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Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminism ideology – one massive logical fail
There are several things I can’t wrap my head around in regards to Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminism. As a cisgendered lesbian, I’m never going to have the same experience a transgendered person does. My gender identity aligns with my sex assigned at birth – however just because I haven’t experienced a misalignment between those two things, doesn’t mean someone else hasn’t and just because I myself am not transgender – that doesn’t mean I can’t find the following views to be discriminatory and utterly vile.
I previously wrote this article after a tangle with a TERF on Twitter (screenshots included), this prompted me to research more. In researching what TERF ideology actually is, I turned to two of the more prominent names in the radfem community: Cathy Brennan and Janice Raymond. Cathy has made herself Internet famous over the last few years, especially recently with her decision to align herself with the Pacific Justice Institute - an anti-gay organistion that vehemently opposes bans on conversion therapy (also known as Ex-Gay therapy) for same sex attracted people. She has also penned an article on her decision to become a political lesbian. Political lesbian (as explained and refuted here) is when a straight woman with a rampant dislike of men, decides to call herself a lesbian and becomes celibate and no longer engages in sex with men. These same people often call themselves “womyn” and “political lesbians” as an attempt to cut all association with men.
In addition to that, TERF’s believe that all gender is nothing more than a social construct that must be destroyed. As stated at the RadFem2013 conference “Radical feminists believe gender roles are harmful to women. We seek freedom from “femininity” and “masculinity”. Gender only exists for the benefit of men, as a class, at the expense of women, as a class.” (Bold is mine for later reference).
“We are revolutionaries, fighting for social change, and overthrowing current patriarchal systems. We want a radical alternative to both right wing, biological determinist and post modern versions of “genderism”. In other words, we oppose the promotion of gender roles as “natural”, inevitable, desirable, innate, or exaggerated performances of “femininity” and “masculinity”. We believe that gender is a destructive hierarchy, which harms women and needs to be abolished. We also oppose the the multi-billion pound sex industry. We disagree with “identity politics” which is counter to our goal of abolishing gender and male domination. The language of identity politics re-enforces patriarchy, even though sometimes people use the language of revolution to push these male centered ideologies. This conference will explore radical feminist critiques of all these oppressive aspects of patriarchy and promote alternative ways forward.” (Bold is mine for later reference)
TERF ideology completely disregards the fact that gender identity, like sexual orientation cannot be changed which completely goes against the American Psychological Associations stance on Transgenderism.
Cathy Brennan has been seen of Twitter to be saying such atrocities like:
There is also a website called “Pretendbians” where the owner (without consent) takes photos of trans people off the Internet and puts them in potential danger by outing them. Th owner also tells women to change their sexuality and become lesbians because apparently all men suck simply because they are men. This tirade doesn’t end with trans women, trans men aren’t safe from TERFs ill-informed diatribes either.
“Further, we do not believe that transgender or transsexual women are any more likely to harm females”
“This definitions would allow all males – including registered sex offenders or males subject to a domestic violence order of protection – to assert “gender identity’~ as a means to invade female-only spaces. Accordingly, definitions of ’gender identity’ that permit the individual to “self-identify” without any duration or medical documentation requirements present the potential for human rights violation against all females“
Cathy Brennan don’t seem all that interested in trans men, however Sheila Jeffery’s has this to say:
“that female-to-male trans people are only trying to buy into male privilege”. In her article “FTM Transsexualism and Grief,” Jeffrey bemoans that “FTM transsexualism destroys the lesbianism not just of the woman who ‘transitions’ but that of her female partner too.” In Unpacking Queer Politics, Jeffreys asserts that all feminists should be lesbians or should adopt “political lesbianism” because women shouldn’t sleep with their oppressors.“
Cathy Brennan thoughts mirror that of Janice Raymond in Raymond’s 1979 work The Transsexual Empire:
“All transsexuals rape women’s bodies by reducing the real female form to an artefact, appropriating this body for themselves. Transsexuals merely cut off the most obvious means of invading women, so that they seem non-invasive.”
Julie Burchill also has this to say:
“To have your cock cut off and then plead special privileges as women — above natural-born women, who don’t know the meaning of suffering, apparently…”
So it seems, what the TERF movement are asserting (without evidence) is that gender identity (or self gender identity) presents a danger to cisgender women because it will allow any man to invade a woman’s only space and because Cathy Brennan and her followers believe that trans women are men, she is stating that trans women present a potential threat to cisgender women because they are men that are invading women’s only spaces by stating that they identify as women. This directly contradicts her statement that she doesn’t believe transgender women are any more likely to harm “females”.
After all that research, I’m still quite confused and nauseated. Fuck, after all that I feel like I should go get banged by my wife while she wears the biggest blackest cock I could find, just to spite these people.
Here are my questions to TERF’s”
If gender is purely a social construct – why do TERF’s care so much about who labels themselves what?
“Radical feminists believe gender roles are harmful to women. We seek freedom from “femininity” and “masculinity”. Gender only exists for the benefit of men, as a class, at the expense of women, as a class.”In other words, we oppose the promotion of gender roles as “natural”, inevitable, desirable, innate, or exaggerated performances of “femininity” and “masculinity”.
If this is true, why is so much time and effort invested by the TERF community in eradicating trans women? If gender is purely a social construct, the identities of men and women don’t matter and who labels themselves what doesn’t matter either. Further to that, they believe “gender roles” to be harmful to women yet they want to abolish gender – therefore the concept of “woman” shouldn’t exist either.
If gender is purely a social construct – why are TERF’s so hell bent on policing men and women into tightly defined roles?
“We disagree with “identity politics” which is counter to our goal of abolishing gender and male domination.”
TERF’s want to abolish gender (because it’s a social construct apparently – can someone tell them they are confusing gender identity with gender expectations and expression?) but didn’t they just say that gender is a social construct? Wouldn’t they want to abolish all gender? And if they disagree with identity politics – why are they advocating that all women become political lesbians?
If gender is purely a social construct and TERF’s believe trans women are men and trans men are women – what defines women and men?
How do TERF’s define men and women? Taking out the gender identity that they want to abolish – that leaves sex assigned at birth which brings me to my next point:
Are men and women defined by their genitals? If so, what about Intersexed people?
If we purely define men and women via their genitals – where does this leave Intersexed people? Especially those with ambiguous genitalia? Let’s say I am an Intersexed person and my genitalia was ambiguous at birth making it hard for my doctor to assign me a sex. The doctor assigns a sex to me and I go on my merry tiny burrito shaped baby way. Years later, still having ambiguous genitalia – I began to feel out of place in my body and assigned sex. I was assigned female but the doctor fucked up and picked the wrong one. It makes me uncomfortable to be referred this way and causes me grieve and distress that I am constantly mislabeled.
TERF ideology tells Intersexed people that they should just be happy with the sex they are assigned at birth and that because gender identity is a social construct – any feelings of distress or grieve over being assigned to the wrong sex is entirely wrong. The ideology itself devalues and discredits the lives and experiences of Intersexed individuals.
Can lesbians still use sex toys with their partners?
For my last question: Can I as a cisgendered lesbian with a cisgendered lesbian partner, still get plowed by my partner wearing a strap-on? We’re both gay women, neither of us want to be with men or want to be men. We’re women. Can we still use sex toys? Or is our lesbianism only “real lesbianism” if we only stick to fingers and fists?
The more I research TERF ideology, the more damaging I find it to not only trans*people but also to the GLBTIPQA community at large:
- TERF’s believe that sexuality can be changed. as evident when Cathy Brennan aligned herself with an anti-gay hate group that advocates Ex-Gay therapy.
- TERF’s believe that transgender people don’t exist, therefore they spread lies and incite hatred towards them including but not limited to outing them without their consent.
- TERF’s don’t understand the difference between gender identity, gender roles and gender expression. These are three very different things.
In more simple terms (Liv, 2004):
The first component of human identity is biological sex. Everyone is assigned a biological sex at birth based on an examination of the visible genitalia. When sex is not easily assigned, the person is referred to as intersexed.
Gender identity is defined as the internal experience of gender, how one experiences their own sense of self as a gendered being. Gender itself is a social construct that divides people into categories of men and women based on ones sex as assigned at birth. For most people their gender identity is congruent with their assigned sex. This means that if they are “male” they experience themselves as “men” and if they are “female” they experience themselves as “women”. Transgender people are aware of the reality that their physical bodies do not feel that it describes who they really are inside.
A person’s self-concept of their gender regardless of biological sex is called gender identity. Gender and gender identity are learned at an interactional level, reified at the cultural level and institutionally enforced via family, law, religion, politics, medicine and the media. Therefore while the concept of gender and gender identity is human made, the incongruence that is felt by a transgender person is still very much real as their internal self does not align with their outside body.
Gender role expression:
Gender role expression is the expression of masculinity or femininity. Gender role is the socialised aspect of gender that is linked to appearance, behaviour and personality. This is not linked to a person’s sex assigned at birth. When a gender role is divergent from social expectations, the person is perceived as genderqueer, a crossdresser or a gender bender. Gender role is the expected behaviour of a person based on their gender (society has “acccepted norms” for this however it doesn’t need to be followed) – Women care for children, Men work etc. Gender expression is how a person presents themselves to the world. Society has “accepted norms” for this however it doesn’t need to be followed – Women wear dresses and skirts, Men wear pants.
We all know what sexual orientation is but many don’t understand that it is not linked to our gender role expression or gender identity.
Reference: Liv, A. (2004). Transgender Emergence: Therapeutic Guidelines for Working With Gender-Variant People and Their Families. Routledge.
I would offer TERF’s this simple primer on the difference between gender identity, gender roles and gender expression but I suspect they wouldn’t bother reading it anyway.
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