Not Our Priestesses: Standing with Goddess Against TERF
She looks just like the women I grew up around. The same women who taught me I was sacred, I was worthy. The same women I came to view as a village of mothers and aunties, there to support my single mom in raising a fierce daughter.
The same women who now will likely reject me, tell me I am trash, I am not worthy, I am a liar and a perpetrator of violence against women. Simply because I started living my truth.
Morag Spinner, a genderfluid witch, states this in their blog I Grew Up In the Goddess Movement, But It Is No Longer Home, and in doing so echoes the emotions of many trans and gender non-conforming folks about how Trans Exclusive Radical Feminism (TERF) shows up in Goddess Spirituality.
The ‘she’ in reference is Ruth Barrett, well-known Dianic Priestess and writer-- and one of the organizers, along with others, of an Indiegogo campaign seeking to raise $20,000+ for the publishing of an anthology entitled Female Erasure, which centers anti-trans rhetoric, particularly against trans women.
Goddess Spirituality itself is not an inherently exclusionary ideology, but has been a breeding ground for transphobia amongst certain adherents, as Susan Harper points to in her blog, Not My Goddess, Not My Feminism, Not My Priestesses:
While transphobia in some "feminist" Goddess circles is not a new thing -- and I use scare quotes around feminist here because I consider any group that espouses transphobia to be inherently nonfeminist -- this is a new low. This group of writers, in the name of lifting up women and our voices, has chosen to publish a volume targeting transgender people (particularly trans women), one of the most vulnerable populations in America and around the world. While the book isn't composed entirely of Goddess centered content, the fact that any tiny piece of this is being done in the name of the Goddess, and of Goddess Spirituality, is sickening.
Other organizers and supporters of this anthology have committed to harassing and doxxing (read: releasing personal information to the public) trans activists and allies who speak out about this campaign, or in defense of trans folk in Goddess Worship in general.
One of those persons is Peter Dybing, former First Officer of the Covenant of The Goddess, who also took to his Pagan In Paradise blog to weigh in on the gravity of trans exclusion in Goddess Spirituality and acknowledges the necessity of remembering intersectionality:
Let me be clear, when people step forward to marginalize anyone in the transgender community; everyone in the community suffers. Transgender men, women and those who are gender non-conforming are all victims of this kind of speech.
However, the rallying cry against this latest showing of hatred and exclusion has been picked up and carried widely. Alley Valkyrie’s An Open Letter to the Pagan Community, first published on Facebook, decries Barrett and calls for her seminary to dissociate from her. Susan Harper’s blog closes with these lines, reminding us that Goddess recognizes the validity of all women, and how Goddess Spirituality is intersectional:
...I only know that when any one woman -- cis, trans, or otherwise -- is told that she is not sacred, that she is not Goddess, then our magick gets a little dimmer, our Goddess gets a little smaller. When we enact upon other women the types of spiritual and real-world violence that so many of us came to Goddess Spirituality to escape, we become agents of the very system we rejected. When leaders of a so-called feminist movement praise the passage of bills like North Carolina's HB2, as Cathy Brennan did, and endorse discrimination against trans people which literally results in death -- calls to Trans LifeLine doubled in the days after the bills passage -- we are no longer on a liberatory path.
I came to Goddess Spirituality for the liberation. I stayed for the transcendence.
I can find neither if they are denied to my trans sisters.
Dybing commits to continuing his activism through informing metaphysical and New Age shops on the negative economic impact of potentially stocking the volume, and blesses us as we continue our work:
May love prevail, may our collective role as warriors be grounded in compassion, social justice and inclusivity. Surly [sic], we will not yield in our service to the blessed community and the Goddess!
Read I Grew Up In the Goddess Movement, But It Is No Longer Home by Morag Spinner.
Read Transphobia Never Dies - An Attack on Our Blessed Community by Peter Dybing, and follow his Pagan In Paradise blog.
Read Not My Goddess, Not My Feminism, Not My Priestesses by Susan Harper.
Read the entirety of Allie Valkyrie’s An Open Letter to the Pagan Community.