This is just too important to have a mere link to which could be deleted or broken. Hear Dianic Elder Ruth Barrett speak to WHY our WBW space, both at Michfest and in Dianic Ritual is so important to us! As a DykeAmazon I support her wholeheartedly.-M.A.
April 11, 2013
Dear Community Sisters and Performers of the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival,
I want to give Alyson Palmer a standing ovation for her brilliant and
eloquently crafted letter in response to the trans-activist’s call to
the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival performers to boycott the Festival.
Alyson speaks to my own sentiments and I could not have said it better.
In sisterhood and solidarity, I am writing to add my voice in support of
Lisa Vogel and the women who honor and respect the Festival’s
women-born-women (WBW) intention.
My friend Kathy, who has
attended the Michigan Festival for well over 30 years, said to me last
night, “How is it that “women” with penises are given more rights and
compassion than female-born women? Why is my right to self determination
being challenged by others who at the same time ask me to accept their
self determination?” I echo her questions.
For 51 weeks a year I
have unlimited opportunities to engage with male-born men and
trans-people. For one week out of the year I want to be with my
female-born sisters, girls and women. I come to Festival to help create,
contribute and experience an embodied female reality. I come to take in
the joyous expressions on our young daughter’s faces who can run free
on the land, and experience this freedom in a safe space. My need, and
the need of other WBW, to spend time solely with WBW is not
trans-phobic. We are not AGAINST trans-women. This accusation of
trans-phobia is a distraction from what we are actually saying and
asking for. I have great difficulty with those trans-women and their
allies who refuse to honor the intention of Fest as a healing space for
WBW and the boundaries we have set. I am heart sick and exhausted by
their bullying tactics, their threats to my personal safety, my wife’s
safety, the safety of our home and our livelihood. Over the past years
we have ignored death threats as we choose to stand for sacred space for
WBW and girls. Trans-women and their allies can’t seem to accept being
told “no” by women. Why can you not respect our need to gather with our
own kind to heal, to rest, to nurture and restore ourselves? What
possible threat are we to you?
Two of my very close friends,
one who is a survivor of multiple sexual assaults, were traumatized when
they individually encountered fully naked adult males in the shower at
Fest. When my friends asked in stunned voices, “What are you doing
here?” They were told by the trans-women, that they were “women” and had
a right to shower there, penis and all.
I quote a recent
letter I received from Alyson Palmer, director of “Chixlix” written to
the Michfest Performers of 2013 concerning the online petition to
“ Anyone who truly understands the suffering of
sexual harassment and abuse; the constant small violations and dark
steady threat of even larger ones; the savage horror of rape or any of
the sick tortures that the penis-proud wield so easily against women and
girls of every age, would rise up and DEMAND that WBW have earned the
right to a place in which to cling to one another and heal. To parade
the dangling tool of the oppressor in the face of a woman who has been
debased is unconscionable. The insensitivity of trying to force the
victimized to get over it already so someone else can party woot woot is
an insulting layer of fresh misogyny. It is selfish, it reeks of
entitlement and it is cruel.”
I and other womyn like me stand for
the original intention of the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. We need
and deserve a week set apart for female-born women and girls to
celebrate our mysteries, our creativity, ourselves, without fear.
The boycott demand of MWMF performers is patriarchal in its bullying
tactics, and only demonstrates further a power-over mind set by
trans-activists who would destroy the Michigan Festival rather than
respectfully help to protect and preserve the now rare female spaces
left to us WBW. We need the respite of Michfest for our healing, to
create and celebrate the swirling cauldron of music, arts, dance,
theatre, ritual, and comedy, that enriches us and empowers us to return
to the patriarchial, penis-ruled world where female WBW continue to be
defiled en masse, worldwide. The self-centered actions of those who
seek to bully their way into the Festival, threaten the performers, and
plan to create a drama-filled Festival, clearly demonstrate their utter
disrespect for the needs of female-born women. Their actions also
clearly demonstrate their unexamined, undiagnosed and unchallenged
misogyny. I speak directly to all trans activists, Female-born sisters
are not your enemy, and never have been. The feminist vision, intention,
and work of creating Michfest solely for female born WBW simply does
not include you because the festival was not created to address and is
not intended to serve your needs.
As a Priestess and elder of
Women’s Mysteries for over 35 years, I understand and value the
importance of female-only space. This kind of sacred space has literally
saved women’s lives, and continues to do so. The Michigan Festival has
provided this sacred space for female born WBW for decades, because our
life experiences matter. This is why so many of us have been planning
our lives around Michfest for decades, travel great distances, spend
hard earned money, and make sacrifices too numerous to mention, in order
I choose to give my goddess-given energy to
female-born women and girls. I will continue to defend the right of
females to gather, the right to define ourselves as female-born girls
and women, and will not be bullied into submission by anyone. I seek no
war with anyone. I stand in my truth and for whom I love. I love women
and our children. May we, and the Festival survive to tell our stories
of Festival to our great grandchildren.
Should the Festival
intention change, or the Festival be destroyed (as is clearly an
acceptable intention/option of some trans-inclusion supporters), I and
many Festival performers and elders, will not return. To trans activists
I say, the Festival that you have forcibly inserted yourself into will
no longer exist, there will be no Michigan Festival left as we have
known it. Trans-women and their supporters may stand on what was once
our sacred space, now become a battleground, and insert their flag into
the ground. The taste of victory will turn bitter as wars on women and
girls always are. Will their victory be that there be no place left for
us to celebrate ourselves as female beings in all of our diversity,
power, and beauty? The thought of this sickens me in my gut and heart. I
feel sadness, anger and frustration.
To trans-women who choose
to violate the intention of the Festival, and the women who support
their inclusion I say, “Stop. Stop. Stop!” May you learn respect for the
needs of women and girls to have our time together. Stop making women
who support the Festival your perpetrators and oppressors. We are not
your oppressors. You are not our victims. If you really love and respect
women, let yourself feel the needs we have. May you come to understand
our need to have our time together once a year, on women’s sacred land.
May those who have made the Festival their battleground, wake up. May
they learn to respect the needs of women and girls that the festival has
provided for 38 years.
It has been a sacred honor to
contribute my own gifts to the miraculous vision of the Michigan
Festival for the past 29 years. I stand for the festival’s intention
with my body, my heart and spirit. It is my hope and prayer that I may
contribute for many years to come.
Director of the MWMF Candlelight Concert,
MWMF performer, and workshop presenter.