REUTERS/Larry Downing photo of President Obama with HUD appointee Julian Castro

REUTERS/Larry Downing photo of President Obama with HUD appointee Julian Castro

 

The Department of Housing and Urban Development joined other Obama agencies Tuesday in ruling that ‘Gender Identity’ determines reproductive biology and overrides Title IX sex-based protections for women and girls in homeless shelters. The department defines Gender Identity as “the gender with which a person identifies, regardless of the sex assigned to that person at birth and regardless of the person’s perceived gender identity.” [p70]

The ruling allows any male to access female sleeping quarters, showers, and restrooms on the basis of self-declared ‘Gender Identity’. Questioning such a declaration on any basis is ruled as discriminatory and women’s rational need for privacy and safety from male violence is dismissed as “unsubstantiated fears” [p52]. 

The rule explicitly forbids requesting evidence of a “transition”, including duration, consistency, or sincerity of belief in declared ‘Gender Identity’. There is no provision to address men who may assert ‘Gender Identity’ for an improper purpose:

“HUD also revises paragraph (b) to add a provision that the policies and procedures must ensure that individuals are not subjected to intrusive questioning or asked to provide anatomical information or documentary, physical, or medical evidence of the individual’s gender identity.”[p13]

HUD disregards with a handwave the rationale for protection of female privacy and safety against male violence behind the Congress’s Title IX provision for sex-segregation in areas of public nudity:

“Contrary to the public comment that suggests what Congress’s intent was in creating single-sex facilities, HUD does not opine on Congress’s intent behind permitting single-sex facilities, but does make clear in this rule that, for purposes of determining placement in a single-sex facility, placement should be made consistent with an individual’s gender identity. This rule does not attempt to interpret or define sex.” [p30]

Yet the HUD ruling does re-define legal sex -as a characteristic on par with sex-stereotypes of “appearance, behavior, expression”- falling under the newly invented federal category of “Perceived Gender Identity”:

“Perceived gender identity means the gender with which a person is perceived to identify based on that person’s appearance, behavior, expression, other gender related characteristics, or sex assigned to the individual at birth or identified in documents.” [p70]

The ruling itself re-defines ‘sex’ as a component of ‘Perceived Gender Identity’ but the agency also defines ‘Gender Identity’ as a “component of sex’ in its response to public comment:

“In response to the comment with regard to this rule’s impact on a “legal sex category,” this rule does not provide a definition of “woman” or “sex.” In this rule, HUD notes that gender identity—and whether a person identifies with their sex assigned at birth or not—is a component of sex.” [p45]

HUD cites the Title IX re-interpretation of other Obama appointed agencies (which call for the elimination of sex as a protected category) as precedent for Tuesday’s ruling, making no mention of the current legal challenges to this very interpretation by 23 states and various private litigants:

“Consistent with the approach taken by other Federal agencies, HUD has determined that the most appropriate way for shelter staff to determine an individual’s gender identity for purposes of a placement decision is to rely on the individual’s self-identification of gender identity.” [p39]

HUD cites various internet surveys as evidence that males with ‘Gender Identities’ are at greater risk of harassment and violence than women and girls. Therefore HUD rules that women and girls must be forced by the state to sacrifice their own safety and absorb the risk from males who prefer sleeping and bathing among women. HUD addresses the safety concerns of individuals with ‘Gender Identities’ extensively, including those who ‘identify as’ having no reproductive biology at all:

“In circumstances where an individual does not identify as male or female and such information is relevant to placement and accommodation, the individual should be asked the gender with which the individual most closely identifies. In these circumstances, the individual is in the best position to specify the more appropriate gender-based placement as well as the placement that is most likely to be the safest for the individual—either placement with males or placement with females.” [p48]

Yet HUD completely disregards voluminous FBI, CDC, and other forensic documentation of epidemic sex-based violence against women committed by males as “beyond the scope” of the ruling, wrapping up their dismissal with a version of the classic ‘but women rape too!’:

“HUD’s rule requires that individuals be accommodated in accordance with their gender identity. It is beyond the scope of this rule to detail methods for best serving victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking. However, as discussed earlier, this final rule requires that providers must take nondiscriminatory steps that may be necessary and appropriate to address privacy concerns raised by all residents or occupants. HUD notes that both victims and perpetrators of domestic violence and other VAWA crimes include persons who are transgender or gender nonconforming individuals and persons who are not”. [p58]

HUD fully expects violence, (which it calls “physical harassment”) to occur between homeless women and the males placed in female sleeping and bathing areas as a result of this ruling:

“If some occupants initially present concerns about transgender or gender nonconforming occupants to project staff and managers, staff should treat those concerns as opportunities to educate and refocus the occupants. HUD recognizes that, even then, conflicts may persist and complaints may escalate to verbal or physical harassment. In these situations, providers should have policies and procedures in place to support residents and staff in addressing and resolving conflicts that escalate to harassment.”[p17]

Strangely, although statistics show that female stranger violence against males is an infinitesimal probability compared to the reverse, the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development is, yet again, solely concerned with the former- the issue of women’s protection from male violence being “beyond the scope” of the Obama administration’s mandate to eliminate sex-based protections for women.

 

Read the full HUD decision here:

https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2016-22589.pdf

 

.

protest 2

Photo from Twiter

*BREAKING STORY*

London – Furious at the impending erasure of women’s rights resulting from the 2015 Parliamentary Women and Equalities Committee Report headed by the Conservative Party’s Maria Miller, women representing a coalition of feminist, progressive, and lesbian organizations picketed today’s Westminster Social Policy Forum on Transgender Rights.

 

Protesters expressed outrage at the Committee’s recommendation to remove sex-based protections for women and girls by erasing the protected category of ‘sex’ and replacing it with an undefined category of ‘gender identity’. The proposed change would eliminate the ability of women to seek redress under law for sex discrimination and sex inequality. Such violations would no longer be recognized by the state as the category of ‘sex’ itself would no longer exist.

 

If the Equality Committee’s recommendations go forth as planned, the elimination of legal sex as a protected class will be replaced by an individual’s declaration of their subjective and internal gender-based “feelings”. This would give men who proclaim such gender feelings the legal right to expose themselves in women’s locker rooms and other single-sex facilities where public nudity occurs and where women are particularly vulnerable. Convicted male prisoners who proclaim gender feelings will be housed in cells with confined female prisoners who will have no legal grounds to object. Men will have the right to compete in women’s sports, apply for women’s scholarships, and the right to serve as female proxies by occupying affirmative action slots which formerly served to address sex inequality in women’s representation in public life. Single-sex rape crisis services, women’s refuges, lesbian public events, will become illegal on the grounds they discriminate against the gender feelings of men.

bathroom-uk_640x345_acf_cropped

From a flyer distributed at the protest:

 

Women’s voices are being ignored and our rights eroded in the name of ‘transgender equality’. Current policy recommendations regarding transgender rights have a potentially adverse effect on women in a number of ways:

 

  • The pressure on parents to accept a trans diagnosis for a gender non-conforming child, based on gender stereotypes of clothing and toy preferences; or in the case of teenagers, to give in to the social media contagion to which they might be susceptible.

 

  • The threat to current sex-based rights, which keep males and females segregated in public places where women and girls might be physically vulnerable. These include toilets, changing rooms, rape crisis centres, refuges, hospital wards and prisons.

 

  • The inclusion of male-bodied, male-socialised people, into areas of success and achievement where women currently have their own space in order to make competition fair or to level the playing field. These include sports, prizes and awards, shortlists and quotas.

 

  • The negative affect on the lesbian community of the pressure on young women to identify as trans rather than as lesbian. There is also pressure to accept male-bodied self-identified ‘lesbians’ as sexual partners.

 

  • The skewing of national statistics regarding crime, due to the higher rate of offending by male transitioners as opposed to women, with possible knock-on effects on funding for women’s services.

 

  • The effect on the ‘trans widows’ of men (and it mostly is men) who transition in middle age. There is nowhere for these women to turn: all the help and support is directed towards the ‘trans’ person.

 

  • The changing of language pertinent to women and girls in order to make it more trans-inclusive, thereby making ‘women’s issues’ impossible to talk about. This includes the use of such terms as ‘pregnant people’ by health providers.

 

 

No women’s groups were invited to testify at the 2015 Women’s and Equalities Committee hearings on the largest proposed rollback to the legal status of women since the birth of the Suffrage Movement.

The Independent covered the growing outrage in January of this year, reporting on Committee Chair MP Maria Miller: “The former Culture secretary said she was taken aback by the “extraordinary” hostility from a minority of women “purporting to be feminists”.

“The only negative reaction that I’ve seen has been by individuals purporting to be feminists,” Miller went on to say.

Fellow committee member, Labour MP Jess Phillips, was quoted as saying: “Some feminists prioritise gender equality above all else, but I think we should also do our bit to promote general equality.”

 

Today’s public forum at Congress Centre in London was organized by the same individuals behind the proposal to erase legal sex-based protections for women and girls. From the event page:

We are delighted to include at this seminar keynote addresses from Jackie Driver, Director, Funded Programmes, Equality and Human Rights Commission; Will Huxter, Regional Director of Specialised Commissioning (London) and Chair, Gender Identity Task and Finish Group, NHS England and Ade Rawcliffe, Creative Diversity Manager, Channel 4.

Helen Belcher, Trustee, Trans Media Watch; Dr Polly Carmichael, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Clinical Director, Gender Identity Development Service, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust; Peter Dawson, Deputy Director, Prison Reform Trust; Dave Frost, Vice-Chair, LGBT Committee, Equity; Susie Green, Chief Executive Officer, Mermaids UK; Dr Debbie Hayton, Head of Physics, King Henry VIII School, Coventry, West Midlands; Member, NASUWT and Member, TUC LGBT Committee; Delia Johnston, Specialist Diversity Consultant, Trans in Sport; Anna Lee, Vice President, Welfare and Community, Lancaster University Students’ Union; Megan Key, Equalities Manager, National Probation Service; Steve Mulcahy, Headteacher, Richard Lander School, Cornwall have also agreed to speak.

Baroness Barker, Vice Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights and Ruth Cadbury MP, Member, Women and Equalities Committee have kindly agreed to chair this seminar.

The agenda [http://www.westminsterforumprojects.co.uk/forums/agenda/transgender-equality-2016-agenda.pdf]

protest 3

Photo from Twitter

Women’s groups represented at the protest include the Women and Girls Equality Network, Transgender Trend, UK Lesbian Rights Group, and Parents Campaigning for Sex Equality for Children, among others.

Another flyer from protesters:

flyer 2

 

*UPDATES TO THIS STORY WILL BE POSTED IN COMMENTS BELOW*

protest1

Photo from Twitter

women speak out 1 women speak out 2

Julian Castro- Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and no friend to women and girls.

Julian Castro- Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and no friend to women and girls.

Julian Castro, the US Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (and the likely Vice Presidential running-mate of Hilary Clinton) has announced his agency’s intention to eliminate the legally protected category of sex in homeless shelters nationwide, eliminating the right of vulnerable women and girls to shower, sleep and toilet separately from homeless men.

HUD had previously issued a non-binding “guidance” document back in February 2015 suggesting that physical sex be redefined as “actual or perceived gender-related characteristics” and prohibiting those providers of homeless services who receive HUD funding from inquiring about the physical sex or sexual orientation of service recipients. Kind of a “don’t ask, don’t tell” provision. Providers were instructed to assess clients on the basis of adherence to sex-role stereotypes and make their own determination of the client’s transgender status. Those suspected of possible cross-sex identification were to be advised that the agency provides placement based on “gender-related characteristics”, and not physical sex: “where a provider is uncertain of the client’s sex or gender identity and that information matters for the determination of placement, the provider informs the client or potential client that the agency provides shelter based on the individual’s gender identity.”

HUD’s non-binding February 2015 “guidance” was similar to those recently issued by other Federal Obama administration agencies [such as the DOE’s “guidance” overturning Title IX protections for women and girls, and the DOL’s “guidance” eliminating privacy for women in workplace accommodations] which attempt to reinterpret existing protected sex categories into a cluster of unspecified psychological characteristics which the government redefines as the core human reproductive trait, overriding biology (or any other objective measure).

The proposed new rule is a modification of the previous “guidance” that HUD issued and will change federal law, officially removing sex as a protected category and creating precedent for other agencies to bypass the legislature, judiciary, and public debate in eliminating the legal category of sex under which women’s rights are protected. (HUD Secretary Julian Castro actually cites the DOE’s recent highly controversial reinterpretation of physical sex -as a subjective psychological self-perceived essence- under Title IX as the governmental authority which sets the precedent justifying his own agency’s move to elevate its internal “guidance” into federal regulation.)

Julian Castro’s new HUD rule will be the first official elimination of legal sex-based protections for private citizens under federal law by agency regulation, and homeless impoverished women in crisis- largely women of color with children, most of them survivors of male violence- are the first targets. Under this new law legal sex status will be redefined by the US government as “gender identity” defined as such:

“Gender identity means the gender with which a person identifies, regardless of the sex assigned to that person at birth.”

Biological sex will be conflated with sex-stereotypes of “appearance, behavior, expression and other gender-related characteristics” and become “perceived gender identity”:

“Perceived gender identity means the gender with which a person is perceived to identify based on that person’s appearance, behavior, expression, other gender-related characteristics, or sex assigned to the individual at birth.”

This law is designed to allow homeless males to bathe and bunk in shelters set aside for females and specifically forbids agencies to consider the rights of women and girls to bathe, bunk, and bathroom separately from men. There is no provision for “improper purpose”. There is no “right to privacy”. There are 18 references to “health and safety” issues and concerns but the source of potential dis-ease and danger is never identified:

“In deciding how to house a [transgender] victim, a recipient that provides sex-segregated housing may consider on a case-by-case basis whether a particular housing assignment would ensure the victim’s health and safety. A victim’s own views with respect to personal safety deserve serious consideration.”

“..taking health and safety concerns into consideration. A client’s or potential client’s own views with respect to personal health and safety should be given serious consideration in making the placement. For instance, if the potential client requests to be placed based on his or her sex assigned at birth, HUD assumes that the provider will place the individual in accordance with that request, consistent with health, safety, and privacy concerns.”

“..whether a particular housing assignment would ensure health and safety. It is prohibited for such a determination to be based solely on a person’s actual or perceived gender identity or on complaints of other shelter residents when those complaints are based on actual or perceived gender identity. It is likewise prohibited to deny appropriate placement based on a perceived threat to health or safety..”

“..legitimate safety concerns that may arise in any shelter, building, or facility covered by this rule.”

“..eliminate the safety risk and that has available accommodations..”

“…since it would not apply unless the facts and circumstances demonstrated a nondiscriminatory risk to health or safety that could not be eliminated or appropriately mitigated by policy adjustments and physical modifications to buildings and facilities.”

“HUD recognizes a limited exception to accommodating individuals in accordance with the individual’s gender identity when a recipient, subrecipient, owner, operator, manager, or provider identifies a legitimate safety risk that cannot be eliminated or appropriately mitigated”

“keeping a record of when a legitimate safety risk is identified.”

“accommodation is necessary to ensure health and safety. It shall be prohibited for such a determination to be based solely on a person’s actual or perceived gender identity, the complaints of other clients, beneficiaries, or employees when those complaints are based on actual or perceived gender identity, or on an actual or perceived threat to health or safety that can be mitigated in some other way that is less burdensome. In order to avoid unwarranted denials of placement in accordance with an individual’s gender identity, decisions to provide accommodations based on concern for the health and safety of the individual..”

  At no point is the nature of this “threat to health and safety” identified. Epidemic male violence is apparently not only a protected government-sanctioned institution beyond reproach but one which cannot be named. While a male or male-identified transgender client’s “own views with respect to personal safety deserve serious consideration” and his own views with respect to personal health and safety should be given serious consideration in making the placement”, women’s views with respect to their own personal safety are not only disregarded but explicitly prohibited by law: “It is likewise prohibited to deny appropriate placement based on a perceived threat to health or safety..”

Homeless males can identify as female or male and access whichever facility they prefer. Atlanta’s 600-bed Peachtree-Pine Shelter estimated that 5% of the male homeless population is transgender (using the no longer required definition: males who regularly adopt some social cues traditionally associated with females). “Women are allowed to stay in the men’s shelter — because Peachtree-Pine is not supposed to turn anyone away — but they can only stay in the lobby area overnight sitting upright in a chair, said Tony Thomas, the shelter’s spokesperson. So when given the option of sitting in a chair all night or sleeping in a cot, many transwomen will identify and “present” as male, he added.”

According to Mark “Mara” Keisling’s National Center for Trans Equality (NCTE) 49% of homeless transwomen report a history of criminal incarceration. [PDF]

Presumably this measure solely serves the desires of some men to be housed with women. Only a sociopath would suggest a female transgender (FTM) be housed among men. Toronto’s ‘Trans Communities Shelter Access Project’ claims that multiple homeless “transmen” have been gang-raped in men’s shelters: “Although a female-to-male trans person (trans man) might identify themselves as a man… the reality for many is that surgery and hormones are expensive, passing is out of reach, and men’s services are not safe for a trans man who may not pass. If an FtM has not been approved for testosterone, or had a mastectomy, (and even if he has…) then he is at risk for physical, verbal, and sexual assault in men’s dorms/ bathrooms/ and showers. There have been incidents of gang rape toward FtM’s in men’s shelters. Some FtM’s may choose to face these risks in a shelter that validates their identity… but they should not have to. There are no FtM shelters or rape crisis centers, so as men who face (or have faced) sexual assault, spousal abuse, and gender discrimination, there is, as of yet, no place better equipped to meet the needs of FtM’s than women’s services.”

As required by the Administrative Procedure Act this proposed law has been filed with the Federal Register for public comment. HUD is required to respond to issues raised by the public before adopting the law. The deadline is January 19. Comments may be submitted by mail or posted online here:

http://www.regulations.gov/#%21documentDetail;D=HUD_FRDOC_0001-4281

Comments must include the name and number of the regulation:

FR–5863–P–01 Equal Access in Accordance With an Individual’s Gender Identity in Community Planning and Development Programs

ID: HUD-2015-0104-0001

You can also view the comments that have been submitted. As of now, 30 comments have been received. 20 have been published. 14 have been discarded due to duplication via (transgender activist) mass mailing campaign. 4 are obviously duplicate mass mailers from transgender activists. 10 are yet unpublished. Only two comments mention the welfare of women and girls.

 

[bolding by me-GM]

No Gender Identity protections for female transgender Connor MacCallister

No Gender Identity protections for female transgender Connor MacCalister

A hunger strike was started by ten transgender activists calling themselves “No Pride In Prison” demanding that a male convicted of a violent crime in New Zealand who says he “identifies as female” be transferred to housing among confined females. The man, Jade Follett, was convicted for stabbing another man in the back three times as the victim tried to run away. The two had met via social networking for a sexual encounter. Follett was offered home detention and anger management training for his 21 month sentence but declined it, opting instead for voluntary incarceration.

Hunger strike until death to affirm Gender Identity rights of Jade Follett

Hunger strike until death to affirm Gender Identity rights of male Jade Follett

Calls were issued for volunteers who would sit with and administer juices and teas to the “Transwomen” who pledged to die of starvation so the voluntarily confined individual could achieve his goal of placement among women confined involuntarily by the state. This action was informed by New Zealand’s adoption of “Gender identity” laws that eliminate the basic human rights of women prisoners to be confined separate from males in favor of the self-reported “gender feelings” of any male who claims they have female brains in their male bodies.

No hunger protest took place to demand Conner MacCalister be placed in male prison in accordance with her long term identity as a man. No transgender activists have protested her “misgendering” as female after a decade of testosterone medical treatment. No transgender legal advocacy organizations have demanded her identity as a man be respected in her prison placement. Her gender identity rights have not been affirmed by transgender advocates. No hunger strike has been announced for the identity rights of Conner MacCalister to be affirmed by placement in the male facility she identifies with. This is because Gender Identity rights apply solely to males. No female benefits from “Gender Identity” rights, ever, including females who identify as male and are “post-transition”.

* The hunger strike for the male inmate was halted after 5 hours when prison authorities agreed to house the violent male inmate among the state confined female population in deference to his belief that he is female-brained. Reports say dinner was early for the hunger strikers, but celebratory.

Gavin Grimm

Gavin Grimm

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Doumar rejected the Obama administration’s attempts to eliminate Title IX sex-based protections for women and girls and replace them with social stereotypes based on sex. The ruling came in the case of Gavin Grimm, a sixteen year old girl who believes that people have inborn mental characteristics based on sex, and that she has the personality of a sperm-producing individual. Individuals with this belief system call themselves “Transgender” and consider what they believe to be a mis-match between personality and reproductive biology to be a psychiatric condition.

Grimm believes her personality is one of a biological male, and that therefore she is a male with a female body. She would like to express this belief by using the urinals along with the males in the public restrooms at her school. Transgender adherents also believe that individuals who have personality traits “innate” to the opposite sex should be made to use facilities of the opposite sex that are normally sex-segregated for the protection and privacy of women (locker rooms, sports teams, sleeping quarters, showers, hospital bed assignments, etc.)

The Obama administration also believes in the concept of mental sex, and has attempted to bypass the legislature and judiciary by pushing guidelines through their Department of Education, OSHA, Department of Labor, EEOC, and Justice Department removing sex-based protections for women and girls under Title IX and replacing them with protections for “mental sex”, or “reproductive personality”, or “gender identity”.

The ACLU, with the backing of Obama’s Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Gavin Grimm’s school district, claiming that Title IX sex-based protections should be overridden by the concept of sex-based personality. Specifically they assert that students whose personality does not “match” their reproductive status should use areas of public nudity along with those of the opposite sex. Grimm’s school district sought to accommodate her sex-stereotype beliefs by offering her use of private unisex facilities in several locations throughout the school, but she claims segregating any facilities based on sex discriminates against her self-concept and belief that her brain is reproductively male.

This is at least the second federal ruling that rejects Obama administration attempts to strip Title IX protections from women and girls in order to establish federal guidelines on sex-based personality characteristics.

Here Gavin explains why she believes she is a sperm producing male individual, rather than an egg producing female individual:

“When I was little, I didn’t think of myself as a boy or a girl. I thought of myself as a kid who did what I wanted. When I started school, though, that gender divide became more apparent. I noticed that boys didn’t want to play with me. I had a best friend in elementary school, and one day he just said, “Hey, we can’t hang out any more.” When I asked why, he said, “’Cause you’re a girl.” I was indignant. “What are you talking about?” I asked. “What does that even mean?”

I never, ever, in a million years envisioned myself growing up to be a woman. I don’t think I thought of any alternatives, but I knew for sure that I was not going to grow up and be a woman. When puberty hit, my biggest struggle was not only feeling betrayed by my body, but also the increasing pressure to become a little lady.

It was around this age that my leg hair started growing in — and I did not want to shave it. I loved having leg hair; I thought it was cool! But, my classmates didn’t agree. My mother, of course, put a lot of pressure on me — because I was “blossoming into a young woman” and all that — to conform to feminine archetypes. That caused a lot of conflict in my family relationships. I was a very volatile, angry kid in that time period.

But, I didn’t give up; I just continued refusing to shave or wear dresses. I gravitated towards boys’ clothes. It started slowly: Oh, here’s one Pokémon shirt because I love Pokémon. Soon, I was only shopping in the boys’ section. My mother (and I want to make it very clear that she has come a very, very long way) is Christian. She had a lot of problems with homosexuality, and she perceived me to be a homosexual female because I was very masculine in how I acted and dressed. At one point, she came to me and said, “You’re so angry, and I know why.” I said, “Wait, you do?” And, she said, “You’re a lesbian.”

I was about 11 or 12 at the time. And, I knew I liked girls, but I’d never, ever, ever identified with the term “lesbian” — calling yourself a lesbian means asserting yourself as a woman, and I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to live in that gray area where I didn’t have to say that I was anything. So, the conflict started again. Apparently, being a lesbian doesn’t excuse you from shaving your legs.”

Transgender Flag: Blue is for boys, Pink is for girls

Transgender Flag: Blue is for boys, Pink is for girls

NCLR's Kate Kendell

NCLR’s Kate Kendell

Many in the Lesbian community were shocked last year when the National Center for Lesbian Rights, headed by Kate Kendell, announced that the first and only boycott in the history of the org would be against the rights of lesbians to hold private events that exclude males.

The NCLR, formerly a Lesbian Rights organization had, unbeknownst to some, shifted their mission to prioritize the rights of men, particularly wealthy heterosexual males who want to “identify as lesbians”. The Task Force (formerly the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force), headed by Rea Carey, followed suit.

After extended outcry, mockery, and withdrawal of support from the lesbian community Kendell announced this week that NCLR was reversing their stance on the boycott and requesting the name of their org be removed from the petition issued by the head of Michigan Equality, Emily Dievendorf,  a self-described “bisexual rights” activist partnered with a man.

Sara Toce at the Windy City Times quotes Kendell:

 “As you know, last summer NCLR signed the petition sponsored by Equality Michigan calling on the organizers of the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival ( Michfest ) to embrace the presence of transgender women at the iconic gathering. In the wake of our signing, you contacted us to express your disappointment and anger that NCLR would sign a petition which called for a boycott of the festival.

 Many of the letters we received recognized transgender women as women and sisters in struggle, while also arguing that the intention of Michfest does not diminish the lived experience of transgender women.

 Since then, we have been involved in a number of conversations with Michfest womyn, Equality Michigan, transgender leaders and colleagues who signed the petition. These conversations have made clear that there are essential values and perspectives we all share and that the petition was not going to be an effective vehicle for a resolution.

 NCLR has removed our name from the petition and will be actively engaged in conversations in which we honor our differences while also pursuing a conclusion that supports the gender identity and inclusion of all women in Michfest. We have faith that such a resolution is possible.

 This entire process has been one of great learning for me and, while we may disagree on some issues, I think there are many values we share. I signed the petition on behalf of NCLR because our core passion and commitment is that we all be able to live fully and be embraced as our authentic selves.

 We are grounded in some deeply held principles, including the belief that discrimination and bigotry against lesbians is rooted in sexism, misogyny and the devaluation of women. We do not believe it is possible to win liberation for lesbians in a world where misogyny thrives. We also do not believe we can end the oppression of women and lesbians in a world where transgender women are reviled and targeted.

 NCLR has come to a deeper understanding of what Michfest means to our community and seeks to honor that through this process. We also acknowledge the Michfest organizers have been involved in an ongoing conversation over the years on this issue. We are committed to honest and forthright dialogue as a more constructive means for seeking resolution and common ground.

 Sincerely, Kate”

Rea Carey of The Task Force

Rea Carey of The Task Force

Today, I was forwarded an email sent out by Rea Carey of The Task Force. Like Kendell’s it was sent out to women who had written in protest of the boycott. It reads:

“Greetings,

Last year, the National LGBTQ Task Force signed onto a petition organized by Equality Michigan which called upon the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival (Michfest) to fully welcome and include transgender women, as women, at the festival.

You took the time to write to me and I appreciate that you did – you and others shared with me your perspectives and experiences on the land that some described as “sacred,” “an annual touchstone,” iconic” and “home.” I heard that you are angry and hurt by the Task Force and other organizations signing the petition. I heard from you and others that Michfest is a truly historic and transformative annual event that has influenced, inspired and helped to liberate millions of womyn/women from the daily trials and tribulations of misogyny and sexism. It holds a very special place in the hearts of lesbians and other womyn/women.

In the months between then and now, I have talked with womyn/women who have attended, womyn/women who would like to attend, and other people who have a variety of views. I’ve talked with our colleagues at Equality Michigan, leaders of other organizations who have been engaged in this, and with transgender women. From these conversations, I have gleaned shared values, differing opinions, and have come to a view that in order to move forward in any type of dialogue we must move beyond the petition.

I am writing to let you know that the Task Force has asked that our name be removed from the Equality Michigan petition and we will be seeking other ways to be in dialogue about Michfest’s intention regarding transgender women. As we reflected on the petition’s contents and read carefully letters from concerned people like you, we came to understand that the point in the original petition that called for a boycott of vendors and performers was misaligned with our own support for womyn/women artists, craftspeople and musicians. Although that point was withdrawn from the petition, we recognize and share the deep concern about the possible economic impact on womyn/women striving every day to make a living through their art, craft and music.

Please know that the Task Force’s view regarding the MichFest intention is rooted in our core value of inclusiveness and the festival’s extraordinary transformative power. For over 40 years, the Task Force has worked for the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer identified people in all areas of our lives – whether it be in the workplace, the government, companies and, yes, in our own community.

The Task Force will remain in active discussion with MichFest womyn/women, Equality Michigan, transgender colleagues, and other organizations that signed the petition. The Task Force is committed to productive discussions in which we honor our differences and also pursue our desire for MichFest to fully welcome the gender identities of all womyn/women at the festival, including transgender women.

For over 40 years, the Task Force has worked for a changed world. A world in which we can all experience liberation. A world in which misogyny cannot thrive. A world in which womyn/women, lesbians, bisexual women and transgender women no longer experience sexism, targeted attacks and the most horrible form of violence – murder. As we intensify our work to take on all of the challenges we face as a movement, know that these values are at the heart of what we do.

With care and in solidarity,
Rea”

Rumours abound that other Michfest boycott signatories, many of which like NCLR and The Task Force were once (at least tacitly) supportive of Lesbian and Women’s Rights are undergoing similar pressure to reverse what can only be described as an aggressively anti-women, anti-lesbian, stance.

To all lesbians reading this, and to our allies: Please withdraw all support, financial and otherwise, from organizations- especially those who purport to be “LGBT” centric- if those organizations do not explicitly support the rights of lesbians to hold lesbian-only or women-only events.

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