Australian Lesfest seeks to exclude transgendered women

By admin

Originally published on Advocate.com September 30 2003 11:00 PM ET

Organizers of an Australian lesbian festival were told Tuesday to remove the words "female-born" from their advertising after transsexuals called the wording offensive, Agence France-Presse reports. Earlier this month, organizers of Lesfest were given the go-ahead to advertise for only "female-born" lesbians to attend or work at the festival, through an exemption from equal opportunities laws. They wanted even the caterers to be lesbians. But the Victorian Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal overturned its earlier ruling Tuesday, after hearing a complaint from transsexual lobby group the Australian WOMAN Network. Karen Gurney, co-convenor of the transsexuals group, said the exemption caused "distress" among its members, as it failed to recognize transsexuals as medically and legally female.

But Anna Holland-Moore, spokeswoman for Lesfest, said there is a difference between lesbians brought up female and those brought up male. "It's not about excluding; it's about affirmation of our identity," said Holland-Moore. "We just wanted a week together to consolidate our culture and discuss relevant issues." The exemption would have allowed the group to recruit staff and attendees who were exclusively lesbians born as women. They also want to ban boys over age 8 and nonlesbian girls over age 15. Lesfest organizers said they have not yet decided whether to reapply for an exemption or just send out private invitations to the event, due to be held on bushland in January at Daylesford in Victoria state.