Update: As pointed out in the comments below, PFLAG has issued a statement (http://blog.pflag.org/2011/07/statement-on-outwear-pflag-national-and.html) and OUT!wear has taken down web sales for their anti-trans t-shirts.
Further Update: OUT!wear has posted a statement and an apology (http://www.facebook.com/notes/outwear-pridewear-accessories/an-open-letter-to-the-lgbt-community-and-its-allies-re-the-wbw-product-line/171857096212704)
Yesterday the news spread through Facebook that OUT!wear, a company that produces gay and lesbian designs for shirts and clothing - including a line of PFLAG merchandise - has released a new design in preparation for the Michigan Women's Music Festival to promote the exclusion of trans women. Several people complained that the shirt, which reads "100% WBW," is in contradiction with their mission:
"OUT!wear™ is quality custom Pridewear and Accessories "WORN WITH PRIDE" to promote visibility, unity and self esteem amongst Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans-gendered persons.To promote a positive image within our community, whether bold or discreet."
However, all negative comments on their facebook page were quickly deleted.
I can only assume that PFLAG is unaware of this situation, so I wrote to them to inform them of it. My email follows below.
I have worked with my local PFLAG off and on for almost a decade and was always very proud of how strongly supportive of the trans community they were. There are little to no trans resources in my small town and PFLAG stepped up to the plate. Many of the trans people coming out have found care and support from PFLAG -- it has literally been life saving. And I remember just after the turn of the millennium when PFLAG was among the first national organizations to declare that they would only support non-discrimination policies and other civil rights legislation if they are trans inclusive.
That's why I find it so disturbing to recently discover that the company OUT!wear is spreading a message frequently used to deny equal rights to and justify discrimination against trans women and it seems they have enjoyed a long term partnership with PFLAG, developing and promoting a line of PFLAG merchandise.
A recent addition to their designs is a t-shirt that announces "100% WBW", which stands for women-born-women or womyn-born-womyn. If you are unfamiliar with the term, it was developed as a way of justifying discrimination against trans women by insisting that we are not born women and declaring spaces to be WBW-only. It's designed as a more palatable way of proclaiming the right to discriminate against trans people and has been used to justify such egregious cases as denying trans women access to women's clinics and rape crisis support.
I understand that some people value a community of women around them (that they assume includes no trans people) and want to proclaim their support for that community. However, by framing the value of that community around how it excludes trans women, the positive aspects of those communities are forgotten and only the discrimination is left visible. Regardless of the motivations of OUT!wear, I keep coming back to the personal impact this situation creates. Now, when a trans person is just coming out and finds PFLAG as a resource, they might find this PFLAG merchandise page or run into them at a pride celebration. When they see the PFLAG logo right next to "100% WBW" t-shirts they will have to wonder why PFLAG supports an organization that seeks to create spaces 100% free from trans people. I'm pained to consider those who are at their most vulnerable not feeling like they can't turn to PFLAG because of this.
I understand that Out!wear helps fundraise for PFLAG and that you may wish to salvage this relationship. I would also encourage you to engage in conversation with them, perhaps they will listen to you. However, knowing how long such things can drag out, I would hope that you ask them to remove their PFLAG merchandise and any PFLAG logos from their webpage until the issue is resolved. I'm certain you would ask that of any partner organization that began selling "Ex-Gay" t-shirts or something thinly veiled like "100% Straight and Proud", and you should do the same here.
Please keep me informed of how you plan to address this situation.
Also, for reference you can see some of what people are saying about this situation at: