The other women's festival - Camp Trans


NOTE: refer to womyn's fest story on page 17//jb

By Dawn Wolfe Gutterman

HART, Mich. - While the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival rocks across the street, Camp Trans 2006 will continue their sixteen-year protest of MWMF's "womyn-born woman" policy and educate festival-goers about the issues facing transgender women.

Camp Trans takes place in a national park nearby MWMF, according to the Camp Trans Web site.

The controversy began in 1991, when a transwoman was ejected from MWMF, according to the Camp Trans Web site. However, the event has evolved into "an experience in and of itself," Strategy Coordinator Lorraine Donaldson said in a past interview.

Political activity is a central facet of life at Camp Trans. Participants "walk the line" along the dirt road entrance to the music festival, educating festival-goers about the event's exclusionary policy and the women's community as a whole. According to a statement from this year's Camp Trans organizers, "MWMF's so-called 'womyn-born womyn' policy sets a transphobic standard for women-only spaces across the country, and contributes to an environment in women's and lesbian communities that discrimination against trans women is considered acceptable."

ÒThese policies harm more than just trans womenÓ, Donaldson said. ÒI think one thing that's very important about the protest aspect of Camp Trans is to recognize that excluding trans women from Festival hurts more than just the trans women."

A MWMF volunteer disagreed.

"Our position has always been, affinity groups have a right to congregate together and so this is an affinity group for women who want to be with women-born-women," said Sandy Ramsey. "And we ask that people respect that because we feel like any gender category has a right to do that and we see women-born-women as a legitimate gender category and having the right to congregate.

"What I always stress is that what Michigan is about is about who comes here, not about who doesnÕt come here. And who comes here are women-born-women who want to be with other women-born-women. Who we are and what we do is pretty much out there so ... I wouldnÕt imagine they would have much to say to us. And they donÕt because thatÕs who we are and thatÕs who weÕre for and we ask everyone to respect that. ThatÕs all we can do."

Ryka Aoki de la Cruz, a Los Angeles-based writer and performer who will be performing this year at Camp Trans, implied that MWMF is behind the times when it comes to trans acceptance. ÒEventually, Michfest will change with the times or lose its relevance," she said. "I believe in the womyn's movement, and trust that over all prejudices; eventually we come closer and closer to recognizing and celebrating all womyn, regardless of color, economic, religious or trans status. To Michfest, I say, get with the times, or get out of the way. In either case, though, where you closed your doors to me, my doors will be open to you. Even estranged sisters are still family, even when it hurts."Ê

De la Cruz's call is being heard well beyond Michigan. The 2006 Camp Trans organizers hail from as far away as Rhode Island and Pennsylvania, as well as Michigan and Wisconsin.

This year's Camp Trans will run from Aug. 6-13. In addition to walking the MWMF's entry line to educate festival-goers and holding workshops, Camp Trans will feature three nights of performers from Aug. 11-13. For more information visit www.camp-trans.org.

Entertainment at Camp Trans

The 2006 Camp Trans will feature the following performers:

Thursday, Aug. 11:

Vanessa Marie Spitzer - www.myspace.com/vanessamariespitzer

Athens Boys Choir - www.athensboyschoir.com

Friday, Aug. 12:

Stephanie Loveless - www.myspace.com/stephanieloveless

Ami Mattison -www.myspace.com/amimattison

The New Minority - www.myspace.com/thenewminority

The Shondes - www.shondes.com

Saturday, Aug. 13:

Trainwreck

ryka aoki de la cruz - www.rykaryka.com

Rae Spoon - www.raespoon.com

Chris Azzopardi contributed to this report.

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