I’m part of a lot of spiritual groups and on one of them someone posted this.
Well I had a lot to say, because I feel like that gender (which is more complicated than a binary) is absolutely important to talk about. I am never comfortable when someone says we should talk about something. Silence has a very specific power.
My main issue with this is one group or part of the gender spectrum have had the power, privilege and control of everything, including spirituality for thousands of years. We cannot “white wash” this out of spirituality. When you fail to acknowledge this privilege, the differences, difficulties and discrimination that happens, you add to it. There are more than two genders. Yet pretending gender doesn’t have a bias, that wider societies and cultures doesn’t hugely favour one over everything else is wrong. You are ignoring the problem. I liken this to when privileged white people (like me) say “I don’t see colour”. It effectively erases the thing about a person or group you have and historically have issues with. It is literally removing the part of a person or groups identity. It also allows passive discrimination, bias and abuse to occur.
Spirituality can never be divorced from society. The body politic, if you will. That is why privilege always comes in. We cannot ignore the bias towards certain groups or genders. Ignoring what is happen in a larger cultural context doesn’t make it more spiritual. Spiritual is an expression of the sacred authenticity of people. It always has a cultural context. In real life terms this means folks whom are non-binary, trans, LGBTQ+ or female are going to suffer more discrimination, abuse than those not. From harassment to income, to insurance and medical care, one group significantly is more secure, more safe, and better off.
This has an effect. From spiritual courses requiring money and travel to not having a bathroom you can use, it will have an impact. This totally removes the right of those suffering to say anything if there “is no gender”. It robs them of their identity and silences them to the difficulties and joys about their lives that make them unique.
We, spiritual and pagan people should care and recognize gender, in all its diversity. We should care because we should be advocating, creating spaces and being aware that being different is beautiful and a strength.
Spirituality is not passive or weak. Kindness and inclusivity is a strength, it is courageous.
I don’t know, what I don’t know. However I am open to listening. Listening to trans, non-binary and gender fluid people as well as the scores of women around me.
I am aware that the patriarchal hangovers and wider social norms creep into our lives often without us seeing them. There is a darker more insidious message in this short post though. Setting up the Christian dichotomy of “spirit as good and body is bad” that has been used to torture and abuse millions for thousands of years. This body verses spirit things exactly plays to these problems with body politics and gender issues. It robs people of their loving divine connection to their bodies and lives. It villainises healthy sexual desire, normal bodily function, and the power of the physical world. It divorces and stigmatizes the powerful animal instincts that dwell within.
The “animal” within is not a malign influence that must be erased or destroyed or caged. Doing so removes a deep and divine force within. If it is respected and held in balance it is wise. If it is repressed or caged it reacts like any caged wild animal would. Of course if it runs riot we become less, diminishing any part of the whole makes us less. We are instinct and intellect. We are our desires and our ability to wait or let them go. We can dwell within desire, be it sexual, hunger or rage, acknowledge them and not act. Yet unless you learn to respect and listen this animal side will act out. Repressing parts of ourselves (usually out of shame) is deeply damaging and not spiritual.
It might look like it from the outside. It might look saint-like and perfect but it just isn’t authentic to a whole person. Now some folks are wolf-spirited, some are more like deer, or lions or elephants. It is not my place to tell anyone what their inner animal must be. Or their gender. Or sexuality.
Yet I will honour them. I will make space, and listen, most of all listen. I will acknowledge my position of relative privilege as a white bi-sexual female that people are more understanding or accepting of me in certain places than people whom are differently gendered. I will speak up and stand up to the injustices and intolerance. I will bridge my ignorance with kindness and recognition.