An Open Letter

Krys Freeman - BUTCH Voices President & Chief StrategistThis is something that I never thought I would have to write. Yet, I know, with change, often come awkward stepping stones.  Writing this now, I am confident that I will look back on this moment and understand it as one necessary to the development and sustainment of BUTCH Voices.

Recently, former BUTCH Voices members made an attempt at what might be perceived as airing BUTCH Voices’ dirty laundry.  It has recently been picked up and covered by media outlets, and I’m sure more coverage will come.  Unfortunately, this is often the case when inaccurate and negative information is spread throughout the internet.

I have already made a previous public statement about the press release, and been in contact with many who are concerned about BUTCH Voices’ “internal strife” and the “affect this may have on our upcoming conference” in August.  I appreciate your concern, and you have given me and my fellow BV board members much food for thought and improvement.

Still, I want to publicly announce, at this point, there has been no “airing of dirty laundry” because there is no internal strife with BUTCH Voices or the 2011 BUTCH Voices National Conference.  We are what we think; we are all on which we focus our thoughts.  At present, the entire BV team is focusing on making our 2nd National Conference the best conference to date.

Saying this, I am still aware that there are issues to be addressed and questions to be answered.

Because I, nor any of BV, have any mal intent towards any of the former BV members now forming Butch Nation, nor do we have any interest in slandering anyone’s names or prior actions, we want to make clear that there will often be things left unsaid.  This is not an attempt to fool or mislead anyone; this is an attempt to hold sacred the commitments and prior efforts that people have put into BUTCH Voices, regardless of personal issues or discord causing disagreement or resignation.

What we are totally transparent about is the work that BUTCH Voices is doing, and the energy and administrative methods that it takes to make this work possible.

Below, you will find a list covering all of the questions that I’ve received during the last 24 hours.  This will also be placed on the BV website.

ABOUT BUTCH VOICES

(All available on the BV Website)

Mission Statement

The mission of BUTCH Voices is to enhance and sustain the well-being of all women, female-bodied, and trans-identified individuals who are masculine of center*.  We achieve this by providing programs that build community, positive visibility and empower us to advocate for our whole selves inclusive of and beyond our gender identity and sexual orientation.

Our community is vast and growing and we have many identifications that resemble what the world knows as our “butchness.” We recognize our diversity as having a foundation rooted in butch heritage. We welcome the on-going development of movements intentionally and critically inclusive of our gender variant community. BUTCH Voices is a social justice organization that is race and gender inclusive, pro-womanist and feminist.

Who We Are

We are woman-identified Butches. We are trans-masculine Studs. We are faggot-identified Aggressives. We are noun Butches, adjective Studs and pronoun-shunning Aggressives. We are she, he, hy, ze, zie and hir. We are you, and we are me. The point is, we don’t decide who is Butch, Stud or Aggressive. You get to decide for yourself.

BUTCH Voices is a grassroots organization dedicated to all self-identified Masculine of Center* people and our Allies. We, at BUTCH Voices, feel it is important to bring together our diverse communities, build bridges, make connections. We use our collective voices to gain better understanding of each other and promote positive visibility with intention, integrity and transparency.

Core Initiatives

  • Community Building
  • Economic/Social Justice
  • Physical/Mental Health

Your Questions

What is Masculine of Center (MoC)* and why does BUTCH Voices use that term?

Masculine of Center (MoC) is a term, coined by B. Cole of the Brown Boi Project, that recognizes the breadth and depth of identity for lesbian/queer/ womyn who tilt toward the masculine side of the gender scale and includes a wide range of identities such as butch, stud, aggressive/AG, dom, macha, tomboi, trans-masculine etc.

BUTCH Voices has adopted the use of this term as way to be inclusive of the many identities that exist in our section of the queer spectrum. Masculine of Center serves as an umbrella term which is useful when discussing our community as it provides a succinct alternative to listing all identities.

What identities are under the BUTCH Voices umbrella?

Butch, Stud, Aggressive (AG), Macha, Dom, Tomboi, genderqueer, two-spirit, Trans men who identify as Masculine of Center and all other similar identities.

Who is welcome at BUTCH Voices events?

Everyone is welcome to attend any BUTCH Voices event that is not a closed space (Masculine of Center women and trans-identified individuals). Currently we do not have any events planned that are a closed space – but we offer closed spaces to those who request it. Our National Conference and Regional Conferences are open to the various identities that fall under the BUTCH Voices umbrella and our allies.

Is BUTCH Voices trying to tell me how I identify, what if I am BUTCH and not Masculine of Center?

No, BUTCH Voices affirms the ability for each person to self-identify in a way that fits them best.  When BUTCH Voices uses the term Masculine of Center (MoC) the intention is to quickly and succinctly summarize who we are at large.   For many in our community, the label BUTCH is not inclusive, but we all unite at our 2nd National Conference under the big BUTCH Voices tent, because of our shared experiences.

Financial Information: http://www.butchvoices.com/about/financials

(This has always been present on the BV website)

What happened?

As in all organizations, differences arise.  BV has worked very hard at coming to a common ground with those that published the original press release.  However, because of personal, not organizational, disagreements, this common ground was never reached.  This is not news, nor is this an anomaly.  Allowing this to be perceived as such will only create more negative energy and a pseudo-media frenzy.

People leave relationships, jobs, and even community organizations (such as BV) every day.  Usually, we congratulate them on making a firm decision.  Often, we inquire about the newly-open position.  We do not usually create a war of words, bouncing around misinformed ideas and interpretations.  In what appear to be times of uncertainty, we stand strongly beside friends and family that need us.  Many of you reading this still engage with community groups and organizations with which individuals have found fault.  As you should, for, the departure of an employee, volunteer, or your and my personal feelings have nothing to do with the overall goal of said organizations.

In re: Ageism vs. Sexism | Anyone knowledgeable about BUTCH Voices’ missions or initiatives can see that we have, and will continue to, work hard to include female identified, woman identified, and feminist Butches in all that we do – as is indicated in our mission statement itself.  We have, and will continue to, reach out, utilize, and work with multi-generational members of the LGBTQQI community.  BUTCH Voices recognizes that as a community, we and our allies take on many identities.  Again, believing that we are all that we think, and write, and believe, we have no intention of segmenting our community based on self-identification.  As per our last press release, we know that in order to strengthen our organization we must hold onto the legacy that has allowed us to do this work while steadily reaching for, and moving towards our bright future.

In re: Transparency Issues & Resigning Members| As with any organization, confidentiality agreements were signed by all BV board & steering committee members.  Anyone who has worked on the Board of a non-profit has probably signed a confidentiality agreement, a standard document which remains attached to each team member’s file.  Two of the former members signed onto the recently published release did not agree with this measure, one signed and submitted it to us, and completed all duties asked of her.  However, this was a standard procedure implemented to remain a member of the Conference Steering Committee.  This has very little to do with the issues to which idle minds easily attach- we have no intention of covering up any scandals or devious actions; there are none to hide.

At this point, a greater issue remains of not “why would an organization require a confidentiality agreement,” but rather, “why would a member of an organization, committed to its mission and growth, be averse to signing such an agreement.”

Questions on Cordova

"Sweaterbutches without sweaters."

We did everything we could to continue to work with Jeanne Cordova because she was a valued member of the team.  The effort continued for more than 18 months.

In re: Cordova’s Surgery & Board Retreat | The retreat was booked well in advance and we didn’t learn of Cordova’s surgery until a few days before we met in Oakland.  It amazes me that this is really being written about as news.  We all have busy schedules – we are all unpaid volunteers doing this work.  We all have engagements on top of engagements.  We all understand that life happens.  We understood that Jeanne’s surgery could not be rescheduled; neither could the retreat.  We supported Jeanne from afar, included her in the retreat proceedings by phone, and made it clear that the scheduling was not done in an attempt to hurt or exclude her.  This was in 2010, months in advance of the Regional event she headed.  At this point, every time we have mentioned Jeanne in a release or response, we have respected her enough to address her issues, and continuously supported her new ventures with Butch Nation.  It is still painful to see her engaging, in what seems to be a quite obvious campaign for publicity and attention.  She has always been on our radar as a respected activist and community organizer.  She, the other former team members mentioned in the release, and all of our current BV board members, have, at least, always held my attention.  A press release featuring words intended to smear BV’s reputation was never needed.

Additional Questions?

I have done my best to be as open as possible about this. If there are any other questions, or media inquiries, please direct them to info@ardorbrand.com with the subject “BV QUESTIONS.”

This is all of the energy that I can give this topic at the current moment.  As many of you know, for the last 24 hours, I have been deeply embroiled in emails, texts, Facebook messages, and several other forms of communication, trying to assure everyone that has inquired that all is right with BV.  I am done doing that.  Many of you know our board members personally, you know the legacies we brought with us to BUTCH Voices, and you know the legacies we intend to leave behind.  At this point, I ask that you hold fast to what you know, and allow what you know to guide what you believe.  I believe in BUTCH Voices, and I believe in your discerning intellect, and desires for truth and integrity.  As the President of BUTCH Voices, I urge you to use all of these characteristics and more to help focus your positive energies towards supporting BUTCH Voices and our 2nd National BUTCH Voices Conference.

Krys Freeman
Chief Strategist & Board President
BUTCH Voices
@bLaKtivist

BUTCH Voices 2011 – August 18-21 – Oakland City Center Marriott