The organizers of the MWMF have steadily enacted or fought to enact Womyn-Born-Womyn (but since trans women Can and Are often “born womyn,” I will simply say that they have fought for an anti-trans policy) for the past 30 years, refusing trans women at the gate until just recently, where they are allowed to come, but not without a tremendous amount of pressure to leave.This year Lisa Vogel (Michfest founder and producer for the past 38 years) made it plain and simple in an open letter: MWMF is “WBW” only space and how dare we challenge that lived experience, that “sisterhood” – clearly stating that the “trans community” is not part of the “womon’s community.”
(If you are unfamiliar with the 24 year old struggle for trans women inclusion on the land, please read this essay by Emi Koyama http://eminism.org/readings/
The main organizers of the festival continue to make excuses and attempt to protect themselves from the blatant fact that trans women are women, and should be welcome in any women’s only space. Their refusal to switch to a completely trans-inclusive policy breeds the kind of hatred that radscum like Cathy Brennan, owner of trans-phobic threat sites like Pretendbians and Gender Identity Watch, are born from – the longer Lisa Vogel makes distinctions between women and trans women, the more these rad fem hate mongers feed from it.
A simple Google search for “trans woman murdered” brings up multiple unique results daily. In a world where trans women are murdered, abused, and neglected by family at such an alarming rate, this is activism required by ALL feminists.
Violence against trans women is violence against women – and as long as women’s spaces continue to protect the hatred and actively discriminate, all of us must fight.
This year, the Indigo Girls stated that this would be their last MichFest performance unless the policy was changed for good.
I have friends who go, I have friends who boycott, I have friends who go and do activism on the land or help run Camp Trans across the street. I have friends who run Trans Womyn Belong Here, an organization that fights for trans inclusion in feminist spaces like MichFest.
I personally find myself walking away from conversations about MichFest seemingly constantly – I am annoyed by how much space it takes up. I’m from a younger generation of feminism, a riot grrrl, a gender queer punk who has revolted against lesbian separatism and women’s only spaces since birth. A woman’s only space is not mine to participate in. I do, however, make the yearly pilgrimage to Fabulosa Fest, a 5 year old festival that celebrates women’s music, art, film, and health – but invites all genders to participate.
Anyways, I digress. I am FOR SURE not the expert on all of this stuff, and a deep inner shyness is being fought right now as I type this, but here it goes. There are others who say this better, and I give great thanks to my friends who inform me of what’s going on and help me form the words I need to bring this kind of awareness not only to my fans, but also myself.
The express and direct UN-inviting of trans women from women’s spaces, feminist community, and queer/lesbian culture is aggravating to me, and would like to finally come out with my response to this and any future invitation to take part in the MWMF:
My response is that I will not allow my work to be shown at MichFest until it is a truly inclusive space for ALL women.
Trans women are women, and I don’t feel comfortable showing my film where trans women may feel directly unwelcome, unappreciated, othered, or unsafe.
The organizers of the festival have made it clear that this is still an issue, and while I have largely stayed out of it, this invitation gives me a direct chance to align with those that boycott MichFest for being trans phobic and creating an atmosphere for some radical feminists to continue to abuse, threaten, diagnose, and discriminate against trans women.
Until MWMF actively fights the hatred it’s bred, I have no interest in being involved.
My participation in the film festival would require all the following:
2) That a screening fee of $100 be paid to the Trans Womyn Belong Here organization as a donation to charity.
3) The screening and any discussion space before or after it be officially declared a welcoming space for all women, “WBW” or not.