Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Planning Community Discussion of The Gendercator Contentious

In San Francisco planning for a panel discussion and showing of the Catherine Crouch's film The Gendercator is becoming almost as contentious as the film itself. Organized by Ondine Kilker and Sarah Deragon, the co-chairs of Center Women Present, a women's programming initiative at the San Francisco LGBT Community Center, the October 26th event is meant to provide a venue for viewing and discussing the film that was pulled from Frameline Film Festival after protests for being "transphobic".

During the September 20th planning meeting attendees decided to limit panelists to "locals." A number of reasons were given for this, including the feeling that out of towners would not remain part of the community follow-up conversations after the October 26th event.

This decision effectively barred queer theorist and female masculinity expert Judith Jack Halberstam from the panel. As the scholar had already made travel plans and purchased tickets, Halberstam--and a number of others--felt dis-invited or kicked off the panel.

Halberstam responded to the discussion by email, setting out what she would bring to the discussion and asking, "Why not just host the panelists you want rather than imposing a weird "local" stipulation (meaning what? tax paying? long term resident? registered to vote? member of the local republican party?)?"

Further contention revolved around Susan Stryker the renown trans historian who is much loved in the San Francisco Bay Area and considered part of that community despite the fact that she currently lives and works in Vancouver, Canada. Some members of the planning group want to hold strictly to the "local" decision and would prefer Stryker remove herself from the panel, while others want to extend the local moniker to include the long time bay area resident, regardless of where she now resides.

Stryker responded, "If there is a screening and panel discussion about the Gendercator I will speak on it if, according to the criteria set out bythe group, my participation is deemed appropriate, and the criteria for my inclusion are fairly and equitably applied."

It remains to be seen how these issues will play out and what others may rise before the October 26th event.

1 comment:

Jacob Anderson-Minshall said...

The organizers of the planning group that is bringing The Gendercator to San Francisco for a panel discussion asked me (the blog's author) to clarify their perspective on the events that transpired.

Particularly, they indicate that although Judith/Jack Halberstam was one of many considered for the panel, they never promised Halberstam a spot.

One of the organizers explains, "It became contentious because Judith/Jack thought that "in consideration" to be a panelist, meant that he was "on" the panel. We're sorry that it wasn't clearer to him, and we've apologized and tried
to work something out."

According to the organizers, Halberstam was never "disinvited." And while those chosing panelists did consider proximity to San Francisco, it was not "one consideration that was
discussed, amongst many others...caucasian, gender
identity, sexual orientation, age-range, academia, etc."

For my part, if I did make it sound like the organizers were at fault, or that Halberstam was in fact disinvited, I appologize.