|Message In a Bottle (to '07 organizers)
||[Sep. 18th, 2006|09:00 am]
Hi Camp Trans '07 organizers,
As I write this the '07 committee has not yet formed. I hope you do soon because you face a lot of challenges this year and you need the time to prepare. As the former activist organizer I want to pass on some advice. Use what makes sense to you.
Most of you know at least some of what happened at Festival in '06. Festival sold me a wristband knowing of my status as an out trans woman. Many wonderful womyn, especially Yellow Armbands, Babeland, and longtime friends like Gail welcomed me at Festival. Lisa Vogel wrote me a letter about Festival policy and I explained in detail how I have lived my entire life as a womon- a trans womon. Lisa Vogel had the opportunity to refuse me re-entry to Festival or to revise or clarify the policy in a way that would exclude me and she did not. I attended a workshop on trans inclusion led by another trans womon from CT and we both came out during the workshop. I did these things on behalf of Camp Trans and with the support of many wonderful folks at CT and Fest. All of this changes things for next year and as organizers you need to prepare.
Prepare for organizing. Think really carefully about how to organize the organizers for '07. Having a larger committee will lighten the load, but it will add new and exciting difficulties in communication and decision making.
Prepare for growth. I never anticipated how many folks would come to Camp Trans in '06. You can't predict how many folks will show up a year in advance, but if you want me to venture a guess, I would say "More." That will mean a need for more resources, more fund-raising, and probably more programming... all of which you folks can handle if you get started Soon.
Prepare for change. Camp Trans changes every year. And sometimes that change goes in unexpected directions. Camp Trans will change in ways that no one, myself included, can anticipate. You can guide the changes, but you can't control them or prevent them.
Prepare for visitors. The womyn from Festival who visited Camp Trans in '06 found Camp Trans a friendly welcoming place. Because Festival has allowed out trans womyn to attend and significant numbers of Festival womyn have welcomed us, more womyn who support the inclusion of trans womyn will likely attend festival and want to visit Camp Trans. I hope that just as they welcome trans womyn that Camp Trans will welcome them.
Prepare for difficult choices. I know you will face many. One you face right away. Will you choose the olive branch or the sword? A lot of folks have a lot of very real anger at Festival and at Lisa Vogel. Festival allows trans womyn to buy membership, but the policy has not ended. Yellow Armbands womyn who attend festival have already begun organizing to welcome trans womyn in '07.
If you choose the sword, you can do a lot of damage. Lisa Vogel's press release put the policy right out there in black and white again. Just remember that if you attack festival, that you attack all the womyn at festival including the ones actively organizing to change festival. My girlfriend Pam likes to say "What you resist, persists." If you use the policy to attack Festival, womyn will rush to defend both Festival and the policy. And those same womyn will make life much more difficult for trans allies and trans womyn on the land in '07.
If you choose the olive branch, you have more allies within Festival than ever before. The reality of letting trans womyn in and of womyn at Festival welcoming us has much more impact inside Festival than a policy that, if enforced, would exclude significant numbers of womyn who Festival has welcomed for years. We have the potential to recruit even more allies of trans womyn to attend and change Festival. We have the potential for unprecedented levels of cooperation with allies within festival. We have the potential for a lot more than that.
So, win the womyn or fight the policy? I joined Yellow Armbands organizing because I believe that an unenforced policy will not stand when womyn, including trans womyn, unite for inclusion. To the outside world Festival looks hierarchical with Lisa Vogel making policy and pronouncements. Inside the gates Festival functions as a collective. Womyn work as volunteers to make Festival happen every year. We have the opportunity to show womyn at Festival that out trans womyn and our allies can work and play alongside them without destroying Festival. When enough womyn see that, the policy will end.
As a Yellow Armbands organizer, I stand prepared to assist Camp Trans '07 organizers either way. If you choose the sword, I will try to limit the damage and convince allies at Festival that trans womyn still support them. If you choose the olive branch, that opens up a world of possibilities.
Just dont be an apologist. All I am sayin.
As for size and growth: this was actually one of the smaller attendance years I have seen at Camp Trans.
Rest assured that I don't support trans-exclusive policies at festival or otherwise. If I ever become an apologist for such things you have my permission to deliver a good swift kick to my backside.
PS. IM me sometime. We should talk. LorrraineAD
Well, personally I think that the folks who ought to decide any strategy for change at Michigan should be trans women who have a sincere desire to actually, you know, attend festival. And Lorraine is right on about that strategy.
I really really wish she hadn't expressed it in such a patronizing, 'elder-status' tone that makes her lack of faith in CT pretty apparent. YA armbands folks need to realize that CT comes with a whole history that is not just going to change overnight. Some bad decisions were made, sure, but we are where we are because, not in spite, of Camp Trans.
Right now there is a good debate going on about how protest should proceed, or whether protest should even continue to be a part of CT, and they need to let that happen.
I agree 100% about who should decide how to seek change.
And for whatever good it will do, I apologize to you and anyone else who found my tone patronizing. At age 38 I have to own my status as an elder at least by Camp Trans standards. Frankly I wish that I had gotten more advice before *I* became a Camp Trans organizer.
I have tremendous respect for a lot of the folks who have organized Camp Trans over the years. And I agree 100% that Camp Trans has made a difference. So many people at Camp Trans and at Fest had done so much work on this issue that when I bought the ticket I felt as if I stood on the shoulders of giants.
When I get passionate about this issue I do so because I genuinely care. And I recognize how much many other people, including you, care as well.
Since I turn 39 on 12/1 I found it amusing in 2004 that I wound up being the 3rd oldest one there (only behind Nancy B and Jessy X) with you right behind. Nearly everyone else was in their 20s
Elder status at Camp is not just based upon age, however. It is also necessitated by how many Camp Transes (awkward plural) one has attended in full and participated in. It is experiential.
Yes, and I want to attend the festival just as much as most. In fact, I recall that in previous years Lorraine and I were the only transwomen at Camp who actually liked the festival and wanted to attend. I just told myself that I would never attend until the ORGANIZATIONAL BODY that holds the festival allows transwomen in, and in this case they have not allowed us in on an ethical level even if they have let us purchase tickets. And I simply cannot get behind the idea that the festival is the body of attendees and not the organizers.
Just like Camp Trans is responsible for its organizing body and the Yellow Armbands (many of whom rock) are responsible for their organizing body (and thus deserving of being cut out in my opinion) so is the festival responsible for their organizing body, and I will not attend until that organizational body changes its attitude. Because regardless of how many hugs and laughs are shared on the land, the very act of being on the land and funding the organizing body implies tacit support of those organizers.
It makes me sad that Lorraine's money will be ending up in the pockets of those organizers and in the financial accounts of a festival that is organized by transphobes.
Just my 2p, but while it would be nice to think something has changed, my guess is that any open transwoman on the land will be driven from the festival by hatemongers next year. (And blamed for causing a problem.) I do not think the rabid hatemongering anti-transpeople will allow a repeat of this year no matter how many of the passive opposition have been converted to passive support. And the corporate ownership of WWTM Inc. will side with them they wouldn't host the single largest gathering point for anti-trans hate organizing on the internet.
Hatemongers when backed into a corner become more extreme and more aggressive.