Content warnings: transphobia, spiritual abuse, verbal and financial abuses.
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I am a female to male transgender guy who had been living in a Wiccan church in Missouri. During my time there, I was told that I was not allowed to speak with anyone about my experiences at the church because of my oath to the church. This included talking to my therapist.
Some of the various things that was regular occurrences at this particular place was a very strong difference between how the men and the women were treated. This church used an initiation system and I had just been elevated to first degree. The High Priestess would regularly yell at me because I did not have the answers to questions on things I was never taught. An example would be asking me to pick an appropriate incense for a ritual and the ritual’s purpose or season. My training had not covered this and I would be yelled at for not knowing something I was not taught. I was told that i could ask questions of the second degree (female) who lived at the church, but she did not know either. She was not yelled at for not knowing though.
I was also manipulated into spending thousands of dollars for buying things for the church that they were supposed to pay me back for. I have gotten about $200 back of the money they “borrowed” from my credit.
I was told that because I had transitioned to male, that I had given up all of my power. Only women seemed to have power. Men were there to be told what to do.
I was also not allowed to leave the property without permission and if I was back late, I would be scolded or berated. I was not allowed to have a social circle outside of the people at the church. I was also told that I was not to use the name that I was comfortable using in pagan circles because they did not think that it fit me.
What would you like our faith communities to know?
This was a group that was supposed to help and support me and instead it tried to control and berate me for being myself. I do still identify as pagan, but I really struggle with having any identity with Wicca in particular because of groups like this.
I think that there are some very good groups that are supportive and helpful, but I also think that there are many groups that want money, work, or resources from people. They also want power in whatever form they can get it. This is a very sad fact. Take the time to educate yourself about what an abusive group looks like and what are red flags to watch out for in our community.
While I think that there are a lot of great people and groups who really do want to do what is best for the community, it pays to take your time and get out if a situation doesn’t feel right.