Here is Suzanne Moore apparently saying supportive things about trans women. “I support Jane Fae, a trans activist”. She mentions how threats of violence are part of many trans women’s lives. This is pleasing when her last mention of us led to such repellent articles. Yet when she defines Trans exclusionary radical feminist, she links to this article, which defines it as most people with sensible views.
Am I a “biological woman”? Well, no. Perhaps the only evidence that I am a woman is my unchangeable conviction that this is how I wish to express myself. Sneakily, the TERF “Terry Macdonald” (a pseudonym) concentrates on these matters. She says that all feminists oppose violence against trans women: There is a particularly clear intersection between feminist and trans concerns.
She attacks the notion that trans women are women. Well, some of us have penises. She does not state what follows: it is the practical result which matters. I want to use women’s changing rooms in clothes shops and sports centres. I hope I never have to use services for women victims of violence, but do not want to be excluded on the grounds of being a man.
We might concede that trans women should be careful in such spaces. Arguably, the more you look like a man the more discreet you should be. We should act not as if asserting a right, but tacitly accepting a favour. We should be particularly careful to avoid a penis being visible. I still hate those open changing rooms with a bench round the edge; I much prefer a cubicle.
What I ask is messy human relationships, live and let live, give me a break, rather than clear logical rules like
You have a Y chromosome
This is a women’s changing room
Therefore you are not allowed in
which is arguable, I suppose, and is death to me. I want to be treated as an honorary woman: mostly I am, and that is why I am no longer suicidal. I am an asylum-seeker, not a colonist. Therefore we have to be a bit careful of upsetting those “born women”, though I do not like that phrase.
Of course there are differences. I was glad to be called a slut! H, a feminist, was angry on my behalf, but while the epithet alleges she is not entitled to the protection of the Patriarchy as she belongs to no individual man so belongs to all of them, and all men may chastise her for anything they find objectionable; for me it shows that the abuser has not read me as trans, he sees me as a woman, so is less likely to hit me. For her it is a threat of violence, for me a reduction of the threat. When that large man called me a “whore” I felt relief.
You can be a terf until you want to deny me women’s space. That is the moment of trans exclusion which hurts.
Moore goes on to justify Bahar Mustafa, who used the hashtag #killallwhitemen. I find that as empowering as the slogan “Die cis scum”. I sympathise, though I would hate anyone to put it into practice; I would just like to feel less fear. Perversely, sometimes I would like the privileged group to know what my fear feels like.