Thursday, October 27, 2011

Trans Womyn are Born Womyn

by Marja Erwin, fully updated

Since the 1970s, the term "born womyn" has been used to exclude trans womyn, or to include other womyn and sometimes certain men, on the grounds of biology, socialization and originality. However, if we consider this more closely, I think it is clear that we are also born womyn on all of these grounds.

1. Womon.

I call myself womon because I understand my female existence in relation  to myself and my sisters, not in relation to male normativity.

A misogynistic society centers the male sex-class, reserving the unmarked term, man, to the male sex-class and applying the marked term, woman, to the female sex-class. A feminist response should decenter the male sex-class.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

An Open Letter to the Estranged Branches of My Radical Queer Family

by Zeph Fish

I just emerged from three weeks working in the woods to help put on the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival. I've been friends at different times with both festival workers and folks who've organized with Camp Trans, and I want to share a little something about why I chose to return this year and what happened.

I attended and worked a bunch at the festival from 1988 through the mid-90s. The first time I came, I had been "out" as a dyke for just a little over a year. The only queers I had met were the very earnest academic lesbians at the McGill University Women's Center in Montreal, mullet-haired bar dykes and bisexual punk girls. MichFest more or less blew my mind--I met my first leatherdykes, my first grandmother-herbalist lesbians, my first fully-bearded femme coffee-slingers, my first so-butch-she-passes-as-male carpenters, my first travelling-anarchist-dildo-makers. It radically complicated traditional notions of "female" and opened up new spaces and possibilities for who I could be in the world--which is why when I was working in 1994 and I heard about the very first Camp Trans, I visited as an ally. Trans women have always been part of lesbian community, though at different times they’ve been “outed” and excluded. It seemed like a no-brainer to me that trans women belong in this place, where we are radically questioning and re-visioning what it means to be female.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Inclusion from MY butch dyke perspective

by Zeph Fish

Recently I spent a bunch of time reading the online forums of the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, trying to understand why many attendees feel like it’s so important to exclude trans women from this event. I was drawn to a thread called “Inclusion from a Butch Lesbian Perspective.” I am a middle-aged butch dyke (also two-spirit, and genderqueer, and a lot of other names). I read the posts in this thread with a lot of grief. Grief that butch women have to fight so hard in the world to be who we are. Grief that so many of these posts are about pain and struggle, and that safe space is so hard to come by.

Yes, out there in the mainstream world, patriarchy wants to keep all the categories simple. The good ol' boys know that Men are Men, Women are Women, period. And if they meet anybody who confuses those categories, they react with fear and anger, with questions and accusations.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

100% WBW

by Ida

The other day while I was riding the subway there was a White man harassing a naturalized Latino immigrant on the other end of the car. The two men were in the middle of very loud and angry argument, which made me feel increasingly anxious since I have also been harassed on the subway.

I have no idea how the argument started or why the White man picked this particular passenger on a car with several other immigrant people of color. But it was obvious that he was targeting this man because he was an immigrant of color with a strong foreign accent. It's possible that the White man may have mistaken the Latino immigrant for an Arab American, given what I was overhearing.

The White man was yelling at the Latino immigrant, shouting variation on a theme: "You're not an American." "Go back where you belong." "Go back to your own country." With each attack the Latino immigrant held his ground shouting back in response: "I am an American." "This is my country." "I belong here." Intermixed with these remarks, the men called each other "assholes" and told the other to "fuck off." Eventually the White man left and the Latino man seemed to gain some support from a few Spanish-speaking passengers.

This interaction, in a different context, could have easily taken place between a trans womon and a cis womon separatist. In this context, the trans womon would be in the role of the immigrant, and the cis womon would be in the role of the nativist xenophobe.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Blyth wrestles with the idea of attending festival

I’ve been going back and forth. About going. About why I would want to. About how important it is. About what I can contribute and what I can risk.

For the past year The Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival (MWMF) has been a part of my life. Many of you might remember that I had decided to go last year and then changed my mind last minute. It was absolutely the right decision for me at the time and I have no regrets. But nearly every day since then I have thought about the festival. Either because I was weighing whether or not I would ever go or someone was encouraging me to or I was talking/reading about the spoken/unspoken policy excluding women who are Trans. It just kept coming up. A lot. From expected and unexpected places.