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.