Author Topic: The F in TERF  (Read 1325 times)

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Offline KennedDoll

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The F in TERF
« on: April 13, 2019, 12:45:47 pm »
I'm not really out, MTF, though everyone looks at my micro-breasts first before looking at my face, so i am gradually outing myself via HRT.

Also, I have had no friends or family contact for at least a decade. Aside from a support group, the only trans people I know of or interact with are on Twitter...

So, I don't know if TERFs are as a big a deal in Portland, OR as they seem to be in the UK.

In any case, I am troubled by the framing of the battle between TERFs and Transgender people. I aspire to be feminist. My transition is feminist in nature. My dysphoria comes from patriarchy. There is nothing feminist about TERFs. So, I am very sad that the wording from transgender people that I read, pits us against "feminists".

I imagine viewing the debate as a person who knows nothing about the issue and thinking that it is people they think of as men opposing feminists. This is seriously not good! Can we stop? Can we change the language?

TERV is maybe too juvenile (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Vaginaist). But, I'm worried about the F in TERF.

Kendall

Offline itsApril

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Re: The F in TERF
« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2019, 02:20:12 pm »

So, I don't know if TERFs are as a big a deal in Portland, OR as they seem to be in the UK.

In any case, I am troubled by the framing of the battle between TERFs and Transgender people. I aspire to be feminist. My transition is feminist in nature. My dysphoria comes from patriarchy. There is nothing feminist about TERFs. So, I am very sad that the wording from transgender people that I read, pits us against "feminists".

Kendall

Hi, Kendall!

I suggest a change in the framework of your thinking.  If you are a believer in women's rights and women's dignity and women's value and women's equality, you aren't ASPIRING TO BE a feminist, you ARE ALREADY a feminist.

You need to just be you and not let other folks put you in a box and define you.  There's no world-wide "Feminist Authority" that issues licenses to people to be feminists and punishes people for "practicing feminism without a license."

I'm in San Diego, not Portland.  But in my experience, most folks who are active in progressive politics and women's rights issues would be baffled by the idea of excluding someone from activity based on genitalia or chromosomes.  I have only met one woman in my life who fits the "TERF" label.  She stays away from me, and I stay away from her.  Problem solved!

Could I suggest a good book to read about this?

Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity is a 2007 book by gender theorist, biologist, and writer Julia Serano. The book is a transfeminist manifesto which makes the case that transphobia is rooted in sexism and that transgender activism is a feminist movement.[1][2] The second edition of the book was published in March 2016.[3]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whipping_Girl
-April

Offline F_P_M

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Re: The F in TERF
« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2019, 02:23:48 pm »
terfs aren't feminists, in fact a great deal of their beliefs stem from very mysogonistic thinking. They're the complete opposite of feminist in fact, being utterly and completely in the pocket of the "patriarchy" they claim to be rallying against. They believe women must fit into a narrowly defined (and often eurocentric) pattern of behaviours and appearances, something no true feminist would EVER claim.

Anyone who ever says "women can't" automatically fails at feminism.

Real feminists are out there, there's actually a lot of us from all walks of life. We just don't get the media attention.


Offline HappyMoni

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Re: The F in TERF
« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2019, 04:59:38 pm »
Hmmmm, the first letter in 'fools' is 'F.' Too bad hater starts with an 'H.'
If I ever offend you, let me know. It's not what I am about.
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Offline KennedDoll

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Re: The F in TERF
« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2019, 05:32:50 pm »
In any case, please, someone anyone, don't call the transphobes feminists when you write articles. It's pretty typical that the regressive political forces in society know how to frame their public arguments to promote an agenda and the honest people take the bait every time, it seems.

About aspiring to feminism vs. being "a feminist", I want myself and others to be held accountable for their actions from moment to moment, rather than claiming authority by adopting an identity.


Offline KennedDoll

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Re: The F in TERF
« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2019, 12:25:38 am »
Could I suggest a good book to read about this?

Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity is a 2007 book by gender theorist, biologist, and writer Julia Serano. The book is a transfeminist manifesto which makes the case that transphobia is rooted in sexism and that transgender activism is a feminist movement.[1][2] The second edition of the book was published in March 2016.[3]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whipping_Girl

Thank you! That looks very interesting. I will read it.

Offline emma-f

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Re: The F in TERF
« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2019, 04:40:05 am »
I'll add a bit in here being from the UK.

I think the problem is that one of the threads of their argument does come from a position of feminism (or at least feminists) even if its one which most feminists would disregard. It would be very difficult to argue that Germaine Greer, for example, is not a feminist. She fits very squarely within second wave feminism and pretty much (quite literally) wrote the book on it. Many of the TERFs follow Greer's theories on feminism and, generally, reject third and fourth wave feminists, who in turn, generally, reject them back.

Its important to note that transfeminism very much was part of, or at least parallel to, the third wave of feminism. My personal view is that the viewpoints of Greer et al regarding trans women are, in fact, entirely anti-feminist (I consider myself a fourth wave feminist), and the vast majority of modern feminists would back up that viewpoint. Feminism, and what it means to be feminist, is not one thing, and there are different schools of thought and movements within it (although not a perfect similarity, its a bit like Wahhabism in Islam, leading to ISIS etc, but disregarded by all other threads of Islam teaching as being improper).

I wouldn't worry though about the framing of the argument. Whilst as trans-people we see these arguments all the time on twitter in particular, but elsewhere on social media too, in the real world, people don't know what a TERF is, people don't see this argument between the trans-community and this particular group of people, people don't think there is an argument between us and feminists. In the real world, most feminists are on our side, and these pathetic groups live in echo chambers on twitter or on websites like Mumsnet where they think that they have the upper hand but thats only because they repeat what each other says constantly. And they start ridiculous "arguments" like how they now suggest that they're #genderfree. Its pathetic and its seen as pathetic. This very small group of people in their little echo chamber do shout very loud in certain directions, but in the UK, where most of these groups seem to be for whatever reason, the public as a whole are on our side.

When I write, which is not as often as I'd like these days, I do use TERF. Not because I like the word, and certainly I'm not saying "I'm trans, they're a feminist, here is my argument" (as I say above, I'm very much a fourth wave feminist, and I distance myself not only from second wave feminism but also radical feminism) but merely because, from a descriptive point of view, people instantly know exactly which group I am talking about. To call them a TERF is not suggesting any validity in their belief as to feminism, any more than it would be to suggest that ISIS has a warped reading as to Islam.

My thoughts anyway

Em x


Offline F_P_M

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Re: The F in TERF
« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2019, 06:27:47 am »

I wonder what happened to Greer to twist her into such an angry spiteful hate filled person.

I honestly view her brand of "feminism" as fake feminism. It's not feminist, it's "female superiority" and based solely in this very narrowly defined ideal of what "female" means. (Usually white, middle class, working, sees men as inferior beasts/sexual predators to be stomped under her heel, must dress in a particular way to show she's powerful but feminine etc etc)

If your brand of feminism excludes some women or has a freaking dress code it's not feminism.

And unfortunately these people have done far more damage to progress with their nonsense. They've made "feminist" a dirty word in so many circles. The amount of people i've seen say "i'm not a feminist because" and then use Greer's vitriol as an example of why feminism is bad...
that woman and her cult have poisioned things.

It's just a shame they're so LOUD about it.

Maybe we proper feminists need to start screaming from rooftops too, to drown them out.

<Edited by Moderator>
« Last Edit: April 14, 2019, 06:57:25 am by LizK »

Offline emma-f

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Re: The F in TERF
« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2019, 08:42:04 am »
I wonder what happened to Greer to twist her into such an angry spiteful hate filled person.

I honestly view her brand of "feminism" as fake feminism. It's not feminist, it's "female superiority" and based solely in this very narrowly defined ideal of what "female" means. (Usually white, middle class, working, sees men as inferior beasts/sexual predators to be stomped under her heel, must dress in a particular way to show she's powerful but feminine etc etc)

If your brand of feminism excludes some women or has a freaking dress code it's not feminism.

And unfortunately these people have done far more damage to progress with their nonsense. They've made "feminist" a dirty word in so many circles. The amount of people i've seen say "i'm not a feminist because" and then use Greer's vitriol as an example of why feminism is bad...
that woman and her cult have poisioned things.

It's just a shame they're so LOUD about it.

Maybe we proper feminists need to start screaming from rooftops too, to drown them out.

<Edited by Moderator>

I agree. The odd thing is in her own time she actually did really quote important things, but she's slipped into a slightly odd version of radical feminism (part of the reason by the way why the feminist in TERF cannot be read in isolation from the radical before it). I wonder if its the shift to being more right wing that many people have as she's got older. And I agree that the toxicity that some people see in feminism largely comes from her brand of feminism rather than mainstream feminism

Em

Offline KennedDoll

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Re: The F in TERF
« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2019, 10:47:25 am »
I see this as the problem with people supposedly being "a feminist". Unless someone is teaching about history of people who were popular and said things about feminism, actions and ideas are what can be feminist, not individual people.

When feminism is treated as a field of study by important peoples, it allows anti-feminist ideas and actions to accepted as feminist.

"Radical feminism" should be feminist or else it can't be radically feminist.

Offline SadieBlake

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Re: The F in TERF
« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2019, 01:21:54 pm »
How about we make this about the ideas, not the people expressing the ideas?

I'm sorry but the fact is some feminists both older and contemporary do not recognize trans women as women. That's a fact and e.g. calling Germaine Greer "angry spiteful hate filled" or claiming that she or people who might identify as TERF aren't feminist is simply not accurate.

Germaine Greer is absolutely a feminist and rather than angry I'd call her contrarian. Feminism is at once a school of thought and an element of a political movement. She also identifies as a 'liberation' feminist as opposed to 'equality' feminist.

I happen to sit closer to 'liberation' feminism, it speaks to me more philosophically. That doesn't mean my views are TERF, far from it and I have no intent of acknowledging that trans exclusion is a good thing. However respectful discourse doesn't begin with trying to invalidate other people's identities.

Pride marches in both London and San Francisco last year saw some prominent anti-trans protests. This isn't accidental, because we have become far more visible as transition has become possible for many more of us than it was a scant 10 years ago. It makes sense that the places with the largest queer populations are going to have critical mass of people who may not be happy about us.

That doesn't change the fact that they're still a distinct minority.

I am accepted as a woman, lesbian and feminist in my community. I work toward making that true for everyone however it's not something that happens overnight.

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Offline KennedDoll

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Re: The F in TERF
« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2019, 02:57:32 pm »
I hope that transgender people being attacked focus on ideas, rather than the people expressing the ideas. I hope we will not make public statements that the echo chamber will present as feminism vs. transgender people.

Offline emma-f

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Re: The F in TERF
« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2019, 03:08:04 pm »
I hope that transgender people being attacked focus on ideas, rather than the people expressing the ideas. I hope we will not make public statements that the echo chamber will present as feminism vs. transgender people.

The problem is that as Sadie said above, (much better, might I add, than I tried to say), the people on the other side of the debate consider themselves feminists (and on any view are feminists) and therefore the TERF echo chamber will present the entire argument as transgender people v feminism. Their brand of feminism might be one which I personally disagree with, but any comments at all about our existence as women will, by some, be taken as an affront to their school of feminism.

Offline KennedDoll

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Re: The F in TERF
« Reply #13 on: April 14, 2019, 08:29:38 pm »
So, let's not help them by referring to them as feminists. I'm not going to be able to get my point across, I guess. But, the problem with calling individuals "a feminist" is exactly this situation where anti-feminist ideas and actions are called feminist because someone has been declared "a feminist". Ideas and actions. Not individuals and privilege.

Offline SadieBlake

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Re: The F in TERF
« Reply #14 on: April 15, 2019, 07:27:33 am »
So, let's not help them by referring to them as feminists. I'm not going to be able to get my point across, I guess. But, the problem with calling individuals "a feminist" is exactly this situation where anti-feminist ideas and actions are called feminist because someone has been declared "a feminist". Ideas and actions. Not individuals and privilege.

Your point is quite clear, you want to change the language in a way that's going to shut off conversation and yet you don't want to be seen as making it an ad-hominem.

You / we don't get to frame the terms of debate and it's unlikely you could get anyone but the tiny fraction of the women's movement represented by trans women to agree to your terminology

I think the point I'm trying to make is we've already won this argument with mainstream feminism. People have realized that anti-trans positions were inconsistent with the things that feminism should stand for, exclusion of trans women used to be mainstream, now it's a fringe idea.
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Offline JamesG

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Re: The F in TERF
« Reply #15 on: April 22, 2019, 01:18:49 pm »
Feminism = sexism. And like all isms and bigotry is all about power dynamics.  In this case the aquisition of more of it and the squirreling away of it in established hierarchies such as NOW and the Rad Fems. Transphobic expressions by radical feminists are just manifestations of it.  Otherwise it wouldn't have gathered any momentum, and would have just been "the mean <poo> some bitch said."

BTW If you haven't seen it "Contrapoints" did a hilarious roasting of the TERFs on her YT channel.

Offline KennedDoll

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Re: The F in TERF
« Reply #16 on: April 22, 2019, 06:50:24 pm »
The typical thing that people mean when they say that feminism is sexism is equivalent to people saying gays shouldn't get special privileges to marry. It ignores the context in which gay's are discriminated against.

Feminism exists in a context, which is the most horrific atrocities have humanity committed against women all day every day as far back as there is history to be recalled.

There is no equivalence to be made between feminism, as countering sexism, and empowering the feminine, and the rape, murder and mutilation of mothers who give birth to humanity and carry it's weight on their backs.

But, I'll agree that any ism that is a doctrine is problematic. Feminism would be a description of what people said and thought in moments where they were feminist.

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