Several years ago, in my innocent youth or whatever, I signed up on the Michfest forums, believing that since feminism and trans activism are natural allies, even the most hardcore TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist) could be reasoned with. I was, of course, wrong - before they even discovered that I am trans I was accused of being a 'fun-fem' among other things, due to not hating men enough for their liking. Afterward the shit REALLY hit the fan. But I digress. The point being that in signing up on their forum, I apparently gave them my email address.
Until recently, I received no correspondence from Michfest. I'd like to say I forgot their existence, but my ability to hold a grudge puts the lie to that.
Recently, the Indigo Girls (have I mentioned that I love the Indigo Girls? Because I do. They rock all the socks. And they are the bees' knees. They rock the bees' knee-length socks.), who have been a headlining performance at Michfest for years, came out on their blog in favor of trans-feminine inclusion at Michfest, and the internets - or at least the part of it that cares about LGBTQ activism - exploded. An article giving further details of the situation can be found here. This was when I received my first email from Michfest, a paranoid screed espousing the dangers of allowing people like myself into their 'safe space'. Since then, other performers have vocalized their agreement with the Indigo Girls' stance, some even canceling future performances at Michfest.
This situation led to the email I received yesterday, which follows in its entirety. Certain parts bolded by me for emphasis.
From: Michigan Womyn's Music Festival <Michigan_Womyn_s_Music_Festival@mail.vresp.com>Comments on the bolded sections... I find it interesting that Lisa is calling on other TERFS to honor and support all women, when she is telling a certain minority of women that we aren't welcome at her supposedly all-women-included women-only gathering. I'm not sure if that's wishful thinking on her part, or just an indication that she doesn't consider trans women to be women at all. Also, this is the only point in the letter in which she does not misspell 'women/woman'. I wonder if there is any significance to that.
Date: Wed, May 15, 2013 at 2:43 PM
Subject: Festival - How you can help
Dear Festival Family,
We are embroiled in a very public struggle about the Festival’s intention to create self-defined space for WBW. Many of you have asked how you can help. Here is what you can do:
Take care in your conversation on the internet, on Facebook pages, in emails and meetings. I believe we must try our best, as a community, to participate in the energetic antidote to the aggressive rhetoric. Regardless of how heated the discussions may sometimes get, please do your best to honor and support all women and nurture our common ground, in all possible moments, in respectful ways.
Conflict always has unexpected results: sometimes it causes injury, sometimes it brings liberation and often it fuels an unexpected synthesis of seemingly incongruous experiences. Conflict always moves us forward, in our fragility, to whatever lies ahead of us. In that spirit, I ask you to recognize the power of your support for Festival and to stand by her in 2013. If you love the Festival, this is the year to show it. This is the year to come to Michigan. This is the year to bring your friends, your neighbors, and all the folks who have been saying they have wanted to come for years. If you love the Land and want to support the continuation of this vital and amazing community, please do what you can to sustain her and join us this year.
Whether you can be on the land this year or not, if you are able to support the Festival economically, we ask that you consider supporting her in one of the following ways:
● Purchase a “ticket in spirit” for the 2013 Festival. The ticket goes to no womon – it goes to the spirit of us all, and to the creation of the space for womyn still to come.
● Purchase a “ticket in memory” for one of our beloved sisters who is no longer able to walk the Land with us. There will be a place to name the womon whose memory you are honoring.
● Support sliding scale and reduced rate – Pay the top of the scale for your ticket, and/or offer a donation to support Festival’s ongoing commitment to reduced rate accessibility for low-income womyn. Your contribution stands with the principles of the MWMF to make this event economically accessible, and will directly help to cover the womyn who cannot possibly attend Festival at the regular rate.
● Purchase an honorary ticket to the 40th anniversary in a gift amount of $1000/$1500/$2000. You are buying the belief that our shared intention will bring us together on the Land in 2015, and you will receive your ticket in December of 2014.
Sisters I believe now as much as I ever have that the space the Festival holds for our community is vital, precious and beautiful. The Festival will not go on forever, but I know this is not her time to end. Please join me in that belief and show your support towards the continuation of our community in whatever way you are able.
With my love,
Also, I'd totally come to Michigan if I wasn't certain I'd be booted as soon as I got there. Lisa's exhortation to everyone to come and bring 'all the folks who have been saying they have wanted to come for years' (read: trans women who have been fighting for equal treatment by Michfest for years, many of whom see Michfest as a sort of rite of passage for queer women) seems rather ridiculous to me in light of her previous comments and desire to create a space that excludes one of the most marginalized portions of the female population.
TL; DR: the people who run Michfest are bigoted, misogynist jerks; Leishy gets butthurt over it. The world continues to turn and my cat is adorable. Comments are welcome but TERFy hate will be deleted and quite possibly mocked in a future post.