why terfs are not real feminists


photo: ehimetalor akhere unuabona on unsplash

Feminism has been around for hundreds of years, and for as long as we can remember, women have fought for their rights and did what they needed to do in order to stand up for themselves. The first wave of feminism began in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and has been an active movement ever since. Activism as a whole is normally perceived as a progressive act that is being done for the greater good, but trans-exclusionary radical feminists prove those ideals to be the furthest thing from reality. 


Trans-exclusionary radical feminists, also known as TERFs, are group of procclaimed “activists,” often with conservative ideals and strong religious beliefs, who believe that transgender people should not be associated with the feminist movement and that they hinder the progression of womens rights. This could not be further from the truth. 


TERFs believe that gender at birth is the only gender. Their claim to combat the anti-trans allegations is that “biology isn’t bigotry,” when every ideal they stand for is rooted in hate. Their website states, “At Hands Across the Aisle, we are a politically diverse group of women who are choosing to stand together to reclaim the definition of sex as a binary concept that refers to one’s biological status as male or female.” 


Invalidating a whole group of people in hopes that it will fuel another movement is not real activism. The term “TERF” originated in 2008 when activist writer Viv Smythe used it to describe the anti-trans movement she was witnessing. The group has deemed TERF as a slur and prefers to be called “gender critical.” In an article written by Katelyn Burns for VOX, she stated:


“This conception of gender as a system would be relatively sound if not for the existence of LGBTQ people. Gender- and sex-based oppression can be imposed on a range of people who were assigned male at birth, like gay men and, of course, trans women. In practice, however, the movement more closely resembles an organized hate campaign against a marginalized community — whether that’s through online harassment or filing briefs in landmark civil rights cases.”


In order to move forward and create these milestones fighting for women’s rights, trans people need to be a part of the conversation. They are just as worthy and should be allowed to take up space in feminist spaces just as much as cisgender women. 


Hands Across The Aisle is an active anti-trans feminist group whose whole mission is based off of invalidating the transition of trans people. In a statement for VOX, the organization said: 


We watched as doctors enabled irreversible damage to our daughters’ bodies, we sat stunned as boys took away our sisters’ sports opportunities, and we wept as our lesbian friends poisoned their bodies with testosterone in an attempt to appear male.” 


TERFs not only invalidate trans women, but trans men as well. They believe that trans men have been “brainwashed” and cannot think for themselves. In response, trans author Jay Hulme wrote: 


“This is, again, anti-feminist — the idea that trans men are just foolish women whose words cannot have any value is deeply troubling, and mirrors partiarchal behaviours towards ‘silly girls,’ no matter how old or how accomplished the women in question actually are.”


The issues modern day feminists are fighting for concern trans people just as they do cis women. Healthcare, having body autonomy and working to be treated as an equal are all things that are just as important for trans people. 


It is also important to note that our patriarchal society plays a part in this way of thinking, that in order to succeed a marginalized group must be put down in the process. The cutthroat nature of society today allows TERFs to thrive and feel empowered while putting others down, which is the opposite of what feminism truly is. 


Feminism is about uplifting other women, being there for those who don’t look like you or who come from different backgrounds, not tear them down because of their differences. Nothing that TERFs do displays actual acts of feminism. They are a hate group. 


Their beliefs are fueled on fear and have no actual evidence to back up any of their claims. The ideals that they preach are inherently anti-feminist. 


True feminists act in love and work for the greater good, they do not pick and choose based off of hateful views and bigotry. 


Trans people are valid, worthy and deserve to take up space in every setting. Feminism pertains to all women, and no woman is entitled to take that away. 


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