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Transmissions: Sour notes

By |2018-01-16T00:10:56-05:00September 14th, 2006|Opinions|

For well over a decade, the Michigan Women’s Music Festival has been barred transgender women from attending, thanks to a “womyn-born-womyn” policy. This has led to years of protests on behalf of the transgender community, leading to the seemingly as-permanent-as-the-MWMF Camp Trans counter event. This has been going on for so long at this point that it’s hard to even imagine that anything new and worth noting would come about.
So color me surprised when a Camp Trans press release hit the wires, titled “Michigan Women’s Music Festival ends policy of discrimination against Trans women.” In it, elated Camp Trans organizers informed their readers that the MWMF was not accepting openly transgender women into the event. It sounded like a step in the right direction for those interested in the event. Heck, it sounded too good to be true.
It was.
This release was followed, in short order, by one from Lisa Vogel of the We Want The Music Company, the business that hosts the MWMF. In it, Vogel reiterated the long-standing policy of the festival, stating that the only people welcome are, “womyn who were born as and have lived their entire life experience as womyn,” and that transwomen attempting to and gaining access was akin to “disrespecting” the intent of the festival.
Here I thought the intent might have been a gathering of womyn there to enjoy, oh, music. But I digress.
So essentially, we’ve seen dueling releases, resulting in things being exactly as they always have. Some transwomen want to attend, but the festival’s organizers are unwilling to accept them as their own. It’s the very same state that things have been in for the last 15 years.
For myself, I find it hard to get all that excited about an argument over a plot of land for a couple of days. Part of that comes form having been a kid who grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles, and the only time I have ever spent the night in a tent was in the backyard at my cousins’ house.
At the same time, I can recognize that this is simply how I feel. To those who do care about the MWMF, who do feel the need to the camaraderie that receive there – or that they wish to have there – this is a very big deal. There is quite simply no way either side can compromise, as their is no logical compromise available. Either you allow transgender women, or you do not.
The current policy is pretty clear about who is and who isn’t going to be allowed, and any transgender person who does end up on the land will be viewed as fulfilling the very reason the festival bars trangender people: because they will see any such transwoman as a male “forcing” their way into womyn’s space.
Either this, or you allow transgender people, which shows that you are not trying to exclude a group of people who are just as in need for a space to find community away from those who wish to push themselves onto them.
We are all members of a minority, and we all face oppression. No one should feel that their oppression is so bad that they can pick and choose who they get to oppress. The same people who would go after a “womyn-born-womyn” would likely be just as willing to cause problems for a transwoman.
We have bigger fish to fry, we have more important work we can be doing as a whole, and we are stronger as one people. Continuing to limit who can and who cannot fit in to a relatively small group sounds like a policy that can just as easily harm the MWMF and its attendees as much as it serves to hurt those few transwomen it keeps out.
Really, shouldn’t we all be in this together? I hope that those involved with the MWMF and Camp Trans can reflect on the doings of this and past events, and perhaps next year the press releases can sign a different tune.

About the Author:

Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.
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