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Truly Equal Opportunity

September 2, 2012

This video appeared in my Google Reader feed courtesy of Tanya McGinnity over at Full Contact Enlightenment.  It’s a beautiful short film from Thailand (with subtitles) with an important message thoughtfully expressed.  Interesting to me, it makes its point clearly, but without the anger, righteousness, and moral outrage of many American advocacy films.  I believe everyone should see it and hope all will enjoy it.

At the moment, I personally do not know of any transgender or gender-queer ordained Buddhist teachers or clergy, particularly in the Theravada tradition.  If they exist, I would be interested to know of them and their experiences.  It is only recently that full ordination for women has once again become available in the Theravada Buddhist traditions.  It remains unrecognized by many, including governments in Southeast Asia that otherwise provide special benefits to Buddhist clergy.  Nonetheless, some brave women have sought and obtained ordination as Theravada nuns (bhikkunis), and several practice in the United States.  If you’d like to know more about them, particularly how to support them, check out the links below.  I hope the day of ordination for all who desire it comes swiftly.

Alliance for Bhikkunis – A great directory of bhikkuni (nun) centers and hermitages throughout the world.  “Alliance for Bhikkhunis allocates 93% of all donations to support and nourish the worldwide Theravada Bhikkhuni Sangha. Your donations contribute to bhikkhuni ordination and training costs; bhikkhuni medical, dental and health insurance expenses; bhikkhuni travel costs to conferences and retreats; and to providing requisites, including books and computers, to bhikkhuni viharas.”

Awakening Truth – “Awakening Truth is a 501 c3 non-profit run by volunteers to support a Bhikkhuni training monastery for Buddhist nuns, bringing ancient teachings into the modern world.”

Some bhikkhunis in California:

Aranya Bodhi Hermitage’s Blog – “Inspired by the Theravada forest traditions, Aranya Bodhi: Awakening Forest Hermitage is a rustic, ‘off the grid’ Buddhist women’s monastic hermitage on 100+ acres of mountain forest and meadows on the Northern California Sonoma Coast. Aranya Bodhi is the monastic hermitage project of Dhammadharini, a religious non-profit organization in the State of California. Contact the hermitage by email at awakeningforest@gmail.com. Main website: www.aranyabodhi.org.”

The Bodhi House Blog – “The Bodhi House is Dhammadharini’s Theravada Buddhist women’s monastic residence in the San Francisco East Bay and the intown annex to our Sonoma Coast Aranya Bodhi Hermitage. Address: 4196 Bidwell Drive, Fremont, CA 94538, USA, Tel: 510.683.9608, Email: bodhihouse.office@gmail.com — Dhammadharini’s main website: www.dhammadharini.net

Mahapajapati’s Monastery – “Our center seeks to reestablish the Bhikkhuni lineage (that was lost in Sri Lanka in the 10th Century, and in Burma in the 13th century) and to be a permanent residence for bhikkhunis (fully ordained female monastics) for the purpose of following and imparting the teachings of the Buddha as taught by the Theravada tradition. It is furthermore our intention to provide in the future the teachings of the Buddha in meditation retreats and other programs, and create a Buddhist study center.”

Lotus Meditation & Education Center– “Lotus Meditation and Education Center is being created to help fulfill the religious, spiritual and educational needs of traditional Buddhists and American born Buddhists who are increasingly interested in learning and practicing Buddhism.  We are located at 1446 Summitridge Dr. Diamond Bar, CA 91765. Please call 909- 861-1582 or e-mail baolienthienvien@yahoo.com  for more details.”

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Andria permalink
    September 21, 2012 4:36 am

    I just came across this blog and would like to thank for you posting it and raising awareness of these issues. I am a genderqueer transperson with the desire to ordain at some point in my life. The video hit precisely on many of my deeper feelings. All I ask to to be accepted as a human being. Yet I feel as though, with respect to monasticism, I have no real options but to ordain myself and walk off into the forest to die unsupported. Which is, of course, not so practical in actuality; but a poignant and important expression depicted in the video here.
    Admittedly I have not tried so directly to ordain as a genderqueer person. Personally, I take a cautious and watchful approach to various Buddhist communities which I feel may acknowledge my humanity and good intent. For now I am thankful for a place to live a relatively simple life to the best of my abilities.
    Thank you again for posting this. Have a wonderful day. May you be well and happy.
    ~Andria

    • September 21, 2012 7:06 am

      Welcome, Andria! I know Buddhism isn’t always hospitable to genderqueer and transpeople as I would like, but truly congratulate you for your aspiration to ordain. That’s a huge commitment and I respect anyone willing to make it, especially in the face of such difficulties. I hope you find the opportunity someday in a welcoming and loving sangha.

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