I am not disputing your right to hold a festival and limit the membership in any way you choose.
But I will not be attending.
I will not attend any womenborn women only festival, no matter how it's spelled. I cannot lend my voice and support to any group that excludes so many fine women without knowing who they are or what they believe in, simply because of a tragic accident of birth that has already caused them a quantity of pain, grief, and suffering that I can only dimly imagine.
I can, however, speak out for them as a woman lucky enough to be born with a woman's body.
I know a fair number of woman who were not so lucky.
But they are still women, born with the attitudes, the reactions, the thought processes; the souls of women.
Born women, but with the bodies of boys, they were forced to live a lie. Knowing, in the deep core inside where we all know who we are, that they were women, they were required to participate in a masquerade. Knowing it was a fraud. Terrified that they would be discovered, and that their essential womanliness would be exposed to a jeering world.
At some point, the pain became too much. The deceit became intolerable. The sham became unlivable.
At some point, they decided to throw off their chains. To reach their full potential as the women they actually were.
None of those I know were wealthy.
They had to scrimp, and save, and sacrifice for years in order to pay for the counseling, the surgery, the electrolysis.
They had to give up all kinds of things to be able to give up earning power, the social clout, the automatic acceptance that is the birthright of the male in this society.
Doing without so that they could be sexually harrassed in the workplace and on the street. So that they could be talked over and assumed to be stupid. So that they could be viewed as meat and not as people.
So that they could lift their heads and be themselves.
I have known some of these women since before they made that decision.
The first one I met when I was barely out of my teens, at a science fiction convention. I didn't know how to respond to her. She was clearly a woman, with all the mannerisms of a woman. She read as "Female" on every single level except the physical. But she had a penis, and a man's name, and was trying to play the part of a man. I found it very confusing and uncomfortable. When she finally decided to become a woman, I was vastly relieved; now the outside would match the inside. Now the mistake that had been made in her mother's womb would be corrected. Now I could call my sister my sister without fear of offending her.
When one of these women makes the decision to throw off the charade, she is met with varied reactions. But rarely is anyone who knows her well surprised. They all knew that she was a woman all along.
As we are women.
And one of the great strengths of women is our ability to empathise, to look beyond the surface of things.
As such, I feel that we should be welcoming these women with open arms. Welcoming them as sisters who have overcome great suffering, and prejudice, and huge odds to realize their potential and grow as women.
After all, isn't that one of the things that we are celebrating at this point in history? Our vast ability to overcome? Our enormous strength and resiliancy as we take our rightful place in the sun? Our huge capacity for living through all kinds of adversity and growing anyway?
Why, instead, are we adding to their pain?
Why are we becoming the oppressors?
Why are we driving them away?
Why do we refuse to understand them?
Why do we cover our ears, and deafen ourselves to their voices?
They are our sisters!
Born women on the inside, where it counts.
Let's welcome them, and cherish them, and learn from them.
Let's treat them as we would treat any other woman.
Let us overcome oppression, not add to it, so that we can all heal, and become the women that we were born to be.
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