Don’t ask, don’t tell two-step

Michigan still obsessed with women 'born' womyn

Organizers of the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival are trying to sprinkle some sugar and spice and everything nice on a long simmering conflict with Transexual Menace.

Members from the New York City Transexual Menace have organized an event called Son Of Camp Trans in protest over the women-born women only policy at MWMF. The name refers to Camp Trans, an impromptu gathering that sprang up across from the MWMF in 1993 after a group of transexual women were refused entry.

While acknowledging “divergent views” on gender, a press release from MWMF states that organizer’s expect a “cooperative and respectful relationship with the Transexual Menace.”

Festival producer Lisa Vogel goes on to state: “We do not and will not question any individual’s gender.” But she reiterates that the festival “is an event organized by, for and about womyn. Our intention is for the festival to be for womyn-born womyn, meaning people who were born and have lived their entire life experience as female.”

“It’s exactly like the [US] military’s ‘Don’t ask; don’t tell’ policy,” says Riki Anne Wilchins, an organizer of Son Of Camp Trans and a member of the original 1993 group. “They still haven’t changed the policy from five years ago; it’s thinly veiled transphobia.”

Wilchins says that Son Of Camp Trans campers, including a number of supporters from the Lesbian Avengers, will ask to be admitted at noon on Fri, Aug 13, “being very open and honest about who we are.” The group plans to have a town meeting to discuss the fest’s gender policy at noon on Saturday, either inside the festival grounds, if they are allowed in, or across from the gates, if they are not.

With performances by The Murmurs, Marga Gomez, Women Ah Run Tings, The Butchies, Ubaka Hill and many others still to come, MWMF continues until Sun, Aug 15. For more info, call (616) 757-4766.

For info on Son Of Camp Trans, go to on the web.

The contributor photo for Gordon Bowness

Gordon Bowness (he/him) is the executive editor of Xtra. With a 30-year career covering the LGBTQ2S+ community, Gordon is also the founding editor of Go Big magazine and In Toronto (now In Magazine). He is an English speaker and lives in Toronto.

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