Camp Trans

Every summer in Walhalla, Michigan there is a “Womyn’s Music Festival” — here’s a link to their page with their information. That all sounds beautiful, find and dandy… except since it’s conception, it’s been a festival for “womyn born womyn” only, or as those who know about it would know it, WBW. As can be assumed, this has sparked a lot of controversy.

Some of the responses have been by wearing arm bands (yellow) to show opposition to the WBW policy, artists who have previously performed have refused to do so based on this issue, and the most beautiful response to the issue… Camp Trans.

Camp Trans was sparked by Nancy Burkholder being thrown out of the WMF in 1991 based on the fact that she was a transwoman. This event made clear the fact that transwomen were not allowed inside of the festival and it sparked the first protests. These first protests were small and were both trans and cis women and often took place inside the grounds.

Since then, there have been multiple steps forward and back on the issue — transwomen have actually been sold passes to the festival and have helped in trans-inclusion workshops and protests within the grounds, but most of the forward motion comes from the camp itself.

The existence of Camp Trans is to help empower activists to embrace the vision that, while a women’s only festival is something they actively support, the exclusion of transwomen from that space  is a knock against the values that the women who run the WMF are apparently trying to foster.

The camp takes place at the same time as the festival, with their own series of workshops and organized picketing at the festival. They make the point of asking those who support them to spend time at their camp instead of trying to protest inside the festival, because it really does require the voice of trans-women in order to make a point, and they are still unrepresented inside of the festival (except for on rare occasions which have been marked within the history of Camp Trans) — the fact of the matter is, since 2007 they will admit transwomen to the festival, but they still do not open support them as members of the MWF community, which is still a blind prejudice against them as a whole.

The camp itself has around 200 people who attend — all that is asked is respect of the other patrons, a donation for community-made food, helping keep camp running by participating in workshifts, and an open mind. It is a wonderful opportunity for anyone who really wants transwomen to have a voice to be able to be heard, and it’s nearby, too! I know someone who has attended, and she says it’s one of the absolute best experiences she’s ever had as far as being an active voice in the trans community and helping her grow as well.


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