The Seven Sisters Festival in the Mornington Peninsula, South-East of Melbourne, is in trouble about whether to admit trans women. According to PinkNews, they would admit post-op trans women, but not pre-op: As we have advertised the festival as a sacred women’s only space – having individuals onsite who are physically men would be breaking the trust of many women.
We are however open to transgender women who have undertaken all operative measures to become a woman to come and partake in the festival.
Now, they have backed down a little: Seven Sisters have at no time expressed any official statement regarding our position on trans inclusivity, but we are now seeking legal advice on this matter, hearing the voices of our patrons as well as engaging into dialogue with the transgender community.
Therefore, as a part of maintaining the integrity of our community, in the next month, we will send a confidential survey to our fellow sisters who have and will be attending next years festival so they can share their opinions without fear of bullying.
Who is “Bullying” depends on your view. Some would say excluding those who experience ourselves as women is bullying, however formal and unemotional the language used to express the rule.
How would they know? Pre-op, if I was tucked and wearing tummy-control pants, and a pair of tights, lifting my skirt would not be enough: the suspicious TERF would have to put her hand between my legs to be sure. Though if I got in, I would have to be careful thereafter.
Possibly, excluding all trans women would offend cis women attenders. Excluding pre-op or non-op trans women might be a stance TERFs might feel they could defend, on the grounds of being “unsafe” if there are penises about, or feeling unsafe after life-long experience of violence from men, if they perceive the trans woman as a man.
In order to attend, we need the support of cis women. I want all trans women to be able to attend; I do not want to be the tolerated trans woman when sisters are excluded. But one Women’s Institute accepts trans women who intend to live the rest of their lives as women. There is another boundary: what of those who identify as outside the binary? This is a women’s festival. I want safe space for women.
I feel that the quiet calm expression of our feelings, and our desire to support and conciliate, should be enough to win over most women. Not everyone: on facebook, there are TERF statements like this: Seven Sisters, many womyn are holding our ground on this, and are rightfully pissed off that intimate gatherings and spaces are being invaded by the mentally un-well who think their taste in clothing and childhood toys make their lived experience the same or worse than females. These are males with aggrieved entitlement issues and their demands made on women to let them go and do as they please tell a very familiar tale. Behold the standard TERF tactic of dehumanising us and ridiculing our feelings to make monsters of us.
We need the cis women to answer this. And they do, for example: If i had a double mastectomy, and a full hysterectomy, am i no longer ‘female’? Sisterhood…celebrating the rising feminine energy, supporting, nourishing and empowering female energy is not what this festival is.
Every indigenous culture acknowledged, accepted and included transgenders, they were honoured as that which they were most inherantly identified with….(without genital reconstruction work).
There are a small minority, called TERFs, who are very very angry and loud about trans women. Give them their head, and they will alienate the majority. Excluding people is unattractive. When I was excluded from women’s space, cis women stood up for me.
I am grateful that this post has been featured on T-Central, a blog with links to a variety of trans blogs. Welcome, if you come from there. Please comment: how would you respond to the Festival organisers?