Time For the Annual Lesbian Woodland Hate Fest

There was a time when I would have defended the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival.  But the days of my being a Sonder Commando are over.

I could have gone to the festival if I had the money and the inclination I am that assimilated because I came out young and have been active in various movements since about 1965.

I passed through the trans-wars of the late 1970s unscathed and didn’t speak up about how shamefully WBTs were being treated by the feminist movement, especially the lesbian feminist movement even when we were part of the movement and worked very hard for the movement.  I am ashamed of my role as silent collaborator.

All good people have to do to be collaborators in evil is to remain silent.  I think Hannah Arendt said something to that effect.  To remain silent and not fight bigotry is to be the “Good German” whose hands may be clean but who gave tacit permission.

In the 1990s I was influenced by the example of Riki Wilchins and started speaking out.  Some may think me too friendly to people with transgenderism because I defend them as well as WBTs.  I had a number of transgender friends from the 1970s when I photographed the TS/TG people who formed the Hollywood ghetto.  My friend were queens and not the proper upper and middle class married with children transgenders but rather the sex workers and drug users of the era.  I speak up for them because they are no longer alive to speak up for themselves.

Many threw their hopes for a voice in with the gay and lesbian movement.  But they were too queer for the boys who were turning into macho clones and asking for multiple IDs at the doors of the clubs, excluding women, femmes, and people of color.

I marched on the picket line out front of the LA Gay Community Services Center when the lesbians went on strike and caused the change of name to Gay and Lesbian.  I marched for abortion rights when I am sterile.  I fought for a cause that increasing saw me as sub-human.

The MWMF has become one of those few institutions that continue the anti-trans bigotry that accompanied the rise of the right wing in America.  As such it is an anachronism that has come to resemble the Aryan Nation of the Lesbian Community.  An institution of normborn hatred of those of us who were not normborn but rather were born some where in-between the sexes and who have been compelled by our being to seek out reassignment to a sex other than that to which we were assigned at birth.

I see now that intersex people are included among those who are excluded. How Catholic.  Well we be condemned to death at the stake for our differentness?

The problem extends far beyond the festival.  The women who go to this festival have the message of hate and exclusion, the rational reinforced and take back the bile of anti-TS/TG bigotry to the L/G Centers of their own cities where they in turn promote that attitude.  they take it to their publications where they promote it.

In an era when bigotry against other minority groups is negatively sanctioned TS/TG and now IS people remain one of the few scapegoats considered legitimate targets for that raw naked form of bigotry.

Time for all artists of conscience to boycott this hate fest.  You would not have played South Africa’s Sun City during the anti-Apartheid boycott.  You would not play a hate fest for Aryan Nation.  Let them have as the only groups willing to play their normborn hatefest be someone like Prussian Blue.

13 Responses to “Time For the Annual Lesbian Woodland Hate Fest”

  1. Hypatia's Child Says:

    Boycott was tried. It failed, and even Camp Trans gave up on the idea.

    MWMF is a crucible of what is left of the lesbian feminist movement. As such, the women who attend are a cross section of the entire lesbian community. Sadly the official position of the organisers encourages the bigots among them, but I’m convinced the bigots are a tiny minority. Most women could care less whether the woman two tents over had a transhood instead of a girlhood. I am frequently approached by lesbian sisters who should know, if they don’t, trying to talk me into going with them. “Where will you be in August?”

    The myth that the lesbian community as a whole is hostile to WBT is the main reason that there are so few WBT active in the community. I think many WBT project their own internalised transphobia onto lesbians. That’s not to say that there aren’t bigots to be found there, but they’re few and far between.

    That’s probably true even at MichFest.

    • Suzan Says:

      I think there are far more WBTs active in the community than most lesbian feminists are aware of. At least that was true in the 1970s when I was involved in the women’s Building in LA and later with the Lesbian Tide. We assimilate and unless we speak up we are invisible.

  2. catkisser Says:

    That would be my guess as well since I’ve also been invited several times by rad fems who know my history….and others quote my blog entries on the MichFest discussion site as “that courageous woman who speaks the truth about the trans community”.

    Fact of the matter is that they have a point…..I’ve met far too many “trans-women” that make it impossible to counter their arguments on a class basis leaving only the more sensible case by case basis relying on the fact that women easily recognize other women. Works for me.

    • Suzan Says:

      I’ve met more than a few total asshole WBF lesbians who are racist, classist, bigoted and misogynistic toward feminine lesbians. Too many over the years to think WBF lesbians as a class deserve any sort of sainthood. Indeed any negative one could toss at transsexual and transgender people could just as easily apply to some of the WBF lesbians I’ve met over the years.

      As for me… I’d rather go see willy, Dylan and Mellencamp this weekend than hang out with a bunch of bigot dykes at some creepy festival in the woods.

  3. catkisser Says:

    I also believe that rad fems have the absolute right to their own space as defined by them…..problems only arise when this is extended beyond their own space. Lisa Vogel owns MichFest….her place, her rules.

    • Suzan Says:

      The same can be said for whites only businesses or businesses like the Augusta National Country Club that exclude women.

  4. Evangelina Says:

    “I wouldn’t want to join any club that would have me as a member” ………. Groucho Marks

  5. Hypatia's Child Says:

    LV et al have come up with a lot of rationalisations for the policy but most of the support for it is about penises. I think post-op WBT would be welcome at MWMF today if not for the Camp Trans ’99 fiasco. There are a lot more Festies who support the policy to keep penises off the land, than there are who think WBT are really men.

  6. Suzan Says:

    Look it goes far beyond the MWMF. The ideology is the same ideology behind pathologizing us with GID.

    It is the same ideology that labels us as men who had their dicks cut off.

    Tacitly going along and rationalizing it so that one might attend is giving silent support for the bigotry that considers us all transgenders with some of us having our penises inverted.

    As someone more femme than butch I’ve never really felt a part of this community that has given as much to the bigotry that harms us as the Christo-fascists have.

    If I wanted to get together with a bunch of lesbians I would go to dinah Shore Weekend or on an Olivia Cruise. But in all honesty I would rather go some place with my partner, preferably some place with great art to please our aesthetic tastes.

    Hell if I had the same money as the MWMF costs I would have gone to Newport for the Folk Festival.

    The point isn’t that I/we couldn’t go. We are a couple of average looking old women. The point is we choose to not spend our money on gathering with bigots.

    I personally do not need the validation of passing muster. I got that validation many times over doing sex work with out telling.

  7. Hypatia's Child Says:

    I’m not sure there are all that many assimilated WBT in the lesbian community today. Radical lesbian feminism has gone underground. In the social community around here I only know of one other. There is a bohemian LGBT community a few miles north of here where everyone rubs shoulders but the WBT are considered TGs not women. Not the same thing at all.

    Lots of WBT seem to think lesbians are ugly hairy women who hate men. Others, here anyway, are afraid to test the waters.

    This is the Midwest where Fest is very big.

    To me it’s all part of the picture. A few bigots have made MWMF all about their brand of hate. Calling MWMF a hatefest gives them power they don’t really have. Sure LV owns the land. But Fest is a crucible, a lot happens there that she doesn’t “intend”. Remember BDSM a decade and more ago, what is eventually accepted is determined by experience and consensus.

    Yes it’s bigger than Fest, that’s the whole point. It IS the Christo-fascist ideology, only some of the details are different. But it works both ways, exaggerating the bigotry also has consequences. The community has been a lifeline for me. I feel for the sisters whose fear keeps them stuck in the trans ghetto.

  8. kaa Says:

    Hypatia’s Child wrote;
    I think many WBT project their own internalised transphobia onto lesbians. That’s not to say that there aren’t bigots to be found there, but they’re few and far between.
    Not sure if you are speaking about the lesbian community in general or at fest. At fest i certainly ran into more few of them… So while they are likely a minority, at fest at least when I was there awhile back, from what i saw they are were not THAT small a minority.

    • Suzan Says:

      Having been around the lesbian community for some 40 years I’v e met more than a few with their own issues regarding their gender. So much so I’ve often quipped that there are two kinds of lesbians, bisexuals and men.

      But over and above that the lesbian community can be just as racist and misogynistic as well as classist as the straight community. The transphobia is there as well.

      I am sick and tired of it being put on WBTs when we have often been among the hardest workers in various groups. Often find ourselves being treated like second class citizens in the process.

  9. Hypatia's Child Says:

    I meant the lesbian community in general. Of course there are more transphobic bigots at fest than in the community at large, but I still think they are a pretty small minority even there.

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