US women-only event organizers ban transgender women from attending

Troy Espera | August 25, 2006

WASHINGTON, DC — A women-only summer music festival in Michigan is under fire this week for asking transgender women interested in attending the event not to come.

After an openly transgender woman was allowed to purchase a ticket at this summer�s Michigan Womyn�s Music Festival, Camp Trans organizers released a statement on August 21 celebrating the end of an 15-year old divisive policy that served to police women�s bodies and exclude transwomen from attending the Festival.

Camp Trans is an annual gathering of people dedicated to promoting inclusion of all women at women-only events.

However, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality, the celebration of this news was short-lived as management of We Want The Music Company (WWTMC), a for-profit corporation that runs the festival, issued a press release the next day reaffirming their belief that transgender women should police themselves and not attend the Festival. While the Festival box office will now sell tickets to transwomen, according to WWTMC�s Lisa Vogel, the only people welcome are �women who were born as and have lived their entire life experience as women.�

Vogel�s statement continues, �If a transwoman purchased a ticket, it represents nothing more than that womon choosing to disrespect the stated intention of this Festival.� While trying to cloak WWTMC�s rhetoric in window dressing by calling transwomen �sisters in struggle,� Vogel continued to assert that it is not transphobic to ask transgender women not to attend the long-running Festival.

Vogel acknowledges that transgender women will now be able to purchase tickets, but she stands behind the spirit of company�s recently retired policy, calling transwomen disrespectful if they choose to attend the Festival. �All women should feel welcomed in women-only space ,� said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, in media release issued Thursday. � It�s just sad to see this company continuing to police the validity women�s identities and experiences. WWTMC�s rhetoric echoes the language of other oppressors. We expect better of those who should know the pain of oppression. We�d like to see Vogel�s company get up to speed with the attitudes of the feminist community and with the vast majority of festival workers and attendees.� – Issued by Gay Link Content

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