Monday, August 4, 2014

My First Michfest Experience

Dear Lisa Vogel,

My name is Heath Russell and this year I was approved to present a workshop entitled “Denying Gender.” I was thrilled to hear this; however, I was much less thrilled when this news came Sunday August 3rd when my friend [name redacted] posted a photograph of your printed program to Facebook. Despite the last minute notice of my presentation, I’m sure I would have been able to put something together had I gone to Michfest this year. I submitted my project proposal late last winter and never received word about whether my proposal had been received, much less approved or denied. So, again, imagine my surprise when I found out it had been approved and that I would be presenting two days later on Tuesday August 5th.

My workshop was called “Denying Gender” because I am detransitioned female. That means I had taken steps to try changing my gender to a man, but hormonally and socially stopped transitioning. Since then, I have taken a Radical Feminist stance on the topic of gender and gender abolition. However, I know that society does not live in that reality, and we are at the mercy of patriarchy, which is why Michfest was started as a way for women to embrace what a culture would look like without males and patriarchal influence. For someone like me, this would have been one of the first times I would have been in a female-focused/female-dominated environment. As part of my journey back to embracing myself as the female I was born as, Fest sounded like it would be a very healing place for me, due to its unique female-only intention.

Given the controversial nature of my topic, there is no way that I would have attended Michfest nor presented without some form of contact from crew. Recently, I spoke at Radfems Respond in Portland Oregon on this very topic. Radfems Respond, as you are probably aware, was met with much protest by the local trans community and I would expect nothing less had I presented this at Michfest. In order to present at Radfems Respond, we required not only our personal security team, but the security personnel of the Multnomah County Library. If I were to present at Michfest on this topic, I feel it is Michfest’s responsibility to inform me that I am speaking, as well as take steps to ensure my personal safety while presenting.

I’m deeply hurt and offended that I did not even receive a courtesy response to my request and instead the only place I saw my name and workshop mentioned was in the printed brochure that my friend happened to post on Facebook. I saw no mention of my workshop listed on the website. I am interested in speaking at Michfest next year if I can get a response from the crew.

If someone could please respond to me as soon as possible regarding this matter, I would be very appreciative!

Thank you very much,
Heath Russell

1 comment:

SkyLark Phillips said...

In the dictionary, under hypocrites, see Equality Michigan.




plural noun: hypocrites

a person who indulges in hypocrisy


The practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretense.

Yes, sounds like Equality Michigan.....