What is a TERF and why should you be worried?

You may have heard of the term TERF in the last few months, and you may just be wondering what exactly it is.

TERF is an acronym for Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist, in other words – a transphobic bigot. It sounds extreme, but recently examples of TERF’s have been creeping up everywhere.

Examples that might stick out include the leading feminist writer, Chimamanda Adichie, who appeared on Channel 4 and denied that transgender women could be women because they had “experienced male privilege”.

Dame Jenni Murray, host of BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour also made the same suggestion in a column for the Sunday Times Magazine that was titled “Be trans, be proud – but don’t call yourself a ‘real woman’”.

Germaine Greer joins Adichie and Murray with her trans-exclusionary rhetoric, and faced criticism and protest before appearing at an International Women’s Day event in Brighton.

Greer, Murray and Adichie are just three voices projecting a derogatory and discriminatory message which denies the identity of trans women across the globe.

Trans-exclusionary Radical Feminism is a collective with a simple message of hate. It denies trans women basic rights such as access to health care, women’s support groups and bathroom facilities on the basis that it should be reserved for “real women”.

Some TERF’s, more radical than Murray or Adichie, entirely deny trans womanhood and label trans women as “self loathing gay men”. This is problematic at best, and at worst it is dangerous.

2016 saw an unprecedented amount of violence against trans women, with a record number of 26 women being killed in the US. In Brazil last month a trans woman was forced to beg for her life before she was brutally murdered.

Just like being gay, being transgender is not a choice – it is a reality, and it is very real.

Some would argue that criticising the the TERF ideology makes you a “misogynist” but true feminism calls for equality for everyone.

Renowned feminist Gloria Steinem herself used to be exclusionary, but has since reevaluated her view point and supports inclusivity.

TERF’s claim that trans women are rapists waiting to happen, that they have mental health issues and that fundamentally they are not women. This level of dehumanisation is morally wrong, and all too similar to the persecution that other minorities such as LGB people have faced in the past.

If this sort of discriminatory practice is allowed to exist, then the main stream than the society we praise for being accepting will take a turn for the worst.

An anonymous writer for the Independent who demonstrated TERF opinions asked why liberal men thought it was acceptable to tell feminists how to be feminist, and as a liberal woman I’m here to answer them: anybody can be a feminist but being exclusionary denies you that right.

Trans women are women, so stop denying their existence. Trans women are women.

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