Equality Michigan Petitions Michfest to End Exclusionary Policy

A perennial source of controversy, Michigan Womyn's Music Festival's 'womyn born womyn' intention comes under fire from one of the state's largest LGBT advocacy organizations.

BY Parker Marie Molloy

July 29 2014 10:35 AM ET

Equality Michigan launched a petition urging organizers of the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival to put an end to their 'Womyn Born Womyn' intention on Monday. The rule, which festival organizers insist is not an official policy, has been described by many as transphobic.

"[W]e reject the premise that transgender women are lesser than, we reject that this belief is a tenant of feminism, and we will no longer respect the 'intention' or that 'leaving the onus on each individual to choose whether or how to respect it' equates to inclusion," Equality Michigan wrote in a blog post. "To us, this sounds like the arguments we heard around 'don't ask, don't tell' — and like that policy, this one just doesn't work for us."

Later, the organization calls upon lesbian, gay, and bisexual people to "stand up, even if it is to our own, and make it clear that transgender women deserve to be treated as women in all settings," and adding, "The time has come, we are drawing a line in the sand, this 'intention' can no longer stand."

The petition calls for an end to the "womyn born womyn" intention, for festival cofounder Lisa Vogel to meet with leaders in the transgender community, for vendors and workshop leaders to publicly voice support for an end to the policy, and for artists and attendees to boycott the festival and instead perform at and support trans-inclusive women's events. Additionally, the petition calls on performers already committed to this year's festival to denounce the current policy from the stage, and commit to not participating in future years.

Michfest performer Crystal Bowersox told The Advocate in May that the she believes "in equality for everyone, and I do hope that in the future the Womyn's Fest will choose to include transgender women. In your heart, in your mind, in your lifestyle, in your body — if you're a woman, you're a woman. That's that."

Bowersox continued, saying that she remains torn on the issue, and understands the festival's current stance. She followed this by asking festival management to "open their hearts and minds a little more."

Equality Michigan's petition can be found here.

The 2014 Michigan Womyn's Music Festival is scheduled August 5 through 10.

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