Steven Weissman

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Ban Heterosexual Complacency

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100,000 BC-1968

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Young

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Having My Cake and Eating It Too

Envy

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Lesbian Bathhouse

1969

Public Sex

In a 'Star Trek' Outfit

Learning the Ropes

Anger

The Fag-Hag Emancipation Act of 2006

2008

You Go, Gays

1970

Diva Worship

On a Deadline

Let me tell you about the most unhappy camper in our queer history—a history with much unhappy camp, indeed.

I speak of a camper in a land where amazons trudge through the mud bare breasted, where women erect, in the middle of a forest primeval, great tents, and stages, and scaffolding dangling with powerful electric lights. Many claim this land is magical, but in this fairy tale, our heroine, Nancy Jean Burkholder, is cast out from the enchanted forest.

I speak of the famous Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, the annual ladies-only extravaganza, and of the origins of a struggle. On their first night, Nancy and her friend, Laura, hiked down to the front gate to meet a friend coming in on a late-night shuttle. The shuttle was late, and the women gathered around the campfire and passed the time talking with the other women enjoying the night. When the bus finally arrived, Laura went to greet it, and Nancy stayed behind. She was set upon by a sly duo who asked her, ominously, if she knew that the festival was for women. Rightly spooked by these woodland trolls, Nancy called Laura back to her side for support, and the trolls' interrogation became ever more invasive. Are you a transsexual? they demanded, and Nancy responded that such information was none of their business. The beastly women scattered into the forest to speak with their festival's leaders, returning with the proclamation that transsexual women were forbidden. Nancy tried to stand her ground, but the women—the sort of power-tripping bullies that gravitate to security-guard positions everywhere—broke her down with a declaration: I'm empowered to expel any woman, at any time, for any reason. You have to leave.

Nancy was not allowed back into the woods to fetch her things, to collapse her tent, to tell friends that she had been thrown from the Lesbian Garden of Eden. Thankfully her faithful companion Laura was there, to hike back into the woods—woods that now thrummed with a forboding evil, in every leafy tree a bloodsucking tick, within every feminist a transphobe!—and dismantle Nancy's camp. Nancy was shuttled from the land and put up in a two-bit motel that had all the mold and noise of the outdoors and none of its charm. Her journey home was long and arduous; a well-planned trip cut short produced a host of problems. Nancy was devastated.

The following year, Nancy's friends organized a small camp across from the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival—which has now gone so far as to issue a statement officially banning the presence of women such as Nancy. This vigil evolved into Camp Trans, the powerful and righteous protest camp located just up the road from the festival gates, dedicated to getting trans women into such feminist-inspired women-only spaces. It is a feat as fraught and difficult as battling a dragon, but one whose victory is assured. To remain dedicated to one's trans-misogyny is to be dedicated to bigotry, to fear, to the loathesome behavior that such fear inspires. For trans women are women, pure and simple, and to ban them from your womanly events only ensures that in the future you will find yourself either horribly ashamed or irrelevant, a relic of a dusty, more ignorant time.

Michelle Tea's most recent books are the novel Rose of No Man's Land and the anthology Baby, Remember My Name: New Queer Girl Writing