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The Patriarchy: like the Hotel California
March 30, 2008 8:14 AM   Subscribe

The Michigan Womyn’s Festival (“Michfest”) is an annual “womon-built” and run music festival. “Forty performances, a film festival, an artisan/craft show and a full roster of workshops, parties and dances are all slated for one glorious week in August on 650 lush green acres in Michigan.” The festival is open to WBW (women born women) only.

The exclusion of trans-women from the festival has been an enormous source of controversy over the years. The wikipedia page devoted to Michfest has a good summary of the history of the debate. The Michfest main site has a forum where this issue is frequently discussed. There is an organization dedicated to fighting the policy. There is an extensive archive of materials relating to the controversy, including a broad FAQ.

Many blogs have weighed in. Some of the more prominent posts:
Aug 06
Aug 06 (2)
Sept 06
June 07
Aug 07
Jan 08
Feb 08
posted by prefpara (188 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
women born women

This term wasn't familiar to me. I first read it as "woman-borne women," as if you had to be "born of a woman," which had me thinking of a completely different criterion for being admitted to the fest.

When the day comes that men can bear children -- now that's something I'd be up for celebrating!
posted by skyper at 8:25 AM on March 30, 2008


I should mention that CampTrans was referenced briefly in this previous AskMefi thread.
posted by prefpara at 8:30 AM on March 30, 2008


Does anyone know about the accuracy of this?
posted by danb at 8:34 AM on March 30, 2008


danb: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=woman
posted by prefpara at 8:38 AM on March 30, 2008


They've toned it down to "We don't post a map on this site but will send one with all ticket orders and are happy to send any womon interested to attend the festival a brochure with directions," but I swear I read about this once a few years ago and the "Directions" button on their site led to something along the lines of "We don't give out directions or the PATRIARCHY will find us."
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:39 AM on March 30, 2008


When the day comes that men can bear children -- now that's something I'd be up for celebrating!

22-weeks pregnant and expecting on July 3.
posted by ericb at 8:43 AM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I support these feminists keeping "trans-women" out of their club.

I know these feminists will in turn support me in keeping women out of my business networking organization/golf course/country club.
posted by orthogonality at 8:50 AM on March 30, 2008 [28 favorites]


The festival has stated that it does not and will not perform "panty checks." Rather, it states that women must "self-monitor", and attend only if they can honestly state that they were born as a girl, lived as a girl, and presently identify as a woman.

Don't ask, don't tell.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:54 AM on March 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


Thanks for this post. I wasn't aware that transgendered men (female-to-male) are generally welcomed at MichFest, as noted at the Camp Trans goals page:

However, we do wish to address the dynamic in queer communities of trans men being welcomed as an acceptable variation of dyke while trans women are alienated or outright excluded. Ftm fetishization and mtf exclusion are two sides of the same coin. The presence of trans men at festival, to which we have seen little opposition from those who ostensibly support the WBW policy, is hurtful to all trans people, but especially to trans women, because it reinforces this dynamic. Trans men should decide for themselves when it is time to remove themselves from women-only space as a matter of respect for their sisters. Because the culture of the fest is largely welcoming to trans men (as evidenced by the large number who attend) but hostile to trans women, we see the policy as not transphobia per se, but trans misogyny.

I find the complexity and richness of this kind of gender discussion fascinating; for one thing, it assumes as given a notion a lot of folks just pay lip service to - that "we all have male and female qualities." It's interesting that the Camp Trans folks consistently place the blame for the exclusion policy on "the stubbornness of only a few organizers, including owner Lisa Vogel." What a shame if that's true, if it really is a kind of simple-minded bigotry in just a few people that's holding things back.
posted by mediareport at 8:54 AM on March 30, 2008


The first step in supporting diversity is to isolate yourself into your selected oppressed minority.

The second step in supporting diversity is to issue a manifesto.

The third step in supporting diversity is to weed out the unbelievers, those who aren't really diverse enough, because the $badguys are trying to destroy us from within.

Can't wait to see what's next - perhaps a little test at the door to check for the presence of Barr bodies. "NO CHOPJOBS / ANDROGEN INSENSITIVITY [A BIT REDUNDANT IF YOU ASK ANY TRUE WOMYN] / TURNERS SYNDROME ALLOWED."
posted by adipocere at 8:55 AM on March 30, 2008 [19 favorites]


No better place to come out and then get laid than Michigan, imho.
posted by DenOfSizer at 9:09 AM on March 30, 2008


They've toned it down to "We don't post a map on this site but will send one with all ticket orders and are happy to send any womon interested to attend the festival a brochure with directions," but I swear I read about this once a few years ago and the "Directions" button on their site led to something along the lines of "We don't give out directions or the PATRIARCHY will find us."

XX marks the spot.
posted by Tube at 9:14 AM on March 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


"woman-borne women," as if you had to be "born of a woman,"

Or carried by one piggy-back?
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:16 AM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


These kind of events claim to be FOR women, but the subtext (and sometimes explicit message) is very much anti-male (there, I said it).

Also, "womon" is the singular, "womyn" the plural? So they have a 3 letter swear word or something?
posted by FieldingGoodney at 9:17 AM on March 30, 2008


I wonder if they object to the word "person", since it has that odious male "-son" ending.
posted by RavinDave at 9:22 AM on March 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


I've had a problem with this kind of "feminist" exclusion of people for a long time. I think things like the MichFest are representations of the idea that "separate can be equal -- or even better if we do it!" which never works and sets derisions like the one with Transwomen. I think it calls into question just what these women/womyn/wimin/etc consider a woman -- whether it's self-perception of woman hood or something biological.

If it's something biological, then they really should name it "Female Festival" as females have vaginae. If having a vagina is your cause for inclusion in this exclusive festival, how does it cater to all women.

Through this enforced paradigm of vagina = woman, the MichFest is further indignifying the transwomen who want to go and can't because they were born in a sex which doesn't match their perceived gender. That, right there, is just bs and transphobia.
posted by Gular at 9:23 AM on March 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


Ok, fine.

No, really, fine. If they wanna go have an us-only party, go for it. Just don't bitch when someone else decides they want to do the same, even if it's white males.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:26 AM on March 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher, have you heard any 'womyn's music'*? They're doing us a favor.

*women's music on the other hand is often great.
posted by jonmc at 9:32 AM on March 30, 2008


Ooo... "womyn"... is this just like back in the day when all the left-wing independently published newspapers on campus referred to "AmeriKKKa"..?

..sigh.
posted by kbanas at 9:33 AM on March 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


I find the complexity and richness of this kind of gender discussion fascinating

Same here, and I'm encouraged by the relative lack of "this is anti-male!" outrage so far.
*knocks wood*

Thanks for the post!
posted by languagehat at 9:34 AM on March 30, 2008


This is anti-male!
posted by Bookhouse at 9:51 AM on March 30, 2008


I wonder if they object to the word "person"

I'm happy to suggest "hersyn" in its place.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:54 AM on March 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm happy to suggest "hersyn" in its place.

How about "piercing"?
posted by WPW at 9:55 AM on March 30, 2008


No, I'm serious, if a particular group wants to through a festival and hangout just among themselves, go for it. Just don't bitch when another group does it. It's not my thing, but some people find something in these gatherings, so as long as they aren't eating small children, I say leave'em alone.

However, quick trip through the links reads like an early Tori Amos CD: interesting landscape, but alien and not really a place for a guy. The most fascinating part is how some words are being changed and why or whether some, such as history even need to be changed. Sure, at first glance, it seems to be male based (HIStory), but looking at the etymology is that based on fact or the imposition of modern viewpoints over older ways of thinking?. Also, does it matter how the word came about or is it more important how it's used currently?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:05 AM on March 30, 2008


The 70's called, and they want their music festival back.
posted by cytherea at 10:12 AM on March 30, 2008


I respect their right to have the fest, but it creeps me out that little boys are kept separate in their own camp. I wouldn't take my son to something like that (according to their rules, he's too old anyway); then I'd be guilty of excluding him, as womyn say they and their daughters have been excluded. I guess fanaticism in any form creeps me out.

I'm more of a RenFaire, have a man in a kilt serve me cold cider on a hot day type of gal, I guess. This year, however, I think I'll diversify by attending Down East Pirate Days, August 23-24, and have a man in a pirate suit serve me a Navy Grog. Argh!
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 10:14 AM on March 30, 2008


I've always found this festival interesting as hell. I suppose that's because it takes place within miles of my family's beach house. I've often joked that I could go to the festival and then sneak out for a shower at home.
posted by Stewriffic at 10:15 AM on March 30, 2008


Found this linked in one of the contentious Michigan forum threads: ‘Coalition Politics: Turning the Century’
posted by blasdelf at 10:15 AM on March 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


so as long as they aren't eating small children, I say leave'em alone

Yeah, picking on the Belgians always slips under the radar doesn't it? We will overcome.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:27 AM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


While I don't have a strong opinion about excluding transwomen from the festival, I must say that I understand the argument. The festival is a reprieve for a very particular type of oppression, namely one that women experience in a patriarchal society. The oppression that transfolk experience is similar and related, but not exactly the same.

As a man-loving woman who has attended the festival twice, I must say the the experience of being in an all-woman space was incredibly transformative. It was only after being in this space that I realized just how much of my daily energy is spent being alert to the possibility of some kind of sexual assault, or other form of culturally-accepted male aggression. Being in this space which celebrates women and in which there is *no* chance of sexual assault by a man was liberating. I'll never forget the feeling, and I encourage all women to attend.
posted by crunchtopmuffin at 10:29 AM on March 30, 2008 [6 favorites]


The first step in supporting diversity is to isolate yourself into your selected oppressed minority.

The second step in supporting diversity is to issue a manifesto.

The third step in supporting diversity is to weed out the unbelievers, those who aren't really diverse enough, because the $badguys are trying to destroy us from within.

Can't wait to see what's next - perhaps a little test at the door to check for the presence of Barr bodies. "NO CHOPJOBS / ANDROGEN INSENSITIVITY [A BIT REDUNDANT IF YOU ASK ANY TRUE WOMYN] / TURNERS SYNDROME ALLOWED."


I'm not supportive of the women-born women only policy, but to place this in historical perspective (not that policy, the basic idea of having a women-only festival), the women who started this festival used to get a lot of pushback and sexist bullshit from the men working the concerts they also worked. And it was only about 10 years ago that record companies would laugh if you proposed a female headliner and opening act together in one show. Probably many still would. But then it was just unheard of and considered absurd, even if you were Sarah McLachlan. Because it was assumed no one would come. Concerts and festivals can be a pretty hostile place for women trying to work in the music business. So Michigan was created to shut the bullshit out for one festival every summer. In the meantime the performers they attract also play shows for men and women elsewhere. People are still breaking down walls elsewhere-- this is just one festival.
posted by Tehanu at 10:30 AM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Waiting for the David Duke-esque defense of, "We don't hate trans gendered people we just love womyn!"
posted by vorpal bunny at 10:34 AM on March 30, 2008


I'll never forget the feeling, and I encourage all women to attend.

Too bad not all women are allowed to attend. And as FTMs are allowed, it's hardly an all-woman space, is it?
posted by evilangela at 10:48 AM on March 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


I went to MichFest about ten years ago. The trans-woman exclusion policy really bothered me, especially as there were so many trans-men. What really struck me as really funny though, was there was a seperate space with a sweatlodge set aside for women of First Nation's ancestry to get together and they had several prominant signs letting everyone know that it was space reserved for women born only in THIS lifetime as First Nations. Apparently quite a few white women had been intruding on the space claiming former lives as oppressed peoples...
posted by saucysault at 10:50 AM on March 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


crunchtopmuffin: " Being in this space which celebrates women and in which there is *no* chance of sexual assault by a man was liberating."

this seems like a somewhat specious argument, considering the fact that the festival organizers are allowing in ftm transmen. It seems to me that, from a biological/hormonal perspective, you should be more concerned about a T-taking transman engaging in the sort of stereotypical male aggressive/sexual assault type behavior, than the corresponding estrogen-taking mtf transwoman.

I agree with the trans camp label of "trans misogyny," and it almost seems like the organizers are afraid that agents of the Patriarchy are going to put on dresses and attempt to subvert the festival from within. This may even be a legitimate criticism, up until the point where you allow transmen in, as there can very little physical difference between a well-passing ftm and a biological male.
posted by grandsham at 10:52 AM on March 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


The festival is a reprieve for a very particular type of oppression, namely one that women experience in a patriarchal society. The oppression that transfolk experience is similar and related, but not exactly the same.

As a transwoman, I experience every type of non-reproductive oppression that a ciswoman* experiences, and I have a whole package of extra oppression to go with it. Reproduction aside, anti-woman oppression is a subset of the overall shit I experience in everyday life**. But I'm not welcome at Michfest because... why? I mainly see a bunch of people with cis privilege closing a door against people because they don't like the way they spent the first two decades of life.

* cis = not trans. Some people don't like the term - I don't really have any strong feelings about it either way but I find it useful to differentiate between trans and non-trans without putting myself in the "not" box, othering myself, and so on.

** Actually, because I pass,*** in everyday life, I don't experience trans prejudice. But medical care? ID papers? Cispeople have no idea how good they have it.

*** No-one knows I'm transsexual unless I tell them.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 10:56 AM on March 30, 2008 [9 favorites]


Even if it weren't for their "no male" policy, I would still never attend an event put on by people who use spellings like "womyn" and "wommon." My experience is that these sorts of people represent the worst that feminism has to offer.

Not that they really care about what my opinion is on the matter. Nor should they, really.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:57 AM on March 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


Hmm... You know, I think I would have been bothered by this a long time ago, but I've kind of been thinking lately about what it means to be a guy. Now sure, I know very well that it's different for men and women, what with men being in the dominant position way more often than is fair in society, but, I still think that I'd like a separate space to be a GUY sometimes.

Call me batty, but I don't really feel like I get that. At least no place that's really publicly acknowledged, that actually celebrates that I'm a guy. So I understand, and I say more power to 'em. I just wish there was a parallel festival for only guys, gay, straight, trans, whatever. Yes I have porn and sports and computers and a lot of very guy-dominated strongholds in the culture I can run off to, but there's really just not the same awareness in the masculine community that we are, indeed, men, and that's a fact to celebrate in itself. All the positive masculinity movements haven't produced something that's reached my sphere yet.

So yeah, more power to the womyns, but let's get one where we can be men in a positive way as well. Don't really know what we'd celebrate, but I'm sure it'd be fun. Who would play the festival? What movies would we show at the movie festival?
posted by saysthis at 10:57 AM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I still think that I'd like a separate space to be a GUY sometimes.

*takes saysthis to sports bar, buys him a beer*
posted by jonmc at 11:00 AM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I still think that I'd like a separate space to be a GUY sometimes.

Seriously, what does being a guy mean? and how is it different from women are around vs an all male environment?

Who would play the festival? What movies would we show at the movie festival?

Would it have to be limited to guys?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:11 AM on March 30, 2008


No, really, fine. If they wanna go have an us-only party, go for it. Just don't bitch when someone else decides they want to do the same, even if it's white males.

Well.... you mean things like (up until recent history), the House, the Senate, the Military, the Judiciary? Or the Houses of Parliament? Or, slightly less recently, higher education, medical school, and, uh, voting booths?

The point being that this one women-only space is a tiny thing. A little thing. It no more threatens the systems of power that the guy wearing the Repent Now! billboard on the sidewalk outside the White House (which is, of course, another White Guy Only zone, as of this writing).

I've spent enough time around feminist organizations to know that these debates, which often seem so compelling and desperately important in the moment, and which can lead to ruptures in relationships and so on-- for years!-- are a reflection of just how powerless, relatively, those organizations (particularly on the far left) are. It's a turning inward, a rigorous self-policing, because the fight for change in the greater world is slow, and by no means certain.

Let the Womyn's Festival be; there's no need to be defensive. The original logic was that it was not about excluding men, but including women. Obviously, the argument is flawed, but the idea is that it only starts to be about excluding men from a space when they demand access to it.
posted by jokeefe at 11:12 AM on March 30, 2008 [7 favorites]


22-weeks pregnant and expecting on July 3.

Except that person is not a real man.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 11:13 AM on March 30, 2008


i went to this festival twice back in the day (about 12 years ago or so), and though i too was kind of squicked by the trans-controversy, it was a very inspiring place to be. the fact that the place is brought up from the ground entirely by women is a wonderful feeling to participate in.

i've since been done with the separatist mindset, but it has a place in helping women--especially women who've been severely damaged by their oppression--find their way to a stronger place. (i was once a user of the alternate spelling, but i never got over feeling that it was kinda silly.)

yeah, some of the music favored by the older women is kinda ... mind-numbing. (but that's a matter of taste.) and including transmen but not MTFs is wrong. but i think that in many ways it's a reaction to a whole lot of perceived titillation (oooh! those ladies are camping without wearing shirts!) and a deep sense that people who were born men seem to have an idea of privilege no matter where it is they want to go. in other words--cutting off your penis and growing breasts as an adult doesn't make you understand what it is to grow up a girl in our society. the oppression experienced by a MTF is fundamentally different (though also odious).

those older women who are in charge are operating their ban knowing that a lot of women who go to the festival don't want to wonder if they're being leered at by a woman who used to be a man. it might be a feeling that i wish we would all grow out of--and i think we will--but it's still something that must be considered. one more generation, and this issue will be over, methinks.
posted by RedEmma at 11:14 AM on March 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


ArmyofKittens: But I'm not welcome at Michfest because... why? I mainly see a bunch of people with cis privilege closing a door against people because they don't like the way they spent the first two decades of life.

I totally hear you about all of the ways in which you currently experience sexism/patriachy in the same ways I do, plus some added forms of oppression that are unique to the trans community. And I totally agree with you that as a ciswoman I experience tons of privilege. I'm not sure what the official position is of the festival organizers, but I don't think they disallow transwomen because they don't "like" the way they grew up. I believe it's simply that we had a different experience growing up. I don't know how old you were when you transitioned, but frankly, you don't know what it's like to grow up as a girl our society. (which, of course, is not to invalidate everything that you presumably went through as a child who questioned your gender identity)

And for the record, I think the policy is flawed and inconsistent since they do let in transmen.
posted by crunchtopmuffin at 11:14 AM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


So yeah, more power to the womyns, but let's get one where we can be men in a positive way as well. Don't really know what we'd celebrate, but I'm sure it'd be fun. Who would play the festival?

An all-malie festival? You could pretty much just go with the same lineup as Pitchfork.
posted by transona5 at 11:16 AM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


all-malie

Not sure how I managed to type that...
posted by transona5 at 11:17 AM on March 30, 2008


Call me batty, but I don't really feel like I get that. At least no place that's really publicly acknowledged, that actually celebrates that I'm a guy. So I understand, and I say more power to 'em. I just wish there was a parallel festival for only guys, gay, straight, trans, whatever. Yes I have porn and sports and computers and a lot of very guy-dominated strongholds in the culture I can run off to, but there's really just not the same awareness in the masculine community that we are, indeed, men, and that's a fact to celebrate in itself. All the positive masculinity movements haven't produced something that's reached my sphere yet.

You're batty. Let jonmc take you to that Sports bar.

From my perspective-- which is of course grounded on the XX side of things-- the world is full of guy-friendly, guy-only spaces where women are only on sufferance or as sexual decoration. You acknowledge that there are "very guy-dominated strongholds in the culture", but what women-dominated strongholds can you think of? Bookclubs?
posted by jokeefe at 11:18 AM on March 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


It's only been recently that I'm beginning to understand the underlying reasons for the trans controversy.

Feminists love transgenderism because it "proves" that the characteristics which comprise gender are fluid. If gender is "fluid", then feminists think that it undermines patriarchal notions of gender bias. Radical feminists hate transgenderism because it "proves" that only a gender binary is acceptable. Gender binary (either you're a guy or a girl) is bad because it upholds patriarchal notions of gender bias.

Both sides have a point and neither one is more compelling then the other, imo. I do know that there is an extremely high percentage of transfolk who commit sucide and suffer from depression. It's cruel to argue that the crying trans-person in front of you doesn't deserve to be happy, though the best way to make that person happy is up for grabs.

But I also know that endocrine-disrupting chemicals in the environment cause all sorts of problems, many of them sexual, and that recent research indicates that transgendered folks have higher levels of these chemicals in their bodies, more so then people who don't have TG issues. Also, the yay-transgender folks never bother to seriously address the claim that TG is merely a body-part fetish. I am not impressed with their justifications for why it is not.

I demand to have a surgically implanted penis in my forehead, and I further insist that you all treat me as normal. Just because something involves sex or sexuality, does not automatically render it healthy or neutral.
posted by bravelittletoaster at 11:23 AM on March 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


An all-malie festival?

Circuit Parties!
posted by ericb at 11:26 AM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


It was only after being in this space that I realized just how much of my daily energy is spent being alert to the possibility of some kind of sexual assault, or other form of culturally-accepted male aggression. Being in this space which celebrates women and in which there is *no* chance of sexual assault by a man was liberating.

Two questions:

• You can't be sexually assaulted by a lesbian?
• You assume you will be sexually assaulted by any transgendered present?

My partner and I have talked at length about this music festival, and I have to say that in all respect, this is the lamest defense of its discrimination policies that I've heard to date.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:29 AM on March 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


For some reason I have this image in my head of throwing a black-pride concert with all the bouncers armed with these. Nobody lighter than Brown #498 allowed in. You just wouldn't understand what its like for us Brown #497's and below. I'm looking at YOU, Tiger Woods.
posted by Avenger at 11:32 AM on March 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


The festival is a reprieve for a very particular type of oppression, namely one that women experience in a patriarchal society.

from what i know of this and other "alternative" or "seperatist" movements, the people who try to escape from society only bring a microcosm of it with them - if you consider capitalism to be a facet of a patriarchal society, then michfest has adopted some patriarchal ideas in its very running - and of course, there's the other rules, such as the one against those not born female, that require a patriarchal theory of identity to function

in short, wherever you go, you're going to bring it with you, as it's a part of you and you will in fact recreate it whether you want to or not
posted by pyramid termite at 11:38 AM on March 30, 2008


You could pretty much just go with the same lineup as Pitchfork.

I thought there could be nothing worse than days of 'womyn's music.' I was wrong (PE & Dinosaur Jr. excepted.)
posted by jonmc at 11:38 AM on March 30, 2008


Well.... you mean things like (up until recent history), the House, the Senate, the Military, the Judiciary? Or the Houses of Parliament? Or, slightly less recently, higher education, medical school, and, uh, voting booths?


No, I mean the right of any group to have a space explicitly limited to just itself. If one group wants to carve out such a space, ok, but that same group then can't protest or limit other groups from doing the same.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:39 AM on March 30, 2008


I believe it's simply that we had a different experience growing up. I don't know how old you were when you transitioned, but frankly, you don't know what it's like to grow up as a girl our society. (which, of course, is not to invalidate everything that you presumably went through as a child who questioned your gender identity)

Imagine a country where there is no sexism, and where gender roles are completely fluid. Imagine growing up female there, with no expectations of particular behaviour. Imagine this woman; could she go to the festival? Beyond possession of a vagina, she has little in common with your upbringing.

What if she moved to America at age 20? Suddenly started experiencing all this heavy sexism? Could she go to festival now?

Can British women go to the festival? Indian? Can a woman from a fictional matriarchal tribe go to the festival? How different does the upbringing have to be before it crosses the line?

I'm really not going to go into this much more, because it fucking upsets me that even people like this, who are supposed to be our allies, won't let us into the clubhouse, and it reminds me that the list of people who don't consider me a real woman is many times the length of the people who do, and it frustrates me to the point that I just want to scream that my god, when I was five I thought I was a girl and I didn't understand why I wasn't, and when I was fifteen I knew I was a girl and I hated the disgusting physicality of all this stuff growing on me, and when I was twenty-five and I'd been through hormone therapy and voice training and everything just to shut out the ringing in my ears and I'm still not a girl to you!

So yeah. Biological essentialism. Born with a cock, die with a cock. Whee.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 11:41 AM on March 30, 2008 [42 favorites]


Concerts and festivals can be a pretty hostile place for women trying to work in the music business

Concerts and festivals can occasionally be pretty hostile places for women in the audience as well so I can understand the desire to create something like this. I object to the non-trans-woman rule though so I won't be supporting this one. Not that I was planning on going to begin with.

they had several prominant signs letting everyone know that it was space reserved for women born only in THIS lifetime as First Nations. Apparently quite a few white women had been intruding on the space claiming former lives as oppressed peoples

Ohhh yeah. And a ton of them claiming "Cherokee princess" ancestors as well.
posted by LeeJay at 11:41 AM on March 30, 2008


I'm against separatism of any kind on general principles, but I object to this festival mainly as a music fan.
posted by jonmc at 11:42 AM on March 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Nobody lighter than Brown #498 allowed in.

you know what i REALLY hate about my job? the fact that i don't even have to click the link to know what you're talking about or how dark 498 is
posted by pyramid termite at 11:44 AM on March 30, 2008


The link in the FPP entitled June 07 gives a very good summary of the issue, I think, and why some women are leery of MTF activism.

Part of the argument goes (and I'm not saying I agree one way or the other) that MTFs tend to assume parts of the female gender role that feminism is trying to undo or be freed from-- that when a man transitions to female, this involves taking on the very signifiers of feminity that are perceived as the very flags of oppression that they're trying to do away with.

In the link, there's the mention of two lawsuits here in Vancouver that resulted in the closing of one lesbian centre (it was a tiny little storefront) and cost Rape Relief thousands of dollars in legal fees.
posted by jokeefe at 11:44 AM on March 30, 2008


Wait, Mich welcomes transmen who identify as male? Sigh. As a policy, this seems to suggest to me that they don't consider transmen to be "really" men. Way to be respectful.

Granted, a transman wishing to attend a women's festival is presumably comfortable with an ambiguous or genderqueer identification to a certain extent, or he wouldn't be attending. But it certainly weakens the opposition to transwomen.

The organizers should have never instituted the WBW Policy. They've turned this into a fight that they can only win by brute stubbornness. Changing their minds now would bring a flood of MTFs on the principle of the thing. Taking a more cautious approach and not making any grand pronouncements would've gotten them...close to exactly where they are now, without the controversy.

I can't imagine that "organizer, organizer, I don't think that woman is a bio-woman!" is the ONLY interpersonal dispute they hear. Notably, there are not exclusionary policies against other minority subsets of the population.
posted by desuetude at 11:46 AM on March 30, 2008


Part of the argument goes (and I'm not saying I agree one way or the other) that MTFs tend to assume parts of the female gender role that feminism is trying to undo or be freed from

I've heard that argument as well and I just don't buy it. One of the freedoms that feminism should be fighting for is the freedom to be whatever sort of woman you wish to be.
posted by LeeJay at 11:46 AM on March 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm against separatism of any kind on general principles, but I object to this festival mainly as a music fan.

Actually, having looked at the lineup this year, it's not that bad. Kinnie Starr is great, and I bet the Isle of Klezbos is excellent fun.

What they need is the Runaways reunion or something. Or Lez Zeppelin. That would be cool. It's altogether a bit too folky for me, but so it goes.
posted by jokeefe at 11:47 AM on March 30, 2008


No, I mean the right of any group to have a space explicitly limited to just itself. If one group wants to carve out such a space, ok, but that same group then can't protest or limit other groups from doing the same.

You've kind of missed my point. Oh well.
posted by jokeefe at 11:49 AM on March 30, 2008


As a policy, this seems to suggest to me that they don't consider transmen to be "really" men. Way to be respectful.

That's actually a really good point and I wish we had more FTM transpeople here to comment on it. Although I suppose viewed in that light it makes their WBW only rule seem a bit more consistent, if incredibly insulting. They don't see MTF women as "real women" and they don't see FTM men as "real men". No sir (or ma'am as the case may be), I don't like it.
posted by LeeJay at 11:50 AM on March 30, 2008


What they need is the Runaways reunion

I might be persuaded to violate my principles for a Runaways reunion.
posted by LeeJay at 11:51 AM on March 30, 2008


they had several prominant signs letting everyone know that it was space reserved for women born only in THIS lifetime as First Nations. Apparently quite a few white women had been intruding on the space claiming former lives as oppressed peoples

Okay, last comment, honest, I can resist.

L. O. fucking L.
posted by jokeefe at 11:53 AM on March 30, 2008


What they need is the Runaways reunion or something. Or Lez Zeppelin.

Yeah, but while those bands could both be described as feminist, they're rock and rollers first and foremost which is what matters to this music fan.

(Speaking of Lez Zeppelin, wouldn't it be kind of cool to have all-male tribute bands to great female bands? The Runaway Boyz covering 'Cherry Bomb?' Boyschool doing Girlschool covers? Of course Girlschool did a kickass cover of ZZ Top's 'Tush,' so that would be like some kind of double-gender reversal or something, but then again as my Unified Butt Theory and it's all good. Or something.)
posted by jonmc at 11:53 AM on March 30, 2008


Uh, "can't resist". The chortling was affecting my typing.
posted by jokeefe at 11:54 AM on March 30, 2008


Part of the argument goes (and I'm not saying I agree one way or the other) that MTFs tend to assume parts of the female gender role that feminism is trying to undo or be freed from

That's a dumb argument. Some women are masculine. Some women are feminine. Some transwomen are masculine. Some transwomen are feminine and oh my god they're just cartoon women! They're everything we're trying to get away from, the simpering girly idiots!

Women are women. Women are different. They can take their "tend" and put it somewhere more appropriate.

I've not yet seen a decent argument for the exclusion of transwomen from women's spaces that didn't involve massive generalisations, biological essentialism, or naked transphobia (male energy wtf).
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 11:55 AM on March 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oooooh, nice idea, Jon. A bunch of Sleater-Kinney covers would be fine with me. Or just having Sleater-Kinney back. Or are they too indie for you?
posted by jokeefe at 11:55 AM on March 30, 2008


If one group wants to carve out such a space, ok, but that same group then can't protest or limit other groups from doing the same.

That's a profoundly ahistorical view, Brandon. I'm not saying it's invalid in theory, but equating the exclusionary creation of relatively safe spaces like the Womyn's Festival with the centuries-old history of female-excluding clubs and political groups and saying they're both equally wrong strikes me as overly simplistic for no good reason.

Exclusionary groups designed to create affirming spaces for historically oppressed people are *much* more defensible than similar groups that are protecting historical privilege. We can argue about how long they should be considered more defensible, and at what point the two things start to look equivalent, but ignoring the history and stating they're equal from the start is just plain wrong-headed.
posted by mediareport at 11:55 AM on March 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


ArmyofKittens, I mean no disrespect-- I'm just relaying the argument. I'm no fan of essentialism, trust me, and having never experienced a moment's questioning of my gender identity, I know that I don't have the same understanding as those who have.
posted by jokeefe at 11:58 AM on March 30, 2008


They're OK, but they don't live up to the hype. Girlschool were way more impressive to me since they just behaved as if the gender barriers didn't exist. They also had an unlikely ally in (his majesty) Lemmy of Mötörhead, which resulted in this glorious moment. (If there is ever a Boyschool, I'd be happy to be the boy Enid Williams although I can neither sing or play bass, but I'm cute enough to pull off her look, I think).
posted by jonmc at 11:58 AM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


"* cis = not trans. Some people don't like the term - I don't really have any strong feelings about it either way but I find it useful to differentiate between trans and non-trans without putting myself in the "not" box, othering myself, and so on."

Well, the term ciswoman also ends up othering women. Which indicates hate.

It is simply a technique designed to make the transperson feel better about their situation, but in the process they minimize the very group they claim to identify with. It is this hypocrisy which sets off my bullshit detector.

The term "transperson" only minimizes someone if you believe there are only two genders. cis-anything is upholding the binary, forcing people to choose between two little boxes. Why are so many people stuck in this simplified version of reality, where things can only be either/or, black/white, all-or-nothing?

posted by bravelittletoaster at 12:00 PM on March 30, 2008


The big takeaway I'm getting from this thread is that women, even in the act of trying to establish a group identity seperate from perceived patriarchy, often end up being exactly as exclusionary and oppressive as men.

Who would have guessed?
posted by Justinian at 12:01 PM on March 30, 2008


Wow, Justinian, you just discovered that phenomenon known as 'human nature.' Better book a flight to Stockholm.
posted by jonmc at 12:03 PM on March 30, 2008


jokeefe, I saw the bit where you distanced yourself -- not mad at you, honest :)

I'm probably too close to this subject to discuss it rationally. But it's hard not to see Michfest and the exclusion of transpeople from a large part of modern feminism (not all, certainly, and probably not the majority) as part of the environment that kills people, and part of the society that laughs at their corpses in the newspapers afterwards ("Barry Johnson, who liked to be called Barbara, was killed after Jimmy Smith discovered he was really a man.").
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:04 PM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


The big takeaway I'm getting from this thread is that women, even in the act of trying to establish a group identity seperate from perceived patriarchy, often end up being exactly as exclusionary and oppressive as men.

Who would have guessed?


Well duh. We're all human beings, and human beings don't have the greatest track record when it comes to dealing with the "other".
posted by jokeefe at 12:04 PM on March 30, 2008


but equating the exclusionary creation of relatively safe spaces like the Womyn's Festival with the centuries-old history of female-excluding clubs and political groups and saying they're both equally wrong strikes me as overly simplistic for no good reason.

That's not what I said.

Exclusionary groups designed to create affirming spaces for historically oppressed people are *much* more defensible than similar groups that are protecting historical privilege.

Never said anything about creating a group for protecting historical privilege. I was talking about any particular group being able to carve out a space for itself where only itself exists, in order to escape the other segments of society. Any group should be able to do and not be given crap for doing so.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:07 PM on March 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Wow, Justinian, you just discovered that phenomenon known as 'human nature.' Better book a flight to Stockholm.

I'd like to thank all the little people who I stepped on to get where I am today.
posted by Justinian at 12:07 PM on March 30, 2008


Well, the term ciswoman also ends up othering women. Which indicates hate.

No. Transwomen and women. See the other there? Transwomen and ciswomen. No other. Think.

The term "transperson" only minimizes someone if you believe there are only two genders. cis-anything is upholding the binary, forcing people to choose between two little boxes. Why are so many people stuck in this simplified version of reality, where things can only be either/or, black/white, all-or-nothing?

Why are people not exactly like me? Why, if I am genderqueer and reject the concept of two genders, is everyone else not like me?

Anyway, I have an instance to go to, so I'll run off here.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:08 PM on March 30, 2008


daily energy is spent being alert to the possibility of some kind of sexual assault, or other form of culturally-accepted male aggression.

Yes because sexual assault is 100% acceptable and legal.
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:10 PM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm probably too close to this subject to discuss it rationally.

I think you're doing a fine job and I'm glad you're here. I really do wish we had more transpeople here on Metafilter.
posted by LeeJay at 12:10 PM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Never said anything about creating a group for protecting historical privilege. I was talking about any particular group being able to carve out a space for itself where only itself exists, in order to escape the other segments of society.Any group should be able to do and not be given crap for doing so.

Such a thing can not be done in a neutral, non-political context, uninformed by history. Any group trying to carve out space for itself sets off signals of meaning and intention. It's like saying that one part of a spiderweb is independent from any other part. It's all tied together-- society is tied together-- even if the threads aren't visible to those who aren't looking for them.
posted by jokeefe at 12:10 PM on March 30, 2008


We're all human beings, and human beings don't have the greatest track record when it comes to dealing with the "other".

Well, were all somebody's other. On the other hand, we're all the same what ever we do.
posted by jonmc at 12:10 PM on March 30, 2008



There is something about their transgender policy that doesn't fit.
If I have it right. There are men who so want to be women that they are driven to the extreme of surgical procedures in an effort to achieve said end.
IF this is true I cannot think of anyone who would be more supportive of the goals of women. So why would these persons be excluded? I know I must be missing something.
What is it I am missing?
posted by notreally at 12:11 PM on March 30, 2008


Any group should be able to do and not be given crap for doing so.

Unless said group has historically been used to broadly limit if not outright attack the civil rights of the other groups they exclude.

You keep forgetting that part.
posted by mediareport at 12:13 PM on March 30, 2008


Thanks, LeeJay :)

Further regarding the term "cis", it's not of my invention but discussions of it far more in-depth than I could ever go abound. Google will help anyone interested in the controversies around it. My memory suggests it was coined by a cisperson, but my memory suggests a lot of things that aren't necessarily right. At any rate, it's useful shorthand.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:13 PM on March 30, 2008


daily energy is spent being alert to the possibility of some kind of sexual assault, or other form of culturally-accepted male aggression.

Yes because sexual assault is 100% acceptable and legal.


And yet it still happens, all the time! What's with that?
posted by jokeefe at 12:16 PM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


What is it I am missing?

Apparently, the deep-seated bigotry of a small handful of the event's organizers, who override the more common "who cares?" reaction of most of the women who attend.
posted by mediareport at 12:19 PM on March 30, 2008


Yes because sexual assault is 100% acceptable and legal.

And yet it still happens, all the time! What's with that?


So does murder, assault and robbery. Some people ignore laws if they think they can get away with it (and if they don't have a conscience of course). This not a new phenomenon.
posted by jonmc at 12:20 PM on March 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


Unless said group has historically been used to broadly limit if not outright attack the civil rights of the other groups they exclude.

Ah, so you want to limit the present and the future based on the actions of the past as opposed to looking what they're actually doing?

You keep forgetting that part.

It seems as though two different discussions are at work here. In one, I'm saying if a subgroup wants to gather and limit the gathering to others in said subgroup, that's fine, as long as they aren't doing anything bad and they don't attempt to stop other sub groups from doing the same. In the other, you seem to be saying that no, some subgroups can not be allowed to gather and limit the gathering to said subgroup. Is that correct?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:24 PM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well, the term ciswoman also ends up othering women. Which indicates hate.

To equate "other" with "hate" is a good way to be angry all the time. Not very conducive to attempting to understand differences though communication, though.
posted by desuetude at 12:26 PM on March 30, 2008


An interesting thing I have noticed about almost all mtf is that they get really happy whenever some guy treats them like a sex object -- no amount of abuse or denigration is too extreme as long as they're considered female.

Which is yet another reason why I have a hard time with the idea that they're truly 100% women, or that they're operating from a healthy perspective. More research has indicated that they tend to view the gender known as "female" as something from a 1950's sitcom.

Transsexuals did not differ from nonclients or psychiatric patients as far as their conceptualization of masculinity is concerned, nor are they more or less sex-role stereotyped. However, their conceptualization of femininity of women differs significantly from that of the other groups in that transsexuals view women as more feminine than either of the other groups. Finally, transsexuals differed from both nonclients and psychiatric patients in inconsistent patterns across other variables, indicating that they are neither similar to nonpathological controls, nor to psychiatric inpatients.
(Brems, Adams, Skillman, 1993)
http://www.springerlink.com/content/q33231842818t7w5/
posted by bravelittletoaster at 12:30 PM on March 30, 2008


And yet it still happens, all the time! What's with that?

I'd still like a plausible explanation for how females can't sexually assault other females. I guess when a lesbian couple is in an abusive relationship, that's not the fault of the (female) assailant, but of male patriarchy.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:33 PM on March 30, 2008


What a shitty policy.

To me, on a very simplistic level, 'feminsim,' or 'women's rights,' or whatever you want to call, it is basically about [1] having equal access and equal rights to X, Y, and Z, (i.e., not being excluded from X, Y, or Z) and [2] about changing whatever power dynamic exists that either makes women more vulnerable to physical violence/sexual assault, and making men more likely to commit it.

So yay, they codify the exclusion. Strike one!

And as for #2, they're attempting very ungracefully to create a safe place for women -- one where the threat of sexual assault or unwanted 'male' gaze is presumably diminished to the point of nonexistence. But um, dudes (er, sorry -- womyns), possession of a vagina -- you know, the natural kind -- does not eliminate the sexual desire for women. We all know that, right? So why you may be eliminating the traditional 'meat market' environment, you're creating a whole 'nother one that's no better?

That would make it, what -- a faux-meat-market? Tofurkey market? I'm losing my metaphor here. But still, it's way stupid. This card-carrying, vagina-owning gay girl disapproves. And also, I know how to spell 'woman.'

And the real, lasting problem is that this is a popular festival with a long history. And some people will think it's representative of those of us who are feminists, but not the strident, shrieky, hairy-armpit kind.
posted by mudpuppie at 12:38 PM on March 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


no amount of abuse or denigration is too extreme as long as they're considered female.

If thats true it would seem like something to have sympathy for instead to be a bigot about. If they really want to be treated as females they might think they'll have to put up with anything to do so.

More research has indicated that they tend to view the gender known as "female" as something from a 1950's sitcom.

Assuming that's true are you willing to have some kind of entrance test to find any women that might feel this way or are you just happy generalizing against all mtfs?

Also can I generalize against all women now after I read some single random study that suggests anything? Partcicularly a bias I had before that I now can run to a study and say "LOOK SOMEONE SOMEWHERE BELIVES IT. NOW IM NOT A BIGOT IM A SCIENTIST!"

Peer-review and watching out for confirmation bias must be a male thing.
posted by damn dirty ape at 12:39 PM on March 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


Wow bravelittletoaster, that is a really nasty thing to say and doesn't correspond to my experience with transwomen at all. And I'd be willing to bet that transwomen have played a bigger role in my life than yours, if for no other reason than not being able to imagine someone who actually knew a lot of transwomen saying something that ignorant and facile.

Scrounging up a 15-year-old paper is kind of the icing on the cake, considering the comparative explosion of academic interest and research in trans issues that has occured in the interim.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 12:44 PM on March 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


I've never been opposed to people going off together to a private space to listen to music I don't like.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:46 PM on March 30, 2008 [6 favorites]


Speaking as a mon, this seems anti-mail to me.
posted by found missing at 12:47 PM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


An interesting thing I have noticed about almost all mtf is that they get really happy whenever some guy treats them like a sex object -- no amount of abuse or denigration is too extreme as long as they're considered female.

...More research has indicated that they tend to view the gender known as "female" as something from a 1950's sitcom.


It's possible that you don't know "almost all MTFs?" The amount of research on this subject is paltry at best. I certainly think that if you're going to make generalizations, you may want to gather more citations than a single study based on "drawings by 31 transsexual clients, 61 psychiatric inpatients, and 62 nonclient college students."

Look, if you're uncomfortable with transmen, that's fine. It's certainly not unusual. Transsexuals are a tiny minority, and the concept of changing one's gender does cause at least a frisson of discomfort from most people. I'd go so far to say as most people who ARE comfortable with transsexuals have made a deliberate decision to be so.

But I think it's pretty disingenous to justify your discomfort by essentially reducing transmen to delusional role-players/fetishists who like to get smacked around.
posted by desuetude at 12:48 PM on March 30, 2008


substitute transwomen for transmen, above. Whoops.
posted by desuetude at 12:49 PM on March 30, 2008


An interesting thing I have noticed about almost all mtf is that they get really happy whenever some guy treats them like a sex object -- no amount of abuse or denigration is too extreme as long as they're considered female.

Which is yet another reason why I have a hard time with the idea that they're truly 100% women, or that they're operating from a healthy perspective.


Have you never known a woman-born-woman who enjoyed being objectified?

Would a woman with a clitorectomy be considered 100% woman?

Is a "healthy perspective" another requisite for entry into the womyn-space?
posted by generalist at 12:49 PM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


"have you heard any 'womyn's music'*? They're doing us a favor.

*women's music on the other hand is often great."
- jonmc

I don't understand how one can make this distinction.
Here are a few of the rockin bands with women in them that I heard about (indirectly, I have never attended, nor intend to) through this festival:
Rasputina
Bitch & Animal
The Butchies

And let me say it first so no one else has to -- My favorite bands suck.
posted by bobobox at 12:51 PM on March 30, 2008


RedEmma: a lot of women who go to the festival don't want to wonder if they're being leered at by a woman who used to be a man.

I don't want to be leered at by anyone, and I have been "leered at" by straight men, lesbians, transmen, and transwomen. I just accept that there is always going to be some asshole everywhere I go, and it's a fantasy that you can create an asshole-free zone, unless you're by yourself (and sometimes not even then!).
posted by desjardins at 12:53 PM on March 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


An interesting thing I have noticed about almost all mtf is that they get really happy whenever some guy treats them like a sex object -- no amount of abuse or denigration is too extreme as long as they're considered female.

Which is yet another reason why I have a hard time with the idea that they're truly 100% women, or that they're operating from a healthy perspective. More research has indicated that they tend to view the gender known as "female" as something from a 1950's sitcom.


Were you an offensive-bigot-born-offensive-bigot, or are you just pretending to be one because of some sick sexual fetish you have? I have a hard time spotting the difference among those who pass well, but there's something essentially different somewhere.
posted by cytherea at 1:01 PM on March 30, 2008 [6 favorites]


Will Lynyrd Skynyrd be a featured act?
posted by fourcheesemac at 1:04 PM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I hope this thread doesn't get completely derailed by bravelittletoaster, who seems unaware that there might actually be transpeople reading his/her offensive remarks.

blt, you do SCIENCE! a disservice by quoting all this bogus "research".
posted by jokeefe at 1:06 PM on March 30, 2008


Ah, so you want to limit the present and the future based on the actions of the past as opposed to looking what they're actually doing?

Again, I'm saying your approach - ignore the history entirely - is overly simplistic. Links between "actions of the past" and "what they're actually doing" are sometimes obvious, sometimes not. Again, it's easy to agree with your blanket statement of equality in theory, divorced from historical context. That's just not very fruitful to understanding what's often going on in these situations, and we should look at each one carefully.

In the other, you seem to be saying that no, some subgroups can not be allowed to gather and limit the gathering to said subgroup. Is that correct?

What you said was that any group "should not be given crap" for excluding others. That's a facile thing to say. There's plenty of ground in an oppressed group's safe space to stand and criticize private groups that have been denying access to minorities for centuries. And there are lots of ways we can support the creation of safe spaces for historically oppressed groups while still being ok with courts looking at discrimination in other arenas, perhaps male-only business clubs, where the effects might be bolstering longstanding traditions of economic or social mistreatment. It's complex - not nearly as simplistic as you make it out to be by ignoring the history totally and demanding we simply look at the now.

The fact that this kind of attention has been focused more on groups historically associated with oppression than groups historically denied basic civil rights and social opportunities doesn't bother me nearly as much as it does you. *shrug* I'm more than happy to check back every 10 years or so to see if the context has changed enough for society to refocus.
posted by mediareport at 1:06 PM on March 30, 2008


An interesting thing I have noticed about almost all mtf is that they get really happy whenever some guy treats them like a sex object -- no amount of abuse or denigration is too extreme as long as they're considered female.

bravelittletoaster, you really have to explain where you're noticing this in "almost all mtf" people if you want to be taken seriously in this conversation. What's your exposure to mtf people?

Porn doesn't count.
posted by mediareport at 1:09 PM on March 30, 2008


Porn doesn't count.

That's a provocative statement to make on the internet.
posted by found missing at 1:12 PM on March 30, 2008


Which is yet another reason why I have a hard time with the idea that they're truly 100% women, or that they're operating from a healthy perspective.

bravelittletoaster - please read ArmyOfKittens's comments on this post, especially this one, and try to understand how hurtful your comments are.

If you can't be arsed to do even that, that's ok, you can continue to doubt that they're "real women" or "operating from a healthy perspective" and those of us who actually know and care about transpeople will continue to not give a shit.
posted by LeeJay at 1:20 PM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't understand how one can make this distinction.

Women's music=music made by women. Often great.
Womyn's music=for the most part, boring propoganda music, (which no matter how worthy the cause usually makes for dull listening).
posted by jonmc at 1:25 PM on March 30, 2008


Rasputina
Bitch & Animal
The Butchies


So, do these bands approve of going to an openly anti-trans festival? Seems like an odd disconnect to me, but if thats mainstream feminism nowadays then I guess it makes sense economically for them to do what theyre told.
posted by damn dirty ape at 1:30 PM on March 30, 2008


damn dirty ape, this is not mainstream feminism by any stretch of the imagination.

One of the links in the FPP is about Bitch being disinvited from a Dyke March because her appearances at the Michigan Festival were held to be inherently anti-trans.

Also, regarding the inclusion/exclusion thing. Let's pretend that a bunch of people want to get together and start a group. The criteria is that you have to be male, and white, and hold a certain set of political opinions. Let's say that this group needs a snappy name-- how about the Ku Klux Klan? Did I mention that in this scenario it's the 1920s, in the Deep South? Is it okay for them to have their group, given its intention and purpose? I'm guessing you'd say no.

Let's pretend that at this exact same time, another group of people got together, and founded a black-only college. Whites can't attend. The purpose of this group is higher education, and the general improvement of the lives of people associated with them. Is it okay for them to do this? I'm guessing you'd agree it was.

Nothing is without its historical meaning.
posted by jokeefe at 1:41 PM on March 30, 2008


Womyn's music=for the most part, boring propoganda music, (which no matter how worthy the cause usually makes for dull listening).

C'mon, man. The guitar solo in "Fly High, Lesbian Seagull" totally rocked.
posted by jokeefe at 1:43 PM on March 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Is it okay for them to have their group, given its intention and purpose? I'm guessing you'd say no.

You'd guess very, very wrong.

We don't punish thoughtcrime; if that group started burning crosses or attacking blacks, we'd punish them. But making it illegal to join a group of like-minded folks is a slippery slope to thoughtcrime.
posted by Justinian at 1:47 PM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


The criteria is that you have to be male, and white, and hold a certain set of political opinions. Let's say that this group needs a snappy name-- how about the Ku Klux Klan? Did I mention that in this scenario it's the 1920s, in the Deep South? Is it okay for them to have their group, given its intention and purpose? I'm guessing you'd say no.

And all this time I thought it was the lynching and beating that made the Ku Klux Klan bad.
posted by Bookhouse at 1:47 PM on March 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


I suppose Bookhouse and my objections hinge on what you mean by "is it okay?", though. If by "is it okay?" you mean, "should it be legal?" then I advocate a strong yes. The ACLU agrees with me; remember the Skokie march. If my "is it okay?" you mean "should they be immune to societal disapproval?" then I'd give a strong no.

It should be my right to join racist or sexist advocacy groups. It should be your right to call me a racist or sexist for doing so.
posted by Justinian at 1:50 PM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


C'mon, man. The guitar solo in "Fly High, Lesbian Seagull" totally rocked.

The Lesbian Seagull flew into the path of the Freebird and was promptly devoured.
posted by jonmc at 1:52 PM on March 30, 2008


I suppose Bookhouse and my objections hinge on what you mean by "is it okay?", though. If by "is it okay?" you mean, "should it be legal?" then I advocate a strong yes. The ACLU agrees with me; remember the Skokie march. If my "is it okay?" you mean "should they be immune to societal disapproval?" then I'd give a strong no.

I agree with all this, but my objection really just hinges on the fact that it was an awful analogy.
posted by Bookhouse at 1:54 PM on March 30, 2008


We don't punish thoughtcrime; if that group started burning crosses or attacking blacks, we'd punish them. But making it illegal to join a group of like-minded folks is a slippery slope to thoughtcrime.

Yeah, I forgot the American fetishization of "free speech". That's a minefield I'd rather not walk into, actually.
posted by jokeefe at 2:00 PM on March 30, 2008


Yeah, I forgot the American fetishization of "free speech". That's a minefield I'd rather not walk into, actually.

You just did.
posted by generalist at 2:03 PM on March 30, 2008


An interesting thing I have noticed about almost all mtf is that they get really happy whenever some guy treats them like a sex object -- no amount of abuse or denigration is too extreme as long as they're considered female.

Now you know me. When some guy treats me like a sex object, I'm pretty grossed out, to be honest; this is combined with a sort of creeping horror of what might happen if he decided to act on that interest and discover something he shouldn't in my knickers. It's horrible. Sometimes I have to fight down the desire to scream and run.

I've noticed that a lot of objection to transwomen comes from the "used to be men" part, which is connected to that person's view of men: perhaps lecherous, perhaps kind, but men nonetheless. I've not yet met a single transwoman who would describe herself in this way. If you think it's testicles or a Y chromosome that make a man, then so be it, but to completely and totally disregard what the brain has to say about it is, well... you finish that sentence.

I'm sure some transphobic people have met the transwoman that they're so scared of. Some transwomen who transition later in life don't pass very well and have accumulated some very stereotypically masculine behaviour, but a more helpful way to approach these poor people (and I do feel very sorry for them; I imagine being in middle age and yet to transition, and I gag) might be to take them aside and explain that, perhaps, their assertiveness, their desire to get what they want when they want it, and complain loudly about it, are very stereotypically male things to do, and while it's perfectly okay when we do it, they're obviously some kind of tranny and therefore held to a supernatural standard of behaviour no real woman would ever deign to devote every waking thought to. They should spend their entire life hiding behind things and waiting for other people to talk first while we encourage everyone we know to do exactly the opposite.

Sorry, that para started out sincere, but it ended up bitterly sarcastic. I know there are stereotypical transpeople out there (quick! name some stereotypical characteristics of transmen!) but I would have expected sensible people not to project that face onto every other transperson in the world.

Which is yet another reason why I have a hard time with the idea that they're truly 100% women, or that they're operating from a healthy perspective. More research has indicated that they tend to view the gender known as "female" as something from a 1950's sitcom.

I feel sure I've gone into this before on this site (but I'm not sure where, and digging through my comment history is a great way to make me all embarrassed and stop coming here for a week), but trans medical treatment is responsible for a lot of this. Quite apart from the fact that we have to unload our life stories to psychiatrists before we're allowed to have an operation on an ingrowing toenail (actually, I exaggerate: I was able to have my ingrowing toenail fixed without recourse to a trans "specialist" two hundred miles away; would that that were the case for everything else; I've repeated my life story so many times that I'm no longer sure which memories are genuine and which were hastily improvised, embellished, or gotten plain wrong because I couldn't remember what actually happened in front of some psychiatrist and the clock in the corner of the room is ticking... tocking... ticking...) but many of these psychiatrists have very "1950s" views of women themselves and will only approve treatment for transwomen who conform to their expectations. Imagine a fifty year-old woman having to dress like a teenager from thirty years ago in order to get approval for an appendix operation from the only doctor within five hundred miles that any of the general practitioners are allowed to refer to and you're more or less there.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:04 PM on March 30, 2008 [20 favorites]


So, do these bands approve of going to an openly anti-trans festival?

Not knowing them personally, I'm not really qualified to speak to their political views. That extrapolation seems a bit overwrought to me but you are welcome to come to your own conclusions.
posted by bobobox at 2:09 PM on March 30, 2008


Army of Kittens, you are being very cool while dealing with a deeply personal topic. Bravo.
posted by Bookhouse at 2:12 PM on March 30, 2008


seems unaware that there might actually be transpeople reading his/her offensive remarks

Heh, we're used to it; stuff that others me, moves me out of society, crops up everywhere. There's a TV programme coming over to Channel 4 from the states that I think has just started. From the trails I was quite interested and thought I'd check it out; then one of the trailers has a voice-over guy listing all the vices and horrible things going on: someone dating a transwoman is in the same breath as doing mountains of cocaine and screwing over all your clients. Interest level: zero. Devices for deviancy and markers of the weird we may be to many people, but I'd rather not spend an evening watching someone like me be exoticised, sexualised and discarded when I could be watching Battlestar Galactica.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:13 PM on March 30, 2008


[a few totally over the top comments removed, metatalk is where you can take your "frigid bitches" comments.]
posted by jessamyn at 2:36 PM on March 30, 2008


An interesting thing I have noticed about almost all mtf is that they get really happy whenever some guy treats them like a sex object

Your cartoonish description of MTF women fits not a single MTF I’ve ever met. If this is really the summation of your vast experience noticing "almost all" MTFs--(impressive! btw)--then I'd be surprised if you'd ever really met one.

Is it possible that you have mistaken an outrageous drag queen performance or campy transvestite skit you saw on cable TV with an actual MTF woman going about her day, working in an office? Changing the oil in her Toyota? Buying cat litter at Target?

And what about the MTFs you might have seen but did not "notice." What about them? What do you suppose is their motivation?

Your words suggest an ease for certainty, but little knowledge of transpeople OR biological women. If you're a day over 17 years old you should be ashamed--and learn to think twice before your cruel statements hurt people who know a whole lot more than you do.
posted by applemeat at 2:42 PM on March 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


And what about the MTFs you might have seen but did not "notice."

Yeah, this is a big thing. I hear people say things like, "all transwomen look like men!" Or, "all transwomen act like this or act like that!" And it makes me want to scream. Newsflash, chances are you have crossed paths with plenty of transgendered people and not even known it because they look just like you and me. You know, like the regular human beings they are.
posted by LeeJay at 2:51 PM on March 30, 2008


I'd still like a plausible explanation for how females can't sexually assault other females. I guess when a lesbian couple is in an abusive relationship, that's not the fault of the (female) assailant, but of male patriarchy.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:33 PM on March 30


Of course females can sexually assault other females. Don't be absurd. The reason most women don't fear assault from other women is that (1) it's much more rare and (2) most of us believe (rightly or wrongly) that we could protect ourselves from a female assailant.


About the festival, this sucks. It's pretty vile that they're making a point of excluding transwomen (and the fact that they're allowing transmen to attend is just bizarre). Organizers of festivals like this should be the natural political allies of transgender activists, I would have thought. How disappointing.
posted by joannemerriam at 2:54 PM on March 30, 2008


"bravelittletoaster, you really have to explain where you're noticing this in "almost all mtf" people if you want to be taken seriously in this conversation. What's your exposure to mtf people?"

It may shock some of you to learn that of the medical professionals who have worked extensively with transgendered individuals for several decades, one of these may have joined metafilter.

As soon as people realize the goal of feminism is eliminating power imbalances between genders instead of existing for the purpose of dominating men, we can all hold hands, sing koombyla 'round the fire, and fly off into the future on the wings of a dove.

My experience with transgendered folks is that as a general rule they don't want to be equal, they want to dominate the boundries of others. The mitchfest folks still suffer from the mind and spirit numbing effects of patriarchy, and would like one safe place to make their own rules one week out of fifty-two. I really don't think that is too much to ask.

The transgendered choose to see this one tiny exclusion as an affront to their medically-assisted womanhood status, and attack. They they scream and cry when the blowback starts in earnest. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a society agreeing to have three (or more) genders, if gender is a social construct.

You do not need a penis to pick up a hammer, and you do not need a pussy to pick up a purse. Therefore, anything else is simply body modification or a body part fetish. I still want that penis surgically implanted on my forehead, though.

Also, it's kind of stupid to expose women to sexism and misogyny on a daily basis, but demand that transfolk remain exempt from any criticism. To disallow criticism is a manipulation tactic no reasonable person would condone.
posted by bravelittletoaster at 2:59 PM on March 30, 2008


It may shock some of you to learn that of the medical professionals who have worked extensively with transgendered individuals for several decades, one of these may have joined metafilter.

Please let me be the first to offer my condolences to the transgendered individuals with whom you may or may not have worked extensively. I hope they all moved on to a medical professional who wasn't such a jaded jerk.
posted by LeeJay at 3:07 PM on March 30, 2008 [4 favorites]


As soon as people realize the goal of feminism is eliminating power imbalances between genders

their medically-assisted womanhood status

You do not need a penis to pick up a hammer, and you do not need a pussy to pick up a purse. Therefore, anything else is simply body modification or a body part fetish.

Also, it's kind of stupid to expose women to sexism and misogyny on a daily basis, but demand that transfolk remain exempt from any criticism.


Let's see, in just one short post you manage to to dichotomize gender, slag trannies, give props to essentialism, and imply that trans-folk are just whiny bitches. Good job!
posted by generalist at 3:19 PM on March 30, 2008


And by that I mean FAIL.
posted by generalist at 3:20 PM on March 30, 2008


Also, it's kind of stupid to expose women to sexism and misogyny on a daily basis, but demand that transfolk remain exempt from any criticism.

Would you care to provide some constructive criticism of, say, me? You're acting as if I don't experience sexism and misogyny, as if I don't interact as a woman all day every day with many, many people who see me as a perfectly ordinary woman and treat me as such. If you have something real to say, say it.

It may shock some of you to learn that of the medical professionals who have worked extensively with transgendered individuals for several decades, one of these may have joined metafilter.

See my above comment about medical professionals. Young transitioners are commonly advised on how to behave in front of medical professionals in order to get the care we need. If you know a medical professional who acted as a gatekeeper (for surgery, for hormones, for voice therapy, whatever) and they're the one who said that all transwomen are the same, then they were gamed: they were all the same because they were all told how to behave in front of the man with the keys.

My experience with transgendered folks is that as a general rule they don't want to be equal, they want to dominate the boundries of others.

Example? Without this just sounds like, "How dare they argue back when we tell them they're not really who they think they are? We're real women, we should know!"

would like one safe place to make their own rules one week out of fifty-two

There is no gun pointed at Michfest's head demanding transwomen be included. Many transwomen would like to come and experience the festival; they are not allowed to, explicitly because of their trans status; further, the claim that the festival is only for WBW brings with it the implication that women born trans are less than real women, are half-women, are men, are nothing. You don't see why people are upset by that? You don't think that when even the communities who are supposed to understand oppression, supposed to understand misogyny, supposed to understand what it's like to be ground under someone else's boot kick the transwomen out that it contributes to a greater sense in society that transwomen are worthless, that we are half-citizens, that we invite discrimination and sexual assaults and murder because we have the gall to be who we are?

Make your own rules, by all means. But be aware of the wider implications of your actions.

Finally,

To disallow criticism is a manipulation tactic no reasonable person would condone.

Which is why we are all talking about Michfest's rules. Trans people are not trampling on your boundaries; we're questioning if your boundaries are in the right place.

Feel free, by the way, to find a crazy, wild-eyed transwoman spouting violent bullshit about Michfest as a way to support your point that we're oppressing you. I guarantee you that idiots with non-surgically constructed vaginas outnumber idiots without.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 3:22 PM on March 30, 2008 [9 favorites]


I'm saying your approach - ignore the history entirely - is overly simplistic

Interesting, you see my view as ignoring history entirely, whereas I see yours as over emphasizing history. Naturally the past shapes the present and future, but it's not the final word and the 'innocent until proven guilty' approach is better way to look at this situations.

That's just not very fruitful to understanding what's often going on in these situations, and we should look at each one carefully.

Can you better define who "we" are in this statement? Are you talking social pressure, the legal system or something else?


What you said was that any group "should not be given crap" for excluding others. That's a facile thing to say.

Actually, what I said was "I was talking about any particular group being able to carve out a space for itself where only itself exists, in order to escape the other segments of society. Any group should be able to do (this) and not be given crap for doing so." To me it seems pretty obvious that members of a subgroup would act or behave differently when dealing with "the other". As such, if said group wants to retreat into like minded space, such as Michfest, that's fine and even understandable, but said group shouldn't complain when other groups want to do the same. I'm not speaking of being in said subgroups or Michfest alternatives to plot and plan against others, but rather for the group to 'let their hair down'.


when I could be watching Battlestar Galactica.

God, I so have my figures crossed that events of last season's finale were not a jumping the shark moment. You have seen the eight minute recap, haven't you? "Starbuck and Apollo like each other, so they beat each other up", omg funny.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:28 PM on March 30, 2008


You have seen the eight minute recap, haven't you?

I have now. Thanks :D

oh my god why hasn't the new season started yet? *sob*
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 3:40 PM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


The reason most women don't fear assault from other women is that (1) it's much more rare and (2) most of us believe (rightly or wrongly) that we could protect ourselves from a female assailant.

I think the notion was suggested above that the festival exists as a kind of sanctuary, because men more or less invented and conduct sexual assault exclusively, an idea which is factually wrong, not to mention offensive. But not surprising, given the bigoted mindset of the people running said event.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:41 PM on March 30, 2008


I just want to chime in and say that I agree with those people who have said that they have yet to hear an argument for excluding transwomen from this festival that they find persuasive.

As far as I can tell, a lot of it boils down to the fact that some women feel uncomfortable around people who were born with a penis, which is pretty much textbook irrational, emotional bias. I'm not sure that's so different from a racist person arguing that their knitting circle ought to exclude [other race] because they want to create a space where they feel safe and warm. I am not saying that the right to form exclusive little packs of like-minded folks ought to be stripped from us crazy, freedom-fetishizing Americans, but I do not think that such behavior is ethical or good or impervious to criticism.

Also, I too am pretty unsympathetic to the idea that there's more to fear from a transwoman just because, at some point, she had a penis. In a community where there are tons of lesbians, dykes, and transmen, I wouldn't be free from people eying my, ah, goods, anyway, and I really fail to see how the fact of a past penis makes that gaze more oppressive or scary.

Nor do I understand the argument that you have to have experienced what it is to "grow up as a girl." America is a very large nation comprised of many culturally diverse groups, and there is no single, universal female experience. Thanks, ArmyOfKittens, for making this point above (and for your excellent contributions to this thread).

Mostly, my heard just goes out to the transwomen who have yet another door slammed in their face by people who have defined "woman" in a way that excludes them. Imagine what it must feel like to be told that your identity is bullshit. Not so long ago (and still so in many places and households), gay people are told that their sexual identity is just a mental illness. If I were a transwoman, and a gay woman told me my identifying as female was a manifestation of my mental illness, I too would feel betrayed.

I think this controversy is interesting in part because it's truly a uniquely modern problem. People were cheating on their spouses in the Middle Ages, and career ambitions forced people to make tricky decisions in most times and places, but we didn't have to redefine "woman" (or womyn or wimmin or zir or what have you) in the context of surgical modification until this century...
posted by prefpara at 3:41 PM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


Um, my heart goes out. Not heard. Grammar fail all over the place for me. (were /= are)
posted by prefpara at 3:44 PM on March 30, 2008


oh my god why hasn't the new season started yet? *sob*

Ah, but have you seen this? That last shot. Brrrrr. Brrrrr.

On point, this just seems dumb and basically unenforceable to me...will they really scope out everybody's junk at the door? I mean, leaving aside totally that it's just prejudicial and not all that cool.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:03 PM on March 30, 2008


No junk scoping, per above, just self-policing. Hey, it works in the corporate world, right?
posted by adamdschneider at 4:06 PM on March 30, 2008


May I suggest "You are allowed to create your own space for your own group provided the act of creating that space does not cause harm to others" as the general rule. Even if it's not the general rule it's the one I'm going to use to judge the issue for myself.

It's very easy to show the harm of a university that excludes certain groups. It's less easy but still possible to show how exclusion from social spaces that your co-workers or economic competitors have access too causes harm to excluded groups.

It is unfortunately almost impossible to show the harm that results from not being able to attend a music festival.

The decision to exclude everyone but WBW seems to me then to be, stupid, rude, ignorant and petty but not wrong.
posted by Grimgrin at 4:14 PM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


oh my god why hasn't the new season started yet? *sob*

Everybody knows the premiere is less than a week away, right? 'Cause I'd hate anybody to miss the season premiere because they're too busy arguing on Metafilter.
posted by Justinian at 4:16 PM on March 30, 2008


ArmyOfKittens is in the UK, which I think is on a schedule different from the American April 4th premier.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:26 PM on March 30, 2008


Since my snarky comment was deleted, I suppose I'll just have to respond to bravelittletoaster in a more straightforward manner.

My experience with transgendered folks is that as a general rule they don't want to be equal, they want to dominate the boundries of others. The mitchfest folks still suffer from the mind and spirit numbing effects of patriarchy, and would like one safe place to make their own rules one week out of fifty-two. I really don't think that is too much to ask.

What does this even mean? Safe place? Safe from trans-women? This is probably the single group most marginalized as sex objects and vulnerable to sexual violence, and yet somehow, allowing them to attend would expose cis-women to a risk of sexual assault? And what, exactly, does it mean to say that trans people want to "dominate the boundaries of others"? Are you seriously claiming that trans people as a rule are somehow oppressing people who have never had to question their gender identity? If you are, you are going to have to do better than bald assertions, because I think you will find few allies among people who aren't reactionary bigots.

Also, it's kind of stupid to expose women to sexism and misogyny on a daily basis, but demand that transfolk remain exempt from any criticism. To disallow criticism is a manipulation tactic no reasonable person would condone.

I'm not going to dispute that even today, and even in the most egalitarian of societies, women must regularly deal with sexism and misogyny, but to claim that transfolk are somehow privileged beyond criticism or prejudice is the most ridiculous thing I've read today, and displays a shocking lack of empathy for people you claim to work with as a medical professional. Like LeeJay, I feel very sorry for the people you claim to have worked with extensively for decades. Hopefully they've moved on to people who treat them with understanding and respect.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 4:41 PM on March 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


It may shock some of you to learn that of the medical professionals who have worked extensively with transgendered individuals for several decades, one of these may have joined metafilter.

Doesn't shock me at all. There are assholes in all walks of life -- and there are certainly no shortage of them among medical professionals. It's not *that* many decades ago that these so called 'medical professionals' were strapping people down and administering ECT and lobotomies to people, simply because they disapproved of their sexual orientation. So no, I wouldn't find it at all surprising that there are still large numbers of such people who believe that the extremely slight amount of education they've had on this subject validates their pre-existing prejudices while their ongoing contact simply reinforces it, while allowing them to rationalize their fear and loathing as 'science' or 'medicine'.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:55 PM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


It may shock some of you to learn that some people self-identifying as medical professionals are peripherally the former and dubiously the latter.
posted by found missing at 5:01 PM on March 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


(male energy wtf).

yeah. i think that whole thing is what really turned me off from the whole separatist life, ultimately. way too many separatists treated "male energy" as something not only emanated by men, but something that appeared not so different from "cooties" in that you could catch it from fucking a man, or having many straight male friends. once this realization took hold, i had a hard time seeing it as anything more than the same magical thinking that got passed around at slumber parties in junior high.

and i really agree that there is a "tofurkey market" going on very often at festivals (not just Michigan)--objectification is nowhere near left at the gate. "festie friendships" is a term for the phenomenon of short-term fuck-buddies arising at Michigan, after all.

as a bi-girl, it all felt very hypocritical. while i look back on my separatist days with some fondness, it's difficult to see the idea as a place one should stay at intellectually.
posted by RedEmma at 5:15 PM on March 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


There are some actual arguments on the side of not allowing transwomen into Michfest which I don't think have gotten a fair airing here yet. Unfortunately, I think they are weak arguments and I disagree with them, so I'm probably not the best spokesperson for them, but I'll give it my best shot for the sake of fairness.

I'll start by saying that I think those who have been casually dismissive of the idea that women may feel safer in an environment with no men are being naive at best and willfully ignorant at worst. You live in an entire culture one half of which has been taught NEVER to walk alone at night EVER EVER EVER or YOU WILL GET RAPED and one half of which has been taught to maybe be a little extra careful in a bad neighborhood. While women can of course rape other women, the incidence of this occuring is pretty vanishingly small by any statistic I have ever seen. The idea of a space where women can walk around alone, at night, even topless if they want, is an attractive one for many and can be a transformative experience if you have spent your entire life in fear of simply *walking around*.

It has been, and very fairly I think, countered here that transwomen are not exactly likely rapists. The counterargument to that (a weak one, I must admit, in my opinion) is that if you are talking about creating safe space, what matters is not what is actually likely, but what the people seeking safety are afraid of, whether rational or not.

The problem with that is it's a very rapid slippery slope - what if some of the participants are afraid of black people, etc.? But the festival is already on that slope - most men, of course, are not rapists. So it cannot be removed from that slope entirely without obviating the entire point of the festival - and it does have a point, a very real one; safe space, as I said before, can be important and transformative. So the question becomes, where do you draw the line? What is safe enough without being too exclusionary? How far down the slope can you go so that it is *just* far enough to achieve your goal, but not so far that you have excluded people who should be included?

So, in the case of transwomen, this obviously raises some dilemmas:

1) Do transwomen need "safe space"?
ARGUMENT AGAINST: They were raised as men, and were not raised in same atmosphere of fear. They don't need this, they've already had it. (This argument, obviously, does not apply to FTM's, one reason they are allowed.)
ARGUMENT FOR: Transfolk are among the most endangered and subject to attack. Saying they don't need a safe space is ludicrous.
COUNTERARGUMENT: But aren't ciswomen just as likely to be prejudiced against transwomen as anyone else? Is this really a safe space for them? Shouldn't there be a TransFest instead?
REBUTTAL: But transwomen identify as women, and it is wrong to kick them into their own "seperate but not equal" category - women *are* their people, and it is ciswomen who should learn to accept that. Also, that counterargument falls flat against the "FTM's are allowed" wall.

2) Does the presence of transwomen interfere with the "safe space" of ciswomen?
ARGUMENT FOR (1): Transwomen were raised as men, and sometimes, as hard as they try, they retain certain features of male privilege - dominating conversations, feeling entitled to certain things. It may not be their fault; it's how they were raised - but it is the case for some, and it's a problem in a women-only space.
ARGUMENT AGAINST (1): That's a shitty reason to exclude an entire class of people. There are ciswomen who are assholes, too. Come on. If there's a problem of this nature, the answer is education, not exclusion.
ARGUMENT FOR (2): All of the above is irrelevant - they problem is that many women *perceive*, rightly or wrongly, that transwomen are really just, on some level, men in disguise. Even if this not true, the perception interferes with safe space.
ARGUMENT AGAINST (2): There are a lot of such perceptions. Some are based at least somewhat in reality - e.g., most rapes are committed by men. When one is based only in fear, is it still valid?
ARGUMENT FOR (3): It's not just a matter of perception -- transwomen really are internally men who have just switched around some body parts. If we exclude men, we should exclude them, for exactly the same reasons.
ARGUMENT AGAINST (3): That is a loathsome and J. Michael Baileyesque view of transfolk. They went through a boatload of shit to get where they are, and you think it's just because they really like boobies? Come on. (I am depressed to see this argument popping up here on metafilter, although thankfully it is a minority view.)

(Note once again that all three of the "arguments for" above lead to rational reasons for exluding transwomen but not transmen.)

I'll add once more that I am very definitely on the side of allowing transwomen to attend Michfest. But I do think the arguments on the other side are more complicated and less ludicrous than some have been assuming. Although I will also admit that I find one of those arguments, which has been raised on this thread, particularly disgusting.
posted by kyrademon at 5:33 PM on March 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


I'll start by saying that I think those who have been casually dismissive of the idea that women may feel safer in an environment with no men are being naive at best and willfully ignorant at worst.

Lumping in anyone with a penis as rapists makes the hard work of all queer rights activists that much harder. This "festival"s rules hurt the movement for equality under law by making a joke of it, in order to protect against some vaguely defined, irrational and rationalized fears of human beings who are, at the end of the day, on the same side as these "womyn".

Now, if that's what they want to do, they're free to do it; that's the gift of living in America. But anyone is perfectly free to accordingly call them on the willful damage they are doing.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:29 PM on March 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


Nice summary, kyrademon.
posted by jokeefe at 7:29 PM on March 30, 2008


I feel I should mention that while this thread about a concert has 100+ comments, there's a thread trying to draw attention to what's happening in Darfur that has 2. This is what I mean when I say that the American left tends to get bogged down in minutia while the big issues lside right past them.
posted by jonmc at 7:56 PM on March 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


jonmc, you just discovered that phenomenon known as 'human nature.' :)
posted by kyrademon at 8:10 PM on March 30, 2008 [3 favorites]


kyradaemon sez:

I'll start by saying that I think those who have been casually dismissive of the idea that women may feel safer in an environment with no men are being naive at best and willfully ignorant at worst.

To which Blazecock Pileon replies:

Lumping in anyone with a penis as rapists makes the hard work of all queer rights activists that much harder.

But what if it's not a matter of women feeling physically "safer," but emotionally? Because I do get that, and don't see it as hugely far removed from -- oh, let's say -- a bachelor party wherein the cardinal sin is inviting women (leaving aside strippers, of course). Saying that, making that comparison, is either reductive/dismissive to the empowering thing womyn would like such a festival to be, or empowering for gatherings of men called in the name of drinking beer and watching porn -- take your pick. Personally, I don't think it takes much work to elevate a bachelor party to the level of a concert featuring the band that brought us "Transylvanian Concubine" ten years ago (or, "you know, that song that was in that one episode of 'Buffy'"), but whatever...the point is, men most certainly have male-only gatherings, and I think that's fine, and that women should have them too is also fine.

All that said, in such gatherings -- while I suppose a counter-argument could be made -- the opposite sex is not excluded out of fear of the opposite sex. It's to better facilitate a feeling of kinship and togetherness with one's own sex. These are not the same things. Why in the fuck a huge gathering of women would be afraid of one or two formerly male women in their midst, I can't begin to imagine. And so I don't: The much more likely and compelling argument to me is that the festival organizers do not feel a kinship with transwomen. I myself am not a woman of any variety, but I don't think you have to be to imagine that a transwoman might actually be even more starved for this feeling of kinship, of belonging, than a woman born that way; and so I think that exclusion, which sounds to me a lot like a prejudice, is pretty lame.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:21 PM on March 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


I feel I should mention that while this thread about a concert has 100+ comments, there's a thread trying to draw attention to what's happening in Darfur that has 2.

You probably don't even wanna know how many comments the video of the monkey on the minibike has.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:24 PM on March 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


well, once monkeys are involved, all bets are off...
posted by jonmc at 8:25 PM on March 30, 2008


No, I'm sorry. These arguments for and against are just rhetorical tools in the service of things which are less comfortable to talk about. We don't feel one way or another about issues like this because of some intricate dance step in a line of rhetorical thought. We feel the way we feel because we hunger for acceptance and love, and because we burn with disgust and fear by the bigotry branded on our hearts, and always, we lust for power.

But perhaps that's because I've never really been afraid to walk home at night? Perhaps it's just me, but I've noticed that the people who are afraid of walking home at night aren't so much afraid of men, but of the poor.

At it's heart, it's no different from denying marriage to gay people, or from having whites-only bathrooms, or even using price barriers to keep away member of the undesirable classes. It's one thing for people to come together out of a common interest, it's another to build a common identity through exclusion.

The whole idea of going somewhere where my gay male friends would not be welcome, where my feminist straight male friends would not be welcome, and where my transgender friends would not be welcome is completely abhorrent to me. Oppressing people isn't made right because the oppressors are also oppressed. That's just shit flowing downhill. The festival already feels like a relic from the past, and I hope it's consigned there, to that same place we put all those other things that we're embarrassed people used to do.

And Darfur? Darfur is overwhelming and hopeless and nobody cares because it's about poor people who aren't like us. It's much more productive to throw mud at the people sharing our own little pond who should be our friends trying to do something about Darfur.
posted by cytherea at 8:54 PM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think kyrademon did a respectable job trying to defend what seems to be a pretty indefensible policy, and I think the weakness of her argument is no reflection on him/her but really an indication of how far along a very slippery slope the 'WBW only' rule is.

To see how ridiculous it is to exclude others based on 'perceived threats' in order to create a 'safe space,' I think you only need to change the context from one of gender to one of race. There are a whole lot of white people around who have pretty much spent their whole lives being conditioned to fear black people, particularly black men, for various and sundry stupid reasons. But if the name of the game is perceived rather than actual threats, i.e. it doesn't matter whether there's a rational basis for wanting people different from you excluded, except insofar as it makes you feel better, I don't see why someone couldn't use the same argument in favor of a no-blacks-allowed event.

I can't really find any basis for respecting some 'WBWs' fears of MTFs that's any more legitimate than a bunch of hypothetical scared white suburbanites' fears of black people.

Furthermore, I'm not sure I buy any argument that says race is inherently any more deserving of protection than gender identity: exactly why should one qualify and not the other? Is one group's oppression more legitimate than the other? What's the yardstick, and exactly how oppressed do you have to be before it's illegal to turn you away because someone else thinks you're scary? While possibly academically interesting, that doesn't seem like a productive series of questions to get into. In fact, it seems like it would be incredibly divisive -- it inherently pits every group seeking protection against each other.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:07 PM on March 30, 2008 [2 favorites]


I feel I should mention that while this thread about a concert has 100+ comments, there's a thread trying to draw attention to what's happening in Darfur that has 2.

comment no 3 - people won't like it, though
posted by pyramid termite at 9:10 PM on March 30, 2008


Er ...

Um ...

I'm sorry? :(

I just thought the other side of the argument deserved a more thorough hearing than bravelittletoaster's "MTFs are all creepy freaks" version.
posted by kyrademon at 9:14 PM on March 30, 2008


kyrademon, I think that you've done a good thing for the discussion. Cheers. And this is exactly what the festival should've done -- discuss the issue openly and explore the legitimacy of the issue in context of the intent of the festival.
posted by desuetude at 9:33 PM on March 30, 2008


I feel I should mention that while this thread about a concert has 100+ comments, there's a thread trying to draw attention to what's happening in Darfur that has 2. This is what I mean when I say that the American left tends to get bogged down in minutia while the big issues lside right past them.

I don't happen to think that the marginalization of transpeople in this country is "minutia." And thirteen of those comments are from you.
posted by LeeJay at 9:49 PM on March 30, 2008


ArmyOfKittens: if the show you're describing is Dirty Sexy Money, you might want to give it a shot...the transexual angle is portrayed as scandalous within the context of society--the male lover is running for Congress--but the show itself treats the love affair with a good deal of warmth and sensitivity. Despite what the ads would have you think, the relationship is almost never played for laughs; the show can be hit or miss, but this is one of the more affecting storylines. Also, it's never hinted that the relationship is the result of a fetish or deviance the man has...in fact , a big part of the problem is that he's genuinely and desperately in love with her. (The other characters mostly resent the fact that he's cheating on his wife, not necessarily that his lover is a MTF.) The actress playing the lover is also a great performer, playing the role with a kind of empathy and nobility that trancends both the "wacky tranny" and "tragic queen" stereotypes that others might bring to the role. (Also, she's by far the most beautiful woman on the show.)
posted by Ian A.T. at 10:00 PM on March 30, 2008



I'm sorry, but some in the medical community are beginning to privately question previously long-held assumptions. I can only say that opposition to surgical intervention is gathering steam.

On a personal note, I too was puzzled as to why the mitchfest folks allowed ftm, but excluded mtf. It seems inconsistent, unless they believe that biological gender is constant. Aother thing, trying to claim their basis for exclusion is based on rape-fear, is just one more juvenile attempt to attack the weakest argument instead of the strongest, which not one person in this thread has attempted to discuss.

I would just like to point out that that for all the crying, no one has explained why TG is not Body Dysmorphic disorder. A reasonable person would assume it's because the definition hits too close to home.
posted by bravelittletoaster at 10:19 PM on March 30, 2008


I'm thinkings bravelittletoaster needs to be a bit braver, and to cite this personal knowledge of the medical community's internal scuttlebutt, or to cite science, or to cite anything, or to shut up already.

Seriously. Stop making generalizations about what 'we' or 'they' think, and put up some actual SCIENCE already. Or, at the very least, come clean with these mysterious credentials you keep alluding to. You're trying to make yourself sound expert, but you just keep digging yourself into an ever-more bigotty hole.


I'm sorry, but some in the medical community are beginning to privately question previously long-held assumptions. I can only say that opposition to surgical intervention is gathering steam.


I'm sorry, but if you're not just using ad hominems to back up your theoretical realities, please share the specifics of the vagaries you're talking about. Thanks!
posted by mudpuppie at 10:32 PM on March 30, 2008 [1 favorite]


All right, bravelittletoaster, I'll bite.

If I am understanding your line of thinking correctly (and please feel free to correct me if I am wrong), it could be summed up as follows: There are two basic differences between "male" and "female" -- obvious physical differences in sexual apparatus, and alterable nonintrinsic differences caused by cultural perception and upbringing. However, since these are differences of appearance or culture only, and there is no essential feeling of "maleness" or "femaleness" (as you put it, a man can pick up a purse and a woman can swing a hammer, so what's the difference?) The logical conclusion of this is that transsexuality is not a case a "female trapped in a male's body", since there can be no "feeling of being female" which would lead to this. Therefore it must be a case of wanting either the *appearance* of being female (perhaps due to some kind of paraphilia), or possible the *cultural acceptance* of being a woman, or both, but it cannot be a matter of wanted to "be" a woman in any other sense because there is no way to "be" a woman in any other sense.

This is certainly an extremely attractive point of view, as it naturally, even inevitably, kneecaps most psychobiological arguments made for gender inequality. The only problem is ... it doesn't seem to be the case that it is true.

The most obvious counterexample are the several documented cases of intersexed people who appeared to be, or were surgically altered at the earliest possible age to appear to be, one gender, who were raised as one gender -- and who insisted throughout their entire lives that they were, in fact, the other gender, no matter what anyone said, despite both their appearance and upbringing. But if appearance and upbringing are the only things that matter, then what the *hell* is going on in those cases? It makes no sense. Unless there *is* some kind of essential feeling of "maleness" or "femaleness" that someone can have, then why would they insist that they are not the gender they appeared to be, and are raised to be?

And if the essential feeling of "maleness" and "femaleness" exists, whatever its origin, then why on earth cannot it sometimes happen that a person gets crosswired, and spends their lives having that essential feeling for the *opposite* body from the one they were born into? And why wouldn't they want to alter their body to fit this internal map and end that sense of constant, nagging wrongness?
posted by kyrademon at 10:41 PM on March 30, 2008 [5 favorites]


I would just like to point out that that for all the crying, no one has explained why TG is not Body Dysmorphic disorder. A reasonable person would assume it's because the definition hits too close to home.

Um. Except, except that the majority of transgender people do not, in fact, have any surgery performed. Now, for some that's a matter of want of money and/or technology, but in others it's a lack of desire or need.

I'm sort of surprised that a medical professional who has "worked extensively with transgendered individuals for several decades", would fail to notice the paramount importance of identity, social role, and acceptance for them. I'm not quite sure why you think an issue of social identity has much, if anything, to do with the feeling that your left leg should be removed. Unless, of course, you can't help but keep focusing on the naughty bits, but that brings to my mind homophobes who can't stop thinking about anal sex. Unless of course you're not an actual medical professional, but I can't fathom while anyone would make something like that up.

It's also sort of funny that you keep complaining about all the crying that they do, while you're doing your part to invalidate their status as men or women. Must be a coincidence.
posted by cytherea at 12:26 AM on March 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


I had a whole thing, which was all witty and angry and shit, but kyrademon put it better and didn't use the phrase "high mucky-muck" which was in mine and kinda sucked. cytherea's comment just below handled the crazy body dysmorphia thing better than I did, too. I had this analogy with a Cadbury's chocolate bar but it wasn't very good.

Oh, and Darfur? I give to a few charities that work internationally but since my clout with the international community has fallen off lately (you know, ever since I did that thing at the embassy party with the melted Fererro Rocher) my voice counts for little with China. However, jon, I'm sure the American left would like you to know that it's capable of thinking about more than one thing at once, that it isn't some kind of monolithic being, towering over the landscape, and therefore doesn't have to fix the worst thing in the world before it moves onto the second-worst thing.

Besides, if you think this is just about a concert, then you're not paying attention.

ArmyOfKittens is in the UK, which I think is on a schedule different from the American April 4th premier.

Yep, I think Sky show BSG a few days later. But since I have freeview, I will have to resort to other means. If there was a way to pay a couple of quid direct to the makers and get a high-quality copy of each episode the night after it aired in the US, I'd be on that like a shot.

Ian A.T.: thanks, I'm sort of curious now :)
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:00 AM on March 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wimon?
Wymin?
Weemn?
Woomun?
Wimin?
Holy fuck.
posted by Pecinpah at 6:07 AM on March 31, 2008


bravelittletoaster, I think it would help if you explained what you think a woman is and how that is defined/determined. It seems that having a vagina and behaving, dressing, and identifying as a woman are not enough for you to agree that a person is a woman. I am curious to know what is.
posted by prefpara at 6:30 AM on March 31, 2008


I think their WBW position is pretty indefensible. One thing that really struck me when I went was the lack of diversity I saw. There was a definate middle-America/small-town white/middle-class/middle-age demographic with just a few outliers. I saw no cihldren/pregnant women, which is odd for such a large gathering of women. The one young woman I saw with nipple piercings was treated as a complete novelty (in a kind way) but just re-inforced my perception that the people I saw at the festival were not like the politically-aware queer (and proud!) community I was used to in Toronto. I felt for many this was their one week a year they were around other people that identified as similar to themselves (lesbian only, bisexuality was even more oppressed then than it is now). I think the fear of MTF trans is out of ignorance and lack of experience in a broader world, which doesn't make it okay, especially in a community that is supposed to be aware of oppression.

crunchtopmuffin mentioned how freeing she felt being in an all-woman space. Funny enough, I DIDN'T feel safe, not because of anything that anyone did but because I was in the US and I am always highly concious that I do not have the same civil rights in the US and that there are potentially hundreds of guns within a hundred mile radius. I always feel safer walking around drunk men at Queen and Lansdowne at 3 AM in TO than I do in the middle of the day in the US.

I wonder how what the attendance has been like historically, have they peaked? Are younger women attending more than once? For all the talk of community the only real community I felt was once we left the festival at stopped at the nearest MacDonalds. Every time another woman would enter the chain we would exchange guilty looks and laugh. That laughter united us more than any smudge ceremony around the fire could.
posted by saucysault at 6:59 AM on March 31, 2008


prefpara: bravelittletoaster, I think it would help if you explained what you think a woman is and how that is defined/determined.

I know I'm gonna regret asking ... but why is "absence of a Y chromosome" not an acceptable answer? Did I miss a memo somewhere?
posted by RavinDave at 7:27 AM on March 31, 2008


RavinDave, did you know about androgen insensitivity syndrome? Would you agree that a person with the strongest form of this syndrome ought to be called a man and treated as a male?
posted by prefpara at 7:30 AM on March 31, 2008


Your comments on your experience are interesting, saucysault. For what it's worth, I don't think this part has anything to do with the festival itself, though:

Funny enough, I DIDN'T feel safe, not because of anything that anyone did but because I was in the US and I am always highly concious that I do not have the same civil rights in the US and that there are potentially hundreds of guns within a hundred mile radius.

And I think Toronto stands out in North America as a rather diverse and tolerant place, so coming from there, I suspect you'd find a lot of mismatch between your experience and your expectations in most other places in the U.S. Unfortunately.
posted by Tehanu at 7:38 AM on March 31, 2008


I would just like to point out that that for all the crying, no one has explained why TG is not Body Dysmorphic disorder. A reasonable person would assume it's because the definition hits too close to home.

What about women who would generally be considered attractive, but who feel incomplete and just plain not sexy with small breasts? Is their desire for breast implants symptomatic of body dysmorphic disorder? Because...you know. Somehow I don't see the elective surgery industry placing a moratorium on that operation for the patient's own good anytime real soon.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:39 AM on March 31, 2008


BraveLittleToaster, please do tell us your medical credentials. "Medical professional" covers far too much ground to be of much use. Are you a physician? Plastic surgeon? Court-appointed Psychologist? Electrolysis technician? Part-time Manicurist? “Clinical Aesthetician” who provides Botox shots and permanent eyeliner tattooing at a strip mall spa?

Also, is it possible, given your specific area of practice, that your MTF patients may self-select a propensity for the qualities you now describe as typical to “almost all” FTMs?
posted by applemeat at 8:21 AM on March 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


"almost all" MTFs? rather.
posted by applemeat at 8:22 AM on March 31, 2008


Interestingly, androgen insensitivity syndrome has come up on mefi before.
posted by prefpara at 9:31 AM on March 31, 2008


Funny enough, I DIDN'T feel safe, not because of anything that anyone did but because I was in the US and I am always highly concious that I do not have the same civil rights in the US and that there are potentially hundreds of guns within a hundred mile radius.

that would be tens of thousands of guns - seriously - most of which are used to hunt deer
posted by pyramid termite at 10:31 AM on March 31, 2008


Are there really that many transwomen eager to attend? I know this issue has received tons of copy over the years but how many people are effected?
posted by Sassenach at 11:08 AM on March 31, 2008


Are there really that many transwomen eager to attend?

Transwomen comprise a tiny fraction of the population as it is, so it’s probably a safe bet that only some portion of this demographic should also be interested in native wolf-mother mythology, facial piercings, and/or vegan porridge with their folk music. But seriously, it’s the relatively small number of people affected by the festival’s overt discrimination that makes it all the more inexplicable as to why festival organizers would even bother to take an official stand on denying this group’s right to attend.

Also, equating this controversy to minutia due to the relatively small number of people actually affected by the prohibition seems too literal an approach, and totally misses the bigger picture. Do you also think that Rosa Parks and her supporters should have remained quiet unless they really, really wanted to sit up front?
posted by applemeat at 12:09 PM on March 31, 2008


This is my theory: lots (and lots and lots) of women have been raped by men. While women can and are raped by other women, that's not part of the definition of "rape" for the organizers of michfest. Rape in their minds, much like "sex" in mainstream culture, is defined by a penis entering a vagina. Fingers, dildos, tongues, or anything else doesn't count, and non-penetrative sexuality isn't "real" or legitimate in most poeple's eyes. (What makes you lose your virginity? Not non-penetrative sex, right?) The fact that they insist on clinging to this definition (and strengthening it with their policy) is damaging and limiting to all of us, most obviously to transwomen, but also to lesbians and cisgendered women.

The organizers want to create a space where ciswomen who have been victims of rape can rest assured that there are no penises present, that that particular threat does not exist. Does this policy make women safer from sexual violence? Not really. Fetishizing the penis as a tool of sexual violence makes people blind to other, equally damaging, forms of sexual assault. But because of that cultural fetish for penile penetration, removing one possible and admittedly dehumanizing threat feels far more significant to them than it really should be.

This tells you everything you need to know about how these people understand transexuality. It doesn't matter if you feel like a woman inside. It only matters that you (may) have a penis, and you derive sexual satisfaction from it. Or that you have had a penis and derived sexual pleasure from it. From that perspective, transwomen are merely biomales in dresses, with an intact male sexual drive. Male sexual drive, under that definition, is a constant and singular threat.

I'm not terribly sympathetic to this way of thinking, and I think the michfest policy is misguided, though in general I am sympathetic to people who have been othered within this culture wanting a space where their stereotypical oppressor isn't present. I understand as an able-bodied white woman that there are some spaces where my presence would be a constant reminder of abuse, pain, and denigration, even if I don't act in those ways myself. Part of being a responsible member of this society is to acknowledge the ways our presence impacts others, and not taking it personally when it's not positive through not direct fault of our own.

One of the things I rarely see in discussions about transexuality by transmen and women is an open acknowledgement that those "first 20 years" do in fact have an impact, and cannot be erased. Nor should they be. I'm disappointed that our gender structures are so strict and tight that it's nearly impossible to acknowledge that without tearing down someone's self-identity.
posted by Hildegarde at 1:26 PM on March 31, 2008


My ex-GF, her mother and her mother's partner and several other people went up there several years back. My ex-GFs take on it was that it was extremely odd to be menstruating* at the same time as thousands of other people.

* why hasn't this been changed to womynstrating?
posted by schyler523 at 1:36 PM on March 31, 2008


From that perspective, transwomen are merely biomales in dresses, with an intact male sexual drive..

Jeez, the organizers clearly haven't been around an FTM on T. You want to talk about a ravenous sex drive...
posted by desjardins at 1:44 PM on March 31, 2008


One of the things I rarely see in discussions about transexuality by transmen and women is an open acknowledgement that those "first 20 years" do in fact have an impact, and cannot be erased.

You do have a point, I'm sure that the the impact of growing up as a transgendered boy or girl--being raised as a member of a sex they do not identify with--is a very different experience from growing up as a more normative boy or girl raised as a boy or girl. But I'm not so sure that the impact of growing up a transgender boy shares much in common with growing up as a girl, etc., either. Would the impact of growing up as a gay boy or girl in an unaccepting environment be the same as an accepting one? Would that make them any less gay? I imagine there might be more suicides, and self hatred, but I'm not so sure it would make them more like a straight boy or girl, and I'm not so sure it would make them any less gay.
posted by cytherea at 9:37 PM on March 31, 2008


As a message, I guess the exclusion states that there is a difference between being raised while perceived as female and being raised while perceived as male, and there is a value to people in the first group having space that excludes people in the second, even if there are many shared experiences.

It's not so obvious to me that that's not true. And since we don't really have an example of a non-sexist society or a 'matriarchy', then all 'people raised while perceived as female' do share the experience of being raised as part of the subordinate group (regardless of how they feel inside), regardless of differences between cultural groups. I think you could make an argument that if some matriarchal society existed, women from that society could be fairly excluded from the festival.
posted by Salamandrous at 7:04 AM on April 14, 2008


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