This year may have represented a historical year for the transgender community, but the fight is far from over.
While the acceptance of transgender people is finally starting to come to the forefront of the worlds’ attention, the latest news from Australia is proof that not everyone seems quite ready to jump on board and join the fight for equality.
The 3-day Seven Sisters festival in Australia (based in Mount Martha in Melbourne, Victoria) claims to focus on promoting health, spirituality, culture and community, as well as being a great place for women to have fun, unwind and connect. Quite the place where you’d think they’d all be down for equality – especially when you take this quote from their very own website into consideration:
“It is where women can embrace whatever stage and age they are in, and collectively celebrate what it is to be a woman in all her shapes, colours and forms.”
“At Seven Sisters we want you to live your personal legend. We want to give women who have a message, the chance to express it and share their voice with the planet.”
However, that seems to be end of the story in terms of embracing ‘personal legends’ and messages, as recent news seems to imply. Gay Star News broke the news earlier that, despite having a strong emphasis on promoting culture and community, they’ve recently announced that transgender women will not be permitted into the festival.
Organizers posted an extremely offensive and harsh comment on the festival’s Facebook page by stating that; “As we have advertised the festival as a sacred women’s only space — having individuals onsite who are physically men would be breaking the trust of many women.”
Let’s just give you a minute to let that sink in.
The unravelling of events began in early November when Caitlin Therese Sullivan, a potential attendee, asked on the page whether the event was ‘trans-inclusive’ and that their decision would impact her attendance. A few days later and the event organizers responded with the cutting announcement that the event would only allow ‘transgender women who had undertaken all operative measures to become a woman.’
The comments have caused massive uproar not only on the Facebook page of the festival but also within the wider community and social media networks:
Should we perhaps rename it the Seven Cis-ters Festival? https://t.co/SBQU4KHWEf
— Amy Walker (@Amazing_Amy_W) December 14, 2015
An Aboriginal woman left this message on the Seven Sisters Festival FB page. It was swiftly deleted. It says it all really. pic.twitter.com/Jyiqs4qxaB
— （╯°□°）╯ (@lokilovesyou) December 15, 2015
Messages on their page have been constantly deleted, along with many people who have already purchased tickets demanding a refund after the revelation. One commenter, Kellie Ive, posted that rightfully posted that now “the festival leaves a dirty taste in my mouth.”
The organizers have recently posted a statement, which explained their deleting of comments, onto the Facebook page stating that:
“Whilst we value the opinion of ALL people and are sympathetic to this cause, we do not condone abusive and inflammatory words, nor do we tolerate the use of forceful language to push unsubstantiated views onto others. As such we are deleting all content relating to this issue from our festival pages as it is not the appropriate forum and we wish to prevent further perpetuation of bullying and violent language.
We apologise for any undue duress this situation has caused to everyone involved.”
The post continued to state that the event organizers will be launching a full investigation into the situation, which will include taking a survey with all of the attendees of the festival.
Fingers crossed that the investigation will show the organizers that excluding communities is not the way forward and that by promoting such messages and fighting against the “community” vibe of an event, which has the power to be beneficial to all women, they’re simply going against everything that the festival should be standing for.