If you follow many feminists on twitter it would be hard not to have noticed the arguments between trans activists and 'trans exclusive radical feminists' [TERFs]. I say arguments. I mean harassment and abuse, more often than not.
I read, again and again, TERFs who refer to women as 'he' because they have decided that gender dysphoria does not exist; that these women are, in fact, men putting on an elaborate masquerade in order to - what, exactly? Gain access to women-only spaces? Destroy feminism? I'm not sure, but the TERFs are certainly angry about it.
Reading a lot of this makes me a little sick and desperately sad.
I'm a feminist. I'm queer. I'm cis.
I believed, wholeheartedly, that feminism was about supporting women. Knocking down barriers. And that trans women were a part of that - we all face discrimination, higher risks of sexual assault and domestic violence. The patriarchy hurts everyone - and trans women face huge amounts of discrimination and abuse in a society that questions their very existence and then abuses them for it.
And that's just the thing - I feel sickened and upset by the vitriol heaped on trans folk. So I can't even begin to imagine what it's like to be in the position of receiving that hatred.
is that 'calm'approach an offshoot of the privilege of not having to worry about the knock-on affects of the debate?
I'm all for debate, discussion, and nuance. But as I look at cis people involved in these conversations essentially shake their heads and wonder why trans people are gettingso worked up I wonder something else. Is it rational to sit back and discuss, dispassionately, things that not only affect your life, but could lead to you being attacked or assaulted? Is it even really possible? Or is that 'calm' 'rational' approach an offshoot of the privilege of not having to worry too much about the knock-on affects of the debate?
Because let's not pretend that this is a debate that we can just have, in abstract. Hatred has real-life knock on effects. And so does treating people's identities as if they're an interesting academic problem to be solved, and not lives people are trying to get on and live.
There are countless examples of times and places where bigotry against trans people has turned into violence - the annual Trans Day of Remembrance reminds us of the very real dangers created.
But this doesn't stop TERFs continuing to hassle and abuse trans women - I say trans women because I'm not aware of incidences of them harassing trans men - ironically the abuse these 'feminists' dish out seems to be directed pretty much exclusively at women. But I wouldn't be surprised to hear about them also targeting men.
Cathy Brennan is infamous for her attacks on trans women. An American self-styled 'radical feminist', she has contacted employers and doctors of trans women, threatened to sue people she disagrees with, and posted people's personal details online (for more details and links see this article).
Things came to a head recently when a teenager, who happens to be trans, was falsely accused of attacking other girls in the high-school toilets, with the story given to the press as an example of 'trans rights going too far'. Because something as basic as dignity is far less important than using lies to pursue a dangerous agenda, yes?
As I said, I am not trans. I don't have to face this bullying and violence. But as a cis feminist I want to stand up and say, this is not ok. This is not my feminism.