Using “TERF” Randomly & Other Signs Your Misogyny Is Showing

When this reporter spoke to lesbians and trans women in Istanbul in late 2014, one trans woman voiced the view that lesbians were inherently TERFS.
Melahat Deniz/ KAOS LG

Don’t get me started about all of you die-hard Berners who swore in Election 2016 that you would love to vote for Elizabeth Warren rather than Sanders if only she were running, but still supported the ineffectual blowhard “socialist” man in 2020. No matter that in his 30-year run in the Senate he has been the primary sponsor of just seven bills that became law, two of them renaming post offices in Vermont.

Neither will I mention how pathetic it is that you queers gave Sanders and his surrogate AOC a pass when they stumped for some nice white guy against Sharice Davids, the Native American dyke in Kansas — a perfect example of why all our talk about intersectionality is 100% Grade A crap.

But to get to my point. The real problem for me is how the whole LGBTQ community has made a virtue of hating “TERFS.”

I don’t defend the position of actual ones, that very tiny number of so-called “Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists” who oppose all trans identities and would be happy to see trans people disappear. But there’s bigotry, too, in the zeal with which you attack them. As if they were somehow worse than the straight, male transphobes who actually hold power. As if these women who collaborate with the right wing in the political sphere are even more terrifying than the men who actually stab trans women to death and leave them in dumpsters.

The real proof of your misogyny, though, is how you quickly popularized the word TERF, equating it with lesbian. Like how conservatives have managed to equate the word Muslim with terrorist. Now, all I have to do is mention lesbians and somebody trots out the sneery word TERF. Like my fag friend who brought it up in the comments responding to a cheerful Facebook post about dykes, and when I asked why, why, why he had no explanation. None. It’s Pavlovian now. Ubiquitous. You should be so proud.

I’ve known something was wrong since that time a few years ago when I interviewed a trans woman in Turkey, and out of the blue she starts slamming all lesbians as TERFS, as if I wasn’t there in front of her trying to support her work. Then there was that article I wrote for Gay City News about queers in Chechnya — in which I took care to mention that it wasn’t only gay men getting targeted, but trans women, and lesbians, too. And a reader commented that it was suspicious that I didn’t mention that trans women can be gay women. And in a second comment reported that she’d googled me and discovered that I almost always use that evil word lesbian, instead of queer, so I must be a TERF.

And let’s not forget the time that after actual TERFS interrupted Pride in London a few years ago, a real life friend implied that I didn’t have the right to denounce the lesbophobic backlash unless I swore allegiance to trans people first, beat my breasts and apologized for what somebody else had done as if I were guilty by contagion. Which was interesting, because the same (former) friend would never ask a Black person to apologize for the homophobes in their community, never ask a Muslim to denounce random terrorism, but dykes are fair game. Because we’re apparently all fucking TERFS. Who should be punched. Who should be raped. Who should be burned alive. (Threats regularly tweeted to TERFS.)

I’m transfixed, too, by how the LGBT people and the oh so queer community ignores this violent language, these fantasies about harming females, raping us, killing us, by saying it’s no big deal. It’s only TERFS exaggerating — and besides, women online talk about killing men, too.

Yeah, it’s hilarious how you overlook the glaring difference. Namely that men — that males — so often do rape women, men so often do kill us in the real world. As for women, well, the only time we kill men is when they’ve been beating the shit out of us for years. For that matter, I’ve never seen anyone remark on the proportion. I know policy can kill, but do you really think that when someone questions your identity or interrupts a parade you should have the right to… torture and kill them?

Now when I see the word TERF, it’s a flag. Not of transphobia, but of sexism, of misogyny, of a deep DNA hatred for women, the fear that a woman or a dyke somewhere is stepping out of line. A fear that makes women among some of the worst enforcers. Just last week, a gaggle of cis lezzies and bi women kindly warned me away from “TERFY” writers and “TERFY” articles, which I increasingly embrace the more the concept of transphobia is expanded to include any lesbian who admits to liking “boobs and vaginas and not penises.” In short, to having a sexual orientation.

Because now a vocal minority of trans activists and their allies have declared that gender is everything and sex is defunct. In fact our bodies mean nothing in the world, and the only thing that matters is gender — the soul and the brain. Our sex is merely assigned. No matter that the random implications of “assigned” is really just accurate for intersex people who most researchers estimate at being close to 0.018 percent of the population, though one outlier puts it at more.

I’d laugh it off, but the tail is wagging the dog, and queer theorists are the ones making laws now, swapping in gender for sex, and perhaps unintentionally, by erasing sex, are also erasing sex-based gains, and the sexism that they were designed to remedy — i.e. sex-based discrimination, male violence, male privilege and misogyny.

Their latest theoretical pearl is that, because there is no sex, there is no sexual orientation, and lesbians (and gay men) are just bigots fixated on genitals. And any dyke who just wants to eat pussy is a trans misogynist. A TERF. Who should renounce their pleasure and their sense of self, and even get over whatever sexual assault experience they’ve suffered, and suck the nearest “girldick.” And before you can say “phallogocentric,” females once again have no right to say, “No.”

I’ve had enough of this regurgitated misogyny parading itself in the clothes of a gender revolution. And I hold responsible the whole TERF-hating alphabet of the LGBTQ community worldwide for allowing such increasingly violent, gynophobic attacks on lesbians that in 2020, dykes I’ve worked with in Canada — who have actively supported transgender rights their whole activist lives — have to meet in secret, in secret, to discuss how to respond.