The main real danger of TERF: political alliance with Right

As I follow “trans vs radfem” debates , it appears they often degenerate into competitions of ideological minutae about things like privilege. Honestly a time waste in my view.
What I am interested in is what affects real people, not abstract analysis of social structures.

And in that regard, the real danger from TERF activism to trans people does not seem to me to lie in “misgendering”, nor even in hate speech. While female violence against trans people does exist, like birdofparadox.wordpress.comc/2010/04/10/spain-two-cis-women-imprison-torture-and-murder-a-man-in-his-own-home/ or, it is highly dubious the perps read TERF hate speech ( I suspect TERF would defend the latter as some bizarre form of self defence though),

Nor do TERF have any significant political influence on their own. But note “on their own”.

In 1980 Janice Raymond wrote a malicious, apparently intentionally anti-scientific, and quite possibly libelous piece, “Technology on the Social and Ethical Aspects of Transsexual Surgery, for the US Government“. Trans activists claim “This paper effectively eliminated federal and state aid for indigent and imprisoned transsexuals. It has forced incarcerated trans people to file federal court cases to get back trans related medical treatment they lost as a result of Raymond’s transphobic pen.”

No, it did not. Janice Raymond was not a policitian or bureaucrat. She was a random alleged expert. Her paper was simply used to defend a decision made for political reasons by, ultimately. the Reagan administration. To give “feminist cred” to what was essentially a reactionary move.

Symbolically she became a condom with which people suffering from transsexualism were screwed over. But just the condom, not the dick. And as any used condom she was thrown away. You don’t see the “Nordic model” on prostitution introduced in the USA for all her calls – this proves the lady has no real power.

The same action continues to this day, as a set of highly suspicious right-wing clubs organize a collection of signatures against California’s AB1266, a rather harmless law on detail of school policy – and TERF cheer them on.

Sometimes they don’t hide their admiration for their right-wing big brothers. Paul McHugh, a psychiatrist turned Vatican hack who defended paedophilic priests, is universally cited by TERF as being against treatment of transsexuals (he is nearly the only known person with some form of real medical experience who they can dig up with this position – their beau Dr. Blanchard is in fact quite a supporter).

Earlier I could also point to Sheila Jeffreys’ admiration for the conservative Lords who tried to defeat the UK Gender Recognition Act 2004, but sadly the blog “hagocrat”, which hosted her articles, went offline. I suspect it was a copyright claim, and I don’t want to risk a copyright claim (there is a disproportionate amount of lawyers among TERF). I’ll try to fish for my saved copy and put fair use quotes in a separate post later.

But this admiration will only ever be one-sided. Right wing will gladly take the feminist cred, the claim to “defend women” – and then throw TERF away like a used condom after another victory. There will be, from their side, no rattling of restrictive gender roles, just more restrictions against those pesky trans.

And more wars, of course. But that one seems common to all major US political groups.

2018 edit: I admit I was wrong in “will only ever be one-sided”. The conservatives did decide to use the alleged radical feminists as a shield, or a condom, again.

7 thoughts on “The main real danger of TERF: political alliance with Right

  1. Absolutely correct, we have seen this over at the Autogynephila blog site. Where papers that are incredibly misogynist and totally supportive of patriarchal norms are listed as ‘proof’ that being transgender is ‘bad’. Worse, that transgender children and adolescents are totally created by parents by not being good little feminine mums with strong masculine fathers (who keep their wives in line), and that they don’t bring their children up in proper gender conforming ways. .

    Despite my pointing this out, showing examples and working though the logical consequences of these ‘theories’ they are still supported by the site and always will be

    Therefore the only conclusion you can draw is that TERFs are so anti-TG that they will agree with any other anti-TG argument or ideology, even if it is very detrimental, even derogatory, to women. That would include such groups as the Catholic Church, MRAs, misogynists, WBC and all the rest.

    Their position is not based on any coherent ideology, but just a visceral emotions. The other ‘tell’ to this is their constant switching between ‘gender is a social construct’ and biological determinism such as ‘being a female is having a uterus’, depending on their point at the time (sometimes both in the same sentence).

    The question that has to be asked is ‘why’? Why such incredibly strong emotional feelings that they are prepared to (eg) throw away woman’s rights to argue an anti-TG position?

    Some have argued that they are the transgender equivalent of the vocal anti-gay males, who are later outed That their self loathing for having their own TG feelings means they lash out at every other TG person as a way of denying/hiding/etc themselves.
    As a working hypothesis is makes as much sense as anything else around.

    There is another mystery, though they mention trans men, their obsession with MtF transgender people and the state of their penises is incredible. You get these weird dichotomies from some of them, well stated male haters, where everyone with a penis is a patriarchal rapist (as an anti TG argument, even just having one for 5 mins means you are a rapist) ….then they go all out arguing absolutely anything to preserve the (fertile) penises of adolescent males, you’d think they’d cheer every time someone has GRS……

  2. Well, to be fair, I think the “construct” vs” having a uterus” thing is not such a simple a contradiction in itself. They differentiate between “sex”, which they view as a biological absolute, and “gender”, which they view as a social construct. They want to abolish gender while instituting/preserving absolute sex-based divisions.

    But there is an error of logic there. They don’t seem to notice that these divisions, being “behaviour socially determined by sex”, are therefore, by definition, gender. Anyone who, for example, insists on using “sex-appropriate” pronouns is insisting on a form of gender, by the very definition of the word gender. A genuine gender abolitionist would say “misgendering should not matter” but then proceed to use the same pronouns for everyone or random ones or someting; any form of “proper pronouns” (he or she) for a person is gender.

    • And yes, many TERFs are absolutely not cis, as in not happy with their gender. There is in fact one thing I agree with them on. and that’s that using “cis” for everyone who is not out as trans is a bad idea, as it presupposes too much about their identity. (It’s sort of like when you look at a couple of feminine-presenting people and call them “lesbians”, thus immediately claiming both that they identify as women and that each of them is attracted exclusively to women).

      There can be many ways in which one is not comfortable in their birth-assigned gender. Not al of these ways involve a trans identity, let alone permanent transition. For a person who is bigender/agender/genderqueer in any of a number of ways, “cis” can very well seem repressive; thy would feel that trans activists are ascribing acceptance of their gender to them and, therefore, colluding in locking them into their gender.

      “Cis privilege” is really “gender conforming privilege”; except, of course, when it’s a subset of able-bodied privilege, as in not needing medical treatment. (But not all trans people need medical treatment too). I think they are wrong, however, in claiming gender-conforming females are not privileged over gender-non-conforming ones. But this proceeds from a general radfem view that privileged females do not exist.

  3. “They differentiate between “sex”, which they view as a biological absolute, and “gender”, which they view as a social construct. They want to abolish gender while instituting/preserving absolute sex-based divisions. ”

    Not quite, a cis female wearing male clothes, heck even as butch as you can be…is ok. Pushing the gender norms and all that.
    A male in a dress is ‘invading female space’ and ‘invalidating women’ (‘raping’, etc, etc, etc).

    To be blunt, a butch lesbian buggering a ‘femme’ lesbian’ with a strap-on is ok in their ‘minds’. But a trans woman having sex with a cis woman is terrible.

    I’d love, to see a bunch of them getting together with a bunch of ‘real masculine’ misogynsists and watching them suffering being hammered as ‘invading male space’ and ‘invalidating male identity’ (‘male impersonators’ and all the rest) ….. Just to let them know what it feels like.

    This is academic for you but as a trans woman I have to suffer this crap and hate. So I do not feel, in any way, ‘to be fair’….. Why should I?

  4. Well yeah, for some of them. They are in fact a rather ragtag bunch, only united by a hate of medical and social transition. For some of the more reasonable ones, a man in dress is quite ok as long as he (sic) uses male pronouns and male toilets, and I was referring to that kind. The fact that male pronouns and male toilets are as much a part of “gender” as male dress is lost on them completely. (It’s because they think gender is what oppresses women, and pronouns and toilets protect women, so one can not be part of the other, no, never, and logic be screwed).

    Others, however, descend to outright homophobia (yes, even while not being het themselves) in the effort to lash out at anything cross-gender. At GT they lashed out at Mina Caputo’s “identity” video, calling it disgusting even though she did not do what they claim to hate (the lyrics include “I am not a woman”). The only “disgusting” thing there? Erotic activity between two male-bodied people.

    If they got together with the “real masculine” misogynists, my prediction is a love-in. Most of these misogynists are way beyond the “women must wear dresses” stage; some hate makeup for “dishonesty” etc. Lesbianism is a more noticeable problem, but the way Sheila Jeffreys wrote about Lord Tebbitt, she sounded like she might not be so lesbian when it comes to Real Strong Men That Keep These Trannies In Place. I got your email address now, so I’ll try to find that Jeffreys screed which I have somewhere, and toss it over to you… besides. many conservatives actually accept gay marriage now, as long as it stays within the social mainstream role of marriage (and, for some, kids are not involved).

    As for suffering their crap – I do understand, but one also needs to note their power, on their own, is very limited. They are basically an echo chamber, consisting of a few diverse ideologues, a few traumatized women who hate everything remotely male, and a few abusive ex-wives of transgender people. Not exactly a formidable strike force physically or politically, but a useful tool for some real forces.

    Also look at the play they are doing over at that post. I have met them with able theory – they claim lived experience is more important than theory. But when a trans person cites lived experience, they claim that sex class theory is more important!

  5. Pingback: An open letter to Elizabeth Hungerford | ramendik

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s