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Tag: transphobia

Stop Making Excuses for Transphobia

If you agreed with any or all of the above statements, you might be transphobic. And I think it’s time we stopped making excuses for you.

I think it’s time we stopped pretending that people we like, people who are broadly liberal and progressive, need to be cut some slack when they repeatedly misgender someone. I think it’s time that people who claim to support the LGBTQ+ community but staunchly refuse to educate themselves on trans topics need to be told they’re not the allies they think they are. I think it’s time that trans issues weren’t such an omnipresent punchline in the media. I think it’s time we stopped dancing around the issue, stopped tacitly endorsing transphobia, and started admitting that it’s bigotry backed up by ignorance, and that it should never have become the background noise of discussing trans issues.

I’m a feminist and part of the LGBTQ+ world, and in both communities I’ve seen people trying to close down or directly exclude trans people. Don’t bother bringing up trans stuff in general company, as you will find at least one person pulling a face and calling it gross. Whether it’s conservative politicians joking about wishing they had been transgender so they could sneak into the girl’s showers in high school. or famed feminists explaining why trans women are just men trying to impinge on female spaces, transphobia is omnipresent, no matter what political or social groups you align with. And it’s godamn time we stopped dismissing it with excuses- “they don’t understand”, “they don’t mean it”, “they’re allowed to voice their opinions”. All these things could be true, but it doesn’t stop what they’re saying being transphobic. And it doesn’t stop them from contributing to a culture that continually ignores, belittles, or actively attacks trans people. Your ignorance is not a defence.

When you hear people spouting the same tired transphobic rhetoric, call them on it. If you yourself are not sure how to appropriately discuss trans issues, there are some great resources out there- try here and here to start with. Call out the many, many mainstream news sites that promote transphobic articles- including The Guardian and The Blaze. Right now, the attempted suicide rate amongst trans people is at 41%, as opposed to 4.6% for cisgender people. The Human Rights Campaign estimates that 1 in 12 trans people face being murdered in their lifetime. We’re still living in a world where Ruby Ordenana, a trans woman, was found strangled and beaten to death, only for the funeral home to change her clothes from a dress to a suit, a world where a young gender non-conforming man was showered in LGBT slurs as he was beaten, cut, and burnt with cigarettes, only for the police to refuse to work on a composite with him. Only one state in America has officially banned the trans panic defence for the murder or assault of a trans person. Violence against trans people is everywhere, and when we sit back and allow transphobia to flourish unchecked-whether it’s in the media or in our day-to-day lives- we’re further allowing that to stay as the status quo. And we can do better than that- more importantly, we should be doing better than that. Because respecting people as people- no matter what their gender identity- shouldn’t be something we have to debate.

TERF Wars: Trans Exclusionary Radicals and Feminism

This article originally appeared on Witty Bitches, so head over there to join in the debate and support a cool new feminist website.

I think it’s time that we talked about TERFs. Anyone involved in the feminism movement in any kind of way will probably have encountered this phrase a few times before- whether spitefully thrown out as a way to dismiss someone’s opinions (“ignore her TERF trolling”) or as a disclaimer (“feminist, not a TERF”) but what exactly that acronym means- and what kind of implications it has for feminists in the broader sense- is a factor that’s often obscured. So let’s take a closer look.

First off, what is a TERF when it comes down to it? Like all political ideologies, there are a bunch of sub-sections that bicker beneath the main banner, but those letters stand for Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist (and also spawned a million “TERF war” pun headlines whenever they clashed with the more mainstream movement). That sounds pretty self- explanatory-but there’s a lot of confusion about what precisely a TERF is. For a lot of people, it’s just a radical feminist who believes that trans people (specifically transwomen) should not benefit from or partake in the feminist movement, and should be denied access to women-only spaces (like bathrooms and refuges). And I’m not going to come right out and sweep everyone who identifies with this group under the transmysoginist or transphobic carpet, because I’ve read some interesting pieces by TERFs who vehemently argue against those terms, but I will say that a rotten bunch of people who DO identify as TERFs have been involved in pretty nasty behaviour. By which I mean, repeatedly and apparently deliberately misgendering transpeople, outrightly denying their gender, suggesting that lesbian transwomen cannot actually be lesbian, and saying some pretty repulsive stuff about the bodies of transpeople. Which is all pretty grim and unacceptable to most sane people, and most feminists.

But the real problem I have with it is suggesting that feminism is a girl’s club-specifically, a cisgender woman’s club. And I’m certain there will be TERFs who disagree with this interpretation of it, but that’s the way I see it. Sure, the majority of feminists who I’ve met during my lifetime have been women, but I also know personally (and know of, more broadly) a good number of non-cisgender women who are feminists. And that’s a pretty vital thing about feminism. Even if the movement is broadly focused on women’s issues because women suffer from the most systematic gender inequalities, it doesn’t mean that feminism is a movement for women’s power. It’s a movement for gender equality. Let me repeat that: IT’S A MOVEMENT FOR GENDER EQUALITY. As soon as you start excluding people from feminism on the basis of gender, sexual orientation or, well, anything other than the fact that their ideology just blatantly doesn’t sit well with feminism, the ground upon which feminism is built shatters. It’s vital that we call out those people who come up with tenuous reasons to try and stop people from supporting feminism, because by not doing so we’re tacitly agreeing that feminism is something that only applies to cisgender women. And that only they can participate. And that only they can benefit. And that’s bullshit, and I don’t like that idea at all.

Look, when it comes down to it, I just feminism to stop being such a dirty word. I want to throw window open and invite everyone to come and join the feminist party. Gender equality requires input from all genders, including those outside the gender binaries. If you can’t handle the thought of your little feminist clique being blown open to anyone who wants to join a long and drawn-out battle to end discrimination based on gender- whatever that gender is- than I’ve got some bad news for you: you might not be as feminist as you think.