Turfing the ‘TERF’ label

800px-Human_Peace_Sign
A place for magic to be wrought: 6,000 members of the Ithaca community form the world’s largest human peace sign in June 2008. (Photo: Rebecca Eschler/Wikimedia Commons)

QUEBEC — First things first: I apologize to any and all feminists  I may have offended when I used the slur acronym “TERF” earlier this week in a couple of posts responding to the “Drop the T in LGBT” petition.

Before I get to the ” why” I used the term, it’s important to apologize, and to promise I will not use the term again to define anyone. The only way I will write it is in straight-up reporting, with quotation marks when it is relevant.

I speak for myself here. I am not in a position of authority to issue an apology for anyone else. And trans people should not view this as a lack of support for them.

So, why did I use the term? Well, ignorance, for one. Over the years of writing about LGBT issues, I have mostly avoided that term. I support the right of feminists and radical feminists to express their views. And I support the right of trans people to do the same. I also support healthy debate between people with opposing views. But I don’t support personal attacks by people on either sides of trans and radical feminist views.

teaparty3So what happened this past week? How did I get sucked into an ugly rabbit hole?

Well, a report in a fairly respectable LGBT publication linked the “Drop the T” petition to so-called “TERF ideology,” thus implicating radical feminists, and as it soon became apparent, unfairly so.

Shame on me for getting sucked in. I should know better. But I did let emotion get the better of me, and I have since gone back on the two posts and replaced the text with songs of peace and love.

And there was more ignorance on my part: I didn’t realize that the term “TERF” was considered to be a slur, and that it offends radical feminists who are the targets of the label. I thought there were women who actually did identify as “TERFS.”

It doesn’t matter that the term has made it into mainstream reporting. It doesn’t matter that trans people I know use the term. It is offensive, and I simply will not go down that particular rabbit hole again. Just as I would not use terms to describe transgender, lesbian, gay, bisexual and genderqueer people that they find offensive.

I know there is a lot of animosity between some radical feminists and some transgender people. And I know that some on both sides of the issue stage personal attacks on each other in social media settings and beyond. That truly saddens me. In my opinion, transgender people do not need the affirmation of radical feminists to fulfill themselves, and I urge both sides to agree to disagree when healthy debate is exhausted.

Some radical feminists are also members of the LGBTQ community, and it is our mission here to stand up for them as well as all people who stand beneath the rainbow umbrella. This will not be a forum for LGBTQ people to attack each other.

I could go on and on about how all humans are alike, borne out of the same Universal source, adrift on the same piece of  rock in the cosmos, all with a common destination. In fact, humans are more like each other than they are different.

We are all sisters and brothers. We are all ONE in cosmic essence. When we hurt each other, we hurt ourselves.

With love . . .

— Jillian Page

We are not brought into existence by chance nor thrown up into earth-life like wreckage cast along the shore, but are here for infinitely noble purposes. — Katherine Tingley

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6 thoughts on “Turfing the ‘TERF’ label”

  1. I hear you on that, Jillian. As much as I object to what “TERFS” say, do, and represent I don’t hate the people themselves. I don’t hate anyone and only wish the same could be said for them.

    I recognize what a slippery slope it can be when you engage or otherwise allow hate to suck you in. Responding to it often feels imperative as a means of self-defense not only for yourself, but on behalf of others. Yet what we all need to realize is that it’s impossible to hate anyone without letting the hate hurt you.

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  2. I think TERF is a perfectly fine term for a small number of people. There are a few radical feminists out there who reject the idea that transgender women are “really” women. Some even go further and say that it’s yet another attempt by men (the “men” being transgender women, of course) to co-opt or silence women’s voices.

    The term “Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist” is accurate for those people. Calling someone a TERF in no way implies that we don’t support feminism. It just means we don’t support the Trans-Exclusionary part of some people’s version of feminism.

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    1. Dianne, as I pointed out in my piece, I am not speaking for everyone. It is my personal view, and something I choose to live by. I will not apply that label to anyone. If I feel they are being “bigots,” then I’ll use that word instead.

      To each their own . . .

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    2. Yep.

      Until if and when there’s another explanation as to why it’s offensive, “TERF” is only a slur to anyone who agrees with “TERF” ideology. To all others, it simply means what it means: Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist.

      That said, I do appreciate Jillian’s point of view and hesitation to use the term.

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  3. Jillian, can you explain?

    Aside from “TERFs” themselves, who are these “radical feminists” who find the term “TERF” offensive?

    Many radical feminists find “TERFS” offensive. “TERFS” are ignorant, vile, angry, hateful and violent. They lack basic human decency. They have no shred of compassion for anyone who doesn’t drink their kool-aid. They attack all women regardless of whether they are transgender or cisgender. They are actually misogynists (and not just transmisogynists) who try to hide and exonerate themselves as feminists.

    “TERF” is a very gentle term when compared to the labels and rhetoric they use in unprovoked attacks on others.

    There are without a doubt radical feminists who reject “TERFS”. They do not hold the same ignorant and hateful beliefs, they are entirely different, so why (again, unless they are actually “TERFS” themselves) would they find the term offensive?

    Intersectional feminism is a thing too you know.

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    1. Oh, Madeleine, this all boggles my mind. I would just as soon stay away from the term. I don’t mind using the word “bigot” for right-wing types and others who publicly try to oppress other people and deny them equal civil rights. But I just can’t get my head around the “TERF” term.

      I would rather be safe than sorry (again). Yes, I am being somewhat conservative about this. I just don’t want to hate anybody, and I don’t want to be a party to hate.

      If being an LGBT advocate means I have to engage in hateful battles with people, then I would sooner walk away from it all.

      I am first and foremost a spiritual person, a Theosophist, and I must live my life by a code of universal love.

      I know there are many haters out there, and it saddens me.

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