By BTL Staff
Twenty-three years ago Nancy Burkholder was asked to leave the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival because she was not a “womyn-born-womyn.” Since then, debate has taken place with festival owner Lisa Vogel and organizers of the festival and community members and artists across the country. On July 28, Equality Michigan called for an end to the “womyn-born-womyn” festival policy and is calling for and end to transgender exclusion at Michfest. It is asking the public to support the policy change by signing an online petition at http://eqmi.us/mwmf14.
“Finally, the reality is that the lesbian, gay and bisexual community cannot stand by any longer and pretend that any form of transgender discrimination can be painted over as a feminist or progressive issue. We must stand up, even if it is to our own, and make it clear that transgender women deserve to be treated as women in all settings. The comparison that a women’s only festival is similar to a transgender only or people of color only event is offensive and unacceptable. The time has come; we are drawing a line in the sand, this ‘intention’ can no longer stand,” reads the petition page.
Equality Michigan is asking for support through the petition page and asking the public to sign the petition which states, “We have listened to your arguments over the past 23 years, and feel that we have waited long enough for you to catch up to the rest of us. The time has come, this ‘intention’ must come to an end. Until that happens, we are committed to the following:
“1. Demanding you end the ‘womyn-born-womyn’ intention at Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival.
2. Request that Lisa Vogel, as co-founder and owner, meet with leaders of the transgender community and enter the space with an open mind to the notion that transgender womyn are womyn too, and have shared in their experiences.
4. Asking artists and attendees to act in harmony with their equal rights values and NOT attend the festival until the transgender discrimination ends, and instead support other women’s events which are creating a safe space for transgender women so they can join as well.
5. Requesting that any artists participating this year speak against the policy while on stage.
6. Make it clear to any artists and vendors participating in the future that until this policy ends, their participation will be seen as anti-transgender discrimination.
7. Share publicly a list of any future artists and vendors with entertainment venues and LGBT event producers with an explanation as to why they are seen as having committed anti-transgender discrimination.”
Two viewpoints follow on the next page.
Equality Michigan Executive Director Emily Dievendorf has penned an op-ed,”Michfest Trans Exclusion Rooted In Prejudice and Ignorance” and can be read here.
Michigan transgender activist Zoe Steinfield has penned an op-ed, “Boycott Michfest Till Trans Inclusion A Reality” and can be read here.
Michigan Womyn’s Festival owner and organizer Lisa Vogel previously wrote a “Letter To The Community” in April 2013 which can be read here.