I have reserved this page for comments on my long open letter to PantheaCon so that the comment thread there can be a place for people to co-sign the letter if they wish. I invite comment here, and if commentators have posts elsewhere — in praise, comment, or criticism — they can email me and I will linkback to their comments on this page.
Twitter references to the letter.
Included on a link roundup on The Wild Hunt
Linked from Cheryl's Mewsings
Tony Mierzwicki at The Emerald Tablet links the letter in his long post about the events, PantheaCon 2012 part 2 of 2: Healing our Community
Yeshe Rabbit links the letter in a comment on her own blog post Reaction, response, and resolution: on PantheaCon & protests.
Lucy at Fifteen Minutes to Fame has a long post The Power of Cis-Only Rituals? which uses the letter as a jumping-off point for a critique of assumptions underlying exclusive cis rituals:
So, when cis women talk about the power and importance of cis women-only spaces, I tend to be very suspicious because excluding trans people doesn’t actually do what they think it does .... what it does is reinforce cultural transphobia and cissexism because the cis women can see the power of their experiences while claiming that excluding trans women let them have it .... They experience confirmation bias when they have cis-only rituals because they know that only cis people are there .... This leads them to declare that they require cis-only spaces even as they have no idea if this is actually true.
The Bad Witch refers to the letter as “a not rhetorically uncharged eye-witness report” in the post D is for Dianic, Diversity, Discrimination, and DNA
Morag Spinner kindly refers to the letter as “one of the best links” in the post Discrimination.
I received this comment by email:
Pantheacon is never going to be “all events are open to all members.” Never. There will be, at the very least, age-restricted rituals (much of which I think is ridiculous; why have a PG-13 ritual limited to 21 and over only?), and there will almost certainly be number restrictions (“only 15 people at the build-your-mask workshop because that's all I have supplies for”).
There are many other types of restrictions. Aside from the men-only/women-only rituals, there are “must wear white” rituals, and “must be able to dance” rituals, and so on. I don't think anyone wants to insist on an end to those.
I believe Miniver's right: P'con needs a *policy* for restrictions, not an end to them. It needs to clarify what kinds of restrictions are allowed, and how identity with the restricted group can be challenged, and whether a presenter needs to provide an explanation/justification for the restriction.
In this particular case, the problem wasn't a cis-women-only ritual that wasn't reasonably labeled; it's that the ritual claimed to honor “all feminine beauty,” and then insisted that some women are not feminine enough to attend. The problem wasn't the restriction per se, but the “all” part of the description.
PantheaCon has published a policy on exclusive events.
PantheaCon will adhere to state and federal laws which require age limitations and non-discrimination on the basis of age, race, national origin or gender. We also affirm the importance of safe space and will continue to schedule presentations that limit attendance to specific groups of individuals. All workshops or rituals that say “Women Only” or “Men Only” will be open to all who self-identify as such.
PantheaCon cannot police all boundaries. One thing has become evident, simply seeking to make restrictions on gender unambiguous is not sufficient. Prospective presenters applying to make group-specific presentations should be clear in their language about limitations and observe these guidelines. Private rooms, including Hospitality Suites, at the DoubleTree are not subject to this policy. In the past, groups have held invitation-only events and skyclad rituals in private rooms, and PantheaCon will not interfere in these private arrangements.
PantheaCon aims to provide a safe environment for all of its attendees to enjoy their diverse paths. As we evolve, this policy may be subject to some nuanced changes in the future. We welcome any and all comments on this policy.