Sorry if posted multiple times
What do you think of trans men and trans women forcing themselves into and eventual shut down- the owners gave up – of the Michigan Womyn’s Festival?
I think lesbian born women have the legal right to exclude anyone who is not a womyn born womyn without facing harrassment, legal threats, to exclude those who are not.
I got this question in my comments recently and wanted to just touch on this a bit. I’m sure my thought on it will be controversial no matter what. Why? Because there is no really right or wrong solution to this issue. It’s really a touchy subject no matter how you look at it.
The world has changed. We now have all kinds of organizations of exclusivity that are being challenged with similar situations as the Womyn’s Music Fesival (WMF) was caught up in with the trans question.
For those who don’t know the very basics it seems that the organizers of the WMF were faced with the question of who is “woman” and who is not. Since the WMF was supposed to be exclusively for women, some thought that transwomen should be excluded from that definition because they were not women-born-women. It’s very confusing, see? Now there is huge argument on both fronts. And then there was the question of if transmen should be included since they were born women…and the confusion deepens. Finally after fighting legal and ethical battles of huge proportion over this for several years the WMF organizers canned the festival out of sheer frustration I believe. That’s the situation the commenter speaks of above in a nutshell. Believe me it was much deeper and more technical than that. It was basically a fight over who and what constituted a “woman” and who/what did not. The festival boasted a safe place for all women to join together in community for a week every year. Some felt that that safe space was violated by trans people from both genres. It was an ugly fight and it’s a very difficult subject.
This same sort of situation is playing out across the world with organizations like the Boy Scouts / Girl Scouts and other gender specific organizations. Some girls want to be Boy Scouts, some transboys want to be Boy Scouts, etc. etc. Do they have a “legal” right to exclude people based upon gender or genitalia? Who knows. I am not a lawyer, and thus can’t speak to the specifics of legality of any of it. I can only give my opinion.
I never attended the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. I only read and heard about it. So I don’t even speak from experience of being there. I was always under the impression that it was a lesbian festival of sorts. That was always the impression I got at least. I wonder if they segragated it based upon sexual preference?
To me excluding people is not much different than segregation. And we segregate constantly everywhere. We do it by color, race, sexual orientation, religion, social status, and a huge range of other things. We do it everywhere, all the time. It’s sad. But I also think it’s part of human nature in some ways. Like people gravitate toward their own kind. I know that I would be most comfortable out camping with a bunch of Butch and Femme lesbians – which I consider my own “kind” in a way – than I would with a bunch of straight women talking about dick and men. I just would. It’s all about comfort; what I am most comfortable doing and being around. And I am entitled to my comfort. Would I join a club that excluded transwomen/men? No. I do not believe that I would.
I bet that at the WMF that people segregated by types/kinds. I bet Butches hung out with other Butches, that Femmes with other Femmes and that every type of woman had a group that she associated with more than others. It’s all in the comfort level of the individual. Diversity is great, but let’s face it, given the choice we all choose and become loyal to our own type.
Now I don’t know about the WMF and what happened there but I know there were some huge arguments around the internet about it all. I can see basis for argument from all standpoints. Who is right is still not clear, nor do I believe it ever will be clear. It’s sad that a solution could not be reached that suited everyone so that the WMF could have continued and could have remained that safe space to express and experience the various types of women that we all are.
The specific exclusion of trans people seems to be blatant transphobia to me. Not being trans I can only imagine how that would feel. I can say that if I was a transguy I would not be inserting myself into an exclusively female venue. Why would a man want to be at a women’s festival? But if I were a transwoman…I would want to be recognized as a woman and would expect to be included.
These are just my thoughts on the whole thing. I don’t know the answer to your question, commenter, it’s a tough one. I wish we could all just get along and have one big camping festival that included everyone!
8 thoughts on “Very Tough Question…”
I have never been to that either, nor would I ever, not because I am of the belief that transwomen are just as much women as a bio woman and should be treated with the same level of respect and dignity as the bio ladies.
I would never attend because I do not Identify as a gender specific female , nor do I present as one …. I have taken Massive amounts of testosterone shots for the better part of 20 odd years now… there is not a snowballs chance in hell that I could ever pass as my birth gender , that said… how I present myself, and how others perceive me aside…. the simple fact that I do not ID as specifically female is enough for me to exclude myself from such groups or organizations that are gender specific , I personally feel that at the moment I began the testosterone shots, I gave up my right and privilege to attend women only activities.
I can not truthfully say I identify as a male either …. I am not a man, actually truth be told I never wanted to be a man ( this part will piss the transmen right off ) …. for me I only wanted to transition half way ( lose the breasts, lose the female innards) keep my hoo hoo , for me the transition had very little to do with actual gender identity and more with gender fluidity …. I play with gender as a child plays with toys, there are days I feel all tough and masculine and hold my beer and watch this … and other days I am quite feminine, …. confused yet? … no worries my therapist is actually writing a damn thesis or paper for the medical journals with yours truly as the main attraction lol
I understand folks of either gender wanting their own spaces , there are women only places , and gentlemens clubs , I do not think either should invade another’s space, but I do think the michfest ladies are in the wrong … transwomen are women , gender and sexuality is NOT what you are born with, or what is or is not between your legs … gender and sexuality are both what’s between your ears .
should transmen attend womens only spaces? … no, they do not ID as women, they ID as male therefore should attend mens events and leave the ladies to their own events.
okay i am gonna duck and run now lol
actually strike the sexuality…. you are born gay or straight or bi or pan or tri and all the wonderful colours of the rainbow… so yes you are born with your sexuality, however gender … not so much, you are what society says you are and what you believe you are … hard to say you are born that way when your body may not line up with your mind.
I attended the MWF twice in the 1980s and enjoyed it very much. I was really sad to hear it had been shut down over the trans woman problems they were having. Personally, I think the organizers of the festival should have allowed all women to attend whether they were assigned female at birth or not. Unfortunately, some of the protesters were violent and aggressive which did not help their case. My attitude would be to let the trans women in and eject anyone who caused problems. They would have to follow the rules like anyone attending the festival. I wouldn’t go today since I identify as trans masculine/male. Back in the 80s I don’t remember there being any clear segregation amongst any of the women other than they had rowdy sections, quiet areas, smoking sections, areas for people with disabilities, etc. but not for butch/femme, etc. There just wasn’t as much differences between people as there seems to be today. Lesbians were lesbians. Some straight women came and I think male children under a certain age (9? maybe) were allowed as well. It’s a shame that things couldn’t have worked out differently. It really was a great festival.
Erica here – I posted the question. The reason is I myself am only attracted to women born women. Specifically I’m femme leaning attracted to butch / stone butch / masculine ID which sometimes toes the trans line. I’m assuming the Michigan Womyn’s Festival was created with the policy of womyn born womyn because the organizers are probably only attracted to women born as women and decided to create a like minded event exclusive to the type of women they are attracted to and wanted to be around.
Its NOT homophobic to create an organization based on your own specific interests.
Women discussing their period, menstrual cramps, pregnancy, menopause. These are things that trans women and trans men will NEVER experience. Side Note: It was also reported that some trans women who attended the festival harassed other lesbians, gave out offensive flyers with penis on them, spray painted walls with a penis, and some still had their penis, which other lesbians were offended at being exposed to in their women only space, hence the REASON for the policy women born women.
I have respect for all people. There are many organizations that already cater to LGBTIOXYZ etc that I have volunteered at. Its the legal right for all humans to create a private space and organizations pertaining to whatever topic they feel, and to exclude whoever they want without harassment, legal threats and death threats. The same way there are specific organizations for trans men, trans women, gay men, straight men, straight women, African Americans, latinos, native Americans – vegetarians, meat eaters, vintage car clubs etc.
And Ang I think you’re a beautiful person. Love the new house!!
“Women discussing their period, menstrual cramps, pregnancy, menopause. These are things that trans women and trans men will NEVER experience.”
Ummm…Erica, unless the trans men transitioned before puberty they have experienced periods and cramps. Many trans men have been pregnant and I have personally gone through menopause as a trans man. Trans women, no, they have not experienced these things but that doesn’t mean that they should be excluded. I don’t remember people sitting around talking about their periods at Michigan. They might have had a workshop about pregnancy or menstruating to attend but those are optional. I believe that when the festival was first organized it was designed to be a safe space to celebrate being a woman. Period. Lesbian woman, straight woman, bi woman, trans woman. These vile people who have been militantly trying to make a problem at the festival have ruined it for all of the other people who would like to go and enjoy themselves and pushed the organizers into a corner they couldn’t get themselves out of. It’s a pity, really.
Also, to my knowledge the people that were causing the problems at the festival were not attendees. They were protesters outside on the edge of the festival grounds. They were not allowed to attend the festival.
Erica here again. As an adult lesbian in her 30’s. Who is only attracted to butch / stone butch / masculine ID lesbians. I don’t run into these type of women on a daily basis. There is much erasure from own community pertaining to lesbians who are butch or masculine ID. Aside from a few online photo projects, with most of these women being much younger.
Which is why as a newly certified event planner. Next year I will put together my own photo project and annual butch summit that specifically pertains to butch / stone butch / masculine ID lesbians who toe the trans line. Where these type of people can meet and discuss their lived experiences. Since our own community loves to fetishize any lesbians who are feminine ID and ignores and denigrates everyone else.
Some organizations are inclusive to everyone. Others are exclusive to a specific focus or type of people. Just like nightclubs and Studio 54. Or when dating and choosing a partner exclusive to the type of person your attracted to. Its my right as a citizen to create this private space and organizations, and be exclusive in pertaining to whatever interests I choose. Anyone who disagrees and attempts to change the topic and focus that I chose for my private organization would face legal action. End of rant.
I only went to Michigan once – it was overwhelming and confusing and although I enjoyed the music, I had no interest in going back.
That said, trans women are women, and no woman should be excluded from lesbian space. No matter what the plumbing is.
No one forced Vogel to shut down Michigan – the crowd was aging out – and many performers would not perform there if all women were not welcome. Just like they would be hesitant to play in whites only club in South Africa during apartheid.