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(en) AFED, organise magazine: Why We Fight The TERF War - Theory And Analysis
Tue, 6 Aug 2019 09:20:01 +0300
This article is a call to action to protect and defend the trans community. ---- There is
no space for neutrality. ---- We strongly suggest you listen to G.L.O.S.S. when reading
this article. ---- [This article is lifted directly from the original zine format which
you can download below.] ---- WHAT ARE TERFS? ---- TERFs, otherwise known as Trans
Exclusionary Radical Feminists, are people who refuse to accept transgender identities,
and who violently oppress trans people, especially trans women. ---- Many TERFs will claim
they believe in trans rights and that trans people should be protected from violence.
However, they incorrectly believe that people's biology (e.g. genitals and chromosomes)
determine their gender and whether they experience sexism and gender -based violence.
Their ideology results in them refusing to accept trans women as women and discriminating
against them by excluding them from spaces cis women can go to.
Anyone who supports or promotes these ideas - whether it's attending events in person,
sharing online, or any number of other questionable methods - is, in our view, a TERF.
Transphobia: hatred of trans people (although in this zine we try to use more precise
words e.g. trans hostile, or trans derogatory).
Trans misogyny: form of sexism aimed particularly at trans women and trans feminine people.
Dead naming:referring to someone by a former name they no longer use.
Mis-gendering: using the wrong pronouns.
Cis: people who aren't trans/ are assigned the appropriate gender at birth.
MEET THE TERFS
TERFs come in many shapes and sizes. Here are a few groups on the scene at the moment.
A Women's Place
They Say: "violence against women & sex discrimination still exist. Women need reserved
places, separate spaces and distinct services"
But: Deny that trans women are women, question trans existence, and encourage trans misogyny.
They Say: "We are a group of parents based in the UK, who are concerned about the current
trend to diagnose "gender non-conforming children" as transgender."
But: Encourage parents to disbelieve and dismiss their trans children's identities;
intensifying gender dysphoria.
They Say: "We provide a unique perspective on male violence against women"
But: Intentionally mis-gender and dead name trans women and deny the existence of trans
We Need To Talk About Sex
They Say: "We discuss the Gender Recognition Act and its impact on the rights of women and
But: Target and harass trans women, deny that trans women are women and, mis-gender and
dead trans women on purpose.
Mayday for Women
They Say: "Mayday are a collective of women who have come together to: Oppose the proposed
changes to the Gender Recognition Act 2004, Stand up for women's rights and defend women's
freedom of speech"
But: Campaign against self-identification from trans people, promote ideas that being
transgender is idealogical brainwashing and intentionally mis-gender trans women.
Fair Play for Women and Girls
They Say: "We are a group of ordinary women who are concerned that in the rush to reform
transgender laws that women's voices will not be listed to"
But: Promote lies about the trans community, campaign for trans women to go to male
prisons and erase trans identities.
Lesbian Rights Alliance
They Say: "[We]defend lesbian rights to have same sex relationships and defend lesbian and
women only space and stop the erasure of lesbians"
But: Intentionally mis-gender trans women, promote ideas that trans men are "sick", and
blame trans people for the oppression of lesbians.
THE DANGER OF TERFS
TERFs may be a fringe group, but they tap into the trans-hostile and trans misogynistic
views held by many, across the political spectrum. They are not the first hate group to
hide under the guise of left wing struggle. We've seen it with right wing nationalists and
racists working their way into the animal rights movement. Like Gays Against Sharia, TERFs
weaponize victim status to demonize and encourage hatred. These are not views that can be
"discussed" or "debated". They even attend anarchist events to campaign for more
repressive state laws (can anybody see the irony there?)
They rely on a mixture of clever wording and a hope that the majority don't really
understand what they are talking about. They are hiding under a thin disguise what is
nothing more than hate speech. They aim to isolate and exclude trans people. They erase
trans identities and fuel already high levels of violence against trans women.
This violence is predominantly targeted at trans women from working class backgrounds
because TERFs campaign to exclude trans women from women's prisons and refuges which
disproportionately affects trans women on the bread line. We all know prisons aren't full
of rich people, and the rich rarely find themselves without a roof over their head. And
given the institutional racism that both lands disproportionate numbers of people of
colour in prison and excludes them from accessing services, it's safe to assume that trans
women of colour are particularly affected by the words and actions of TERFs.
For these reasons and more, we don't see the struggle against TERFs as a struggle soley
for trans women, or even the trans community as a whole. It's also a part of the class
struggle, the feminist struggle, the anti-racist struggle, the prison abolitionist
struggle and a struggle for anyone who doesn't want their group to be co-opted by right
wing hate dweebs.
DEALING WITH TERFS
We must no platform and resist TERFs. This can be done in many ways, such as:
Organize demos when TERFs arrange to speak: sometimes their events are held in secret, and
it may be necessary to buy a ticket. There are pros and cons to this; but if you decide
to, use a fake name and email. Remember to cover your face at demos like this - TERFs will
try to film you and then target you. Try to get Legal Observers on hand too, for when the
pesky cops show up.
Proactive myth busting: hold events, talk to people, share stuff written by trans writers
on social media, or whatever works for you!
Calling Out TERFs: when you hear TERFy stuff, or see it on social media. If people won't
engage, exclude them from your groups.
Support Trans prisoners: show solidarity with trans people incarcerated by the state by
writing to people inside (check out Bent Bars project) or raising money to support their
legal cases and other needs (Empty Cages Collective can give you pointers there).
It is most important to offer one another support as we organize. TERFs try to pick out
individuals, they try to isolate us from one another. But this will not succeed if we
prioritize caring for one another.
SHALL WE TALK ABOUT VIOLENCE?
When talking about this situation, we feel it is crucial to consider the levels of
violence and oppression the TERFs are campaigning to be inflicted by the state and other
elements of society on trans women.
They are campaigning for a world where trans women are refused appropriate refuge from
abusive partners and dangerous situations, knowing full well the disproportionate levels
of violence aimed at trans women. They seek to maintain a system in which women are sent
to male prisons -a place we have lost far too many trans sisters in thelast 2 years alone.
And this is just what they are openly campaigning for, without mentioning the obvious
trans-hostile undertones and side agendas that they are less public about.
When opposing TERFs, protestors have experienced intense levels of trans-derogatory verbal
abuse and physical violence. Whilst we are in no way telling people they should be
violent, nor that it is the only effective tactic, we think it would be counter-productive
and insensitive to condemn violence used in the fight against trans-hate given the real
life dangers trans people face. For some this is an ideological, philosophical or academic
fight but for people like us it's a fight to exist -so don't be so quick to judge the
methods used by some of our allies and comrades.
"But SCIENCE!!!!" TERFs say that chromosomes are an absolute indicator of gender and that
science thus "proves" that trans people can't exist. BUT the reality of biology is much
more complicated, "Biologists have never been under the illusion that genes and
chromosomes are all there is to the biology of sex." (Sarah Richardson, Sex Itself)
"Trans as a new/ modern idea."TERFs claim that being trans was "invented" in the early
20thcentury by a patriarchal medical system. BUT in fact trans people have been known in
many different cultures around the world and throughout history.
"Trans women are socialized as men."TERFs say trans women are raised as male making them
violent, patriarchal aggressors BUT many undergo social transition as young as 5, and/or
have lived as women longer than they have as men. Even those who do come out later don't
experience growing up in the same way as cis men and are usually more critical of the way
they were raised.
"Trans people are obsessed with conforming to gender stereotypes,"according to TERFs. BUT
its not realistic for trans people to dress how they would ideally like -some elements of
gender conforming are necessary for safety and well being. Despite the risks many trans
people still resist gender stereotypes and thus aren't recognized as trans, making it
easier for TERFs to gloss over this fact.
"You'll grow out of it/regret it." Saying these sorts of things does not have the effect
of saving people from surgery, it just delays or even stops trans people from accessing
the services they need. Whats more, there are many different ways of being trans not all
of which involve the same amount of surgery, or necessarily any surgery at all. (SPOILER
ALERT: if you're ever tempted to ask a trans person whether they've thought about this
-YES THEY HAVE).
"Changing the gender recognition act will harm cis women."TERFs have been rallying around
the claim that changes to the Gender Recognition Act will put women at risk as it will
allow men to enter women-only spaces. This is false. Several countries, including Ireland,
Norway and Denmark, have already passed laws to allow trans people to determine their own
legal gender with great success.
In any case, trans women are already using women's toilets in the UK. They are also
already accessing services via women's refuges. This is because the Equalities Act 2010
recognises "gender reassignment"as a protected characteristic, and protects against trans
people from being discriminated against when using facilities appropriate to their gender
identity. Changes to the Gender Recognition Act will make no difference.
This zine/article was written by Sister Not Cister UK, An organisation who are angry with
the recent rise of anti-trans feminism and organise workshops and media to help educate
people on the issues around transphobia.
You can visit their Facebook account by clicking here.
You can visit their website by clicking here.
You can download the zine in print format below:-
A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
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