CW: Transphobia, misogyny.
PLEASE READ THE ENTIRE PIECE BEFORE MAKING ANY ASSUMPTIONS!!!!!
As a trans woman, and even more so as a trans activist, there has always been a fascination with “TERFs” that I have held. I cannot remember when it was exposed to this ideology, but I remember I held a serious disgust towards them as many trans people did. Such a perspective was, and still is, only natural given the vulnerable status of trans people as a minority and the often present cruelty and elitism that is often attributed to “TERFs.”
They are often classified with strong words of disdain from people of various sources. The “Westboro Baptist Church of Feminism,” the “Chromosome Crusaders,” there have been many terms attributed to them, mostly negative. TERFs are known for their toxic and predatory behavior and they are almost universally despised by feminists, moderates, and anti feminists alike. Thus, they are so universally scorned that no one wishes to associate with them…
…or so we thought.
I have previously written about my thoughts on gender critical feminism towards the end of last year in my response to prominent gender critical writer Meghan Murphy. Since then (and even before then to an extent) I have spoken with many gender critical feminists on a more personal and less hostile basis. The following is what I have learned from these interactions.
Due to the increased prominence of the trans movement, more and more have turned on either trans activism or trans people as a whole. A Gofundme page to exclude trans women from Labour Party women’s shortlists in the UK has made over 20K in donations. Despite the fact that the this campaign was ineffective, in addition to the fact that Irish feminists are having none of their shit, I don’t feel this is something we can just ignore.
One can say that this is just the typical cultural pushback against an oppressed minority deciding to demand their rights, and for all I know that could be exactly it. I don’t think that previous generations of social activists have obtained their rights simply by calling their opponents bigots however. Granted they definitely did that part to but the problem is that there IS no Martin Luther King of trans people, or at least no influential trans activist fits the role.
I think I finally figured out what it is that “gender critical feminists” are so put off by when it comes to trans people, and I think I know how to fix it. I have also realized that gender critical feminists… are just as afraid of us as we are of them. Most of them don’t want this either and their prejudice exists out of a desire for self preservation.
For years I had been lead to believe these people were hateful and predatory monsters who wanted me to suffer; who wanted me to feel hurt, alone, scared, and unloved. How could you blame me when THESE were the comments that me and nearly every trans person I knew had received from them.
This is merely a sample of the abuse that I have been subjected to over the years by gender critical feminists. Just to put things in perspective, this type of treatment is what prevents trans people from engaging in any civil dialogue with GCFs and it serves as a barrier to any type of mutual engagement unless this much is acknowledged.
Now the thing to note is that not only are most GCFs not the type of extremist types that would send messages like this, most of them don’t even hate trans people. A general rule of thumb when it comes to any major ideological conflicts is that about 90% of people do not have overly strong feelings. They may believe the stuff being told but they are also open to discussion and don’t go around trolling and harassing random people online. They know not to get involved in online flame wars because they either don’t know enough about the subject or because they just don’t want to start a fight.
This results in both sides only seeing the other at its absolute worst and most heinous, which results in them assuming that the other side condones or even supports those actions. What trans people generally don’t know is that it goes both ways. GCFs have their own site for documenting these instances if one needs to get and idea of just what they have in mind in regards to “trans activists.” It is not hard to see why they think “TERF” is a slur when their main exposure to it is used in that fashion.
And yes, them being harassed to does not justify them harassing trans people (nor is the inverse justified); that is not the point of this. Rather I post these for the purpose of perspective. Understanding where your opponents are coming from is vital to countering them and in this case “countering” does not mean beating them in internet flame wars or deplatforming them, but rather in dissuading them.
The lack of willingness to understand those who disagree has been a recurring theme in my writing for quite some time; most prominently in my response to Zinnia Jones. Even I have been guilty of it in the past. I have made my fair share of hateful and insensitive marks about my ideological opponents many times before. The key difference with me is that I at least TRY to understand my opponent’s perspective. I don’t enjoy conflict, no one does, but way too many of us are so scared of new ideas that we feel it is easier to hate and demonize any who oppose us rather than consider the possibility that we may be wrong.
It’s not hard to understand why. Most of us can’t afford to put in the emotional labor required to turn the other cheek in response to every rude or nasty comment by someone who knows nothing about us; especially when there is no guarantee we will break through to them. People’s first instinct is to respond with anger when they feel threatened. I am willing to guess this is because showing weakness and vulnerability in front of someone who seeks to cause you harm will just let them know you can’t stand up for yourself. This is a common product of toxic masculinity that shames weakness and vulnerability (aka “feminine” traits) and praises strength and stability (aka “masculine” traits).
If one is to respond by saying that “strength and stability are objectively better than weakness and vulnerability for the purposes of self preservation,” then that is exactly the point; patriarchy conveniently associates the positives with men and the negatives with women. Men are then shamed for showing any weak “feminine” emotions like compassion or any vulnerability. Having lived as a man I can tell you straight up that it is far more restricting and claustrophobic than most realize (although I’m not going to claim something like “female privilege” exists. Women on the other hand are discouraged from showing strength or confidence and are prioritized when they are weak or fragile so they can be reduced to objects of men’s desire with few ways of resisting.
In more recent times this is likely more difficult to understand for non feminists since western society is far more accepting of strong women than 500 or even 50 years ago. It was reading Woman Hating by Andrea Dworkin, and now reading Our Blood, that shattered most of my former world view and made me shift from your typical feminist to the dreaded “radical feminist,” but it also brings to light just how much has changed since then. There is a lot more freedom for women to be masculine than there is for men to be feminine, which was not always the case. The stigmas are not completely gone but there is nonetheless a bit less pressure.
So, what does this have to do with “TERFs” one may ask? Simple, feminists have never been a fan of toxic masculinity, even if they are “mean nasty bigoted TERFs.” (And for those who don’t know I’m using the term in quotes for diplomatic purposes, although I have previously mentioned I’m becoming less comfortable with it for more personal reasons). I already know that almost any trans person or trans ally is going to immediately object to this, but I just ask that you allow me to properly set up the situation to explain what I mean.
Trans people commonly lump GCFs in with anti feminists, conservatives, or religious zealots due to the fact that many of them also hold anti trans views and that a lot of the arguments are the same at their core. The key issue I find with a vast majority of political arguments these days is the lack of understanding from people as to WHY their opponents take their position and the tendency to fill in the blanks with whatever THEY think is the most likely explanation.
The problem with this approach is that it is impossible to accurately gauge the motivations of an argument you cannot agree with without your own confirmation bias coming into play. You see this all the time with trite accusations that political opponents are sociopaths, narcissists, abusers, etc. This is all done because the base ideology of one’s opposing view is seen as a threat to one’s very existence or peace of mind and thus said opponents must WANT you to suffer and become distressed. This in turn prompts each faction to hide inside an echo chamber of their peers and never come out due to fear that their opponents will tear them apart. All political discussion turns into verbal trench warfare in which one will only peak at their opponents when they are on the attack and get shot down by the your much smarter peers.
While this article is meant to focus on trans activism and radical feminism, it is important to realize that this concept applies almost universally to all debates and opposing view points. There are some individuals who are too stubborn and set into their own ways to reconsider their views but the more important thing is to examine WHY they won’t. A lot of people are convinced that everything is about facts and logic but it is about much more than that. In actuality it is far more important HOW you say something than what is being said, but different groups are more inclined to interpret words in different ways due to varying backgrounds. When you add that individuals may have had their own unique circumstances for coming to their decisions, you end up with a situation that is far too complex to lump all your opponents into a single “cult like” group.
I’ve been open about some of my regrettable past views for quite some time in an attempt to better understand different perspectives. I am not proud of saying that I am an ex MRA, but nonetheless I was one at a point in time prior to coming out. But how many would have guessed that my hatred of feminism stemmed from latent gender dysphoria and strong resentment towards male gender roles and toxic masculinity (a term that I didn’t even properly understand at the time)? The typical stereotype of a men’s rights activist is a neckbearded “nice guy” who is pissed that women won’t stay in the kitchen or have sex with them.
My own resentment of feminism, and possibly women as a whole, stemmed from latent envy and jealousy. My dysphoria skewed my own perception of the world around me and made it easier for me to be influenced by MRA propaganda that claimed patriarchy was entirely undone in the last few decades by feminism, has been replaced with an oppressive matriarchal society, and that “female privilege” was real. It did not occur to me that many of my male peers did not feel the same way and that our motivations were entirely different. Even in 2014 when I was an adamant GamerGate supporter, I was starting to distance myself from the men’s rights movement for this reason.
I bring this up so I can demonstrate how, despite previously holding views that were similar on a surface level, the reasons I held them were completely different. The stereotypical MRA is someone who wants to uphold male supremacy and patriarchy, while I and possibly others detested the harsh stranglehold of toxic masculinity that punishes any sign of weakness, compassion, or empathy while women were more likely to be cared for and put on a pedestal. The same things that men are often shamed for is what is seen as a desirable quality in women, and women were starting to break out of those expectations while men were still stuck with these restrictive masculinity norms. It is true what they say; the grass is always greener on the other side.
The surprising thing about all this is that this story does NOT seem to be shared among the many trans women I have met. You wouldn’t think this if you listened to GCFs though, as many are convinced that trans women are men’s rights activists who are angry about not being allowed in women’s spaces or being unable to fuck lesbians, and that we have managed to fool even most prominent feminists into thinking we seriously care about women. They then can only assume that we have instead utilized a wounded gazelle gambit to overtake the feminist movement to validate our own concerns and feelings.
If I could give a word of advice to anyone, regardless of political beliefs, ideology, world view, or background it would to NEVER assume that the loudest, most abrasive, and most vitriolic sections of your side are simply a “vocal minority” or exaggerated strawmen; there’s always at least one insane shithead no matter what group it is. GCFs for instance, the Reddit post I just embedded is what trans people think of when they hear “TERF.” We don’t see well meaning people who are concerned about the trans movement overstepping their boundaries and shouting down women; they see these types who have decided what we all are before they even met any of us and who twist everything else to fit that narrative. I feel that what is wrong with this post should be obvious even to most gender critical feminists but nonetheless I feel the need to briefly touch on why.
What this post attempts to do is to justify the anger and hate towards trans women on the part of many GCFs by saying that trans women actually want it and that we are intentionally acting out in order to fulfill our fetish. Without “TERFs,” we would not be able to get our sexual thrills after we have successfully overtaken the feminist movement and become accepted as real women. So that way, “TERFs” actually have our best interests at heart and don’t need to feel guilty about stigmatizing and dehumanizing trans women.
The obvious problem with this theory is that it directly states that accepting us is the ultimate solution to dealing with narcissistic men who say they are women so they can invade women’s spaces, and that fighting us is exactly what we want. This is not an attempt to better understand trans people; it is an excuse to justify mistreatment of trans women when continuous shame and hate is thrown your way for doing so. It justifies what is being done because there are enough mental gymnastics performed to claim that what they are doing is actually good for us; that they know what’s best for us because we are brainless neanderthals pursuing sexual pleasure and nothing else.
Again this is not all GCFs, and for all I know it may not even be most of them, but most GCFs don’t call out this kind of blanket bigotry. A number of GCFs have allied themselves with homophobes and misogynists in order to crush the trans menace! Trans feminists activists like Contrapoints, Zinnia Jones, and Riley Dennis have been crucified by GCFs, despite the fact that they carry mostly pro feminist beliefs and that the only ones that can be construed as anti feminist also happen to be about trans rights. Yet I rarely if ever see GCF criticize trans women like Blaire White despite them being FAR more anti feminist in their views. Considering that Blaire has a much larger follower base than the three I mentioned, It is quite egregious that many GCFs seem to turn a blind eye to her just because she criticizes the trans movement.
When one is not consistent with their beliefs, it leads to others assuming that their beliefs are based on blind hatred of trans people without any principals. I have my own personal theory as to why trans feminists are emphasized more often than trans anti feminists however. What if I was to say that GCFs are more angry at trans feminist activists BECAUSE we claim to be feminists yet do things they perceived as anti feminist?
When we say that we are women and that we are feminists while also going against their concerns or fears, that tells them the opposite. There may have been “TERFs” for as long as there have been trans people, but there has been a recent surge of them for a reason other than the typical push back to an equality movement. The reason is that leftists these days are often more intent of getting people to blindly follow than to be open and honest about things. Given the tendency of marginalized groups to be judged and stereotyped by their oppressors regardless of what they do, many leftists feel that the only way to fight back is to use their tactics against them.
I do feel that people need to be taught more about LGBT people and for all bigotry to be discouraged. The problem is that this cannot be done by saying that trans people NEVER hurt anyone or are never dangerous. The harder one tries tries to tell someone to believe something, the more they think about whether or not it is true. The media went out of its way to demonize Trump yet look who is currently in the White House?
This leads to GCFs believing that they have come across a horrible secret about trans people. When trans people act aggressively towards anyone who questions our beliefs, it only further convinces them that they are right. The belief that trans people are fetishistic narcissists forms precisely because of how defensive we become when people are even the slightest bit unsure about us. And I don’t just mean those who frequently insult, stigmatize, and objectify us either. It took me a while to realize it and I have previously disagreed with it, but I can no longer deny it: the trans community has a problem.
Many GCFs have started out as trans supportive and don’t even dislike individual trans people, but they become angry and feel threatened by the trans community when even the smallest of things can set us off. For example, there are the pink pussy hats at the women’s marches. They were hats made to protest Trump’s infamous “grab em by the pussy” remark, but they got banned because “not all women have pussies.” This is despite the fact that this was never even created to represent all women and was made in reaction to a quote that specifically refers to vaginas.
I am almost certain that whoever came up with this idea was a cis person and I will be very disappointed if that turns out not to be the case. The reason for this is because it is overly coddling and quite frankly rather patronizing to assume that trans people will get triggered over anything that doesn’t validate our womanhood every five seconds. You can’t get rid of dysphoria by pretending that we aren’t different, but rather we should seek to make those who are different feel welcome regardless of said differences. While we don’t like being misgendered in the slightest, it only becomes troublesome when people either do so carelessly or deliberately despite knowing it upsets us. Regardless of whether or not one considers us valid, it’s flat out disrespectful to call trans women men and vice versa. There shouldn’t NEED to be another reason for why we take issue with that.
Trans activists (and pop feminists in general) are notorious for being overly sensitive, hostile, and aggressive over even the slightest bit of provocation. Many people often feel like they need to endlessly walk on eggshells to avoid offending them given that many of these people don’t seek to upset them. There are many well meaning cis allies who do care about trans people or who just want to help but feel like trans activists are being too aggressive, too judgemental, and too bitter and jaded to let them. Yes the feelings and emotions that motivate these actions are justified and valid but they need to be directed away from the ones who try to help us. And before anyone says that “if they really cared about trans people they wouldn’t snap back at us,” that’s domestic abuser logic.
On top of this, the trans community is awfully quick to turn on even their own. Even if one is trans themselves it will not stop the more extreme members of our community from calling them a TERF or a transphobe. While I can understand it in regards to those who take highly contrarian views and are antagonistic towards trans activists such as Blaire White or Miranda Yardley, the trans community has been quick to turn on evenprominent trans activists like Chelsea Manning or Contrapoints for simply talking to their political opposition despite the fact that they hardly align with those beliefs.
I am certain that once this article is posted I will get at least a few trans people who call me a TERF , and I’m baffled that I have not been called a already! Some of the literal exact same people who were burning Chelsea Manning and Contrapoints an effigy follow me on social media! I should feel that this makes me special but it instead leads more to a sort of survivor’s guilt like effect that makes me feel bad that other people must go through this while I somehow get a pass. By all means I should have been ripped to shreds by the trans community the moment I started to say that I had positive interactions with GCFs, but have instead received a lot of support for it. This makes me feel happy but also nervous; like I’m overdue and it’s just a matter of time before they turn on me.
Granted I’ve never been the one to let myself be influenced by a group mentality, at least not after putting GamerGate behind me that is, but I do care about the trans community and there are many friends of mine whom are active members that I don’t want to hurt. I will always be in favor of trans rights and support of trans people and I will NEVER have a “peak trans” for as long as I draw breath, but that does not mean I’m not going to criticize them and blindly agree with everything.
I also care a lot about women and I don’t want to hurt them or for them to feel like they need to fear or obey me. In general I am far more empathetic than the average person to the point that I literally feel other people’s emotions. According to the Myer ‘Briggs personality test, I am an INFJ. I would not find this to be worth mentioning if it were not for the fact that nearly every description of INFJ that I find online describes it as if it’s a type of superpower that only 1% of the population has (And it’s also more common in women so yay for validation!). I am quite insecure about myself in all honesty and I am the one to often under emphasize my own accomplishments. I am generally hesitant to assume I am special in any way and I will only believe that I am special when other people tell me I am.
I and a lot of trans women almost innately value women and hold a high amount of respect and admiration for them that is rarely seen in cis men. Most trans women are feminists and seek to be their allies, not their enemies. Similarly to how GCFs feel betrayed when someone who claims to support women dismisses their concerns, trans women take it as a betrayal of trust. That someone who shares our feelings and disgust for patriarchy and gender roles turns on us and lumps us in with the very people we despise and uses this to justify removing us from women’s spaces that we have always been a part of. Banning trans women from women’s spaces does not get rid of trans women, it just gets rid of non passing and openly trans women. A trans woman’s ultimate intention is simply to blend in with every other woman.
And yes, most GCFs I have talked to have no problem with trans women who only want to fit in and don’t want to overstep their boundaries, but how are we supposed to understand that when a vast majority of anti trans comments are about how we’ll never be real women cause biology or chromosomes and when genuine attempts to trigger our dysphoria are made? GCFs have the tendency to actively call trans women men solely for the purpose of spiting us despite the fact that many of them will use the correct name and pronouns for those that they have genuine respect for. You don’t often see GCFs dead naming or misgendering Miranda Yardley for instance.
When one often prowls Twitter calling random trans women transvestites, fetishists, narcissists, perverts, etc, it sends the message that this is how they perceive trans women as a whole. These assertions are often made despite these GCFs barely even knowing the people they are making these comments about and the accusations put forth come across as so insensitive and ignorant that they don’t even know how to react. Hell I have even had someone tell me I was wrong for saying that trans women DON’T like being called crossdressers and they acted like I was the one making the absurd claim despite being trans myself. So often it comes across as if GCFs know so little about us despite how widely publicized our movement is and that there is nothing that can be said if that’s what one still believes despite that.
But I don’t think it is straight up intolerance that motivates GCFs to say these things. Rather they make such extreme comments because they want us to deny them and prove that we aren’t. They find something that we are saying deeply offensive and feel that bringing up something that is otherwise extreme will prompt us to ask why they feel that way if we truly care about women. The problem is that this indirect approach NEVER works in any situation unless it’s someone you know personally, and even then it’s not a good way of resolving a conflict. This type of approach instead pushes trans women away and makes them feel like there is nothing they can do and that “TERFs” just flat out hate them for existing. In fact, a vast majority of trans activists make such strong statements are attempting the exact same thing; and it certainly doesn’t work for them now does it?
I personally know otherwise, but it was not easy for me to come to this realization. It was only within the last few months that I realized it was even possible to have a mature and rational discussion with GCFs because prior to that, I always believed that GCFs hated me and would never accept me under any circumstance unless I completely betrayed all of my core values and agreed with them. When GCFs claim that trans women are attempting to erase womanhood and overtake feminism for ourselves, we aren’t offended because it calls out on our plans; it offends us because of the mere idea of us wanting to hurt women consistently sends the message that you think we are not serious about being women and are pretending.
The reason I continually point these things out is because I can tell that many GCFs are upset with trans activists intolerance to answering any questions or concerns held by cis women. Many of these women are worried due to having experienced abuse and violence and the hands of men in their lives and are scared of allowing anyone who even has a chance of having the same tendencies into their private spaces. Oftentimes there are many GCFs that cite the fact that one does not even need to feel dysphoria or transition to identify as a different gender (something that I have literally never seen in any trans person I know despite having met possibly hundreds of other trans people at this point) and that this could be subject to abuse. Yes this is a common scare tactic used against trans people by right wingers and it is unlikely for it to happen by sheer nature of probability, but when they see trans people react with such strong hostility towards their concerns it tells them that we don’t care about them and lack self awareness of the fact that we are different.
It is undoubtedly unfair and depressing that trans women may make other women nervous based just on them not passing due to the actions of men when they never wanted to be associated with men in the first place, but it is important to remember that these women did not choose to be abused either. Similarly to how it hurts for trans people to be stigmatized as predatory and violent, GCFs feel hurt when they are labeled as “TERFs” or bigots for expressing any concern or fear. I can understand the use of the term when it applies to people who actually do express hateful attitudes towards trans people, but calling someone a “TERF” over benign fuckups does nothing but lead them to believe there can be no mature dialogue about this; that trans people will be at risk of suicide if they ever slip up on pronouns or don’t feel 100% comfortable around them.
If there is one thing I have learned as a social justice activist it is that you can’t shame people out of their feelings; you only make them feel more like shit about having said feelings. It eventually reaches the point where their options are either self hatred or to rebel against those that label them and most are going to choose the latter out of self preservation. THIS is why “peak trans” has been on the rise and this is why there has been such a push back against trans activists as of late.
This is a result of what I have now coined as the “hostility paradox.” The hostility paradox occurs when two or more sides are engaged in a conflict and hold extreme hostility towards opponents to the point where they will not tolerate opposing viewpoints… because they are convinced that their opponents will not tolerate opposing viewpoints. This has been far too common in politics as of late given the current political climate but it is also in full effect when it comes to trans people and gender critical feminists.
It is way too easy to assume that your opponents are privileged and have more rights than you when you feel vulnerable and powerless yourself. When you have had religious zealots and the far right demonizing you and promoting your oppression for decades, how ignorant does one need to be to think it’s okay to lecture you about “privilege?” If they knew what it was truly like, they’d be begging to go back to their old life! No one can possibly think living like this is a “privileged” life! And if any of you feel attacked by these words, note that I didn’t specify who it was meant to refer to.
I do expect that some people may have caught on, but I feel that the last paragraph applies to both of us. IE I feel that it has been said by both sides, and I really don’t think there is much else I can say. Both of us feel hopeless and powerless and both of us are so used to life fucking us over that we instantly assume anyone with hostility towards us are selfish abusers. It becomes so difficult to truly put anyone’s feeling before your own when such generosity is taken advantage of by terrible people repeatedly. “We’ve seen this before and we’re not falling for it again; we can’t afford to.”
This is what has lead me to write this piece. The most obvious response that any trans critical feminist would give to trans women is “if you really care about us then leave us alone and get lost” and I as an individual can very well do that. I do desperately desire acceptance as a woman, but I only want inclusion in women’s spaces if I am accepted there. GCFs insist that most cis women don’t truly believe trans women are women and they are merely staying silent as to avoid being labeled a “TERF” or a bigot. Well as previously established, I am an INFJ and can easily notice when someone isn’t being genuine or is hiding something.
If people were truly uncomfortable around me, I’d in turn become uncomfortable myself. The key reason that I and likely many other trans people feel comfortable campaigning for inclusion in women’s spaces, rather than for our own separate spaces, is because there are a number of women that DO accept us and see us as real women. There are women that not only accept us but are also in very strong passionate support of us. The default view of cis allies by GCFs either seems to be that they are just humoring us or that they are “handmaidens” with internalized misogyny.
I’d specifically like to touch on the “handmaidens” bit given that it’s basically GCF’s version of “uncle tom” and is a disgustingly misogynistic insult. After all, a woman cannot criticize the feminist movement without also supporting patriarchy because that’s how activism totally works! It is an active attempt to insult women by using the same misogynist stereotypes against them that sexist men do.
But like many things, there is a deeper reason behind all this. GCFs tend to be fully aware that many cis women are not only in disagreement with them, but also outright DESPISE them! As touched as I feel when cis women stick up for me and for trans women as a whole, it still does not change the fact that shaming and pressuring people into silence does not get them to change their views. In actuality I would like to encourage more cis allies to to talk to GCFs on a more personal basis in order to convince them that maybe trans people aren’t so bad. Ah, but if they do that then they would be giving a platform to hate and have the risk of being swayed over to peak trans territory!
In turn I feel it is necessary to emphasize that as trans women, we often feel powerless and like anyone could turn on us at any moment. I know GCFs feel that trans activists hold all the power politically and can easily silence them, but just look at how many columnists in the UK have a professional platform to voice their opinions. Even when GCFs admit that trans people deserve fair and humane treatment, it’s usually followed by a “but not near us, get you’re own spaces” in some form or another.
The reason cited for this then comes back to right wing fear mongering about predatory men invading women’s spaces for sexual pleasure, and even if one is to point out that their supporting evidence is from Breitbart or The Daily Mail or that the Swedish study they keep citing has been disavowed by one of its own creators and is taken out of context, it still won’t be enough for them; it won’t be because trans activists act precisely in ways that fit their hypothesis. What they don’t realize is that these screeching nutjobs in the trans community become so intolerant of any dissent or questions because if they lose their allies, there is NOTHING bringing them back. This then means they start campaigning for us to be removed from women’s spaces or to be denied medical treatment that we need to stay stable.
This creates a paradox where the reason that trans activists are so bitter and intolerant is because “TERFs” want them to be removed from women’s spaces, call them mentally ill, delusional, predatory, fetishists who hate women because they want to be treated as women. This then causes trans activists to take ANY hint that one could possibly be critical of the trans community as them starting to “go TERF” and desperately lash out in hopes that their sense of empathy will allow them to see the harm they are doing but will instead come across as if they are being given an inch and taking a parsec. This in turn creates more “TERFs” who interpret their aggression and hostility as intolerance and narcissism and believe that we simply can’t be integrated as women without overtaking the feminist movement making it entirely about us… just like sexist men do. It also tells them that we get so angry because we literally cannot accept the fact that we were born men and instead take it out on them.
This is why GCFs view misgendering trans women as an act of rebellion against selfish men who do not think of the comfort of any woman who is not 100% comfortable with us. It’s not done because they hold a shallow biological essentialist view of men and women, but rather because they believe that WE hold a biological essentialist view. That us transitioning entitles us to better treatment than THEY get. IE this is where the “men in dresses, lady face, sissy fetishist” accusations come from. Because if we were “real women” then we would not start a riot any time someone says that men have penises and women have vaginas. We would instead be mindful and respectful to them and not like the men who have abused and intimidated them.
But trans people… are typically aware of our own reality. There is this stereotype about us being loud and aggressive over pronouns or some shit, but the truth is that this is a pretty rare quality in trans people. Most of us do not even have the self confidence or motivation to politely correct someone in real life. Being trans in our society inherently means being made to feel a lot of self hatred and disgust with oneself. This is not only with our bodies, but also due to the fact that we are made to believe that our existence is a burden on those around us. Our own friends and family often tend to think more about how our existence effects THEM rather than how we must feel. Even though we can cite staggering rates of trans suicides, they will still make it about them and say we are being manipulative and abusive by telling them we want to kill ourselves because of their actions. And if we are lucky, we may even have people take these statistics out of context to say that transition doesn’t work and that we should instead be pressured to “stop being trans.”
The term “cissexist” is often seen as a typical pro trans buzzword that most non trans activists tune out the moment it is uttered. The real meaning it holds however is the view that trans people are unimportant and that cis people should be prioritized more. Excuses such as “transgenders are less than 1% of the population, why should we change our ways for them?” or any other variation of “why do we have to change the way we live just because a few trannies might kill themselves?” Keep in mind that transition and fair and just treatment has been medically proven to improve the mental health of trans people. Apparently this doesn’t matter because it makes cis people’s lives inconvenient.
Enough has been pointed out about the parallels between the way trans people are treated and the opposition to the rights of gay people and black people, but there is one factor that they did not have to deal with. I am NOT one to trivialize the struggles of minorities in an era where things were far more harsh against them than they are now, but most of them did not need to contend with an extremely debilitating mental disorder AND active attempts to prevent them from access to the treatment they need on the grounds that “they know better than us,” being forced to hide this aspect of ourselves from those who will otherwise seek to harm us while ALSO having to look calm and reasonable in the public eye as to avoid portrayal as raving lunatics.
Okay yes, gay and black people have had to endure many of those same obstacles due to outside factors, but gender dysphoria is a hopelessly draining and soul crushing even if you live in an accepting home. Even trans people in some of the most trans friendly locations will not say that their experience was a positive one. I got off easily compared to most trans people, but I still had so much emotional trauma that I not only have reasonable cause to suspect I have complex PTSD, but that I was seriously convinced a few weeks ago that all this trauma and instability happened due to being molested by a family member at a young age and said memory being repressed. I legit thought that my mental state was so unstable that it could have only been caused by something as horrific as long term sexual abuse as a child. I spent 2 days convinced that I was living under someone who repeatedly raped me as a child but also being uncertain about it due to a history of self hatred and thoughts that I was insane and could not even trust my own mind. I almost committed suicide that day not out of depression (like the many times in my life before) but out of fear of abuse and the sheer panic and uncertainty brought by either knowing that you are falsely accusing your own family of pedophilia or that you actually ARE living under a pedophile. I talked to my therapist about it later on the second day and she brought up that being raised as the wrong gender for 20 years can lead to complex PTSD.
Technically there is also the factor of me having aspergers and it causing me to remain socially isolated while turning me into a nervous wreck when talking about even the most benign subjects. I had friends sure but I could not trust them enough to tell them anything personal. I felt conflicting feelings about my gender since I was in middle school but said nothing because I was too scared to say anything. All of this has lead to an extreme amount of emotional baggage. And yes, I can write well but even at age 23 I am highly agoraphobic to the point where I cannot complete college, let alone hold a job, and where I barely leave my dad’s house. Pretty much my entire social life is online because I cannot drive, have very little money, and barely even feel an emotional connection with my own family.
Gender dysphoria is the root of most of these issues, and let us not even get into my odd sexual preferences. I honestly find it a miracle that I got this far to begin with. Even under a father who was fairly accommodating enough to pay for HRT, there are so many little ways that gender dysphoria has got in the way of me EVER living a normal life that I am frequently surprised I’m still alive; and my case is one of the better ones.
The entire reason I have developed enough skill with writing to appear like I am almost twice my actual age (in the words of a GCF I have talked to) and why a 23 year old trans lesbian otaku who has not even been on HRT a full year, has only identified as a woman for a little under three years, and does not even go out in public, has able to have pleasant conversations with and even befriend some of the people who many of my trans brothers and sisters are actively fearful of, and who I was previously convinced found me disgusting and wanted me to die is surprisingly simple; this conflict was never about gender.
It was never about biology, it was never about conformity or socialization. It was never about appearance or passing, it was never about privacy nor was it even about blanket bigotry and hatred. This conflict is about compassion and empathy, about mutual care and understanding for each other, it is about trust, and it is about kindness and respect.
I’m not going to pretend I’m friends with every feminist who calls themselves gender critical or even with every trans activist; hell I would not even think I am qualified to write a piece like this if it were not for the fact that I have seen so few people who truly understand what this conflict is about. The reason that I have managed to gather this understanding in the first place is because many GCFs just want us to address their concerns. They DON’T want to believe that trans women are predatory and narcissistic nor do they want to believe that we hate women. The problem is that we won’t allow for any discussion and the first sign of concern or uncertainty gets them labeled a “TERF,” which ironically enough causes them to BECOME a TERF!
And the cycle continues repeatedly until the sun turns into a red giant and destroys the earth, then it starts on some other planet in the dark recesses of the universe. Or will it? The entire conflict between GCFs and trans activists is primarily a result of miscommunication and misunderstanding. There ARE some selfish and narcissistic people on both sides who will accept nothing other than complete submission, but I don’t think that is most of us. Maybe I’m just old fashioned but I don’t think that large movements can form based solely off of narcissism and hate.
And yes I know, I will need more than a few feel good statements about love and peace if this conflict is to end, but that’s not what I’m attempting to do with this article. Rather I am trying to say that it is NOT impossible for gender critical feminists and trans people to co exist. The real question is if we want to make it happen?
There are many issues that need to be discussed in greater detail in regards to how trans women can be successfully integrated into our society and that the concerns of women will be fully addressed. There is the issue of how to prevent predatory men from taking advantage of loopholes, children transition, that persistent subject of trans/lesbian dating, and more. I will likely get at least one response of either “we don’t negotiate with those that think my existence is threatening” or “the trans movement has fucked itself over and now they’re trying to cover their ass so fuck off and leave women alone.”
I know I’m not going to win everyone over with this piece. There is such strong resentment, hostility, and anger that everyone is convinced that neither of us can be trusted. But the important thing to remember is that we are all human beings here. We all think, feel, see, hear, and breath the same air and it becomes too difficult to remember that in the heat of rage. But is this truly what any of us want? Do none of us want any kind of solidarity or mutual agreement and would rather live in a state of distrust and hostility until one of us is gone. I’m not even especially convinced that trans rights are in any serious danger; it’s just that even a victory for trans rights will be devastating to me if anyone is left feeling helpless and afraid. I can’t ask everyone to suddenly become accepting of the other side and just be friends instantaneously nor can I expect trans people and gender critical feminists to join hands and sing Kumbaya.
That’s why this article exists. Simply knowing that there is a mutual desire for solidarity and understanding in a LOT of us on both sides can change everything. The social barrier between GCFs and trans activists is very thick and it required an immense amount of soul searching and consideration to reach this conclusion. It stemmed from three years of internet flame wars and speculation until I was able to understand everything I just wrote. It also required a lot of self criticality and doubt, enough that has resulted in near suicidal thoughts and depression. It was also enough that the GCFs who I talked to actually became seriously concerned about me.
I never conceded that trans women should be fine with being called men or should be excluded from women’s spaces. I never admitted to being a fetishist or that my existence harms women, yet these women have still shown kindness and support to me in spite of disagreement. The problem is that, as previously stated, I tend to be uncommonly adept at reading people and understanding how their experience could form in the grand scheme of things. Most people do not, and thus it is far more difficult to empathize with each other.
The intention of this article isn’t to tear down the wall separating trans people and gender critical feminists, but rather to create the first crack in it. It will become far easier for us to understand each other if we all take more steps towards it. I doubt it will happen overnight but I do believe it is the best result for all of us. The question was never truly about whether trans people and gender critical feminists can co exist peacefully, but rather if we want to? I want us to, but the rest is up to you.
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