I’m probably going to be thinking about TERFs for a long, long time.

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I have a lot to do today, so just a few thoughts:

I might give the impression that I’m unaware of issues like this and this. I’m not. In the time I’ve been following transgender issues, it seems that social media has gone from being preoccupied with bathrooms to being focused on the GRA (by the way, poorly played, The Guardian. Oh, and you too, Jesse Singal). Whilst these things have happened overseas, it’s not as if there haven’t been comparable wedge issues in Australian politics and society.

I feel like I want to expel a lot of my contradictory ideas and positions in this particular space, primarily for myself. So, I’m going to keep workshopping some aspects of my own make-up that don’t thrill me.  The first on my list is my battle with needing approval, and needing to be liked. I’m a classic oldest child, in this regard.

I also want to talk again (later) about how fearful I’ve been of trans-exclusive feminists, particularly online. I don’t know if others have been as frightened of figures like Gallus Mag or Cathy Brennan (although trans people would have a reason to be). I’ve even feared Miranda Yardley, who has personally been very courteous to me, though less so with others. I want to dissect the reasons – founded and unfounded – for my fear as I’m sick of it.

Finally, I’m going to drop the word TERF for now. It dehumanizes.

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8 thoughts on “I’m probably going to be thinking about TERFs for a long, long time.

  1. “Finally, I’m going to drop the word TERF for now. It dehumanizes.”

    Thanks for that, the term serves the same function of other female based slurs (b*tich, c*nt, et cetra), it is a method to silence and oppress women and their opinions in the public sphere.

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    1. I would agree that it has started to serve that function. Deborah Cameron, who is a well-respected linguist, gives a good analysis of how the use of this acronym has shifted over the past couple of years: https://debuk.wordpress.com/2016/11/06/what-makes-a-word-a-slur/. There are a few things Cameron omits, however. One is that (as far as I can tell), the term was coined by a radical feminist (Viv Smythe) who intended to define a sub-set of rad fems as trans exclusive: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/TERF. I am not aware of another, more neutral definition for feminists who wish to exclude transgender women from women’s spaces (“gender critical” doesn’t denote this group or its beliefs sufficiently). The other problem that I see is that it’s only a small opposing group that uses TERF as a slur – mainly on Twitter as far as I can tell. I also think that the term deserves a negative connotation (like ‘Nazi’) because it usually describes a group of bigots. However, it isn’t helpful to use it to shut down debate, particularly debate by and for women, around gender and transgender issues. This is why I’m dropping it – not because (as someone suggested) I want to play a part in erasing trans history.

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      1. “I am not aware of another, more neutral definition for feminists who wish to exclude transgender women from women’s spaces “

        Since men do not belong in a movement for female liberation, it seems evident that any effective definition of feminism would exclude men (the oppressor class) from those who struggle against patriarchy.

        “I also think that the term deserves a negative connotation (like ‘Nazi’) because it usually describes a group of bigots.

        Lesbians expressing a sexual preference are called TERFS. It is non starting point for any sort of reasonable debate.

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      2. “Since men do not belong in a movement for female liberation, it seems evident that any effective definition of feminism would exclude men (the oppressor class) from those who struggle against patriarchy.”

        Correct me if I’m wrong, but I suspect we could end up bleating, “Transwomen are women; transwomen are men” at each other ad infinitum. I’d really like not to do that. I see transwomen as women.

        I would also make a distinction between ‘men’ and ‘patriarchy’. A typical liberal feminist thing to say, I know. Many – not all – men also suffer under patriarchy. I married one.

        “Lesbians expressing a sexual preference are called TERFS. It is non starting point for any sort of reasonable debate.”

        There’s taxonomy issues here, and some semantic slippage. As I said before – TERF used to simply denote feminists who wanted to exclude trans people. I accept that it now has even more negative and slanderous connotations. Some radical feminists are lesbians (Maybe even a lot. Rad fems often also seem to be middle-aged, white and university educated). But anyone calling a lesbian a TERF because she’s a lesbian is not making sense. That’s not what TERF has ever meant so let’s not start.

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      3. Thanks Pink, Yes, that was clear pretty quickly. I’m at a stage where I don’t mind thrashing out the issues, especially as there’s tumbleweeds blowing across my website. I also knew I was poking the bear by putting ‘TERF’ in the title. That’s a lot of mixed metaphors. It’s very nice to have you back 🙂

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  2. @Curious Mother

    ” I’d really like not to do that. I see transwomen as women.”

    Taking positions contrary to material reality is completely your choice. Accepting your position makes hash out of the majority feminist analysis.

    “Many – not all – men also suffer under patriarchy.”

    Agreed. Given male socialization I would propose to say that most men suffer under patriarchy.

    “TERF used to simply denote feminists who wanted to exclude trans people.”

    Somewhat inaccurate as TiF (trans identified females) are quite welcome within the bounds of feminism as they share the same sex based oppression that feminism struggles against.

    “That’s not what TERF has ever meant so let’s not start.”

    Not really worried about it. Semantics aside, tranactivists will continue to label, threaten, and harass women who dare to speak up against the magical thinking that is trans-ideology. Not bending to the demands of men always exacts a price on women.

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  3. @Pink

    Nice to see you too Pink. :>

    “The Arborist is a well known [follower of factual reality]… 😉”

    FIFY.

    Agreed. Like the definition of Woman as adult human female. Pure mythology, I tell you.

    Toodles for now.

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