Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Say Yes to Michigan

Just for the record, I am not the one who tried to comment on the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival (herein known as Michfest), over at Women's Space/Margins. It wasn't me! Besides, Heart is once again shilling for plane fare, and damned if I will interfere with her reindeer games. But I decided to start a Michfest thread, seeing as how we are in countdown mode! ONE WEEK TILL FESTIVAL!!! Par-tay!!!

For those living in Antarctica and unaware, Michfest is for women only. I have been there and it is fun, but that was a very long time ago. I don't really know what the festival is like now. I don't know exactly when the controversy started, and it depends on which account you read, but I didn't hear about it until the 90s. The controversy is about the phrase "women-born women" and what that means. The festival is for "women born women only." Camp Trans, for transgendered women, was set up to counter Michfest, as an alternative for everyone. But keep in mind, many transfolks, both transwomen and transmen, have attended the festival since it's inception.

One of my initial problems with Camp Trans was the fact that there are many, many places and institutions that are unapologetically closed off to transpeople, such as the military, Miss World, Miss USA, the priesthood, the convent, the FBI, and so on. Yes, they all do panty-checks at some point. I wondered: Why weren't people concentrating on protesting THOSE institutions? Why attack feminists? This seemed plenty suspect to me. In some ways, it still does.

And then, I realized: If *I* were a transwomen, I wouldn't want to go any of those places, I'd want to go to Michfest. This is a feminist gathering, or at least it began that way. It is women's culture, and many feminist women go to Michfest at least once. You might say it is like the feminist Mecca or Rome; it's like a pilgrimage. Once I thought about it that way, I thought it made sense that feminist transwomen would want to attend.

Some background on the issue:

Official Michfest website.

Wikipedia on Michfest Contains an excellent account of the history of the festival, as well as Camp Trans. Great links and resources.

Dykes to watch out for-Episode 495: Last year's Michfest thread with 350 comments! (bonus: a great comic!)

Michigan Womyn's Music Festival sets the record straight Women's Space/Margins (8-22-2006)

Camp Trans (although it says CAMP TRANS 2006 at the top, information applies to 2007, too.)

Your opinion?

Please try to respect the concept of an all-women's festival in your reply. And transwomen are welcome to give their opinions, of course: Are you interested in actually attending? Or has this just become a symbolic thing, as I often suspect it is?

I'd certainly be interested in comments from any transwomen who have managed to attend anyway, and if you felt "at risk" or if anyone actually seemed to care? (some think this is mostly a "management" opinion, and the festival attendees themselves actually don't care as much)

You are welcome to comment anonymously as long as you are NICE. This is a SOUTHERN blog, and we try to be polite as we reload. :) (old joke, don't get upset!)

Thanks in advance.