I don't understand what drives transfolk (who seek it, and I respect those who don't) to reassignment surgery, simply because I don't understand the common reason of "I felt like I was in the wrong body". I also don't understand non-trans folks who say they'd be horrified to wake up as the opposite sex one morning.
This is because I have no real attachment to my bits. The only thing waking up in a male body would do, I think, is cause me to have two thoughts: 1."Cool, more upper-body strength" and 2."SRSLY THIS COULDN'T HAVE HAPPENED LONG BEFORE NOW THUS SAVING ME THE WHOLE PERIODS-FROM-HELL THING?" Hell, Second Husband and I wish we could actually switch bodies at will, though I think he'd change his mind after being stuffed into my considerably older and more beat-up meatsack for a few days.
So there is a great deal about this that I don't get, but I don't have to discriminate against transfolk, either.
I get that Z Budapest wants a space for women. I support all-women's, all-men's, all-gay, all-straight, all-penguin spaces for the people who want them. I don't think anyone is arguing about anyone's right to space shared only with people they want to share it with. I do think having a public ritual at a big con that excludes, potentially, a lot of people is questionable to say the least.
I get that she's concerned - and she's not the only one - that if you are male-bodied in this culture, you will experience male privilege, and that maybe that can't just be dropped because you're sure that despite what you look like on the outside, you're a woman on the inside. However, radical queer theory as I understand it says that the reason the effeminate man is so despised is because he chooses to be a woman and not utilize that male privilege, so I'm not sure that's a valid argument for keeping transwomen out of a "women's-only" ritual.
At the heart of all this are the questions of who is a woman, and who gets to decide this? It seems to me that if your ritual is only for women who are bleeding, that's fine; say so. If it's for women of a certain age, excellent; say so. If it's for women who have had children, nice; say so. But if it's for the big category of "women", then why doesn't self-identification work? Despite all our talk about energy and spirit having no gender/being all genders/encompassing all genders, are we really willing to revert to that old "biology is destiny" crap?
Speaking of which, a commenter here, Kate LBT, says:
"I somehow doubt that telling a group of vulnerable, disempowered and traumatized women that
their bodies are monstrous and don't deserve to be celebrated with other women's bodies is a part of
diversity that we should be celebrating."
Being a woman IS being a vulnerable, disempowered and traumatized person who's told her body is monstrous and doesn't deserve to be celebrated with other women's bodies on a daily basis. Yeah, I know. Things are better for us. But we're still told we can't be trusted to make our own medical decisions, half the contraceptive options available to us have side effects that are unacceptable, and if we don't look like whatever the patriarchal beauty norm is, we're punished for it, especially if we're unrepentant about it.
What is a "woman", anyway? If we no longer accept that being a woman, and therefore being feminine, means being weak, passive, gentle, and emotional, what then? Hell, does being a woman even mean being feminine? If we're more than just our naughty bits, and being one sex/gender doesn't condemn you to an existence that's nothing more than a conglomeration of stereotypes, do separate-sex/gender rituals still mean anything to us? If so, what? And why?