Over the past year or so I’ve noticed a term that keeps popping up: “terfs”. On the news; at rallies; in comment sections on social media. But what are they? It’s an acronym which stands for: “trans-exclusionary radical feminists”.
What is a feminist? Taking the Merriam-Webster definition, it’s someone who believes in the: “social, political and economic equality of the sexes”. But what I would like to make clear is that nowadays the terms feminist means a lot more; we live in a society now, where it is generally accepted that you don’t have to be cisgender to identify as female or male. Therefore if we are to exclude such people from our fight for equal rights can we really call ourselves feminists?
Terfs hold the belief that trans women do not share the same struggle as cis women and therefore can not be included in feminism. Well they got something right there: trans women do not share the same struggle as cis women, and in fact for all trans women (especially those of colour) they experience a kind of struggle unimaginable to most cis women.
Let me elaborate, for a large majority of trans people they live a proportion of their lives in a sex assigned to them at birth with which they do not identify with; and society conditions them to believe that the sex they were born with ultimately defines them, and when they are finally able to find the vocabulary to express themselves, they face only further discrimination for not keeping to this nice binary we as a society have put in place.
We use feminism to challenge the norms of the patriarchy, we use feminism to bring that which is associated with femininity to an equal ranking in society as of that which is considered masculine, to bring anyone who identifies as female up to the same playing grounds as those who are male. We therefore have to use feminism to support our sisters, not just our CISters, their struggles are not ours but that in no way means we should ever erase them from what I believe is feminism.
Terfs are not feminists.
Written by Sophie O’Dell