Write to Lisa Vogel


While there are many exciting on-the-ground efforts to make Michfest a more welcoming place for trans women (transwomenbelonghere.blogspot.com), it is equally vital that we express to Lisa Vogel, who holds the power to change the festival’s official intention, our heartfelt desire to be a part of woman-only space that includes ALL women. (Address info below.)

1. Are you a woman who has considered attending the Michigan Womyn’s Musical Festival (MWMF), but has chosen to not attend due to the leadership’s discrimination towards trans women? Are you holding out until MWMF officially invites all women, including trans women? Then you are an important part of this movement. There is general anxiety within Michfest about the dwindling numbers of attendees, so you would-be attendees are a powerful voice in this discussion. We don’t believe that the MWMF leadership understands just how many women are refusing to come because they only want to be a part of women’s space that includes all women. You are already taking a stand with your body. Make your actions understood by:

WRITING A LETTER TO LISA VOGEL! See an example and instructions below!

2. Are you a woman who attends MWMF and wants to see it become a more inviting and inclusive place for trans women? Have you always been for the inclusion of trans women, and had just hoped/assumed this would get resolved years and years ago? Or are you someone whose position has changed over the years of engaging in this conversation? (Although it is sometimes hard to admit our past prejudices, if we have changed, that means others can change too!) As workers and campers, you sustain and drive the festival! Make your feelings known by:

WRITING A LETTER TO LISA VOGEL! See an example and instructions below!

Here are some example paragraphs to get you started. Your letters can be short or long, general or anecdotal. Remember that although we differ in the type of women’s space we want (i.e. womyn-born womyn vs. all women), wanting to preserve woman-only is most powerful common ground that we share.

A note about tone: While previous inclusion campaigns have increased awareness about this issue, the sometimes oppositional tactics have estranged many members of the Michigan community who may have otherwise been open to conversation.  With this in mind, we urge you to please speak from a place of love and bridge-building and not a tone of anger or punishment, even if that is a big part of what you feel.  

*****************************************************************************************************Dear Lisa Vogel, 

I am writing today because I urge you represent MWMF as a place that welcomes all women, including trans women. Like you, I want to preserve and promote woman-only space. Within these spaces, women can uniquely come together and celebrate ourselves and each other. But because at Michigan one group of women—trans women—are absent (or silenced), we are deeply fractured as a community.

1) I have chosen not to attend MWMF for the last [#] of years. Although I know that I would get so much out of being there, I want to be a part of woman-only spaces that include my trans sisters. Trans women are already a part of my women’s community at home. To go where they are unwelcome would be to abandon what we have in common -- that we are women. If and when MWMF takes an official stance as a place that welcomes all women, I will be so excited to be in attendance, too.


2) I have attended MWMF as a [worker/camper] for the past [#] years. I love being in woman-only space, but I am continually saddened/frustrated/angry that there is still an official stance that explicitly does not welcome trans women. I talk with many womyn within the MWMF community who would welcome the inclusion of our trans sisters. Although I want to celebrate MWMF, when I am in my home community, I am not proud of my association with trans women’s exclusion, which I do not support. I continue to attend because I believe that MWMF is such a powerful and important place, and also because it is a place that, as its own herstory has shown, is capable of reaching out to marginalized groups of women. While I know there are women at Michfest who do not want this particular change, I truly believe that we are a strong enough community to work through this one with all of our sisters—including trans women—present.

[Your Name]

********Send mail directly to: Lisa Vogel PO Box 22, Walhalla, MI 49458******

If you really have to email it, you can email transwomenbelonghere@gmail.com with "Lisa Letter" in the subject line, and we will print them out and mail them for you.  If you're willing, send us a copy for our website.

Excerpts from Letters:  

"Michfest has been one of the defining spaces in my life, has brought me into contact with people and ideas that have made me a better person. I want this for all women in my life, including the trans women who attend but are afraid to reveal their past and the trans women who wouldn't dream of attending Michfest while the hostile voices are the loudest.

While some sort of official support for trans-inclusion would do wonders for both the festival community and set a positive example for women's groups and spaces all over the world, true change and acceptance comes from within. I hope that you support the initiatives that are happening all over the festival to make it reflect the actual women's community that is out there.

Fest means so much to me, and I want to be proud of a space that I put so much energy into. As it stands, I can't voice my support for fest without feeling like I have to explain myself. Even knowing the activism that's happening year-round to make Fest safe and inclusive to all, most of my peers would never consider attending. As our numbers dwindle each year, it breaks my heart to see so many of my sisters choosing not to attend such a wonderful event because of the discrimination they would face, or the discrimination they feel they would be a part of. 
The “womyn-born-womyn” statement has been thrown around, yet again, in LC, but I sincerely hope that you are continually revisiting the ways in which the Festival is inclusive and exclusive to the women in our community. Trans-exclusion and “womyn-born-womyn” are not community guidelines that I support.

Thanks and in peace."  - Amanda, Age 26, 6 year attendee of MWMF (4 as a worker)