The Indigo Girls need to stop including the ‘T’ in their community activism languageOnline Only, Trans Progressive Thursday, October 11th, 2012
BY AUTUMN SANDEEN
What is the “My Family. Together.” campaign that was launched in February 2012? According to Immigration Equality:
“For couples facing separation, exile or undocumented status, the president’s inaction has serious, immediate consequences. Today, we are telling the president: We can’t wait.
Today, we’re launching a new campaign – My Family. Together. – to tell our families’ stories and to tell the president to stop denying our families the simple right to be lawfully together in the country they love.”
The Indigo Girls recently posted a video on YouTube for this campaign in which they framed the issue as an LGBTQ campaign. I personally object to Amy Ray and Emily Saliers including the T in their use of LGBTQ. In 2005 and 2010 the band participated in segregation of trans women out from all other women. Because of this, the band members have no credibility to speak on behalf of trans people and issues.
Where they participated in discrimination of trans women is their multiple performances at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival (MWMF) which has an explicit “womyn-born-womyn” policy for attendance at the festival. The articulation of the phrase “womyn-born-womyn” in the MWMF attendance policy is specifically meant to exclude trans women from the festival who were assigned male at birth. The Indigo Girls, by participating in the event, have knowingly participated in segregationist behavior.
And, it was knowingly – especially for their 2010 performance at the MWMF. In 2005 it appeared for a brief moment that the MWMF had changed their segregationist policy. However, Lisa Vogel – the lead organizer for the annual festival – put out a press release to clarify their policy hadn’t changed. Vogel, speaking directly to trans women, stated:
“Since 1976, the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival has been created by and for womyn-born womyn, that is, womyn who were born as and have lived their entire life experience as womyn. Despite claims to the contrary by Camp Trans organizers, the Festival remains a rare and precious space intended for womyn-born womyn.”
In 2005, the Indigo Girls performed at the MWMF. And with that 2005 controversy, Amy Ray interviewed trans women and Lisa Vogel, and posted these conversations on the Indigo Girls‘ Web site (Correspondence: 2005-06-13: Amy – Michigan Womyn’s Fest Interviews: Interviews #1 and #3). Ray and Saliers are very aware that the MWMF‘s “womyn-born-womyn” policy is meant as a segregationist policy directed at the minority population of trans women. As Jessica Snodgrass, a then on-land organizer from Camp Trans (a protest held outside of the MWMF each year) stated in a published interview with Amy Ray, “Camp Trans‘ mission is to change the policy from ‘women-born, women only’ to ‘all self-identified women.’”
And … “I will tell you that, the transsexual women who I know, who are in my everyday life, and in my feminist and women’s communities outside of Michigan, had a different kind of girlhood. And, one that I can’t imagine because I’m not a transsexual woman, but one that I can relate to because I still grew up a girl.”
Trans women are women in the same way that African American women, disabled women and women veterans are women. To have a policy at the MWMF that identifies one kind of woman as a kind that’s not welcome at the festival is discriminatory… is segregationist.
Yet knowing this, in 2010 the Indigo Girls again performed at the MWMF. By performing at that 2010 festival, they knew the festival segregated against trans women in the festival entry policy. And with those thoughts in mind, it’s safe to say the Indigo Girls knowingly participated in anti-transgender segregation.
Which, if they believe in anti-transgender segregation – or even just as alleged allies of trans people tolerate that kind of discrimination – then they are free to hold that tolerance of gender inequality.
But, two years later, to speak on behalf of trans people for Immigration Equality and their “My Family. Together.” campaign by referring to LGBTQ community in their video: No. The Indigo Girls should not speak on behalf of trans people because of their past tolerance of – and participation in – anti-transgender segregation.
And too, Immigration Equality should distance themselves from the Indigo Girls video. Having the Indigo Girls speak on behalf of the T-community in their “My Family. Together.” campaign is simply not acceptable.
Short URL: http://lgbtweekly.com/?p=30051