TERF

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About

"TERF" is short for "trans-exclusionary radical feminist", a misnomer by which gender essentialist reactionaries pretend to be feminist/egalitarian while in fact working to reinforce and reinvigorate rigid hierarchical social dichotomies – a form of false advocacy.

It can also be used to refer collectively to the ideas and beliefs supported by TERFs.

Origin

The first documented usage[1][2] of the term was a 2008 article[3] by Viv Smythe, a cisgender woman who identifies as a radical feminist, as a way of distinguishing mainstream radical feminism from the trans-exclusionary fringe[4]:

It was passionate trans women activists online whose strong advocacy of their right to exist as women in the world showed me just how dehumanising the trans-hostile rhetoric is from some radfems about them.

In the same post, the author notes that she no longer believes TERFs should be described as "feminists":

After a bit more reading, I think the trans-exclusionary set should better be described as TES, with the S standing for separatists. A lot of the positions that are presented seem far too essentialist to be adequately described as feminist, let alone radical feminist.

Unfortunately "TES" (for Trans-Exclusionary Separatists) never caught on, so we are stuck with the implication that TERFs are feminists, as well as the unintended implication that radical feminists are automatically TERFs (neither of which is true).

Links

Related

  • 2020-07-27 [L..T] Just an ordinary TERF talking about biology Myers dissects some bizarre arguments from @lissyboops, who is apparently of the TERF persuasion.
  • 2020-07-10 [L..T] Cultivating a British flavor of narrow-mindedness "I saw the same thing in US skeptics, of course. But there was something fundamental going on that is also reflected in the British school of evolutionary biology, represented by Maynard Smith and Dawkins, that totally embraced reductive explanations and adaptationism, vs. the American subset led by Lewontin and Gould, who fiercely opposed eugenics and detested the arrogance of thinking biology could be reduced to a catalog of alleles." .. "Then there's the outcome of all this activity by bigots claiming the mantle of science – some people actually believed."
  • 2018-11-05 [L..T] Why is British media so transphobic? "The answer lies in part to the coalescence of a certain set of ideas in a very specific circle of voices in the early 21st century – voices that later went on to hold high profile positions in much of the U.K.'s print and broadcast media."
  • 2018-01-15 [L..T] Arsonist TERF thinks trans women are immoral & should be beaten "I’m quite prepared to threaten violence because it seems to me that politically what they’re seeking to do is piss on all women. That’s what they’re doing for their personal gratification. There aren’t many of them, but what really offends me is the extent to which academia and political parties have listened to them in a way that they’re not listening to us as women." – Linda Bellos
  • 2017-04-04 [L..T] Are Butches Disappearing? (video) "I've had enough of anti-trans lesbians attacking me, or trying to "save" me, which is incredibly condescending and erases the years of research and soul-searching (I actually prefer soul-creation) I have done. So I wanted to put all my thoughts down into a (big) “bite sized” chunk here to direct them to when they start to vomit a word salad at me."
  • 2015-04-13 [L..T] I guess I'm an MRA now First let me point out that the little tweet I chirped out was because the TERFs were flocking to me — I hadn’t barged into one of their conversations, or invited them to explain to me what makes for a real woman, but there they were, in my space. So she doesn’t get to complain about me violating boundaries.


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Footnotes

  1. 2018-11-28 I'm credited with having coined the word 'Terf'. Here's how it happened
  2. 2014-03-13 TERF: what it means and where it came from: includes an interview with Viv Smythe
  3. 2008-08-17 Carnivalia, transgenderism and the gender binary
  4. 2013-10-11 TERF: Where the term comes from: "The term’s use was encouraged to honor RadFems who felt their movement was being subsumed by an anti-trans hate group."