TERF Wars

In this current political climate, feminism is absolutely necessary. I’m a pretty staunch feminist, often known for being just a little bit too radical at times (a symptom of my radical queerness). Due to certain groups of people, however, the idea of radical feminism is becoming more and more controversial within intersectional feminist communities, and for good reason. We call them “TERFs.” TERF stands for trans-exclusionary radical feminist, but there’s really nothing radical about their movement; it’s just your standard transmisogyny. This subgroup believes that trans women aren’t real women, and therefore should be excluded from the movement. They believe that trans women being present somehow harms their movement. As someone who drinks a big gulp of “love trans women juice” daily, this obviously frustrates me quite a bit.

TERFs think it’s okay to say these things, because trans women were “socialized as men” growing up, so they didn’t face the same levels of misogyny during their youth as cis women. Unfortunately, they forget that these women faced other kinds of oppression growing up. They faced things like homophobia due to ideals rooted in toxic masculinity, and transphobia if they had the audacity to come out at a young age. It’s no wonder that so many of my lovely trans friends either stay closeted or choose to live in stealth. Being out about being trans in America right now puts a target directly on your back.

A lot of TERF rhetoric relies on the idea that trans women are trying to invade women’s spaces and that they’re predatory. Anyone who knows a trans woman knows that they’re just attempting to go through their day without getting the shit beat out of them, not trying to peep on women in the bathroom. Oftentimes, these issues with public bathrooms also lead to trans women being publicly outed, which can increase the likelihood of them being violently assaulted. Seeing as some surveys report that 1 in 4 transgender people have been assaulted at some point in their life, this is a big deal. When trans people (specifically trans women) are being assaulted left and right, any anti-trans rhetoric could contribute to this culture of violence.

As someone who has a ton of friends who are trans women, knowing that they have to worry so much about being violently assaulted or even murdered horrifies me. Our trans sisters deserve better. If you consider yourself a feminist, please don’t fall prey to TERF-like ideologies. If identifying as a woman doesn’t make you a woman, then what does? So pay attention to your trans sisters. Protect them. Love them. Make them know they are valued.

If you don’t support trans women, you don’t support women. Period.

 

Source: VASQUEZ, TINA. “It’s Time to End the Long History of Feminism Failing Transgender Women.” Bitch Magazine: Feminist Response to Pop Culture, no. 70, Spring 2016, pp. 15–19.