Soul of My Suit: Mod Culture with Pagan Spirit
Exploring the overlap and relevance of Modernist philosophy, literature, art, music, culture, and modern life with paganism.
Is "your paganism" really that accepting of the TS/TG community?
I don't know why this seems to be a pagan blogomeme again --at least when Zsuzsana Budapest is running her mouth, it makes sense-- but I guess maybe the stars are aligned that way again, but it's kinda happening.
PSVL made this post, and if you've been reading my primary polytheist blog, Of Thespiae, or at least Sannion's since he's been back, you probably have an idea of what I'm up to, and I know I've seen other posts over this last week, but I guess I've lost track of them. Oops. Sorry about that.
Now, don't get me wrong: I firmly believe that the physical is as spiritual as anything we credit to that mushy grey stuff between our ears, or anything outside ourselves, be it corporeal or (as best as we can tell) otherwise. I therefore believe that there are spiritual differences between the sexes and between people who present other different or atypical physical or aesthetic manifestations of their gender. That said, I don't think it's a bad thing to have the existence of some gender-exclusive spirituality groups, nor do I think it's a bad thing for those groups to be restricted to only men and women and others who have gone through certain physical changes: The problems I see inherent in those groups is not in the spiritual mysteries they can lead a person to, but in the way that individuals in those groups, especially those who have somehow earned authority within those groups (or perhaps simply taken), can pervert those mysteries and present them as the only things that define a gender category.
I say "gender category" because while in most social circumstances, things are encouraged to be "easy" and "easy" was somehow determined to be a binary, in terms of gender, but in reality, I don't personally see gender as that clean-cut.
I think most people have adapted to a gender fluidity, in this modern age. A mother is a different kind of woman from a socialite or a nurse (especially when one considers that, like nuns and Sisters, nursing was often regarded as a "calling" until about the WWII-era), though often there is overlap. I would argue that each such woman (and yes, I know that there are male nurses) has such a unique perspective on her role in relation to her gender that it renders each role its own unique variant as a gender. Likewise, a soldier may also be a father, but it's generally regarded as unbalanced, in most societies, for men to allow the role of the soldier to cross over into the role of the father, or vice-versa; thus, two very different kinds of men, even if they may inhabit the same body.
That said, not all women get to be mothers --not all women want to be, either. Nor do all men obtain fatherhood, be it biologically, or as an active role in his life, nor do all desire to. In modern culture, these "lacks" in traditional parental roles are often presented as choices --which is perfectly acceptable, if that's a choice one wants to make. On the other hand, there are still often enough preventatives to these roles, on a physical level.
Having no interest in baring or rearing children, myself, it's not my place to say whether or not depositing my seed into a womb would make me that much different from donating to a sperm bank, or hiring a surrogate, or going out for adoption, as to affect the kind of man i am. I do know, though, that my inability to do so, even if I wanted to, does make me different-enough as to qualify as a different sort of man.
To some pagans, the fact that I can't is enough to make me not a man. To many of those same, depending on what circumstances render this inability, I might even be a woman, in spite of a lifetime of internalised experiences that assure me I am not. Don't even get me started on the horrors that pagan women of similar circumstances can relay --but trust me when I say that there is no shortage of these personal stories on the Internet.
I wish i could say that this surprised me, but I've been in and out of the on-line pagan community since the mid-1990s, and I've been a traditional Hellenist since 2006 and been more-or-less regularly active in the pagan community since 2008 or '09. That's quite a bit of years, when compared to the average kid on Tumblr who read some "intro to sociology" paper their big sister's best friend wrote and now thinks they knows everything about "social justice". I gotta say: Pagans are obsessed with the gender binary and other people's genitals.
And, in all honesty, the TS/TG community is no less obsessed with the gender binary, especially in pagan groups. After that Pcon/Budapest drama a couple years ago, I couldn't help but wonder why so many women who never have and likely never will (at least, not in this one's lifetime) menstruate, want so badly to be invited to menstrual mysteries? For those who that wasn't the goal, what was it? To deny that those mysteries even exist, if only for the sake of maintaining an illusion of an uncomplicated relationship to one's own gender? Just as an apparently cisgender woman with Turner syndrome very likely lacks an uncomplicated relationship with her gender, or an apparently cisgender man with Kleinfelter syndrome* would similarly lack an uncomplicated relationship with his gender, I have never met a single trans peron, self included, who can honestly say they lack an uncomplicated relationship with their gender that can relate back to their condition of being TS/TG.
Just as the rites of passage for men and women have been robbed from people cisgender people, Western trans people, too, have been robbed of our rites -- and yet, the only trans people who advocate restoring to us our rites of passage and our spiritual mysteries (which, last I checked, that list was mostly populated by Raven Kaldera) regularly get chastised on the Internet by other trans people for doing so. Why? Because of the illusion of "trans people are no different" that the TS/TG status quo seems really dedicated to maintaining. At risk of seeming a bit tacky, that reminds me of "the paper bag test", which still affects many within the African-American community, cos some people assume that if one is no darker than a brown paper grocery bag, they're "light enough" to succeed in white-dominated society --but when you look at how the racialised social complexities actually work, it's little more on-target than a craps-shoot; ergo, trans people hoping to maintain the "no difference in gender" illusion are likely setting themselves up for failure in spite of certain levels of "passability" gaining one a slightly better chance of getting a toe into privileged waters.
So cisgender pagans are more interested in telling TS/TG pagans what our genders "really" are than actually building bridges toward acceptance, and TS/TG pagans are more interested in pulling the wool over their own eyes and those of others cos they've bought into some misguided notion that it's the only avenue toward being accepted in certain pagan circles.
* While this is probably the most common Intersex condition, not everyone who is or may be clinically "intersex" necessarily identifies as anything but the gender they were raised as.
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