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Stop Hiding Behind Private Property Rights

defenders of trans exclusion should make sound argument

Forum: a personal LiveJournal site
Date: 06/12/2005

<< Private organisations have the right, whether it's a company picnic or a huge music festival that has become popular, to define who is invited and who is not. >>

True, like Augusta National Golf Club gets to exclude women from its membership. But that didn't stop feminists from protesting Augusta and the Masters Golf Tournament that is held there. The point here: we shouldn't stop at discussing whether or not an entity has the legal right to exclude, but whether or not it's the right thing to do so.

Above I used the example of Augusta to make a point, but legally speaking, MWMF has less right to exclude certain people than Augusta does. Because Augusta is a private membership-based organization, it can refuse membership for any reason, including race, sex, religion, disability, etc. On the other hand, MWMF is not a membership-based organization; rather, it's legally a for-profit corporation (and I'm not suggesting that they are making a tons of profit here--I assume that they made it a corporation for tax purposes) that provides public accommodation. In other words, MWMF is more similar to restaurants, hotels and movie theatres than to a private picnic.

Pulic accommodation, even if it's privately owned, does not have all the right to exclude people for any reason like Augusta and other private clubs do. For example, they cannot exclude people because of their sex, race, religion, disability, etc. As far as I'm concerned, it's a matter of time before the State of Michigan adopts a non-discriminatioin law protecting the rights of trans people; after all, many other states already have similar laws.

In short: if you really feel that it is legitimate for MWMF to exclude trans women, you should articulate your feminist justifications, rather than relying on legal arguments.

<< but to say they cannot have their limited party is like... >>

The problem is that MWMF is not a private party. If that is the direction they want to take, I think they should make it a membership-based organization like Augusta. And even then, don't expect protests to stop--after all, feminists do protest Augusta.

<< You bet it's discrimination and there are places and times for it... >>

If so, I want you to make a case that this, in fact, is the place and time for it. Personally, I can sort of see that a case can be made for specific workshops or spaces inside the festival being reserved for non-trans women (while at the same time, other workshops and spaces could be reserved for trans women only), but I have not heard any good argument that would justify excluding a specific group of women from a women's festival.

Unless, that is, you consider trans women non-women. Then we'd be having an entirely different conversation. (But truthfully, I have more respect for people who say "trans women shouldn't be allowed in because they aren't women" than those who say "I accept trans women as women, but they shouldn't enter." At least the former has a consistent and logical position.)

- ek @