Trigger Warning: Transphobia, and lots of it. Also ableism and violence.
Did you know that being a trans person and caring about how you are treated by cis people is inherently selfish? Did you know that when some douchebag calls trans women “mentally ill men with mutilated dicks” that WE are the ones that are selfish for calling them assholes? Did you know that having hatred and contempt for women who literally think our existence is misogynistic and that claim we are a danger to women by nature of said existence means we are abusers who only care about ourselves and fetishize womanhood?
What’s that? That sounds morally disgusting and abusive? Congratulations; you’re a decent human being! Those that take issue with this last paragraph will likely have one of two responses. The first are those that unironically believe everything I just said because they are biological essentialist sociopaths and will then claim it is “proof” of my narcissism. In this case, such a thing is obviously projection due to a refusal to accept a major human rights movement because one would rather believe their own innate prejudiced instincts than have a shred of human decency.
The second and likely larger group are those that think this paragraph is an exaggerated strawman and that they don’t actually think that way. While there are certainly some that don’t even have anything against trans acceptance or inclusion that simply think that most trans activists would consider them transpbobes anyway, I would know since I have met some of them, there is still a sizable amount who will say that the above is a strawman… yet who still believe some variation on the above.
To get one thing out of the way, one may ask why I focus so much on TERFs rather than regular garden variety transphobes? TERFs are a rather fringe section of the feminist movement that is mostly trans positive while transphobia in the far right is far more widespread. The short version is that I think TERFs often overthink the implications of transgendity and are hostile towards trans activists based around a fundamental misunderstanding of it, while right wing transphobes are typically uneducated bigots who refuse to question traditional values. That’s not to say that there are no TERFs that aren’t uneducated bigots (far from it) and that there are no right wingers that merely overthink implications without listening to trans people, but I do notice more of a distinction.
Regardless there is a lot of overlap between the two groups and I have seen the “trans activists are abusive narcissists” argument tossed around by both gender critical feminists and right wingers, so I would instead like to focus on the argument itself. But there is one last thing I would like to say before I make my argument for the TERFs that are reading this. My Radical Feminism and the Trans Movement piece AND my Trans People are Not Responsible for their Mistreatment piece attracted the attention of angry TERFs who felt entitled for me to dignify their blatantly dehumanizing remarks and who proceeded to say I’m not a genuine feminist for not being a self flagellating whipping girl.
There is the ever present paradox with many transphobes in that they want to be heard but they don’t want to hear. I once heard a saying that told how some people think respecting someone means to treat them as like a human being and how others think it means to treat them as an authority figure. It also goes without saying that those who are used to being treated as authority figures will respond to not being treated as an authority figure by not treating that person as a human being.
I’m not saying that all who take issue with or criticize the trans movement are privileged abusers who can’t stand it when they don’t get their way. Hell I’ve met and spoken with some self identified gender critical feminists who were genuinely nice people that I got along with. While there were plenty of other issues on my part that lead to the downfall of my previous relationship, a large part was my Radical Feminism and the Trans Movement piece and the paranoia I had over the trans community turning on me for that post.
The point is that I lost the best girlfriend I ever had over an attempt to reach out to you. I have the perfect excuse to go peak trans and claim that transgendity is an intolerant cult that tolerates no dissent even from its own. If I was truly an self serving narcissist like you claim then I would be on YOU’RE side. After all, that’s the usual “peak trans” narrative; one starts out as pro trans until a trans activist is mean to them and they decide to turn on ALL trans people.
I don’t regret writing my Radical Feminism and the Trans Movement piece. It is more accurate to say I regret that I wrote it in a way that made other trans women feel like they deserved the mistreatment they received and have to be nice to people who think they are blackface actors making a mockery of women by existing. And no, that isn’t a straw man; it’s literally what some TERFs think of trans women. And if your attitude is to act like trans women have done something to you personally when you advocate for our exclusion and hatred against us, YOU are the abusive narcissist! You are a bigot and I have no interest in “debating” whether or not I am allowed to exist without being a self hating pawn. And truth be told, I suggest that you not read the rest of this article or anything else I write. You are NEVER going to listen to anything I or any trans woman says unless it’s what you already agree with. If you are unsure whether or not this applies to you, then let me just ask you this. What would I have to say for you to not think I’m a horrible person? If the only answer is to agree with you, then don’t waste your time. I’m certainly not gonna waste mine on you.
If you are gender critical and are still reading this, then thank you. It means that you are willing to at least hear what I have to say. I’m unlikely to change too many minds but it does hold meaning that you are willing to listen. Hell I know that even some of the most toxic sounding of bigots may just want someone to hear them out. Hell maybe they are so toxic precisely BECAUSE no one would ever try to address their concerns. Maybe they don’t want to believe what they do and are angry because it seems so jarring that no one else cares about such a scathing affront. That people think YOU are the bitter and angry one while you have such strong and hateful words thrown your way.
I’ve been on enough about my checkered past as an anti feminist GamerGate supporter, and I’m precisely trying to address those that just want to be understood underneath all the anger and desperation. There are many issues for me to address when it comes to transphobes, but I do find that the most irritating and egregious ones are those that try and paint trans activists as abusive narcissists without any attempt to properly understand us. Even when we extend the olive branch and bend over backwards to please you, there will be some that are never satisfied.
The common argument regarding the “trans activists and narcissistic rage” narrative is that we are selfish for lashing out when people don’t see us a certain way. This is not only a profoundly stupid argument, but it is also a bafflingly hypocritical one considering it usually comes from self identified feminists. You know, those part of a movement whose entire purpose is to reshape the way society looks at women and lashing out when sexist men view them according to traditional values. After all, what makes you feminists so special that you can say women should be treated differently from the way you always were treated when you were never allowed to do so before. Get back in the kitchen and get me some pie!
I hope it is obvious that those last few sentences are sarcastic and find it to be a disgusting and abhorrent world view, and I also hope that most of you agree with me. I would think that anyone who identifies as a feminist would also agree but it seems like they are just as willing to use the same logic when they are in a position of power for once. In a cruel twist of irony, many cis feminists tend to take after the very men they were abused by because they convinced themselves that it’s okay in this circumstance. “An eye for an eye” after all.
A major issue with many radical feminists and second wavers is that they view men and women as if they are two opposing sides in a war. A black and white “battle of the sexes” kind of deal and forget that patriarchy was not an active conspiracy put together. Rather it is a way of living that the human population gradually settled into over the course of the entire development of human society. Men can’t be blamed for creating patriarchy because women have upheld and supported it for literal millennia as well. What men CAN be blamed for is actively preventing women’s equality and demanding that we uphold it because they don’t want to abandon their inherent advantages.
The problem is that people are more easily rallied against a problem when there is a scapegoat to blame for all the wrong doings. There always needs to be an “enemy” to dehumanize that serves as a source of hate and anger rather than for any of us to choose to understand the world around us. This applies to literally all of politics and social activism so it is hardly something exclusive to radical feminism. What many feminists need to realize is that men aren’t selfish abusive monsters who operate based solely on loyalty to their gender
And before I get accused of pulling a “not all men,” might I remind you that a core tenant of radical feminism is that our entire idea of gender is a social construct and that there are no inherent differences between men and women. Nearly every “gender critical” feminist I have spoken to acknowledges this much but then uses the argument that those that are raised as men are “socialized differently” and thus trans women are a danger to women.
Well let me ask this; if socialization is so set in stone that no one can unlearn it, then how can radical feminism exist? Most radical feminists tend to be highly gender nonconforming and view femininity as a curse that needs to be unlearned, yet they think masculinity can’t be? Even in regards to cis men such a viewpoint is unhealthy. There are a lot of cis men out there who are strongly passionate feminist allies and the ones that are outright misogynists are becoming more and more scarce. Additionally, there are a lot of anti feminist cis women that tend to act in similar ways to abusive men.
It’s a running joke among the trans community how gender critical feminists have no ways of differentiating between cis and trans women that don’t happen to conveniently overlap with whoever agrees with them and is nice to them. I’ve lost count of the amount of times cis female allies were misgendered and harassed by TERFs who assumed they were trans women, and even when they don’t do that, they are quick to pretend they don’t exist or claim they are self hating “handmaidens.”
I understand that when one is abused by the men in their life, it can be difficult to trust anyone who even has the possibility of being a man even if you know that most don’t mean any harm. But the problem is that when trans women express a hatred of TERFs, they aren’t referring to people who don’t want to exclude anyone but are struggling with trauma from abuse; they are referring to those who WANT to hate us and will fabricate any excuse to do so that they need.
I genuinely don’t want to believe that gender critical feminists are just bigots who hate me for existing. Unfortunately there are ALWAYS going to be people who would rather hurt and ostracize others instead of reflecting on their own beliefs. Every GCF I have spoken to when pressed, says that the reasons for what they believe are ultimately based on their own personal experience with trans people. They only believe that “male socialization” is universal because they rarely meet trans women who don’t already hate them. But the problem is that they hold beliefs that are hostile to our very presence or existence.
Trans people are used to being abused and outcasted. Even if we know that some of you are willing to have a mature and rational dialogue with us and will treat us with kindness and respect, there is no way to know that when your entire online presence is dedicated to invalidating us at best and mocking, humiliating, and hurting us at most. Many of us have been taught to understand coded language against us and to detect signs that we are not safe. It could be possible that some of us are too cautious, enough that we lash out at the first sign of trouble. And this is used to claim that we can’t co-exist with you because we “demand things be all about us.”
The key problem with most TERFs is that they are content with actively erasing our identities as vulnerable and exploited minorities whenever it is convenient for them. Many of them resent the fact that they were born women due to the fact that it lead to their exploitation and abuse at the hands of men throughout their life, and they thus make the mistake that anyone who isn’t born a woman is inherently privileged and is not a victim of institutionalized misogyny, as if one’s validity of a woman is proportional to how much they suffered and were abused.
Trans exclusionary radical feminism is perhaps one of the most misogynistic ideologies that I have come across, but it isn’t in the same way as something like men’s rights activist or MGTOW. Rather TERFism is inherently based around self hatred and bitterness. Many GCFs grew up in an age where women were denied many of the same rights as men and were held to much more restrictive standards. Gender roles were far more rigid and set in stone than they are today, and that leaves them with less options growing up.
Many of these women would have jumped at the chance to live as men and escape their oppression. But of course they would have come to regret it if they did because they would have transitioned so they could benefit from male privilege rather than identifying with manhood. This is why they always bring up how women in the middle east can’t opt out of their oppression; because it’s a matter of privilege to them. They simply cannot understand the fact that anyone who has ever benefited from male privilege would want to be a woman, so they assume we “just don’t understand.”
Additionally, they cringe when we identify with the same cultural values that were forced upon them. Instead of viewing femininity as a personality trait, they view it as a status of victimization. The sheer fact that any of us would “choose” this upsets them because otherwise there would be the shared experience of victimization and believe that one does not fit the social class of “woman” unless they have lived through the same type of abuse.
Trans women and cis women… are not literally the same. There are some differences between us in experiences and backgrounds. The problem with how many GCFs view trans women is that they choose to not see how we are alike in many ways as well. Trans women don’t decide they are women because they like wearing dresses or enjoy feminine activities; they often identify with femininity because the cultural idea of what a “woman” is feels closer to what they feel comfortable as than a “man.”
The reason why it is so absurd to claim that trans women are self serving narcissists is because our current society will not allow such a thing. Outside of very pro trans communities, trans people are viewed as a joke at best or disgusting at worst. Trans people have to contend with a devastating mental disorder that drastically increases the likelihood of suicidal ideation yet cis people still only care about how it effects them. When a child comes out as trans, parents dismiss it as just a phase and force them to repress this aspect of themselves with a threat of ostracizing or possible disowning.
The entire society we live in is dedicated to reminding us that we aren’t normal, and we are treated as if we are asking the impossible for trying to live as one gender over the other because most people put patriarchal norms before human decency. The way that trans women relate to cis women is not merely through liking makeup, jewelry, or dresses; it is through an inferiority complex that we are all forced to have, and any trans woman with an ounce of self confidence is deemed to not be a real trans person because they don’t have that dead look in their eyes; they don’t know their place.
The thing is, while there is still a lot of work to do for women’s rights even in the western world, to claim that trans women are somehow more privileged than cis women demonstrates vast ignorance that I can only assume is willful. When is the last time you heard news of a cis woman being murdered in the street for being a cis woman? When was the last time a cis woman was put in a men’s prison for a minor offense? What countries are there where it’s illegal to be a cis woman?
Oh and don’t even get me started on those who say TERFs never enacted or advocated violence against trans women. Let me just list a few examples.
-The time when a TERF group showed up with guns to murder Sandy Stone if she wasn’t dropped from Olivia Records.
-That time a cis Radical feminist named Robin Tyler was beaten on stage while trying to protect a trans woman.
-The time when Camp trans was inspired by threats from TERFs.
– All the suicides that occurred as a result of being denied access to trans health care.
Also notice how all of these occurred before the trans movement ever became mainstream. Keep this in mind if you were one of those that said trans women used to be good allies to the feminist movement. Maybe consider that you are being mislead just like everyone else who opposed any civil rights movement. You understand why trans people hate TERFs now? You understand why you are compared to Nazis?
I know that not everyone identifying as gender critical is as bad as those that literally tried to get trans women killed, but they generally don’t care when trans women get harmed by their own. They don’t understand that “TERFs” existed far before trans women ever got pissed.
I can only hope that most GCFs reading this were not aware of the amount of hate and toxicity present in the TERF movement, and that having been shown this, some may rethink their hostility towards us. Trans people have been pushed into a corner when most of us wanted nothing more than to be your allies. Exactly what excuse do any of you have to defend those actions? Even when trans people were nice and obedient they were still threatened with violence and attempted murder.
And when most of us see TERFs, we see those that criticize transgendity as a concept and project their issues with the “idea” of transgendity onto actual trans people who wish for nothing other than to live their lives without fear of harassment or violence. There is a certain irony present in that TERFs show such fear of us being allowed in women’s spaces when we are at far greater risk than you are. Trans women are often the only trans women in their respective space. If a cis woman is uncomfortable with us then we have to fear everyone else turning on us as well and what happens depends entirely on whether or not the remaining women are accepting of trans people. Meanwhile we are much more likely to harassed or assaulted out because we’re already viewed as outsiders.
We have so much more to risk by being a trans woman in a cis dominated space, yet we still put up with your bullying about how we are fetishistic men in dresses while you are afraid of just one of us stepping foot inside your space. The reason why is because trans people desire legitimate equality while you TERFs desire segregation and othering; separate but equal.
For those who don’t hate trans people and who see us as equals, GET OUT OF THIS MOVEMENT!!! I know enough from my own past experience that some of you are well meaning and only want to protect those important to you. Writing these articles is genuinely tiring because I don’t want to fight you, I never wanted to, but what else am I supposed to do when left with no other options?
If after hearing this, you still think the best explanation is that trans women are suicidal narcissists who hate women then I don’t know what to tell you. This doesn’t mean that no trans person ever did anything wrong or that we should never be criticized, but the fact that I even need to clarify this… the fact that TERFs have committed such acts against trans people and have the nerve to act like WE are the predators or the ones that put others in danger. That they choose to dismiss any peers that disagree with them or who are accepting of us rather than listening to them at the very least if you refuse to listen to us.
So many of you fail to understand the significance of your words or actions against trans women, then you turn around and condemn us for not understanding yours. I was scared to post every piece I have written about TERFs precisely because I don’t enjoy this. I know that you don’t enjoy this either. Neither of this do, but there is a difference between us. We can’t choose to stop being trans or to stop desiring comradeship and solidarity with all cis women. You on the other hand, can maybe re-examine your views. Talk to more trans women outside of online flame wars. It is amazing how often I hear TERFs say that trans activists are never satisfied when it is clear they never even fucking tried.
I promise you we aren’t going harp at you if you do legitimately care and aren’t antagonistic towards us. I don’t know what else to really say other than that we only ever got aggressive because there was already aggression towards us that pushed us into it. I know that those who were threatening to murder trans women and any of their supporters are too far gone (unless some of them genuinely regret said actions), but as I said, I’ve spoken with some GCFs who were genuinely kind people. If there is a conversation that needs to be had about trans integration, all that the reactionary hostility of the TERF movement is accomplishing is convincing people there isn’t. People usually tend to care more about your concerns when they know the feeling is mutual.
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