TERFs: the new tropes

Not getting a sufficient rise out of calling trans women “men”, they now call us “parasites”. But they may have gone too far in denying anyone but they are feminists.

David TC Davies MP hosted an event by “We need to talk”, an anti-trans campaign, in the House of Commons. Davies is not particularly feminist: he voted to reduce the abortion time limit from 24 to 12 weeks. (After the limit there can still be abortions, to prevent “grave permanent injury” to the mother, and for similarly grave reasons.) He wishes to foment hatred of immigrants: after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, he posted “Paris attacks show need to scrap Human Rights Act”. His aim is to split the left, here by supporting TERFs, just as The Spectator, the hard-right magazine which shares its writers with Breitbart, prints their articles. So he uses FGM, arguing the commitment to supporting diversity means turning a blind eye to forced marriages, not doing enough to prevent honour killings, ignoring female genital mutilation. He is trying to turn feminists into Islamophobes.

Ooh, how radical they were! Look at their forums, and you see “Trans-identified male”, or TIM, as their way of referring to trans women. “TIF” comes up very rarely. But as with any addict, the old levels of hate and disgust cease to have an effect, and they need to be more extreme. Sheila Jeffreys said, when men claim to be women…and parasitically occupy the bodies of the oppressed, they speak for the oppressed. They become to be recognised as the oppressed. There’s no space for women’s liberation. It’s not clear what she means by this. Insofar as trans women’s interests differ from cis women’s, she seems to be saying that our interests will be more important. But if we speak for women about feminist concerns, such as the gender pay gap, we are on her side. Trans voices are never louder than cis voices. Cis feminists still get bigger platforms.

Jeffreys called transgender a “sexual fetish”. Again this is radicalising: no trans woman transitions except for femininity, even if there is some arousal, and some feminists have admitted there are a variety of causes, but increasingly they pick on “autogynephilia” as the cause even though there is no correlate for trans men and it does not apply to androphile trans women. The fetish works as a “parasitism” on us. Actually, that could work as well as “born that way” or “I have a woman’s brain” arguments: we are helpless in the face of the desire to transition, so should be allowed to do so comfortably.

“Gender critical feminist” is a tautology- feminism implies being gender critical, they say. That’s fine by me, I will go back to the word TERF. Being gender critical only means that you don’t accept that all women are or should be feminine, not that people do not have a wide range of gender expession. “Feminist is enough to describe that you are critical of the gender doctrine” said a tweet. “By using the word trans we validate this false concept. There are only men and women. Let’s take back our language” said a tweet. The most extreme stuff is left out of Pink News.

Men can’t become women, what’s so difficult about that? It depends on how you define woman. Culture has always had a part in that. There are gender non-conforming people, and transition is one of the ways we free ourselves. Closing that off does not mean that trans men will become angry feminists like her, necessarily. They may just feel stymied, and fail to thrive. Free us up to respond to gender and watch it collapse under its contradictions.

The longer this is a live issue for people, the more extreme positions get. It is only a live issue because the government promised a consultation on gender recognition reform in the Autumn, but has not got round to it yet even though the Scottish consultation has finished. I infer that the Government Equalities Office and its minister Amber Rudd is aiding David Davies’ attempt to split the Left.

Angela Crawley, Equalities spokesperson for the SNP, said As a lesbian woman and a feminist, I stand with trans and non-binary people against the appalling prejudice and discrimination they continue to face. Trans rights are human rights, and the SNP is committed to making Scotland a fairer and more equal country for everyone.

Quotes taken from Pink News.

Ward, Henrietta Mary Ada; Chatterton, 1765; Bristol Museums, Galleries & Archives; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/chatterton-1765-189233

3 thoughts on “TERFs: the new tropes

  1. the problem with these people Clare is that they are not rational and their argumentation can only work if trans people created themselves and transitioned for no good reason. If we are born the way we are we cannot be accused of trying to usurp anything. I stay far away from these radicals because nothing can be done with them or for them and they will not be swayed with reasonable discussions. To them we are some sort of movement or agenda with no basis in reality which is patently false. But life is too short to grapple with the irrational and the unstable and, because they have no political power it is best to concentrate on those who hate us who hold those levers…

    Liked by 1 person

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