Open Letter to the Goddess Temple of Orange County

Some of you have followed my tweets about my spiritual journey and the Goddess Temple of Orange County. After an incident that occurred there this morning, I felt moved to send the following letter via email to the Goddess Temple. I hope you’ll join me in urging them to reconsider their position.

High Priestess Ava and Sisters of the Temple,

I left the Temple this morning in the middle of service in a heartbroken state after hearing Ava’s words concerning the exclusion of transwomen from the Temple. In the safety of my car, I sobbed and screamed in grief and frustration. I thought I’d found my spiritual home at last, but I was wrong. I was devastated.

Today was not my first visit to the Temple, and on my other visits I experienced profound relief and joy. That such a place exists! I felt welcomed and valued and lifted up as a woman, as a person. The Queen teachings of the Temple brought me peace and strength, and enhanced my personal practice.

The message today, that transwomen are less than women, that they’ve been violated and mutilated and deny the truth of who they are, is hurtful. It was like a blow to my face. In the Temple space, I felt safe and honored, and this was a violation of trust. It was a vulnerable time for participants, and you used that time to insert a painful topic when a group dialogue outside the safe space of Temple would have been more appropriate.

I’m not a transwoman, but what if I were? What if I’d come to the Temple this morning seeking solace and comfort and acceptance after living in the bigoted, unfriendly world that makes me feel like a freak for trying to reconcile who I am on the inside to what the world says I am on the outside? Your words caused me great sadness; I can’t imagine the deep hurt and betrayal a transwoman would have felt.

I appreciated your acknowledgment of the multi-gender system that some cultures have. But the other comments you made were reprehensible. I am a magickal person, and I shape my reality and defend it in accord with my will. Transgendered people, men AND women, CHOOSE to shape their bodies in accordance with their will. They’re on a life journey. The doctors you mentioned work for them, and many work as compassionate facilitators of the new lives their patients desire. No one forces them to change. In fact, they often have to fight for the right to surgically alter themselves. Equating their choices with the travesty of infant intersex reassignment and comparing them to “a white child adopted into an African village where they don’t belong” is abhorrent.

Did you know that 41% of transgender people have attempted suicide? The reasons are probably complex, but my guess is prejudice drives them to despair.

I urge the Temple to stand on the side of love and acceptance, not bigotry. I can’t feel safe at the Temple or be part of it otherwise.

We shape our own reality. We hold the world in our hands. We can make it better.

In faith and peace,

Tracie Welser

update: 4/29/2012 Comments for this post are now closed.

Disaster and Heartache

I’ve haven’t been able to form a response yet to the disaster in the Gulf. It’s easier to ignore disaster when it is taking place in some distant place. This is not so far, really, and it’s coming closer every moment.

Today, the outer edges of the spill hit the Louisiana coast, in some of the most pristine wildlife areas in the country, as this aerial photo from the AP shows.


My family plans to go to Anna Maria Island in a few weeks, and I’ll pray there at the edge of the Gulf. I wasn’t sure what I would say until I read this over at T. Thorn Coyle’s blog.

As a pagan (not to mention a human with a pulse) who reveres the earth and the ocean, I feel horrified, numb and angry. However, I’ve been taught to channel feelings like these into positive ends, whenever possible.

To keep from crying about it, I’m trying to DO something, which a feeble thing in the face of the trauma the earth is facing. There’s this effort you may have read about, where people are making these crazy-looking things called “hair booms” to soak up the oil. I’m just calling different salons and asking them to participate in the hair collection. One place so far said “yes,” the Fantastic Sam’s in my town. They have a designated collection bin for hair, so I took my Mr. B there to get his hair trimmed, and made sure he knows that his hair will go to help clean up the spill.

The crummy thing is, while salons all over the country are collecting the hair, BP hasn’t agreed to use them in the cleanup). These booms have been shown to work; why wouldn’t BP let the people help clean up this horrifying disaster?

Today, I channeled my inner crazy-lady and contacted the Louisiana Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, where a woman named Jody was very nice but couldn’t tell me why the governor’s office isn’t pressuring BP to approve the use of the booms, in spite of the fact that there aren’t enough of the ineffective plastic ones. It seems strange and outrageous to me that BP has so much control over the cleanup. I called the local paper in Houma, Louisiana, which has recently covered the story about hair collection, and asked a reporter there to pursue it further. We had a effusive conversation, and she agreed to follow up and press the issue (there’s a BP response center in Houma).

Then I read that BP may be reconsidering, probably in a PR move.

Makes me want to holler, but maybe some good is coming.

EDIT: Later, when I tried to call the Coast Guard Gulf command office to confirm that BP is waiting for their approval (and to advocate for said approval), they just passed me off to BP Operational Command in Houston (read: nice PR ladies). They had no clue what I was talking about, even though it’s been in the news already that they’re considering the possibility.
image from www.matteroftrust.org, the organization behind the effort