But doesn’t the name “c.l.i.t.fest” exclude trans women?

Recently a group of trans women and allies made the suggestion that the name ‘clitfest’ excluded trans women. We want clitfest to be welcoming to as many people as possible, and the festival name has come up many times in discussion.

The trans women and transfeminine people on the organising crew have written this response in order to make our process and thoughts clear.

So, why clitfest? These are our main reasons:

Clitfest is an established event, already known in radical left feminist scenes

Clitfest is a feminist punk music festival that has been running all across the US since 2004. The goal of clitfest is to combat the latent inequalities in our scene(s), such as racism, transphobia, anti-semitism, homophobia, sexism, ableism and all other forms of oppression.

We want to carry on the tradition of these festivals. We could call it something else, but then it wouldn’t be a clitfest. We want to make a clitfest.

Trans women / transfeminine people are organising this festival

Trans women and transfeminine people make up a good chunk of the organising crew. We aren’t just here as a token – we are integral to organising this festival.

If the organising crew were mostly cisgender women, it would be understandable to treat the name “clitfest” as a giant red flag for body essentialism. This just isn’t the situation and we hope this will be clear once the programme is released.

We aren’t perfect and of course we’ll make mistakes – please just come and talk to us if you have issues with how we are organising!

Content over labels

This festival is the outcome of a huge number of discussions around marginalisation in the radical/political/queer scenes. Combatting transmisogyny was a large part of these discussions.

This is reflected in the focus on trans womens’ and transgender issues in the upcoming programme.  We don’t just want a token discussion on ‘transgender issues’, and would not be interested in organising a festival where this was the case – we are trying to create a programme that is infused with trans womens’ experiences.

We are never going to find a label that includes everyone. We’ve all been to events where the ‘t’ in lgbtqi is an afterthought. What’s important to us is that the content of the festival defines it, not what acronym or label we decide to attach to it.

Clits are awesome! All junk is awesome! We want everyone to feel good about their bodies!

Naming the festival ‘clitfest’ is an act of collective reclamation. It is an act of rebellion against the misogynist norm. It is not a derogatory word to either cisgender or transgender women. Many trans women have clits, whether through surgery and/or through reclaiming their bodies for themselves.

A lot of women don’t feel comfortable uttering the word ‘vagina’, let alone talking about their clits. Women, both trans* and cis, feeling comfortable talking about their bodies is always going to be a positive thing. We want a society where women, can talk about their bodies, reclaim their bodies and celebrate their bodies. No matter what junk we have, how we experience our bodies or think about them or what words we use to describe our junk, people being allowed to think about their bodies in their own terms without pressure from a hierarchical stance on what is the best body or the best way to think of it is really important.

It would be a problem if the festival crew were policing clits on the door, or promoting clit-having-bodies as being superior to the rest. We have pretty much zero tolerance for body shaming of any kind.  We want everyone to be mindful about how we talk about our own and each others bodies. This is something that we as trans women are really sensitive to, all having been on the receiving end of body essentialist feminism. We want to create a body positive and sex positive event where all bodies are respected and everyone can feel welcome.

Kiesia, Dee, Jess, and the rest of the clitfest organising crew


2 Responses to Transphobia?

  1. Megan says:

    If the content is the important part, why does the label matter?

    Is associating the fest with some punk fest in the US important or are the issues, some of which are unique to our part of the world more important?

    The anatomy of FAAB people and those trans* women privileged enough to have had vaginoplasty is often overlooked in wider society yes. But when are trans* women who have their birth genitalia *ever* recognised, acknowledged or discussed even in “inclusive” feminist spaces.

    Some MAAB trans* people identify their genitalia even without vaginoplasty using female gendered terms but what about those that don’t, should we be policing the way they identify their bodies? Isn’t *any* kind of body policing exclusionary and harmful?

    I’m really disappointed with this response. If the organisers want to keep dismissing the issues as just being “a few privileged white trans* women who don’t have anything better to do whining”, that deeply saddens me as not only is it a mischaracterisation, but sets a dangerous precedent for any future criticism of this event.

    I count some of the organisers amongst my friends and people who I hoped to work with in the future and I hope they continue to be so. I raised the issue in the politest way I could with no accusations or demands (yes, I was the person who raised this issue anonymously to begin with).

    I don’t believe them to be “bad” people at all and I will still be attending the fest. However I won’t feel it a safe place to talk about my body in any capacity and am deeply hurt by some of the comments I have heard in response to me raising the issue.

  2. Kiesia says:

    Hi Megan,
    We certainly have not called anybody “a few privileged white trans* women who don’t have anything better to do whining”. Until you made this comment, we had no idea who had a problem with the name. We really value direct communication – do you want to come and talk to us about this? It doesn’t make much sense to be trading comments on facebook or on this blog when you know at least some of us personally.

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