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The Shieldmaiden Blog

Aug - 15

Trans women and sovereignty: I stand with you

Today’s post is a brief, but passionate one. I have some other topics that I’ve felt compelled to write on for this blog, but with ritual and logistical preparation for the Coru Priesthood pilgrimage to Ireland in full sway, I’ve had little time for writing.

A few days ago I came across this essay, shared by a friend on social media: Someone Tell Me That I’ll Live: On Murder, Media, and Being a Trans Woman in 2015

I read it in the solitude of my studio, while taking a break between drawing sessions. When I got to the end of it, I cried openly. This is not common for me.

It isn’t that I hadn’t thought about what trans people face. I was aware of the outrageous and increasing rate of murders of trans people, especially trans women of color. The visceral knowledge of that life expectancy number hit me hard, though. If you haven’t actually read the essay, I’m asking you to take a moment right now, and go read it:

“When I was 19, I read an article in Guernica magazine stating that the average life span of a transgender person is 23 years old. The article confirmed what I had already known for about a decade: I was doomed to a nasty, short, and miserable life. I was going to be poor, maybe homeless, definitely unemployable. I was going to be subjected to emotional and sexual violence (and in fact, I already had been), and then I was going to die, probably brutally murdered. They would print the wrong name on my grave.”

Let that find its way into your heart.

There’s more than horror in that essay. There’s also this:

“I want — we need — more: More than liberal righteous anger, we need concrete funding for trans shelters, scholarships, program grants. More than nihilistic leftist rhetoric, we need creativity and transformation. We need people to stop talking about how trans women get killed all the time. We need people to start telling us that they won’t let us die.”

And that is where this lands deepest for me. The Gods I serve have made the demand of me that I practice warriorship and seek to be of service to the world in that capacity. I pursue that practice in a handful of different ways: in combat arts, in street activism, and in fighting for the sovereignty of women. When I read this trans woman’s words, I wanted to reach out to every one of the trans women I know and tell them: I won’t let you die. I will stand with you and I will fight for you. I felt the presence of Macha, who breathes down my neck every time I encounter a situation where women’s sovereignty is being challenged, and whose voice I hear in the back of my skull saying “Do not walk away. Do not stand down. This is your battle.”

So I am saying to my trans friends, to all of you: I won’t let you die. I will fight with you. I’m still learning how to do that; where in fact I can be useful in that fight. And I welcome guidance and correction on that point. But this is my statement of commitment. I am with you. I will not stand down. I will not let you die.

And I am also saying this: To everyone, but especially to those who practice warriorship of any kind, and to those who profess to care about the sovereignty of women. Who are you willing to fight for? Women’s sovereignty means trans women too. The brutality of our culture toward women lands on no one as hard as it does trans women. Can you commit to our trans kindred too?



4 comments on Trans women and sovereignty: I stand with you

  1. Madison says:

    Thank you so so SO much for these words. I’m a trans woman who is exploring a relationship with The Morrigan, and I’m honestly terrified of the transmisogyny within the pagan community. I simply want to worship and work magic with others in the safety of a community that is actively holding of me and my truth and realness. Trans witches need others to show up for us to keep us safe.

    I can feel the fervency and ardor in your words and it brought me to tears. This is everything I’ve so desperately been needing to hear. Thank you.

    1. Morpheus says:

      I’m glad if my words can be of some help. Lately with the transmisogyny in full force in both the Pagan community and beyond, words really feel like not enough, but it’s a place for me to begin. I hope you find the supportive community that you need and deserve. Please feel free to stay in touch – I’m always glad to know and be connected with other Morrígan devotees.

  2. Marcella says:

    This is so, so very important to hear–especially coming from someone so respected in the polytheist community. I hope this momentum carries to everyone in the polytheist community, and outside of it. The world needs to help take down the walls of gender essentialism and gender binary.

    Thank you Morpheus. Thank you.

  3. Caisin says:

    Thank you so much for writing this. I have left Gaelic polytheist groups in the past after dealing with transphobia by members and leadership. I’ve been yelled at and talked down to for wanting to start conversations about gender essentialism within the community, I’ve been misgendered and experienced complete lack of acceptance about my realization that I’m trans. I finally left after it became clear that the leadership was not going to budge on their stance that trans women would never be unconditionally accepted into the community’s women only spaces. To know that there are people in power in Gaelic polytheism who don’t see trans women as women is heartbreaking.

    I was silent about my experience for years because I feared everyone else would have the same belief, so seeing more and more polytheists and pagans standing against these ideas (especially when it’s people with a great deal of influence in their communities) makes me feel safer. We need to have these conversations. We need to understand that our ideas about gender are contributing to the violence against and deaths of trans women, and we need to work as a community to figure out how we can change what is happening.

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