I admit I am very unsure how I feel about transfolk entering a space specifically set aside for women born women only. One of the arguments I hear from some of my radical feminist friends is that transwomen do not have the experience of being BORN a woman and living as a female from birth. It is this lack of knowledge, and lack of growing up under the patriarchal prescription for women born women, that generate the large gap.
Also, I've had very bad experiences with some transwomen who have stated they are more 'woman' than me. Did THAT ever raise my brows. I've also seen transwomen who get the surgery, live as a man most of the time, gleaning the patriarchal benefits, and then switching to a woman when it suits them. Certainly, we women do not have that luxury.
Inga, you must realize that those of us who have had a cunt since birth have a very different socialization process than someone who doesn't.
Genderlicious: "I believe that I can support you, but also support people who hate you"—On the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival
The Michigan Womyn's Music Festival is next week. Having not grown up in North America and having taken a fairly circuitious route to feminism, the first time I ever heard of Michfest was about seven years ago in the Inga Muscio book Cunt, where Muscio talks about what a transformative experience it was to be completely surrounded by only women for a week. Then, a few years later, while I was attending a writing retreat for women of colour at the Leaven Centre in Michigan, one of the women began to talk about Michfest, and their womyn-born-womyn policy (WBW), i.e. the fact that only cisgendered women could attend Michfest. I was stunned.
Other people writing for Bitch in the past have articulated what is wrong with a WBM policy. Dani Eurynome says in this article:
While I have heard many of my “sisters” talk about supporting the institutions and changing from within, as a political person, I know that is a bunch of crap. It is up to me, a person who is not being discriminated against, to put up a huge fuss and boycott. Anyone who currently identifies and lives as a woman [should be included]—no inspections, oaths, or harassment.“Safe space” means naiveté at best or falsehood at worst. If women actually believe that they cannot be harmed by other women, then they are naive. A penis is not inherently dangerous—a brain is.
I completely disagree with WBW policies. For one, they uphold the extremely transphobic belief that trans women are not "real women" - I mean, it doesn't get much more transphobic than that.
Take it from me: make friends and allies based on politics and ideas, not whether or not someone has the same identity as you. Because I'd rather be on a team with Tim Wise than Condoleeza Rice.
Life as any kind of radical is hard. Don't make it harder by barking up all the wrong trees, and ignoring the trees that want to enter into a symbiotically nurturing alliance with you.Read more at bitchmagazine.org