TERFs Failing to Posthumously Claim Pratchett as Their Own

If I were on Twitter (which I am not) and if I were keeping up with what flavor of nonsense TERFs are currently peddling (which I am not) I would probably notice that they are trying to claim late Terry Pratchett as a transphobe.

And if I were making YouTube videos (which I am not) I would make one just like Shaun did (and I did not).

Whenever I think about trans issues and Terry Pratchett, the Monstrous Regiment immediately springs to mind. I did not like that book after the first reading, which was rare for Discworld books – I liked most of them straightaway. But it grew on me with subsequent reading and like most Discworld books I ended up reading it multiple times and I probably will read it some more before I finally die.

We cannot know what a dead person would say about some issue. Even a word from their living friends and relatives might not be entirely reliable, since friends and family could tend to be overly favorable when judging their loved ones who passed on (although when multiple people say the same, it does bear significant weight). Throughout the books, many things about Pratchett become apparent, among them his deep humanism and knowledge of the intricacies and complications of the human condition. There is absolutely no doubt that he would reject any notion of trying to shoehorn people into neat little boxes with simple definitions. All of his books stay and fall on the only “simple” fact about humans – that each is their own person and categories and words are mere imperfect crutches that we use for communication, always imperfectly.


  1. says

    I’ve always thought of it as a joke/rumination on John Knox’s The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstruous Regimen of Women (incidentally one of the worst-timed publications in human history).

  2. sonofrojblake says

    I heard this was happening.

    I assume the “thought” process of the TERFs in question go like this:
    1. JK Rowling is a fantasy author.
    2. Terry Pratchett WAS a fantasy author.
    3. Rowling is a TERF.
    4. Pratchett would have been because he was a fantasy author too, right?

    It requires a degree of ignorance, of both the man and his work, that is staggering.

    I imagine next they’ll do something like claiming DC Fontana had dodgy views about women because he was a writer for Star Trek just like Harlan Ellison. It’s that level of stupid.

  3. anat says

    My son read ‘Monstrous Regiment’ when he was early in his transition. He loved it and found it very affirming of his transgender identity. It is a book that deals with gender roles, gender stereotypes, but also gender identity, in addition to conservative religion, jingoism, and class divisions. It shows how strict gender roles harm both individuals and society, but also shows that mere role reversal doesn’t solve problems -- endless wars are just as harmful, and can be run just as stupidly with women at the high command. Sargent Jack Jackrum is an excellent representation of a transgender man.

  4. anat says

    … And beyond ‘Monstrous Regiment’, there is of course the returning character of Cheery Littlebottom, who shows what it means to have a female gender identity while being raised in a single gender culture, whose one gender has a lot of overlap with what humans would call hyper-masculine.

  5. lumipuna says

    what it means to have a female gender identity while being raised in a single gender culture, whose one gender has a lot of overlap with what humans would call hyper-masculine

    IDK how much Pratchett thought about this, but logically a “single gender culture” would mean not having the concept of gender at all. The Dwarf equivalent of traditional gender presentation would be simply traditional Dwarf presentation, which just happens to look masculine in human terms. Certainly, there wouldn’t be gendered pronouns in Dwarf language(s).

    Presumably, when Dwarves began blending into human cultures, they were generally dubbed as “he” in human languages such as Morporkian, and began largely identifying with the human male gender. However, some Dwarves felt inspired by the human female gender, and also the relative individual freedom of gender expression in urban human communities, and thus began identifying as female while seeking more feminine presentation. This would be perceived as queer, not so much because Dwarves are “supposed” to be male, but rather because they are “supposed” to present themselves in traditional Dwarf fashion.

  6. says

    Speaking of the Dwarves, the person who comes to mind is Captain Carrot. He is a dwarf in all aspects that matter, he is accepted by the dwarves as one of their own, despite the fact that he is over 6feet and the forgotten heir to the human throne of Ank Morpork. The idea that Pratchett would be down for their biologistic nonsense is ridiculous.

    The “best” part of the whole debate was Sarah Ditum from the White Feminist Hall of Fame whining in the Times that you “can’t hijack the dead for today’s battles” after his very own daughter and best friend had denounced the GC hijacking of Terry Pratchett (but not before), when she spectacularly failed to do so when her transphobic pals literally signed the names of long dead women to open letters.

  7. anat says

    lumipuna @7: Indeed in one of the later books (either Thud! or Raising Steam) it is mentioned that dwarfs had to invent a female pronoun and words such as ‘daughter’ in response to the expanding phenomenon of dwarfs choosing to express themselves as feminine. Also, Pratchett makes the point that dwarfish femininity isn’t a wholesale imitation of human femininity with Cheery keeping her beard (because shaving it would be undwarfish). Also, the slur used against feminine dwarfs by traditional dwarfs translates as ‘not a true dwarf’ or ‘undwarflike’. There are still some inconsistencies with early books, prior to Cheery’s introduction, such as Carrot easily thinking and speaking of Minty as female and the female-presenting dwarf at the girl’s boarding school, but even these can be worked around.

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