Monday, December 6, 2010

Three "Trans Women Belong Here" Organizers Contribute to "Lesbian Connection"

The latest edition of Lesbian Connection printed three letters from MWMF workers, craftswomen, and attendees in response to an entry in the previous edition about the 2010 activism conducted within Michigan this year.  We were responding to a four sentence letter that basically "congratulated" trans women for violating Michfest's woman-born-woman policy.  The writer suggests that, in the future, we leave our t-shirts at home. Here are our responses:


In regards to [the] letter about the [Trans Womyn Belong Here] t-shirts at MichFest this year. I am not a trans woman and I wore a t-shirt that said "Trans Women Belong Here" at the festival. Many of the other women who wore the shirts were also allies like me.  We wore the t-shirts to publicly declare our support for including our trans sisters in a very important women's event. Trans women are a wonderful and important part of my women's community. In order for me to be in integrity with myself there isn't a way for me to be silent and not advocate for them. I did not intend to violate anyone's space by wearing the shirt, just speak up about something I feel in my heart. I think that speaking up for something you believe in is a time honored tradition amongst people who want to see positive change in the world.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A 2010 Worker's Feedback to the Festival Admin

This is the feedback I sent in to the festival [after being a festival worker]. I know we’re not focusing on getting a policy change, but even though 99% of the work happening has to happen from us, from the women who attend and work at fest, I do think that the feedback forms are an appropriate place to push for the best case scenario, of official and non-official welcome and support.


Q: What improvements would you suggest? 

 An official welcome to all women, including women who identify as trans. Creating a women-only space without all women is transphobic and just plain wrong.

I almost didn’t come to fest this year because not all women are welcome. I’m glad that I did come and participate in on-the-ground activism and ally work – wearing a Trans Women Belong Here shirt and engaging in dialogue with (especially with) older women – most people who I talked to were in support or didn’t care one way or the other. Many artists that I spoke with were angry about the lack of action from the office. The few brave women who were also out as being trans were met with so much love and support from many festival goers, but that didn’t drown out the voices of my sisters who are transphobic, afraid of change, and unwilling to educate themselves about the meaning of gender.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

In Amerika They Call Us Dykes: Lesbian Lives in the 70s

by Amanda Ream
published in Sinister Wisdom, Spring 2011

Here we are now.

I, like so many of my friends in our 20’s and early 30’s, am hungry to be with my elders, my heroines, in a time of political uncertainty, when endless war and economic hardship are the daily grind.  I have a lot of nostalgia for a time I never knew--the 70’s with women’s self-determination, collective life, political engagement, journals, art, music and spirituality.  A new culture born of the sweat and heart and soul of lesbians. A culture I never read about in books or even saw much of the legacy of, by the time I came out and around the bookstores were gone, the covens underground. As Urvashi Vaid has said, the common view is that 70’s lesbians had been replaced by a wittier, smarter more sex positive group of queers.   It feels like the 70s lesbians had been kept from me.

I was born the year of the very first Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, 1976.

One of my mentors as a community organizer, Miriam, was at the first Michigan.  To hear her tell it, her life was transformed by lesbian feminism. She left her husband, left the “left” as she had known it, and started the long process of healing from patriarchy, the kind she faced growing up in the 50s, and in the radical movement of the 60s. Miriam is the bridge generation. She grew up in a time where gay people were considered mentally ill, an impossibility even, found herself in wimmins community, shirtless and with an axe in her hand.