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Just Another Woman at Michfest

Alice Kalafarski

Friday night I thought I had them beat: I was a trans woman at Michfest, and I was having an awesome time. A gospel singer was performing a song she wrote in the civil rights era, and she had all three thousand of us sing the refrain. The song said “don’t mind” their ignorance, “don’t mind” their hate, just don’t engage them at all and get on with living your life. It seemed like a perfect solution to deal with all the “Womyn Born Womyn” (WBW) types, and I decided to make “don’t mind” my motto.

In theory, it was a sound strategy. I knew there used to be a lot of drama about BDSM on the Land, but everyone with irrational fears about it eventually piped down once they realized that all their whining wasn’t going to make it go away. So if trans women like me could ignore the haters and enjoy fest just the same as everyone else, we’d eventually win the same acceptance… right?

The philosophy fit in with the purposefully upbeat attitude I’d been working on all week. I’d paid $440 for my ticket, and I had joined the long line of cars waiting to get in at 6 AM Monday morning. I was undeterred by the WBW bumper stickers, and I got through the gates by 3 PM to receive my orange admittance bracelet. I decided to haul my gear through a one-mile trek to my campsite instead of waiting for a shuttle, and I set up my tiny one-person tent. I’d figured that I’d worked so hard to get here that I damn well better enjoy myself.
If you asked me why I was there, I’d have told you a friend of mine was involved with Trans Womyn Belong Here (TWBH), and I was interested in all the stuff they were doing this year. That’s certainly part of the truth, but I’m not enough of a trans activist to go all the way from Massachusetts to Michigan to just be part of a protest. The real reason I was at Michfest was that I was still trying to figure out if I really was attracted to women. (Note that this is over four years after bottom surgery -it takes me a while to work out these sorts of things.)

Of course, I knew that Michfest wasn’t the end-all-be-all of sapphic desire, but it seemed like a good fit for me. I liked camping, I liked folk music, I liked vegan food, and I liked being naked in the woods. Michfest was made for queer women to celebrate their shared sisterhood and give each other lots of orgasms, so why not try tiptoeing into that community and see if it felt right?

On the other hand, I sure wasn’t going to turn my back on activism. It really was inspiring to see hundreds of cis allies wearing TWBH T-Shirts and buttons, and I wore my own every day. I was impressed how many TWBH organizers were fest workers and risked harassment for being so outspoken. Michfest is probably the toughest queer space in America to be an ally to trans women, so it was kind of amazing to see how many cis people were still willing to stick their necks out for us.

On the whole, TWBH probably outnumbered the WBW folks, but they had the establishment on their side. On several trees, the fest organizers put up some politely passive-aggressive posters to make sure trans women know we’re still unwelcome. They also had a deviously clever campaign of “wanted” posters to subtly let trans men know they’re unwanted. Most performers were silent on the issue, but a few gave a shout-out to all the WBWs in the audience.

My first real interaction with that crowd came on Wednesday’s workshop designed to facilitate dialog. It was run by cis women on both sides of the issue, but the ones on “our side” weren’t affiliated with TWBH. The organizers got us all paired up with someone on the other side, and they started us off by suggesting we tell our life stories. (My partner mostly talked about coming out after marrying a man and having kids; I didn’t have time to give my story.) Before speaking to each other about the issue, the organizers had “model conversations” designed to demonstrate how to respectfully and sensitively talk about this issue. I personally thought it was the Hannity and Colmes of queer politics: the WBW supporter would make outrageous and incendiary claims while our supposed defender would offer meek equivocations. At the end, they shared a nice hug.

Suffice to say that I was already quivering with rage when the second WBW “model” suggested that letting trans women attend Michfest would let any man in a dress come here and rape their children. Our advocate gave an I-hear-where-your-fears-are-coming-from-but-politely-disagree type response, and I was done. After the hug, I asked our advocate for a word in private, and I let it all out.

I have to admit that I was dramatic. Through tears I asked, “How could you let that woman call me a pedophile? How could you hug her? You are not my ally!” The WBW advocate come to us and tried to explain that she wasn’t talking about me. Right in her face, I told her: “I am a trans woman! Who are you talking about if you aren’t talking about me?”

Through all of this passion, I did get one argument across: the WBW advocate was making the same baseless smear that homophobes used to make against lesbian schoolteachers. Is there any point in talking to someone who’s that deluded and hateful? Can you really call yourself an ally if you’d hug someone like that?

I left them both and wandered away from the workshop area. I wiped away my tears, but enough sadness was visible for a few kind strangers to ask me what was wrong -most everyone smiles at Michfest. The one person I really opened up to was a women of color I’d met a few days before. She told me that a grown woman has no business crying over something like that, and she probably has a point. After all, there were a several other trans women at the workshop, and none of them stormed out. And since I myself am still learning how to be an effective ally to people of color, maybe I should have cut my cis ally some slack.

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  1. BlaydenWaydonLeydon

    This was a tremendous pleasure to read, and I feel you have done me tremendous honour as a trans woman for speaking to those experiences at MichFest by sharing them here. :)

    All said, Fest remains the most cissexist, misogynistic (the irony, so great) cultural gathering for women in North America, and perhaps the world. I could say *transmisogynistic*, but that would be veiling a central point which should never be lost on us: mistreatment toward *any* woman — even women who are told they’re not women (like telling a person they’re not human) — is a wilful act of internalized and externalized misogyny through and through.

    Taking on the changing of radical-reactionary women (who have their own issues with femininity and masculinity) is treating the symptom, not the cause. Nipping misogyny before it metastasizes, like teaching boys to confront misogyny as they grow into men, and equipping people with knowledge to focus on those lurking as undecided or unsure is how each of us — trans people and cis ally people alike — will quash essentialist misogyny from both in front of their faces (from trans women and allied trans men) and behind their backs (from former cis supporters of misogynistic exclusion who will submit to that game no longer).

  2. Keltik

    Are there any official figures on how many people are raped by trans women each year at michfest? No? Really? Oh well, so much for that theory…

    • steggy

      You can call out trans womens’ scapegoating without trivializing rape by asking for “official figures”. Thanks.

      • Keltik

        Its called sarcasm. If the official line is no trans women because ‘trans women = men = rape’, then where is the official figures backing up this theory?

        • steggy

          Your sarcasm trivializes rape. Trans women deserve better than this. Moving on then…

          • Keltik

            I’m not trivialising rape, I’m pointing out how ridiculous this belief is, that an oppressed group that are often the victims of rape, are viewed as dangerous oppressors and rapists. It’s a complete falsehood.

          • jackrad

            the woman who said that trans women talking about their bodies in women’s only space is like rape were trivializing rape.

            • steggy

              they sure were

            • Keltik

              I think we need to be careful not to be dismissive of what is triggering for some people, just because it’s not triggering for us. However I do struggle to see how a trans woman talking about masturbating in a group discussion about masturbating is triggering.

              • Jay

                I think there’s an expectation with trans people (especially above and beyond to the nth degree with trans women) that our triggers don’t matter at all, that assaults committed against us will always be less important than any assault committed against someone cis, and that calling us or our bodies (especially in regards to trans women) ‘triggering’ means we should shut up and disappear.
                Cissexism is triggering for me due to how bullied I was by trans and queer hate between the ages of 8-16. Reading conversations dissecting trans people’s bodies down to the cellular level is fucking triggering for me. I suspect it is for a lot of trans people subject to intense transphobia and anti trans bullying. But when is this ever really respected or understood? This website just had a wave of people who must know somewhere in their consciousness that transphobic misogyny is triggering to trans women–and it didn’t seem to deter them.
                I’m not saying this to say we shouldn’t respect people’s triggers or mock them. I just think leaving the social structure of cissexism out of this is basically criminal itself.

          • Valerie Keefe

            And again, 1 in 6 male-presenting people are raped by the age of 16 most often by female partners… poking holes in the unidirectional-rape mythology is an inherently feminist act.

  3. Jay

    First, I’m happy to hear you had a mostly good time at michfest.
    I am kind of…to me, common sense would have indicated that in any kind of workshop to bridge the divide (if that’s what we can call hate and ignorance)–shouldn’t trans women’s concerns have been centered? I’m just–my jaw is still dropped.

  4. Lucian from Schmekel

    Thank you for this insightful article, Alice!

  5. annaphallactic

    Fest is as much a private event as Bonnaroo–any event that promotes itself and sells tickets opens itself up to controversy when they de facto limit any group from attending. Vagina please, get a reality check.

    My God, if southern blacks in the 1950s and 1960s were told to stay away from where they weren’t wanted, the Civil Rights Movement would never have happened. They were so low class and disrespectful from quietly sitting at lunch counters, huh?

    Attitudes like yours, Alexandra, make me sick, and they’re why the feminist movement can’t get very far in this society because we’re too busy trying to suss out VERY IMPORTANT ISSUES such as who was born with a clitoris.

    • S

      The southern blacks were fighting for their rights in the public and daily living, not barnstorming private social events.

      There is a difference.

      And, the southern blacks would also take times to meet just southern blacks and not allow others in, socially and otherwise…and at least that point in history, both were needed.

      • jayinchicago

        Why are you obsessively commenting on a six month old post? Looks like someone is trying to have the last word…
        And Mich is always just a little private social event when it wants to be, and a huge year-capping life changing movement building experience when it wants to be to different women.

  6. jackrad

    I’m so glad you wrote this, Alice! I still remember reading something you wrote a few years ago after your first (or maybe second) year at Camp Trans and enjoyed reading this just as much. I hope you continue to write more for PrettyQueer!

    And I’m glad you had a good time at Fest overall. The stories you shared about how you were treated by some WBW folks and some self-identified “allies” who weren’t really doing their part were really powerful. It’s so important for stories like yours–about what it’s actually like and how it actually feels to be there as a trans woman–to be out there. Thanks so much for sharing, Alice

    • Alice Kalafarski

      Thank you so much for the kind words, Jack.

      • jackrad

        i’m a little appalled at some of the stuff people are saying in response. you are so much better than them, Alice, and i am really surprised to read this kinda stuff on PrettyQueer.


        • Alice Kalafarski

          They’re coming from here:

          • Keltik

            Fucking hell, are they trolls or just really bigoted?

            • BlaydenWaydonLeydon


            • Poisongirl


          • Violet

            Good grief.. the bigotry on that forum! This whole ‘WBW’ “movement” is ridiculous. There need to be spaces where all people.. cis and trans can be included and feel equal and welcome. These WBW bigots are pulling cis-privilege while at the same time crying about how they are the victims.

          • Danielle Macdonell

            I wish I hadn’t even tried to read that.

            • Valerie Keefe

              Yeah… it gets too much after a while.

              Hey, cissexists vandalizing this forum:

              Just remember that you’re attacking someone else talking in a trans-friendly space when you parrot that flimsy excuse about “just wanting a little place away from all the [people coercively assigned male at birth.]”

  7. BlaydenWaydonLeydon

    You want conditional womyn on private land — not womyn.

    Womyn without condition is what we are saying must happen for mobilizing against the same paternalistic, patriarchal mess which forces us (yes, trans women as well) to retreat to a remote private space in the first place. Then, to rip off a page from the boundary-enforced geography of misogynistic cis men by policing who gets to be a conditional womyn on that land is exactly what kept women from freely moving through private and public spacing (outside the domestic space, that is) — and do so unaccompanied in the decades before suffrage.

    Your problem is a distinctly American one, built from the same wagon-circling defensiveness which white men used to ward off “the Indians”. Outside the U.S., we women look at your defensiveness and anger and wonder if you’ll ever grow. We’d like to believe it will happen, but the entrenched like yourself will stay entrenched until each of you dies — embittered, isolated, territorial, resentful, and each of you the bearer of unifying opportunities lost forever.

    • S

      Maybe where you are, when women say “no” even to other women, it is accepted and honored?

      • BlaydenWaydonLeydon

        Yes. Where I live, when a woman says, “No, you cannot violently rob me of my womanhood because of my container’s origin,” it is more likely to be respected rather than reviled. That’s a feminism which advances that women exist in more than one container, and that all women are valid. It’s called trans feminism, and women of every shape, size, origin, ability, coercive assignment at birth, or articulation of gender is validly an unqualified woman.

        Also, you’re only arguing with yourself now and using us as your sounding board. Most of us here have moved on to more important, urgent feminist work.

      • inchoaterica

        That problem has nothing to do with the chromosomes and birth assignment of a woman and everything to do with the fact that we’re raised in a world where women are expected to hate each other and then we end up with the mess of toxic girl hate that ends up spawning.

        Keep doing the patriarchy’s work by targeting other women, S. Whether trans women or cis women, you’re working overtime for the patriarchy in reinforcing these ideas rather than questioning why in the hell our culture encourages us to hate each other. I don’t hate you; I wish you’d extend the same to other women, regardless of their assignment at birth, as a huge part of accepting and honoring when other women say “no” is to choose to quit being the patriarchy’s bagperson.

        • Valerie Keefe

          I would hug you but there’s an internet in the way.

      • Valerie Keefe

        Odd, gendertrender wasn’t too concerned about consent or respect when they degendered some women who were victims of sexual assault. *raises hand*

  8. Jay

    It’s funny–michfest boarders have an entire message board to do whatever the hell they want with. Why they can’t offer at the least respectful silence is seriously beyond me.

  9. Alice Kalafarski

    We got that one cut & pasted here already.

  10. Jay

    That piece is nine years old and contains no citations. It does not make any attempt to back up what it is claiming, and it would not stand up for any kind of review.

    • indigo summers

      The piece is the personal views of a trans person, it needs no citation. But seeing the truth from a trans who gets womans space is not something anyone here is used to seeing it seems.

      • Jay

        You know, it’s sad to me that trans woman hating drones can’t find anything better to do than regurgitate a nine year old article hosted on noted transphone Anne Lawrence’s website. To make the points the haters are trying to make here, you need peer reviewed, cited research. As said, the onus of proof is on the people swarming *this* woman’s post. And we aren’t getting anything but overblown speech that wasn’t relevant in 1991, much less 2011.

      • Valerie Keefe

        1. She’s speaking specifically as a trans WOMON.

        2. Trans is NOT a goddessdamned noun. It’s an adjective and you know it. The same reason most cissexist radicalfeminists (as opposed to radical feminists) refuse to put a space between trans and womon, or insist on spelling womon with patriarchal spelling while spelling cis womyn’s womonhood with apatriarchal spelling.

        Please stop claiming that you’re being respectful when the hate oozes forth from the michfest boards. It makes you look more disingenuous than you can afford to be.

  11. jackrad

    that’s not really a different viewpoint, seeing as someone already posted the full text of that article in a comment. also seeing as it’s not a viewpoint that seems super different from the transmisogynistic ones people kinda use over and over again.

  12. Tom Léger

    Anyone wishing to use the terms WBW or other hate speech can do it elsewhere. You’re not welcome here. We have removed all of the boring, repetitive comments from the MichFest drones. We refuse to create yet another space for you to pick on trans women.

    • smc

      i’m not certain, Tom, why you consider ‘WBW’ hate speech but allow so much other nastiness on here to go unchecked.

      if you were to remove all of the boring and repetitive comments, you’d be left w/ very little on this page.

      the thumbs up/down and reply functions are more effective communication devices than censorship.

      • Tom Léger

        This ain’t my first rodeo.

        • smc

          i don’t know what that means

          • Keltik

            It means it’s not the first time we’ve addressed issues of bigotry towards the trans and queer communities and we know what the bigots have to say on the matter, they have many platforms to spew their vitriolic bile, this just isn’t one of them.

            • smc

              thank you for responding, Keltic.

              as a new reader, it’s difficult to understand what’s being discussed when original posts are removed but subsequent responses are left intact.

              in the case of one post i responded to, i don’t even know what offense the original poster committed to have caused the deletion! i get that it’s nobody’s job to educate me but is there any point in confusing me further? ;-)

              • Keltik

                I know, you can kinda pick up what was said from the reply. It’s the same shit though, if you aren’t born with a fully functioning vagina, you are not a real woman, you don’t know what it’s like to be a woman and because you’re really a man, you’ll just end up raping everyone. It’s complete nonsense, there are so many holes you can pick in their argument. Fuck ‘em.

          • smc

            to whomever ‘unliked’ that i didn’t know what Tom meant: i didn’t like it either. just sayin’

      • BlaydenWaydonLeydon

        Actually, like/dislike counts on all these web 2.0 sites makes a few people in each discussion really believe that what is discussed is “up for a vote”, and that somehow that “vote” is either binding and/or a great, representative snapshot of the world’s pulse.

        I think that the only people who genuinely believe this are the angry old men who spend their days on newspaper web sites and argue with one another over matters which nobody else reading has much of a clue as to what they’re on about. Maybe it’s conspiracies, certain people out to get them, or worried that some great demon of society is going to take away their prized little green territory of land, I think — but who knows.

      • jackrad

        Alice wrote a really thoughtful and interesting article and a bunch of people who have never read this blog before and will probably never read it again hijacked the comments with a bunch of hateful stuff that directly attacks half the readers of this blog and basically its whole mission.

        it’s okay for the editors to say that putting trans women’s identities up for debate is not acceptable–in fact, that is a big part of the whole spirit of why a lot of people read it. if someone wants to read about WBW stuff, there are about a million places to read that. cause it’s everywhere. it’s boring and upsetting and some of us have had that conversation a billion times and it’s always the same–those comments actually have nothing to do with–no point of relevency to–the actual post and really distract from having an actual discussion about the finer points of what Alice wrote.

  13. Tobi

    The thing that stuns me about this “private party” argument is just how un-feminist it is. Womyn have been unjustly unwelcome in many places, and feminists have worked to break that down. Do you not see the problem with arguing that privately owned for-profit companies should have the right to discriminate on whatever basis they want?

    Besides, the truth is that trans womyn *are* invited. Maybe not invited by you, but I personally received several invitations. When I was told that I was not allowed, I did not come. But a few years ago I asked to buy a ticket, making it clear that I was a trans womon, and I was told that was just fine and let in. Even Lisa Vogel says that trans womyn will not be refused tickets or kicked out on the basis of being trans. That hardly counts as “sneaking in.”

    • Tobi

      If it’s not clear, the “you” refers to a deleted comment.

      I’m glad to see the proactive moderation here.

    • BlaydenWaydonLeydon

      Tobi, you said:

      >Do you not see the problem with arguing that privately owned for-profit companies should have the right to discriminate on whatever basis they want?

      It’s a grand irony bound in neoliberalism. Neoliberalism and humanism may be fundamentally incompatible.

    • Poisongirl

      And it basically illustrates the poverty of a lot of RedFem thought and why (so-called) Radical Feminists have suffered so many schisms since the mid-1970s, especially the ones provoked through the “womyn identified” principle.

      Anyone who disagrees with or doesn’t like another feminist or woman can basically exile them out of a womyn’s community through an accusation of being male identified. And it’s not just trans women, this charge applies to cis women as well; and many have been thrown out of the club in the last 30 years for not parroting orthodoxy or challenging the women who feel entitled to define what feminism is; or as owning the movement as a whole.

      We trans women are the target du-jour, not only out of transphobia, but because pre-conceived prejudices make us the easiest target. That way they can focus on the supposed dire threat we embody instead of addressing the real and pressing structural flaws in RadFem thought that has made it marginalized even within feminist thought because it has failed to address the daily concerns and struggles of women in a constructive and comprohensive manner.

      Through this, RedFem activists just set up another hierarchy, they get to be the gatekeepers of womanhood, if you’re not certified “womyn identified” (cis or trans) then your concerns or opinions can be comfortably dismissed while the luminaries of RadFem thought can quietly go on preaching what they’ve preached for the forty years while gradually losing the relevance they so desperately desire. This way they can control who can be considered a woman, and who can or cannot be listened too.

      It’s sad that another once-powerful movement with good intent has marooned itself upon the shoals of irrelevance through using authoritarian tactics to set up another hierarchy through declaring the thoughts of only some woman politically viable (ie. woman identified principle).

      Hopefully, we can use it as lesson of what not to do, and do better moving on in to the future towards a world without patriarchy or sexism.

      • S

        Aren’t you doing the same thing here?

        If one doesn’t “parrot” the prevailing views here…they are blown off as being anti-queer, anti-trans, etc etc etc…


        Then you go off saying you aren’t understood…when you didn’t have conversations in a tone of language and listening to create understanding for either side….just to validate yourselves instead.

        How does that help anyone?

        • jayinchicago

          I really don’t think you’d like it if someone implied that the only thing you ever did in life was post comments on the Internet. Fallacy.

        • inchoaterica

          No, you get called out for being anti-queer and for being anti-trans BECAUSE YOU ARE.

          That has nothing to do with parroting, and everything to do with sounding like Rush Limbaugh whining when he chooses to say offensive things and gets in hot water.

    • Normal

      The private party argument is a red herring. If I want to throw a private party then I decide who’s on the guest list and who’s not. If its a private club then I’m well within my rights to decide who gets to be a member and if my sort of people don’t want to invite THOSE sort of people then I can do that. I can be racist trsnsphobic, misogynist or exclusionist in any other way I want. But when I advertise an event and sell tickets to it in what way is my event any different from a Van Halen concert? David Lee Roth looks pretty darn queer to me.

      I wonder if it’s even legal to have a public event which excludes any one type of person. Maybe a bunch of men in dresses should crash the event? Would it be legal to keep them out? I kinda doubt it. Private property? Sure it is , just like a shopping mall or a lunch counter or a concert hall?

      Seriously though, segregation is unquestionably a social harm regardless of the rationale given.

  14. Desiree Gales

    Thanks Alice ! Is there a way that this article can get syndicated ? There are a bunch of beautiful people out there with more trans writers on there blog here are a couple …

    That should put the word out there enough to start something dynamic – if that is something y-all want …

    thanks again !

    ps if you need help contacting/communicating w/ genderqueerchicago or the L stop ,just let me know I have a contact at both places.

    • Alice Kalafarski

      I’m glad you liked it! I’m not really up for doing lots of work to promote myself, and those sites would have to ask the prettyqueer folks if it was okay to republish. If you have contacts or just wanna say: “you guys should link to that,” then be my guest.

  15. Keltik

    It’s fucking HILARIOUS that the michdrones can only retaliate by ranking all the comments against them as negative. That’s some epic trolling right there.

  16. RebeccaRed

    That article brings up some very self-loathing notions. That trans women can never be real women? So then what are they?

    Other then that the basic premise isn’t horrible: Women’s spaces should allow trans women in only if trans women live, act, and present as cis women. (Else potentially *anyone* could walk in and claim admittance as long as they *say* they’re trans/cis female.)

    That’s not entirely unreasonable, as long as it doesn’t become: Women’s spaces should be allowed to ban trans women no matter how long they have lived as women, and no matter how much they reject and unlearn their former male upbringing.

    Again, not a perfect argument but not completely horrid.

    • sonia calles

      anyone CAN walk in w/o declaring cis/trans status, political affiliation, or their position on the (even more controversial than trans-inclusion topic) inscrutable nature of most of the entrees served in the kitchen. ;-)

      it concerns me, however, that any womon would have to meet “presentation” criteria before being allowed entry. fest is a celebration of the glorious variety of wimmin.

      • Keltik

        Really? I thought they strip searched everyone to make sure only ‘vaginas born vaginas’ were permitted entry.

        • smc

          strip-searching and other more invasive pre-entry interrogation techniques occur only with mutual consent ;-)

          • BlaydenWaydonLeydon

            SMC, is that really even necessary? Does a purportedly safe space really feel it’s necessary to lift a page from the invasive surveillance society that people already loathe so much when they have to walk into an airport, walk into a public building, log into Facebook, or even walk down the street?

            • smc

              blayden, forgive my sorry attempt at humor. i thought the ‘wink’ would be enough to indicate the non-seriousness of the post

              and, yes, w/ the exception of this year, fest is the place i’ve felt safest

              • BlaydenWaydonLeydon

                Thanks for helping clear that up, SMC. I missed the wink.

    • jackrad

      i’m not sure if you mean, in your ascertation that trans women can only enter women only space if they pretend to be cis, to suggest that trans women are not really women, or that you are in favor of a tiered system that gives or denies certain privileges to some women based on specific identifiers. the former is super transphobic (and transmisogynistic too) and the latter is not only transmisogynistic, but kind of a slippery slope.

  17. Jay

    Wow, a tranphobic article got printed in a gay magazine. The sun also came up this morning.
    And do you really think the transphobia is “recently”? Have you never heard of Nancy Burkholder? When she, a woman at Michfest, was ejected in fucking 1991, on “suspicion” of having an assignment of birth sex other than what some trans hating folks deem is necessary to claim a category she was already in? Going back further, have you never heard of Sandy Stone?

    • Michfestlover

      The only account of this story on the web, is inaccurate. I had a day, where I worked post fest with a woman who worked fest and was the major organizer of the TWBH. I asked if anything she experienced working for the MWMF would lead her to believe that story was accurate. That the Festival would throw a woman out of the Festival at midnight, to wander the county road in 1992 alone? Her response was to look down and shake her head no repeatedly. That is not who we are, that is not what we do. It just isn’t and anyone who comes and experiences us, gets a really good sense of who we are. Just like the woman who organized the TWBH movement and worked with us for two weeks. We rock.

      • FTMDC

        Nedra Johnson and the bigots in the forum who are posting hateful things about trans women should be disinvited and banned from the Land. That would make it safer for all women. MichFest is a breeding ground for hate and ignorance. It is a sad, dated event that should be ignored by the rest of us with the hopes that it dies a sorry death alone in the woods.

      • Valerie Keefe

        Just because you forced someone to choose between fest and trans womyn, who, by showing up, has already shown where her loyalties really lie if it comes down to it, (which is has, for 20 years.) does not constitute definitive proof.

        And yeah, have a look at your forums… have a look at the constant hatred spewed towards trans womyn. You guys don’t rock. I wish you did.

        • Michfestlover

          Valerie, I did not force anyone to choose between anything. I happen to have the opportunity to work with a woman I had not worked with before post festival. She was a lovely young person and through the course of our working together she shared that she was one of the main organizers of the worker capital TWBH movement and workshops. As I am middle-aged and work and attend the concerts, I no longer have the energy to attend many workshops. I was aware from the festival program that workshops around trans women attending the festival were happening, but I didn’t even really note when or where or what time. I disclose to my coworker, that I was in the WBW Camp and that I would wear a small button expressing that but probably not a T-shirt. I also said I was part of the Wanted campaign, that I was the only one that submitted a 15-year-old picture and was quite embarrassed that I had chosen to do so. We talked about the issue and many other things during the course of our working together. And at some point I said that I knew for a fact that the story on the Internet about Nancy Burkholder was not true. I’d worked on the security/communications crew that year (I use Dragon NaturallySpeaking and it just typed security/communications, without any need for me to correct it, the 11.5 version is excellent) and I knew the woman who spoke with Nancy and I heard first-hand accounts of the conversation and it just doesn’t match the account that you can find on the Internet. I said unfortunately at that time the security coordinator may have said that we could not guarantee the woman’s safety. But that she should have added if anything physical were to happen to trans-woman the perpetrator would immediately be removed from the festival, which I do believe is an intention of the MWMF. Today in 2011 I’m not sure what someone would have to do in order to initiate a conversation with the festival. Perhaps having a penis and using the open aired showers, which many trans people and trans allies concede could be disturbing to women who’ve come to the festival for women. I asked the woman I was working with about her experience working with us and if anything she had experience by working at the festival would lead her to believe that in any way we would ask a woman who was in distress to leave the land in the middle of the night to wander alone down the County Road in the country and state where they’re still is homophobia and hatred at and violence against women. Her reply was no. And I will assert again that’s not who we are, that’s not what we do, that’s not how we live our lives.

          • Valerie Keefe

            Of course you’ve forced womyn to choose… do they recognize women as women or do they maintain access to a network to which they have become accustomed. Not every woman who seeks help at VRR is transphobic. But their organizers are… and they use rape victims to legitimize their hatred.

            That some womyn have a price at which their acceptance of their sisters can be forgotten for a week is simple fact.

            And honestly, as to people with penises in the womyn’s showers?

            If they’re women, fine. And there are women with atypical genital configurations.

            Denying womyn basic rights of access to public accommodation based on theoretical triggers and unaddressed cissexism is disingenuous at best, and civility prevents me from describing it at its worst.

  18. Butterfly

    Just curious about your workshifts Alice since you didn’t mention them at all. Where did you do them and what were they like for you? Did you meet any interesting women during them and did they seem accepting of you?

  19. Red

    Again, the legitimacy of trans women’s identities is NOT up for debate on this website. Any comments espousing “WBW” doctrine or linking to sites that support such hate-speech will be taken down immediately.

    -PQ editorial staff

  20. steggy

    I appreciated reading this, thank you for your voice.

    Lately I’ve found the phony cis self-declared allies to be the most aggravating and insufferable of all.

    Also, whoever told you “grown women don’t cry” was being a huge asshole. Cry whenever the hell you want!

  21. Keltik

    This comment is for graceaware, in your comment you say “Do not come back to Festival next year. You will not be welcome.”, what I want to know is why? Why are trans women so abhorrent? Why are they not welcome? Why is their lived experience as an oppressed woman in a patriarchal society not as valid as yours?

    • Tom Léger

      Keltik, please stop engaging with that person. I really would rather not find out if/why she believes trans women are abhorrent. Maybe go to their forum and talk about it there?

  22. smc

    i’m not certain whether i should be alarmed or proud that my comments are “awaiting moderation.”

  23. Tobi

    Unfortunately, many of the anti trans women arguments made to keep trans women out end up hurting women as a whole – including the women who make those arguments.

    A very strong example of that is how the conversation about rape and sexual assault at Mich Fest seems to always get re-focused only on the issue of trans inclusion and how trans women’s presence amounts to rape. At the same time, cis women are being assaulted by other cis women at the festival each year. Of course it goes unreported much of the time, but in my short time there I heard of three or four separate incidents of cis women being sexually assaulted by cis women while at fest over the years. With all the focus on metaphorical sexual assault, actual cases of sexual assault get swept under the rug and actual perpetrators are able to move with relative freedom, hidden by their status as WBW.

  24. Danielle Macdonell

    Through my tears I finished this. If Michigan is still that much of a struggle for a young woman like you, when might it be possible for me to finally really think about trying to attend. I applaud you, and hope you can create and hold space at MWF, I’m feeling it will ‘prolly change at glacial speeds (sans warming). I’ve waited thirty years, another ten will be survivable.

  25. bettina cornell

    I am so proud of you for going, staying and coming out. I hate that wbw crap. I myself have never made it to festival even though I have many friends who go every year. One of these friends is a hardcore wbw advocate.

    I wish these folks would think their ideas all the way to the conclusion. Transitioning seems like an awful lot of hard work just to trick a lesbian into sleeping with you.

  26. hypatia's child

    I didn’t get any undercurrent of transphobia from the wanted poster I saw. I thought it was heartfelt and to the point: you are loved and valued. Whether you support inclusion or the wbw intention, it’s not hard to understand how butch wimmin get hurt by the fallout from this conflict. What is wrong with letting them know that they’re loved as, and for who they are?

    For clarity: I was not at fest. I was shown a poster by someone involved in making them.

    • Valerie Keefe

      Well, again, if it’s referring to trans men, it’s a pretty sad thing to want them at a womyn’s festival.

      The idea that the criteria for entry is a vagina is inherently cissexist, and degenders men (some of whom will go along with it for the social access) and obviously the womyn who are very clearly NOT wanted by extension.

      Women != “everyone who isn’t a cis man”

      “They hate us trans women because they don’t respect our identities

      They welcome those trans men with open arms because they don’t respect their identities either.”

      Also, trans men aren’t some kind of hyper butches… let’s not forget that OR the butch trans womyn who are erased by that sort of construction.

    • Tobi

      Like most of the messaging from the anti-trans women crowd, I appreciated everything about the wanted posters except for the conclusion. Yes butches sometimes face invisibility. I’m a butch. I’ve been mistaken for a trans man. I was at fest. I worried that masculine traits would lead others to read me as a trans man and scowl at me or whatnot.

      But did you notice how those posters necessarily put in “female assigned” several times. Butch role models are role models to all butch womyn, not just those who are female assigned. Wouldn’t you find it weird if prominent early feminist leaders were specifically celebrated for the impact they had on straight white womyn rather than celebrated for their impact on all womyn? (Pointing our racism and homophobia is different than celebrating their whiteness and straightness.)

      Similarly, I saw the wanted posters as saying “All butches are loved and wanted — Except for you!” every time I walked by. That’s the undercurrent of transphobia I felt. It’s like someone knew enough to realize that being a trans womon and being a butch womon are not mutually exclusive and specifically decided to write in that only cis butch womyn are a part of this declaration of community support.

      • Tobi

        Sigh, didn’t catch the typo:

        Did you notice how these posters *unnecessarily* put in “female assigned” several times.

      • Zeph Fish

        As a butch/genderqueer person, I loved the “Wanted” posters (organized by Nedra Johnson, not “officially” by the festival). But I found myself baffled by the way “loving and appreciating butch women” was being used as a justification for excluding trans women from the festival. I read a bunch of exclusionist butch women’s writings on one of the MichFest forums, thought a bunch about it, and wrote this reply:

        • BlaydenWaydonLeydon

          Gauging their replies following, it appears they paid little to no heed to your thoughtfully articulated observation as a cis butch womon able to grasp the big picture.

          I recognize and affirm you where they cannot, do not, and will not.

          • Zeph Fish

            The “Wanted” posters are confusing because I LIKED them on face value (yes! butches of all kinds need affirmation!), but they were generated by Nedra Johnson, who is a longtime MichFest performer & worker who has been very vocal about trans exclusion. There’s a logical disconnect there that inspired me to write that piece at And, just to be clear, I don’t really consider myself “cis”, since I’ve had my own share of gender confusion & ambiguity without ever losing my connection to female-centered communities or feeling driven to change pronouns. Let’s say “genderqueer”.

            • BlaydenWaydonLeydon

              While I do respect that you do not really consider yourself as cis, Zeph, your participation in a space like MichFest and the degree to which you are welcome there and in its meta spaces (i.e., the forums) is deeply contingent upon the premise that you arrived there as a cis person; have a reputation there as a cis person; are perceived as a cis person without an antecedent trans experience (whether you’re trans or not); and can lay enough claim to a womonhood for sake of satisfying Fest on the basis of your being coercively assigned female at birth (or CAFAB).

              Your welcome mat there would be withdrawn if your CAFAB were CAMAB instead; slightly less so if you came out forthwith and affirmed yourself as a trans man without equivocation. With the latter, they might tolerate you up until you start with T injections — if, that is, it’s ever to be in your life plans. Shy of that, they would hesitate to recognize your emergent masculinity and even manhood and confine you to the box marked “butch”. That’s fine if you’re butch; not so fine if you’re a man with a CAFAB body.

              You, like everyone in paid attendance there, is conditionally welcome on The Land — ironically so. No one can possibly be there unconditionally as a womon so long as a cabal of event organizers and committees play (to their whims) a supernatural role by deciding on and moving the goalposts of womonhood, femininity, and/or the criteria for a female body. There is no argument which can sway them from this compulsion of control over other womyn’s bodies and which of those bodies they genuinely consider as wimmin and which of those they do not.

            • Valerie Keefe

              Well, again, cis would be used to identify someone who identifies as the sex they were coercively assigned at birth… not the idealized heteronormative version of it.

              There are lots of ways to be a womon, and while there are parallels between heteronormativity and cissexism, there’s still a distinct difference between having one’s womonhood policed and having one’s womonhood denied.

      • hypatia's child

        Actually Tobi, I have to admit that I did not notice that, but after looking at the poster again I have to agree that it was unnecessary. Butches stretch the idea of what it means to be a woman, period, and not just assigned female at birth. However everyone’s work is invested with their views and biases, and that happens to be this creator’s bias, coming from a FAAB-identified perspective. I guess I agree that there is an undercurrent of, I don’t know what the accurate word is, maybe provinciality, but not sure I would go so far as to label it as transphobia.

        • jay

          how can being assigned something at birth be an identity? how is that any different than the WBW cissexism?

          • hypatia's child

            The assignment is not an identity, but some people are very focused on the experiences that grew out of being assigned a particular sex, to the point where that experience becomes a central facet of their identity. There seem to be quite a few faab women who express a need for wbw space because they find that communing with others who identify similarly is healing. So yes in a sense, it’s a wbw-centric view as far as they themselves are concerned, and it’s wbw-centric in that they want to keep Michigan wbw-only. That doesn’t mean that they can’t support spaces that focus on women’s experience in a broader sense that includes trans women. Some, in fact, do support such spaces, as well as inclusion in more permanent women-only communities.

            • Jay

              Most trans people (for obvious reasons, I think) are against a system that arbitrarily and punitively assigns a gender at birth and uses that to force people into gender roles and behavior. So a lot of this WBW stuff is about punishing trans women for the existence of a system that brutally oppresses all trans people, especially trans women and trans feminine people. I’m not a trans woman, I’m not a woman at all so maybe my somewhat verbose presence on this post was ill-thought on my part. But at the base of this idea there seems to be something rotten–something that hinges on the fact that we are not going to ignore cissexism any longer.

            • Valerie Keefe

              It doesn’t start that way though… it’s an ex-post-facto construction of onesself as being CAFAB… they use the fact that they were called girls during their girlhood as the criterion for denying the girlhood of girls who were called boys, but clearly never were.

            • Jay

              more cis priv apologism…

    • jay

      I very much understand and commiserate with getting assumed to be something one is not (here. a butch getting assumed or even pressured to be a trans man.) But I still have to admit it kinda stings that the reverse message should be butches are more valuable than trans men. Or even that the assumption that butches are trans men is the fault of trans men’s visibility. I don’t see why trans men had to be singled out in that way–couldn’t butches be appreciated as butches, explicitly stated, without referencing trans men?

      • cis sis

        Yes! As a cisgendered woman whose women’s spaces include trans women, the Wanted posters made me literally sick to my stomach. So much so that I was avoiding using the potties by the end of the week.

        Maybe if I had seen that poster in some other context, I would have read it as being only about affirming butch identity. But because of the context, it was so clear that it was an argument against trans identities – I felt manipulated because I knew some of the women pictured, and wanted to affirm their courage in being who they are, and yet I knew those feeings were intentionally being elicited as part of a strategy to exclude trans people.

        Some port-o-janes were plasterd with a dozen of the posters – it just felt so agressive and intense – there was nowhere else to look but at the hateful text. On one of the first days, poet Andrea Gibson’s made the observation that she was able to use the bathroom at MichFest without getting funny looks from people or worrying someone would tell her she was in the wrong washroom. So it struck me as overwhelmingly sad to see that in fact that washrooms at MichFest were no longer empowering places for all of us.

        • hypatia's child

          I guess I don’t really feel the posters intended to exclude trans people so much as they didn’t make any concessions to their feelings. Look it’s pretty obvious that the creators of the posters support the wbw intention at fest. The posters were intended to be displayed in a space that is “intended” to be faab-only, and the posters made explicit reference to that fact. If it had been gratuitous, that would have been one thing. But think about it: butches at fest are getting flak from all of the brouhaha over this issue, they are being hurt because people mistake them for being members of groups who aren’t welcome at fest and even give them dirty looks and make rude comments. So the posters went beyond affirming their identities as butches, and explicitly said that they fell within the intention and were wanted *here*, at fest. Considering the context, I don’t see a problem with the posters specifically. That’s not to say that the context (the wbw intention) itself isn’t problematic, since I agree that it is, but I continue to have very mixed feelings about it and anyway, that is a separate issue from the posters.

          • Jay

            Many butches aren’t female identified. Why should nonbinary or male identified butches (even in the offensive and absurd wbw context) be marginalized? It’s another way of policing butches.

          • Valerie Keefe

            Again, I’m a woman… nothing happened to me in the 28 years since I was born that made me a woman…

            If there was, I’d find it and bottle it.

            But your analogy is much like the non-apology of a politician: “If I’d known someone outside my certain circle of activists/donors was going to hear that callous and inflammatory language…”

  27. Zeph Fish

    Alice! It was so good to have you at fest! I’m glad to read your account–I was wondering what you thought of everything that happened. I’d like to share an open letter I wrote about my own experience of returning to fest and re-engaging this issue after nearly a decade away: “An Open Letter to the Estranged Branches of my Radical Queer Family”–

    • Gemma Seymour

      In case you don’t see it anywhere else, thank you for that letter, Zeph, from the bottom of my heart. I am honored to know you.

      • Zeph Fish

        Thanks Gemma! It was good to get to meet you in the woods!

  28. Zeph Fish

    Alice! It was so good to have you at fest! I’m glad to read your account–I was wondering what you thought of everything that happened and what mixture of feelings you left with. I’d like to share an open letter I wrote about returning to fest and re-engaging with this issue after nearly a decade away: “An Open Letter to the Estranged Branches of my Radical Queer Family”–

    • BlaydenWaydonLeydon

      Hi Zeph —

      You might have seen this already, but others may not have:

      Everyone ought to read what you wrote in your open letter. Optionally, there is an open reply to your open letter as a means for continuing this valuable dialogue:

      All the best.

      • Zeph Fish

        I read your reply and you raise a lot of important points. I think it’s always good to revisit the fact that there are many barriers to attendance besides gender policing, and those barriers (economic, racial, cultural, geographical) affect many women and reflect wider patterns in our culture. I think dykes as a whole engage with those issues more than your average straight people do, but that doesn’t mean we all can’t do better.

    • Alice Kalafarski

      Wow Zeph, that was a great post! You really lay out all of the issues and make a great case for allies attending fest and helping it change. Thatnks for being so supportive at fest this year, and I hope I’ll see you next year as well!

      • Zeph Fish

        Alice, you kicked ass at fest and I’m glad to know you.

  29. andy

    boo. this is sad.

  30. JadeHunter

    The issues of inclusion in this case are very remniscent of things I wrote about a while back when I was still using radical feminism as my platform. I have since moved away from it and was never really all against trans people and such, but the exceptionalist attitude plays a large part in what I feel is keeping these “WBW only” people firmly footed in their stance on the issue.

    It is one thing to have trans people stood hard with the idea that they are women, and even WBW in their own way, and I do not disagree. However, going to this festival and causing intentional disruptions such as special workshops is not a very good way to say “I am just a woman like you.” If you really truly feel that way, then why not just go and make not being trans a big deal at all? The gates are obviously open without all the extra effort, and actions speak far louder than words.

    In other words, the entire fight is silly to a good degree on both sides, and if you really want to make a good push for trans inclusion in the festival then a good degree of transparency is not a bad idea. Just go and enjoy the festival like everyone else, with everyone else in order to show them that you belong. Actions speak louder than words and can work to soothe even your worst opposition. If you are a woman, then go and be a woman and enjoy the festival. If you need special introduction as a trans woman, then are you really feeling like a woman who belongs there?

    For Alice: At some point I used that sword and shield model in regards to the incident that happened that one New Years eve we shared together, and this is similar to that. I think the entire trans inclusion angle from what I hear tell of is far too much of a sword.

    • Valerie Keefe

      Opposing segregation will always carry a degree of disruption… it will always be annoying and inconvenient, and it will always, ALWAYS, be entirely the responsibility of those that maintained power structures of segregation.

    • steggy

      This comment is bad and you should feel bad.

      • Valerie Keefe

        *giggles* Thank you for applying the correct amount of seriousness… I often don’t have any settings lower than 11.

  31. Bevin

    Alice, I am so glad you came to the Festival and I am so glad you were able to enjoy at least parts of it. I’m glad you felt the TWBH supporters outnumbered the WBW supporters because I felt the opposite. I’ve never experienced a more organized and hostile backlash to support for trans womyn’s inclusion in the Festival. The nice/nasty WBW “let’s make this seem less hateful by using a pretty font but really we’re trying to make you feel guilty for being here” stuff on the trees put up later in the week I’m fairly positive wasn’t from the office, it was put up by WBW activists.

    But maybe you experiencing it differently is good because maybe there were more of us and I just couldn’t see it.

    What we really need are more people who support trans womyn’s inclusion to attend the Festival and join us in our efforts. I had two conversations with people on the fence about the issue and I saw them change their minds. I had several conversations with WBW supporters (with a lot of love) who helped me further develop my own beliefs about gender and spirituality and the need for the people who are called to the space of Michfest to attend Michfest.

    Anyway, Alice, thanks for writing this and I hope to see you in the ferns next year! xoxo

    • Alice Kalafarski

      Thanks Bevin! Since writing this article, I’ve heard other folks say that the posters were not created by Michfest organizers, so I guess the WBW activists just felt like they had the authority to act like they could speak for everyone who helped to create and maintain Michfest. Imagine what would happen if any TWBH folks tried to do something like that!

  32. Scott Knowles

    Interesting and thank you. I don’t consider post-transition (physically and legally female) trans anything, so why genetic women do is beyond me. There are some women who aren’t physically 100% women (intersexed or lacking full reproductive system) but they’re not excluded, so why post-transition women, calling them men? Ok, it’s rhetorical before you answer.

    But I would ask if they would reject a post-transition women who doesn’t pass or pass enough for their standards? Or do they reject male-looking genetic women too? God knows there are some. How would they know the difference? While I’m glad you had a good time and note they do allow “passable” post-transition women, what does that say about them and maybe you? Does attending such an event mean you condone them, meaning the organizers, and the discrimination of non-passing post-transition women? Ok, again rhetorical, but it does smack of similar discrimination within the transcommunity about public acceptance. Aren’t you and the others just adding to it? And then writing how cool it was? And folks wonder why the angry from the transcommunity about this event and post-transition women who attend?

    Please note, these are questions not opinions. Personally I applaud you attending, for the fun and maybe change some hearts and minds(?), but I can’t necessary applaud being privately vocal and publically silent. How are they going to see the stupidity of their discrimination if you and others don’t speak out when you’re there? If you fear being expelled, so what? Is that such a high price for showing the fallacy of their discrimination? What would they have done had you spoken out on stage? And that would hurt you how? Take away the fun? And what of the hurt from the names and insinuations about you and all post-transition women?

    • jackrad

      I don’t think Alice ever said she was publicly silent about her trans status or her views on the intention. In fact, coming out as trans in workshops on the land is pretty public, as is writing an article about it on a hot new queer blog. Maybe I’m misunderstanding what you are saying. I would have to argue that Alice is someone who is not only doing everything right in terms of standing up for trans women in women’s spaces everywhere. She is setting a great example of being awesome and strong while taking action on something important she believes in (and I believe in too, incidentally) in a way that rejects militarism and rather focuses on building bridges.

      I also have to say that I really don’t totally understand what you are even talking about. I gather that you have kind-ish intentions in what you say, but it comes off as particularly offensive. Any woman who identifies as such IS 100% woman, and the idea of chopping women’s (or anyone else’s) bodies up into pieces that reduce them to not being a whole (or 100%) anything feels a little violent or, in the least, intrusive.

      I also think that the distinction of “physically and legally” post-transition trans women seems a little messy, as physical and legal transition are not only prohibitively expensive for a lot of people, but also extremely personal decisions that don’t make someone any more or less of a woman. The stuff you said about letting in women who have passing privilege verses those who don’t confuses me, as it’s a little unclear what you are saying or who you are talking about when you reference the trans community discriminating against someone. I would clarify, but I’m too confused to even successfully do that.

      • Scott Knowles

        If Alice came out in workshops great. I went by what she wrote. As for transition costs, yes it is prohibitively expensive for many and good reasons to get health insurance companies to include it (one small good note for Obama who agreed to change coverage for federal employees with their insurance).

        I use the term “post-transition” simply to distinguish between those who are in transition and those who have transitioned, and it is somewhat of a messy distinction as some legal papers are now changeable without the surgery but the change of birth certificate is still surgery based in the 48 states which allow it (last time I checked anyway). So messy it is, which is what I’m trying to avoid.

        As for the other remarks, one of the divisions within the transcommunity is the distinction between keeping or dropping the identifier of “trans” for post-transition women, which for the most part is still surgery (SRS) based, and that’s another argument who is “real” if they don’t have SRS. You’re right that most post-transition women drop the “trans” but the community often and the media always keeps it.

        What struck me was the idea the Michigan Festival may be opening doors for these women but it seems to be somewhat of an exclusive club, only those they think are not obviously “trans”. The rest don’t get in. And is that what Alice is also saying but not, she joined the club? I’m not completely against it because change often comes from inside, as she noted there were other women like her. But in doing so are they perpetuating their standard of a transwoman?

        Are Alice and others who transition and go through life with little, if any, worry about their past unless they disclose it or are outed, adding to the division for many who aren’t as lucky to be passable, or aren’t as fortunate to have the financial resources to complete their transition? Is that ease of publically being women adding to the division within the community when all can’t be like her and others?

        I won’t argue Alice, like others, are good examples for mainstream America and Americans to see post-transition women, but it often adds to the problems of those transwomen less fortunate being defined as something other than women because they don’t or can’t meet the standard. She doesn’t have to keep explaining herself the way the others have to explain they’re the same, only different looking. It’s the social/public appearance and acceptance issue.

        I’m only thinking out loud here to wonder.

        • jackrad

          huh? i NEVER said that “most post-transition women drop the ‘trans'” and I would never make any sort of generalization about that. While I’m sure that might be true for a few select individuals, it is not true for anyone I know. I am not a trans woman, but I am a trans man, and while there are some huge distinctions there, being trans isn’t one of those things that once you have “completed” transition, you can suddenly forget about being trans. I also really don’t like how you’re suggesting that some people have “completed” transition and others haven’t. Transitioning is a long process/journey and is different for every person. It is none of anyone’s business whether someone has “completed” transition and “completing” transition looks different to different people, but a person doesn’t suddenly become more whole upon “completing” transition and is no less whole during transition, as you imply.

          Alice CLEARLY stated in her article that she was open about being trans at Fest. It feels like you got some impression that Alice is some deep stealth trans woman who went to fest, never mentioned that she was trans, maybe even put on a WBW button or a red armband and then came home to write about how fest is messed up to trans women–NOTHING in her article indicates that this was the case, she clearly states that she wore were TWBH button, was relatively open about being trans and had fun at fest but took every opportunity she could to stand up for trans women’s inclusion on the land, and also that she spent the entire week before fest at Camp Trans. I’m not sure what else she could have done to be the very model of a trans women’s inclusion supporter.

          Alice may be an example to “mainstream America” as you say, but I in no way consider myself to be part of “mainstream America.” I have been actively involved in fighting for trans women’s inclusion at Michfest as an ally since 2005 and was a Camp Trans organizer for 3 years, so it’s not like I’m new to the issue, and I view Alice as someone who is pretty rad and did an awesome job this year (and in years past) to build a culture of trans women’s inclusion on the land. Whether or not she has more passing privilege than other women is not really the point, everyone has some sort of privilege and it’s what a person does with it that counts. I don’t think you get to judge her for how hard she has it and don’t really think that’s productive anyway.

          As for Fest, they do not (or at least are not supposed to based on their own rules) deny women entrance for not looking enough like the “right” kind of woman. Their policy for trans women’s attendance for a long time was sort of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” A few years ago, they changed things a little to say that there was no policy, but there was an “intention” that trans women were not welcome there and that trans women are basically supposed to police themselves out of the space. The women selling tickets have been instructed to sell trans women tickets. Many trans women who support inclusion say, “I’m a trans woman and I would like to buy a ticket to fest” when they purchase their tickets as another way to make the whole issue visible. At least as far back as 2006, trans women have been successful openly purchasing tickets like this.

          I don’t think any of us are arguing that trans women with passing privilege should be allowed to go to fest and be completely stealth. Not because women shouldn’t be allowed to do that, but because they already do and have for as long as fest has been happening. The goal here is that women shouldn’t have to hide or lie or edit their histories in order to attend and be WELCOME at fest.

          • Scott Knowles

            Ok, I never said you dropped the “trans”, but the majority post-transition women do, walk away from the community, live stealth and become part of “mainstream” America, which we all are part of it in our own way. I know several, have met some and have read from others who have long since left the community and identity if they ever were a part or identified as trans.

            And yes, Alice was out at the festival, but no more than other women, and she outed herself in private. And yes other post-transition women have been to the festival without disclosing anything, except later in blogs or journals. And it would be fair to ask if all “trans” women out themselves? Probably not.

            All that said, I think we’re agreeing to see she did a good thing, especially consider the difficulty for herself to go and be vocal. No one disputes that, or at least to me no one. I was only making observation based on her post and other posts (yes, I have read them and commented elsewhere). To disagree with someone’s view or words doesn’t mean you disagree with them, only what they said. Alice has accomplished a lot for herself and others, but it is still just her voice and not the voice of others.

            Thanks for the discussion and take care.

            • Tom Léger

              “the majority post-transition women do, walk away from the community, live stealth and become part of “mainstream” America”

              Scott, that may or may not be true but I’m certain you don’t have the background or statistical data to make this assumption. Careful what you say on a website full of trans people who know more about it than you. I’m sure you had good intentions, but it’s just not a great way to make allies.

              • Scott Knowles

                Assuming a “normal” man or woman can’t know or understand? What? Like people? And all trans people are smarter than non-transpeople on trans issues? I think some professionals (educators, therapists, counselors, researchers, journalist, professors, etal.) might take issue with you for their work, studies, reports, Websites, etc., all of which are available to everybody.

                As for the numbers, it’s easy to crunch the number of SRS being done nationally and those going overseas to see the number of visible and vocal transpeople versus the number live realtively stealth to see there is a great mismatch. Also, I have friends in or from (left) the community, some for decades, who have said as much. And that doesn’t begin to include the mismatch of the number who haven’t had or don’t want SRS and live out or stealth (except for friends or work).

                Being an ally for transpeople doesn’t mean I have to always agree with them on all issues, as I have long found some to be somewhat myopic about trans people and issues in the larger public arena. Last I heard we’re all Americans and while discrimination is prevalent, it doesn’t take away anyone’s identity as an equal citizen in this country. At least not to me.

                As for people, be careful what you assume without knowledge.

                • jackrad

                  “And all trans people are smarter than non-transpeople on trans issues?”
                  –this is exactly what I have been trying to say, I’m glad you were able to pick up on this. I don’t really care if scientists who make it their business to “study” trans people take offense to that. I kind of take offense to your implication that trans people are less “smart” about our own experiences and community than some random creepy professional who decides to study us.

                  Also, um, last I heard, the people who read this blog are not all American, btw.

                • Tom Léger



                  Scott, I don’t know how you found PQ, but I hope you stick around because you have a lot to learn.

                  Have fun in America,

                  • Scott Knowles

                    Not from the reaction and tone. I already know enough for myself, don’t ask questions and don’t disagree. And to borrow Snagglepuss’ line, “Exit, stage left.”

                • Valerie Keefe

                  The incidence of vaginoplasty is not remotely close to the incidence of social transition.

                  People like to focus on surgery because it can be considered an event, but transition is never really ‘done.’

            • jay

              you are attempting to blame trans people for cissexism.

            • jackrad

              are you a troll or something? cause you seem to be reading stuff into the things I write and the stuff that Alice wrote that is simply not there.

              I never said that I hadn’t stopped identifying as trans post transition (although that assumption is actually correct), and I don’t think the fact that you have met a couple trans women in your life who happened to have left the trans community does not make you any kind of authority on anything to do with the trans community.

              I really resent that you keep making assumptions about Alice’s experiences on the land and how out she was, especially considering I’m pretty sure you don’t know her. Cause if you did, you probably would not be questioning her commitment to trans women’s inclusion. I’m also not sure how much more publicly someone could be out than in a workshop unless they are privileged to be one of the performers and have access to a microphone on stage.

              the whole tone of what you are saying bothers me and feels like you are attacking trans women who are doing a lot to carve out a place for out trans women in women’s communities for not doing enough–what have you done? who are you even? no offense, but if the answer is that you are no one and have done nothing to actively support trans women’s inclusion in women only spaces, then maybe you don’t get to criticize people who are out there being vulnerable and taking risks to fight for trans women’s inclusion.

              • Scott Knowles

                You don’t know what I have done or what I know from the transpeople I know and the resources available to me to understand people and myself, so don’t make assumptions about me. I didn’t make assumptions about you, and I don’t owe you or anyone here an explanation. I didn’t make any assumptions about Alice, I only asked questions of her about her essay. So can we calm down and focus on what she wrote?

                • BlaydenWaydonLeydon

                  Actually, making assumptions is all you have done on this page, Scott. Along with others, I am here to tell you that.

                  Now please: stop, look, listen. And most importantly, learn from us. You’re well out of your league on knowledge of trans people. Don’t voluntarily walk yourself into a hole out of which you can’t climb free.

  33. Kelsey

    Wow, it’s like the WBW people at Mitchfest haven’t heard the news that women can rape each other! That trans woman = man = rape stuff is just the rationalization for irrational bigotry.

  34. Gemma Seymour

    Just to let you know, Alice, Tobi, Annie, June, and myself are all targets of a disinformation, slander, and harassment campaign, started by GallusMag at Gendertrender in the wake of this fine article.

    Go read the article yourself, as well as the comments, if you want to get a eyeful of the actual behavior of the Trans Exterminationist Radical Feminists.

    I find it rather hilariously hypocritical that so much of the TERF discourse seems to center on boundary policing, yet there are images being used in this article that GallusMag has clearly not been granted permission to use. For one, I never gave permission to have my personal intellectual property used there, I suspect that OUT!Wear, having publicly apologized for their insensitivity to the entire LGBT community and repudiated the WBW lunatics, would want their images associated with that policy. I pointed out the latter to GallusMag, but she put that comment, among many others of mine, in the circular file, despite having actually published many of my comments.

    Apparently, to the TERFs, civil discourse amounts to “pissing all over my blog”…

  35. Jenny

    Hi there,

    An interesting article about an event which I know has been a great source of pain to many trans-women over the years. I’m a (British) trans-woman myself, having transitioned some 15 years ago, so I understand the feeling of rejection that a WBW policy can engender.

    However, I do believe that we have to be careful here. We’ve spent a lot of our lives not being counted, being invisible, perhaps feeling like we’re a little freakish or unnacceptable to the ‘straight (or even the feminist) world. Then we finally become ourselves and – even after years in the new identity – the scars remain.

    I think we need to step back a little. As trans-women we want respect. We inevitably have a great need for acceptance and the most effective way of getting this in my experience, is to show respect and acceptance to the views of others.

    This can be painful of course and can bring back those feelings of rejection that are so very near to the surface. However, hate is never conquered by hate. Hate is only conquered by love. If we give respect to each others views and positions – even when they appear to be unreasonable – then usually and in time, something magical happens.

    I ran a feminist bookshop for quite a while (Libertas! in the UK) and I strived hard to be accepting of all views, however hard that was. I strived hard to give something to the women’s community, to earn the right to be accepted as part of it. To understand how different it must be to grow up as a woman rather than a man. I tried hard to understand why some women feel vulnerable and how men have forever tried to keep women down. It was hard sometimes and quite often I had to bite my tongue.

    But you know what? Eventually I was invited into WBW space. Eventually the relatively small amount of rejection evaporated. And even if I hadn’t been. I would have been okay with that.

    We all have a right to views. We all have a right to our own space and that includes WBW. Some people may express this badly. Some people may be insensitive. But if some born women want their own space then we should respect that. What’s more, we should respect our own heritage.

    As trans-women, we are very special people with very special pasts. We should celebrate that fact with our sisters (whatever their birth gender) and try to live together in peace, acceptance and harmony.

    With love for all women,
    Jenny Roberts
    York UK

  36. Kadie Campbell

    Why can’t MWMF be left to the creators? Create your own space, for cryin’ out loud! (I read the article, the comments and the counter-argument.) Why is “campTRANS” not enough? It is up to the citizens to create the culture. Create yours and be happy with it, respect the other cultures and enjoy when the two (or more) cooperate. Please, focus creation and cooperation instead of co-opting.

    • Valerie Keefe

      Because cis separatism makes about as much sense as white separatism, that’s why…

      Also the misleading advertising… tell you what: I’ll stop raggin’ on fest if you and yours call it a “fest for all cis womyn because we our acceptance of trans womyn as womyn is conditional and we can’t be bothered.”

      Under what possible metric are you oppressed by trans womyn who want nothing more than to celebrate their sisterhood with other womyn.

      • Valerie Keefe

        Weird… one short unlinked comment is up for moderation and one isn’t… is it because I spell women with a y the first time?

        • Valerie Keefe

          Yep… that’s my guess… anyway, a better correlation with transmisogyny is if trans woman is spelled without a space bar.

    • Valerie Keefe

      Also because some lesbian separatists don’t want to go to a place where there are men, cis or trans… and if you don’t believe that transspace can and does rapidly become transbrospace you should see the latest article on PQ.

    • Danielle Macdonell

      SM women didn’t accept the Mich Purity Fest, I’m not going to either.
      How can you ask “Why is “campTRANS” not enough?”, do the words “separate but equal” mean anything to you?
      Are there any other groups of women you’re too good to hang with?
      Please focus on how you can work with all your sisters,
      would be a great place to start.

  37. susan maasch

    great article Alice ( Hi) excellent. I am dumbfounded ,really? really? a freakin woman is a freakin woman, what terrible disrespect the bigots have for a persons personal and or medical journey, I would be interested to know what percentage of WBW are say …. 40 and over? Because typically , younger queer woman do not harbor this kind of bigotry and ignorance. After all the oppression in queer history,it amazes me that there are queer woman( and men) that would try to oppress or hate trans woman. Really?

  38. cis sis


    Thank you so much for this.

    It is hard for me, as a cisgendered person, to attend MichFest and see all the WBW trans hate, so I can only imagine how much courage it takes to face that as a trans woman.

    It also takes courage to love MichFest, and to speak out about what is so special and unique about it, despite its contradictory hateful message to trans women. Again, thank you!

    I have been a worker and a general attendee for ten years. I have desperately wished the organizers would recognize their bigotry and make a public statement that ALL women are welcome. I have worn a yellow arm band, a Trans Women Welcome Here badge, a Camp Trans shirt… I have facilitated workshops about transformative dialogue and trans allies…I have brought my frustration up in workers meetings and in letters to lisa vogel…

    And I feel it important to note here, particularly for you to know, Alice, that I have never felt silenced or threatened for my support for trans inclusion.

    I’m saying this because it really doesn’t take that much courage for many of us cisgendered women to wear TWBH shirts. Our presence is not threatened – we do not walk in fear of being kicked out if we say or do the wrong thing at the wrong time.

    I met a trans woman this year whose fear was palpable. She was trying to enjoy herself but was walking with perpetual anxiety about getting found out, kicked out, outed in her home community….. The best thing I get from MichFest is a profound sense of freedom that I never before knew was possible. I imagine how much sweeter that freedom would feel if I knew it could be experienced by all women.

    I constantly feel conflicted about attending MichFest. This year, though, I saw that although MichFest is a “private event”, and was started by a particular group of people, it is a historical landmark – the land on which a crucial fight is playing out … a fight I am ready to put my weight behind. I know that there are many other queer and women’s spaces that feel and are trans inclusive. But I have not been anywhere else where I have experienced the kind of intergenerational queer women’s space I find at MichFest.

    The whole debate, for me, always comes down to, Will the Festival evolve or will it die?

    It’s a tricky ethical dilemma to decide whether to attend the festival and help change it, or to boycott it and let it go…. Personally, I choose to be part of transforming this space, rich in women’s history, wisdom, and ripe in all its contradictions (Everything is a controversy – from how children are organized to BDSM to accessibility measures that require infringements on the natural environment…)

    Whatever your choice, I want to make the point to those who have not been to the festival that there is so much more to it than transphobia. Yes, it’s deeply troubling that a festival that is about women’s empowerment would try to exclude women based on a misogynistic definition of womanhood. Yet, ironically, the festival itself is perfectly poised to be an amazing, healing, empowering, community building place for trans women.

    I believe the festival is worthy of our continued activism, and I hope one day we will all feel safe and welcome to experience it.

  39. Doris

    Thank you very much for sharing. I came to your article by way of Reddit/r/feminisms. I am fairly socially aware, yet had no IDEA that cis-people (new word for me) faced this kind of treatment. I am floored, but happy for the exposure. The close-minded bigotry displayed by this situation reminds us that people really are the same, regardless of gender, color, orientation. Some will be thoughtful, aware and working towards personal growth, and others will be stubborn and ignorant, refusing to learn even from their own experiences, and it has NOTHING to do with any of our inborn features. That is both encouraging and sigh-inducing.

    I’m glad you managed to have a good time anyway. I’m a straight XX female, in case that means anything. This is a new topic for me, but I think it’s worth noting that most people, even most traditionally progressive (if that makes sense) people, would be on the cis-side on this one. Those WBW sound like they hold some really assholeish ideas.

    • Doris

      Correction: Second line should read trans-people, not cis-people.

    • Valerie Keefe

      It’s interesting to meet someone who has had their karyotype done… I was coercively assigned male at birth, but I have no idea what chromosomal makeup I have… given the right odds I’d place a bet with positive expectation, but I don’t know.

  40. Barbara

    This was interesting – especially all of the comments. I’ll be honest: I haven’t always been a good ally. I’ve considered myself a trans ally for years – since a good friend of mine came out to me as trans and I went through the transition process with him. The “women with a y” world isn’t any more friendly to FTMs than MTFs.

    I’ve been outspoken in my real life, written about it in various lesbian publications (such as Lesbian Connection, which I can’t bring myself to read anymore). I don’t tell you all that to pat myself on the back or to convince you that I am, in fact, an ally. I tell you that because even though I’m *aware*, even though I feel strongly that as a community we need to strongly support transpeople, I still have found myself struggling with how to respond to transphobia and even, I’m sorry to say, with how I think about things like this WBW policy. I hear people say things like, “Well, I’m okay with post-op transwomen but I’m not sure what I think about pre-op & I don’t want to deal with seeing a penis in the shower.” THAT’S the one thing that I think “Well, yeah. I can understand that.” It doesn’t excuse us, it doesn’t give us license to keep transwomen out, but I can at least understand the concern.

    I came out as lesbian 24 years ago and the world was a different place then, so I get that it’s hard to come out as trans. I applaud Alice for doing it, even though it was difficult and could have led to her being asked to leave MichFest. I came out not only lesbian, but high femme, in a time and place that viewed me as suspect and not “really” a lesbian. That’s why it’s so surprising to me that even *I* can fall to transphobia.

    I don’t know the solution but other than people like Alice bringing things to our attention so we can have the conversations that will bring us all to a better place.

  41. Chungyen Chang

    I just wanted to say thank you for your courage and for writing this. As someone who is new to calling themselves a transwoman, this helps a lot.

  42. Keltik

    The reason that we have a problem with the WBW rule is that it’s transmisogynistic. It implys that trans women are not ‘real women’. It says that only certain womens’ experiences are valid, that the sexim and misogyny faced by cis women cannot also by experienced by trans women, because theyre really just men. So to allow this segregation in a ‘private event’ (private my arse, it’s a fucking public event, you sell tickets, it’s fucking public), is to say that we condone this bigotry. Women can be misogynistic too. Trans womens’ experiences are valid too. The WBW rule is not ok.

  43. Monika

    Alice, thank you for your article. It brought tears to my eyes. How some cis women can be so essentialist about gender astounds me. I ended up reading comments on the festivals forum and just had to stop. One cis woman asks trans women essentially to talk about how they responded to their periods etc in girlhood as is this is what defines being a girl or woman. What defined, for me, my girlhood as a cis woman is that I learned I was a second class citizen through gender boxes. My guess is that this may be similar to the experiences of trans women.

    Thank you to posters, etc for also showing the problem with writing trans woman as all one word. This is a practice I will stop.

    This whole website in fact is filled with amazing stories.

    • Valerie Keefe

      Monika, if it gives you any solace, a friend of mine showed me the same link… which, of course, irritated me into a reply.

      You’re not alone, here or there… though there is not as good for the blood pressure.

  44. C

    I am a cisgender queer woman and it annoys the crap out of me that this festival is so ridiculously transphobic. It’s lgbT people! Seriously.

  45. S

    Methinks you miss the point.
    Before I say more I will say that I have a number of trans folk as friends, esp currently. Some, would not fit into the “trans” definition of the past as they have not and probably will not, finish transition.

    If, you had been born a female, you might understand what is going on here. There really is no place for women born women and maybe…there still isn’t for het women, to just be with folks who grew up with the same culture. Variations true…but for genetic females, our bodies create a lot of our life experiences. Trans folk come into the gender fully as adults. Yes, some have been raised as the gender they identify with…but males do not go through obvious monthly cycles, when they go through puberty most of the personal changes the body takes on do not show up obviously through their clothing and get the attention of the “opposite” sex. (I don’t believe in “opposite”s of gender)

    I have yet to go to Michfest. I am a female that has been mostly in male dominated jobs and environments for the majority of my life…and I was raised at a time very different than the one you were raised in. When you think of being a woman…it is in your day…and your day is not the one the majority of women (still at this time on the planet) have been raised in. Look at census numbers sometime.

    You wish to be a woman, so badly that you took major steps to be one. I have fought for women like you to be accepted and treated like the rest of us. I figure after all you did to get here, you deserve that.

    Just the same. I would like a place I can go where ALL THE WOMEN there were born women….for a change. No one playing games. So many places women are shut out of, called private clubs and such…still to this day. Could there be some respect when we ask for one place that is ours?

    Yes, I know, you consider yourself just as much a woman as those born to it.

    But basically, you wish to be accepted by a group that you evidently have not bothered to understand or empathize with and you are doing so in the manner typically done by men to women when women tell them “no”. You are asking to get respect that you are not giving.

    You are being part of the problem.

    If you wish acceptance from a group you wish to belong to you don’t crash the gates. No one is keeping you from a job, health care, support for your child, equal rights and protection under the law in the rest of your life. These women you are fighting, many of them are the ones that have fought for your rights to be who you are now, to live the way you live now sans discrimination where it most counts. To make sure there are laws there to protect your life and livelihood.

    Can you give them time? Is that asking too much? Really? Can you not give women born women even one place to share together? Not even one?

    What I would like to see….is some transition time….and some transition ways of entering instead of crashing the party. Come in honestly and invited. Work with women born women, outside of this gathering, to create together ways that work for them as well as you…(instead of you having no regard for their feelings and basically acting like you have more rights to be there than they do to tell you “no” not that you consciously have looked at it this way.)

    An example here…analogy. I do some healing works. I met a gal who had been hurt by folks doing body work on her who would not let up pressure when she said it was too much. Her trust of ANYONE working on her had been compromised by this. What was needed was having her limits/boundaries honored…FIRST. Which I did. Rebuild trust, and the body invites one.

    You wish to enter the body of Michfest….and plenty women there have had their trust violated, not just by individuals, but by society.

    It would be nice if you honored their boundaries FIRST, and if the transcommunity would work together to rebuild trust, and that is by listening and waiting and thinking about the folks who were women by birth, not choice….and considering how they feel….because that is life you say you have chosen to join….that club…the club women.

    You have seen with your own eyes that you have advocates. You are a young woman…only 4. You have some time to learn, about you, about us….and let us learn about you too. But don’t cram it down our throats…we have had enough of that.

    As far as pedophiles….yes,….there are some men that do that. I seriously doubt they would change gender to do that……so I think someone was really reaching for something they thought would be honored. The fear was probably real. Hear what is.

    Women know what it feels like to be shut out. Trust me…they know well what you are feeling here. They know what it feels like to be qualified or more qualified for a job, situation, etc…and not get it, because of their body. Not be allowed in a club or meeting…because of their body.

    Think of this situation as a means of empathizing and understanding what their reality has been.

    Every group for women I have ever been around…takes care of EVERYONE ELSE FIRST. There are none I know of, that take care of women only. Women are not that type of priority for groups of non-women, that I know of or have seen.
    We need somewhere where we are first. This is that place.
    Protect it, the sooner you do, the sooner you will be here too, by invitation.

    • susan maasch

      @S March 7 post: you are angry,confused, and afraid of change and forward thinking. What we think when we are young and confused should then be followed by learning and deep thought and new thought and understanding. And, really it is clear that besides being ignorant about trans women, who are woman every bit as much as you are, you must be one of those people who have no regard for others human and civil rights. That makes you are a bigot. (and this view only reflects the views of other bigots at this festival. Let the kinder people who do care about ALL woman enjoy their all woman space and you can stay home!)

    • Keltik

      Well shit, there is so much wrong with this it’s fucking laughable not to mention tl;dr. Thank fuck you have trans friends that makes you an authority on cisplaining, they must be so proud of you.

    • Savannah Garmon

      “No one is keeping you from a job, health care, support for your child, equal rights and protection under the law in the rest of your life.”

      Uhhhhh yeah… lots of trans women have been kept exactly from ALL of those things you mentioned, and sometimes that has been accomplished using variations of the tired, regurgitated argument you made above.

      • S

        You took that out of context…we are talking about MichFest and at Michfest you have the women who have been fighting for those rights for all, including Transfolk.

        Being denied entrance to Michfest is not keeping transfolk from support for their child, etc etc etc. It is ONE event.

        You act like all women in all events everywhere are shutting you out because they want some events for genetic women only.

        • BlaydenWaydonLeydon

          What itaf is a “genetic woman”?

          Drink the purple kool-aid, lie down, and take a nice, little nap. It’s got nutrients of the earth, you know, and you’ll feel so good and you’ll be amongst kindred spirits to share in your little nap. Jones Vogel will show you the way.

        • Savannah Garmon

          On re-reading that part of your comment, it’s possible that I did read that sentence out of context. Nevertheless, the fact that you included that sentence without a second thought, without realizing how bizarre it sounds to a trans woman’s ears demonstrates the fact that it is YOU who is not listening.

          You want me to believe that the same festival that institutionally accepts the fact that one person could accuse me of being a pedophile while everyone else just nods their heads “yeah, that is one valid perspective of who trans women might be,” is on my side despite this policy? You say the women at this festival have fought for my rights? How could you possibly fight for my rights as a woman at the same time that you deny my womanhood?? It’s non-sensical.

          If anyone at that festival has fought for the rights of trans women, I’m fairly certain it would be the women who oppose that policy in any case. That having been said, trust me when I say I have absolutely no desire to attend any festival that maintains a policy that is explicitly ambiguous about my womanhood, not to mention implicitly ambiguous about my humanity.

          • S

            I find it interesting that you did not print…or deleted, I know not which, my response to you.

            I had questions in there that I really would like to have you and others respond to.

            I thought this was a place for discussion, hearing out different viewpoints and experiences and some of the reasons folks feel the way they do.

            Maybe I was wrong. It is why I came here though.

            Whether you print it or not…is up to you, of course.
            I do appreciate hearing your experiences and opinions on these things and I have learned a lot from stopping by.

            Best of luck to all of you,

            Thank you, S

            • S

              Ooops…now I see it…that is odd. My apologies.

            • Valerie Keefe

              To be sure, check out the comment policy at radfemhub and see how much of an anti-cissexist, pan-woman open discussion forum that is compared to here. Even if the occasional comment were censored for the spewing of the hate it would do better than a place that doesn’t acknowledge that women like me and many other women here exist.

              One side wants a complete and inclusive lesbian community. The other wants to go on pretending a large portion of that community doesn’t exist.

        • Valerie Keefe

          I have genetics, I’m a woman, and they may well have played a role in the development of my neurology… your nomenclature is baseless.

        • STEGGY

          god stop saying “transfolk” it is rapidly becoming the most annoying word in the universe

    • BlaydenWaydonLeydon

      A love letter to all CAMAB women who just had to read this tl;dr comment above:

      Today is International Women’s Day 2012, and this is our day as CAMAB women as it is a day for all CAFAB women, too. We join and are joined together to face down oppression against our very many and varied existences.

      As women, we know the same social, institutional, and legal harm. We know that men, misogyny, and kyriarchy place us where they want to, and sometimes that means violence against our community, our bodies, our hearts, our minds, and our spirits.

      CAMAB women, you are powerful from within.

      CAMAB women, you signify the vanguard in agency over one’s own body. What you affirm when you manage its morphology on your own terms works toward making all women have the same affirmation over their bodies without fear of it being pontificated, policed, or penalized by others — that the means to speak for what works best for your survival as a woman is not to be criminalized, sanctioned, or judged under any circumstance.

      CAMAB women, you are fighting for equity in its most plain meaning because no one is going to give it to you (and certainly not at a love-disguised, trans execratory rally hidden up in the Midwest American woods).

      CAMAB women, you are speaking to the autonomy over self, over being, and over personhood for all as a beautiful paean to social justice. Your resistance to control by others over you shines a beacon that not only are all people valid, but that all women are valid — that while feminism is the crazy notion that women are people, trans feminism is the crazy notion that women come in different containers.

      CAMAB women, your tireless work of surviving, stabilizing, and trying to heal the hurt helps to improve the safety of all women — that those who will try to hurt us as women will begin to leave us be and respect the space we carve for ourselves as some women may indeed know skills, drilled into them under repression, which can defend every woman (and will make every man think twice before hurting another woman ever again).

      CAMAB women, you are the kind face of dignity — before the face of misogyny generally and, because that isn’t enough, trans misogyny specifically (even sometimes from other CAFAB and CAMAB women). Because the root of all misogyny is a revulsion of the feminine on a body and in how one articulates that in this social world — both the masculine femininities as well as the feminine femininities (and all others throughout) on both the CAFAB bodies as well as the CAMAB ones, too.

      CAMAB women, we are few and we have long been held away from one another by misogynist gatekeeping men and trans misogynist women alike. CAMAB women, we are few but we are surviving. CAMAB women, we may sometimes be shy but we are reaching out. CAMAB women, we may be abused, but we now strive to heal. CAMAB women, we are forcibly made to be alone, but we have the courage to begin to stand together. CAMAB women, we bring each other strength when we listen to and honour one another’s narratives. CAMAB women, we build respect for ourselves and for one another when we mobilize together.

      CAMAB women, this trans revolution will not be streamed. CAMAB women, we are no less valid than anyone else. CAMAB women, we are trans enough and we are women enough.

      This International Women’s Day, CAMAB women, is for you, because you are an unqualified woman, full-stop. No one will ever — ever — be able to rob that from you, try whatever abuses (even the sweet-laced ones in a purple drank) they may force onto you without your consent. The days of those abuses must now end. NOW. As women, let’s help make that happen.

      • Valerie Keefe

        I’d really like whoever downvoted you to explain why, but we know who, and we know why, and their hate and fear seems very small now.

  46. Julie Blair

    I’m closing comments on this article. The next season of “emotional meat-grinding” is almost upon us, so there’s no need to continue discussing this issue on an article concerning last year’s events. The thread has simply become too long to moderate.

    If you’re a trans woman with something new to add to the discussion surrounding MichFest I encourage you to write an article for us or another blog.

    If you’re a tireless MichFest right-to-exclude sympathizer / supporter / crony I suggest you do whatever it is you do when you’re not out trolling fun-to-read, warmly written recounts of trans women’s summer vacations.

  47. Lucian from Schmekel

    You said, “Supporting separate space for female identifies at birth women does not = anti trans. Anymore than Women of color spaces = anti white.”

    This analogy doesn’t make sense. Women of color are an oppressed and marginalized group, while white people are not. Both people assigned female at birth (who still identify as female) and trans women are oppressed and marginalized groups.

    Are you comfortable with “white-only” spaces? I know I’m not. That’s because white people hold privilege and power in the larger society compared with people who are not white. Similarly, non-trans people hold privilege and power in the larger society compared with trans people. That is the reason why excluding people from a group based upon their trans status is a marginalizing and unethical practice.

  48. BlaydenWaydonLeydon

    >You can scream till the cows come home ” I am woman” But the fact is, that to grow up in this society as female, means that you are treated and groomed a certain way. . It is not someone that you experience if you were raised male in this world.

    You can’t be “raised” male or female in this world. This is, as you’d put it, a fact. These are sexes. Our brains have a sex, and it’s fixed for life. This is a fact. Our bodies have a sex, and this isn’t fixed for life, though many people leave things as-is. This too is a fact. People socially place us where they see we “fit.” And yes, this is a fact. Some “boys” get placed as girls and are punished for not being more like boys. Some “girls” get placed as boys and are also punished. Sometimes this punishment is sometimes physical, sometimes emotional, and sometimes sexual — but always violent and non-consensual.

    Perhaps you meant that people are raised masculine or feminine? True. All people are also placed by others on how that person is read or named. Trans people know this acutely well. We intimately know something deep and ugly which cis people do not: it is cis people who tell everyone where we as people do and don’t belong. We have all known this since before the age when we could talk. Cis people growing up get this, too, but when they fit in, they are tacitly rewarded by other cis people for following their script just right.

    Your words, Susan, are spoken as someone who remains imprisoned by the very patriarchy they purport to resent and resist. And yet you uphold it by clinging to the same essentialist, imprisoning tenets which still gives rise to all women being suppressed and held down (and apart) against our will by an social institution cultivated by cis men.

    That’s sad, sure, but what’s more sad (and what I take away with me after these lobbing rhetorics matches) is just how unaware you are to the very power system you’re upholding while genuinely believing you’re actually tearing it down in a space called “The Land”. The thing is, one by one, womyn of all backgrounds are starting to see through the smoke and tail-wagging and coming to their own understanding of what’s really been going on for decades in feminist discourses.

    Like the old segregationists from the American South, cis separatists continue to geographically isolate themselves further and further to the point where the rest of womyn — queer and straight, cis and trans — will want less and less to do with your conditional sense of false togetherness based on a social construct invented, mastered, and perfected by, well, cis men. It was cis men who, when we were young, put us women (cis like you and trans like me both) — and many trans men — into places which we weren’t allowed to say for ourselves “no, I don’t want that” or “I want to do what I want and follow my dreams and hopes.” Cis men, under their regime of misogyny, constructed your placement as a cis woman and then placed you there. They constructed our placement as trans women and men and placed us below cis women.

    What reactionary separatists do on “The Land” is ape, move by move, the very misogyny that cis men forcibly taught each and every one of us. This aping forces a placement for trans women (and men) the way cis men placed you: it’s that they decide, they move goalposts, and they “grant” social approval as they see fit.

    I question (without expecting an answer) whether you really know why one is female, or how one’s experiences are shaped and gendered into becoming socialized as a woman within a patriarchal social order. It’s not genes. It’s not gonads. It’s certainly not tits and vag (though, of course, this can help when your brain is female). It’s that cis men place women. Cis men place femininity. They place cis women and they place trans women. They’d try to place more trans men, too (if only they could find them). That’s misogyny. When cis womyn at cordoned off geographical bacchanal place trans womyn and trans men, that’s also misogyny.

    The massa’s tools work great, don’t they?

  49. Lucian from Schmekel

  50. jackrad

    who the hell are you?

    sorry for the language, but that’s bullshit. i’m not even sure where to begin in addressing the stuff you said, because basically every sentence of your super long comment offends the sensibilities that i hold most dear.

    i don’t think any trans women need to be sat down and explained feminisim any more than some cis women do. some people get feminism from their earliest memories and some people learn it through later life experience–i’m not sure this is any different for trans women than it is for cis women, though most trans women i know found feminism way earlier than most cis women I know. apparently you are one of those women who could use to have someone sit you down and have that conversation, though.

    i don’t know why on earth you seem to think that some lesbians get to grant or deny membership in the “lesbian community” to other lesbians–i’m not a lesbian, but shouldn’t someone have the right to an equal voice and presence in the lesbian community just by virtue of being a lesbian? it’s not a gift. it just is. although the types of lesbian communities that police membership of self-identified lesbians sound pretty dumb to me anyway.

    it is hard for me not to pick apart every offensive and ignorant thing you said, but everything you said is basically the same hateful stuff i shouldn’t feel horribly surprised to hear (though never fail to have strong negative emotional reactions to) and has been said before. trans women are not men. men are men. i don’t have the lived experience of what it feels like to grow up as a young trans woman, so i couldn’t tell you how it feels, but i do know with certainty that a group of one million women would be able to tell you one million different stories of their childhoods, so i’m not sure why someone would set aside trans women’s childhoods as being a special kind of different that makes them not count.

    also, do people really still say “sex change operation?”

    anyway, maybe you want to self-identify as an “ex-man,” and good for you, i guess, if that’s what makes you feel validated, but i don’t know a single person in real life who would consensually identify that way and also don’t know a single person who wouldn’t take major offense to being labeled as such by others (except you, i guess, but i don’t know you irl), so i really wish you wouldn’t call my friends that.


  51. jackrad

    Um, Alice is not and was not a “man”.

    women have all different kinds of bodies. i thought you “womyn” with a “y” types were supposed to be all about that fact. how come you suddenly abandon the sentiment that women should love and accept their bodies so quickly when the woman involved is trans and instead turn around and try and tell her she should be silent about her body in the least but even more, she should view her body as some sort of weapon that they should hide and be ashamed of?

    and yeah, a woman talking about her body in a sexual way during a workshop about women’s sexual experiences in their bodies is NOT the same as rape, as you felt the need to point out, even though i think it’s clear to most people that, really, the only thing that is the same as rape is rape, so i’m not sure why you felt the need to make that comparison.

  52. Jay

    It’s hard for me to understand how people who get that gender essentialism is wrong don’t understand how body essentialism is wrong.
    As a survivor, I feel I need to point out that people who didn’t assault me did not cause and should not have my triggers used to police how they can and can’t talk about my body. Only the person who assaulted me should suffer.
    Besides the attempted elision of how many trans women are also survivors, and hardly ever seem to get to have their triggers even acknowledged.

  53. Alice Kalafarski

    Thank you for the clarification. I assumed that the “Wanted” campaign was supported by fest organizers since it was already set up on Monday and was in so many prominent locations. You’re totally right that being a butch woman is different from being a man -the butch trans women I know are great evidence of this. I question why Michfest of all places is where you feel this point needs to be emphasized. After all, you don’t need to look at a poster to see gender non-conforming women when you’re on the Land, and everyone there is implicitly identifying themselves as a woman. I have no problem with celebrating butches, but I believe there are already lots of ways to do so (like the Butch March) that don’t have any undercurrents of transphobia.

  54. BlaydenWaydonLeydon

    That is called misogynist policing, and that policing is coming from no one else other than cis womyn like yourself.

  55. Keltik

    This is a ridiculous statement, it’s the trans movement that has broken down the binary and given people the chance to identify themselves outside of the binary.

  56. sonia calles

    i’ve read similar stories from others at fest: vocalized suspicions – from both camps – about which group a particular womon belonged to.

    this year, some members of BOTH groups – WBW & TWBH – were aggressive and, at times, belligerent in their need to claim members from otherwise uninterested wimmin who were at fest to have a good time. it’s a failed tactic that alienated and annoyed.

  57. Jay

    “my body’ in that comment should read “their bodies”. Other corrections possibly necessary

  58. Jay

    You really have no idea. Nothing radical about chromosome essentialism.

  59. Keltik

    You can’t say the brain has one sex and that’s it. Some people feel they have one of the binary genders, some don’t, some are fluid, some are bi gendered, some feel they don’t have a gender. You need to be careful not to erase peoples’ identities.

  60. Keltik

    Dear Leslie, is this the same approach you take with cis women who have had a hysterectomy? What about cis men with erectile dysfunction? Or intersex people? Take your tired bullshit elsewhere, we’re not buying hatred here today.

  61. susan maasch

    you are angry,confused, and afraid of change and forward thinking. What we think when we are young and confused should then be followed by learning and deep thought and new thought and understanding. And, really it is clear that besides being ignorant about trans women, who are woman every bit as much as you are, you must be one of those people who have no regard for others human and civil rights. That makes you are a bigot. (and this view only reflects the views of other bigots at this festival. Let the kinder people who do care about ALL woman enjoy their all woman space and you can stay home!)

  62. Keltik

    Exactly, the insides are the same, regardless of the outside. A person who is a woman on the inside will always be a woman regardless of her body. If she chooses to alter her body for her own reasons, what the fuck is it any of your business?

  63. BlaydenWaydonLeydon

    This is particularly because so few people actually understand genetics, what they are, what they aren’t, and what their own genetic profile reveals. Genetic instruction code is given much more day-to-day street credibility by people unschooled in biology than it ever deserved. DNA is basically a user guide for cellular construction and how cells are to maintain and even destroy themselves. DNA does not prescribe identity or social meaning. People, however, do. Exclusionists like those at MichFest do. Paradoxically, ethnic cleansers do, too.

    It’s easier to sound “logical” by injecting presumptions of one’s “essence” — like pulling out “chromosomal sex” from the imaginary litmus kit and then, when that test fails to block all those undesired, switch kits to some other means to eliminate certain kinds of people who are somehow “essentially different” (often with many of the same, poorly read, poorly grasped “logics”).

    My participation in this discussion should probably reveal two disclosures: one, I don’t engage in these arguments with reactionary misogynistic feminists very often, because they are spiritual vampires when they attack other women, womyn, and womon using misogyny. Alice’s post was wonderfully insightful, heartfelt, and better composed than most might be if they too were being called “predators”, “rapists”, and “oppressors” to their face by other ignorant, yet wilfully hurtful people. That a gang of perpetually angry, reactionary cis people did not like this observational experience coming out into the open is mostly why I have stayed around to read and discuss this. This schism will continue no matter what anyone says here. It will take the further winnowing of an angry generation for us and our younger sisters (and allied brothers) to move forward.

    Two, the music and culture at a folk fest generally is not really what interests me, so my interest in this kind of discussion really goes back to a bigger question of how some people treat other people as lesser or fundamentally “other” than themselves — and *then* uses these prescriptive markers to shut out, exclude, suppress, oppress, hurt, and/or denigrate others. That’s a disgrace of humanity as it chips away and debases at all of us as people.

    Even in my most cynical of hearts I still have this naïvely higher hope for people to rise up and above this, so I’ll stick around for a little longer to read (and voluntarily participate in) this ongoing discussion. I don’t tend to drop pithy quotes very often, but this one brilliantly gets to the point of why I think why we’re here and having this tough talk: “Love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic.” Canadians already know this; for everyone else, this quote is attributed to, well, a man (oh no!), but a very good, humanistic person named Jack Layton.

  64. BlaydenWaydonLeydon

    Keltik, I don’t know whether this was directed at what I said last night to Susan or not, so my apology if this was unsolicited.

    I differentiate brain sex from gender, as gender is social, negotiable, a medium for communication, and not subject to being fixed. Brain sex, by available peer review accounts, does appear to be fixed and *not* necessarily the same sex as the body. The body is plastic and malleable. Brain structures, set in utero, are generally not. I don’t know whether this means there are only two brain sexes or not. For the sake of trans women and trans men who only know themselves as female and male, respectively, brain sex is what matters.

    I find that the gingerbread person model does a good job of breaking ourselves down into the four areas we should worry about for discussions like these.

  65. Keltik

    I forget who wrote the comment I was responding to, but we need to make an effort not to be erasing when talking about gender and gender identity when it comes to trans people. Even if the main discussion is about trans men or women. We can’t afford to exclude anyone.

  66. smc

    thanks for the link to the gingerbread person

  67. Valerie Keefe

    I think it does a pretty good job of essentializing trans people’s bodies as ‘really’ that of their assigned sex.

  68. BlaydenWaydonLeydon

    Keltik, I concur. No articulation of gender or sense of personhood is being erased by what I have been conveying.

  69. Leslie

    obviously everything that I or anyone else who disapproved of Alice’s foray into wonderland will be deleted.

    My only real reason for posting again is to ask you, Keltik, if you’d be willing to continue this conversation civilly off forum. I do want to learn how you think and where your opinions come from. I’d also like you to hopefully discover that I’m not the wicked trans-hating witch of the west.

    I hesitate to actually type out my email address here but if you’re willing, is there a way we can exchange email addies?

  70. Keltik

    Leslie, if you want to contact me, click my name, it’ll take you to my tumblr, you can find contact info there, or use the ‘ask’ function.

  71. BlaydenWaydonLeydon

    Leslie, perhaps you may show him otherwise, but pardon me if I am sceptical of your sincerity when you ask to “civilly” want to “continue this conversation” off forum.

    Even though moderated comments are pruned, those subscribing to the comments still get to read them. I just read yours addressed to me, from which I’ll pull the key bits. And then I’ll ask, how could keltik or anyone in good faith entrust you to behave civilly?

    >Another fallacy: The sex of one’s body cannot be changed, merely superficially altered to somewhat appear like a different sex. A neo-vagina will never lead to a cervix, uterus, Fallopian tubes, and ovaries and actually needs to be repeatedly dilated to prevent the body from trying to heal itself by closing up the unnatural surgically created cavity. A neo-phallus will never get erect on it’s own. It’s not possible to create functioning testicles. No surgery, medication, voice lessons, or “feminizing lessons” can change chromosomes. Someone who undergoes what is commonly referred to as SRS does not change sex and in fact is rendered sterile and medically dependent for life.

    Everything you have shared here is unqualified by contemporary scholarly research. Everything you shared here reads, word for word, like a misogynist cis man telling cis women what their bodies are and what they as women are not allowed to be; telling other cis men what they must be (and punishing them when they aren’t); and most of all, telling trans people that they are just “fabrications” and “sick”.

    Nice try, but political rhetorics, peer research, and personal reputations are painstakingly, but sagely revealing otherwise. My rhetorical question: why does your rhetoric ape the rhetoric of misogynist cis men? I already have a pretty good idea, but I’ll leave it for you to masticate, cogitate and, and appreciate in your own time and in your own way.

  72. jackrad

    the catagory of people that “wbw” excludes is such a small minority. no woman ever identified as “wbw” before learning about trans women’s existence. i get so sick of when people talk about wanting to celebrate the joys of growing up as a wbw woman or whatever. i really don’t believe that’s a real thing, and was only added in after the fact to try and justify feeling threatened by trans women but knowing that if they just say that, they will sound like bigots.

  73. Keltik

    What I don’t understand is why a trans woman’s life experience is invalid. How can they not see that trans women are women who have been raised by the same oppressive society and have suffered under that same oppression? Why do they think that trans women have had an easy time ‘as a man’ and just decided one day to become a woman? If it was so great being a taken for a cis man and having all that privilege, why would they want to give that up to be part of an oppressed group? The logic is so fucking flawed.

  74. Steggy

    Jackrad, I agree. I don’t buy the revisionist history pushed these days about the history of Michfest or the “WBW” identity. All the stuff about “born a woman and STILL identify that way” and “girlhood is significant” and “respect WBW as a true and valid gender identity” (taken right from lisa vogel’s 2006 statement) only make sense as reactionary push backs against trans visibility. They would have been anachronistic in 1976.

  75. graceaware

    you don’t think growing up female is a real thing? do we live in the same universe?

  76. smc

    keltik, i don’t know that anyone is invalidating a trans womon’s life experience by stating that her experience of growing up was different from that of a cis womon’s.

    as to why any person does anything that fails the test of logic… hmmm do you know humanity?

  77. BlaydenWaydonLeydon

    keltik, they don’t see it.

    We as trans women are, to them, an invalid people — which isn’t very humanist, really. We cannot be, cannot participate, cannot exist. We as trans people violate every idea that bodies define and constrain people. This is scary because it strikes at a primal nerve* which cis people (and some trans people even) probably didn’t realize they had. Many come to realize that this primal feeling lacks basis or grounding and grow from the experience, but some do not. People who volunteer themselves to police other people whose existences signify the striking of that nerve are vigorous and virulent in their “civilized” approaches (of policy) and their “savage” approaches (of institutionally blind-eyed violence). This could be “WBW” people, “HBS” people, or thugs out there in the public and private worlds.

    As with insecure cis men who embrace, endorse, and even encourage egregious violence towards trans women, these cis women/womyn/womon/wimmin/[pick-one-or-several] realize that trans women are perhaps the signifier which unravels their feebly timorous understanding of how we came to be the people we are. As Serano explained, we show that the idea of femininity is often socially despised — even by those who uphold it through folk music events in rural Michigan. We reveal that the feminine is punished incalculably so and in so many, well, incalculable ways. This is misogyny, writ large. When we as trans women and trans girls exist (and to a different extent, trans men and genderqueer people, too), it’s a bit like showing cis people that we probably do live in a kind of “Matrix” of gender (an idea I entertained last time on PQ’s “Just Call Me Hunter”) — inside which we are assigned, perpetually placed, programmed, and expected to, at our very best, uphold, police, perform, and essentialize (like the squishy functioning of bodies) this social order. This “Matrix” is cisnormativity*. These actions against trans people are a specialized misogyny we know painfully well as transmisogyny. As some have already read, this is what transmisogyny looks like.

    * I am closely linked with some of the folks putting together this blog/tumblr. Just wanted to disclose this, that’s all.

  78. graceaware

    You cannot get feminism “from your earliest memories”. You can get female socialization or male socialization, however.

  79. Valerie Keefe

    Trans women get female socialization… we pick up all the cues… and we’re taught shame for every single mannerism that seems remotely non-male.

    I spent two weeks when I was thirteen teaching myself to look at my nails with the fingers made into a fist so that the same people who destroyed the things I had to bring to school, who spat on my locker, and smeared foreign substances on my locker and person to the amusement of themselves and others. And that’s just one example, not bringing up the magic of my very public sexual assault among other indignities.

    They taught me so well to hate my womonhood that I denied it, even though it tore me apart and nearly killed me.

  80. Keltik

    If socialisation was all it took to make you male or female, I’d be a fucking Disney princess. But I’m not. My masculinity was innate to me, it’s the sane for everyone, your gender identity is innate, it might take a while to understand it and name it, but we’re not born a blank slate waiting for society to tell us what we are. Just because trans women are identified as male and treated as male and forced to act male, doesn’t actually make them male. Just as my years of playing along and ‘pretending’ to be female doesn’t make me a woman.

  81. jackrad

    um, i think you kinda can, even if you don’t call it that. some people notice that women are treated differently and men cget to do more things from a much earlier age than others. they might not know to call it feminism, but know what to call it is not really the point

  82. Valerie Keefe

    I think we both grew up female, but they hated my femaleness so badly that they denied it even existed and it’s upsetting to hear people repeat that same misogyny in the name of feminism.

  83. jackrad

    i didn’t say i don’t think growing up female is a real thing. i don’t think that people singling out being female assigned at birth as this super important common experience and the most important part of being a woman until trans women are in the picture and they have to think of a reason to exclude them. and i don’t think people self-identify with being female assigned at birth (verses just self-identifying with all parts of being a woman) until they feel threatened by trans women and need an excuse to keep them out.

  84. BlaydenWaydonLeydon

    >who spat on my locker

    Hey, I dealt with a snotty loogie on my locker’s combination tumblr when I was 13, too.

    Valerie, I’m glad you’re here. :)

  85. Valerie Keefe

    Not one. This was a twice weekly occurrence for more than a year. They deflated my bike tires every day until I thought to put crystal violet on the inflation caps…

    And it happened frequently enough after that… they just started using tools.

  86. BlaydenWaydonLeydon

    The loogie incident was probably the worst of the worst vandalism/biohazard thing they did because I didn’t see it before putting my hand on the spot. They would also mark nasty remarks on my locker, too, requiring the custodian to clean it off. Of all the times I was assaulted from grade 4 onward, the worst thing that happened was when I was assaulted at 16 when I was struck hard in my ear. While hearing loss didn’t happen, the scar tissue makes it impossible to put my head more than a metre below water without it feeling like someone is driving an ice pick into my ear. I used to love to dive, too.

    One of the hardest, most confusing things was, as you noted, teaching myself to create a fist. It went against everything I felt, everything I knew, and everything I believed. It helped me all of maybe twice when it got attackers to leave me alone. I got mocked for defending myself by slapping back. It didn’t help that I’d then come home to an abusive, violent parent who was on the drink every day to then get beaten again. It was always “you’re doing it wrong”.

    No, I was doing it right. To them, I wish I could say: “You were all doing it wrong, and you have to live with that.”

  87. Valerie Keefe

    Wow… someone downvoted my feeling free to talk about how I was bullied when I was a teenage girl… that’s… that’s super.

    The reason I had to put crystal violet on the caps, which is just a temporary skin pigmenter, by the way, is that the faculty refused to do anything, even watch a bike rack within fifty feet of where they stood to supervise us… there was a lot of apathy… I had shoes stolen, shirt set on fire, bus pass stolen in February, (In Edmonton February isn’t a month you want to do a lot of walking.) someone specifically plan to make me flinch while I was holding hot chocolate… that was fun.

    You’ve found a way to despise me for that. Well done.

  88. Valerie Keefe

    I realize my syntax took a vacation… I was just talking about having my mannerisms policed when I mentioned training myself how to hold my hands… not fighting.

  89. smc

    the politics michfest threads are dominated by wimmin whose extreme positions do not accurately reflect the fest population. Just ask Alice.

  90. Valerie Keefe

    Obviously… but again, we don’t need every womon to be intolerant to do a lot of damage… We just need enough womyn to be silent.

  91. Keltik

    That’s one of the lines I’ve heard, women born women and their specific set of lived experiences. Because trans women don’t know how to act in women only social situations because of all that male privilege making them want rape everyone.

  92. Poisongirl

    Yeah, it is kinda invalidating a person’s experience when a third person says “Your experience is wrong because I think it is wrong” , which is what essentialist RadFems are saying because they feel entitled to impose their personal and arbitrary definition of womanhood in order to fulfill ideological presumptions.

    It is just as invalidating as when you choose to ignore what a trans woman said and decided to define what invalidation is for them.

    But nice attempt at trying not to address a single point that Keltik raised and taking a totally dismissive tone with no real argument to your whole post.

  93. smc

    i have tried to be both respectful and sensitive in this forum, but may have failed to properly convey that, for which i apologize.

    i don’t accept the ‘different life experience’ argument as reason to deny trans wimmin entry to michfest, but many in opposition to trans-inclusion @ fest do. but i think it best to be clear about the reason given by those wimmin for their opposition, whether or not one ascribes different meanings or intentions to them.

    i never meant to indicate that a trans womon is invalid because her life experience is different. i thought i’d written the exact opposite. for example, despite our close family, my siblings and i have had different life experience, yet none of our experiences are any more valid than the others.

    some deranged individuals continue to use the trans=rape equation, but i dismiss them immediately. they’re a tiny % of the anti-trans inclusion group and influence no one but each other w/ their nonsense.

    i believe in a wbw policy that includes trans wimmin because they too were born wimmin, and very specifically excludes men – despite my having wonderful men in my life – because the festival isn’t for or about them.

    it’s ultimately abt fairness. it’s suffragettes marching for the vote, it’s rosa parks sitting at the front of the bus, it’s Alice coming to fest, because, she too is a womon.

  94. Valerie Keefe

    “i didn’t say i don’t think growing up female is a real thing.”

    I agree… but again, there’s a difference between growing up female assigned and female and growing up female, yet being told at every turn that you’re not, to the point where it’s oh so easy to have that authentic female life preempted by a cissexually constructed attempt to be male… (to borrow syntax from Janice Raymond.)

    I had a girlhood… and if any womon feels misogyny keenly, it’s a trans womon.

  95. Danielle Macdonell

    Sometimes I do fail to see/sense some social cues, which may be the fault of what I call “My difficult girlhood”. I don’t think that disqualifies me from womanhood, it just gives me some work to do.

  96. bettina cornell

    lol! seems like a lot of work to force yourself on someone. btw rape is not a behavior exclusive to men. While I was assigned my female gender at birth I have no desire to attend festival however I highly encourage women of trans experience to attend in larger and larger numbers.
    I think this wbw crap is scary, dangerous and a slippery slope. We can’t as feminist be fighting for equality if we are oppressing others.

  97. Keltik

    SMC, I didn’t think you were using that excuse, but others have, Butch for example –

  98. Valerie Keefe

    You’re off by two inches and a midbrain, but whatever. Did coming here after gendertrender/dirtfromdirt make you feel better?

  99. Keltik

    Get the fuck out of here.

  100. Valerie Keefe

    If you could take your turgid, raging, three-minutes’, hate-on somewhere it would be met with approving duckspeak, you’d probably be happier. But if you want to hate on a woman’s penis, feel free.

  101. Valerie Keefe

    I’d even be okay with occasional cis women only social spaces without much objection… it’s the false advertising, the attempt to say that cis women are more authentic, that rankles…

    If they started calling it, “Michigan cissexual women’s* music festival,” And there promotional material reflected that the organizers have some not-degendering reason that they don’t want to invite trans women, I’d shut up and move on. But they want to invalidate and erase a pretty significant portion of the lesbian community and that will not stand.

    *If I spell women with a y, it’ll get held for moderation, and while that pisses me off, I’ll deal with it for now.

  102. Valerie Keefe

    I have used the wrong form of there/their… I meant to use their… I am so ashamed.

  103. S

    I just read the rules for who was considered women at RadFem…and personally see no reason to be so scathing about men. Or esp former men. Not words I would use to engender peace for sure.

    I am not sure how the best way would be to word the advertising to fit for you. I do think they need to use the word “Women” because this isn’t just about the USA, there are women coming from around the world and not just lesbians.

    Some of those countries still are very negative toward women…while others may be light years ahead of us.

    This Fest does not allow trans and does say so in their rules. So it isn’t like it isn’t said upfront, esp these days. Not sure how it was in the past.

    So, in words that address the most cultures of women, (cis does not, yet) what types of phrasing would you use to have them be accurate and not what you consider inflammatory or insulting toward you? And be languaging that would be easily understood across the globe mainstream and alt communities?


  104. Keltik

    Excluding a certain type of woman is hurtful, excluding trans women because they’re really just men and will want to rape everyone is like excluding fat women cos they’re really just cannibals and will want to eat everyone. It’s non-sensical, it’s stupid, it’s not a real reason. This is just someone’s personal prejudice. And yknow what, every arguement has been had in the comments, I’m tired of explaining the same thing over and over. Go read the comments on here, read the responses, see what we’re talking about.