I’ve been asked quite a lot recently what a “TERF” is and what it stands for. Though it may not seem it on the surface, these are actually two different questions.
TERF stands for Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist. A feminist who puts the needs and focus of biological women as the focus of their feminism, at the exclusion of all others. A feminist not interested in fighting for men, not interested in fighting for transwomen. A feminist who recognises the oppression of women because of their sex, not their gender (which is what the brain identifies as rather than the body), and fights to correct that imbalance.
You might not understand why what a TERF is might be different to what it stands for. But I’ll explain.
“TERF” has become warped in meaning and into a slur. It is now an insult thrown at women who challenge trans activist’s ideology. ANY trans ideology.
If you question whether transing children is a smart move, point out the potential danger of blocking puberty, suggest that the children as young as two who are being raised as the opposite sex because of toy and clothes preferences can’t possibly be expected to comprehend the long term impact of such decisions, then you’re a TERF.
If you argue that allowing men who have raped and assaulted women to identify as women and be housed in a women’s prison, locked in a cell with a female, is dangerous and wrong, you’re a TERF.
If you question the ramifications of self identification, whether the idea that anyone can change their sex and immediately become a woman (or man) based on their own feelings and thoughts, is a good idea. When you recognise that this opens up vulnerable women’s spaces such as changing rooms, sheltered housing, rape crisis centres, to any men who decide they’re women, and question whether that is safe, let alone fair. When you point out the crimes that have been committed against women because of this law, the women who have been raped and assaulted because of this law. You’re a TERF.
“KILL ALL TERFS” is a chant. They sell “DIE CIS SCUM” and “TERF STOMPER” badges. Cis being the phrase used for anyone who’s gender and sex match. Violence against women is being celebrated, sold without question, and the women who point out how dangerous this is are the women who are being called bigots by society.
TERF is now a slur used for women who are non compliant. You may as well tattoo NC on our wrists and send us to prison, because we dare question and challenge the idea that something might not be right here. We dare put the safety of women ahead of the feelings of men.
Women and men get angry and defensive about women’s desire to have spaces free from male bodies. It’s bigoted. We’re all people, and regardless of our bodies and our biology, if someone is a transwoman it’s cruel to refuse to allow them in spaces made exclusively for women.
So I’m going to say this.
If you’re being accused of being a bigot because you’re a lesbian and you don’t want to have sex with someone with a penis, I will stand with you. Nobody has the right to try and pressure you into sex because it hurts their feelings when you won’t.
If you have been raped and assaulted by men, and you value your spaces where you are vulnerable and naked for being penis free, and you’re now terrified of going into them, I will stand with you. You’re not being unreasonable or transphobic, you’re not being unnecessarily afraid, when so much damage has been done to your mind and body to depend on spaces where that threat is removed. You deserve that protection. Your need to feel safe matters. We have divided vulnerable spaces by sex for a reason, and your right to feel safe is one of them.
If you have watched the fight of women throughout history to erase the idea that a woman’s brain is different to a man’s, and see that work being erased by those around you in the name of progress, and feel sick about it, I will stand with you. A woman’s brain being different has been used as an excuse to prevent us from attaining positions of power and responsibility, kept us from the vote and from voicing our thoughts publicly without being called hysterical, and we’ve finally started to erase that notion. Now it’s coming back into acceptance what damage will it do?
If you have seen men who are raised male, lived as men, and received all the societal privileges of being men, suddenly putting on a wig and a dress and telling you that you’re wrong about your feminism for not accepting them as exactly the same as you without question, and you want to scream in frustration, I will stand with you. You have the right to question them, the right to point out the flaws to this argument. The right to say “No, Caitlyn Jenner, the hardest part of being a woman is NOT choosing what to wear.”
If you are watching your sisters around you reject your feelings, your fears, and prioritise those of men and you want to cry, I will stand with you. If you’ve been threatened and abused for not bowing down to the commands of male voices demanding access to your entire identity without question, I will stand with you.
Questioning this movement does not make you a TERF. Demanding your feelings are respected does not make you a TERF. Prioritising your sex above their gender does not make you a TERF.
We should question; our safety and sense of self is being put aside for people based on what? Explain it. Explain what it is to be a woman and how you can identify as one. That question shouldn’t even have to be asked. We should demand respect, we have fought for centuries to get it and we deserve it. If you’re forced to accept self identification without question that is giving women no respect.
I will stand with you if you’ve ever been called a TERF because you’ve not stepped down and accepted whatever you’ve been told without question, because that’s what a woman’s duty is. I will stand with you.
You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.
Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!