Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Discrimination against trans person on Folsom weekend

Discrimination against trans person on Folsom weekend
Location SF Bay Area

A genderqueer person was asked to leave at the Revels of Venus event (Sunday) at the Cherry Bar on Folsom weekend for not being "trans enough" according to event promoter Ren Davis Phoenix.

The event was billed as dyke and trans inclusive. Rev. Michael, who identifies as genderqueer and is male bodied, was there with the person who calls him her wife. They both identify as genderqueer in some way - in fact, the night before (Saturday) they hosted an art show all about their relationship and their identities as trans.

Event promoter Ren Davis Phoenix asked Michael to leave the event after saying that he is not genderqueer since he is not presenting as female. Ren also pointed to several other people including myself, my wife Turtle, my friend Joli(e) and declared us all to be trans but not him since he is male bodied.

According to Ren's profile at s/he is a "self-identified transgendered, female bodied person beyond specific M/F preferences" yet while s/he organized this event as dyke and trans inclusive, s/he decided that Michael, a male bodied person who identifies beyond specific M/F preferences was not "trans enough" to remain at the event.

Please distribute widely. You can reach Ren Davis Phoenix at redsphx(at)aol(dot)com

Max & Turtle

From Rev. Michel, with his permission.

Original post:


The following is my account of Sunday night, as it is posted for the Screwup list on Tribe:

This Sunday I was the unfortunate target of discrimination when I accompanied a group of friends to a Revels of Venus event at The Cherry Bar. The event was billed in it s flyers as being for leather women and trans people and I was admitted at the door because I am genderqueer
(I think genderfluid is perhaps more appropriate for me) despite the fact that I am male bodied and bearded. I was also not going unaccompanied, and would like to think that the group of queer women and genderqueers I was with could be considered as vouching for my character.

The show of the event was over when we arrived, which was fine with me as I mostly wanted to have a nice cocktail or two with friends. I was quite happy to stay by the bar and chat with all of the people I knew, and I was having a very mellow and pleasant time. My behavior could, at no time, be described as offensive or inappropriate in any possible way.

At some point about a half hour after we had arrived I and two others were asked by someone to come outside for a moment. The person identified themselves as Ren Davis Phoenix, the promoter of the event. S/he was terse, and said something to the effect of either you are the most convincing transman I have ever seen, or you don t belong here. I assured Ren that I was male and not trying to pass as a transman, but that I was most certainly a part of the trans community. No amount of my trying to explain mattered one iota. Once s/he heard I was born male and was not transitioning to female she did not want to hear anything more. I was told I had to leave, as I was not female or a female-appearing transperson. Men were not allowed, unless they were FTM. My genderqueer-ness was not enough, and it did not matter how well behaved I had been or how many women and transfolk (and Cherry Bar staff for that matter) vouched for me.

I was in near tears, but at this point I was willing to leave. I support the concept of safe spaces for women, and according to Ren complaints were being brought to her about me being there from women inside. Who wants to make anyone uncomfortable just by being present? Not me. To be totally honest, I wanted to take my too-male-appearing self home and just forget about what had just happened.

The manager of The Cherry Bar, John, introduced himself to me and wanted me to know that he was appalled at what Ren was doing. We chatted for a while out front while my companions went to say good-bye to our friends inside. During the course of this conversation he made the decision that he did not want me to leave. He asked my friends and I to please all come back inside and have a drink on the house. John said that he did not want to see any sort of discrimination occur at Cherry Bar. We accepted.

When Ren came by where we were (at the bar by the entry) and saw me enjoying a drink I was removed from the bar yet again. This time s/he and John had a long private talk away from me and when she came back she was abusive. When my friends and passers-by came to my defense she became enraged. I actually thought things might come to blows between her and one of my companions. He s a man! He s got a cock! He doesn t belong in there! and words to that effect were screamed by Ren over and over. It was an ugly and traumatizing scene. In the end we were all sent packing, and even now (two days later) I just can t quite shake the awful feeling it left me with.

**About me**
My name is Reverend Michel St. Germain. I am a documentary photographer and I have had the pleasure of documenting and promoting the visibility the queer and trans communities in San Francisco over the past few years. You ll find me happily snapping photos of all the myriad of talent that graces events like Gender Pirates, Karma, Wicked Messenger: A Variant Cabaret, Fresh Meat, Drag Up Knock Down, Transfusion (a now defunct trans wrestling club), and many others, though I am most know for my rabid documentation of Trannyshack. I also have lent support to PiSSR (People In Support Of Safe Restrooms), Harvey Milk Inst., Tenderloin AIDS Resource Center, Community United Against Violence, and the Youth Gender Project.

Physically, I look rather bear-ish. I am a large bellied, beared, kilt wearing (or chaps if I am on my motorcycle), big booted person. My bearing is much more nelly than my appearance, and let s face it- I am a big ole queen. I am also told I have a cuddly appearance. Despite my man-ish appearance I do not necessarily consider myself male. As I mentioned above I am genderfluid. Though I do not wish to transition to female physically I feel my gender is much more female than my appearance. I identify must more strongly with female gender than male, though my sense of gender does seem to evolve and develop fluidly. I am genderqueer.

** About Ren Davis Phoenix **
You can find info about Ren at One of my companions (Max Joire) of the evening in question had an interesting comment regarding Ren ealier in an email I received this morning:

According to Ren's profile at s/he is a "self-identified transgendered, female bodied person beyond specific M/F preferences" yet while s/he organized this event as dyke and trans inclusive, s/he decided that Michel, a male bodied person who identifies beyond specific M/F preferences was not "trans enough" to remain at the event.

Ren Davis Phoenix can be reached at If you would like to comment on this issue or would like to see real trans-inclusive policy at Ren s events in the future please do let him/her know how you feel

Also, please distribute this as you see fit. Discussion on issues like this is very important to our communities.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ren Davis Phoenix is a shit starter and has a reputation for dishonesty. I'm glad to see people speaking up about her bullshit.

8:50 PM  

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