Monday, November 16, 2015

Two Letters

I've recently found myself needing to write some letters about my gender. Please feel free to use these as templates and alter them as necessary for your own needs.

Letter #1

Dear _______,

I'm a long-time member and I'm genderqueer.

I believe in the work that you do and applaud your international efforts. I think direct action by citizens plays a critical role in changing the world for the better. I hope to remain a member and a part of your online activism for many more years.

However, I cannot currently participate in your online campaigns. Addressing government officials requires a certain level of respect. One way that we show that respect is by adding a prefix such as "Mr." or Ms." before our names. As a genderqueer person, I use the prefix "Mx.", which was recently added to the Oxford Dictionary. Until such a time as I will not be forced to misgender myself, I will be taking a hiatus from participating with you.

Therefore, I urge you to add "Mx." to the list of titles a person can choose from in your organization.


Mx. Melissa ra Karit

Letter #2

Dear ______,

My girlfriend first brought me to your women-centric space early this year. Since then, I've been back multiple times as a guest and enjoyed myself a great deal. I find it very relaxing.

I want to ask a clarifying question about your gender policy. Since this space is a silent retreat, I will obviously not be asking anyone about their gender, nor will anyone be asking me about mine. I am female-bodied and genderqueer. How would you like me to interact with this space? For example, would it be appropriate for me to have my own membership, typically only given to women? I know that this space is for woman only after 9pm. Would I be welcome during that time? And, for the sake of other non-binary, intersex, and transgender people who might be wondering, would the answer to those questions change if I were male-bodied?

Thanks for providing this space and for your consideration of these questions.

-Mx. Melissa

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Rainbow Moon Circle's Autumn Ritual Offering

Come As You Are to…

The Rainbow Moon Circle presents the Moon of Release; A Full Moon Circle Honoring the Full Spectra of Gender Diversity

<3 Thank you to Verity Blue Midnight for this beautiful flyer <3
November 21, 2015
Attendees are welcome to assemble at 7pm, circle is cast at 7:15 (no one is admitted after the circle is cast).

The Home of Truth
1300 Grand St Alameda, CA
Fruitvale BART to 51A
not wheelchair accessible

Suggested donation $10—no one turned away for lack of funds. A portion of our collection will be donated to Trans Lifeline

People of any gender identity or none are welcome to join us to recognize and honor our Beloved Dead of non-conformist gender identities, calling in the creative friction of the gender-fluid deity; Paneris, of the Tetrad++, to transform our losses into raging beauty. We shall offer special remembrance to Trans people whose lives were taken—by the hands of others or by their own hands—in the past solar cycle. Held the evening after the International Transgender Day of Remembrance, at the end of the weeklong Transgender Ancestor Rite of Elevation, our intention is to charge our collective grief with fierce love and RELEASE it from all toxic bonds so that we may all move forward in our full powers. Bring names and photos of your Beloved Dead, small scraps of fabric, ribbons, feathers, and a treat to share for cakes and ale.

The Rainbow Moon Circle is a safe and sacred space for all to explore the spectrum of gender and identity. We honor the holistic experience of self-determined identity and its infinite intersections. We celebrate the glittering prism of Divine existence that is powerful, delightful,  enthusiastic,  playful,transformative, magickal, compassionate, and reverent. Live the Spectra!
The Rainbow Moon Circle offers rituals and sacred services which honor and celebrate the full spectra of gender diversity. Mark your calendars for our Winter ritual: February 27, 2016.

And on FB: RainbowMoonCircle & G+

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Introducing Mxgender

We seem to be at the center of a storm of language shaping these last few months. Just weeks ago, Mx. joinedMr., Mrs., and Ms. in the Oxford Dictionary as a gender neutral title. Earlier this year, folks over here in CAYA Coven started using Priestx as a gender neutral title for our clergy people. It was exhilarating to have a word that feels like it describes me just right. However, we've been stuck for awhile as to what we should call ourselves as a group. I'm genderqueer. When I am part of a group that contains people who are metagender, agender, gender fluid, bigender, and more, what do we call ourselves collectively?

"Non-binary" describes us as what we are not, which I'm not a fan of. "Gender variant" suggests by implication that there exist a group of people who are "gender normal." "Gender diverse" sounds nice but is unfortunately vague. "Trans" and "trans*" are broad and clear, but not everyone who identifies as some non-binary gender identifies as trans.

Then, this last weekend, we had a Rainbow Trad Hot Tub Visioning. (Yes, you read that right.) As we were discussing gender and mulling over the various words we use, one awesome person (thanks, Root!) said this: "What about mxgender?" We paused. We all looked at each other. Hmmm. Mxgender, which sounds like mix-gender, a combination of genders- something quite a lot of us identify with? Mxgender, which draws on the already-known prefix "Mx."? Mxgender sounds like it could hold us all. It sounds like it could be home. 

Do you like "mxgender" as a collective way of describing us? What words do you use? Share in the comments!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Paneros Chant

For the Rainbow Moon Circle; August 29 at The Sacred Well

A child stepped into the River of Styx
There wasn't a ripple, only silence
Eir fears were purged, all self-hatred rinsed
Paneros emerged—All Love immanent!

2015 composed by Jaina Bee
(a gift from the Salish Sea)

For more information on Paneros and the Tetrad++, get a copy of All-Soul, All-Body, All-Love, All-Power: A Transmythology by P. Sufenas Virius Lupus. And also on eir prolific blog, Aedicula Antinoi.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Rainbow Moon Circle's Spring Ritual

On April 4, 2015, CAYA Coven offered our very first Rainbow Moon Circle—a full moon ritual celebrating the sacred expressions of gender diversity. Our Spring theme was The Journeying Moon—a time when the energies move us to stretch out of our wintery nooks and explore wider realms. For this endeavor, we called to Hindu deity, Hanuman, to guide us and protect us. His hybrid nature—part man, part monkey—and shape-shifting powers felt kindred to the intentions of our circle.

Lord Hanuman with mace and mudra of protection (photo by Lady Yeshe)

The colorful altar included red flowers and fruits for Hanuman, and candles that have colored flames (photo by Lady Yeshe)

We wrote on dissolving paper the things we were ready to release. The water was later poured into the receding tide of the ocean during a waning moon, with reverent prayers. (photo by Lady Yeshe)
Sixteen beautiful people—representing a lush variety of genders and a CAYA spectrum ranging from founder to newbie—came together in the circle to sing, light candles, share stories, laugh, cry, trance, discover… These relatively common ritual elements framed a profoundly moving and rare opportunity. How many of us gender-variant Pagans have ever had the chance to recognize, acknowledge and respect this particular aspect of ourselves and each other in sacred space? When before did we look around a ritual circle and know that we were not the random or token (or shamefully secretive) non-cisgendered person in this group, but among kindred spirits who nod knowingly at our shared lived experience? It was a first for me. I felt a fierce love and protective impulse for this circle, and made a promise that I would do all I could to continue this work. I pray that moments like these will become less rare, that such circles will proliferate joyfully wherever people need them. Until then, feel free to see what we're up to at The Rainbow Moon Circle, and make your calendars for our next ritual, August 29. Blessed be.
—Jaina Bee; e/em/eir

Monday, March 30, 2015

Reflections on Panhyle

Panhyle is the second of the Tetrad++, the trans and gender variant deities making themselves known through the work of P. Sufenas Virius Lupus and others. Here are some of my thoughts on Him and my relationship with Him.


Panhyle feels
like those soap sculptures we made
in 7th grade, in imitation of a long ago art:
strong, moldable, delicate, beautiful
and yes, sometimes frustrating!
(He feels like the same Artist that shaped Him also shaped me
Like what He is shaped of might make me clean,
wash away the grit and insults of the world)

He feels
like the trees feel to me
(me, with my Greenman heart):
like I am utterly safe
leaning into His rootedness
as though His embrace
sinks me ankle-deep in the Earth

With Panhyle,
I think
I could hide my face between His shoulder blades
and weep
And He would stand between me and the world
protecting my privacy
until I am ready to raise my face
Panhyle knows
about getting to decide
what is hidden and what is revealed*
He knows about safety and trust and intimacy

Panhyle, who came into the world
with his most delicate parts hidden
helps me draw a line,
to decide who gets to see me
and how bare I will be before them

Panhyle feels
like my dad, next to me in the stands
at my sister's graduation
the two of us screaming our lungs out as my sister walked
loud enough that others turned to stare:
He does not care much for the norms
and He is proud of His children
(His brothers, His sisters, His siblings, His lovers, His people, us)

Panhyle feels
like a kiss to the nape of the neck,
a lover's hands on my hips:
a shivery promise of pleasure to come
a firing of nerves
that leaves me awake in my body
I turn my head,
brush my bare cheek against
His soft bristles
And want to know more.


*Writing this, I had a sudden deep flash of empathy for all those who choose to veil all or part of their body/hair/face. I finally get it on a gut level as well as an intellectual level.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Living the Spectra with Jaina Bee

A quarterly exploration of issues and events related to gender diversity in the context of a Pagan practice.

After a year of seeking out and announcing "trans*/pagan" events, I'm redirecting my focus toward this new series of posts wherein I share about my recent adventures and discoveries in service as a metagender member of CAYA Coven's clergy. I am hoping to include book reviews, interviews, events listings, event reports, and anything else that may enlighten and inspire those who, like me, value the wisdom and well-being of Pagans Beyond the Binary. Please let me know if there's anything you'd like me to check out. Blessed be!

Happy birthday, Kate Bornstein!

Pantheacon 2015: Seeking and Co-Creating Gender Variant Hearth & Hospitality

When I was very kindly invited to share what "metagender" means to me at the evening session of Dee Shull’s excellent roundtable discussions on gender diversity and safe spaces, I was speechless for a moment. Then I awkwardly stuttered through a paraphrasing of descriptions written by P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, who was sitting right next to me. How could I be so nervous and shy in a room full of Pagans representing so many unconventional genders?

Because I'd never before been in a space where everyone was Pagan and no one was cisgendered. Because for the very first time, I was speaking to a crowd where I didn't have to deal with resistance to the idea of non-binary genders AND my Pagan practice was as accepted as my need to stay hydrated. I was speaking to "my people." It was a completely weird experience for me to feel so normal. I didn't know how to handle it.
Until I’d read PSVL’s Transmythology (mere months ago), I really didn’t have a satisfactory term for my own relationship with gender. I’d very casually been trying out genderqueer for a few years and half-heartedly considering “they” pronouns. For decades, queer has been my default identity on many fronts—sexual, gender, spiritual and just about any other part of my life that needed an adjective. All of the various terms I tried on fit me like off-the-rack garments from a discount store—parts of me did not squeeze into them and hung out awkwardly and often shamefully. Queer was my identity muumuu.
It was the story of Paneros that finally hit home.

Born of a MTF deity and an FTM deity, Paneros is the first non-binary deity of the group. Not half-male/half-female, like Ardhanarishvara or Hermaphroditos, but something else entirely. Meta means “beyond” and gender means “type.” (The character actors of the gender world, who cannot be typecast?) Paneros is much like a mirror to every individual e meets. Eir mother calls em “she,” eir father calls em “he.” Even the few who know what e is, such as eir grandfather Antinous, cannot speak eir name or pronouns until the child speaks them emself. Pushed to the edges of everything and beyond, the child finally releases all forms of sex and gender hatred from emself while simultaneously freeing their antidotes into the world. E is Paneros: ALL LOVE. (my synopsis is so bare and stilted, please read the original!)

So I’m reading this on a packed plane, laughing and crying and kissing the book and frantically underlining and circling and drawing stars and hearts all over the pages. After years of inklings and doubts, I’ve finally got some language that clears the air like a thundercrack. I finally know my name and my pronouns. I never knew what a difference that would make until it happened.

What I wished I could have said to that beautiful roomful of gender variant Pagans: metagender opens up uninhibited freedom to be myself; a one-size-fits-me label that is no particular gender but neither is it agender. It is a slippery, slithery gender that evades every attempt to define it; a trickster gender. (Every person in this conformist culture who does not identify with their assigned gender is forced in some way to become a trickster, even if they would not be otherwise. Metagender is trickster to the core.) Ask nine metagender people what metagender means and you'll get twelve answers. Wow, wouldn't it be amazing to be in a room with NINE metagender people!???!!

All of this is a rambling explanation of why Dee Shull's two round-table discussions (neither of which were in the main program, by the way) provided a desperately needed service at Pantheacon. When one finds oneself in a safe and hospitable space, deeper understandings and vaster opportunities open up. Many closeted Pagans experience this joyful feeling of inclusion and community by attending events such as Pantheacon. The conversations Dee facilitated brought forth the challenges and solutions we need to consider in order to expand that generous spirit to include currently marginalized members of our community. One wise and wonderful participant posted this excellent clarification of the essential differences between accommodating and providing accessibility.

In my explorations of gender-related issues, I have found the most useful language and questions in the words and works of our many brilliant Pagans of Color. In Bringing Race to the Table, Crystal Blanton drops this mindblower into our laps, "If the mainstream within Paganism is not cognizant of the effects of racism in the overculture, and does not become active in promoting a culture of change that is inclusive of people of color, then we should be honest that diversity is not our goal." Once you read that, you cannot unread it. Enjoy!

Many thanks to the Pandemos Hospitality Suite and to the Pagans of Color Hospitality Suite for opening their spaces to host these events! You lead the way with heart and soul.

With hospitality and safe, sacred space in mind…

CAYA Coven's newest ritual offering: Rainbow Moon Circle at The Sacred Well


Come As You Are to…
The Journeying Moon
Presented by CAYA Coven’s Rainbow Moon Circle
Saturday, April 4, 2015, 8pm
The Sacred Well
536 Grand Avenue, Oakland, CA 94610, 510-444-WELL
by donation—no one turned away for lack of funds

Join us for the inaugural rite of our newest moon circle to explore and honor gender diversity in ourselves, our communities, and in deity. We will Journey with the Hindu god, Hanuman—who is noted for his ardent devotion and trickster qualities of transformation— to find our healing powers within and dance with joy to celebrate each of our unique gifts. You are welcome to bring a contribution to cakes and ale, but most importantly— bring your beautiful self!

The Rainbow Moon Circle is a safe and sacred space for all to explore the spectrum of gender and identity. We honor the holistic experience of self-determined identity and its infinite intersections. We celebrate the glittering prism of Divine existence that is powerful, delightful,  enthusiastic, playful, transformative, magickal, compassionate, and reverent. We co-create rituals and hold space for supportive, loving community. We reflect and uphold the Mission and Vision of our shared CAYA Coven community.
The Rainbow Moon Circle offers rituals and sacred services which honor and celebrate the full spectrum of gender diversity.

Book Review

Tango: My Childhood, Backwards and in High Heels

Justin Vivian Bond

2011; The Feminist Press; New York, NY

Told in v's signature chatty, witty, and astonishing style, Mx. Bond lays bare the most tender and quivering bits of a childhood that may or may not be as uncommon as some people think. Oh, it's certain v is a most unique individual—as a writer, a performer, and a fashion trendsetter—however, I am beginning to wonder if suburban neighborhoods are rife with children doing strange and unspeakable things to each other. Or maybe it reveals more about that bygone era of the mid-60's, when family members were protecting their privacy from the nosey neighbors rather than soliciting "Likes" from them on social apps. No one really knew what the kids were up to in that treehouse. Or if they did, no one was publishing a book about it. It seems that the adults of Hagerstown, Maryland always knew that there was something different about the chatterbox young 'un that would grow up to be an award-winning performer. Justin's beloved Pop-Pop called his grandchild "twinkle toes" with nothing but affection, but Mom threw a fit when she caught her 6-year-old son leaving for school wearing lipstick. All of us who grew up uncertain about living up to the gender expectations around us know how such inconsistency leads to second-guessing our every impulse— completely thwarting our childhood spontenaeity. Justin Vivian unpacks all these closets and more in v's little book.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Come As You Are to… The Rainbow Moon Circle

It's been a long time bubbling in our dreams and studies and discussions and prayers—and finally it is time to come out to the world: CAYA Coven's Rainbow Moon Circle is bursting your way—a-glitter and aswirl!

CAYA Priest/esses Melissa ra Karit and myself (Jaina Bee), with the able assistance of soon-to-be-ordained Verity Blue (who created that beautiful graphic, above) and Dedicant HiC have been mixing up the ingredients for this series of four rituals in the coming turning of The Wheel of the Year. These will all happen at The Sacred Well, in Oakland.

Learn more about this and join in on the colorful discussion at our G+ group: Rainbow Moon Circle. The more colors in our palette, the more beauty we can create together.

To Paneros

Hail, Paneros
You who break the world open with Your love
You who shatter the bonds
that restrained love of old
We honor you.

Bring us to the shimmering edge
Hold us shaking and shivering
At the crest of desire
Hear Your name on our lips
When we honor you.

Paneros, awaken our hearts!
AsYou are open, open us to others
Let our hearts beat
with Your joyous, flowing love,
As we honor you

O Breaker,
O Anarchist of Love
O Love's song and Love's delight,
Piercer of Hearts
Waker of the Soul
that wades through fear to reach love's shores
Hear us, as we raise our voices in praise of You!

All honor to Paneros, and to all the Tetrad++!


Want to know more about Paneros? Check out P. Sufenas Virius Lupus' blog post on all the Tetrad++ and honoring them here and also eir epic poem The Marriage of Paneros.