Tobi Hill-Meyer

Bitch Pulled From Festival Lineup

Filed By Tobi Hill-Meyer | May 21, 2010 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: transmisogyny, transphobia, women's music

After discovering her transphobic history, the musical performer Bitch, previously of Bitch & Animal, was unceremoniously told that she would not be performing at OUT/LOUD, a queer women's music festival which she had previously been set up to headline tonight. The festival released a statement on Facebook:

Knowing that her presence would prevent a significant portion of our community from participating in and enjoying this event, there was no option except to ask Bitch not to perform.

This is not the first time Bitch has faced this problem. In 2007 she was uninvited to the Boston Dyke March, and protests have followed her to several of her performances, including her performance at Queer Up North in Manchester (detailed by one activist here).

In this case, however, it's worth noting that OUT/LOUD felt this was a significant enough issue to cancel their headliner three days before the performance. They knew they would lose the money they had agreed to pay her, but they decided they had much more to lose by allowing her to perform.

Protesters began to be a problem for Bitch after she crossed picket lines to play at the Michigan Women's Music Festival despite a boycott that was in effect at the time and voiced her support for Michigan's policy of excluding trans women. Later, documentation of her disdain for these activists' concerns, and proof, to some, of her transphobic attitudes, came in an interview:

If someone tries to tell me [Michigan] is transphobic, I tell them to stuff it. There's so many trannies there. And it's not trans people being marginalized. It's people who were born as men.

Not only does she refuse to acknowledge that trans women as women and purposefully group trans women with cis men in the phrase "people who were born as men," she also defends the Michigan' women-only policy as not transphobic because they allow trans masculine people and trans men to attend. Of course the only reason trans men are allowed to attend is because their genders are not respected and they are seen as an extension of butch women.

She frequently points to her friends who are trans and talks about how she dated a trans man as proof that she can't be transphobic. However, in her online journal she discusses her apprehension about seeing her trans friends take testosterone -- comparing it to drinking and smoking and spreading misinformation like "the life expectancy of someone on T dramatically drops."

Also, in speaking to the fear of invisibility that a lot of queer women face when dating men (trans or cis), she makes a distinction between her support of using male pronouns when with her partner but expresses her discomfort doing so publicly, preferring mispronoun him by using gender neutral pronouns to prove her own queerness regardless of if that's an accurate representation of his gender.

But regardless of the difficulties she has with her friends, she doesn't acknowledge that all of her trans friends are trans masculine, and the anti-trans attitudes most people are criticizing are about her misogynist disdain and disrespect specifically for trans women. In fact, she dismisses her protestors as ignorant and entitled specifically because they are women and/or fem.

When I see protesters at my shows, generally the majority is not trans people. The majority of the protesters are fem girls, usually white students, and there's usually one M to F - it's all about them. So I can't ignore that dynamic [of entitlement].

Not only does she think that she can immediately tell if someone is trans just by looking at them, but she continues her dismissal of trans women as entitled men.

I can't ignore the politics of entitlement around it, you know, how a lot of the issue, and I have noticed this in talking with my friends out at Camp Trans, a lot of the issues are around people born males. So, I find in this patriarchal system that so much of women's energy goes towards making men feel comfortable and satisfying men.

While many of these interviews are from several years ago, it is clear that she hasn't responded to the concerns of her protesters or refined her perspective at all. In an interview last month, she explains:

I'd like to clarify that I am in support of that festival and it's totally changed my life and it's such a radical action that our elders have taken to make that space for us and, yes, I get incredible amounts of flack for it still, mainly from things I've said in the press that people kind of construe and like to pick apart and interpret all the ways that I'm some tranny-hater. It's intense. It's been undermining of our whole community and what we're all trying to do cause ultimately you know, genderqueers and trans folk have always been my allies and I've been singing about all of our rights for years. So it's intense... It's a huge misinterpretation.

Interestingly, the interview also mentions that while she is on this tour she is being followed by a documentary crew for SheWired. It will be interesting to see how and if they cover OUT/LOUD canceling her performance.


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I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for SheWired to take up for trans women. I like the site and read it, but they, like most lesbian sites, include trans men in their coverage (which always strikes me as odd, 'cause they identify as MEN), but not trans women (at least that *I* have seen, anyhow).

In my experience, this seems to be standard for lesbian spaces, not just Michigan--ppl are seen as how they were identified at birth, and how they grew up, rather than how they currently identify and present. Trans men seem to be seen as ultimate butches, rather than as men. Personally, as a trans woman, I have found by far more acceptance from str8 women, and esp bi women, than gay women.

The way she talks about trans women, it's not just that she's denying that trans women are women, she's completely denying that we're trans at all. That she's an ally to trans people when those trans people are trans male, trans men, and FAAB genderqueer.

You're right, I had noticed that but didn't mention it. She says that she is supportive of "trannies" but not of folks "born men." I guess that's why in her own mind she's not transphobic, we don't count as trans people to her.

Just a thought, Bitch has no respect for any trans identified person(male or female) if she does not recognize them as the gender they identify as. She may not be completely transphobic but she definitely has no respect for trans identified folks. I'm glad OUT/LOUD is making a good example and cancelling her performance. I hope Bitch learns a valuable lesson, alienating fans for any reason is a bad move.

I must admit it's nice to see those who support and defend transphobia and transphobic policies are getting their just due. As with all media, it is ultimately the audience which will decide what they want and what they do not.

The people are speaking and OUR policy is clear: Transphobes are NOT welcome!

ftm's/transmen/faab's whatwever we are calling it-all need to step up when and where they can in NOT supporting/enabling this type of policy from the rad part of the L community, and we need to do what rebecca suggested and keep pressure on lgbt events etc in these particular types of bigoted degendering instances,
towards (Trans) women.


(2 things we need to KEEP addressing.....
as this community can sadly be so splintered)

"In my experience, this seems to be standard for lesbian spaces, not just Michigan--ppl are seen as how they were identified at birth, and how they grew up, rather than how they currently identify and present. Trans men seem to be seen as ultimate butches, rather than as men."-carol

*this is why we also need education in GL space re butch and femme gays.it is gender, not a "gay" identity, & until that is accepted, there will be people who degender trans people of both types.
this may be a controvercial comment, but it is inevitable thet this "argument" gets made sometime....if not we are spinning our wheels again.
(also hope no one whats to fight about this,
i'm tired tonight,
lol)*

Javier wrote:

"this is why we also need education in GL space re butch and femme gays.it is gender, not a "gay" identity..."

That was exactly my point...tho I dont think it is education that is needed as much as what you mentioned in your previous comment, for trans men to *not* accept being misgendered, even if it makes life more convenient...

And also, for cis gays and lesbians to expand their perspective, and be more accepting of trans ppl's gender...

and i wonder how much this goes on,
not ever having personally been in L spaces
or to festivals, etc.
(as i date men)
so i don't have the faintest.
maybe some trans people who (date/hang out) in/with that community would know.....
but it's something we need to start
looking HARD at,
i really think.....
and if you go to michfest you are really kind of betraying (trans)women who are lesbian....

I have said it before and I will say it again. Michfest is not a womyn's music festival. It's an exercise in vaginal worship. If you actually do believe in womyn's space, then you really have to go whole hog, and say, "trans men, while you know what it was like to be treated as a womon, you are not womyn. Please don't come." and say, "trans womyn, while you were forced into boyhood, even that level of policing your gender could never have made you a man. We need womyn like you at this kind of celebration."

But that would require a modicum of consistency. Womyn are more than our wombs, we used to say... now it seems that's all we are to some.

Fuck her and fuck Kate Bornstein who totally sucks up to her. And thank you and much love to the OUT/LOUD folks for having the decency to do this.

The other performer I would like to have boycotted is Lynn Breedlove (in other words, boycott Sister Spit). She's yet another condescending a*hole to trans women, regularly goes to Michfest and does little snarky "performance pieces" about how mean trans women are to her.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYW-I2RioV4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVkUEoTL2Eo

Lynn seems kinda mentally deficient? Or maybe she just performs drunk?

*defs* humor deficient, at the least...

It's a bullshit act... her wannabe working class Dean Martin schtick. She has a degree in English Lit.

David McElhatton | May 21, 2010 10:25 PM

I'm thrilled about Bitch being pulled from the lineup and I don't disagree with you about Lynn Breedlove's work being problematic but since we're talking respect here, it's important to note that Lynn isn't female identified and last time I checked was using male and gender neutral pronouns. Disliking someone's work doesn't mean we should misgender them.

Dave, as I understand Lynn recently used both so please correct me if I'm wrong (and maybe Lynn isn't always correcting incorrect pronouns).

Breedlove appears with Sister Spit and brags about going to Michfest... that sounds pretty female to me. He or she does pieces where he or she still refers to themselves as a dyke. Not wanting to derail this away from Bitch, but I have an issue with GQ people who are situationally transguys and then sneak back to lesbian-land whenever they want to see their buds, make a buck or rag on other trans people for an easy laugh.

Irritates the HELL out of me when transmen are actively recruited to attend something that is supposed to be in women only space. This recently came up in one of the forums that I frequent.

There was this new dance party that said "women only" as part of the description but then they say "women or transmen only".

So are we still women? Or do they need to change the event's name to something that does not so strongly imply women's only space when they allow men? I think I got through to them when I pointed out why transmen might find it insulting to be invited to that party.

They changed the attendee requirement to "female-identified only" which I found very acceptable because it is open to transwomen while rightly saying transmen need to move along to another party.

Margaretpoa Margaretpoa | May 21, 2010 10:34 PM

Using the term "Tranny" in my opinion pretty much sums up her attitude for me. Some people don't find that term offensive but I find it incredibly condescending.

I was once at a Lesbian dance, known to be trans friendly, with my partner Tammi. Now both of us are M2F Post-op Transsexuals. Anyway this one girl was upset about our presence and she complained to the dance management. Being in somewhat of a tight corner, the management (who knew us both as Post-ops) came over to us and asked us if we would talk to the girl and set her at ease. Well, after talking with the girl and showing her our drivers licences (and even letting her feel me down there) she finally got the message that we were post-ops. But then she asked us, "Wait a minute, you used to be guys. Why in the hell did you get the operation?" We replied , "Because we're both women, that's why?"
She still didn't get it.

Of course, surgery should not be a requirement for access to women-only spaces. It's expensive and difficult to get insurance coverage for it. Barring them leaves economically vulnerable trans women with little recourse for spaces like DV and rape shelters, women's clinics, and the like.

And what put the management in a tight corner?

Trans women can go to the Michigan Women's Music Festival. You can buy a ticket and go in. There are trans women there. That's what Bitch means...there are actually transgender women going to the fest. You just have to go as a woman. Not as a trans woman, but as a woman. You were born a woman regardless of what was assigned. How's that for radical?

And if you're a trans man, then you just shouldn't go. But it's not like the fest workers can arbitrarily distinguish between trans men and transgender butches (which actually are the "ultimate butches"--not trans men). It's a matter of personal identity. Only the individual can say. If a trans man goes, they are only disrespecting their own gender.

The whole reason the fest came to be was because specific women were tired of having their events and organizations co-opted by other groups. And if you don't try to co-opt it, you'll get in just fine.

Anyway, you're not talking to each other, just past each other and about each other like you can read each other's mind. And I might pick a side when you're actually talking to each other. I've never gone to it, and I probably never will. But it seems to be a nice thing for other people.

Talk to people, ask people to change their community from the inside. But I won't support demanding people boycott their community. You may as well be asking them to disown their family for you. And I think to ask such a thing takes a whole lot of entitlement.

So do you know anything about the history of MichFest?

"Talk to people, ask people to change their community from the inside. But I won't support demanding people boycott their community. "


GR, I love how you write this consciously trying to ignore how those discussions have been going on for the past 15 years and people like Bitch still treat us like crap. Typical tone argument... 'if you people would only talk about it the right way, then it would be cool.' Ignore all the discussions which have gone on and piss on people when they're frustrated because they still feel disrespected.

Bitch was clearly referring to male-spectrum trans people attending to the festival, so stop playing make-believe.

GrrrlRomeo,

A few corrections. First off, the cited interview is from 2006, back when trans women were being kicked out of Mitchfest and back when Bitch had been performing there alongside Animal, Lynn Breedlove, and other trans masculine folks. It was those people that she was referring to. As a tangential clarification, even today, trans women can enter but there's a statement from the owner saying that we are not welcome, should not come, and are violating the space if we do. While most attendees support trans-women inclusion, there are plenty who will object on principal, or even give you a dirty look if you mention having visited camp trans.

Second, we actually are talking with each other and have been for close to two decades. Camp Trans has been doing workshops at Michfest, just outside the gates, talking with attendees, etc since inception. Since trans women have been marginally allowed in, this has been happening even more. Hell, I was one of the folks who went inside and talked with people all day then wrote about it here.

Third, there are lots of people who ignored the boycott when it was happening. There are lots of people who voice support for their transmisogynistic policy. As far as I know Bitch is the only one who's had multiple gigs cancel on her. This isn't about Michfest. It's just that when Bitch talks about Michfest her transphobia becomes incredibly apparent.

Fourth, the entitlement that Bitch was speaking about was not about the boycott, but about trans women's desire to be allowed to participate. Repeatedly referring to trans women solely by the phrase "people born men" she interprets the desire for inclusion as an unwillingness to hear women say no. Ignoring the fact that it's a disempowered minority of women that are being told "no." The inappropriateness of her response might be more clear to some folks if we were talking about a white women only space, but only because women of color are more universally recognized as women than trans women are. At the point that she's saying stuff like that, I don't care about Michfest anymore, I care about her poisonous, hurtful, and oppressive perspective and validation that perspective is given by giving her an honorary position in our community.

Finally, let's get down to the bottom line that this decision was about. OUT/LOUD has been cultivating a reputation as trans-inclusive over the past several years. Trans men, trans women, and genderqueers have performed for them over the years, about half their lineup this year was trans, the lead organizer / emcee is genderqueer, a good portion of the audience is trans, the rest of the staff and a majority of the audience sees themselves as trans allies. If you think about Bitch performing under those circumstances, A LOT of people involved would have been very uneasy to say the least. It's not hard to imagine a protest or a walkout, and many of the organizers or other performers might have been a part of it. Just the same way that might be the reaction to a queer event where the headliner was a notorious homophobe.

Bottom line: You don't invite a homophobe to a queer event and you don't invite a transphobe to a trans-inclusive event. Anyone who can look at the above article and not understand how trans people would feel unwelcome at the event needs to retake their trans 101.

Tobi, the one thing I find rather bizarre is that, given their backgrounds, how the people who put on Out/Loud didn't already know Bitch's history with this issue when they contracted her to perform.

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So Sandeen is running this blog too?

"tranny" is considered a slur by a small subset of radical insane trangenders/transvestites. It hardly rises to the level of an actual slur like say calling a woman with a woman's body who lives a woman's life a transgender which is always associated with "you'll never be a real woman" mentality often stated directly. That is a slur.

Bilerico once again sets new standards in PC assholery.

Language policing is the act of entitled would be fascists. Considering the continued slurs and personal insults hurled by contributor Doresy the only way I can take this censorship is as extreme prejudice against myself specifically and anyone who opposes the insane dogma that passes as transgender theory. I see it as further evidence of the underlying gynophobia and mysogyny that appears to be the basic editoral policy of this blog.

""tranny" is considered a slur by a small subset of radical insane trangenders/transvestites."

[citation needed]

In my email copy of your comment you stated that you knew people find the term to be offensive and called people by that term in retaliation for perceived wrongs against you - none of which happened in this thread or can be verified.

When you use the term with all the threat and intention of a slur and are trying to hurt people with it (in retaliation or not), then you don't have much room to turn around and claim that most people don't think it's a slur -- because from all appearances you don't seem to be one of them.

No Tobi, you are deliberately misrepresenting.
You lie, you lie, you lie.....and thus I win.

Thanks for the derail RB. As usual, you bring the sunshine with you.


Tobi, I'm still wondering, given the festival, why they booked her in the first place? They must have known about her being yanked from the Dyke March in Boston?!

They didn't know that she was yanked from the Boston Dyke March or anything else about Bitch's transphobia. There are definitely areas I think they could improve in, and making sure that at least a few people in their office are paying attention to trans feminist media streams would be useful.

It seems weird to me that Bitch would dismiss protesters who are white femme students. I mostly hear about her (good and bad) from white students and white college graduates, which makes me think that that’s a pretty major part of her fan base – and it’s kind of dumb to say that your protesters don’t count because they look like your fans. So is she saying that the opinions of femme women, whether cis or trans, don’t count without backup from butch women and trans men?

repost of my original comment with "tranny" replaced except where meaning was specific.


When you attend a woman' event as trans something, you are sucking the air out of the room like it or not. For years I and other women of history have told you that attending womens events as women rarely causes any problems at all and meets almost no resistance.

As for tranny being offensive, for years almost all transgender identified people have openly ignored or even insultingly insisted on labeling women of history as "transgender" when you've been told over and over by a significant number of those women that they find that offensive. Why are you suddenly surprised women of history will call you trannys? You give no respect, you should therefore not expect any in return.

Bitch is absolutely correct, it is entitlement for people who identify as trans-somethings to expect inclusion in a group they've defined
themselves out of and further when "out and proud" transgenders participate in woman oriented events they do insist on making it all about the trans at the expense of the very reason the event was held in the first place.

I realize you transgenders will never understand this, but this is the reason many will never accept you as women as well.

Except that Bitch isn't talking about "out and proud" transgenders or pre-ops, she's talking about any woman who had the misfortune of having body parts Bitch considers male at any point in their lives. That includes post-op "classic" transsexuals. Bitch would never accept YOU as a woman either, and though I'm sure you'll try to spin blame for that on transgender propaganda, no, it's just because she's a bigoted asshole.

I havent really commented much on all this, as I dont know the details. However, my take on the quotes that Tobi included are the same as yours--it isnt just women identifying as trans who are the issue, it is *any* trans woman, hence the statement from Michigan that if you attend, you are violating the spirit of the festival.

I could go to a place like that and prolly pass ok (and really have no interest whatsoever in going *anywhere* as 'trans' *anything*, I see myself as female, and hate that I wasn't born as a biological woman in the first damn place), but I know I am not welcome there, and don't really want to be around ppl who feel that way (plus I don't have much interest in that kind of event anyhow).

Totally. If they actually only were against women who identify as trans or transgender, then the Michfestering trans-haters wouldn't insist on the "women born women" label. That's exclusively meant to keep out post-op transsexual women; if they only wanted to keep out pre- or non-op transgenders, they would just say "no penises allowed".

Ironically they actually had a huge debate over cis women (and transmasculine folks') penises and decided to allow them. In fact within the first half hour I was there, one of the performers was singing a song about her cock. So they don't seem to have much against penises as long as they are on someone who was assigned female at birth. Although the limits of that were tested one year when post-op trans guy showed up and a lot of folks were upset, however, it's worth noting that most of the folks complaining thought he was a trans woman.

RB, Bitch doesn't think you're a woman... she thinks you're someone born male and basically still is some kind of male. Period. The only trans women she's into are people who identify as queer first/trans second (like Kate Bornstein)... people who make no claims on womanhood. And even if Bitch is buds with Bornstein, she still wouldn't want hir at MichFest.

And believe it or not, there are lots of people who know this truth who DON'T consider themselves transgender.

Gina, why exactly do I care what she thinks personally? I know who I am, the world I encounter knows who I am. What I don't get is why some random whoevers opinion becomes a life and death matter when it actually has about zero impact on my life.

What I care about is when a blog with a wide audience like this one continues to bash women like myself when I am a bi member of the LGBt. That I find disgusting.

"why exactly do I care what she thinks personally?"

Maybe because that's what the article you're commenting on is about?!? Are you so used to derailing that you just don't ever see the rails anymore?

I got sent here to look at comments by someone. I love this.

"Gina, why exactly do I care what she thinks personally? I know who I am, the world I encounter knows who I am. What I don't get is why some random whoevers opinion becomes a life and death matter when it actually has about zero impact on my life."

Then why comment on this article?

"What I care about is when a blog with a wide audience like this one continues to bash women like myself when I am a bi member of the LGBt. That I find disgusting."

Who is bashing you? This article has nothing to do with women like you, according to you, so then how does it affect you?

Renee Thomas | May 24, 2010 7:33 PM

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