When I first learned what TERF stands for, I was baffled by the combination of these four words. The word “oxymoron” came to my mind. Yea, TERF would be a good example of oxymoron. That would at least benefit people who are learning this word.
Feminism: : the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
With this definition of feminism from Merriam-Webster in our mind, let’s look at TERF.
TERF: Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist
It is your total freedom to form a social group excluding anyone you want. Sure, you can do TEDW (Trans-Exclusionary Dog Walkers), TEM (Trans-Exclusionary Moms), TEWL (Trans-Exlusionary White Liberals), whatever. The biggest problem with the term “TERF” is that they are calling themselves feminists. (There are bigger issues with TERF itself, but I’m focusing on the terminology here.)
I do not believe in feminists who care about women only. Feminism is the work to achieve gender equality by fighting the oppression and discrimination based on gender. And in our current society as well as any past ones, women have been the bigger victim of oppression and discrimination in most cases; therefore the term “feminism”. If men would have been the bigger victim, it would have been called “masculism”.
I also do not believe in separatism in the fight for justice. All social matters intersect, and gender equality and queer rights overlap closely. When you are fighting against the unrealistic beauty standard enforced on women, you can not disregard the fight for the individual expression of gender. We are all fighting against oppressive norms in different ways.
Back to the oxymoron-ness in TERF, so when you call yourself a feminist, you need to care about not just women but all humans including all queer people. You can not cherry-pick who to care about. For example, confronting rape culture should involve healing women victims of sexual violence but also men victims of toxic masculinity. You cannot solve the problem by just focus on one gender. You need to approach it holistically.
Some more contexture information on TERF groups:
Many anti-trans feminists today claim it’s (TERF) a slur, despite what many see as an accurate description of their beliefs. They now prefer to call themselves “gender critical.”
Gender-critical feminism, at its core, opposes the self-definition of trans people, arguing that anyone born with a vagina is in its own oppressed sex class, while anyone born with a penis is automatically an oppressor. In a TERF world, gender is a system that exists solely to oppress women, which it does through the imposition of femininity on those assigned female at birth.
Full article: The rise of anti-trans “radical” feminists, explained
To tell you the truth, this issue aches my heart too much, so it’s been a struggle for me to start writing this blog entry and continue to write. I’m gonna wrap it up shortly for that reason. Let me challenge one more word in TERF though: radical.
I think radical is mis-leading, so is “extreme”. Extreme feminism must mean like trying to make everything same for all gender. Can we just be straightforward and swap it with “hateful”?
So here you go, your new name, TERF: TPHP (Trans-Phobic Hateful People). Ahhhh.. now I can breathe a little. Call it like it is. Let’s be real.
A small apology to TERF. I just realized that your new name does not have any vowel, which makes it difficult to pronounce. Try sounding out each consonant without vowel: T-P-H-P. It might work.