I was up at 4:30 AM this morning. When I bleerily began to check my social media feeds after trying to go back to sleep (and failing), I found two very strong and important statements that I feel moved to share.
The first statement is Misha Magdalene’s posting of The People Who Aren’t There: Closing Remarks, PantheaCon, from a presentation given this last Friday (Patheos, Feb. 15, 2020). It concerns the painful lack of inclusion of people of color, trans/non-binary people, and people with disabilities at PantheaCon and other neopagan gatherings. (Misha Magdalene is the author of Outside the Charmed Circle, which I recently reviewed.) Please read Misha’s statement at PantheaCon and then share it with others.
I was especially struck by Misha’s statement as I recently had an old-time pagan tell me about encountering a transgender woman and her mother at a public event. The old-time pagan recounted how the mother continuously misgendered her daughter in front of him and others. The old-time pagan kept saying, “but it was okay because it was her mother” and I said, “no, this is NOT okay, even if it IS her mother doing the misgendering.” Most people who are trans and/or non-binary emphatically do not want to be misgendered by their parents, family, and friends–but they may feel helpless, fearful, too triggered, or make a choice for other reasons to not speak up at a given moment, especially in public circumstances. It might not feel safe to do so. I felt furious at old-time pagan’s assumptions and could easily see how such ignorance has persisted in places like PatheaCon.
Before he told me this story, I had recommended this old-time pagan attend Misha’s presentation as he was going to PantheaCon. I wonder if he did, and I wonder what he made of it?
The second statement is below.
However, I may need to offer some explanation of terminology. In case you don’t know, “cis” and “cisgender” refers to people whose gender identities are congruent with the gender they were assigned at birth: an example of gender congruence would be someone born with “average” female genitals who has a corresponding internal sense of female gender. “Cis” is rooted in chemical terminology, and is not a perjorative. The use of “cisgender” alongside “transgender” and “non-binary” is more polite, as it helps to reduce the “othering” of trans and non-binary people, and also reduces the persistent positioning of cisgender people and socio-gender expectations as “the norm.”
P.S. The binary-esque categories of “transgender” and “cisgender” do not necessarily include people who are intersex. And some people are “gender diverse” and non-binary without considering themselves trans, though “trans” has become something of an umbrella term.
The author of the following statement wishes to remain anonymous. Here is the statement below:
OK so here’s the real tea: some of the things cis people don’t know
1. Everyone perceives gender differently. That person you think doesn’t “pass?” They may be “passing” just fine 90 percent of the time.
2. Therefore your “passing tips” suck. There’s a good chance that the thing you told your trans friend to do to seem more feminine, is the exact same thing some other cis person told them seems too masculine. That’s why we ignore you. You don’t know what you are talking about.
3. Your sexual arousal is not a magic gender detector. For example, if you are a straight dude feeling attracted to a trans man, surprise! Doesn’t magically mean he’s really a woman.
4. “Passing” is a bullshit concept that just means “looking cis.” Maybe we don’t all wanna look like you. Maybe you aren’t as great lookin’ as you thought. Maybe trans is beautiful.
5. Being trans means dealing with a ridiculous barrage of misgendering and dysphoria-triggering moments. It makes you want to die. You can’t help it. That’s just how fucking dysphoria works. (And you don’t even have to have body dysphoria, social dysphoria is just as real and awful.) So yes, someone slipping up on a pronoun may have just made an innocent mistake, but these are innocent mistakes that literally make you want to rip off your skin/never leave the house again/just die already. And also for every innocent mistake there’s some gaslighting motherfucker who is flubbing your pronoun to fuck with you. Why would you trust it’s innocent? Eventually you WILL snap.
6. As soon as you snap you will be labeled over-dramatic, triggered, a snowflake.
7. Eventually a lot of trans people learn to keep their mouths shut and just swallow all the horrible feelings. These are your “good trans friends” who don’t get upset with you for your bullshit. They are martyred goddamn saints and you have no idea.
8. The “bad trans” are the ones who can’t or won’t shut up and swallow the pain. They will be punished forever.
9. There are a LOT of valid reasons why a trans person may not be transitioning in the way you as a cis person think they should. It may be money. It may be medical. It may be career-related. It may be simple lack of desire. You don’t know. All are equally valid and you are not allowed to have an opinion on how trans people manage our fucking bodies.
10. It’s none of your business. Whatever stupid crap you’re about to ask about, it’s none of your business. Just use the fucking pronouns. We are tired.