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Encyclopedia > Camp Trans

Background

Camp Trans is an annual counter-demonstration outside the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival by transsexual women and their allies, to protest the Festival's policy of excluding transsexual women from attending. The Michigan Womyns Music Festival (MWMF) is an international feminist music festival occurring every year in August in Michigan. ... A transsexual (sometimes transexual) person establishes a permanent identity with the opposite gender to their assigned (usually at birth) sex. ...


The Music Festival has its roots in lesbian-feminist and lesbian-separatist analysis of patriarchy, and is intended to provide a week-long safe space for attendees to enjoy music created exclusively by womyn, immerse themselves in womyn's culture and celebrate their womonhood in a safe environment without domination, oppression or interference by men. Its primary organizers adhere to a belief that a defining quality of womonhood comes from being born and raised in a female body and that the presence of anyone who has experienced otherwise is inappropriate for maintaining the festival's safe space. The festival has maintained a policy of "womyn-born womyn only" since its inception, which, though not systematically enforced, has become a lightning rod of controversy. Lesbian feminism is a feminist ideology, most popular in the 1970s and early 1980s, that advocates the view that lesbianism is the logical result of feminism. ... Lesbian separatism refers to a range of extreme positions within the feminist and gay liberation movements. ... Patriarchy (from Greek: patria meaning father and arché meaning rule) is the anthropological term used to define the sociological condition where male members of a society tend to predominate in positions of power; with the more powerful the position, the more likely it is that a male will hold that... Womyn is the best-known one of a number of alternate spellings intended in radical feminism circles to degender the English word women and as female empowerment. ... // History This term was developed as a response to the increasing presence of transgender women accessing womens only spaces. ...


Opponents of the policy argue for a less deterministic understanding of gender and insist that "womyn-born womyn" is an artificial and exclusionary category created specifically to exclude transsexual women, and as such, has no legitimacy as a subject position. Many Camp Trans supporters see the festival as a symbolic space, one which, as the largest womyn-only space in the United States, sets a precedent for the explicit or implicit exclusion of transgender womyn in other queer and feminist communities and establishments. They view the policy as transphobic. Queer has traditionally meant strange or unusual, but is currently often used in reference to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities. ... Feminism is a social theory and political movement primarily informed and motivated by the experience of women. ... Transphobia (by analogy with homophobia) refers to various kinds of phobic attitudes towards transsexual and transgender people. ...


Much of the debate centers around the concept of privilege. While many supporters of the WBW policy argue that transgender womyn have experienced male privilege at some point in their lives, opponents insist that this viewpoint fails to recognize the oppression that transgender individuals face and the privilege that non-transgender people have in avoiding this oppression. In recent years, the controversy over the policy has also come to include debate about the presence of transman in womyn-only space and lesbian communities. A privilege—etymologically private law or law relating to a specific individual—is an honour, or permissive activity granted by another person or a government. ... ...


History

Camp Trans was sparked by a 1991 incident in which a woman named Nancy Burkholder was ejected from the festival after her transsexual status became known to festival security guards. Although the festival has maintained a womyn-born-womyn policy since its inception, as evidenced by posters from the first festival in 1975, the 1991 incident falsely led to the belief that the policy was only articulated as a means of preventing transsexual women from attending. Every year afterwards a group of trans and non trans women protested the exclusion of trans women from the event. Initially these protests were small affairs. For the first few years they were actually carried on inside the camp. A significant incident occurred in 1993 when SM women approached the protesters to offer their services as security


In 1994 Riki Ann Wilchins pressured some of the original group of protesters to give her a leadership role in the organizing. A more organzed group of trans women and their allies began camping and holding demonstrations outside the gate. After a five year-hiatus, Camp Trans returned in 1999, led by transgender activists Riki Ann Wilchins and Leslie Feinberg, as well as many members of the Boston and Chicago Lesbian Avengers. The events of this year drew much attention and controversy, culminating in heated tensions as a small group of transgender activists were admitted into the festival to dialogue with organizers and to negotiate a short-lived compromise allowing only post-operative transgender womyn on the festival land. Riki Wilchins is an author and activist against gender stereotypes. ... Riki Wilchins is an author and activist against gender stereotypes. ... Leslie Feinberg is a transgender activist, speaker, and author. ...


Over the next three years, Camp Trans leadership shifted to members of the Chicago queer community, and the demographics of the camp changed to include many more transgender men and genderqueer-identified individuals. Few trans women attended during this period, as festival attendees increasingly came to view Camp Trans as a transgender annex of the festival, rather than a site of protest, and the camp itself did little to dispel this myth. In 2003, yet another group of activists took over the planning, with the goal of refocusing the camp's mission on protesting the festival's exclusion of transgender womyn. This group, many of whom were involved in outreach campaigns to musical artists associated with the festival, sought to create a broader community that is more welcoming to transgender womyn. A genderqueer person is part of a group of people who do not fit into the traditional two-gender or gender-binary system. ...


Camp Trans has, in recent years, become somewhat of a mecca for the nationwide queer community, and has spurred the careers of a few famous queer celebrities and academics such as Riki Ann Wilchins. The camp has moved to a large swath of national forest land down the road from the festival and attracts close to 200 people each year. Attendees participate in direct actions and outreach to the festival-goers (or "festies") as well as workshops, games, dances and performances. They mostly spend the week living out of tents in the woods and eating communal meals by the campfire, as lesbian folk music echoes in the forest.


External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
Camp Trans - definition of Camp Trans in Encyclopedia (421 words)
Camp Trans is an annual counter-demonstration outside the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival by transsexual womyn and their allies, to protest the Festival's exclusive policy of only allowing "womyn-born-womyn" to attend.
The Festival has its roots in lesbian-feminist and lesbian-seperatist analysis of patriarchy, and is intended to provide a week-long safe space for attendees to enjoy music created exclusively by womyn, immerse themselves in womyn's culture and celebrate their womonhood in a safe environment without domination, oppression or interference by men.
Camp Trans has, in recent years, become somewhat of a mecca for the nationwide queer community, and has spurred the careers of a few famous queer celebrities and academics such as Riki Ann Wilchins.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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