The Exclusion and Embrace of Trans-women within Feminist Spirituality by Kelly Palmer

Women-only circles have long existed within the Goddess movement, the Red Tent movement for example exists as an inter-faith, grass-roots movement for women only to come together to claim safe and sacred space. But too often ‘women-only’ in fact means ‘cis women only’. Trans women are not allowed. This has been the topic of much heated debate in recent years, culminating last year in the publication of ‘Female Erasure’ an anthology of essays on gender politics and feminist spirituality that has led to calls for the editor Ruth Barrett to be expelled from her thealogical seminary on grounds of transphobia. Barrett and many of her contemporaries openly call for the exclusion of transwomen from women-only Goddess circles and respond to criticism by saying that asking for ‘women born women only’ space is not meant to be antitrans but simply carving out a space for people with similar life experience – in the same way that people of specific ethnic minorities may gather, or LGBTQ people. Surely, they may say, the answer is for trans women to create their own spaces?

There are two problems with this. Firstly, trans women are in a significant minority, making access to groups of other trans women practicing Goddess spirituality difficult. If a local woman’s circle is their only means to practicing their religion with others, and they are excluded by this on the basis of their genitalia, this exclusion is incredibly hurtful and undermines not just one’s ability to practice a faith but one’s very identity and esteem. Secondly, it is not just local, personal groups that are practicing this exclusion, but large and public gatherings, making very public pronouncements that trans women are not welcome. They have been excluded from womens rituals at PantheaCon in 2011 and Michigan Womyns Music Festival has a policy of excluding trans women from the entire event.

Continue reading “The Exclusion and Embrace of Trans-women within Feminist Spirituality by Kelly Palmer”

The First Casualty Of War by Daniel Cohen

This is the tale of the first death in the Trojan War.

The Greek army was gathered in Aulis. Its men had come from many towns and islands. Some were there with dreams of glory, some with dreams of gold. Others were there because their chief had demanded their presence, and either loyalty to the chief or fear of him had brought them.

The fleet was waiting and the soldiers were ready to embark. But for weeks now the wind had been blowing from the wrong direction, and the men were getting restless at waiting so long. They were beginning to think of the harvest – they had expected that the war would be won long before harvest time – but that was now so close that many men were making ready to go home, and some had already gone.

Agamemnon, the leader of the Greek army, was fearful that the conquest and glory he sought would escape him if the winds continued contrary. And so he consulted the seer Calchas. After much searching the seer replied, “The goddess Artemis sends you a warning. If you wish to make war against Troy, you will have to kill your daughter.”

So Agamemnon sent for his daughter Iphigenia, pretending to her and her mother that he planned to marry her to the hero Achilles. Continue reading “The First Casualty Of War by Daniel Cohen”

The Heart of the Labyrinth by Daniel Cohen

This is how they tell the story.

They tell that the Minotaur was a monster, half man, half bull, who dwelt in the labyrinth. They tell that Theseus was a brave youth who determined to kill the Minotaur. They tell that Ariadne was a princess who fell in love with Theseus and gave him a thread to guide him. They tell that Theseus marched unfearingly into the labyrinth, braving the bellowing monster at its heart, and that he met the Minotaur and slew it. They tell that he emerged a great man who in later years won the love of many women and gloriously conquered many lands.

This is what they do not tell us. Continue reading “The Heart of the Labyrinth by Daniel Cohen”

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