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MWMF Anti-TS Awareness: Background Information (107 lines)

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Rica Fredrickson

Apr 30, 1993, 2:31:34 AM4/30/93

This material is forwarded with permission (see last paragraph).
Please pass it on to women (on or off the net) who may wish to help.

***forwarded material begins
Date: Wed, 28 Apr 1993 21:22:22 -0400 (EDT)
From: Nancy J Burkholder <>
Subject: MWMF Anti-TS Awareness: Background Information (107 lines)
To: sappho <>
Mime-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: TEXT/PLAIN; charset=US-ASCII

To: Women Concerned About Transsexual Oppression

In 1991, a woman was expelled from the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival
on suspicion of being a transsexual. This incident brought to light an
unpublished policy that MWMF was for *nontranssexual* women only.
(Old-timers inform us that this decision was reached in the late 70s and
that it was considered to be so well understood that it was not thought
necessary to put it in writing.) News of Nancy's expulsion and the
anti-transsexual policy shocked many festival goers.

The 1992 MWMF brochure included a statement that "MWMF is a gathering of
mothers and daughters for all womyn born womyn," meant to exclude
transsexuals. (An informal survey of transsexual women showed that many
would include themselves under this definition.) At the 1992 festival, a
small group of women (including at least one transsexual) set up a
literature table to provide information about gender issues, posted
"gender myths" in the portajanes, gave away buttons asking "Where's
Nancy?" and raised questions, listened, and talked to women for hours.
Four workshops were offered about transsexualism and about MWMF policy.
Security women were questioned about whether they would expel a
transsexual. A survey was conducted to find out what participants
thought about including transsexuals. Nearly three-quarters of
respondents thought transsexuals should be welcome (see detailed results
in next mail). Survey results were sent to festival producers and a
response requested, but none has been received.

The 1993 MWMF brochure has just hit the streets and it contains the same
anti-transsexual statement as in 1992. A boycott of the festival has
been suggested, but we feel it would be far more effective to show up
and make our voices heard. As Alix Dobkin said, the only way to make a
place for yourself in the community is to show up and say "I'm here,
deal with me!" and *keep coming back*. That is precisely what we intend
to do.

We encourage those who feel that the anti-transsexual policy is wrong to
join us. (True, Alix didn't have transsexuals in mind when she said
this, but she has admitted that transsexuals *could* apply it to
themselves if they felt they belonged in the commnity.)

Our goals are:
* Continue informing festival participants about gender issues
and providing a forum for discussion.

* Promote understanding by sharing the experiences and viewpoints
of transgendered persons, even if they cannot be present to speak for

* Convince festival producers that there is sufficient interest in
this issue to reopen it for discussion (they apparently feel that
since it was decided 15 years ago, there is no need to discuss it

* Demonstrate by means of a petition that most festival participants
support a policy that would include post-operative male-to-female

* Insist that if transsexuals are to be excluded (which the festival
probably has a legal right to do), then the policy must be
*unambiguously* stated in the brochure.

We need help to achieve these goals. Last year several people gave
tremendous amounts of time, energy, and money to help our effort
succeed--not only those who attended the festival but others around the
country who contributed in many ways. The extent of our action in 1993
will depend on how much support we get. We need many kinds of help,
including (but not limited to) local contacts in the Hart area
transportation to and from the festival for women in various parts of
the country, people who can help with fundraising, people who can write
about their experiences with gender, people with media connections,
ideas for literature and buttons, women willing to lead workshops, women
to get signatures on petitions and leaflet the portajanes, women to
bring us food at our One World literature table, and of course, money is
always welcome. Last year, our budget was about $2000 and we
accomplished a huge amount. We put every dollar to good use and will do
so again this year.

So we're not talking about big money. Every contribution is meaningful.
With $5 we can print over 100 pieces of literature. If you would like to
help in any way, large or small, write to me at the address below, or
call me. Reproduce this letter and send it to anyone who might also want
to help. Post it on electronic networks. Discuss it with your friends.
Together we can promote understanding and put an end to oppression.

Janis Walworth
PO Box 52
Ashby, MA 01431

or email:

"Good people are always so sure they're right."

--Barbara Graham's last words
Executed June 3, 1955 at San Quentin

***forwarded material ends
forwarded by
Rica Ashby Fredrickson <>

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