I actually stole this idea from a TERF who wrote a similar piece about trans positive arguments which are inconvenient for her ideology. If you want me to dissect that piece drop a comment below and I’ll get on it next. In the mean time lets have a little fun with the format and lay out 10 terrible TERF arguments that really need to stop.
I’ll try to include examples of the argument being used where I can find them easily enough. But all of these arguments are ones I’ve personally come across in my trans advocacy online.
1. TERF is a slur
This has been recently updated to hate speech by Meghan Murphy of Feminist Current. But its all the same thing really. They’ve decided that they can show examples of people using the word to incite violence and hate and use emotional jedi mind tricks to make people think they’re the real victims of the story. Despite TERFs being the ones actively opposing trans people’s rights and equality, amongst being abusive as heck towards us.
There have been a few good takedowns of the “TERF is a slur” lie, including this one which I really enjoyed. Not least because this trans woman has been targeted by TERFs who literally called the FBI on her for basically saying “if your parents are transphobes feel free to DM me to vent”. Obviously this makes her a child abuser…
In short, the argument is TERF is a slur because its often used in conjunction with violence, threats and abuse. Which I don’t deny, often people do use it that way and I would tell them not to if I saw it happening. I’ve got a few friends online who I’ve stopped following because I want no part in how abusive they are being, even if I understand why they’re doing it. However, this still doesn’t make the word TERF itself a slur. Much like how “black” isn’t a slur for black people either. Despite how black is very often used alongside abuse, threats and violence.
Its the context that matters and no amount of banning words is going to stop abusive people being abusive. They will just find different words to use and ways to do it, much like how the TERFs do when they come up with terms like… MTT and TIM to describe trans women.
2. Don’t drag intersex people into this!
This one often comes around whenever a trans person mentions anything relating to intersex in discussion. The chorus of “HOW DARE YOU INTERSEX PEOPLE WANT NOTHING TO DO WITH YOUR DELUSIONS!!!!” chimes out within nanoseconds of dropping a tweet that so much as mentions intersex variations.
The general argument is intersex variations are different and therefore they have no relevance to the discussion about trans people, however this is entirely wrong. TERFs like to make comments such as “no women are male” and that kind of statement affects intersex women too, especially those who have chromosomally and genetically male bodies. Such as those with complete androgen insensitivity syndrome, who are every bit as male as trans women, they just cannot process the hormones which create masculinised features, such as penises, testicles and all the things which happen during puberty.
The conversation is so bad that the TERFs even have a few fake intersex people who search “intersex” on Twitter to find trans people talking about it to harass. Such as Nicky Chaleunphone, who suffers with Kallmann’s syndrome — which is essentially no sense of smell and a late puberty. It has nothing to do with mixed sex characteristics and isn’t an intersex variation.
I wouldn’t mention Nicky at all if it wasn’t for him A) pretending to be intersex B) tagging in TERFs to harass any trans people who talk about intersex and C) The TERFs ignoring anyone who says he isn’t intersex in favour of using him as their confirmation bias to dimiss anyone talking about intersex in a trans positive way.
3. Basically any claim regarding the Karolinska Institute study
I’ve literally never seen TERFs quote this study in a way that actually addresses what its saying. It’s always strawmen and lies about how we’re suicidal criminal rapists. This has been countered and addressed time and time and time and time again, not only by me on my blog post about trans criminality[shameless selfshill YES], but also by the literal actual author of the study. Who had to come out and be like “yo… can you nerds learn to read please?”
Suffice to say no, trans people aren’t criminals more than the rest of the population, nor are we rapists more than the rest of the population and we definitely aren’t suicidal if you read like… any other study.
Basically what this study says is that all the negatives the TERFs are trying to pin on trans people disappear when we’re properly supported and aren’t relying on stealing to feed ourselves.
4. Trans is such a recent thing.
This kind of relies on the fact that trans awareness has only been big in the media for the last 10 years or so. Before then the only time you’d hear about trans people was in obscure documentaries that didn’t get mad ratings, such as “my transsexual summer”.
But people only being aware of a thing recently doesn’t mean that thing wasn’t always around. For example, we’ve only been aware of microbes for the last couple hundred years, but they were literally always there. It’s not like we just looked at a microscope one day and poof, they jumped into existence.
TERFs use this “they’re so recent” thing to not only make trans people doubt ourselves and our legitimacy, causing untold mental distress amongst many. But also to make other people doubt our legitimacy too, making it difficult to get any kind of foothold in equality. Trans history isn’t talked about enough and I think its something we need to be more aware of.
A few examples of trans history include the first female doctor, Dr James Barry and Chevalier D’eon, a french diplomat who petitioned the government to recognise her as a woman, both of which happened in the 1700s. This usually ends in people saying something along the lines of “but they werent trans like how we know trans today!” Which is true, they weren’t.
However, even the trans we know today which often involves altering one’s body to fix dysphoria isn’t recent. The first reassignment surgeries were performed in the 30s at an institute in Germany which had it’s library and records burnt to the ground by Hitler Youth.
A littler later we even have the stonewall riots where trans women were founding members of the LGBT rights movement. We’re not new. We have immense history and I urge you to research it if you can.
If you’re British, thankfully there’s a book I haven’t bought yet which does exactly that for you. I’m gonna get it soon and post a few cool stories from it, but you should totally get your own copy too.
5. Trans are a cult!
I’ve taken to pieces the defining characteristics of cults and compared them against trans people before and it doesn’t stack up. In short though, the fact that we don’t all have a monolithic ideology of what trans is. The fact that we can’t exclude people from being trans if they don’t tow the cult party line and the fact that we don’t encourage separation from family and society . All means that yeah no. There are no grounds on which to call us a cult.
Radical feminism however? Not so easy not to call that a cult. It’s literally a fairly monolithic ideology, which ostracises and casts out people who don’t tow the ideological line. The only feature its missing is that whole separation from soceity and fa-… oh no wait they actually did do that in the 80s with political lesbianism. With some even leaving behind their children, who now want to act like their children were taken from them when they weren’t.
6. Gender neutral facilities will put women in danger.
If that were the case then I’m sure they would have been shut down years ago. Yes, that’s right — I said years ago. As these too are not a new thing.
I was an avid swimmer as a child and swam at many swimming baths. A few of which had gender neutral changing areas which included stalls but were otherwise open to anyone to waltz in and out, and this was in the 90s. I’ve done my best to search around to see if there have been reports of sexual crimes in these facilities and I’ve not been able to find anything at all.
It kind of seems like this whole “THINK OF THE WOMEN AND CHILDREN” thing is just mindless hysteria at best and at worst an active attempt to emotionally manipulate people into taking action against gender neutral spaces. Which have no evidence of increases risk for women.
And I know, my one anecdote probably isn’t strong evidence, but the lack of data regarding gender neutral assaults and attacks and voyeurs really speaks for itself. Most stores are gender neutral, Target being one of the few that has openly virtue signalled about it. Which is why almost all of the articles regarding this are ‘targeted’ at Target.
Amazing how none of the other stores have any evidence of increased sexual assault and that the evidence for Target’s is tenuous at best…
7. Trans is a fetish
This takes many forms from just straight up calling us transvestites to saying we’re something known as an autogynephile. Tldr on that, we get off to the idea of ourselves being women. It smacks of the anti-gay propaganda which used to refer to homosexuals as deviants and such.
And I could believe it… if being trans didn’t suck major balls a lot of the time. Why would anyone go through a lifetime of taking medication, altering our bodies, facing societal and familal rejection, high rape statistics, high unemployment statistics, high poverty statistics, high homelessness statistics, high poor education statistics, high suicide attempt statistics and so many other awful things, all for an orgasm? If I took off being trans and went back to living as a dude after I climaxed you’d have an argument, but I don’t, because I can’t. It’s just who I am.
Not to mention, a lot of trans people experience dysphoria to such a degree that they can’t masturbate or feel even remotely sexual at all. I mean, some trans kids are reported to not wash their genitals to the point of infections developing out of dysphoria. The idea that trans is in anyway inherently sexual is so laughable to actual trans people, because we’re a perfect example of people who have had to fight to carve out some kind of sexuality that works for us and our specific circumstances.
This isn’t exclusive to just trans people either, however trans people have fetish applied to them far more than a lot of other groups who have to fight against their circumstances to have working and healthy sexuality. For example, trans people are definitely fetishised more in the mainstream than those with cerebral palsy, though sadly I’d be lying if I said I’d never seen cerebral palsy get fetishised.
8. We can always tell who is trans
This one isn’t so much an argument as it is just an attempt to upset trans people. But nevertheless its made the list because its happened so many times recently to me on Twitter and its just so damn harmful.
Not just to trans people either, because the stories in the media about women being accosted in women’s bathrooms because people thought they were trans? Like this one, this one and this one? Yeah? Those are directly informed by this whole idea that trans people are always visibly or out as trans. Which is just absurdly untrue.
Trans women, much like cis women, come in lots of different shapes and sizes. They have a range of sex characteristic expressions which spans across masculine and feminine. Anyone can cherry pick the more masculine trans women and scream about how they’re so obviously male if you want. But I can pick out masculine cis women too who look far more masculine than a lot of trans women I know. This kind of thing solves nothing, creates more problems and is just shitty — a woman is a woman regardless of whether she looks like how we expect women to look or not.
It seems as though smashing patriarchy somehow got mistranslated into replacing patriarchy and policing people’s appearances for different reasons. This isn’t an improvement, its just more of the same crap that people are tired of.
9. Gender identity erases women
This one comes about because of things like “pregnant people” being used instead of pregnant women. The cries of “female erasure” echo every time you don’t explicitly mention that someone has a uterus it seems and its ridiculous.
No, adding acceptance for trans women as women does not erase women. The women we already considered women are still there, not erased, just added to in a way that includes people we previously didn’t consider women, but now do, 2+2 will never equal less than what we started with though.
Nobody is forcing or telling anyone to use language which is trans inclusive in general use. The only time trans inclusive language is pushed for is by services such as hospitals or doctors which may have trans patients. If you want said trans patients to actually look after their health then respecting them is the way to get that ball rolling. If you misgender us and treat us badly we’re not going to come to your service and its going to create a barrier between us and healthcare.
The world, as it stands, is built up in a way which is not very considerate of trans people’s existence. Which I get, for a long time we weren’t really people we were problems — much like how disabled people were seen. Disabled people came up with a word for this kind of thing, ableism. There is a trans equivalent of this word which doesn’t get used that often “cissexism”.
Like with what disabled activists are doing with ableism, trans people should be using awareness of cissexism to try and enact positive change which removes barriers for trans people. This is exactly what things like “pregnant people” in hospitals does.
10. I’m not transphobic/trans exclusionary, I love and accept trans men as my sisters!
This one always gets me right in the giggles. The very fact TERFs don’t see them as the men they are is transphobic. Nothing else matters, a TERF can be the nicest damn person to them ever. Invite them round to fuck their husband, and feed them dinner afterwards. It doesn’t matter — the transphobia isn’t the behaviour, its the beliefs. Beliefs often affect behaviour — but not always.
Lets frame this in a way you’ll understand a lot better…
“I’m not a misogynist, I love and accept women as the subservient houseworkers they are.”
heck In for a penny in for a pound…
“I’m not a racist, I love and accept black people as the plantation equipment they are.”
“I’m not a homophobe, I love and accept gay people as the deviants they are.”
If you’re not actually accepting of what they’re telling you they are and are instead calling them something they find offensive — you’re not actually accepting or loving of that person. You’re just being an asshole and we can all see right through it.
There’s definitely a lot I missed here, and a lot of these subjects I’d like to go WAY more in depth with. But this is a good list of the top 10 bad arguments I’ve bumped into on Twitter. Next time you see one just drop ’em this post and give them a laugh from me. ❤