Camp Trans and the Spirit of Community

As an anarchist queer, I’m embarrassed and disgusted by much of what passes as queer anarchism. As a former organizer of Camp Trans, I’m embarrassed and ashamed to be associated with it at this moment. As someone who attended Camp Trans for many years, I feel like a part of me has been killed.

The only thing that can be agreed on at this point is that Camp Trans 2010 was not a space that was safe, fun, or supportive for most of the attendees. Why was this the case? Can this be prevented in the future? Who is accountable for the nature of Camp Trans this year?

If Camp Trans is anything, it’s an intentional community. Community, at it’s best, is something that is more than the sum of its parts — that the individuals who make it up also form bonds with each other, making a space, an event, that is more than the sum of themselves. Community is formed by the debts, the lacks, the obligations we have to each other, and out of inessential commonality — not out of any essential nature of ours. We don’t need to all share the same politics, the same identities, the same way of conceiving identities…and that’s never been what Camp Trans was. Camp Trans was never an explicitly radical space. Yes, the idea that trans women are women is unfortunately political, but, ultimately, it had served as years as a location to act for inclusion into women’s spaces from, and to gather up a community of trans people who provided each other with support.

As marginalized people, our community is often vital to survival. Numerous times in my life, I would have been living on the streets if not for members of queer and trans communities, or other communities I am a part of. Unfortunately, I know I am not an exceptional case in this. Communities are where we form our bonds of friendship. The Totality (the state, capitalism, all forms of oppression), as part of the preservation of its existence and as a necessary, essential function, works tirelessly to destroy community. If we truly strive for collective liberation, we should not be doing its work for it. Community is vital and must be defended for it is the very basic unit of our existence, the most basic site of resistance and struggle. It may be flawed, and those flaws can and should be addressed, but not in ways that destroy the community. Community is the basis of many cherished anarchist values – solidarity, mutual aid, and cooperation, for instance.

But Camp Trans is not an anarchist or even radical space. Until recently, it had functioned quite well as a space where anarchists and non-anarchists could mingle, socialize, form friendships, share ideas, and it was organized on anti-authoritarian lines. It was a demonstration to non-radical attendees that anarchist modes of organization can and do work. This year it failed at that, as we saw a small group grab power through physical intimidation, threats of violence against the rest of camp, and silencing tactics. While anarchism is not pacifism, coercion and turning on one’s community to run it for the benefit of the few is antithetical to anarchism. The people who utilized these tactics to take over Camp are anarchists in name only. In reality, they are authoritarian thugs, not concerned with liberation for anyone or anything beyond their immediate desires for control.

It should be noted that up until this point I have not mentioned the tow truck incident. Yes, I was there. I was giving the Camp Trans herstory across the road, and, thus, didn’t notice that something serious was going down until a crowd had gathered. I couldn’t hear what was said over the engine, and couldn’t get beyond the outskirts of the crowd. So, I would encourage people to read Maya’s account, to read the comments there, to get as many eye-witness accounts as they can, as eyewitness accounts are notoriously unreliable. Soon after the incident escalated, someone tested their pepper spray. In addition to causing minor breathing difficulties in quite a few people (which then, as someone who was volunteering as a medic, became the focus of my attention), this created a more serious medical situation that I went off to deal with, with the patient involved. I then also prepped a large amount of herbal calming/preventing of panic treatments to deal with the fact that large numbers of people at Camp were emotionally traumatized. Accounts I’ve heard or read agree that several Camp Trans attendees were threatened, one attendee was degendered, and that the festival workers seemed to side with the tow truck driver – and if they were merely intending to deescalate, they should have communicated that adequately to Camp Trans attendees after the tow truck driver left. Which, according to all accounts, they didn’t.

From those accounts, it’s clear that the tow truck driver’s behavior was unacceptable, and that the fest workers who were involved likely owe Camp an apology.

However, the tow truck incident was less a reason and more an excuse for the events of the next several days. Fest was a far more convenient target than the tow truck driver, so, people got angry at Fest, even though the tow truck driver bears the brunt of the responsibility. There were calls for a march onto the Land, having someone directly affected by the incident demand an apology from the stage, and then march out. When the plan was just this, the vast majority of Camp planned to either participate, or at least support it.

And then the goal posts got shifted – part of the small gang of a dozen or so Camp Trans attendees started talking about how much they wanted a violent, physical confrontation with festies. Hearing this, many meeting attendees panicked about both their physical safety during the proposed action, about possible contact with the police, and about the fact that for most of us, Fest is not something we want to destroy. The mission statement of Camp Trans was that we supported the inclusion of trans women at Fest, and we had found over the years that the effective approach was to see the situation for what it was — a call out of the larger community by a portion of it, encouraging the community to change and grow. The shifting from “getting the story of what happened out” to “being in confrontation with Fest” was seen by many as a contradictory to the mission of Camp Trans.

And then the bullying and shows of force started. People started hiding in the woods in small groups. An emergency trans women’s caucus occurred, and yes, not all trans women at camp attended, but many did. We (the members of that caucus) made a statement that evening that camp trans hadn’t been a trans woman-centric space for years, that it needed to just state it was a trans-centric space, and that the place for a trans woman-centric space was in Michfest, given the enormous outpouring of support this year, the non-enforcement of the policy since 2006, and the fact that it was explicitly stated that the policy wouldn’t be enforced in 2006.

Really, once we realized that the policy wasn’t going to be enforced again in 2006, we should have made the statement in 2007. We should have proactively realized that with the vast majority of the real work of trans women being on the Land and becoming truly a part of the Fest community happening at Fest, that the culture of Camp Trans would shift to a celebration of all trans people. This is a valuable and noble purpose for a space, but tension was created from the contradictions between the mission statement and the culture of the space.

Of course, after the statement, the attacks started. Dirty laundry got aired about how trans women had been made to feel unsafe in recent years, and a call out of tactics used by a small handful of people was made (most strongly by me, which I got a lot of attacks for, including being degendered, repeatedly called a fake woman, having friends and allies escort me away because many people, myself included, were legitimately afraid that I would be physically assaulted). It generally doesn’t end well, being a woman who doesn’t know her place.

It shouldn’t be ignored that there were trans women (and other trans female spectrum people) in the small group of authoritarian thugs. What’s important to note that the only trans female voices that were respected by that group and allowed to be heard were the ones that agreed with them, that were part of their group. And degendering and erasure of identities occurred on all sides, and that’s always fucked up, no matter who it’s coming from.

Candice has an account of her experiences – it’s a four part video, the third part video (with discussion of the caucus) is embedded here. All her videos about Camp Trans 2010 are worth watching.

Links to all Candice’s videos, in order:

part 1
part 2
part 3
part 4

Fundamentally, the questions we need to ask ourselves are, at what cost to the safety of others is it worth to get to carry out an action? Why is it unacceptable for a tow truck driver to threaten a few of us, and Michfest workers to not respond adequately to that, but acceptable for a small minority of a community to threaten, intimidate, and silence the rest of the community? What people decided to do at first in response to the tow truck incident wasn’t the issue – what was the issue was the fact that other people’s autonomy and voluntary association were not respected, that they were made to feel threatened, and that many people fled Camp Trans Thursday during the day. When does a legitimate threat to the community — that had, by the time any decision making process occurred, become no longer an issue of physical safety but an issue of responding — allow any group within a community to make threats and tear apart the rest of the community?

We can not destroy the community in order to save it.

* What This Means For Camp Trans and The Trans Community *

Camp Trans has a lot of issues to address if it’s even to occur next year, and if a substantial number of trans people are going to feel safe attending. A way to find people accountable for making the space unsafe, for having people leave because they had a realistic fear of physical and psychological violence from inside camp, and the spread of rumors and character assassination outside of camp must be addressed. The people who did these things must be held accountable, and steps must be taken to insure that similar events do not occur. This is to not say there is a single stance that people must have and that everyone who does not hold that must be punished – this is only to say that threats of violence and physical and psychological intimidation within a community are anathema to both the community principles of camp trans, and to anarchist principles (given that they disrespect voluntary association, autonomy, and the idea of solidarity in struggle), and that needs to be addressed.

What further needs to be addressed – in all trans spaces – is the fact that trans male spectrum people, whether they identify as men or not, whether they are regarded by the larger world as men or not, continue to dominate trans spaces, particularly Camp Trans over the last several years, and as we organize our spaces and live in our communities, we need to be ever vigilant to the silencing of women (particularly trans women), no matter what their views are, and we need to continually hold all male spectrum people accountable for patriarchal behaviors. While all people need to be held accountable for patriarchal behavior, regardless of identity or privilege, patriarchy empowers all male spectrum people to varying degrees to enact these behaviors. Neither Camp Trans nor Michfest are the cutting edge of patriarchy. Trans male spectrum people trying to be unaccountable for their behavior is, and that’s really just the old patriarchy with a hip new packaging.

* What This Means For The Anarchist Community *

We need to stop giving people who deny any sort of accountability — to a larger community, to any sort of organization, even to the idea of a larger struggle as a whole — a free pass. Enough is enough. I, and I’m sure many others will join me in this, am tired of people caring about nothing beyond their immediate catharsis, no matter what effect their actions have on communities, supposed comrades in struggle, the strategic goals of struggle, or any sort of intelligent tactics. The vast majority of tactics are neither good nor bad in absolute isolation, it’s how they play into the larger strategy of struggle, what repercussions they’ll have, how likely they are to succeed that determine their utility. Taking action out of nothing but an individual desire for catharsis or excitement, or in theory to avenge a few members of a community — while harming far more members of the community in the attempt to coerce the action into being — is not anarchist. The first is nothing but bourgeois individualism, the latter is being an authoritarian in anarchist’s clothing.

Before the predictable accusations of “pacifist liberal” come out (seriously, they’ve been done, they’re stupid, and they just make you look like a petulant child when aimed at people who’ve been at this for years and years), it would be wise to consider the words of Emma Goldman:

“No revolution can ever succeed as a factor of liberation unless the MEANS used to further it be identical in spirit and tendency with the PURPOSES to be achieved. Revolution is the negation of the existing, a violent protest against man’s inhumanity to man with all the thousand and one slaveries it involves. It is the destroyer of dominant values upon which a complex system of injustice, oppression, and wrong has been built up by ignorance and brutality. It is the herald of NEW VALUES, ushering in a transformation of the basic relations of man to man, and of man to society.”

If you need to commit inhumanities against your own community to further your liberation, you’re not furthering liberation at all. In simpler terms – authoritarian gangs trying to run our own community can only ever accomplish turning our community into a collection of authoritarian gangs. If we want our communities to be free of hierarchy, intimidation, and coercion, we must not use those tactics against our own communities in times of stress. In fact, the moments when we feel most tested are when our principles are most important. It is comparatively easy to be committed to a culture of consent, where we all get to decide what actions we will take, be a part of, or support when those actions are not controversial, and not being decided on under stress. It is harder to maintain that commitment in times of crisis, but how we respond to crisis is a strong test of how we will live in the new world we want to create.

This is not a call for all anarchists to be part of large organizations to be legitimate, though more and more that is where I personally see the path to liberation lying. We can and do have legitimate disagreements on that. This is my saying that I’ll only work with people who are somehow similarly embedded in a web of accountability, that has points that I trust, and my advice that others do the same. This is my saying that once someone says they don’t hold themselves responsible before any community, I no longer trust them enough to work with them.

There is the other issue that, in our supposed respect for a diversity of tactics, some of us have just fixated on different tactics. A music festival of mainly lesbians, with no corporate support, in the woods is far different from a bank foreclosing on houses and kicking our fellow workers into the streets which is far different from the brutality of police repression. Different circumstances call for different tactics and different strategies. We need to not confuse a music festival with a major corporation or with the state itself. Different struggles have different needs and goals, and one-size-fits-all tactics are silly, betray a lack of analysis, and are ineffective — and potentially damaging to the cause you seek to promote.

To quote a friend of mine, “I’m into fucking winning”. And that involves different methods in different situations. And winning doesn’t just mean a world without a state and without capitalism, but also dealing with all the horrible things we’ve internalized being part of a profoundly sick society – the “us vs. them” mentality, false dualities, valuing winning arguments no matter what the cost rather than conversations where we grow, and a single-minded focus on external enemies (whether legitimate or illegitimate) without recognizing that we need to build and maintain vibrant, supportive, strong communities. In a truly vibrant and strong community, a small cadre can’t take over for its own ends. Our movements need to come out of these communities, rather than substitute for them, because a community is different than a common purpose — it is an exchange of mutual needs and obligations. It is the worst of what we’ve been indoctrinated in by the oppressive, hierarchical society around us to let a small group command and control the rest of us.

It is also clear, that both with events that draw on people from diverse communities that aren’t explicitly anarchist (and have many non-anarchists in attendance), and also with anarchist convergences, we need to have methods in place to handle accountability as a continuous process, recognizing that things can happen that will need to be dealt with long after the event is over. As an organizer of Camp Trans, I need to hold some responsibility for not helping prepare for such major violations of the space. I think it caught all of us by surprise that a small group of people could tear apart and destroy Camp Trans, that they would apparently want to do such, and they would use an incident where several people at camp were physically threatened and many more were emotionally traumatized. Perhaps I’m not yet so old that I’m naive enough to have expected better of my community. Unfortunately, I lose one of my last bits of naiveté like this.

in solidarity, and toward healthier, accountable communities and collective liberation,

gayge

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Statement From Oliver

What follows is a statement from Oliver, who was outside the events at Camp Trans this year, but investigated accusations that were made, and has put a ton of work in and talked to a lot of people.

Friends,
I’m writing first and foremost to retract my statement that Gayge snitched at camp trans. If that’s all you want to read of this email feel free to stop there!

For those interested in the slightly longer version read on:
I got a phone call last Thursday from my friend Ryan who was extremely concerned when people he trusted told him that Gayge had threatened to falsely turn him and others in to Michigan Women’s Fest security for illegal activities. Gayge had already left camp at this point (which you can read about in her version of the story by following the URL at the end of this email) and some aspects of fact checking at Camp Trans were stalled by lack of communication for political and practical reasons. Ryan asked me to help him and I immediately agreed to send out the email I sent out. We acted so quickly because we were very concerned that people would be turned in within a short period of time, however I felt that I had many unanswered questions still and as soon as I had sent the email began digging further into the situation. I called Gayge, called a few other friends and started to piece together another version of what happened, the version that now appears to be true.

I can’t represent that version as I don’t fully understand it yet, I don’t want to tie in a bunch of names to this and still have a lot of talking to do with involved people. What I’m coming to understand is that yet again political differences were played out in a bad way and this pulled in people who were trying to do the right thing and protect each other from snitching and state repression. I hope that there will be accountability for this and that all of us who were involved can learn a lot from this, I know that Ryan and myself are working to understand what happened and what, if anything, could go better in the future. We all now know that there was no letter, no attempt to snitch and no threat of snitching. No one has any information to turn in and no one is seeking any.

The last thing I want to bring up is that I was in touch with Gayge the whole time that this was going on and while Gayge and I have a lot of political differences I feel that our contact was in general the right thing to do. I know that calling a potential snitch to talk isn’t always the right choice, but in this case that communication was a good place to work from and I appreciate the other people who answered questions as honestly as they could and gave advice. I spent a lot of time on the phone this week and generally people met me with a lot of kindness and willingness to put aside differences to figure this out.

If you want a lot more information about this please find it here:https://truthoutsidehart.wordpress.com/

Hope you’re all still well, and thank you again to those who got involved. Please forward this or another update to those who you have contacted.

Best,
Oliver

I certainly want to thank Oliver for all the dedication and work he’s put in thus far to getting to the bottom of this, and I hope that the rest of the Camp Trans community, along with other communities touched by this, will thank him as well.

ADDED 8/14/2010 FOR CLARITY: The Oliver who made this statement is Oliver Button of Portland. This is being added to be clear which Oliver made this statement, and to prevent any future confusion.

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A primer: In Defence of a Sister

by Candice Rose Cartman on Monday, August 9, 2010 at 2:07pm

This will be a quick entry to address accusations that I have been reading about in regards to events at Camp Trans 2010. I will follow with a full entry on my dissection of the events, most likely in video blog format. Gayge or Andy, you are more than welcome to post this to your blog on this subject.

I stayed the full length of Camp, leaving midday on Sunday. The events of the week brought me closer to other trans women, a small group of us amongst the small minority we were at the whole camp. After a trans female spectrum caucus was called, we decided to publicly announce that we felt the mission statement needed to be changed. This was met with extreme hostility and threats of violence.

After the bad reaction, I stayed close to those who I knew and trusted the best at camp, a small group of mostly trans women. This included Gayge and Andy. I stayed at their tent most of the night that night and stayed there all day the next day. Tensions ran high at the camp that day. That morning we watched as people filed out. Several people packed up and left, including at least one trans woman who felt unsafe in the space.

I continued to sit and talk with the sisters I trusted. We were all on edge about the community meeting that night, and as it was decided to again open up sensitive subjects, my friends decided for their safety to leave. They asked me to help them pack and I was happy to do so, but not without a few tears.

At that point I myself began feeling very unsafe. I was walking around camp armed. It’s a sad day when a trans woman can’t feel safe in a space that is supposed to center her. Perhaps my friend was right when she said the theme of the week was ‘patriarchy’. I personally feel it was ‘more radical than thou’. As if threats of violence, a pack mentality, and making people feel unsafe in their space is somehow more radical or even anarchist in the least. This sounds more like High School than a radical queer space, and it felt like it too.

So, seeing as I was in the presence of Gayge during the time she would or could have written any note or letter “snitching” on other parties, I imagine it would have been fairly difficult for her to do so. Also, wherever she left it, it wasn’t at her campsite, because I and I alone cleaned that site up for them. There simply was no note, and no time to write it.

Gayge also does not seem like the type of person to perpetrate such a betrayal. She was simply voicing her concerns, which I felt were perfectly valid, and was shouted down. Another theme for the week could be “the loudest ones win” or “the loudest ones are right”. I only just met Gayge at camp, but I can generally judge people fairly well. Gayge seems as committed to radicalism and queer radicalism as anyone I’ve ever met. I simply can’t believe that she would do something so abhorrent as turn people over to the state.

In solidarity,

Candice Rose Cartman

Taken from: http://www.facebook.com/#!/note.php?note_id=440484342496 with the permission of the  author.

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Letter of Support by Andy From Chicago

It is with great disappointment and sadness that I feel compelled to openly write and have distributed this statement. In my opinion Camp Trans 2010 was a colossal internal failure. Instead of a loving supportive community gathering to help make policy changes at Michfest, and by extension women’s spaces in general, it became a fractionated place of suspicion, fear and unmitigated anger and that no effective means to resolve said issues could be found in the time I was there.

I have been going to Camp Trans and supportive of it since I heard of its existence. My attendance there stretches from 2002 to 2010 and while never being an organizer of the space I have put much money, time and effort into it. I am not a political person by nature but strongly believe in the importance of transwomen inclusion in womens spaces.

It was with great sadness that I felt compelled to leave in pitch darkness for the emotional and potential physical safety of my long time friend Gayge. As I had picked her up at the airport and brought her to Camp Trans I felt it was my responsibility to not only take her back to the airport as previously agreed but also as a friend to look out for her safety. As my friend, even without prior travel agreements, I would have gladly taken her out of the toxic space that was Camp Trans 2010 and one of my greatest regret in leaving early is that I couldn’t have fit more people and camping gear into my car.

A further crushing blow to my mind and heart was the unproven rumor mill allegations of Gayge as a snitch. This blatantly untrue accusation is just yet another example of the divisive and destructive tactics used by a small group of people to destroy the community and reputation of Camp Trans 2010 and the individual members that formed it. Gayge had the courage to stand up and speak out against the neo-fascism and simultaneously got a target painted on her back.

As the time line runs it would have been impossible for Gayge to have written a snitch letter. She was either in my presence or in the communal area of the field with other parties during the alleged time of writing. Said letter could not have been typed as there was no town run to get to a computer and, as far as I know, no hand written letter has been produced that could be used as penmanship evidence of Gayge’s handwriting.

As such, in knowing the upstanding character of Gayge, her love for Camp Trans, her political beliefs on non-police involvement and the harmony and sanctity of radical community standards and spaces the only conclusion I can possible arrive to is the innocence of Gayge of these accusations and that the rumors are merely a personal attack leveled against her by an individual or party, unknown to me, who gave little thought to the sheer impossibility of credibility of such statements. While not a political person, and one who is well outside of these events, I hope that the larger radical community that has or had involvement calls out the party or parties responsible to the formation and original dissemination of the lies of Gayge being a snitch and that there is accountability, repercussions and reparations for the destructive action they took.

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A Statement on Accusations Made Around Camp Trans 2010

In Regards to Recent False Allegations Made Against Me

August 8th, 2010

It was brought to my attention Friday evening that false allegations that I had allegedly written a letter implicating people at Camp Trans in involvement in potentially illegal activities, and allegedly planned to deliver it to Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival (Michfest) but did not, and allegedly abandoned it when leaving Camp to somehow be found by someone who then propagated this information throughout Camp Trans, leading to allegations being made that I intended to snitch on attendees of Camp Trans.

I can not emphasize enough how false these accusations are, how hurtful they are, how damaging they have the potential to be, and how disgusted and angry I am that someone would either fabricate a letter and falsely attribute it to me, or falsely state that such a letter attributed to me existed. I am also angry and disgusted that they would then take actions that threaten my personal safety, credibility, place in communities, and well being, the safety and well being of the community, potentially make members of the community vulnerable to state repression. These false allegations only could serve to further escalate tensions at and outside Camp Trans in a year that the community has been torn apart by deep rifts, rifts that need to be addressed, but only after tensions have had a chance to deescalate, and everyone has a chance to step back and consider what happened.

On an ideological level, snitching is reprehensible. It destroys trust, damages our communities, refuses to respect a diversity of tactics, strategy, and opinions, and opens up members of our communities to state repression. My many comrades across the continent should hopefully realize that I, as someone who has long been devoted to Camp Trans, several radical communities, street medicing, and even more importantly prison abolition and a future stateless world should realize that snitching is entirely abhorrent to me, and is something I would never do in any circumstance, no matter what my personal ideological, tactical, or strategic disagreements with any person or any hypothetical action are. There are ways to have legitimate disagreements and to work them out. Snitching is most definitely not one of them.

While the ideological refutation should be enough, on the practical level, vague, unsubstantiated rumors began to spread Thursday afternoon, and I was gone by Thursday night. During that time, I was never privately alone; all my time was spent with friends or quite visible in public space. As such, it would have been impossible for me to write any letter of the sort and have it be unnoticed until after I left Camp. As an avid proponent of security culture, any time I have ever had an inkling of some kind of illegal or clandestine activity, I have immediately expressed the importance of silence and the absolute need to avoid gossip and rumors. Everyone must remember to keep such information to themselves. That being my position on the matter, had I heard any rumors being circulated at Camp, I would have immediately ended the conversation. To be clear: I am not privy to any such
information. My only other discussion with two other people involved with organizing Camp Trans that our only response would be if someone outside of Camp directed an accusation at Camp, which we would of course refute as antithetical to the purpose of Camp Trans and that no Camp Trans attendee would ever take any such action.

I also ask people to consider the alleged circumstances. Why would someone make such serious allegations in written form, and either abandon them to be found and spread around the community that not only are they a part of, but also that would have members targeted by such allegations? I think it should be obvious that this is far more likely to be the setup for a false allegation of snitching (“snitch-jacketing”) than any attempt at snitching – given community standards, and the very real threats to one’s place in community, credibility, and personal safety in being known to be a snitch, no one would set oneself up to be found out in such an obvious way. However, this serves the purposes of someone making a false allegation very well, despite the risks to both the person snitch-jacketing me and also to people who may be implicated by it. I became a target for this when I left Camp Trans Thursday night. My reasons for leaving when I did, with a trusted friend, were that I felt that I could no longer contribute as an organizer or medic, that the space had become hazardous to my emotional and physical well-being, and that I had become one of many focal points of tension in the community. My leaving was intended to not only protect my personal well being but to also hopefully reduce tensions in the community. Clearly, the fact that I am not there to defend myself in person was involved in choosing this tactic – I cannot demand the letter to be produced and shown to me to prove that it is not my handwriting, or to resolve the question of its existence. Given the alleged content of any letter that was fabricated, it is obviously to be hoped that the fabricated letter no longer exists. While it is impossible to have good, solid, clear, and frequent communication with an event that occurs in the woods, that fact that these allegations have been made clearly reflects that my leaving did not reduce tensions nearly as much as I desired.

This is quite clearly an attack on my credibility, place in communities, and safety by whomever originated these false allegations, and anyone who propagated said false accusations knowing them to be false. They not only have already caused me emotional harm and stress, they have brought stress on my friends and comrades who are supporting me, brought further stress on a community that has already developed deep rifts, and these allegations greatly increase the likelihood that these rifts may never heal, which is certainly not my desire. As a trans person and as someone who spent five years attending Camp Trans and four year organizing it, I am quite aware of how important and valuable a trans-centric space is, and literally experienced an incredibly deep sadness as I saw the community tear itself apart, and watched Camp cross the point where constructive, productive discussion of what was going on in the space and dynamics involved could no longer occur. Because this false allegation makes it ever more difficult for those discussions to occur, even if I was not the one targeted by them, I would still find them to be a horrible act for whoever originated them to take.

What is needed at this moment, for my credibility and well-being, the credibility and well-being of people targeted by either a letter that does not exist or was falsified, and the credibility of people who passed on these allegations believing them to potentially be legitimate is for the person who created this falsehood to step forward or be uncovered, and held accountable for their actions. I strongly encourage my statement to be spread widely, and especially to anyone who is passing along these allegations. While in this case, passing along these allegations is harmful, due to their falsehood, people who pass along these allegations in good faith are doing what they believe to be best for multiple communities, and should not suffer because of it. It is most important that we hold whomever made the initial false allegation and anyone who passed it along knowing it to be false accountable to not only the Camp Trans community, but to any other communities they are a part of, all communities I am part of, all organizations I am involved with or have trusted comrades in, and to all communities that these allegations have reached. Snitch-jacketing is a very, very serious issue, as serious as snitching itself, as it has the same potential to destroy communities and endanger people.

As far as to the matter of issues that occurred at Camp Trans, the existence and spread of this false allegation point to several things. First of all, that the issues at Camp Trans concretely effect many places and communities, some with only the most indirect of connections to Camp Trans, and that discussion not only of the issue of this false allegation but of other issues that arose will and has spread to other communities. While I am uncertain of what exact motivations would lead anyone to threaten my credibility, place in communities, and safety, take large risks involving other people, and risk the very continued existence of a community that so many people have found to be vitally important over the years, I feel obligated to point out that misogyny, trans misogyny, and femmephobia that I experienced played into some of the conflicts I had at Camp, and I think that these, and other oppressions, played into conflict in the actions of all sides of very serious disagreements about not only the purpose and strategy of Camp Trans, its past, present, and future relationship to Michfest, and responses to threats to the community from outside the community, and also larger issues of community, forms of organization, strategy, what tactics are appropriate in which circumstances, ideology, and identity. Legitimate disagreements can indeed be had on all of these issues, and they need to be discussed in a constructive and calm fashion, not in the way that caused tremendous emotional harm and stress to everyone who attended to Camp Trans this year. The fact that tensions have gotten this bad that someone was motivated to take the extreme action of falsely accusing me of being a snitch and the fact that I and other people left Camp Trans due to concerns about our personal safety clearly show that in a very important way Camp Trans 2010 was a failure, as much as it greatly saddens me to say that. I believe people need to give their opinions and analysis of what happened at Camp and how to prevent similar events from occurring in other communities, but that these need to be done after Camp ends, and tensions have time to lessen as much as they will both by the end of a very intense space and people being geographically separated. I hope that by refuting these false allegations that conversation and analysis can still productively occur.

In closing, I would like to reiterate both the seriousness of these accusations, the potential both they and snitching have to do enormous harm to many people and communities, and the categorical falsehood of the accusations. I would also like to thank my trusted comrades and friends who have already, upon discussing the matter with me, seen the self-evident falseness of these accusations, and have supported me emotionally, and by offering to spread this statement with their support far and wide.

In solidarity,

gayge

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