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Womyn-born womyn (an alternative spelling of women-born women) is a term that describes women who were assigned female at birth and raised as females. Events and organizations that have womyn-born-womyn only policies bar access to any persons who were assigned male at birth, including trans women and the young male children of women attendees. According to Michigan Womyn's Music Festival co-founder Lisa Vogel during a Bitch magazine roundup, "What womyn-born womyn means to us is women who were born as women, who have lived their entire experience as women, and who identify as women."
The term was developed during second-wave feminism to designate spaces for, by, and about women who were identified as female at birth, then raised as girls, and then who chose to live as women. Though transgender and intersex people have been present in women's only spaces for decades (often in the closet), the term garnered wider attention in response to the exclusion of trans women from the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival. The festival has publicly declared that it is intended for womyn-born womyn.
The controversy has sparked scholarly discussion.
Womyn-born womyn policies center around the idea that women's experiences under patriarchy are unique, learned, and transformative. Repeating Judith Butler's assertions that gender is a performance, proponents of "womyn-born womyn" spaces seek to create spaces wherein the enforced and policed performances of "girl" in patriarchy can be reshaped outside of the presence of those not subjected to those limitations. Transgender women are excluded because they have not lived under the strictures of the enforced performance of "girl", having instead been subjected to the performance of "boy". Advocates of womyn-born womyn spaces argue that the experience of having been born and raised as a "girl" under patriarchy is not one that transgender women share with womyn-born womyn.
Law can affect the question of what spaces can be womyn-born-womyn only spaces. One example of this is the Canadian case Vancouver Rape Relief Society v. Nixon 2005 BCCA 601, where the judgment allows any group protected by section 41 of the British Columbia Human Rights Code to restrict its work to a sub-group of the group it was created to serve. In this case, it means that a women's charity may limit its services to only women that it decides represent "true women", rather than serving all women.
There have been several instances where transgender women have been denied access to or even been evicted from women's spaces.
- Michigan Womyn's Music Festival
- Vancouver Rape Relief & Women's Shelter
- Mountain Moving Coffeehouse
- Lesbian Organization of Toronto
- Radical feminism
- Feminist views on transgenderism and transsexualism
- List of transgender-related topics
- List of transgender-rights organizations
- Hayes, Eileen M. Songs in Black and Lavender: Race, Sexual Politics, and Women's Music. Champaign, Illinois: University of Illinois Press. p. 159. ISBN 9-780-2520-3514-2. Retrieved October 7, 2012.
- Smith, Gwen (2006-09-01). "Kiss and make up, womyn". Washington Blade. Retrieved 2009-04-15.[dead link]
- Vitello, Paul (August 20, 2006). The Trouble When Jane Becomes Jack. New York Times