Gender and Retreats – what is your policy?

Marketing & Business

Do you have a policy about gender for your retreats? If you offer gender-only events, it’s important to consider whether you will accept men and women who identify as a different gender than the one they were assigned at birth based on biologically determined physical attributes, i.e. transgender people.

To dive deeper into this topic with someone who has helped create a gender policy for his center, I had the great pleasure of speaking with Peter Moore, from Breitenbush Hot Springs.

Breitenbush is one of the original retreat centres in the United States, and is home to several long-time-running gender-only events. Recently, the Breitenbush team decided it was time to draft a clearer gender policy, and after much internal discussion and debate, it was decided they would put in writing that they accept people as the gender they choose to identify with. This has been received with mixed reviews, and Peter has received both praise and hate mail based on this decision.

In today’s modern world, it may sound like a simple or even obvious decision to make, but when you consider that dormitories are often gender-based, it could potentially be challenging for some participants to share a room with someone whose physical attributes are strikingly different than their own. For the facilitators of a long-time running women’s retreat, this was a difficult policy to accept given that they had their own policy of accepting only “women born women”. After much consideration, that group has now changed its policy, and has decided to accept all women, regardless of whether or not they were born women.

What will your policy be? You can read Peter’s more comprehensive article on this topic here.


Peter Moore is the Business Director of Breitenbush Hot Springs in the mountains of Detroit, Oregon. Breitenbush is a community and a retreat centre that hosts over 150 programs annually. The 154-acre property generates its own electricity from the river and supplies heating from geothermal wells. The hot springs and wells also provide the mineral water for hot tubs and a steam sauna.

Find out more about Breitenbush Hot Springs here

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