Let’s talk about TERFs. Trigger warning for transphobia, sexual assault mentions and body dysphoria.
Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists. They prefer to call themselves ‘The Gender Critical Feminists’. Gives it a scholarly vibe, doesn’t it?
Right, so these people are bigots. The term ‘gender critical’ at first glance would be something like ahh…, discourse! We’ll discuss gender and its nuances! Intellect! Smart! Shine shine! And when you read Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist which is a term that TERFs detest for obvious reasons, the term pretty much gives it away.
So basically, TERFs are bigoted, transphobic people who have the audacity to call themselves feminists. They call transwomen ‘it’ and transmen are lost lesbian sisters. Essentially, they think that ‘biological males’ in female disguise are encroaching upon female spaces (they become very agitated about the ‘bathroom problem’, so that’s a cue on how to spot one) and transmen are lesbians who are brainwashed into wearing ‘male clothes’ because they want liberation from the female oppression by being masculine which according to TERFs is a form of internalised misogyny.
They are incredibly sympathetic towards transmen. So much so that they deny their existence and their identity. Who is surprised?
And have absolute hatred towards transwomen. They don’t consider them humans, referring to them as ‘it’. For them, trans people will destroy society and corrupt the children.
Honestly, I’m so tired of this corrupting children, polluting society bullshit. It’s everywhere! Used as a strong moral reason for every form of hatred. Homophobia, transphobia, casteism, racism, AGHHHHGHGH SOMEONE SAVE MY CHILDREN!! The children are alright, the society is already corrupted—your bigotry is in it, you should know.
So, for summing up the terminology, it’s like logo ka ch*tiya kaatna, but call it PM Cares.
Now let’s come to the ideology part.
At the very core, they don’t recognise trans people. They don’t consider their self-identification as a form of legitimate identity. Their world revolves around this radical binary view: –
Humans + Vagina= Oppressed
Humans + Penis = Oppressor
1. So, when a ‘biological male’ dresses up feminine, they are only trying to find ways to infiltrate safe women spaces and oppressing the ‘biological female’ further. (TERF POV)
This ‘concern’ is based largely on presumptions and some rare cases of such kind that are used to generalise the entire community to propagate hatred. That is why stereotypes are harmful. When a marginalised community seeks out their due space and come forward to claim what is rightfully theirs, in attempts to silence them, a rare incident is picked up and stereotypes are formed around it to denounce their cause. TERFs don’t take into account that most transwomen are victims of sexual assault, are pushed into sex work and are continuously exploited. Their sympathies, if at all, are chosen and narrow and do only harm. The hate that these stereotypes fuel are not only limited to societal exploitation, they snatch away legal protection, or entirely stop them from existing such as happened in Arkansas and Tennessee (USA) which become latest states to pass anti-trans legislation and in the bill, they make references to a blog written by the TERF supreme leader—J.K. Rowling where these ‘concerns’ were the base for their decision to pass the bill.
2. In a TERF world, gender is a system that exists solely to oppress women which it does by imposing femininity on those born females. And thus, they are also very critical of femininity.
As for gender and sex-based oppression, it’s not only women that are the oppressed block. Gay men, transwomen are oppressed based on the male gender assigned to them at birth. Gender fluid people face discrimination and oppression based on their assigned gender at birth too.
As for femininity, it is a common practice for TERFs to go on some trans YouTuber channel and troll them for not being feminine enough to pass as a woman. Or how they need to be less feminine to be considered a woman. Or no matter how much they ‘try’, they will never be a ‘real woman’. And you never see these TERF trolls in the comments section of Kim Kardashian or something…, telling her how she should be less feminine or more feminine or how to be a ‘real woman’. Not that TERFs should go and troll Kim, the point being, their idea of femininity doesn’t stand the same for rich, powerful women who hold authority or even females who were assigned female at birth, but sure they would go on to traumatize the next transwoman they find almost as if their concern is not ‘real womanhood’ but—
You should be able to guess it at this point.
3. To be a woman, they say one has to go through the struggles of women. The harassment, discrimination that women face, terfs argue, are not faced by transwomen because they have the male privilege. No one can be a woman by just claiming that they are a woman. For them the struggle, the trauma seems to be a pass card.
As for the struggles, trans people have enough of them. When we talk about transwomen and the apparent ‘male privilege’, where exactly does this privilege help them? Saves them from rapes? Makes everyone treat them with respect? Stops bigots from delegitimising them? Makes sure they don’t fear for their lives every passing moment?
You see, the thing that is happening here is desperately braying to have some ‘logic’ to give sanction to their bigotry. Like the straight pride brays or the so-called men’s rights activists or the brahmins braying caste pollution and shit.
No one has a right to dictate the terms on how others should identify. The terms, the expressions are varied, they change, they evolve like all of us (barring a few, who yet have their brains to come out of their assholes). Many women prefer ‘womxn’, many are much more comfortable with ‘woman’. TERFs use ‘womyn’, a term they use to connect. For many ‘queer’ is a triggering term reminding them of prejudices they suffered, many prefer to have that label to identify themselves with. Many lesbians use ‘dyke’, but for many within the same community, they bring back traumatic memories. Many other people just don’t want to associate themselves with any labels.
At the very least, we can listen and understand, we can respect each other for what we are, what we inherently believe resides within us. At the very least, we can not be little pieces of shit who can’t be bothered to grow out of their tinny shitty shiny bubble of ignorance.
This article has been written by Manvi, Ist year