Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Rethinking Sexism: How Trans Women Challenge Feminism

Rethinking Sexism: How Trans Women Challenge Feminism | Reproductive Justice and Gender | AlterNet
"The grudging admiration felt for the tomboy and the queasiness felt around a sissy boy point to the same thing: the contempt in which women -- or those who play the female role -- are held."

-- Radicalesbians (1970)

In 1991, Nancy Jean Burkholder was expelled from the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival (MWMF), the world's largest annual women-only event, because festival workers suspected that she was a trans woman -- that is, someone who was assigned a male sex at birth but who identifies and lives as female. That incident sparked protests from a burgeoning transgender movement to challenge what eventually came to be known as the festival's "womyn-born-womyn"-only policy, which effectively bars trans women from attending. The protests evolved into Camp Trans, which continues to take place just down the road from MWMF each year, and which has become a focal point for a much broader push for trans-inclusion within feminist and queer communities. Despite more than 15 years of petitioning, and a growing acceptance of trans identities in both mainstream society and within queer, feminist and other progressive circles, the festival still officially maintains its "womyn-born-womyn"-only policy, and countless other lesbian- and queer-woman-focused groups and events continue to harbor dismissive, if not outright disdainful, attitudes toward trans women.

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