Kindly published with permission from the author Andie, a good friend to Resisting Hate. Her blog can be read here.
Since joining Twitter two years ago, I’ve had to put up with all kinds of abuse from TERFs – Trans-Exclusionary so-called Feminists. So I thought I’d write an A-to-Z of the nonsense they repeat day after day like a stuck record – and try to debunk it.
You won’t find this in any dictionary because it’s not a real word. That’s because it’s not a real condition either. Autogynephilia was said to have been a sex-fuelled mental illness, by a sexologist called Ray Blanchard back in the 1980s. He defined it as “a man’s paraphilic tendency to be sexually aroused by the thought or image of himself as a woman”.
The theory was long ago discredited by psychologists who work in the field of transgender issues – but the TERF brigade won’t let it drop. Writing as someone trans myself, I can see how you might possibly apply a fetish label to, say a crossdresser tossing off while wearing his wife’s stockings and imagining the thrill of being female.
In that context, I don’t see a problem with a male fantasising that they’re female (or vice versa) if that’s what floats their boat. People have far more bizarre sexual fantasies than imagining what it might be like to be a member of the opposite sex.
But how can you possibly apply such a fetish label to a transwoman who identifies as female and lives as female 24/7? Most of that time will be spent doing things everyone else does, such as making cups of tea, going to work, making dinner – not at all sexy and hardly a fetish.
B: Bullying and Bigotry
Your average TERF will deny vehemently that they’re either of these – yet some of them seem to spend every waking hour on social media (mainly Twitter and Mumsnet) attacking trans people – mainly transwomen – for all the reasons outlined in this glossary. And if bullying someone over their gender identity isn’t bigotry, Donald Trump’s a feminist.
TERFs claim that there’s a “transgender cult”. Again referencing social media, they use hashtags such as #transcult, #peaktrans and #peniscult to go with their posts. The fact is that there’s no cult – transgender people have been on Earth for as long as cisgender people.
What’s changed is that, thanks to the internet, trans people have more of a voice and can make more of an impact in appealing for trans rights (which are essentially human rights). Perhaps #terfcult would be an appropriate hashtag for the haters.
This is another new term to me but, unlike autogynephilia, it appears to be a real word. Both TERFs and trans activists have been guilty of this, to be fair. The dictionary states:
search for and publish private or identifying information about (a particular individual) on the Internet, typically with malicious intent.
“hackers and online vigilantes routinely dox both public and private figures”
I’ve been doxxed myself. I had a photo of me lifted from a dating website and then posted on Twitter by a TERF, although she did black out my eyes. Other people aren’t so fortunate.
I’ve seen cases of TERFs scrolling back through old MySpace accounts and similar to find incriminating photos and details of trans people, and then publishing them elsewhere without their permission. One transwoman had her pre-transition pictures made into posters, which were put up in public toilets.
Labour Party women’s officer Lily Madigan is another example of recent times. Someone found a pre-transition picture of her, Photoshopped in red eyes and a transphobic caption and posted it on Facebook with the text, “I seriously think this dickhead is going to fake a suicide soon”. Vile. Anyone can do a Google search on anyone, but leave out the malice.
E: Echo Chamber
A Big thanks to Roanna from Resisting Hate for this one. She says of TERFs: “They all follow like-minded people that enforce their own bigotry. They don’t expose themselves to positive or unbiased influences.”
The echo chamber effect was actually in the news a few days ago, too. Researchers found that social media users are more likely to engage with people and media sources that share their political beliefs. More here.
Although this study looked at supporters of political parties, it has to be said that TERFs are guilty, too. Trans people are also more likely to engage with other trans people – but not with a hate agenda.
F: Freedom of Speech
TERFs love their freedom of speech argument and get very offended when they get blocked on social media by trans people, complaining that they are being silenced. There are more hashtags – #erasewomen and #femaleErasure among them.
What they’re missing here is that there’s a massive difference between free speech and hate speech. TERFs who get blocked do so because trans people don’t want a constant barrage of hatred in their timeline. Being transphobic is just as bad as being homophobic, racist or sexist.
G: Gender Recognition Act
Aaaah, the good old GRA! This won’t mean much to overseas readers, but it’s a big deal in the UK right now. The GRA of 2004 exists, in a nutshell, to allow trans people to legally change their gender. As of now, the process is long, laborious and expensive.
So the Government is now seeking to change the law to allow trans people to change their gender far more simply, by self-defining. After all, no-one needs a panel of experts to tell them they’re a transwoman, transman or non-binary (or cis woman or cis man for that matter).
The changes have been proposed by the Women’s Equality Committee after months of inquiries and have cross-party support. But the TERFs, naturally, aren’t happy and want to scrap the GRA altogether.
One of them wrote on Twitter: “We aren’t just after [committee chairman] Maria Miller’s proposals, you know – we are going to get rid of the whole [Gender Recognition] Act. Women do not ever have penises.” The last sentence was in capitals. Bit shouty. TERFs are obsessed with penises.
Another word that I’d never heard before I started reading the hate-filled bile from TERFs. I’ve written in this blog many, many times that most cis women are fantastic when you tell them you’re trans.
They love the fact that you want to throw off your male shackles and finally come out and join the sisterhood. Cis women, in my experience, are far more supportive and welcoming than cis men.
Anyway, handmaiden (or handmaid) is an ancient term for a female servant – or a subservient partner. These days, in TERF World, it basically means any cis woman who is supportive to trans people. I prefer the term “trans ally”.
I: Internal Homophobia
Now I’m definitely no expert on this one – I only first heard about it a few days ago, but let me give it a try.
As well as external homophobia – ie someone else criticising a person for being gay – there is internal homophobia. So people who cannot cope with the fact that they’re gay – possibly if they’ve come from a deeply religious background.
Another batshit theory of the TERFs is that transwomen (and transmen, I suppose) are suffering from internal homophobia. Soooo someone who transitions from male to female, they claim, do so because they can’t cope with the fact that they’re a gay man.
I honestly can’t think of anything more absurd. Do the TERFs really believe that transwomen who are attracted to men would go through all the hell of transition just so that they could give themselves a “straight” label by being a woman with a guy?
What about bisexual or pansexual transwomen? What about transwomen who fancy only women? I’m transitioning, but I can’t imagine ever being with a man – I’d literally puke all over him. Bonkers theory – but then TERFS are bonkers, eh?
J: Judge, Jury and Executioner
You won’t find anyone more judgmental than a TERF. Everything that trans people do is scrutinised through a microscope, and the slightest little misdemeanor – usually when trans people hit back against the hatred – is screen-grabbed and reposted with a string of judgments.
TERFs accuse trans people of a variety of crimes – even when there’s no evidence of such crimes having been committed. I was accused by one of being some kind of sex pest. My only crime was that my cis girlfriend at the time was in her 20s – I’m in my 40s. Bit of an age gap but hardly a hanging offence!
And they refuse to believe the facts in terms of the amount of trans people who die each year – either from taking their own lives or being murdered. At the last count, there had been 2,609 trans people murdered since 2008 – and 270 of those in the past 12 months.
Which leads us nicely on to Killers. I read a tweet yesterday from a TERF claiming that there had been no more suicides of trans people than people who had killed themselves due to the grief of losing relatives.
No idea where she got that information – the claim wasn’t backed up – and besides, any suicide is tragic, whether stemming from the pressure of abuse or from grief.
But let’s look at the facts. A study published a year ago found that 40% of trans people had attempted suicide. Many more have self-harmed. Almost half of trans children in the UK have tried to kill themselves.
And this isn’t because they’re mentally ill, as the TERFs would have you believe – it’s because of the insurmountable pressure of relentless discrimination, harassment and even violence from transphobes, including TERFs.
Your hate speech and keyboard warrior tactics are pushing human beings to kill themselves because they can’t cope with the abuse. You have blood on your hands. Shame on you.
You all know this one, right? LGBT – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender. The acronym has been around since the 1990s and, as attitudes change (unless you’re a stuck-in-the-Neolithic-Era TERF) so does the acronym. So you see LGBTI, with the I standing for Intersex, LGBTQ (Queer), LGBTA (Asexual) and LGBT+, which covers all permutations.
That’s progress – it means folk are becoming more accepting of people of other sexualities and gender identities. But not if you’re a TERF – oh no! They think the acronym should be about sexuality only – so LGB – and they use the hashtag #DropTheT.
More transphobia (we’d expect nothing less) and if it’s only about sexuality, why no P for Panssexual? Why no A for Asexual? It’s like these people have never heard of intersectionality. Don’t even get me started on their views as regards trans lesbians and the cotton ceiling.
Misogyny is the hatred of, contempt for, or prejudice against women or girls. Quite an easy one for you there. Whereas sexist men used to get called male chauvinist pigs, these days they’re more likely to be dubbed misogynists. I can think of far harsher terms for them.
Transwomen hate misogynists just as much as any woman. But because TERFs insist that transwomen ARE men, we get labelled with the term as well. And it’s always if we stand up for the trans sisterhood on social media. #misogyny goes hand in hand with #peaktrans and #transcult.
Yet the TERFs fail to see that transwomen are victims of misogyny as well. I’m not defending abusive men – never have, never will – but take the example of a scene in any street in any city.
A cis woman might get a wolf whistle from a distance and an “allo, darlin’!” from some white-van-man prick as she walks along and gets nearer to him. A transwoman might also get a wolf whistle from a distance – but she’d be far more likely to receive worse verbal abuse from WVM when she got closer and he realised she was trans.
Both situations are intolerable – and I’m sure that cis women would be more likely to be the victims of sexual assault – but I’m trying to make the point that transwomen are victims of misogyny, too, so don’t label us with a brush that we also have to fight off ourselves.
Gender is a funny thing. Most people see it as being binary – male and female – and people like me see it as being on a spectrum, which includes non-binary, intersex, genderqueer, genderfluid, transfeminine, transmasculine, yadda, yadda.
And while I accept that cis people are perfectly happy with their place at the blue end or the pink end, I think enough is now known to say assuredly that that’s not the case for everyone. I also believe that the spectrum is like a slide rule and that people can move up and down along it – especially those who identify as genderfluid.
TERFs, needless to say, think the whole thing is bollocks. To be fair, lots of cis non-TERFs also think that. I guess it’s kind of hard to understand when you live in a binary society and you’re not non-binary yourself. Plus, non-binary people have only come into the mainstream consciousness relatively recently. I remember one NB person (or enby) coming out to President Obama.
TERFs insist that “gender is a social construct”. If that’s the case, why isn’t it OK to say f*ck the socially-engineered pink box and the socially-engineered blue box, and I’ll paint my box whatever colour/s I like?
O: Opposite Sex
Men then! TERFs, from my experience, hate men. They might claim to be feminists but there’s no getting away from the fact that they hate men – and they see transwomen as men, so they hate us, too.
True feminists battle for a level playing field – where women, men and any other gender have the same opportunities in life. Fuck the patriarchy – fuck it hard! But TERFs hate men!
I’ve had my run-in with TERFs on Mumsnet before – such a vile nest of vipers – and I have come to the conclusion that most if not all of them have had bad experiences with men, hence their hatred.
Of course, I’m not excusing abusive behaviour from men – males are far more likely than women to be convicted of crimes, especially those involving violence and abuse. I don’t blame their victims one bit for being afraid of men after a terrible ordeal.
But that doesn’t excuse repeatedly misgendering transwomen as men and using he/his pronouns and their deadnames on Twitter. #transwomenaremen is another fucked-up hashtag. I’ve been the victim of years of physical and mental abuse myself in the past, but being a victim yourself does not give you the right to abuse other people. Transwomen are women.
P: Personality Disorder
Another jibe often aimed at trans people by TERFs is that they’re mentally ill. Gender dysphoria did used to be seen as a mental illness in the olden days – but then so did loads of other conditions in an era when far too many people were locked away in padded cells and straitjackets in mental institutions.
Now that we have a better understanding, we know it is not a mental illness at all and that it can be treated. It is true that many trans people suffer with conditions like depression and anxiety due to their dysphoria – and naturally such conditions are only made worse by attacks from TERFs.
Q: Questions and Qualifications
The internet is full of hundreds if not thousands of TERFs, none of whom appear to be qualified in the matters over which they spout so much hatred.
None of them can possibly know what it’s like to be transgender – just as we’ll never know what it’s like to be cisgender. But whereas we ask questions of other trans (and cis) people to find out what’s what, the TERFs act as know-it-alls, spouting lie after lie with little more than hearsay evidence to back up their claims.
Trans Rights are Human Rights! Buy the T-shirt, wear it and be proud. Or, if you’re a TERF, you probably use yet another crappy hashtag: #transrightserasewomensrights.
No they don’t. Human rights are the same whether you’re male, female, trans, cis, black, white or whatever else. You just need to be human. And maybe try possessing a little humanity, too.
There’s a big debate on this one. TERFs keep banging the drum, saying that the term is a slur. I say if you don’t like being called a TERF, don’t be one.
The acronym was created by trans-exclusionary radical so-called feminists anyway, not trans people. Racists and homophobes don’t mind being called racists and homophobes, so I don’t see the difference here. We’ll stop using TERF when you stop being transphobic. Simple.
Unlike autogynephilia, this one is a real word. Check your dictionary, folks! Or just read this:
dislike of or prejudice against transsexual or transgender people.
“more than 120 complaints concerning transphobia in the media were made”
TERFs say there’s no such thing as transphobia and that the word was created by fascists (well, they’d know all about fascism).
They say a phobia is an irrational fear. At last, we agree! But it can also be used as a suffix to describe hatred. So, Islamophobia, for instance. And heaven knows how long “homophobia” has been around as an accepted word. Biphobia these days, too.
As well as transphobia, we have transmisogyny – the intersection of transphobia and mysogyny. “Transmisogyny is a made-up word!” shouts one TERF on Twitter, all in capital letters. Well yeah, but every word in every language was made up somewhere. Apart from autogynephilia.
“You can’t be a REAL woman because you haven’t got a womb!” the TERFs tell transwomen. I’ve got news for you, ladies. Transwomen could get pregnant tomorrow, fertility professor claims. Womb transplants – a matter of if, not when.
“You can’t be a REAL woman because you haven’t got a vagina!” the TERFs go on to say. Transwomen have been having Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS) to create vaginas, vulvas and clitori for the best part of a century. Keep up.
Both the uterus and vagina arguments don’t stack up, either, when you consider baby girls born with Mayer Rokitansky Küster Hauser Syndrome – in other words, no womb, vagina or cervix. Does that make them any less of a woman when they get older? Of course not.
W: Women-Only Spaces
This is the main reason behind TERFs’ opposition to the changes to the Gender Recognition Act (see G, above). They fear that more and more men will self-identify as transwomen and then use their new legal identity as an excuse to prey on women in public toilets and changing rooms.
What they fail to realise is that men can legally use the ladies’ in this country anyway – and vice versa. This ain’t North Carolina. So if they really wanted to launch some crazed sex attack on a woman, they’d just do it anyway, and they wouldn’t need to don their mum’s best frock to be able to do so.
Even if the GRA was completely written off (fat chance), the law on using public toilets wouldn’t change – and transwomen would keep on using the ladies’, as they have for decades with no issues.
And let’s look at other countries where trans people can already legally self-identify their gender – Argentina, Colombia, Denmark, Ireland, Malta (and more to come soon, such as Norway and Sweden). How many sex attacks by transwomen on cis women since the law was changed?
To quote Monty Python’s camel-spotting sketch, “nearly one”. None, in other words. The North Carolina transwomen said it best during the whole Bathroom Bill fiasco: “We just want to pee.”
Not the Mercury Prize winning band, but good old chromosomes. I’m about as much an expert on chromosomes as most TERFs, but I’ll give it a go.
Sooo, chromosomes are what are responsible for sexual characteristics, including sex organs – so a vagina for girls/women (XX chromosomes) and a penis for boys/men (XY).
TERFs are only too keen to point this out, even having “XX” after their Twitter usernames. My response is: so what? There’s more to being male/female than chromosomes. Transwomen (and transmen) already know that what’s between their legs (sex) doesn’t correspond with what’s between their ears (gender).
So we have HRT and surgery. Problem solved. Also, the TERF arguments don’t take into account that not everyone is an XX female or an XY male. There are males born XX and females born XY, for instance, and combinations of XO, XXY and XXXY chromosomes. Google it!
“Won’t somebody think of the children!” I’ve written extensively my thoughts on TERFs and trans children (I used to be one!) and there will be loads more about my experience growing up trans in my forthcoming book, so I won’t go over it all here, but there have been loads of scare stories in the British press of late.
One was about drag queens going into schools to talk to kids about LGBT matters (good!), another about a Christian teacher who refused to use a trans kid’s correct pronouns and then there were opinion pieces appearing to claim that kids as young as ten could be lined up for SRS.
All utter bullshit and scaremongering, of course, and I’m thinking of one day compiling a dossier to send to the Press Complaints Commission. If I ever get time!
At least there’s some support now for children who are coming to realise they may be trans. If it’s a phase, it will pass. But most trans people I know knew from a very early age they were transgender. I was six or seven – some know when they’re toddlers.
Naturally, the TERFs hate everything about kids possibly identifying as trans – and say any SRS (which wouldn’t be carried out until adulthood after a LOT of counselling anyway) would be akin to genital mutilation.
Half of me hopes the TERF mums’ kids turn out to be transgender – but the other half wouldn’t want them to live a life hating their parents, so maybe that’s not kind. Kindness, eh? Remember kindness?
And staying on the kiddiewinks theme, we can’t sign off without mentioning Kenneth Zucker, the psychologist who caused shockwaves earlier in 2017 when he appeared in the BBC documentary Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best?
I won’t bang on him about him too much, but this is a man who was sacked from a gender identity clinic because of concerns about his attempts to “cure” transgender children. The TERFs love him.
Despite the Christian therapies in the US, gender dysphoria can’t be “cured” – because it’s not a mental illness, just a condition that can be treated. And once it is treated, trans people live far happier lives if they’re just left alone to get on with them.
Live and let live! Never a truer word spoken.
Andie Pas de Deux
If you are experiencing online hatred from TERFs, visit my post, Shop a TERF and stop transphobia. That includes information on various tools to block TERFs on social media and how to report them to the police for hate crimes.