CW: discussing of TERF nonsense, misgendering, violence, mention of suicide.
It’s happening more and more that TERFs are directly attacking transgender people, notably transgender womxn, physically and in public. They then weaponise spectacle of transgender people defending themselves as ‘examples’ of so-called ‘male’ violence. The media has been complicit in this spin on violence and have framed the TERFs as the victims and transgender womxn as the evil violent ‘men-in-dresses’ that is still the pervasive cisgender narrative as told of transgender people.
The Terrible Catch-22
It’s a smart if evil move, for a bigot to make an oppressed person defending themselves seem as though they are the aggressor. We see this when black people defend themselves, speak up against racism, or protest/riot in outcry against systemic violence. The age-old story goes that if you defend yourself against violence you must obviously be just as bad as the person perpetuating the violence. TERFs have doubled down on this abusive rhetoric by not only making transgender people into their monster under the bed, but also using it as an excuse to misgender transgender people.
Never let it be said that misgendering transgender people isn’t violent.
Of course, the insistence is that transgender people should, ostensibly, accept the violence aimed at us, or be misgendered. We should die or else forsake who we are. And this is the evil of the TERF narrative because it constructs transgender death as the inevitable outcome. It is their goal. Either we are killed by a society that will not allow us to live as we are, or we are invalidated into our coffins in other ways.
At the same time, please notice, that cis women defending themselves, no matter how aggressively, are never called men for doing so.
DARVO and Role Reversal
DARVO: Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender. This is the common strategy of the abuser who knows full well of their abuse, but wants to save public face. TERFs deny their complicity in violence; they attack transgender people, literally; and then pretend that it was transgender people who were the violent ones all along. The term was coined by Jennifer J. Freyd   to describe the behaviour of sexual offenders who take on the “falsely accused” position and attack their victims. We see this behaviour over and over again with TERFs as well as other bigots.
RationalWiki gives a fantastic example of how this rhetoric is employed.
1. Deny: Christians don’t hate gays. Christians love everyone. We just want everyone to have the love of the Lord
2. Attack: You only think otherwise because of the fake news pushed by the corrupt, atheist media that tries to slander Christians.
3. Reverse victim: We need to stand up to the gay lobby pushing their agenda down our throats.
The thing about DARVO and TERFs’ use of it is that it directly contributes to the death of transgender people — especially at a time when transgender people are being killed at record numbers. This game being played by TERFs that make transgender people out to be the predators is no different than the same game that was played against the gay community making them out to be predators. It results in our deaths. This abusive tactic by TERFs is specifically engineered to kill us. And I know it sounds like I’m repeating myself, but I can’t say this enough, TERFs want to kill transgender people, if not by their own hands, then via abusive systemic injustice, via their gangs of broflakes that defend their transmisia and transphobia, or via transgender people killing themselves. This is not acceptable. And that so many people are taken in by this game is disturbing.
Talking Truth at a Time when Truth is Unwanted
While we have leaders like Trump for whom truth and fact is meaningless; while we have human beings (such as transgender people) living their truth, our truth, in such a way that directly challenges patriarchal notions of gender and sex and sexuality; we have to be profoundly clear about who the truth speakers are and who the liars are. We have to name liars for who they are and I’m not interested in employing words like “fake news” or whatever euphemisms for lies are being employed at the moment. We have to start talking about what is true and what is false.
So here’s the truth. Transgender people are real. This is true. Transgender people are who they say they are. This is true. Transgender womxn are womxn. Transgender men are men. Genderqueer folk are genderqueer. All variations of gender are valid. This is all true. TERFs are bigots. This is true. TERFs are liars. This is true. TERFs are violent and want to kill transgender people by any means. This is true. TERFs are the aggressors and the violent ones. This is true. TERFs are lying about this violence. This is true. Transgender people, especially transgender and nonbinary womxn and femmes, are not the aggressors. This is true. Our self defence is not violent. This is true. If we defend ourselves, this doesn’t unmake our genders or make trans femmes and trans womxn out to be men. This is true.
Do not play this game that TERFs are playing. Do not allow your waters to be poisoned by their hatred. Speak the truth. Speak it loudly. Denounce TERFs and all their hatred and bigotry wherever you see it crop up. Defend transgender people against TERF violence, because apparently we’re not allowed to defend ourselves anymore.
 Freyd, J.J. (1997) Violations of power, adaptive blindness, and betrayal trauma theory. Feminism & Psychology, 7, 22–32