Cherry Hill Seminary Supports Transphobia

Original Post:

An Open Letter to the Pagan Community:

I want to first make it brutally clear that this is the last thing I want to have to put forth today, especially while away on pilgrimage. But as a pagan and a cis woman, I cannot and I will not remain silent on this matter, and I will not stand by in the face of violent targeting that is being enacted in my name.

Many of you know who Cathy Brennan is. If you don’t, please spend a moment or two on Google and educate yourselves. In short, she is a notoriously transphobic radical feminist who for years has targeted and doxxed those who speak out against her, especially trans women. This is not a matter of ‘free speech’. Cathy Brennan literally endangers the lives and personal safety of those who oppose her.

Cathy Brennan is friends with Ruth Barrett, long-time Dianic priestess and instructor at Cherry Hill Seminary. Last year, when Ruth made several public transphobic comments, many called on CHS to fire her. CHS refused to do so, citing academic freedom as their reason for standing by her.

In the past few days, many in the community have publicly spoken out about Ruth’s new anthology, ‘Female Erasure’, a blatantly transphobic anthology that includes the writings of Cathy Brennan.

And in response to that public outcry, Cathy has publicly targeted several members of the pagan community via her FB page. So far she has named and targeted David Salisbury, Peter Dybing, Devin Hunter, and Deirdre Hebert. Cathy has also publicly stated that she will “gather information” on men (and in her world, trans women are ‘men’) who speak out against her.

In case there is any doubt as to what that means, she is planning on doxxing these folks.

If not for Ruth Barrett and her friendship and collaboration with Cathy, Cathy would not be targeting members of our community, which makes Ruth complicit in this violence as well.

For anyone who needs proof of this, Cathy’s FB page will be linked in the comments below. Cathy has a large and notoriously rabid following, and her actions are literally putting members of our community in danger.

I also recognize that by posting this, I will also likely become a target. But it is fear that silences those who would otherwise speak up, and I refuse to bow to that fear in the face of such a threat to those I know and love.

This is no longer a matter of ‘academic freedom’ when it comes to Ruth Barrett’s affiliations with Cherry Hill Seminary. This is violence. This is the deliberate targeting of beloved and respected members of our community. And by standing behind Ruth, CHS is now also complicit in such violence.

I am calling on Cherry Hill Seminary to publicly disassociate with Ruth Barrett immediately. And I am calling on every person that I personally know who is affiliated with CHS to resign from their positions unless CHS publicly disassociates with Ruth. And if CHS chooses not to do that and instead hides behind ‘academic freedom’, I am calling for for the pagan community as a whole to publicly disassociate with and boycott CHS.

I will say flat out that having to take this step causes me much pain, as there are many brilliant members of our community, some who I know personally, who are either staff, faculty, or members of the BOD of Cherry Hill Seminary. I want to make it clear that this is not a personal attack on you. But I will not stand silently and hold my words as they pertain to an institution that supposedly represents, teaches, and ordains priests in my community if they choose to protect a staff member who is complicit in the targeting and doxxing of members of our community. I sincerely hope that those who I know personally will demonstrate their integrity and do the right thing in this matter.

I repeat: this is no longer an issue of ‘free speech’ or ‘academic freedom’. This is a matter of violence, of endangering those who dare to speak up. What Cathy is doing is absolutely equal to the actions of the Gamergate folks. Such actions destroy lives and put people in literal danger.

One more time: to protect Ruth is to be complicit in such violence. Period.

I also ask for protection from those in my community who are able and willing to provide it, as I know that this call-out will not go unanswered.

In the name of Love, Power, and Justice,
Alley Valkyrie

(If you feel safe in doing so, feel free to share this widely. If you don’t feel safe in doing so, I completely understand.)


Posted on June 7, 2016, in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Beautifully written! I’d be happy to pass this along.

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