It’s been a very long time since I had watched the move The Last Unicorn. And since I saw it in a theater, we know this happened in 1982. So my memories might be a bit foggy on this, but I remember how small the Last Unicorn looked as she faced the Red Bull on the shore of the sea. She looked so delicate before that fiery monster, and yet she stood her ground.
A phrase that one of my coven leaders uses often to describe a particular form of activism is, “Speaking truth to power.” I recently got a better insight to what this phrase means. Speaking truth to power is to challenge the status quo, to challenge those in power.
Speaking my truth makes me feel the way the Last Unicorn looked as she faced the Red Bull at the sea. That’s not to say that I feel I have the hidden reserves of power that she did, power that allowed her to defeat the Red Bull. No. I have no pretensions to such abilities. But there are times when speaking my truth feels like an insurmountable task.
One such recent incident revolves around a Meetup group that I had been a part of for about two years.
An event was added to the Gay Girlfriends Meetup regarding the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival (MWMF). There was a note in the announcement of this event to not turn the event thread into a political discussion. In my RSVP to the event, I mentioned I would not be attending for various reasons, the primary one being that the MWMF is not open to trans women and persons with non-binary gender identities. I was expecting to be reprimanded as my comment could have been construed as being “political.”
It’s no secret to anyone in this Meetup that I am transgender. Furthermore, this group’s description includes that it’s an LGBT Meetup. Well, I’m the B (P actually: I’m pansexual not bisexual) and the T. I always check such things before applying to join a Meetup group: to verify that the group is open to persons such as myself. Since I’ve received nothing but welcome from the women I’d met through this group, I figured I could make this comment about being excluded because I’m trans and I’d be safe. But as I said, I was expecting a reprimand. I wasn’t reprimanded, though.
Instead, my comment was summarily deleted.
There doesn’t seem to be a way in which any discussion of the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival could be anything but political. According to Susan Stryker’s book Transgender History it was in 1991 when the MWMF became openly cissexist and transphobic.1 I am not the only trans woman in the Gay Girlfriends Meetup. Or, I wasn’t the only one until I left this group. But even if I was, there are a great many trans allies among the cisgender queer women in this group. This event announcement could only be divisive. By deleting my comment, I was being silenced.
I’m sure it could be argued that since there had been instructions to not make any political comments that I brought the deletion upon myself. But this is speaking truth to power. I could not simply sit there at my computer and not make any comments.
Do I expect to free other unicorns from the sea of cissexism and transphobia that is perpetuated by the Red Bull of the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival and those who would defend it against voices such as mine? No. But I will stand anyway. If I’m swept aside and into the sea, so be it. But if I can free even one of my fellow unicorns, I will have done great good.
The MWMF is a private event that is free to exclude whomever they want. I don’t challenge this. What I challenge instead is the reasoning behind the exclusion. It is my right to do so.
Amen, and Blessed Be.
1Susan Stryker, Transgender History (Berkeley, CA: Seal Press, 2008) 140.