It’s more than a little sad that feminism means so many different things to different people. I am told by biologists, endocrinologists, and feminist scholars at University that biological sex is not bio determinant of a gender role. I am taught, for a grade and degree in my future field, that gender identity itself is a social construct, and variant from what people think of as bio sex. I am also taught, along side every other last student who wants to pusruse a life as a feminist and achieve my degree in sociology, that gender expression is another variant term, not neccessarily tied to any particual gender identity or sexual body. And we are also taught, for a grade, and you can’t be a well learned and revered feminist scholar with a degree if you fail to observe, that sexual orientation, sexual behavior, and reproductive ability are also closely linked but still intrinsically variant concepts in relation to these other identities . So why do so many people believe that there are only two sexes, and that these two mythically supreme sexes biologically determine gender identity and expression? Why is it that so many people within the feminist community fight for the liberation of “all” women, while they torment and harass trans women and nonbinary folk? How can one human liberation create another social inequality and remain guilt free? Is their liberation more “important” than another liberation? Is there a hierarchy of needs and equity within marginalized groups?
TERFs are Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists. This is a shrinking group, whom as education and awareness spreads through modernity are losing their once absolute dominance over the feminist movement’s over-arching agenda. This is a group of well educated women who use their power and privilege (many are white feminists in their late thirties or older who seem to embody the problematic “white feminist” paradigm) to legitamize their personal opinions in a way that makes them radically different from the rest of the vast feminist world: they want to isolate and make bio-women supreme over all other women… not realizing that as they do so they are the group attempting to redefine womanhood. This actually harms more women than they claim to save. Yes, men perpetuate violence against women and invade women’s spaces. But what TERFs do not seem to understand, is that trans women are not men, and literally none of us harm women in this way. I did my own google search and checked this country’s collective archive of news reports and arrests and I can’t find one trans woman who has harmed someone in a bathroom, or behaved in any manner that was not illicited by discriminatory actions or aggressions from people such as TERFs. Yes, “men,” as arbitrary as that vastly diverse group may be, rape, kill, torture and dominate women. But they do this to transwomen as well, sisters, and we are not men. TERFs seem to be ignoring the fact that we get raped, killed, and tortured as well as dominated by the entire world, not just men. Which makes us a highly marginalized category of woman that even other women attack. All the while, we are blamed for acts we don’t commit, in fear of a set of harms we literally never exact but rather cis men do, not dressed as women at all. We as trans folk are being directly blamed and called out as freaks in the wrong clothes… while the actual aggressors of women are out there in cis gear, proudly proclaiming their male rape culture as they commit the crimes we are accused of. And after a recent revelation in which author J.K. Rowling came onto the social media stage in support of a TERF, I decided that it is now way beyond time to address my personal opinion piece regarding the discriminaton and insidious nature of TERF culture as it relates to transgender oppression.
According to TIME magazine, and verifiable through a search of the World Health Organization’s website, WHO lifted being transgender as a mental illness and the new guidlines were approved May 25, 2019. As I sit here, a transgender woman, December of that same year as of this writing, I was just told by a Twitter user named Jack that anyone who thinks there is more to gender than men and women adhering to their roles has a mental illness. The new guidlines have clearly not made their way into the mainstream consciousness.
With modern science, biology and psychology have both come leaps and bounds toward understanding the delicate nature of identity. According to the American Psychiatric Association’s webpage, under the tab titled, “Is being transgender a mental disorder,” the APA clearly states no… that trans people may suffer such a degree of non-congruance that they might be diagnosed as having Gender Dysphoria; key ideas to take from this is that trans is not a mental illness, and SOME trans people MAY suffer this dysphoria enough to need mental health services to navigate everyday life either through medications (such as those any given cis woman for depression, body dysmorphic disorder, eating disorders, or any other mental condition that could result in a state of body related depression) or through various therapy methods (such as when cis women get breast reduction to heal medical issues, or a breast augmentation procedure to feel more feminine and less anguished over self-doubt, or a cool afternoon on the couch discussing the trials of her life circumstances or the trauma of suffering through girlhood or womanhood at the hands of aggressors).
So why are there so many people convinced that their traditions or opinions can dictate another human’s reality? As a trans woman I can honestly say, that after 39 years of wondering why my life was so wrong, why I felt the way I did, and whether or not I was ill, it is only the existence of science fact that has made me feel whole again. I do not rest my entire life on a tradition or an opinion my family taught me. I looked into the cold world that I feared hated me and would never accept me, and the place I found that ultimate acceptance was in the women’s movement and the social sciences… the place where people listened to scholars and scientists to build the frameworks of their social revolutions. We don’t fight as activists regarding gender using our opinions and traditional family values. We fight with the best science fact we can present. Literally no one in the mental health governing body of our nation (and increasingly many others) thinks that there is only a man and a woman, and that men and women are born to act like men and women. Like, literally no one in the offical body, with facts and peer review to their aid, could bring themselves to continue punishing trans folk any longer. It’s 2019, and as we learn more it becomes clear that gender is a social constuct as Foucault and others have asserted; observably so from the arch of time and the span of cultures.
Feminsim also teaches us about the patriarchy and how “othering” begats all systems of oppression. So why is that TERFs “other” trans women? As they claim to be wise enough to see through some mythical plan that men have to pretend to be this not-real-thing called trans and infiltrate women’s spaces, are they not aware that they are willing agents to the patriarchy if they could possibly use “othering” to meet their ends? How can a wise feminist NOT know that othering is the key ability of the patriarchy, and anyone who defaults to that archaic process only extends the grasp of that system of social control? Do TERFs not see that they are serving their oppressors by oppressing us in like fashion? According to WOLF (Women’s Liberation Front), the feminist movement is under attack by men who want to steal their spaces and cause physical and emotional harm with deliberate malice toward women. This site claims this as they assume that transwomen are men, deny us our personhood, other us into a category of enemy with intent, and completlely ignore that we are feminists too, a lot of us… who spend our time fighting FOR their right to hate us.
WOLF claims to be misunderstood. That they aren’t calling for “genocide.” That they are just peaceful, kind and generous to women and girls… and that we, trans folk, are the violent, angry reactionists. They claim that trans folk are basically liars, or mentally ill sociopaths who only dress like women to molest young girls in bathrooms and usurp feminist attempts to gain social equity. WOLF claims that men are not welcome in women’s spaces and that transwomen are men, hands down, with zero consideration for another human’s identity. By doing so they assume that genitals and reproduction determine how someone dresses, expresses themselves, or feels internally based on myriad social forces… the same social forces that every woman who works for WOLF has been subject to when forming thier own, malleable identities as women. They are claiming the ancient and outdated non-fact that only men and women exist, that they behave biologically determined ways based on genitals, and that women who can’t have children are not real women. This ignores the existemce of trans men, non-binary folk of thousands of identities, and pits all of the weight of the transgender argument on transwomen’s shoulders; left to bare the brunt of false and assuming accusations while the rest of the trans community is reduced to nothing more than a fantasy. WOLF are trans-misogynists. WOLF claims in their mission statment that they want to erase the gender hierarchy and to destroy the gender system we have…. and replace it with what? To your own ends you’ve stated that your gender is supreme, has the right to control others, and that no other can control you. This CANNOT be the piece of the women’s liberation movement that is supposed to inspire the world to see us as equal partners on this earth. This can ONLY be seen as another system of control, using the cries of real feminists to hide their hatred for others. This can ONLY be seen as a movement with built in contradictions that argues for science, but only the science they choose to believe or modify for their argument, and one that argues for the erasure of gender as it ultimately creates a wider gender divide by discrediting the very sisters they have sworn to protect. Trans people are not their enemy, but they are quickly making one of us nonetheless.
This debate hurts me in a big way. I cannot condemn these women. They have their own path, their autonomy, and I won’t attempt to control their hateful thoughts about an innocent people such as mine… though I do frown upon the constant attacks. We are still murdered around the globe, beheaded, raped, tortured, belittled, fired, forced onto the streets and into sex work and drugs. What I would like to do is impress upon the rest of you that facts are out there, you just have to look for them, and that we are only less than one percent of the population, and transwomen are not even an equal half. We could never pose the sort of widespread panic that these and other TERF groups radicalize over. We are only 1.4 million people out of a sea of millions upon millions of they sort of cis men whom TERFs should actually spend their time fighting. Millions of dollars are accumulated and spent each year just to create a social movement in 2019 that calls for the rights of an American people to be revoked. TERFs do not promote a healthy world free of harm, they literally scream harm where there was no threat to begin with, and expect you kind people of the world to hate me along side them. I implore you, though they have the right to their opinions, these opinions do not reflect facts and should never be used to systemically control a group of inncoent people.
We are your sisters, not your problem. I think we can make this world a good one… if we all stopped hating the wrong people and turned that critique to the real issues.