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.
It hurts me to be in a space that was created out of radical politics, love for our sisters, and the wish for community – it hurts me to be in this space and to fight to make it more radical, more loving, and include more of my community. Many of the radical and political women of fest have become the static, complacent, loud minority that I (and many many others) have to push against.
I stopped telling people that I was going to fest this summer, because without exception, every single person who had heard of the festival (which was every single person under the age of 30), had chosen to boycott it because they see it as transphobic, outdated, and no longer relevant. We’re losing numbers? That’s why. Fest may have been this radical, political, progressive space when it was founded, but no longer, in the eyes of many people in women’s communities around the globe. I know the power that comes from returning to the land, year after year, of connecting with smart, talented women of every generation, lifestyle, location and politics, bur I’m afraid of seeing the festival die out, of not surviving into this next generation as it refuses to change. I want my political, activist, creative, and powerful sisters (queer, straight, trans, whoever) to come, but until you make a stand as a trans-inclusive space, that is not going to happen.