How ‘TERF’ works

Pay attention, if you’re not already neck-deep in the gender wars of online feminism. TERF is an acronym for “Trans Exclusive Radical Feminist” that its users claim is applied purely descriptively. Critics of the term point out that it is not used neutrally, but in all cases pejoratively: TERF is a curse word used solely against women, a version of “bitch” that liberals can feel OK saying. “TERFs” are charged with inciting and inflicting violence against transgender people, despite the fact that violence against transgender people, like all violence, is overwhelmingly committed by men and not by feminists of any stripe.

The definition of TERF is extraordinarily loose: what one is supposed to be excluding trans people from is never identified. To state that male and female bodies exist can be enough to win the TERF label; to state that the division of sex is the foundation of sexual oppression is more than sufficient. (If your observations of reality have led you to believe that sexual dimorphism in humans is both real and socially relevant, you may be confused to learn that acknowledging this is now deemed evidence of bigotry in some quarters.)  It is also a highly toxic definition to apply to someone, both because of the intimation of violence, and because there is a hefty taboo within the left at large against “excluding” anyone.

Vague in meaning, powerful in effect — two qualities which combine to mean that the word TERF is incredibly handy for anyone who wishes to stop women from discussing our oppression as women, by men. (Who wants to stop women discussing our oppression by men? Usually men, of course.) It is a thought-stopper extraordinaire. Here’s an example. This morning, I tweeted the following in response to a discussion about domestic violence I heard on the Today Programme:


Lindy West — brilliant, funny Jezebel writer Lindy West, wrote that hilarious thing about SATC2 — retweeted it. Great! My small act of feminism has been shared by a writer with a following thousands of times greater than my own, surely the revolution in sexual consciousness is just around the corner, etc etc. But wait! A man has something to say:


Note that this is his response to a feminist sharing a comment by another feminist about domestic violence. Not solidarity against male violence, not horror at the fact that a woman has been killed by male violence every 2.3 days in the UK this year, but concern that the person speaking (in this case, me) is somehow unclean. Don’t worry though, he’s not entirely lacking in self-awareness. He knows it’s not really his place – as a man – to tell a woman what she should and shouldn’t say, even though he’s just, um, told a woman what she should and shouldn’t say. His disavowals aside, the word “TERF” does its work:


Am I a TERF? West didn’t have the time to check: avoiding any association with a tainted form of feminism took precedence over sharing a message about domestic violence. And she acted perfectly rationally in this: to associate herself with me, even by merely RTing a statement she agreed with, could be enough to make her a “known TERF” in turn and lead to her being similarly denounced in public. But note the end result of this: a feminist has withdrawn support for another feminist speaking against male violence, because a man told her to.

This is what the word TERF does. This is why it is misogynist’s dream, and this is why – if you’re a feminist or even if you simply see yourself as not-anti-feminist – you should never trust it and never, never use it against other women.

This post was originally published at and is republished with permission from the author.

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  • U.F.B.

    • Following Sarah Ditum in solidarity. Women need to hear/speak/listen to women, and stop existing through men.

  • Sophia

    What wonderful critical thinking Lindy West showed when she took advice from a ‘cishet guy’ on what sort of feminists she should be supporting. So utterly pathetic, I am ashamed of her.

    These are the problems I have with the term ‘terf’. It is used almost exclusively as an insult, it makes feminists distance themselves from each other (so they’re seen as one of the ‘good ones’ by het males it seems…), and it’s inaccurate and misleading even as a simple term! It starts actual honest to god internet witch hunts (anyone who uses Tumblr knows what I’m talking about – doxxing ‘terfs’ anyone?) and demonises women who prioritise females in their feminism.

    I’m so, so sick of it being thrown in women’s faces. I see it on tumblr – people get sent anonymous messages like Lindy was sent “Uh just want to let you know, you just reblogged a terf and that’s really gross so here’s a heads up” – and people are so terrified of being tarred with this brush that these messages are met with no response other than “oh dear, thanks for the heads up”. No investigation, no thinking for themselves, just and instant revulsion and disassociation with whoever has been deemed a ‘terf’ by an anonymous coward.

    It’s just another misogynist term for women used primarily to attack them, but it’s been dressed up as something appropriate and progressive for liberals and libfems to use without mercy. People need to grow some goddamn brains.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Totally. The second it’s said, it’s believed and the individual who is told so-and-so is a “TERF” distances themselves in fear that they will be arbitrarily labelled as such too. It happens to me often, and is always unfounded. ALL it is is about silencing women, dividing feminists, and shutting down feminist discourse.

      • Leo

        Yep. And women ARE scared, absolutely, because not only does the threat carry with it the fear of silencing and exclusion, but of being verbally abused and harassed, receiving graphic threats. I’ve seen doxxing, and even totally baseless accusations of paedophilia being thrown at one young lesbian Tumblr user, in an obviously deliberate smear campaign. Only transactivists behave like this, no other oppressed group, none. Who does behave like this, social exclusion and bullying if you say things they don’t like, threats of violence? That would be men.

        I really don’t care if they do have ‘female’ brains somehow, they can go ahead and call me a TERF (one of their LibFem female supporters already did, purely because I pointed out that reproductive sex, male and female, is a real thing). As long as I’m not the one sending the death threats, pretty sure I still have the moral high ground here. I’d be quite happy to go ahead and ‘exclude’ actual females if they were pulling that kind of crap, too.

        Good on women who are standing up to this, wish I had the courage to do so more often.

        • ozzie

          Omg. The tumblr user they doxxed, threatened and smeared as a pedophile was an 18-year old lesbian dating a 17-year old. It was one of the most cruel and insane things I’ve ever witnessed unraveling.

          ”I really don’t care if they do have ‘female’ brains…”
          They don’t. The study where that claim was taken from was grossly misinterpreted/manipulated. The study was looking at already transitioned individuals who had been undergoing estrogen/hormone therapy for years: it was basically saying, brains are affected by hormones such as estrogen after years of being exposed to them. That’s it.

          • Leo

            It was really just such a bizarre and blatant smear tactic…I just couldn’t understand how their supporters could see that, and not realise the issue here.

            Yeah, it’s not that I buy the claim – it’s that as far as I’m concerned, it wouldn’t matter even if they did. They can’t really argue with that.

          • Liz

            Ozzie, you’re wrong about the studies. They took trans people who were NOT on hormones and use them in the study.

            Also even if they were on hormones for years the brain doesn’t change like that. Once it’s done growing, that’s it, it’s done.

            What you’re claiming is like claiming a post-menopause woman becomes mentally a man because her estrogen levels dip low enough for testosterone to affect her brain.

          • bella_cose

            The study you refer to looked at the brains of only six transsexual individuals. Perhaps you should read this:

      • Henke

        Its a very common tactics among abusers and opressors alike. Its been used in history both in big scale operations and smalle scale.
        ‘untermensch’ for example came into the existance in the german language–during the naziregime–for a very similar reason. To silence, to make people scared. At first jews were labeled, and not every jew. Those who owned stores and business. Then it began to cover all jews then other political ideologies, homosexuals, mentally ill and so on an so forth… anyone could be labeled ‘untermensch’.
        The whole purpose of words as ‘TERF’ and ‘untermensch’ is to take away humanity from the person who you label with these slurs.
        You become reduced from a person to a nobody, someone who its okey to treat bad, to spit on, to harass and kill.
        History is filled with these kind of things.
        While the group/person who uses them puts themselves on a pedestal. To feel better, superior, powerful over these ‘lesser humans’.

        And I shall point out that I’m not saying that trans activist and their allies are nazis. I’m just stating that the words have much in common in terms of what they do and what their purpose is.

        • kesher

          The French revolution also devolved into that with people being denounced because someone wanted to eliminate a business competitor or to take revenge for something that had no political basis. (There was even a famous artist who went to the guillotine because a politically connected rival wanted the artist’s wife; fortunately she escaped to Britain.) It’s never a good thing when merely denouncing someone without evidence is good enough.

          • Henke

            Yes that is very true. Thx for bringing it up.

            No it is never good. But it happens more often than not, bullying in school for example works in pretty much the same ways. Namecalling/mean labels to remove ‘personhood’ from the victim, reducing the person being bullied to something lesser than a human so its okey to point fingers and laugh, to kick them or in other ways abuse them.

          • anaeli

            That brings up really dark memories for me. I was the bullied kid in school. To be honest, I was the receiver of very gendered violence (I was abused by boys, only). It started out as verbal abuse, but it turned to physical abuse not long after, and I had to endure it for years. Of course, I was blamed for it, I was a liar, yadda yadda, no one cared, I was the othered. While I don’t mean to start a big debate/discussion on this, I think it just goes to show how early in life we internalize our submissive, receiver of violence role, and how early boys also learn that violence is okay and that girls need to be put in their place, especially when they don’t conform to certain standards.

          • Henke

            Deeply sorry to hear that.
            I should maybe have put a trigger warning on my post up there. Its easy to not think everything through on the web sometimes.

            Yes, it shows it indeed.

            We live in a culture that at one hand says bullying and so on is wrong, but at the same time the whole culture is socipathic and is bullying other human cultures either into obedience or into dust (as in viping them out)so often one have to hear that while we shall fight this kind of behaviours, we also hear that ‘we have to learn to live with it’ that there will always be a number of people who will act this way and its not much we can do about it.

            Its a mess.

    • river

      She’s a journalist, or planning on being one? Oh way to go. Take the word of some anonymous tweeter and delete/unretweet away. Anyone can say anything on chats and tweets, but for a journalist speaking to a readership on a venue backed by ads? Really great career move there Ms. West.

      • Meghan Murphy

        It’s very strange, isn’t it? This absolute willingness to take randos on the internet at their word…

    • Missfit

      This is McCarthyism.

      ‘People need to grow some goddamn brains.’ Yes! Seriously. Everybody repeat the mantra ‘everyone who identifies as a woman is a woman’ and if someone dare say ‘wait a minute, let me think about it, what does that really means…’ STOP! TERF alert! Quick, silence her, ostracize her, burn her! Yes, they can quickly become quite violent and some people do not want to take any chance of being subjected to that bullying so they obey and follow the transcult line without daring to think further. The objective is to silence and it operates the same way as when some men direct violent threats at women, especially feminists, when they say something the men don’t like. Similarly, TERF is applied to anyone who said something a trans (or dedicated ally) did not like, whether it is questionning in any way the concept of gender identity or simpy saying that female biology is relevant.

      The abuse that is directed at the so-called TERFs is said to be justified, just as MRAs say their attacks are justified on the basis of feminists supposedly using ‘hate speech’. When trans accuse ‘TERFs’ of being violent, it is projection. They make it so that their identity validation takes precedence on females speaking their truths. That so-called feminists condone these tactics is… I don’t know, I guess it is not so unexpected considering how deformed feminism has become in liberal circles. Centering men who proclaim to be feminists (including those who say they identify as women), even though it comes at the cost of throwing other under the bus, has also become a common feature.

      • Missfit

        ‘even though it comes at the cost of throwing other women other under the bus’. Sorry, missed a word. And that word is important: WOMEN! And by women, I mean women (that is females).

      • “The abuse that is directed at the so-called TERFs is said to be justified, just as MRAs say their attacks are justified on the basis of feminists supposedly using ‘hate speech’.”

        I’ve started to realize that transcultists are really just MRAs who like to perform femininity. These folks are cut from the same cloth. The misogyny of people who claim to “feel” like a woman is staggering. It’s weird. It’s as if they think their version of “woman” is more authentic then those of us who were born women. Well, that’s male privilege for ya!

        • andeväsen

          “These folks are cut from the same cloth”

          MRA/TRAJ. Pretty absorbent fabric. Almost sponge-like. Soaked in misogyny and then wrung out on a daily basis.

        • Erika

          Most of those who say, they “feel” like a woman, doesn´t have body dysphoria.
          A good question:
          If you are on an Island, without any other people, would you want to alter your body?
          If the answer is yes, from their innermost, it would be definitively a sign of body dysphoria.
          Most of those “transcultists” talk about identity, gender, culture, and similar things, very few talk about sex and body.
          Most who say they feel like a woman mean that they want to have the gander, a feminine name or something like that, very few mean Body dysphoria, which I would understand under feel like a woman.
          Which mean they feel like they have (schould have) a female body and to feel they don´t have such a body make them feel bad.

          • Henke

            The few I’ve been personally in contact with that indeed has body dysphoria never spoke in terms of ‘feeling like a woman’. They outright hated their bodies and felt like prisoners in them, a strong feeling like they are in the wrong body but they did not speak of it in terms of ‘feeling like a woman’ at all.

      • Deborah Peifer

        A very thoughtful and well argued essay. It’s worth remembering, I think, that transactivists define “misgendered” pronouns as violence

    • Bohemianwriter1

      Discrimination in any form is an ugly thing.

      So is any form of extremism.

      What would you say to feminists who wants to exclude transgendered women from joining their cause?

  • Jenn

    You are awesome. Thank you for having a backbone (unlike Ms. West) that does not appear to be made from spun sugar. You are needed and appreciated. Again, thank you.

  • C.K. Egbert

    Saying someone is a TERF because they critique gender is like saying that feminists are advocating femmicide because they critique femininity.

    I’ve heard people call Catharine MacKinnon (one of the main people we have to thank for sexual harassment law) a TERF without ever having read anything of her work. It appears that you are a TERF if you do not blindly ascribe to the ideology that “sex” or someone’s claims to an “identity” automatically makes it immune from critique and completely ignore material and social realities.

    • lizor

      It’s painful the extent to which people will go to shut down astute gender critique. I was recently reading Wendy Brown’s Politics Out of History (looking for articulate critique of the actual operation of Rights legislation) and found to my dismay, an essay called The Desire for Punishment, where Brown extensively cites Freud to make a case for “victim identity formation” of which she accuses Catharine MacKinnon – with that twisted old rationale that if you name sexual violence, you do so because you are sexually oppressed and actually super turned on by it. Oh yeah – and feminists are whiny victims. I don’t mean to sidetrack the discussion, but I think there’s a pattern: the more insightful and concise the critique (i.e. the more threatening to the status quo) the more outrageous the silencing tactics.

      • C.K. Egbert

        I absolutely agree. In my line of work, I’ve been pretty appalled at the level of outright vitriol thrown at MacKinnon (one liberal feminist philosopher called her “draconic”) and the gross misinterpretations of her by intellectuals (and she is not difficult to understand).

    • huha

      Catharine MacKinnon is a hero in my eyes. She’s one of the people who pushed for the Nordic Model in Sweden and internationally, she worked for victims of rape during the terrible conflict in Bosnia, she’s worked on many international women’s rights issues, she’s basically dedicated her life to feminism and has made life better for MILLIONS of women.

      • C.K. Egbert

        She’s mine too. Incredible woman.

        • I agree with both of you. Her work is phenomenal and she is as clear as a bell. I don’t think anyone could come up with more water-tight evidence based arguments than she does and STILL she is broadly vilified.

          Her work should be read by every young woman – I was going to say “with and interest in feminism” – but to hell with that. She should be read by any young woman with the skills to read her. In my dreams, her work would be foundational social studies for all high school students.

    • “I’ve heard people call Catharine MacKinnon (one of the main people we have to thank for sexual harassment law) a TERF.”

      This is so true. We have Catherine MacKinnon to thank for sexual harassment law and by extension women being able to remain in the workforce (which includes our capacity to escape situations of domestic violence towards us or our children). We wouldn’t have been able to remain and occupy our places in the workforce if these laws hadn’t been in place. It would be very hard to stay at work while being sexually harassed.

      Transactivists should be thanking their lucky stars every night for Catherine MacKinnon. Trans* women now have Catherine MacKinnon to thank as well too. Without her, even “passing” they would not be able to work if Catherine MacKinnon had not done the work she did in establishing sexual harassment law. Then again transactivists would probably be just as happy if prostitution was the only means of survival for trans* women anyway. This is beyond absurd.

  • meh

    Oh wow, thanks so much for this piece.

    I see this happening all the time online (rarely in person but sadly it has happened). It’s the ‘enlightened’ liberal man’s way of calling us bitches and getting away with it. The good old “mr sensitive” routine. Fucking disgusting.

    As for the woman who fearfully unretweeted due to being somehow associated with a “TERF” *cue dramatic olden day movie screaming* – I both lol’ed and sighed. I just don’t get women who think that way.

  • There seems to be a parallel with how language is directed towards gender-critical feminists and women in pornography. For instance, statements are often made to the effect that “TERFs” are somehow less than women, and therefore not quite human, which seems to “justify” the violent rhetoric embedded in phrases such as “kill all TERFs”. Similarly, the language used in pornography to refer to women is just as denigrating, where the perception of women as essentially sex toys “justifies” the abusive treatment of them. In both cases it is nothing short of misogyny.

    In the gender arena, debate is now often suppressed rather than encouraged, hence the silencing tactic, as well as how gender-critical feminists are now being avoided in case, god forbid, critical thinking happens to be contagious. I think this current trend of removing all trace of anything associated with radical feminism is done in part to discourage a naive outsider from considering the rad fem perspective as valid.

    Moreover, how many of these people going out of their way to avoid all engagement and association with gender-critical theory go to similar lengths to avoid actual harm? How often, in their daily lives, do they unwittingly (or intentionally) support the work and doings of people who seek to perpetuate harm (e.g., pornographers)?

    It’s an absolute farce, the way that radical feminists and other gender-critical individuals have been made out to look the oppressors. A neat trick for the actual oppressors – project your beliefs and your actions onto one of the most marginalised groups, and watch any outside support that it might have had crumble away.

    • kesher

      The silencing seems to happen with the understanding (spoken or unspoken) that transpeople are somehow too delicate or fragile to suffer hearing any criticism, criticism being distinct from hate speech. In all my years of activism, I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone claim, with a straight face, that a group is immune from criticism or discussion because otherwise their feefees will be hurt.

  • Zach

    The list is a heart wrenching list of women murdered but it is a dishonest list to cite because you use to back up the claim that a woman is murdered by male violence every 2.3 days in the UK.

    Nahid al Manea (whose name is on the list) was murdered in a horrific knife attack weeks after James Atwell was savagely killed in the same manner and in similar circumstances. There is no CCTV footage of the killer[s] nor is there any eye witness testimony in either cases. The Police Force are stumped and have absolutely no leads. Meghan, by citing this resource and stating 2.3 women are killed a day by men you are assuming Nahid was killed by a man and that James Atwell who was mentally disabled and likely killed by the same serial killer is not even worthy of mention.

    I hope you retract your assertion as it is based on dubious figures where cases are yet to be solved. Your assumption that it is male violence motivated by misogyny is the sort of crass generalization that you rail against.

    The murders happened in an Essex town, Colchester, see below:

    • Meghan Murphy

      Hi Zach — This article was written by Sarah Ditum, not me.

    • andeväsen

      To be fair to you, you’re right about the Colchester killings.

      To be fair to Karen Ingala-smith’s list, almost everyone else on it does implicate male violence. It’s a list of 88 killings. Around 200 days this year. It still makes it 2.3.

  • Thelx

    What is the most hilarious in this term is that it negates feminism itself… The backbone of feminism is that sex and gender are different, and that gender is a segregating hierarchy imposed on sexes as a means of control, with masculinity up and femininity down. Then ‘transgender’ people took the theoretical legacy of feminism, mixed it up, removed the notion of segregating hierarchy while reveling in its binary structure, made of violence an almost sexless and genderless inconvenience which is always worse and more concerning when it’s used against them than against “cis-privileged” women who choose neither their sex nor their inferior gender, and now they infiltrated feminist spaces imposing their views that gender is a fun neutral thing that may be chosen, that gender is the real sex and that their gender must be recognized as their sex… and if you don’t agree you’re transphobic.
    Well, if it is the case, all feminism is inherently transphobic, since the A-B-C of feminism is that gender does *not* equal sex. So they shouldn’t need a term as “TERF”: the simple term “feminist” contradicts their transgender ideology (which is annoying for transgenders as feminist theorists came before them and its their terminology that they hijacked and distorted).
    But coining the insult “TERF” is clever: if transgenders attacked openly feminism as a whole, their ideology itself would openly appear misogynistic. So they need to say they aren’t against “feminism”, but just against a specific form of feminism… radical feminism, intellectually rigorous feminism, the only branch of feminism which really looks like Feminism, which is respectful of and grateful for the core and history of feminism. Then, telling liberal feminists, the “good (sloppy) feminists”, that they shouldn’t associate and talk and think with and like “TERF”, is telling them: “Disregard and forget the rudiments of feminism! Stop being, however loosely, a feminist! Dissociate from hardcore feminists thinking with feminist analysis instead of transgender ideology!” And good liberal feminists like Lindy West, very obediently, recoil as soon as they hear the bad word lest they be labeled with it, as good wives of the good old days recoiled in nice obedience to their husbands as soon as they were threatened to be labeled “unladylike”, or a “whore”, or “hysterical”, or a “harridan”.

    The word “TERF” doesn’t target a special brand of feminism, it’s not only “divide and conquer” among feminists. It’s the very root of feminism which is under attack and stifled.
    And, “very strangely”, it’s all done by transgenders MtF, in other words people born with penises. Is there any coincidence in that?

    • jo

      I defintely agree that this is an attack on feminism as a whole and outspoken women in general. It works so well because not only are women used to fearfully listen to and obey male humans, but now these “activists” also use the shield of “most oppressed”, so these women might not even see the dynamic for what it is.

  • Kudos to Ditum for not trashing West, and locating the real source/s of the problem/s.

    Good example of managing to *not* trash West, and remain understanding of West’s unretweet as the decision of a woman living within patriarchy, whilst articulating disappointment with West’s approach.

    Ditum even manages to give a shout out to some of West’s work, rather than combing West’s oevre for (a) material to ridicule or (b) evidence that West is somehow a massive bigot, or Not Really A Feminist.

    • Margaret McCarroll

      Sarah Ditum is a class act and an exceptional writer!! great to see an article by her here at Feminist Current

  • Rabbit

    Just wanted to say I see a lot of my friends jumping at the term, and it’s pretty unsettling. Denouncing “terfs” at the behest of het men. Always ends the dialogue, always demonizes women (when was the last time you heard a man called that?), always ignores men as the perpetrator of violence.

  • anaeli

    I hate a love-hate relationship with Jezebel. I read a lot of their articles, some of them are actually good, but sometimes they make me mad, like when they tout their ‘sex-positive’ stance on stuff like Nicki Minaj’s new Anaconda art or when they/their readership talk about how women use make-up/high heels/other enhancers for “themselves.” A lot of articles also have bad references, including ones written by Lindy West, and people get shunned by other more loyal readers when they dare to ask for more references.

    Though I have a confession to make, I did not even know what “TERF” meant until I got dragged in a very fast paced Twitter ‘debate’ about Elliot Rodger and “TERF” just started being thrown around a lot. Sigh.

  • Start calling people ‘terfphobic’ on Twitter? Dear goddess, I hate Twitter. It reduces everything into an oversimplified bumper sticker slogan.

  • Trans-exclusionary radical feminist here and proud of it, thank you very much, boys. I want a TERF t-shirt. I like the sound of it, turf. Turf, as in, hell yeah, this is MY turf and you boys can’t be in it. Not “may” not, but “can” not, as in not possible in reality.

    Science excludes these mental unfortunates, not me. Science also makes their scam possible using surgery and chemicals; Surgically and Chemically Altered Men, or SCAMs. At this point, how much more badly could it go for us if we called them a SCAM every time they called us a TERF? At least it’s reality based. Too lowering-myself-to-their-level? Maybe. Or, maybe it’s time to grow spines, drop the queensbury rules and get down in the trenches with them.

    I think these boys’ day in the sun is on the wane. Here’s a little exchange I had on a progressive news site recently that ran an article gushing about that bright and beautiful “woman,” Janet Mock. I commented and braced myself for the attack, but it didn’t happen:

    Mar Iguana • 6 days ago

    Cover your delicate eyes, male2trans people, who claim they are really women. I’m going to spew some discriminatory hate speech: Uterus, menstruation, lactation, vulva,vagina, womb, cervix, ovulation, contractions, fallopian tubes, abortion, miscarriage, preclampsia, xx sex chromosomes, vulva amputation, clitoridectomy, episiotomy, cesarean section, hysterectomy, tubal ligation, birth control, gynecology, misogyny, and so much more. You know, all the fun, sexy, frilly, pink, glittery, glamorous beauty stuff people born with two x chromosomes get to play with, Wheee.


    Share ›

    Derek_Franklin Mar Iguana • 6 days ago

    that’s funny, all I read was whole lot of ignorance. Better luck next time!


    Share ›
    Mar Iguana Derek_Franklin • 5 days ago

    Funny ha ha or funny weird? Weird as in male squeamish disgust with female bodily functions, of which they would prefer to remain ignorant? That kind of ignorance?

    Speaking of ignorance, may I assume you have not read his book, which was originally entitled “Fish Food,” fish being the m2t word for actual women, a pejorative term for how such men perceive the smell of female genitals? “Realness” is the m2t word for successfully passing as a member of the opposite sex, also known as lying. In “Redefining Realness,” he promotes child prostitution as an affirming experience for m2t youth. If you have read his book, I have to assume you agree with that.

    It seemed to kill further comment, there being only one more after mine, and, in part, it wasn’t the usual progressive “can’t we all just get along you hateful woman you?” kumbaya crap:

    gregorylkruse • 5 days ago

    I think you should just accept what you are and make the best of it. If getting radical cosmetic surgeries and treatments help you do that, being that they are available and you can afford them, you should do it. What makes me uncomfortable is the idea that because Janet is beautiful, smart, and transgender, she is now the authority on what is real. That’s pretty arrogant, and it does disservice to those on the gender spectrum who are trying to make the best of their nature without the benefit of beauty, brains, and opportunity.

    Arrogant indeed!

    • anaeli

      I was not so lucky. Today I commented on a Jezebel article, criticizing a guy who dresses as certain women, because it felt like he was mocking them. I got flamed so badly, by other women no less, it made me seriously consider abandoning the account I put together there. When I said that a particular flamer was trying to silence me, she retorted that she was also a woman. As if a woman can’t silence other women. Wheeew.
      I am not mentally prepared for this, please teach me! Whenever I think of this incident, all that goes through my mind is “Don’t comment again, don’t comment again…”

      • “I am not mentally prepared for this, please teach me!”

        Sorry anaeli, I got nothin’. I probably got lucky on Truth-Out because it may be the first time the subject of M2Ts has been brought up there (because Mock is just so gosh darned feminine and sexay) or it’s not being monitored by M2T thought police. Yet. About all I could teach you is how to get banned for being a hateful transphobe. I’ve been very successful at that for years.

        It may seem the M2Ts are achieving acceptance, but if you read comment sections in more mainstream media, there are many people saying the notion of a man becoming a woman is just looney. I want these “successful” M2Ts to increase their visibility because the more they talk their craziness, the more people will understand these boys just aren’t right in the head.

        A good sanity saver is the GenderTrender blog, where you can safely comment about M2T lunacy. The owner, GallusMag, has a real good bead on the scam these boys are trying to pull off. Right now, there’s a good post about an article in The New Yorker magazine, “What Is A Woman?” by Michelle Goldberg. Although it’s skewed towards being pro-trans, it is at least a little fairer to radical feminist opposition than usual.

        I think Goldberg is just being cautious (who can blame her?), but she does kind of allow the M2Ts to speak for themselves, exposing in their own words their logic fails and arrogance. I liked that she ended the article with this quote by a M2T informing radical feminists that: “I am going to have to say, it’s your place to stay out of spaces where transgender male-to-female people go. It’s not our job to avoid you.” Yes SIR!

        • Mar Iguana,

          Just wanted to say: awesome! You’re original post on the Janet Mock article is fantastic – direct, concise and logically indisputable. I love your strategic thinking around letting these folks have visibility in order to show their true colours.

          On tough days it’s really useful to be reminded that we’re playing the long game here.

          Thank you.

        • anaeli

          Thank you so much for your response! I just read the article and I was completely dumbfounded by some points. I found the part about Michfest particularly saddening.

  • pisaquari

    Dear libfems/‘nice’ lady-lefties,

    They aren’t done with you yet. It isn’t enough that your oppression got delivered ass-end through patriarchy’s front door as privilege. The demand for more voice, more political power, more sexual/romantic relationships, more fracturing in the name of trans-solidarity will increase. Reproductive rights cannot survive this paradigm shift, violence against women cannot survive this paradigm shift, women’s health cannot survive this paradigm shift. YOU will not survive this before long.

    Keep at it. Your neo-boyfriends are playing you in a passive-aggressive game of woman-hating. They’ll break up with you after they’re done chiseling feminisms’ notch into their bedposts. You’ll see.

    • ozzie

      ”Dear libfems/‘nice’ lady-lefties, They aren’t done with you yet.”
      Absolutely. It’s happened already: radical feminists are now no longer the only targets. A few weeks ago they started threatening and harassing a ”feminist” pornographer (Lily Cade?) for daring to be a lesbian (because not liking penis is now transphobia). Yesterday I saw a tweet saying bisexual women who don’t date trans people ‘should have their heads caved in with a rock’. Libfems are so often complicit in the abuse hurled at radicals because they never thought they’d be the receiving end.

      • Henke

        This i’ve seen become a growing issue on the web. Mostly it seems to be centered around people who align along the lines of queer theory/trans theory and targets actual homosexuals with all kinds of shitty attitues just because homoSEXuals (these people seem to belive its homoGENDERuals) don’t actually feel a deep sexual attraction to the opposite sex.
        It’s so disgraceful how they sit and justifies their bullying and abuse with their abstract thinking thata is far removed from the real physical world that I wonder if they even belive themselves and what they are talking about.
        It’s rude politics.

        • ozzie

          “It’s so disgraceful how they sit and justifies their bullying and abuse with their abstract thinking thata is far removed from the real physical world that I wonder if they even belive themselves and what they are talking about.”
          If they really did believe themselves, their logic would be applied indiscriminately and straight men would also be a target of their threats and vitriol, but thus far, I’ve never seen that: they only attack lesbians, a marginalized and silenced group of women who already experience corrective rape at the hands of males.

          • Henke

            Very true. Thx for pointing that out.

  • Margaret McCarroll

    there’s such a dearth of nasty, vicious slurs, eh – terf pffft – so limiting – as gender is now ‘fluid’ as are the brain and identity in general, we should have the right to self label and engineer our very own nasty, vicious slur acronym – for example SPURF – Sex-Positive Urging Radical Feminism or SMURF – Single Mother Urging Radical Feminism – if someone calls me a terf, i will immediately correct him saying ‘i don’t identify as a terf any longer; please refer to me as a SURF (Senior Urging Radical Feminism) – remember we are all special snowflakes, of which NO TWO ARE THE SAME – if there can be more than 2000 gender designation on facebook we can handle 7 billion different nasty vicious individualized slur acronyms and no one will have to smear another with the same brush

    • Bohemianwriter1

      So what is the difference between “radical feminism” and “normal feminism”?

      What is the difference between transphobic women and misogynist men?

      Care to elaborate?

      • Morag

        Try google. Or a book or two.

        • Meh

          Hell, try Wikipedia. Try anything.

  • huha

    The thing that pisses me off about those same MtT who use “TERF” is that they demand access to women-only spaces and clinics. The demand free pap smears and mammograms they do not need because they are male. They want to take away the very few resources for poor women.

    • Pap smears? Do they have a cervix to test?

      What I’m not understanding is why anyone is going along with this charade. It’s all well and good to identify with the “feminine gender.” But gender and anatomy are not the same thing. I’m not understanding why anyone writing legislation would not make, or understand, the distinction. How the hell did we even get to this place? The answer, IMO, is: male privilege and misogyny. Apparently both are rampant in the trans community.

      • huha

        Actually in many countries they can officially change their SEX on paper. Biological sex has legally become an “identity.” Gender and sex are conflated. It messes with criminal records too. When a crime is committed and the DNA test shows that the perpetrator is male, but that person is registered as female, the police has a harder time finding him. It also messes with statistics, health care, etc.

        Basically, gender identity is now more important than biological reality.

        • huha
          • You’re right. That second link is truly disturbing. I’d like to see the trans supporter(s) explain how providing a trans teen with captive born women victims is a civil right. Why do they think that born men’s rights trump born women’s rights? Male privilege and normalization of VAW perhaps?

            I hope the victims sue the state and receive a very large settlement.

          • Holy shit, huha, that second article is particularly disturbing, as you say.

            “Male activists defended the youth by proposing that targeting women and girls for violence is a natural response for males who have survived abuse by other males.”

            And this is the so-called “defence” for this behaviour:

            “The teen’s previous assaults include multiple acts of battery against juvenile females, stabbing a female juvenile with a fork, breaking a female staffer’s jaw, blinding a female staffer by repeated kicks to the head, and smearing his feces.”

            See, it’s all “natural”.

            It’s just sinking in now the extent to which this kind of trans activism (I’m not going to lump ALL transpersons and transactivists into one monolith, despite the ascendency of this particular kind of violent action and rhetoric) is the new face of male supremacy. It’s chilling how insidious woman hating is in this world.

          • I’m horrified to read this. This is the same teenager I had just posted this article about (which said nothing about the violent assaults and the teenager having already blinded a woman). It seems like two different people from the different descriptions.

          • huha

            Oh my. The author of the NYT article is defending this violent male.

            “She was periodically violent to staff and girls in the youth centers she was sent to, court documents show. Connecticut cited that history of violence, and a need to protect others, in isolating Jane in an adult prison beginning in April. “It was devastating for her,” says her lawyer, Aaron J. Romano.

            Oh wow. Violently assaulting girls and blinding a woman, breaking her jaw, almost killing her. No big deal! Just brush it off, Nick. He is devastated that he no longer has access to potential victims.

            This is an example of the hypocrisy of liberals. Male violence is only acceptable if the man/boy says he “feels like a woman.”
            It really pisses me off. The author just dismisses the safety of women and girls, coz you know men’s feelings are more important. Even if a girl did those terrible things, I still wouldn’t want her to jeopardize the safety of others. But this person identifies as trans, so violent behavior is totally okay. I’m sure that if he was female nobody would be defending him.

            Juvenile detention is obviously horrifying. What those kids need, including “Jane Doe”, is support and therapy, not punishment.

          • Realist

            Some of the kids in juvenile detention need therapy and support only, but others certainly do need and deserve punishment, it depends on the crime and the motives and mental state.

          • In Nick’s article, he gives very detailed information on the extensive sexual violence “Jane” suffered as a child, but Jane’s violence towards others is not detailed at all. The way he writes it sounds like she got momentarily frustrated. He included no information to the effect that she beat a woman up so bad that she blinded or permanently disabled that woman. His readers (like me) have no way of knowing this, the only reason I now know if from reading the links on this page.

        • It seems to me that biology and anatomy are still used to oppress born women. But for some reason, born men get a pass.

          So, basically, trans activists are a hate group masquerading as a civil rights group.

        • Henke


          I see this in the light of industrial social decay. Its so going downhill for us industrial humans right now on so many levels, this being one of them.

    • andeväsen

      It’s unclear. ‘Neovaginal’ cancers are common, so trans women with ‘neovaginas’ probably would benefit from looking out for bleeding/discharge and seeking help if so. However specifically taking smears from the top of the neovagina may/may not offer the same benefits as cervical screening in terms of detection rates, false negatives/false positives etc. The degree of benefit is unknown because the numbers are much smaller.

      It is true that SRS seems to create medical problems, e.g. increased risk of cancer. GID psychiatrists do accept that SRS doesn’t always alleviate dysphoria. I’m not sure if a cost-effectiveness study has been done re net benefits and harms on a public health level.

      • From what I’ve been reading “neovaginas” sound like a really, really bad idea. They, apparently, don’t have the cleansing properties of a natural vagina and all sorts of nasty bugs can take up residence. Isn’t human vivisection considered unethical?

        • andeväsen

          The procedure/effects may be improved upon in the future.

          It still begs the question: why should there be such a drastic procedure at all. But currently, what society/the medical establishment offers people whose own conception of themselves doesn’t fit with their bodies is name change +/- hormone therapy +/- SRS plus further entrenchment of gender roles. As there is nothing concretely better to offer individuals, I think that package is here to stay for a while.

          • kesher

            I find it very baffling that such drastic surgery is not only allowable but is promoted as necessary health care. There are men who fantasize about being castrated. I’m sure they can find unethical doctors willing to do it, but can they get that covered by their insurance?

            I’ve always preferred to avoid medical intervention as much as possible, so I also find it baffling, this insistence that it’s good for people to go on hormones for their entire lives for something that’s, at most, a mental disorder. What happens to transpeople if they can no longer access their desired hormones, especially in the event that they’ve gotten full SRS? I guess both transmen and transwomen would go into early menopause, because that never causes health problems.

            I also don’t understand HRT treatment for male-bodied individuals who are in their mid-40s or older. Are they given hormones in line with a menopausal/post-menopausal woman? Or are they given a full dose without any concern for their age?

          • andeväsen

            “I find it very baffling that such drastic surgery is not only allowable but is promoted as necessary health care.”

            The rationale for this avenue in managing gender dysphoria is unique in medicine. It is hard to relate this approach to the approach taken with other dysphorias.

          • BK

            the procedure has a very explicit history; it was created as a way to “fix” intersex children.

          • howe

            it was also created to “fix” homosexuals

          • Henke

            Ah yes, I read somewhere that they began experimenting with this in the apertheid regime in south africa but I never found a good source to verify that. Do you happen to know anything abut this by aany chance ?

        • Meh

          Absolutely, it’s horrible. ‘Neovaginas’ need to be douched every day to prevent fungal/bacterial infection. It’s the daily, and lifelong, maintenance of a wound.

          And don’t even get me started on testosterone ‘treatments’ for women. Holy moly… it’s medical insanity.

          But at the end of the day, focusing on ‘terfs’ seems like a far more pressing issue… ugh.

          • yrba

            Indeed. How dare any lowly women stand in the way of men trying whatever they want. 🙂

        • Erika

          For some a SRS is the only way to feel better and some can self lubricate, not many, damn doctors.
          A cancer check is important for every one, a breast can get cancer, it isn´t important what chromosomes it has.
          Body dysphoria is real, it needs threadment, and not, oh an insane person, better do a half ass job, better give them some chemicals who do more damage than gain.
          Most SRS are done by male doctors, they only see what they need (to sleep with a woman), a …hole (how bad is that) , especially when they think of the patient as an insane man. So they doesn´t do more than an f…hole.

          • howe

            “Most SRS are done by male doctors, they only see what they need (to sleep with a woman), a [fuck-]hole”


            the entire premise that the gaping wounds created by SRS have ANYTHING to do with actual women and their vaginas is inherently misogynistic.

          • andeväsen

            “the entire premise that the gaping wounds created by SRS have ANYTHING to do with actual women and their vaginas is inherently misogynistic”

            Going further upstream, the diagnosis itself (at least in children), is based not just on the feeling of being the sex opposite to the one assigned at birth as gender clinicans are at pains to explain, but also on features such as “adopting the clothing or hairstyle of the opposite sex” and “intense desire to participate in stereotypical pastimes of the other sex”. In other words, the diagnosis itself is based on the clinician, parents, child and state/insurance company all having confidence in a system of sexual apartheid.

          • Realist

            Breast cancer occurs in 1% of bio-males versus 12% of bio-females.

          • huha

            Not quite right.
            “Breast cancer is 100 times more common in women than in men. Most cases of male breast cancer are detected in men between the ages of 60 and 70, although the condition can develop in men of any age. A man’s lifetime risk of developing breast cancer is about 1/10 of 1%, or one in 1,000.”

          • Realist

            Yes, you are correct about male breast cancer rates. I should have written 0.1% The point simply being, that while I can not fault anyone for getting checked for cancer, limited resources should be prioritized for those more likely to get cancer, ie born-women in the case of breast cancer. (I will correct my comment, thanks.)

          • Realist

            My comment should have read, “breast cancer occurs in 0.1% of bio-males versus 12% of bio-females.” (not sure how to edit the original.)

    • bella_cose

      I’d like to know how they got insurance companies (in the U.S.) to cover their surgery, since it’s basically a cosmetic procedure.

      I wonder how the insurance companies would respond if women started demanding that their cosmetic surgeries be covered, citing BDD. On the inside, they identify as being 35, but they’re actually 65 on the outside. Why shouldn’t they get their treatment covered too. I bet insurance companies, and all the politicians supporting coverage for SRS would have a hard time explianing that.

    • Bohemianwriter1

      I can imagine terms like “TERF” is being used in specific settings, where the extremist may have provoked such reaction.

      The term “TERF” is far less harmful than being beaten to death for not conforming to the set “values” of the binary culture we have created….

      TERF is no more derogatory than chickenhawk or fundie…

      • Meghan Murphy

        Yeah but men are the ones beating up transwomen. Funny how they are never called ‘TERF’ though, huh…

        • Morag

          No, there’s no special name for the men who beat and murder transwomen. They are just “men” who commit everyday violence. Women and children are their primary targets for sexual violence, but, in a pinch, certain types of other men will do: gay and gender non-conforming men (including transwomen), men who are marginalized along racial and class lines, and men who are prostituted. Transwomen who are victimized by other men largely fall into these demographics.

          We never real hear about violence perpetrated against transitioned men who are white, middle-class (often with jobs in IT), and heterosexual. But, we DO hear a lot about these same men (who usually pretend they are lesbians) perpetrating sexual violence against women, children, and other queer men. I mean, we hear about this a lot! Which, of course, isn’t surprising, because they are men, and they do the things that men traditionally do.

          Naturally, many women don’t want them around in female-only spaces any more than they want other, non-trans men around. For this, these women are called, by queer activists and liberal feminists, TERFs.

          But, as Bohemianwriter1 has so nicely pointed out: we’re just asking for it. By simply knowing what we know, we make men so angry, and we “provoke” them into calling us names. Unlike violent males — who rape, beat and murder — we women deserve a whole litany of violent slurs (and threats) against us. That’s how TERF works!

  • C

    I commented with a link to this blog on a post on a feminist subreddit asking for good feminist blogs–I even very diplomatically put the caveat that I know not everyone is comfortable with radical feminism/might not necessarily agree with everything written here (I mean…who expects to go to a blog and find everything on it aligns 100% with everything they think anyway?) but I thought everyone would still be able to find worthwhile stuff.

    I immediately got a very aggressive response from someone saying I was using “nice coded language” to avoid admitting this was a blog full of evil TERFs. So…congratulations, ladies! We’re evil!

    • anaeli

      It was in the news the other day that a Satanist temple is using the Hobby Lobby ruling to get women exempted from compulsory consultations before abortion. I think, since we’re evil too, it is safe to say that Satan is on our side too (women’s side) so we must be fighting for the right evil cause!

      Joking aside, people use really, really vile language about feminists who don’t buy into the whole “support drag/trans no matter what” mentality. Just today I’ve been called a rude, ridiculous, asinine and nasty a**hole. In retrospect, it is sorta funny, in a sad way.

    • “I even very diplomatically put the caveat that I know not everyone is comfortable with radical feminism/might not necessarily agree with everything written here (I mean…who expects to go to a blog and find everything on it aligns 100% with everything they think anyway?)”

      I guess there is no way to win. This makes me think that as radfems (at least in some circumstances) we shouldn’t bother with the caveats and apologies. As you experienced, with some people if they are going to be offended they are going to be offended no matter how much you apologize for it or be polite about your viewpoint. They might even be “tipped” off by our apologies that something about us is going to be threatening to their way of life (and they have got that right!).

  • huha

    Has anybody noticed that a huuugge number of those abusive trans “activists” on twitter have animated porn images of women as their profile photo, and sometimes they post porn-like images of themselves (ridiculous stereotypical provocative poses, licking their lips, etc). They also defend porn. It shows what their view of women is. They see women (and themselves) as sex objects. That’s what womanhood is to them.

    • C.K. Egbert

      In my short time of looking through transgender blogs, I’ve noticed that sometimes their core values align with sex-positivity–or they align themselves with it directly–so I wouldn’t find that too surprising.

    • I was reading the Defending the Terf thread and, in particular, a conversation about the high number of MtF people who are killed in the sex trade. I don’t have a lot of experience with trans community, but those that I have met have been sex workers/prostitutes. I also saw a documentary a few years back about a community of Hijra in India, ALL of whom were selling sexual acts to men to survive and to save money for sex reassignment surgeries. (I am more comfortable saying “sex-worker” than saying “selling sex” because I don’t think that what is being sold is actually sex and I think that if it’s work, it’s not sex, but anyway…)

      So I am wondering (honestly – if anyone has any thoughts or information I’d appreciate it) how much of a connection there is between a MtF trans identity and identity formation as a prostituted boy/man serving men?

      The Hijra in this film (I’m sorry I can’t remember the title, but it was made in the 90s by a German production company) longed for the female body parts that they could obtain through surgery even while they lived with a constant threat of violence and death from the men who paid to use them.

      (In contrast to the film “Normal” where Tom Wilkinson, a middle aged, working class white man, announces to his wife of 25 years (Jessica Lange) that he suffers from gender identity disorder and that he wants to change sex (which he does). And Jessica gets over it and they live happily ever after. Simple!)

      A bit of a digression, I know, and please forgive my semi-informed and semi-formed thoughts, but it does seems that there might be a lot of cross over with the normalization of the sex industry/demands of johns in this particular identity.

      For one thing, both camps apparently start meld when it comes to attacking feminists.

      • andeväsen

        Hijra community members castrate their ‘initiates’, who are often young runnaways, often minors. It’s something like MGM – not merely circumcision, but mutilation of male genitalia.

        As most join the community as children, becoming hijra is a way for already marginalised, poor, exploited male children to get by as male prostitutes for richer men.

        It appears quite a different narrative from first-world ‘transgender children’.

        • “As most join the community as children, becoming hijra is a way for already marginalised, poor, exploited male children to get by as male prostitutes for richer men.”

          Oh well, we’d best not critique that because that would be denying the agency of the children and disrespecting their choices and stuff…

          • andeväsen

            Reminds me of Noam Chomsky’s comments on pornography where he compared wanting to improve conditions in pornography for actors to making child labour better for child sweat shop workers.

            Needless to say his lefty dude fan base was disappointed in him. Cue headlines on the lines of “Is Chomsky senile?” etc.

        • This is an interesting point and what you describe happening in India is horrific. I wouldn’t necessarily say that it’s that different a narrative than the trans* narrative in the West. The capitalist medical industrial complex is preying on people who have dysphoria for whatever reason, selling them these surgeries and hormones. I don’t know whether the dysphoria is from sexual abuse or neglect as a child but there are a lot of very vulnerable people out there in the West too (vulnerability doesn’t just come from economics).

          We may not have the economic desperation of India but we have a ready supply of both female and male child sexual abuse survivors (of course we have double the amount of girls) and other emotionally vulnerable people. Extreme lack of emotional support can be just as bad as the extreme lack of money experienced by these kids in India. Boys/men who have been sexually abused often feel “feminized,” that is to say that they feel lower down in the hierarchy i.e. “like a woman” They have been subjected to the “women’s role” and dominated sexually. I could see how these feelings could be latched onto and readily misinterpreted by doctors who look in the DSM and think these kids/people have “gender dysphoria.”

          I believe that this idea was hinted at in this column:

          Not to mention that, if we are looking at things honestly, in a lot of families, particularly if sexual abuse was perpetrated by a father or close family member parents would rather not deal with that abuse at all costs, they would much rather look at something else as the problem that is ailing their child.

          Incidentally I’ve also seen extreme genital physical mutilation, as you described above (“MGM”), used as a literary device/metaphor to describe child sexual abuse. I saw this in the Swedish vampire movie, “Let the Right One In” so this is a commonly acknowledged idea and not just by radfems. I almost wonder if child sexual abuse is the emotional equivalent of inter-sex children, where society then feels the need to make that boy into a girl because with the child’s emotional reactions to the abuse and strong feelings of having been dominated, he doesn’t fit into the boy gender box properly.

          NB I’m not saying that all or even most trans* people in the West are like this but I do question some of the things that go on here.

        • “Hijra community members castrate their ‘initiates’, who are often young runnaways, often minors.”

          With Canadian runaways and street kids, a high proportion of our street kids are victims of abuse at home and that is why they are running away from home. If Indian runaways are anything like Canadian runaways and street kids I would guess the same high incidence of child abuse would hold true for Indian runaways, that a lot of these children were victims of abuse at home as well. That said of course the extreme economic vulnerability in India does make it a different situation in other ways and can’t be discounted.

          • andeväsen

            I wonder. The number of undocumented, unacoompanied minors living on the streets of Indian cities is huge and they are vulnerable to many abuses.

      • Thanks for bringing this up. Trans* women are always brought up rather disingenuously in prostitution debates, “Lots of trans* women work in prostitution.” And then everyone says, “Ohhh the trans* people awww.”

        On the surface it looks like they are being empathetic but is is upsetting that the empathy doesn’t run very deep at all. People claim to care about trans* people but it’s OK to have paid rape of trans* people ? It’s so disingenuous the way trans* people are approached, right down to the male violence and hate that results in the most murders/rapes with instead the feminists being blamed for that violence. The bottom line is that neoliberals don’t even care about trans* people, they are just a tool for the patriarchy and neoliberalism to keep itself intact and safe from feminist criticism and dismantling.

  • Renna Shesso

    The bullying, the shaming, the name-calling, the mansplaining…
    One can surgically change whatever one pleases, but what incision removes the attitude, the massive sense of Male Privilege?

  • mauritia

    I don’t blame Lindy West at all here– the culture of the internet nowadays is such that she’d probably get harassed if she didn’t make that knee-jerk response.

    As someone who *does* solidly support trans people, I find it incredibly frustrating how often the TERF or transphobic label gets slapped on to people for certain beliefs and behaviors that have little to do with trans issues like being anti-sex work, supporting some second-wave ideals, reading Andrea Dworkin, etc.

    • “As someone who *does* solidly support trans people..”

      Just out of curiosity, why do you solidly support men usurping women’s internal and external space?

      • howe

        there’s something there about the word “support”– most radfems actually do have some empathy and sympathy for trans people because if you’re a feminist it’s pretty certain you are not and never really were ok with “your” gender. We have sympathy for suffering, especially suffering caused by patriarchy’s various mindF*&#s.

        BUT that is not the same as materially “supporting”– it just isn’t our job to support them. Our rape shelters were created for women, not men who want to be women, and it’s ok for us to have sympathy for their suffering without taking it upon ourselves to materially support them with the resources we worked so hard to set aside for women.

        It’s not our job to stop everything and cater to them, wipe their tears, be their shoulders to cry on, the builder of their protections– we want protections for all, but women’s protection is what we are dedicating our movement to. How do they not get that?

        • “there’s something there about the word “support”– most radfems actually do have some empathy and sympathy for trans people because if you’re a feminist it’s pretty certain you are not and never really were ok with “your” gender. We have sympathy for suffering, especially suffering caused by patriarchy’s various mindF*&#s.”

          This is well said. Radical feminists are the ones who are saying that there is nothing wrong with transgender people, that it is society and its insistence on shoving them and everyone else into the gender boxes that is the problem.

          I agree with what you say about support and also we are being asked to “support” them by agreeing for them to be raped by cis het men in prostitution and mutilated. We are being asked to “support” them by shoving them into a gender box and “support” the idea that there is something wrong with them that they need fixing, rather than acknowledge that society is what needs fixing. If we oppose the “trans*activists” who really taking many actions that hurt them we are accused of being unsupportive.

    • LunaMinor

      The Andrea Dworkin thing is SO frustrating, especially as she had a compassionate approach to trans issues, and even argued for trans people to have access to SRS.

      But you know, she was a second-waver and not “sexy” so she must be a TERF, right

      • Exactly. Andrea Dworkin supported trans* people and SRS, not to mention this was at a time when it was an unpopular thing to do to support them. This was around the time when Janice Raymond’s “The Transsexual Empire” was widely and positively reviewed. Those were the acceptable views at the time, that was considered normal not transphobic and yet Andrea Dworkin supported trans* people in spite of that.

        This reminds me of what Meghan mentioned about bell hooks being now painted as white because she is not going along with third wavers neoliberal “sex positive” agenda. Third wavers can’t afford bell hooks to be black because this disrupts their argument that black women are being empowered by their extreme sexual objectification and we should all sexually objectify ourselves the same way. In the same way third wavers and transactivists (the majority of whom do not actually care about trans* people-they are advocating paid rape of trans* people including trans* teenagers) can’t afford for Dworkin to be viewed as accepting of trans* people because she disrupts their argument with her stance on other matters.

        I also can’t help but feel that a lot of the vitriol towards Dworkin is rooted in classism. Andrea Dworkin wasn’t classy. She was a brilliant overweight woman who didn’t censor herself or use classy euphemisms when talking about the abuse she endured. She was extremely frank.

        • Missfit

          Andrea Dworkin was a highly intelligent woman who dedicated her life to the cause of women and I’m pissed when I hear her used as an example of feminism gone mad/wrong. I agree with you that classism has a part to play in the negativity directed at her.

          Dworkin always made the effort to understand a woman’s point of view. She also wrote compassionately of men raised under patriarchy (accusation of ‘man-hater’ unfounded, but then anyone who dare name male violence risks being labeled a man-hater). She was always there to stand alongside the victimized woman. Some accuse her of victimizing women, but as she said, to recognize victimization when we see it, to name it and to work for its end is not weakness, it’s strength. Hey faux-feminists, if women were not victimized by sexism and male violence, there wouldn’t be a need for feminism to start with!

    • “As someone who *does* solidly support trans people, I find it incredibly frustrating how often the TERF or transphobic label gets slapped on to people for certain beliefs and behaviours that have little to do with trans issues like being anti-sex work, supporting some second-wave ideals, reading Andrea Dworkin, etc.”

      Yes, I remember debating with a few Facebook acquaintances about prostitution and someone assumed I was “transphobic”(as you mentioned, basically synonymous with the slur “TERF”) because I was against prostitution so I said, “Look WAVAW is against prostitution and they accept trans* people.” These people see things in very black and white terms. They have their enemies and for anyone wading in who doesn’t know about the third wave versus second wave (radfem) divide, you may be just expressing your own views and have no idea that there is this divide and they will mark you out and assign you to a “side” even if you had no idea there were “sides.”

      They don’t like people with too much empathy because they know where that is going to go, you aren’t going to be a spineless doormat who is easy to control. They are on the lookout and hyperaware of who is and isn’t going to be a spineless follower, and who will buy into the neoliberalism and do what they want. The whole thing is so hollow and thoroughly “phony.” They’ll turn against you if you express too much empathy towards prostituted women, they can spot real empathy a mile off and they hate it, because it threatens to expose them. I’m not saying all thirdwavers are like this, I’d like to believe that a lot of them simply don’t know better but I might just be a hopeless idealist.

  • BrylCreamQueen

    I am baffled at the comments aimed at trans people here. Even if we all agree that mutilating your body to uphold terrible gender ideals is sad, I don’t think trans people themselves or their surgeries should be the focus of that critique. (Likewise, I wouldn’t raise individual cases of brown folk bleaching their skin as being problematic about them but rather problematic about the system they are forced to comply with.)

    Also, unless everyone here also thinks homosexuality is bullshit, I find it perplexing that we accept as fact that there is something “innate” about being disgusted by other people’s bodies, thus dictating sexual preferences, but that this shouldn’t apply to our own bodies. I know so many gay men who describe their reaction to women’s bodies as “disgust” and so many lesbians who say the same about men’s bodies. As in, they literally recoil in horror at the thought of being sexually intimate with the opposite sex. Why is it so difficult to believe that someone might be just as troubled by their own body? Why is it so difficult to believe that we are hammered with gender ideals from such a young age and that some of us might be attracted to the lifestyle presented as the gender opposite of our own? If you are a young child, and the lifestyle that you are attracted to is advertised as exclusively feminine, then obviously you will think “I must REALLY be a woman or why else would I want that life?” Yes, eradicating strict gender ideals is the solution to such a problem but in the meantime we mustn’t problematize people who are acting in a completely rational way to a world in which strict gender ideals are a reality (which is the case for most people, cis or trans). In our world, people are punished in horrific ways for failing to comply with gender ideals. It’s rational (in such a world) that if you don’t fit into one gender ideal, you’ll do whatever it takes to fit into the other.

    Regarding West, I’m not sure if anyone here is familiar with her work but she is one of the best feminist writers in pop culture today. I really don’t think her reaction to the news that “Ditum is trans-exclusive” was a capitulation to someone’s manhood. That’s not her style. Like many of us, she probably just finds terf to be horrible. Just because we don’t agree with you about trans people doesn’t mean we are hell bent on kneeling before a man! That you came to such a conclusion (especially about WEST!) is just pathetic.

    • bella_cose

      West’s reaction should have been to use her brain and think for herself. Had she done that, with a teensy bit of research, she would have found accusing Sarah Ditum of being a terf was not based in actual fact. So, no, I would have to say the conclusion reached was quite reasonable, and not pathetic at all.

      Most of the gay men I know, and have known, have had sex with women too, and don’t think it’s disgusting, they just aren’t turned on by it. Same with the lesbians I know. That’s just my experience though.

      • BrylCreamQueen

        Right. With the “teensy-ist” bit of research, one finds that Ditum says stuff like this:
        and is sympathetic to people like Bindel, whose comments about trans people Ditum describes as “facetious” rather than, I don’t know, just plain terrible and transphobic?:

        That some gay men and lesbians are not disgusted by the thought of intimacy with the opposite sex does not change the fact that many are disturbed/ disgusted by that thought. And that some gays/ lesbians have had sex with the opposite sex and weren’t significantly disgusted with it does not change the fact that they felt like there was something “off” about it. I have never been attracted to men, EVER, and I don’t know if it’s biologically innate or social or whatever the reason but I do know that I identify as a lesbian and I’ll be damned if anyone tries to claim otherwise . I’ve had the experience many times when my (conservative, hispanic) family thought I REALLY am not lesbian. . . something wrong happened along the way and that if it never happened I’d be hetero. I’m sure in a world where gender wasn’t a big deal and penises and vaginas weren’t such a central part of people’s identities, I’d probably not care if my S.O was a woman or man. But that doesn’t change my reality which is that I am in a world where gender is a big deal and penises and vaginas are a central part of people’s identities and so I am such a way that I want to be with those people that are girls and have vaginas. It is very easy to see how this can be extrapolated to trans experiences. I’m all for revising strict gender ideals. But I don’t see why this calls for writing off experiences that have been shaped and determined by a world in which strict gender ideals are currently the reality.

        • ozzie

          This Sherlock-worthy detective work you did on Ditum isn’t the ‘gotcha’ you think is. In the first link she’s stating that women have the right to association and to self-organize in female-only spaces free of male interference and surveillance. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this. Biologically female women obviously have different experiences than a male socialized and treated as a man under a climate of male supremacy.
          The second link is pushing back against the practice of a very marginalized voice (Bindel is both a woman and a lesbian) being repressed, silenced, and no-platformed because she upsets the hegemony. Again, absolutely nothing wrong with this.

          • andeväsen

            “This Sherlock-worthy detective work you did on Ditum isn’t the ‘gotcha’ you think is. In the first link she’s stating that women have the right to association and to self-organize in female-only spaces free of male interference and surveillance. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this. Biologically female women obviously have different experiences than a male socialized and treated as a man under a climate of male supremacy.”

            This is the crux of it. To us ‘TERF’s, it is obvious that there are shared experiences, shared oppressions, and shared conditioning, to which humans who were always known as female are subject, and which are worth addressing by those very same people, excluding all others.

            To trans activists, the above assertion itself is a sign of unfair bias against trans women, at the very least (and a sign of condoning violence against trans women at worst).

            The divergence in communication occurs at a very, very basic level indeed.

        • bella_cose

          I think you need lessons in reading comprehension. First of all, let’s begin with the definition of facetious: joking or jesting, often inappropriately. I don’t think Sarah Ditum used the word facetious to imply that she thought the column was funny. I read it to mean that Bindel intended to use humor to critique a controversial subject, and perhaps it wasn’t entirely appropriate, and it backfired on her. Ditum, is not defending Bindel, she’s saying that Bindel apologized for her column, and the trans activists and so-called “feminist” allies, refuse to let up, and have effectively silenced her, for hurting their delicate, lady-like feelings.

          I don’t know why anyone responds to your comments. It’s really a waste of time.

        • andeväsen

          “I want to be with those people that are girls and have vaginas”.

          I’m not sure I get you. You seem to view being a TERF as a negative. Yet you’re a TERF yourself.

    • gxm17

      “…we mustn’t problematize people who are acting in a completely rational way to a world in which strict gender ideals are a reality”

      Misogyny is not “rational.” Male privilege is not “rational.” Human vivisection is not “rational.” From what I have seen, MtF trans are rationalizing misogyny and their own male privilege to further oppress half of the human race.

      The terms “terf” and “cis” are hate speech created by people who embrace the dehumanized fetishization of other people’s natural, physical features while at the same time attempting to co-opt born women’s life experience and subjugation under patriarchy. Sadly, it is just another chapter in the normalized oppression of and violence against (born) women that’s been going on for thousands of years.

      Oh no, we mustn’t “problematize” born men who are seeking to vanish half the human race—female humans who have been oppressed for thousands of years—into oblivion so that they can wear make-up and dresses, spend a ridiculous amount of money on cosmetic surgery (money that born women need for reproductive health care which is, of course, denied) so that they can call themselves “woman.” Nope. That’s not rational. It’s pretty much batshit crazy evil. But, hey, that’s exactly what I’d expect from a man who thinks he’s god’s gift and women are just his playthings.

    • I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t feel disgust for the bodies of people I’m not sexually attracted to. I just don’t want to have sex with them.

      • bella_cose

        Exactly. There’s something very childish about that. Like when little boys and girls won’t go near each other for fear of getting “cooties”. It’s like in order to know who they are, and be identified with the right group, they have to vilify, and reject the other.

      • yrba

        I find penises disgusting, but that is because of my experiences with the bio-men attached to them. If this were not a patriarchal rape culture, I probably wouldn’t have the negative association.

        I honestly cannot understand what the preference is about genitalia. Its about the socialization that goes along with the genitalia that matters in love and sex to me.

    • ozzie

      “Why is it so difficult to believe that we are hammered with gender ideals from such a young age and that some of us might be attracted to the lifestyle presented as the gender opposite of our own?”

      The ‘attracted to the lifestyle’ phrase here is the crux of the matter. This ‘lifestyle’ ie the gender caste system, has brutal consequences for women and isn’t a game for male oppression tourists to play with.
      “If you are a young child, and the lifestyle that you are attracted to is advertised as exclusively feminine, then obviously you will think “I must REALLY be a woman or why else would I want that life?”
      Which is why feminists keep insisting that being a feminine man does not make you a woman, and for this we’re derided and called bigots.
      “…we mustn’t problematize people who are acting in a completely rational way…”
      What exactly is rational about railing against science and biology and pretend you can ‘feel’ the experiences of a group you don’t belong to and never have?
      “Regarding West, I’m not sure if anyone here is familiar with her work but she is one of the best feminist writers in pop culture today. ”
      That’s the issue. She’s just the pop culture writer on a gossip blog pretending she knows anything about complex societal issues that don’t involve kim kardashian.
      ” Just because we don’t agree with you about trans people doesn’t mean we are hell bent on kneeling before a man! ”
      Let’s recap here: a man tells west to remove the tweet about VAW because ditum is supposedly a ‘terf’. Without bothering to fact-check, west apologises and deletes immediately. Is that ‘capitulation’ enough for you?

      Aren’t you the same poster who claimed women lie about rape and make it up for attention and page clicks on the other thread? A+ feminism.

      • BrylCreamQueen

        1) Um, people who identify as a gender opposite their own usually first experience this conflict as CHILDREN. Very young children. Children are not interested in co-opting feminism (yes, even male/ “evil” children). Five year olds don’t know what feminism is. Young children aren’t able to distinguish “feminine male” from “woman” or even if some of them can I don’t think they get all of the nuances of gender and its difference from sex in the way that a feminist adult does. (Adults not well-versed in feminism don’t even get it.) So what we have here is a very young child who is very attracted to all the stuff that is advertised as the opposite of what she or he has been told she or he is (or supposed to be). In addition, she or he lives in a culture in which others are punished and/or ostracized for failing to identify with a specific gender. On top of this, since she or he is barely old enough to know the capitals of the states, she or he doesn’t read Feminist Current or any other feminist blog so she or he doesn’t know what the hell people are talking about when they say a person wearing a dress and acting a certain a way isn’t “really” a woman. It stands to reason that such a person who continues living in said culture with said gender pressures will grow to be a person who is very uncomfortable in her or his own body until she or he is able to transform the situation to one in which she or he is at one with that ideal she or he felt attracted to early on in life. Some of these transformations might entail the extreme- physical alteration. This is why I made a broad comparison with brown folks who bleach their skin. Obviously, mutilating your own skin or body is not in itself rational. What is rational is the apparent need to mutilate your own skin or body given some externally imposed social system that rewards compliance with the system and punishes deviation from the system when compliance or deviation partly cashes out in terms of some physical attribute.

        So, yes, the solution is to rid ourselves of these strict gender ideals. With such a solution young children attracted to certain lifestyles won’t uncritically assume that certain lifestyles are fixed in some special way to a particular sex. But until that is the social reality, I think it is ludicrous and hateful to expect people to comply with our feminist solution when their reality is the complete opposite. So, while I think we should critique the racial hierarchy, I think it would be cruel to single out folks who bleach their skin and point our fingers at them as if THEY are the problem. Similarly, while I think we should call out rigid gender ideals, I think it is cruel to point our fingers at trans people as if THEY are the problem.

        2) People who immensely suffer from and are victims of strict gender ideals should be welcome in our movement. People on whom violence is inflicted because they are women, perceived to be women because of their “excessive femininity”, or aspire to be a woman should be invited members of what others are calling women-only spaces. Experiencing certain privileges should not be a sufficient condition to be exempt from such spaces. People shouldn’t have to have the same experiences to be considered sufficiently similar; as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I have never met any white woman with whom I feel a shared experience: white women make more money than brown women, white women’s rapes are met with more sympathy and outrage than brown women’s rapes, and white women benefit from white privilege. Still, I think we can all co-exist in the same space.

        3) I’m actually disgusted by the thought of interacting with a penis. Lots of gay guys shudder when they see breasts. Anyway I don’t think you have to be literally disgusted for my original point about homosexuality to hold. No one here yet has addressed that point. Seeing these comments, though, I’m scared to hear what people here really think of homosexuality and how they might speak to claims that we gays actually really DO feel an innate inclination to prefer our own sex.

        4) “[Lindy West is] just the pop culture writer on a gossip blog pretending she knows anything about complex societal issues that don’t involve kim kardashian.” Um, okay. You just continue living in that fantasy world where WEST is the one who is “pretending she knows anything about complex societal issues” even though you’re the one who is essentially calling young male children “male oppression tourists” just because they are victims of our shitty gender binary and comply with culture. Stay classy.

        5) “A man tells west to remove the tweet about VAW because ditum is supposedly a ‘terf’. Without bothering to fact-check, west apologises and deletes immediately. Is that ‘capitulation’ enough for you?” Um, I’m pretty sure she would have immediately removed that tweet even if a woman had told her that Ditum is a terf. The terf part is what made her react, not that a man told her about it. (And, like I already mentioned before, one can google Ditum and within 10 s you’ll find the two links I posted above. .. .which support the claim that she’s pro-terf. So. . . .)

        6) I’m surprised no one bothered to mention that in addition to her obvious terf stance, Ditum also completely botched her analysis of Cox’s mag cover owing to a gross oversight of the racial dimension of the issue. I guess intersectionality only matters when a brown person has to bring it up. .. even when the object of the analysis is a brown person!

        • andeväsen

          “I’m actually disgusted by the thought of interacting with a penis”

          There you go, being trans exclusionary again.

          Kind of a hypocrite.

          • BrylCreamQueen

            Does everyone here operate solely by way of synecdoches??? Or is this just a terrible attempt at snark?

          • andeväsen

            I can’t snark.


            As described by the above blogger, feeling “disgusted” when thinking of “interacting with a penis” is a sure sign of trans exclusion.

          • C.K. Egbert

            Interestingly enough, I’ve never heard a lesbian claim heterosexual women are “lesbian-phobic” or “misogynist” because heterosexual women prefer to have sex with males.

            Also interesting that I don’t see them getting angry because they can’t get men to have sex with trans women. So it appears that it’s only women they want to socially coerce and shame into sexual relationships and “acceptance”, not men…

          • andeväsen

            I guess the first one might be explained (in terms of gender ID) as acceptable, because heterosexual women (in the new transgender politics) want to have sex with the male-identified, and not the women-identified.

            Yes the Y-Front ceiling for trans women does seem a pretty quiet ceiling. Or perhaps heterosexual men are simply a more accommodatingbunch than lesbians.

          • I too wonder this. Then again, for all the trans* women in prostitution, who is paying to rape them ? I assume it is straight cis men with a fetish.

          • yrba

            Y-Front ceiling? Is that a typo, or just something I’ve never heard before, please? The rapey cotton ceiling I’ve read about, but not Y-Front.

        • meh

          I stopped reading at “yes, even male *evil* children”.

          • BrylCreamQueen

            Thank goodness. That’s one less dull defense of terf I’ll have to read.

          • meh

            So… does this mean you want to be friends?


            Here’s the thing – I’d love to engage in discussion with you over these very important issues. Unfortunately, when you convey your point of view, it’s full of CAPITAL LETTERS, calling women terfs and, generally, being very dramatic/defensive.

            Gender is a harmful social construct. Femininity and masculinity are bullshit. Femininity is learning that you’re a fucking piece of shit from the day you’re born. Femininity is not something one “embraces” or is “born with”. Sorry you’re offended by this opinion (nb I’m not really sorry).

          • yrba

            OK, I agree with your views in the second paragraph, but am standing up for BrylCreamQuern regarding tone policing her comments. Though I disagree with plenty she has written, I think she has been extremely patient and calm in her response for the most part, and credit her with that.

          • yrba

            I think you make important points about intersectionality, which i will come back to.

            I just wantd to note here that in my experience, boys start displaying sexism and male privilege by age 2. Yes, they aren’t reading Sister Outsider or Feminist Current, but the sexism has begun. By age he Tim heyre old enough yo consider SRS, they had to have consciously chosen to ignore reading materials from the women’s movement.

        • gxm17

          “Some of these transformations might entail the extreme- physical alteration.”

          Body modifications knows no gender, racial, ethnic, or sexual preference boundaries. Trans persons are not the only people on the planet who desire and undergo extreme body modification. They are, however, to the best of my knowledge, the only people who insist that their body mods be covered by medical insurance and that everyone admire the modifications or else be reviled as “transphobic.” (The truth is that it’s okay to think someone else’s body mods are not an improvement.)

          “Still, I think we can all co-exist in the same space.”

          Not when they are kicking our heads in (see story about the biologically male “Jane Doe”). Trans women are biologically male and it is okay for born women to want separate spaces from biologically male persons, as they have a documented tendency to harass, rape, beat, and kill us.

          “I’m actually disgusted by the thought of interacting with a penis.”

          Me too! And I’m a straight woman, but it depends on who the penis is attached to. I’m especially disgusted at the thought of being forced to “interact” with a biological male who “insists” on using the women’s facilities. I do not want to share the gym shower or sauna with some creeper exposing *her* male genitalia. I also think that forcing teenage and younger girl children to share facilities with biological males who expose themselves is, basically, allowing girl children to be molested (see the “Colleen Francis” story). I put girls and women before biologically-male exhibitionists any day and every day.

          “A man tells west to remove the tweet about VAW because ditum is supposedly a ‘terf’.”

          Terf is hate speech. Anyone who uses it should be censured. Especially in feminist circles.

          “I’m surprised no one bothered to mention that in addition to her obvious terf stance, Ditum also completely botched her analysis of Cox’s mag cover owing to a gross oversight of the racial dimension of the issue.”

          You know what I’m surprised at. I’m surprised that no one has mentioned that Laverne Cox is not “beautiful.” (Which Ditum went out of her way to describe Cox as.) It seems that more and more that word gets tossed around to mean “someone who is performing femininity to an extreme.” It seems that if someone goes to a great deal of effort (make-up, wig, sparkly dress, cosmetic surgery) that it is obligatory to call them “beautiful” or “gorgeous.” I’m really rather tired of this inane “everyone gets a trophy” brand of aesthetics. I love beauty and look for it everywhere. And the truth is, I never find it in a face plastered with make-up. Be honest. How could you? You can’t even see the person under all that lacquer.

          • lizor

            “It seems that more and more that word gets tossed around to mean “someone who is performing femininity to an extreme.” It seems that if someone goes to a great deal of effort (make-up, wig, sparkly dress, cosmetic surgery) that it is obligatory to call them “beautiful” or “gorgeous.” I’m really rather tired of this inane “everyone gets a trophy” brand of aesthetics.”

            I love this comment and agree wholeheartedly! it has also occurred to me, as I read these threads about so-called TERFs and some of the more troublesome aspects/strains of transactivism, that I have observed in more conservative/misogynistic straight guys an arresting fascination with/attraction to males who adopt this extreme form of performed femininity. They are like moths to a flame.

            So I had the thought that perhaps the people who are most appropriate to perform this man-made-woman crap are actually men. Would it not be a relief if men would just be their own fuck-objects and just leave us out of that shitty game?

            On an entirely different note, I recently read this article about Black Trans men at a conference in Texas examining the ways that their experience of privilege shifts as they transition from F to M. I found the questing and the self-awareness to be heartening in contrast to all of this TERF bullying, so I thought I’d share.


          • andeväsen

            Thanks, lizor, for that link. It was mostly heartening to read like you say. There are parts of that piece which also mirror the issues we’ve discussed here. For e.g., the author mentions Saskia Gunn, a 15-year old black girl killed after she told a man who was trying to proposition her that she was lesbian. The author states Saskia Gunn was killed “for her masculinity”. As far as we know, Saskia Gunn was a lesbian teenager, not a trans man who preferred women, nor a trans woman identifying as a lesbian. So it is strange that the conclusion drawn is that she possessed “masculinity” and this was the reason for the attack, rather than homophobia, or rather than misogyny.

            Are the words ‘lesbian’ and ‘masculine’ synonyms? Or is a woman rebuffing a man’s advances considered a masculine woman? I could understand the conflation coming from people outside LGBTQ+ circles, but not from trans men who, like you say, have reflected/are reflecting deeply on perceptions of gender and sex.

          • lizor

            Great observation, andevasen and I must admit it slipped past me.

            I agree that it is unsurprising that a straight male would label any non-compliant behaviour as “masculine” – masculine being understood to be the opposite or, at the very least, well outside of any trait or behaviour considered feminine.

            As you have eloquently stated in your other comment today, the outlooks diverge at a fundamental level and I suppose to embrace the very idea of “transitioning” one would have to ascribe to that rigid dichotomy.

            I did find the discussion of race vs. gender privilege interesting and I expect it is particularly acute in a place like Texas – based on what I have been told by a black friend who is gay and living in Houston. (Terrifying, in fact, for persons of colour, no matter what their orientation)

          • andeväsen

            Yes, it was interesting indeed to see the trans perspective on racists treating men and women differently. Texas sounds scary. I wish them the best.

          • BrylCreamQueen

            I’ll comment on the only thing worth responding to: “Terf is hate speech. Anyone who uses it should be censured. Especially in feminist circles.”

            I’m assuming you mean the term ‘terf’ is hate speech. Hahaha, okay. We must have different understandings of what hate speech consists in. Anyway, wasn’t the last article on this topic on this very blog called “defending the terf” or something like that? Make up your minds.

        • gxm17

          “3) I’m actually disgusted by the thought of interacting with a penis. Lots of gay guys shudder when they see breasts. Anyway I don’t think you have to be literally disgusted for my original point about homosexuality to hold. No one here yet has addressed that point. Seeing these comments, though, I’m scared to hear what people here really think of homosexuality and how they might speak to claims that we gays actually really DO feel an innate inclination to prefer our own sex.”

          So, for the record, if you are “disgusted by the thought of interacting with a penis,” then aren’t you being transphobic if you are not attracted to a trans woman who still has a penis? Or does a penis somehow become more attractive to you when it is attached to a biological male who claims he’s a woman? Do you realize that you’re not even able to maintain any logical consistency in your own hollow narrative?

          • BrylCreamQueen

            Wait, what??? It’s just the case that my sexual preference is to have sex with other vagina-ed beings. If a transgender woman underwent surgery to acquire female genitals, I’d be all in them. And I’d have sex with a transgender man who never underwent surgery. .. . because, assuming he was a female before, he’d still have a vagina. I could care less if it’s a man or woman. I just don’t want penises. Just because I wouldn’t have sex with a pre-op transgender woman doesn’t make me a transphobe. I acknowledge that she is a woman. And I acknowledge that a pre-op transgender man is a man.

            Perhaps these conversations that surround the transgender community will help us enrich our notion of sexual orientation. I identify as a lesbian not because of some sole attraction to women. I identify as a lesbian because my genital preference is vagina.

          • RadFemPornBasher

            I’m guessing you haven’t bothered to read up on “the cotton ceiling.” That’s what pre-op trans women consider as terrible discrimination against them, that lesbian females accept them politically, etc., but refuse to fuck them because they still have a penis (aka girl cock ). You seem to not understand that it is lesbian females who are being targeted and attacked as TERF because they won’t lower their panties and accept that girl cock into their bodies.

            Go read up and come back when you’ve educated yourself on transjactivists and what they are actually arguing.

          • RadFemPornBasher

            PS- I put in an eye roll after saying “girl cock,” but this form didn’t accept it. LOL This program must be a TERF Itself, huh?

    • C.K. Egbert

      What you’ve said is exactly what feminists are doing–we aren’t blaming people for not liking their bodies or not liking their assigned gender. Instead we are looking at and condemning the conditions that give rise to these experiences.

      The problem is not with transgender people per se; it’s with how TERF is being used as a slur to abuse and silence whenever we question certain assumptions or political agendas. Any critique of gender norms or identities, sexual practices, or political agendas has become unspeakable.

      • BrylCreamQueen

        Are you reading the comments???? There is CLEARLY a sh*t ton of vitriol being thrown AT members of the TRANS community. I wouldn’t feel the need to keep repeating myself over and over about gender norms if we were all on board here about the trans community not being the problem. How can TERF not be terrible? It stands for TRANS EXCLUSIVE RADFEM! It is exclusive to those who are now women. That’s why many of us want nothing to do with TERF. The arguments for why people from the trans community (especially those who identify as women) just do not hold.

        • andeväsen

          “There is CLEARLY a sh*t ton of vitriol being thrown AT members of the TRANS community.”

          Nope. The beef is reserved for trans activists and their tactics, not individual trans people.

        • gxm17

          TERF is hate speech. Frankly, I want nothing to do with someone who would use it.

          You really should head to GenderTrender and read about autogynephilia and the way that autogynephilic transexuality has been ignored by the trans community because, although it fits reality, it doesn’t conform to the (false) narrative trans activists are pushing.

        • [I’m Bushfire—I’ve recently changed my blogging name.]

          I think I can help BrylCreamQueen out here. I’ve had the same reaction for the last few years while reading radfem blogs. At first glance it sounds like people are being really transphobic, but you have to take the time to really listen to what people are saying.

          I learned about trans people from meeting a few myself and from reading Leslie Feinberg’s books. All the people I met and the people Feinberg describes are reasonable people who are just trying to live their lives in the only way that makes sense to them, and they’re getting tons of hate and backlash for expressing who they are. They’ve always had my full support, and still do. But something weird is happening in trans activism these days. The focus of trans activism is moving away from civil rights for trans people and toward tweeting misogynist messages and going on witch hunts to find and punish radfems. This is really sad because this is not what trans activism should be about. This is not helping trans people, who are still being evicted from their apartments, fired from jobs, assaulted, etc. They need real activism that focuses on making the world safe for gender-non-conforming people, not the bullshit that’s going on right now.

          Radfems have something legitimate to be upset about, and sometimes it comes across as hating all trans people, which is unfortunate, but what it’s really about is reacting to the real misogyny and feminist backlash that is happening. The keynote speaker at London Dyke March said “suck my fermaldehyde pickled balls” to a lesbian and called vaginas “offputting.” This person is seriously out to lunch for thinking that these kinds of comments will be accepted by the lesbian community. People will be called “Terf” immediately for criticizing this behaviour even though it really warrants criticism.

          I will leave you with this fantastic quote from Snowflake Especial, which made me want to give her a standing ovation:

          “…turning the battle ship of trans activism around in one day would be a fantastic task — after all, it took twenty years of queer theory pomo nonsense, anti-feminist backlash, porn culture, and men’s rights activism to get trans politics into the sorry state it’s in today, where every day on tumblr I read young queer activists write gibberish like “a trans woman with a full beard and a giant dick is just as much of a woman as my mom, if she says so” with a straight face. Like, really??? Let me repeat: lay off the weed, drop out of your fantasy-land queer theory class, and ask yourself, with a straight face, looking in the mirror: really? REALLY?”

          • C.K. Egbert

            “Radfems have something legitimate to be upset about, and sometimes it comes across as hating all trans people, which is unfortunate, but what it’s really about is reacting to the real misogyny and feminist backlash that is happening.”


          • lizor

            Awesome post Ella Hawthorne/Bushfire.

          • ozzie

            Exactly, Bushfire! I’m 100% with you on this. Honestly, to me, this whole thing is very sad because I support SRS/transition for dysphoric individuals and would help/support transactivists any way I can if their activism focused on lowering rates of violence, abuse, lack of healthcare, prostitution, homelessness etc. But so far I’ve heard some heinous things from them directed at women, which is more dangerous than MRA rhetoric because it has this faux- progressive/ civil rights cloak. I love Snowflake Especial too; anther sensible and respectful transactivist that is sympathetic to radical feminism I’d recommend for anyone interested is the blogger Gender Minefield.

          • “The keynote speaker at London Dyke March said “suck my fermaldehyde pickled balls” to a lesbian and called vaginas “offputting.””

            Good. If vaginas are off putting then they can stop pressuring lesbians (people with vaginas) to sleep with them and talking about a “cotton ceiling.” Just think in 40 years we have made an 180 degree turn from talking about the glass ceiling to talking about the “cotton ceiling.” Now the objective is not women having unfettered access to jobs, money, power and equality with men, now the objective is unfettered and unconditional access to women’s vaginas. How innovative and subversive an aim, trying to get people into women’s pants.

      • “The problem is not with transgender people per se…”

        Oh, sure it is. When men are trying to eliminate ANY space designated as woman-only (high school restrooms and gyms in California, conferences, sports, shelters, prisons; name it), transgender people are the problem. Per se.

        Please, please go to GenderTrender to get a full understanding of the magnitude of the danger to women and girls that SCAMs pose. Calling women derogatory names is merely the tip of the iceberg. Just scrolling down the screen without reading entire posts is beyond frightening when the truth of what these men are trying to accomplish, the erasure of women (I wish I was exaggerating), dawns with full force.

        • C.K. Egbert

          I’ve read Gender Trender, and Elizabeth Hungerford (who does awesome work), as well as some of the “anti-TERF” blogs and transgender activist blogs.

          I’m saying there’s nothing wrong with transgender people per se in the same sense that there’s nothing inherently wrong with males per se, but with patriarchy, masculinity, and what men do to women. In the same way there’s nothing inherently wrong with gender non-conforming people, but with their chosen goals and methods of activism (I think if they were asking for our support in stopping gender-based bullying, job discrimination, etc., we’d be all for it).

          Also I have to be very careful what and how I say things on the internet because I’m using my real name and I’m hoping to get a job as a teacher (they look at those sorts of things).

          • Yes, you do indeed have to be careful. SCAM activists do campaign to “expose” transphobes and have cost women jobs and affiliations, and have published their personal information online, making their threats of injury and death to women (die cis scum, die) very real.

            To Meghan Murphy, you are being very brave in writing this post and I fear you will suffer repercussions for it. I’ll wager you have received a lot of hate mail from these men already that you aren’t posting. Radfem blogs have been hacked and destroyed by them. GenderTrender was shut down for a while, I believe it was last year, by SCAM hackers.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Oh this one was written by Sarah Ditum, actually! (Who is very amazing and brave, indeed)

          • Everyone who gets these threats should start naming and shaming. Post the threats, emails and names publicly so everyone can see the bullying and the bullies.

          • C.K. Egbert

            It’s more complicated than that, at least in my case, because my field (philosophy/feminism) is dominated by liberalism and post-modernism/queer theory. As a radical feminist I’m already at a disadvantage, and someone who is considered “transphobic” would be a real liability for the school…particularly if I was applying for a job in gender studies.

          • Bohemianwriter1

            Are you implying that transgendered people are collective scam artists out to destroy feminism or something?

            If I understood you correctly, I suggest this link for the tinfoil hat store…


            I’m sorry. But to put other people down to elevate one’s own victimization is NOT an empathetic trait…

          • Mar Iguana

            SCAM = Surgically and/or Chemically Altered Men. TERF = Me, and proud of it.

            No, I’m not implying transgenderism is a scam. I’m stating that transgenderism is a scam. SCAMs need to destroy radical feminism, heterosexual women, LGBs, language and reality itself in order to worship masculinity and femininity on the altar of the artificial construct that is gender, arguably the biggest scam in recorded history.

            I wish wrapping some tin foil around my head would protect me from the lunacy of men. Unfortunately, all I have is science, reason and logic, which are brushed aside when obstructing the warped fantasy lives of fetishistic men.

            I have every bit as much empathy for people, aka men, as they have for women, aka others. Actually, I have more since I realize that living up to the standards of masculinity is extremely destructive to them and everything else on the planet.

            Try to keep it straight: Men systematically victimize women. Women neither have nor want the power to systematically victimize men. Women are required to be empathetic to everyone but themselves. Masculinity requires that empathy is eliminated in men.

            The keystone of patriarchy is men putting women down. Claiming that powerless radical feminists (pretty much hated by everybody) victimize SCAMs by pointing out the lie that is gender is as fact-based as men claiming they are women. Criticism does not equal victimization.

          • lizor

            “Men systematically victimize women. Women neither have nor want the power to systematically victimize men. Women are required to be empathetic to everyone but themselves. Masculinity requires that empathy is eliminated in men.”

            Beautifully succinct. As well as the rest, of course, but this sums up How Things Are very clearly.

          • Morag

            “Women are required to be empathetic to everyone but themselves.”

            Yes. And when we do empathize with ourselves, tell the truth, and assert intellectual and physical boundaries, men yelp “ouch, owie, you’re hurting meeee!” And much, much worse, of course.

      • “What you’ve said is exactly what feminists are doing–we aren’t blaming people for not liking their bodies or not liking their assigned gender. Instead we are looking at and condemning the conditions that give rise to these experiences.”

        Yes “TERF” is essentially being used to stop radfem conversations on how to get rid of gender.

    • Missfit

      ‘Likewise, I wouldn’t raise individual cases of brown folk bleaching their skin as being problematic about them but rather problematic about the system they are forced to comply with.’

      Yes, and there are women who are now working to end this practice. They inform about the problems such bleaching procedures cause, the effects of white supremacy, black empowerment. Now imagine if these women were being called ‘skin bleachers exclusives’ by a loud aggressive group of people intending to silence them while promoting the practice of skin bleaching, upholding the ideals behind it, and talking about expressing the whiteness they feel inside…

      • BrylCreamQueen

        Huh? Brown folks don’t bleach their skin to “express the whiteness they feel inside”. They do it because they feel pressured to conform to certain norms in order to acquire visibility. Similarly, people in the transgender community will undergo drastic surgery in order to conform to certain norms (you’re either a man or woman. .. if you’re not one, you must be the other) . The big difference in the two cases, though, is that the majority of people recognize that racism is terrible and that those norms that pressure people to bleach their skin need to be overturned while, in the case of gender, the majority of people uphold gender norms (especially with respect to identity). Even lots of feminists maintain the gender binary; their only beef with it is that power shouldn’t be concentrated behind one end of the binary.

        • andeväsen

          “the majority of people recognize that racism is terrible”

          Do you really believe this to be the case?

        • Missfit

          ‘Huh? Brown folks don’t bleach their skin to “express the whiteness they feel inside”.’

          I know, I said ‘imagine if’. Blacks bleach their skin as a way out of discrimination and because they learnt that beauty is white. I saw a documentary where a woman who worked in television in Senegal noticed that all the contracts went to the women with pale skin and this was what made her take the decision to bleach her skin. It damaged her skin permanently and she now fights for the abolition of this practice and for black empowerment. I’m sure though that there are women there testifying that bleaching their skin helped them in their career and that it ’empowered’ them, thus encouraging other women to make the same choice…

          Radical feminists do not want to uphold the gender binary system. We understand why people transition, as you explained in this comment. But you do not seem to know what the beliefs of transactivists who send death treaths screaming ‘TERF’ are. They do want to uphold gender norms. They do define women based on gender stereotypes. Some even say they are more women than butch lesbians because they perform femininity. As a lesbian, not wanting to have sex with a transwomen because penis is considered transphobic.

          • Tonight I was thinking about this TERF thing and I feel that many trans* women are very angry, and this anger (with good reason) is provoked by the male violence they face but is being taken out on women and feminists. It’s like the father kicks the mother, mother kicks the kid and the kid kicks the dog. The thing is that most people socialized as men never learned to stand up against male violence and hatred towards women and femininity and everything associated with it. It is like this is the thing that they most fear.
            I think that we expect men, people socialized as male and people with XY chromosomes to be able to stand up against male violence because they are physically bigger and stronger and we think that equates with mental strength somehow. But when it comes to them being teased about being too “feminine” they can’t do it.

            It seems like a no brainer to radfems that we need to call out the male violence, and hold men accountable for killing trans* women in male bathrooms and in general. It seems like a no brainer that these trans* women shouldn’t need to have surgery or call themselves women in order to be feminine and they can’t stand up to the men and resist the gender boxes. Why should they be able to stand up against the male violence, men murdering trans* women etc and male hatred of women and femininity suddenly now ? A moral and ethical backbone and conscience doesn’t grow into place suddenly overnight.

            Instead they merely hurt themselves more by attacking women as TERFs and projecting their sense of self hatred of their ‘femininity” onto us.

            But really men have never be able to stand up against male violence, are they suddenly going to start standing up against it now ?

            The TERF wars to me are the other side of the same coin of the trans* women campaigning for legalized prostitution. The men are raping trans* women in prostitution and raping women in prostitution and as usual the male socialized can’t stand up and call out the male violence. As usual the anger is instead taken out on women and the feminists.

            Seriously it’s as if they experienced some severe abuse as a child at the hands of their father and they have rage at their mother (and consequently all women) “for not preventing it” along with a paralyzing fear of actually confronting it themselves.

          • Somehow that posted in reply to you. Sorry it’s not supposed to be in reply to you. It’s supposed to be a general reply to this discussion.

  • Henke

    Saw this blogpost today labeled
    Man, feminist, misogynist: My confession

    Unless this post is a cruel, insane joke, it totally speaks for itself on why this kind of politics has gotten so wrong on so many levels.

    “I am a man. I am a feminist. I am a misogynist. [I don’t say that last one out loud very often – it’s a bit embarrassing.]

    I don’t want anyone to know that I am a misogynist. I am scarcely able to admit it to myself. I want to be able to attack and abuse and silence women without damaging my feminist credentials, without being seen as anything other than a Good Man.

    I have managed to convince myself (and other people) that I believe that transwomen are women to serve this very purpose.

    It’s quite simple and elegant. Transwomen are women. Anyone who states otherwise is transphobic, bigoted, anti-woman, anti-feminist. The beauty of this is that those women who know that transwomen are men are now cast as oppressors. As a feminist, I have a duty to challenge people who are oppressive, anti-woman and anti-feminist.

    I can now legitimately attack and abuse any woman who knows that transwomen are men. I will silence her.

    [I will neither attack nor abuse men who know that transwomen are men – what would I gain from doing that. No, it is women who must be silenced.]

    So this is my confession. I know that what I am doing is wrong – that it is oppressive, that it reinforces patriarchy. But I benefit from that, so why would I stop?”

  • RR

    My God this is stupid. Just because one person misuses a term, that term has no meaning and should never be used?

    The term “TERF” is not nearly as vague as the article claims; it’s definition is very clear and specific. A “Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist” is a feminist who does not consider transwomen to be women. Any attempt to turn it into a vague slur is extremely dishonest.

    • “Just because one person misuses a term” – sorry, which single person was it to whom feminists have responded so “stupid”ly? Whoever it is sure spends a lot of time donning multiple personaes under which guise they threaten the lives and safety of women who dare to say that going through childhood and adolescence with a full set of female reproductive organs is a specific experience in patriarchy that is not shared by people who did not have that biology.

      It’s wonderful that you are here to clear away all of the rape and death threats once and for all by naming the single perpetrator. If you could just get that person to stop by the end of the day today, that would be great. I look forward to waking up tomorrow in a world vastly improved for women thanks to your superior intelligence and grasp of the situation, RR

    • andeväsen

      “A “Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist” is a feminist who does not consider transwomen to be women”

      Not so.

      Sarah Ditum is a TERF – according to many transactivists.

      Sarah Ditum has specifically stated that she considers trans women (not transwomen) to be women.

      You’ve been misinformed.

      • BK

        I was going to say, I believe transwomen are women and yet, i get called a TERF?

        • Yisheng Qingwa

          Trans “women” are MALE.

    • Henke

      not just one person.

      Have you not seen, or are you just ignoring it, how its used online ?
      Any woman (and I’m talking about adult human females now) who want to discuss female issues–this means discussing things that simply is not about us males, no matter what we as males say we are, think we are or identify as–gets labelled ‘terf’ if this Trans Queer Cult catches her writing/talking about it.
      Its not about ‘one person misusing the term’, the whole point with the term is to make actual women silenced.

  • Eliza

    For trans (men-who-want-to-be-women) “TERF” is new “BITCH”.

    …They are: MRA-TRANS.


  • Mr Endeavour

    Hope you don’t mind a guy commenting on this but from reading the article and some of the comments here are my thoughts.

    1. Using TERF as an insult, I can see why people would have a problem with it and I must admit I have used it and when using it I have had negative canontational thoughts that go with it but they will most likely be what I see as a TERF. I see a TERF as someone a states (and I quote) “Trans-women are just men committing rape” which I believe is quite stupid and honestly insulting to people who have been through such a horrendous act.

    2. If someone I followed on social media was labelled as TERF, I would go back look through their content and judge for myself as to whether they are a TERF, but people who would simply stop following due to one comment against a person I find quite strange.

    There is so much to say about the psychological, sociological and biological aspects of the human gender spectrum and ‘problems’ that occur with greater acceptance of it and humankind’s ability to now change certain aspects to match. Such as women’s only spaces (the best example to use would probably be a women’s shelter) and there is a real discussion which needs to be had in that respect, but when radical people come about with very extreme (and to many non-nonsensical) views it does great harm to conversation which stalls it and stops us from seeking a solution.

    I look forward to peoples replies and thoughts on what I’ve said.

    • There are no biological aspects to gender. Sex is biological, gender is a social construct.

  • Missfit

    Who said ‘trans-women are just men committing rape’? Because I read a lot of radical feminist stuff, and some from people that would be labeled TERF, but I’ve never seen anyone saying that. Mentioning that there have been instances of transwomen raping females is not the same thing as saying ‘all transwomen’. Just as feminists often discuss male sexual violence against females, we also know that ‘not all men’.

    ‘There is so much to say about the psychological, sociological and biological aspects of the human gender spectrum and ‘problems’ that occur with greater acceptance of it and humankind’s ability to now change certain aspects to match.’
    Genitals are just that, organs, they don’t have to match anything beside performing the function they are intend to do. Now if you have male genitals you are a man and if you have female genitals you are a woman. Thinking otherwise automaticaly brings you into gender stereotypes territory. Radical feminists want to get rid of gender stereotypes because they are oppressive. I don’t know what is extreme in this view. I don’t know what is more non-sensical than ‘penis is female’. I would like to know what views you think are non-sensical because there is mega non-sense coming out of the transactivist camp.

  • Tim Ward

    People use all kinds of words and phrases this way in all kinds of political discourse. ‘Don’t listen to this person, they’re a known [liberal/conservative/feminist/TERF/misogynist/MRA/rape apologist/communist/fascist/christian/atheist]’. On and on it goes. Sometimes people call them ‘snarl words’. The answer is not to stop using these terms where they have useful descriptive value (and all the ones I listed do), though, the answer is to recognize that what was said to you by that Twitter person is a logical fallacy: it simply doesn’t matter whether or not you’re a TERF or not when you’re talking about domestic violence, or anything else unrelated to transgender issues. I don’t know what your actual position on the transgendered is, but if I assume for the sake of argument that the Twitter is correct and it is not only catastrophically wrong but horribly bigoted etc etc that still does not magically prevent you from saying true things about domestic violence.

    tl;dr the problem isn’t the term, the problem is the form of discourse which goes ‘person x is a known y, do not listen to them’ is pernicious and destructive and should be avoided, and all statements should be considered on their own merits irregardless of who said them.

  • The rendering of the quotation on the tweets isn’t correct maybe try using “” instead of ”

  • Meghan Murphy

    It’s impossible for a person who believes in transgender ideology to be allies to feminists — these ideologies are fundamentally at odds with one another.

    It is also impossible for a person’s brain to be born in the wrong body. You sound like a crazy person when you say things like that.

    • 0z79

      “I’m on nobody’s side, because nobody is on my side.” I guess that will be my credo, then.

      • Meghan Murphy

        What are you talking about? Feminism is a global movement…

  • Meghan Murphy

    I see. I misunderstood.