I’d like to share an exchange. This happened on a blog post entitled “We need to talk” where an article entitled “You Are Killing Me: On Hate Speech and Feminist Silencing” was heavily quoted.
I criticized the article but tried to move the conversation forward by suggesting that we use terms for gender preferred by a trans activist I know in order to make better distinctions.
This. This is extremely trans antagonistic.
The conversation remained civil and constructive. One of the people in the conversation thought I was being a bit unfair, so I defended my interpretation of the text.
The VERY next thing Jones says is this: “[Trans ideology] comes perilously close to naturalizing the oppression of women.”
I’m not just reading into things, k?
And then something really strange happened.
I’m tired of debating whether [the author] rises to the level of TERF or not. She’s not a TERF.
Since when was this a conversation about whether or not the author was a TERF?
This all started as trans people screaming that [the author] is a TERF and a horrible person.
I mean, people who identify as trans. Attacking [the author]. Come on. M. A. Melby. I’m growing increasingly tired of your objections.
I wasn’t the only one confused that this came out of the blue. The dismissal of someone’s anger towards the author as “trans people screaming” didn’t set well at all either.
The author did engage with some of the criticism but stated that she had no clue as to why anyone would be upset. Then argued against what was assumed to be part of “trans ideology” according to the article: that being cisgender meant embracing the social constructs of gender. That is something I’ve never heard a trans person say, but I have heard cis feminists say it, and rail against it, all the time.
I’m just saying that not being trans does not equate to being totally at home in one’s assigned gender.
Someone in the conversation disclosed that he was trans and told us that “the way this discussion has been going kind of creeps me out”. He explained that lack of adequate language in expressing the realities of trans people might be part of the issue.
To add to that, there are lots of people, especially people in power over us, who wish to define us and interpret who we are (or simply deny our existence) in terms that fit into their understanding of How Things Really Are.
Some of our language and our so called “ideology” is an attempt to assert the validity of our existence in the face of a dominant way of thinking that wants to erase us.
My friend put a fine point on what the article might represent. And yes, he used the dreaded term “TERF” to describe it.
The linked post is a perfect example of what I was saying about TERFs subtle and not so subtle bigotry. They provide a very polite reasoned argument that trans women are a danger to feminism and [cis] women. If you can’t see where that is heading there’s no hope.