“The New Definition of Women Writers”: how transgender erases female artists
April 9, 2014
Very interesting article on the impact of “transgender” undermining the parity campaign of women playwrights whose works are underrepresented because of their sex. Do female artists deserve equal opportunities to have their plays produced, or can women’s voices be replaced by males who believe they “feel” female?
From the article :
“Several weeks ago at a gathering of Washington DC theater critics and artistic directors called “the Summit” a furor was started over the lack of work by women playwrights at major American theaters. Asked to explain the reason for this well established low representation of plays by women, one artist director explained that there just aren’t enough talented women playwrights in the pipeline, and that it will take at least a decade to fix the problem.
Outrage ensued, and rightfully so. It was an inane explanation, and one that is insulting to thousands of women playwrights who face real, institutional barriers to having their work produced.
As a result of the kerfuffle several theater artists around the country began compiling lists of accomplished women playwrights. One blogger ironically called it a binder full of women for theater companies looking for gender diversity. What has emerged from these efforts is an open source google document called “We Exist” listing over 1,200 playwrights, and its still growing. But somehow, this list of women playwrights has transformed into a list of “female and/or trans* playwrights.” The asterisk after trans is not a footnote its a…well, I don’t understand exactly what it is, but it has replaced “trans” without an apostrophe as the appropriate nomenclature. If your following the terms as they go by.
No doubt the addition of trans* playwrights to the list was an attempt at inclusion by a group who themselves feel excluded, and as such is perhaps laudable. But in another sense this confusing broadening of the definition of women undermines the effort for which the list was created in the first place. The inclusion of trans* writers suggests that a theater company can fulfill its commitment to gender parity without actually producing any plays written by people born as women. And in a more fundamental way it reduces the meaning of the word woman to whatever a man thinks it means since at any point a man can decide he is a woman and expect to be considered one.”
Read the article in full here:
[bolding by me-GM]