Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My Gender Sermon of the Moment

 I have recently had several interactions with a friend of mine who is currently offering generally wise and well-informed counseling to the public on matters of sex and relationships. After a few incidents in which I felt that her gender education wasn't up to speed, I sent this email. This seems like a fine introduction to my personal gender story, which is one of the subjects the Priest/esses of Beyond the Binary would like to share with the public. May it be received with the love and compassion with which it was composed.

I hope this missive finds you well and fine.

I have been wanting to touch in with you about something that hasn't settled well with me. I haven't spoken up before because I felt too upset to communicate clearly and compassionately, and, well, you know we discussed the difficulties in working against the conditioning not to speak up for oneself.

Lately, for me, it has been an interesting process of "coming out" as a gender variant individual. It has been a private affair for me, and one that has felt too unclear to share with others, similar to what I have heard shared by my friends of variant sexualities. I never had an issue with identifying my sexuality as "queer", though most people presume I am heterosexual (and my sig others tend to be straight white men). I have found it to be much more challenging to correct others when they presume I am a cisgendered woman.

It has been easy for me to pass as a woman because of my feminine gender expression, however I often feel more like a drag queen. I like being a drag queen. No one questions me when I use the women's room, (Try using the men's room in the city to get an idea of what it's like to be gender variant) I have been welcome in women's spaces (though with increasing discomfort for me. I wrote a blog post about it here: ), and no one (friends, family, strangers) feels entitled to ask me, "So what ARE you? A boy or a girl?" as they do many other gender outlaws.
This is important for me to share with you; a person who is offering counseling services to the public on matters of sex and relationships. Gender is a highly-charged topic these days, as it comes out of the cisgendered binary cage it has smothered in for so long.
We have spoken on this subject for three weeks in a row now. The first time, I told you I had a book to give you on the subject, and all was well. The second week, I paid for your counseling services, and in a moment of enthusiasm, you spoke very dismissively about "that gender stuff" as you literally waved your hands as if shooing it away, presuming you were talking to a cisgendered woman. I was in a bit of shock and found myself speechless. The next week, I brought you The Gender Book, hoping it would help you understand the vastness and beautiful nuances of this topic. Again, you said something dismissive about gender and again you waved your hand as if it were a fly in your face. It was then I came out to you as a person who does not identify within the gender binary. Though I sensed some mild resistance at first, you quickly began to adapt this new information to your understanding of gender. Right on!

When you complained of men being dismissive to women's issues, such as rape and sexual predation, you were expressing your own gender awareness and experience. Please consider showing other genders the care and support you want men to show women.
I found the topic of gender to be a serious area of insensitivity in your otherwise considerate and informed services. I have great confidence that you will inform yourself further on this subject, as every person you meet has a gender identity, whether they have explored this and defined it for themselves yet, whether it is static or fluid, whether it is cisgender or agender or the many countless and multiplying identities that people are claiming and reclaiming for themselves.
I am here for you if you have any questions, wish to discuss this further, want some recommendations on resources. There's a lot out there on this evolving issue, and I am grateful to be of service.

With love and respect, Jaina Bee

Monday, June 16, 2014

A Charge of the God/dess

You've heard it many times before. Maybe every Full Moon, or even every ritual. The Charge of the Goddess, or Charge of the Star Goddess, exists in many forms and is often a part of ritual. It exists in poetic form, several standard prose forms, song form, and an infinite varieties that various Witches and Pagans over the years have written.

Somewhere along the way, the Charge of the God became a thing, too. Not quite as prolific as the Charge of the Goddess, but still present and used at a large splattering of ritual events.

This is something different.

Or, depending on how you look at it, something the same. This is something brewed up in my very own genderqueer Witchy heart, offered with love to you. Take it. Use it. Modify it. Make it your own.

This is my Charge of the God/dess, based on CAYA Coven's Charge of the Star Goddess and Charge of the Sun God.

Hear ye the words of the God/ess
The stare of whose eyes pierce the soul
Whose vastness cradles the Universe

I am the dark space between the stars
And the cave at the heart of the Earth
And the silence between breaths
And the potential before form arises

Call unto your soul, arise and come unto me
For I am the soul of the crossroads that awakes the point between
From me, all beings take a path and unto me they return, for the crossroads lie at the center of things

Before My depths, beloved of all
Let your Divine innermost self be imbued with the ecstasy of the edge

Let my worship be in the heart that rejoices
For behold, all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals

Therefore, let there be beauty and strength, honor and pride, power and compassion, mirth and reverence among you.

And those of you who seek to know me, know this: that all your seeking and yearning will avail you not, unless you know your true self. For if that which you seek, you find not around you, then you must call it into being. For behold, I have been with you from the beginning, and I am that which dissolves all back into the infinite at the end of things.

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Gender Book! Is Out! In the World! NOW!

Two faces smiled down from a large screen in a corner of San Francisco's Center for Sex and Culture. Jay Mays and Robin Mack, two if the three main creators of The Gender Book, had beamed their gleeful mugs across cyberspace to help celebrate the birth of this fine publication. "It's a book!" (That's a gender joke, get it?) The third creator, artist Mel Reiff Hill, stood on the low stage with a microphone, facilitating a Q&A.

"How did this book come to be?"

Mel described how their boyfriend "paid to teach his therapist about gender." After spending his session laying down the basics of this fundamental subject of life, he wished he could've simply handed the doctor a book and say, "Read chapter 6— see ya next week!" But that book on gender did not exist. So he brought this concern to his friends and the friends said, "Let's make one!"

And what a gorgeous book they've made. With it's large, slick, colorful pages and graphic novel design it looks a lot like a children's storybook. The team say they wrote it for the broadest range of ages possible, attempting to keep the language plain and simple. Indeed, this book is so attractive and friendly, I can imagine it crossing many thresholds into spaces that have never before questioned mainstream gender norms.

Attendees sat around the balloon-festooned room at tables covered with crayons and activity pages, munching on snacks segregated by glutenousness. The atmosphere was relaxed and playful—even slightly giddy—catalysing conversations amongst strangers expressing a wide range of genders. I wondered why the room wasn't packed to the brim, though, because I certainly felt like I was witnessing one of the most important moments in cultural history. Mel says the book's release is just the beginning, and now what they want to see is how people USE it. "Don't just put it on a shelf. Read it, give it away, talk about it."

In an OutSmart interview, Jay Mays reports that the Gender Book team will be participating in the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference this June, "to connect with others who also want to ease the burden of trans* folks having to educate their health professionals." Right on!

As a contributor to their wildly successful Indiegogo campaign, I had a stack of Gender Books waiting for me at the merch table. I nearly knocked Mel over in my eagerness to get mine all signed. They grinned calmly as I explained that I was a Priest/ess in a Bay Area coven and as I frothed all about our Beyond the Binary and Trans*/Pagan endeavors in a sort of star-struck way, and then they amiably signed one "To CAYA Coven." I even got a fancy creature in a shimmery outfit to snap this photo of Mel & I. Can you tell how excited I am?!?!?!?!
Gender Scouts unite!