I’m a TERF, you’re a TERF, we’re all TERFs

One of the silly signs outside my 2019 talk at the Toronto Public Library

For many years, I rejected the term, “TERF.” It made no sense to me: I was neither a radical feminist nor were my arguments against gender identity ideology about “excluding trans people.” I don’t actually think there is such a thing as a “trans person,” and those I was interested in “excluding” were men — from women’s spaces as well as from the category of “woman.”

But after a decade of being labelled a TERF, I have come to embrace the term. What was once used to determine which women deserved to be assaulted and maybe murdered — certainly excommunicated — has become a cute term that brings together the masses in a way even Dave Chappelle can embrace.

Regardless of the acronym meaning “trans-exclusionary radical feminist,” in practice TERF is used to refer to women (and some men) like me — that is to say, those who refuse to accept that men can literally be women.

It’s not hard to be a TERF. I think I coined “Your mom’s a TERF” at some speaking event, meaning that of course your mother knows she gave birth to you, that there is no way your father could have achieved such a feat, and that there will never be any confusion about her status as your mother. (She also knows your sex, whether she admits it or not.) I tried to turn that line into a sticker, but Spring removed my listing, presumably because they don’t want you to know that all moms are TERFs. How could you literally make a human being with your body and birth it and not know what the difference between a man and a woman is? I know some pretend, but that’s because they are liars who value Facebook likes more than raising mentally sound kids.

The term is applied to pretty much anyone who doesn’t bow down wholly to trans activists, so while it began as a way to describe the radical feminists who were the first to attempt a push back against the idea that one could “identify” as woman, despite having a dick, and who wanted to “exclude” the men attempting to access their spaces in congruence with this identity, it no longer takes a radical feminist to say “No.” Men like Graham Linehan were labelled “TERFs,” as well as Toronto Public City Librarian Vickery Bowles — who simply refused to cancel the booking of a group who had invited me to speak about my views on women’s sex-based rights — but has yet to articulate any radical feminist view, never mind one against transgenderism.

So while I pushed back against the label for a long time on account of it not feeling totally accurate to me, “TERF” has come to mean something we should all be proud of: an appreciation for reality and the truth.

While chatting with Mary Lou Singleton tonight on our weekly Where Are All the Women stream — raging, really, at the New York Times for daring to nonchalently publish an op-ed titled, “The problem with saying ‘sex assigned at birth,” as though they haven’t refused to entertain any debate around gender identity ideology for years, and in fact pushed said ideology uncritically all along, playing a pivotal role in directing the public as to what they may and may not say about the topic — I asked what might lead her to feel celebratory, if published at the Times. Her answer was perfect: “If they published something with the headline, ‘The TERFs were right and they’re still right.”

Because of course the TERFs were right and are still right. It’s just that now we have an army of TERFs, rather than just the rude few we started out with, willing to say, “You’re a man… Piss off.”

Whether you are literally a radical feminist no longer really matters — those of you standing up now were inspired by the uncompromising boldness of the radical feminists most never knew, and may still never know. And while you may insist, as I’m sure I once did, that “No, no — I am not anti-trans” you really are, and it’s ok. You are anti-trans agenda, and anti-trans ideology, and anti-trans activism — you are anti-all that is being forced onto us on account of the concept of “trans”: the forced lies, the altering of language, the violent threats against dissenters, the shutting down of debate and free speech, the banning and cancelling and censorship, certainly the men in girls’ changerooms and women’s sports and female prisons, the insistence that men can become pregnant and that IT’S MA’AM.

You may not like the sound of it, as you may not want to be “exclusionary,” but you’re in luck: the TERFs are the most inclusive group of all! It includes all sane human beings on the planet.

I’m a TERF, you’re a TERF, we’re all TERFs.

Welcome to the club.

Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist from Vancouver, BC. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including The Spectator, UnHerd, Quillette, the CBC, New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and is now exiled in Mexico with her very photogenic dog.