Remember The T

I am firm believer in having safe spaces for all people. However, when your safe space is just a blanket for oppression…then I will call it like I see it. In this case, I call it transphobic crap.

The Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, also known as MWMF, is held every August in the woods of Michigan. It’s a community and space built for womyn, by womyn. I can see why this appeals to many of my womyn friends. To have sense of community and ownership is great for the self esteem.

About the festival from its website:

“Forty performances, a film festival, an artisan/craft show and a full roster of workshops, parties and dances are all slated for one glorious week in August on 650 lush green acres in Michigan. This year's line-up features Michigan's signature combination of new blood and longtime beloveds, representing every genre and generation through the sounds you hear from the stages as well as from the womyn you meet on the wooded path”

Well doesn't this just sound freaking peachy? Almost like a utopia. Well in 1991 a trans-woman, Nancy Burkholder, came out as a trans-woman to some others at MWMF. After that she was questioned by security and then promptly asked to pack up and leave. It was because this incident that Camp Trans was born.
Camp Trans is the trans-inclusive protest camp set up to inform the goers of the MWMF policy and how transphobic the environment at MWMF is. As of 2006 the policy has been withdrawn but with this statement by Lisa Vogel, the CEO/Creator/Head Honcho of MWMF.

“I would love for you and the other organizers of Camp Trans to find the place in your hearts and politics to support and honor space for womyn who have had the experience of being born and living their life as womyn. I ask that you respect that womon born womon is a valid and honorable gender identity. I also ask that you respect that womyn born womyn deeply need our space -- as do all communities who create space together...I wish you well, I want healing, and I believe this is possible between our communities, but not at the expense of deeply needed space for womyn born womyn….If a transwoman purchased a ticket, it represents nothing more than that woman choosing to disrespect the stated intention of this Festival...As feminists, we call upon the transwomen’s community to help us maintain womyn only space, including spaces created by and for womyn-born womyn.”

Previously the MWMF barred trans women from buying tickets and attending the festival. Around 2006 the rumor was that the MWMF was barely breaking even every year. So in case you missed what was really going on here, a struggling music festival realized it was losing money by not letting trans women attend and purchase tickets. They then lifted the ban but asked transwomen to essentially be seen and not heard. How many times do we have to go over this, separate but equal does NOT work. As a queer, no scratch that, as a HUMAN community we need realize that until everyone is able to eat a full meal at the table of equality, table scraps like what was handed to trans women at MWFW are inhuman, unacceptable and downright degrading.

This happens all the time, unfortunately. How many times have we forgotten that ever important T in our community so that the rest of us can have whatever we want/need? Whenever legislation is up for a vote we hear that it would be “easier” if we dropped the T or gender identity because people are not “there yet.” I'm sorry, but it’s up to the rest of the QLBG community to “get there” first, and fight for our trans friends and family. We need to stop taking the table scraps and start demanding a full meal for our community. We need our allies to be loud and proud because the harsh reality is, at the end of the day your voice has more pull than mine ever will. We need to constantly challenge spaces like the MWMF and hold them accountable for what they say and do. Camp Trans and the MWMF is happening August 2-9 this year. There are currently movements in place within the gates of MWMF to make it a more inclusive womyn's festival. However until the day that all women are welcome and included Camp Trans will continue.

***For More Info Related Check Out
“Transmissions From Camp Trans” by Michelle Tea in The American Bible Of America Essays by Alan Kaufmen

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