TERFs are misogynists? Say it ain’t so

File this under “I am so surprised by this news I literally died.”

In the grand scheme of Women Having Opinions About Things In Public, I have it really easy. The tireless harassment, often escalating into abuse and even threats, that many women (especially but not exclusively Black women and other women of color) deal with online, is enormously well-documented. The worst that’s ever happened to me is an exhausting days-long barrage of messages on all my social media profiles calling me every misogynistic or homophobic insult under the sun. It comes in waves; there are days—and I know this is unimaginable to many women writers—when nobody trolls me at all.

Most of the people who have sought me out to denigrate my character (rather than criticize my work, which is an entirely different kind of exchange) are right-wingers, anti-feminists, conservatives, anti-queer ideologues, or just open and unabashed misogynists. But because I believe transgender people exist and deserve safety and dignity, I also have more experience than I’d like being harassed (again, distinct from criticized) by people who describe themselves as feminists.

I’m still learning how to respond to trans hatred from ostensible feminists, though I’m well aware that the vitriol they direct my way is infinitesimal compared to what trans people have to contend with. It’s disorienting to encounter someone who claims to share your goal of liberation, but espouses reactionary hatred for your most deeply held ideals. But if anything, I’ve spent more time being harangued by trans-exclusionary radical feminists (TERFs) than by men.

Read more here.

-Shiv

TERFs aren’t above the Nazi playbook either

The thing about TERFs is that, as a trans woman, I cannot play optics with them. Many TERF theories craft elaborate narratives that paint my mere existence as a threat–there is literally nothing I can do that won’t be perceived as violent for someone steeped in these narratives. So I am not even slightly surprised when we can be assaulted at a rally and the footage of a 60 year-old TERF dragging a wisp of a teenager across concrete is held up as evidence of “trans violence.” (Apparently it’s impolite to not pass-out when one is being choked).

Stavvers noticed the meta-strategy here: It’s a page from modern Nazis.

What I want to point out is the similarity in tactics between the transmisogynists’ narrative, and tactics deployed successfully by Nazis. Our current face of Nazism–the alt right, neo-Nazis, the far right, whatever your style guide demands you call them–rather like to play the victim. When Richard Spencer got punched (lol) the Nazis were very keen to whine about it. When anti-fascist protesters come out to defend their communities, the Nazis, and their chum Donald Trump, are falling over themselves to denounce violence “on both sides”. Centrists are always eager to back up these narratives, because they love a good middle ground almost as much as they love pretending they’re not enablers of fascism.

This, of course, serves a purpose. It drags discussion away from “Nazis are bad, how can we stop them?” to “punching is bad”. It has been a Nazi tactic since Nazis were invented; Hitler rather liked to claim that he and his were victims of unprovoked violence from the people they wanted wiped out.

Now, transmisogynistic bigots have rather a lot in common with Nazis already. They both share an unhealthy fascination with trans people’s genitalia, where trans people pee, concern trolling about safety, and a general desire to see trans people eliminated entirely. They have been known to work together on certain projects, in particular surrounding “bathroom bills”. It seems, in their cosy discussion groups about how to ban trans people from public life, the transmisogynistic bigots and the Nazis have also been exchanging tactics.

Read more here.

-Shiv

Louder for the TERFs in the back

I’ll signal boost the actual piece I want to share in a moment–I just want to focus on this one line of TERF fuckery so we can all appreciate it. I mean really stew in it, soak in it, like it’s a warm bath. This isn’t even artisinal TERF fuckery. This is gourmet TERF fuckery.

It is also worth pointing out that approximately two thirds of transgender people have reported undergoing some form of gender-confirming surgery, meaning that the majority of transwomen are in possession of a penis

You know, if I hadn’t seen it in the wild, I would have accused Heather McNamara of making shit up. But no. They are really this blinkered. This is the genuine article.

Without further ado:

Those of us who have been in the trans activism game for a while are familiar with the mental and linguistic gymnastics that TERFs (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists) perform in order to justify transphobia while simultaneously pretending they’re not transphobic. One of their little terms, however, recently went relatively mainstream as blogger Claire from SisterOutrider leveled it at bestselling author (and one of my favorites), Roxane Gay. That term is “lesbophobia.”

If lesbophobia charges were in good faith and meant lesbian phobia where “phobia” is used in line with its colloquial meaning to describe aversion or hate, perhaps it would apply to these sorts of behaviors:

  • Exclusion of lesbians from events or social situations
  • Exclusion of lesbians from discourse on sexuality or gender
  • Preference of straight or bisexual women over lesbians
  • Insistence that lesbians are actually straight or bisexual and erasing their identities
  • Violence leveled at lesbians for being lesbian

These are the sorts of things to which we refer when we discuss homophobia, so naturally it would follow that “lesbophobia” being used in good faith would apply similarly, with the exception that the target was exclusively lesbians. Roxane Gay’s words, however, fit absolutely zero of those descriptions.

Read more here. Content notice for TERF nonsense and evangelist dog-whistles, because of course a TERF would use evangelist dog whistles without the slightest hint of irony.

I swear to Dog.

-Shiv

 

Let’s talk about trans suicide

Paris Lees is an anti-bullying campaigner, but because transgender and gender variant British children are such heavy targets for abuse (no doubt caused in part by the UK’s bizarre and steady exports of TERFism) she spends a lot of her time talking about trans issues. Last month she tackled the issue of self-harm and suicidal ideation in gender minority youth, and drew a direct line to the stigma caused by pundits playing kickball with trans lives on TV and radio.

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The greatest tragedy in Sarah Ditum’s mind is treating white women like adults

Let’s get one thing perfectly clear: Sarah Ditum is constitutionally incapable of directly stating what she means. She has been trained in a feminist tradition that trades almost exclusively in equivocation and doublespeak. This is one aspect of debunking TERFs that makes the task so grating–the ambiguity, rather than being a sign of the TERF’s lack of principles, instead reflects poorly on the critic since we sometimes guess incorrectly at what they’re trying to say. From there they can swoop in and claim that they actually meant something else, which, again, should be considered evidence that they are shitty communicators rather than evidence the critic has misunderstood. So I confess, I’m at a backfoot here, squinting at Egyptian hieroglyphs without the benefit of a Rosetta stone.

Feminists have spent decades trying to get the value of women’s unpaid labour recognised, to basically no avail. The trouble all along, it turns out, was the framing: instead of saying women deserved credit for their contribution to the economy, feminists should have said that women deserve blame. Because blame is one commodity where people are happy to give women their due. The obvious absence of women from the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia – where female counter-protester Heather Heyer was killed by a car allegedly driven by an alt-right supporter called James Alex Fields – could have lead to a discussion about the male near-monopoly on violence. Instead the impulse to cherchez la femme kicked in early and hasn’t let up since.

This isn’t particularly difficult, Ditum.

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Autogynephilia: A method of character assassination, not a scientific theory

Content Notice: Trans-antagonistic nonsense of many varieties.

Miranda Yardley has, much to my despair, started clogging the “transgender” tag on Medium, which is one of many ways I try to track what is being discussed about gender variance. For those of you who don’t know her–congratulations, count yourself lucky–she’s a self-described “transsexual male” who has politically aligned herself with a group of people who gleefully argue for her own subordination. She gallivants about the United Kingdom, coasting in on the benefits hard won for her by trans activism, all while arguing how harmful trans activism is. It’s the sort of hypocritical blinkered nonsense you typically see from the forced-birther movement, who often access the very services they protest. She is, basically, a British Blaire White, carving out a niche in profiting from telling the trans-suspicious what they want to hear while being simultaneously trans. This includes her latest invocation of one of the anti-trans types’ favourite cudgel: Autogynephilia, an idea (calling it a “theory” would be an insult to science) promoted by Dr. Ray “transsexuals will sort themselves out later” Blanchard.

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Yep, transmisogyny: Still misogyny.

I googled the author of the piece I signal boosted yesterday, and to my delight found that she has also discussed the misogyny invoked in transmisogyny, highlighting one of the fundamental hypocrisies of trans exclusionary “radical feminism.”

Once I had an argument with a cis dude acquaintance about whether trans women should be allowed to compete in women’s sports. Out of nowhere, he burst out with, “I want a family someday!”

He continued, apparently unaware of how non he was sequituring. “How am I supposed to feel about the fact that there are all these women walking around, and maybe they look just like everyone else, but they don’t have uteruses? Why is it transphobic to say I want a woman who can have children?”

My response was, “It’s not transphobic to want children, but it’s misogynistic as hell to say that anyone who can’t give birth is not a woman.” The idea that a woman’s value, or her gender, is determined by her reproductive function is so deeply objectifying that to call it transphobic is to miss the entire point. Note that in his hypothetical there was no question of whether the woman wanted to give birth; he was only interested in whether she was physically capable of fulfilling hisparental desires. The problem with this guy isn’t that he doesn’t want to date trans women. It’s that he sees all women as vessels for his own dreams.

In just this way, whenever you scratch the surface of transmisogyny (even in the guise of “trans-critical feminism”), you find that it’s just one facet of a deeper hatred and distrust of women. Here are four tenets of transmisogyny that are profoundly dangerous to all women:

You can read more about Lindsay King-Miller’s stupendous take on the issue here, or read my previous post on the same topic here.

-Shiv

Women aren’t people, apparently

Five years ago if you had told me feminists would object to the statement “women are people” I would’ve told you you were off your rocker.

I am wiser now. I understand that there’s a branch of feminists who prioritize their anti-trans animus above all else, and will gleefully enact harm on other women if it means they can bash (or direct an institution to bash) teh trans.

Last month, The Colorado Doula Project (CDP), a grassroots organization that provides “free emotional, physical, and informational support through the spectrum of reproductive experiences,” held the first formal abortion doula training in the state of Colorado. Nearly 50 women and nonbinary people gathered to learn how to accompany clients or friends through the process of terminating a pregnancy.

Sitting in on the training to write about it for Vice, I wasn’t shocked to hear murmurs of a disturbance going-on outside. Of course, I figured, an event with the word “abortion” right there in the name would attract attention from anti-choice zealots.

One of the organizers sighed. “I was expecting to have trouble with the anti-abortion people, but I didn’t think we were going to get attacked by feminists.”

I did a double take, and she filled me in.

Because the Colorado Doula Project strives for intersectionality and accessibility, they talk about their clients and potential clients in gender-neutral terms, referring to “pregnant people” and “birthing parents” so as to encompass DFAB (designated female at birth) transgender and nonbinary people who are not women, but still need pregnancy-related care.

A local self-described fourth-wave feminist attended the abortion doula training despite not agreeing with the CDP’s policy on gender-inclusive language. Early in the first day, she began posting comments on Facebook criticizing the policy, calling it “female erasure,” and saying “I can’t fucking stand third wave liberal feminism.” After being asked to leave, she exhorted a large group of her friends to post negative reviews on Colorado Doula Project’s Facebook page, many of them also accusing the group — which most of them had never had direct contact with — of “female erasure.”

Yes, if an abortion provider services trans men or AFAB enbies, it must be torn down.

Read more about this migraine-inducing blinkered nonsense here.

-Shiv