Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Womyn Born Better...Than You

Over on Below The Belt there's this piece about the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival.

If you're trans, the festival is fairly notorious. This is because of its "womyn-born-womyn" policy: only those people born female are allowed to participate; trans women need not apply.

Now, I'm all for safe spaces for women, and I can even see having places and services that might deal with the stresses of having grown up female. But I'm not sure that a music festival has much to do with it, at least not everywhere, at all times during it.

What makes it even more fun is that, much like Lu's Pharmacy in Vancouver, the festival has historically included trans men. So the "born womyn" thing obviously trumps the "womyn" thing.

Like I say, biology equals destiny is such a feminist point.

Supposedly the festival now allows trans women to attend, although still (in the words of organizer Lisa Vogel) "If a transwoman purchased a ticket, it represents nothing more than that woman choosing to disrespect the stated intention of this Festival."


While I believe in community spaces, and even in community leadership for groups that advocate for a community even if the group doesn't restrict its membership (for example, I think a male president of NOW would be...disturbing somehow), I'm not a fan of separatists of any stripe--not even trans separatists. (For a taste of how that looks, check out this thread of fail at Bilerico.) Too often, in my experience, separatism and division only leads to each group acting out a shadow play of their own oppression against other groups--like they were building sandcastles instead of tearing down real castles.

Of course, I won't attend MWMF. But that's not about politics; I just hate camping.


  1. I know there are factions of the radical feminist community that have a thing about trans women. I kind of get that, but not entirely. I haven't heard these same factions say much about trans men. Seems hypocritical and essentialist to me to accept one but not the other.

  2. Whilst a trans woman, and feminist, I'm not that bothered over the whole Mich controversy. It's just one festival in the world which has a slightly strict (and from what I can gather, over the years difficult to even enforce) policy. If they want to try and define that someone like myself can't be female by their definitions despite that I've been post-op since 18, well, meh. I say just let them get on with it and I'll happily be at Glastonbury instead!