted here.
  • I call upon the national Pagan community to perform personal rituals of inclusiveness and support for transgender individuals at 9pm tomorrow (Sunday) night west coast time when the above ritual of discrimination will take place at PantheaCon.
note- this blog is of my own opinion on things and in no way represents the stance of any organization I work with or for. 


  1. Wow! Thank you David! Your support is really really powerful!

  2. Awesome!!! - right there with you. Thunderbirds - BOYCOTT IS GO!

  3. Boycott? Are you out of your mind?

    Pantheacon is one of the few - and maybe the ONLY - place where Pagans, Heathens, Wiccans, witches and magickians of all traditions get together and dialog and converse. This was one incident, prompted by someone who is out of control and outdated. Calling for a boycott is breaking a butterfly on a wheel. Have you even ever been to Pantheacon? It would be more appropriate to call on Pantheacon to disallow Z Budapest to do presentations or rituals until she changes HER viewpoint and HER policy. The problems here centered around one person, not Pantheacon itself.

  4. Glenn, the chair of the conference is working on a statement. It's only been two weeks since the con and she is taking the time to read all the blogs she can find on the issue to really understand it.