It’s a lovely Easter Sunday, the weather is beautiful, I’ve had a lovely day and eaten lovely food. Hopefully, whether you celebrate Easter or not, you are having a lovely day too.
Having finished all my festivities for the day, I started browsing through social media. I found this article, published today on Pink News, What is a TERF and why should you be worried? Apparently, the publication staff at Pink News thought that what people really needed on this lovely Sunday was a badly-written article about why we should hate feminists. Way to go, Pink News! <sarcasm>
The photo that goes with the article is a boot stepping on a rainbow flag, which I think is supposed to symbolize evil TERFs metaphorically stepping on the LBGT community. That’s a curious thing to imply, since a lot of
femininsts who understand biology TERFs actually are lesbians and bisexual women, so are we stepping on ourselves? Also, although feminists as a group have nothing against people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or gender nonconforming, and many of us are some of these things, there are lots of trans people who hate lesbians, and there’s even one trans person who thought the rainbow flag was so offensive that he burned one in protest. So I feel like, in reality, the boot stepping on the rainbow flag is more likely to be a trans person’s boot.
The author of the article, Meka Beresford, defines a TERF as a “transphobic bigot.” She believes that “Trans-exclusionary Radical Feminism is a collective with a simple message of hate.” This is exactly what anti-feminists want you to think, but it isn’t true. Radical feminism is a well-developed political position based on an analysis of sex-based oppression and a call to action to end male supremacy and male violence. Radical feminists exist all over the world today, and we are working to protect existing rights for women and continuing to fight against male violence in many forms. What Beresford says here is deliberately oversimplified and misleading.
Radical feminists only “exclude” transwomen from female-only spaces on the basis that “gender identity” is a vague concept that allows any male to “identify as a woman,” without even taking any steps to transition, and in a world characterized by rampant male violence against women, it is not safe for us to include every male who claims to have a “gender identity” in spaces where women are vulnerable. It is prudent, not bigoted, to prevent harm to women.
Radical feminists as a group do not wish harm upon anyone who identifies as transgender, and although we annoy trans people on a regular basis by disagreeing with their ideology, we are not the ones perpetrating violence against them. The people who beat and murder trans people are men, and they’re not doing it because of radical feminist analysis, they’re doing is because of toxic masculinity, something that feminists are actually against. We are in favor of separate unisex washrooms to accommodate people who don’t feel they can use male or female washrooms, because we do want to accommodate trans people, just not in ways that can harm women.
“Some TERF’s, more radical than Murray or Adichie, entirely deny trans womanhood and label trans women as “self loathing gay men”. This is problematic at best, and at worst it is dangerous.”
That’s another curious statement. A small number of transwomen are feminine gay men, and if they hate their male bodies then they can logically be called “self-hating,” but if you ask any radfem who’s been following this trans thing closely, she’ll tell you that most transwomen are straight men with a fetish for cross-dressing (autogynephiles). This author, of course, didn’t do any research to find out what we are actually saying because she doesn’t care– the purpose of her article is to slander us and spread rumors about us, not to engage with our arguments in a sincere or productive way.
“Just like being gay, being transgender is not a choice – it is a reality, and it is very real.”
This statement isn’t meaningful unless we can agree on what “being transgender” means. Does it mean having gender dysphoria? Does it mean medically transitioning? Does it mean being born in a body that looks ambiguous? Does it mean feeling that you have a personal relationship to the concepts of masculinity and femininity? Because whether or not being trans is a “choice” is different in each of these situations. Not all people who identify as trans have gender dysphoria, and not all people with gender dysphoria will ever medically transition. Gender dysphoria can be dealt with in ways other than medical transition, and medical transition is a choice. You could probably argue that having gender dysphoria isn’t a choice, and you could make a really good case for that, although there are some people who are formally trans-identified but no longer dysphoric after finding ways to heal from their pain, and having gender dysphoria doesn’t automatically mean taking on a transgender identity.
Everyone has a personal relationship to masculinity and femininity– we all either relate to or reject different aspects of these social constructs, so if that’s what a “gender identity” is, then we all have a gender identity, so all of us are free to identify as trans if we want to. If trans is something we can all identify into, then how would we accommodate people who are trans? Accommodate everybody? Six million separate washrooms in every building to validate every possible gender identity in the world?
“TERF’s claim that trans women are rapists waiting to happen, that they have mental health issues and that fundamentally they are not women. This level of dehumanisation is morally wrong, and all too similar to the persecution that other minorities such as LGB people have faced in the past.”
This argument fails to consider how vague the concepts of gender identity and transgender are. I don’t think that all transwomen are rapists. There have been some transwomen convicted of rape though. I do think that all male humans are potential rapists because they have penises and benefit from male supremacy. Men are rarely convicted for rape, and so those who wish to rape are usually free to do so, and it’s impossible to predict ahead of time which men will rape. A lot of men who identify as transwomen these days behave exactly like MRAs in their entitlement to women’s love and attention and their belief that lesbians should be interested in dating them. You could argue that these sorts “aren’t really transwomen,” but with vague gender identity laws that are based on self-declaration, these MRA types are free to identify as transwomen and legally live ‘as women’ despite their hatred for actual human females.
The idea that it’s “dehumanising” to male humans to point out that they are statistically likely to be rapists is an MRA idea. It’s a statement that tells women to shut up about what we’ve learned about male violence against women through listening to survivors and through the anti-violence work we do, and instead cater to men’s desire to never be presented in a negative light.
“anybody can be a feminist but being exclusionary denies you that right.”
Actually no, feminism isn’t a movement to “include” everybody into everything, it’s a movement to end the sex-based oppression that female humans experience in a patriarchy. That’s why feminists have an interest in maintaining the ability to recognize biological sex as a way to identify humans. Feminism is exclusionary, it is about human females and it doesn’t include human males. Claiming that feminism needs to include men is like saying that the labor movement should include bosses and business owners.
“Trans women are women, so stop denying their existence. Trans women are women.”
What? Who’s denying their existence? Of course transwomen exist. No one is saying they don’t.
Hey, Pink News, why are you publishing poorly-researched, poorly-argued, feminist-bashing, disingenuous garbage? Is that because you’re a shitty publication with an anti-feminist agenda? Cool!