Punk Prayers

#30daysofsocialjustice 04: Oppression

[Yes, this is a day late. I spent a good part of yesterday with my second-born who was in the hospital. They have been discharged but have a follow-up today. So, some of these posts might still be a bit late.]

CONTENT WARNING: LABELS

The word oppression can suggest that a person or a group of persons
is doing something actively to keep another person or a group of persons
marginalized. The recent protests of a trans girl from using the restroom that matches her gender identity is one such example that springs to mind. But, acts of oppression aren’t always this overt.

Kaiser Permanente has a fantastic clinic for trans and gender
expansive persons. And yet the medical forms, both paper and online,
still only allow for female and male. This doesn’t allow for agender,
bigender, gender fluid, gender queer, intersex, and other gender
expansive patients. Furthermore, healthcare screenings are provided
according to sex. I get questions about PAP smears, menstrual cycles,
contraception, and preventing pregnancy when I lack the organs for these
screenings. I’m not offered screenings for the organs I actually have
because the electronic medical records system hasn’t caught up with the
work done and the services offered by the trans clinic. Cisgender
patients can be assured that they will get notifications for screenings
that will adequately address their anatomies. Gender expansive patients
have to be their own advocates, even with the existence of this clinic
at Kaiser.

This is just one example of oppression, even though it’s quite likely
that this oppression is accidental. Access to public toilets is
another. The nasty glances and verbal challenges, not to mention the
laws that some jurisdictions have enacted or tried to enact, are
examples of intentional acts of oppression as cisgender persons are
being valued above gender expansive persons. This
oppression ends up meaning that we have to avoid public toilets for our
own safety, even as it could lead to health problems from retaining
waste in our bodies for too long
.

The number of people who are opposed same-sex/same-gender marriage
are also persons who are engaging in intentional oppression, as they are
seeking to deny persons like my partner and I the same rights that
heterosexual couples, or even those couples that pass for heterosexual,
freely enjoy. No one questioned my right to those privileges during my
first marriage, when I appeared to be a man married to a woman. But now
that I have transitioned and am a woman who’s married to a woman, it’s a
problem even though I’m the same person.

Race adds a whole other dimension to oppression that I will never
fully appreciate because I’m white and live in a society that lifts
whiteness above all other visible signs of race. I’ve had persons
explain to me why simply existing as a white person in the US is a form
of passive oppression because of the fact that persons of color will be
treated as less worthy than whites. And from what I’ve read, persons of
color are not oppressed equally as Native Americans often have it far
worse than other racial groups.

One doesn’t have to be actively hateful to be oppressive toward others. Oppression can occur even with the best of intentions.

#30daysofsocialjustice 02: Diversity

CONTENT WARNING: LABELS

Years ago, I had someone try to assure me that the concept of
diversity in society was ridiculous. After all, the US wasn’t built on
diversity. I can’t make this up: that was exactly what was posted on the
message board (by a person who used a pseudonym and an avatar that was a
photo of a celebrity, but I digress). This person was a white,
cisgender, heterosexual male who was anti-gay, anti-trans, and
anti-foreigners/immigrants. There were others on this message board with
similar political views. Yes, there are a great many white, cisgender,
heterosexual fe/male persons who don’t espouse these views, but there
were the minority at this particular web site.

Diversity is essential for life. The principles of evolution describe
this. A limited gene pool can lead to stagnation of a species and
possible extinction. The more diverse a population, the stronger it will
be. So, too, with the types of persons in a society.

Now, I’ve certainly been told that society doesn’t need trans persons
like me to make or keep society healthy. In fact, I’ve been told the
opposite. Since there are those trans persons who seek to have the
reproductive systems they were born with removed, we’re actively working
against the survival of the species. We then point out the current over
population, and the retort is that if there had been more trans or
non-heterosexual persons in the past the human race would have died out.
Of course. Because all trans and non-straight persons don’t want to be
parents.

Those whom I’ve encountered speaking the loudest against diversity
have often, though not always, been in the sociopolitical majority. The
expect and even demand compassion for who and what they are even as the
mock the idea that they should be compassionate in return to those who
are different. But a society can indeed benefit from a diverse
population. There are so many different ways to live and to be. Some of
these differences are indeed by choice, and some are by circumstance.
And I feel that we can always learn from the ways of life of others.

And, yes, I have learned from those who have a problem with
diversity. I’ve learned that I want to be completely the opposite in my
way of life. Diversity is life.

Blessed Be and Five-fold Things

Recently here on Tumblr, there was a heated debate regarding the use of the phrase “Blessed Be,” with the assertion being made that it is unequivocally a reference to the Five-fold Kiss used in sex magick. While this origin is no doubt true, there is more to the phrase “Blessed be” than its origins.

At my first degree initiation into the Open Source Alexandrian Tradition of Wicca, a form of the Five-fold kiss was indeed used, but OSAT doesn’t use a different version for male and females. Rather, a gender neutral version had been created. On the one hand, this was great for me as a pre-op/non-op trans woman. But, the seemingly sexual nature of the Five-fold kiss made me uncomfortable. When I mentioned as much to my coven elders after my initiation, they asked why I didn’t say so before hand.

“Because I felt it wasn’t my place to challenge this,” I replied.

“Then we failed you,” came the reply from one of my elders.

This led to our coven redacting the Five-fold kiss even farther to how it exists now, the Five-fold Blessing:

  • Blessed be thy courage, that has brought you to these ways.
  • Blessed be thy faith, that will worship at the sacred altars.
  • Blessed be thy body, that shall enact thy will.
  • Blessed be thy heart, formed in strength and beauty.
  • Blessed be thy breath, the emblem of life.

This is the blessing as it has been used ever since.

So while “Blessed Be” might have its history in sex magick, that is not the be-all-end-all of that phrase as the various traditions within Wicca are free to adapt, redact, and change things as they see fit.

I’m an ordained third degree priest. I will always strive to be sure that my ministry is respectful of people’s boundaries, mine included. Additionally, as I promised in my ordination vows, I will be the teacher that is not afraid to learn from the student.

Be blessed.