Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminism: What Exactly Is It, And Why Does It Hurt?

External image

Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminism, or TERF, is a loosely-organized collective with a message of hate and exclusion against transgender women in particular, and transgender people as a whole. They have attached themselves to radical feminism as a means to attempt to deny trans women basic access to health care, women’s groups, restroom facilities, and anywhere that may be considered women’s space.

Gloria Steinem, used to hold an exclusionary opinion, but has since said that she fully supports the inclusion of trans women in the feminist movement

However, not all radical feminists agree. Janice Raymond, author of The Transsexual Empire: The Making of the She-Male authored a paper in the early 1980s that the Health and Human Services branch of the US Government used to deny trans men and women trans-related medical care … 

Since then, they have continued to use anti-transgender rhetoric, using the banner of feminism in the same way that Westboro Baptist Church uses Christianity. They consistently use rhetoric suggesting that trans women are would-be rapists, that we are “men invading women’s spaces”(Cathy Brennan, head of Gender Identity Watch) and are “forcing penises on lesbians”(Justin Norwood, Gender Identity Watch)

When speaking out against the TERF movement, one is at risk of being “outed” on social media. In one instance, the group Gender Identity Watch worked with the right-wing anti-gay group, Pacific Justice Institute, to help prevent a Colorado teen from being able to use the women’s restroom. The leader, Cathy Brennan, outed the teen, who was already being bullied, and she was subsequently put on suicide watch. Their actions often incite others to denigrate or discriminate against a minority – which is the definition of a hate group.

We are often portrayed as fetishists by hate groups such as Gender Identity Watch – the “Man in a Dress” trope is widely applied to us, and that transgender men are still women … Another tactic of the TERF movement is using the widely discredited trope that being transgender is a mental health issue … No one is mentally ill for being transgender – medical science has already proven this.

Whenever a trans individual such as myself is critical of TERF ideology, we are labelled “misogynists” or “Men’s Rights Activists”Merely by taking a stand against them, I and others like myself have been subjected to threats against our personal safety, been bombarded with spam, pornography, and signed up to various mailing lists in an attempt to silence our voices.

Bisexual people in particular should be aware that TERFS are also usually viciously biphobic as well as transphobic. This probably has to do with the long history of bisexual people transgressing gender boundaries themselves, (over 1/3 of us are bi + trans) and these numbers do not even include the huge numbers of non-binary bi people as well as bisexual people who are partnered with trans/genderqueer people. Additionally the B + the T in LGBT have been longtime political allies and friends.

Recently Gender Identity Watch launch vicious ongoing personal attacks of the kind detailed above against prominent bisexual activists and groups, including but not limited to: BiNet USA Board Member + Writer AJ Walkley as well as direct attacks against the non-profit organization Binet USA itself.

Bi Women Partnered with Men support group

Tea with Bi Women Partnered with Men is a support group for bisexual trans and cis women and non-binary people of all races and ethnic backgrounds. We discuss issues relating to attraction, sexuality, gender, and mixed orientation relationships in a supportive safe space. This support group is co-hosted by Bisexual Women of Color (BIWOC) and the Bisexual Resource CenterRSVP:

Established: September 28, 2014. Boston, MA USA.