Make No Mistake, “TERF” Is A Slur

I find it difficult to believe that we women have to keep saying this and writing about it, but I guess we do because men’s voices are the only ones people want to listen to, not ours’; but make no mistake, “TERF” is a slur created by men to silence and even shame women. I was reading a post by GallusMag the other day where she talked about a man who claimed to be a woman who works for Twitter and who is accused of rape. In the comments section, GallusMag (who was locked out of her WordPress blog because of that post, which is WordPress’s way of telling women that if you write about their friends and colleagues, they will shut you down and fast) posted a pic of a news agency, The Daily Dot, actually using the word “TERF” as if it is a normal, accepted word by everyone and not a word made up by men in their ongoing effort to silence women in the issue of transgenderism. It made me incredibly angry because this was supposed to be a news organization, or at least, that is what I am lead to believe. Maybe they are a trash-rag that doesn’t really report the news so much as they report gossip and innuendo?

So let’s talk about this slur for a minute. A lot of transgenders and their allies like to keep saying that it is simply a description of radical feminists who are “trans-exclusionary.” But let’s get real here, ok? This slur may have started out as a simply description by a man who felt slighted by some women who feel that men, even in dresses, should not be allowed in certain spaces that are for women, spaces like restrooms, changing rooms, showers, dressing rooms, etc.; but the word went way beyond a description and into slur territory within a few minute of it being created.

First, there is no “TIRF” or trans-inclusionary radical feminist. There is, in fact, no term that is opposite of “TERF” that is used, ever. There is only “TERF”; and that term is used to silence, to bash, to put down, to shame, etc. not just radical feminists, but all women who see biology as a real thing and gender as a social construct. It is used against women, especially women who disagree with men who claim to be women, in any way.

Second, the term is not just hurled at radical feminists. I as just called a “TERF” this evening and I have never purported to be a radical feminist, not in any of my tweets or writings’ but there I was, having  label thrust upon me against my will, a label that by its very “definition” shouldn’t include me. But as I said, this slur isn’t just for radical feminists, it is for all women who disagree with men, especially men claiming to be women, i.e., trans “women” or male transgenders.

Let’s think about that for a minute. Let’s think about how (metaphorically) rape-y that is to have a label such as “TERF” or “trans-exclusionist” or “trans-exterminist” thrust upon a woman against her will. Slurs that she has never claimed, never called herself, never acknowledged, but slurs that are forced upon her, whether she likes it or not. That is a part of rape culture, is it not? To force something onto a woman that she does not want? Something that she has not given you permission to do. Especially when this comes from a group of people who want to self-label and do not want others to label them. How hypocritical of them to then force women to accept a term that they all know well and good is a slur meant to silence women.

Third, the only time women can even seem “trans-exclusionary” is when we want to have women-only spaces, like restrooms, dressing rooms, social gatherings, rape crisis centers, shelters, etc. But that is no more “trans-exclusionary” than it is for POC to be “white-person-exclusionary” when they desire POC-only spaces. Just like POC should be able to gather without white people so they don’t have to watch what they say around white people or cater to white people or have white people take over everything, we women should be allowed to have our own spaces without men, without having to worry about what we are saying around men or that they men will take over. Just like POC whould be able to gather and discuss what it is like to be a POC in this white-dominated world, we women should be allowed to gather as sisters and discuss what it is like to be females in a male-dominated world. We should not be slurred with “trans-exclusionary” simply because we wish to gather with other women in female-only spaces.

We should also be allowed to feel safe. We should be allowed to have penis-free restrooms, dressing rooms, shelters, jails, rape crisis centers, etc. so that we can feel safe. For thousands of years, the penis has been used as a weapon, as a weapon to control women, to hurt women, to exert power over women. It has been used as a weapon and we are seeing more and more how trans “women” are accused of or convicted of the rape and murder of women but they continue to be allowed to be placed in female prisons even if they still have their penises. This is so wrong on so many levels but in today’s PC culture of not wanting to offend these men, they are not placed where they are supposed to be: with other men. Instead, the rights and the safety of women are circumvented for the rights and safety of men who claim to be women because they are afraid of, you got it: men.

Before someone jumps into the fray and says that trans “women” have the right to feel safe as well, to that, I say two things: (1) of course, (2) but women are not a threat to trans “women,” men are. Men are dangerous and men do almost all of the damage to women, transgenders, and every other group out there. Women should not have to forgo their own safety to guarantee the safety of men from other men. If trans “women” wish to truly feel safe while respecting women’s need for safety and privacy, why don’t they create their own space, their own restrooms, their own rape crisis centers and shelters, their own changing rooms, etc.? The answer is clear: because (a) they don’t respect women and (b) they don’t want to be safe from men, they want what women have, they want to take over everything that woman is and that women have.

Finally, most women care about other women. There are some women who are so conditioned by the patriarchy that they believe the misogynistic bullshit that men and rape-culture spews down all of our throats. But most women want other women to be safe, they want us all to have our own private spaces, away from men and their penises. As I said, the penis has been used as a weapon against women for thousands of years and most women would agree that not allowing men and their penises, even if under dresses, into our private spaces where we are half naked and vulnerable or where we are running away from abusive men or where we are going for help and treatment after having been raped is something that all women should have without being called “TERFs” or “trans-exclusionary” in any way.

I know this because, as a butch woman, I have received the “look” from women in restrooms or changing rooms when they think I am a man. There have been women who say things to me in an effort to get me to leave the restroom or changing room; and in one instance, there was even a woman who physically tried to keep me out of a restroom, thinking I was a man and shouldn’t be in the women’s restroom. So I know that most women care about other women and other women’s safety; but men are trying so hard to shame these women into hating the rest of us for wanting our own space and using the slur “TERF” is one of the ways that they do this.

They threaten all woman with “TERF” if they don’t allow all men into all women’s private spaces and that is how “TERF” is used as a slur. It is used to control women by using shame to get them to see men in dresses as women and treat them as women when they are not. It is time for women to stop fighting against other women and fight with us. Stop allowing men who claim to be women walk all over you and demand that you see them in a certain way when common sense and science tells you to see them as they are; and stop allowing men to create and use slurs like “TERF” to silence your sisters who do see them as they are: men trying to re-define woman and abolish what the word really means so they can take over all of our spaces, once and for all.

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Is Being Gender Critical and Butch Mutually Exclusive?

I’ve been meaning to talk about this for a long time now. Can one consider herself butch, aka, a masculine woman while also being critical of gender? It’s a question I have been thinking about for several months and now is the time for me to put my thoughts down on paper, so to speak, and figure this thing out for myself. Some of you will, of course, disagree and that is cool, but I would be willing to bet that there are a lot more of us out there than we think.

I’ve been an out lesbian for half my life now (over 20 years) and I didn’t consider myself butch (or “a” butch, ymmv) until almost 10 years later. It took me a long, long time to come to the realization that butches were women, we didn’t wish to be men, we were women who just happened to be masculine. Once I came to that realization, I was able to accept my true self: a gender non-conforming, masculine woman, or more simply, a butch lesbian; or even more simply: a butch.

It’s hard to be a butch in this world. Don’t worry, I am not about to play the oppression Olympics here, I completely understand that there is enough discrimination to go around and there are hard times for all of us. But let’s be honest here, I cannot speak for femmes, straight women (even the butch ones), gay men, straight men, or lesbians who are neither butch or femme because I am none of those things. So I will stick to what I know: being a butch lesbian in this patriarchal society.

Before I continue, I wanted to put out there that even though I am not speaking about femme’s experiences here, I welcome their input about this post or their own experiences; especially the anonymous femme who briefly talked with me about the hierarchy of femmes and butches in my last post (Who Gets To Decide What “Lesbian” Means?). I hope she sees this post so she can come back to leave her thoughts on the issue.

So let’s dig in to this complicated subject matter, shall we?

As I was saying before I digressed a bit, being a butch lesbian in this patriarchal world is tough. We have almost no “in real life” role models, very few, if any in the media, and when I was a young dyke, there were even fewer than there are now if you can imagine that. Because this society believes that men own masculinity (and women own femininity), we butches have therefore had no choice but to model ourselves after the men in our lives and go by how the media presents men; and this is nothing if not problematic. Because of this society, because the patriarchy frowns on women wearing “men’s” clothing (and vice versa), and because there are almost no butches in the media, these are two very big reasons why a lot of straight and even gay people assume we all want to emulate, if not actually be men.

The lack of butch role models and having to use men or the media’s idea of men as our guides (well, I don’t, but I did when I was younger because I didn’t know any different and I see it more and more in these young butches today) presents other problems. For those unfamiliar with on-line butch-femme communities, there is a clear hierarchy of “butchness” or masculinity and it discriminates against butches who do not identify as male and it especially celebrates the female transgender, or the trans “man.” In this hierarchy, there are the levels of butchness that I mentioned, such as soft butch, butch, hard butch, male identified butch, and trans “man.” Usually we butches who know what sex is and celebrate the women that we are, are set low on that totem pole, somewhere around soft butch.

You see, even in the (on-line) butch-femme world, a lot of people are conditioned into the patriarchy just enough to believe the bullshit that men/males own masculinity and women/females own femininity, that females cannot be masculine, and that to be masculine, one must either be male identified or they must transition into some facsimile of a man, aka the trans “man.” So even in the butch-femme (on-line) world, female, and therefore feminine is “less than” and most people do not consider a butch to be masculine if she doesn’t deny biology and instead accepts and even celebrates that she is also female. In the comments of my last post, I said this maligned treatment comes from femmes, but I meant some femmes, not all; and to be honest, quite a few male identified butches and trans “men” feel this way as well, that female is less than; or more appropriately, that feminine is less than masculine. Like I said, a lot of this comes from the male identified butches and trans “men,” but it can also come from femmes as well. There are quite a few femmes out there these days who clearly want straight men without actually having to date straight men. They like the analogy that butch = man, that they can have only PIV sex, that they use male pronouns, etc. It is quite frustrating, to say the least. As I said, not all femmes are like this, but more and more of them are coming out of the woodwork as sex becomes more and more conflated with gender and the binary, as dictated by the patriarchy, wins out above all else.

To be fair, I don’t have to be a femme to see this coming from the other side of things as well; but even more than the hierarchy of femme, I also see things like how so many butches expect femmes to be like straight women and how a lot of them even toss femmes aside in favor of straight women. I also see the masculine and feminine stereotypes of the heterosexual world playing out in that a lot of both butches and femmes expect the butches to be the dominant ones, or the “tops,” to borrow a BDSM term and they expect the femmes to be the submissive ones or the “bottoms.” This is problematic in so many ways because it relies on society’s assumptions that feminine is always and only for women while masculine is always and only for men, so the above butches and femmes assume the woman (feminine) is always supposed to submit to the man (masculine). That is unbelievably sexist and it is almost always internalized, born of the conditioning we face being born and raised female in this society; and the sickest part, for me, is that all of that sexism is coming from and pointed towards females, women. So because there are not a lot, if any, butch and femme role models, we end up falling into the traps of our own conditioning by believing the bullshit of the binary, by seeing feminine as women and women as feminine, as well as masculine as men and men as masculine. That, dear reader, is where the idea of male identified butches and trans “men” come from: that blind loyalty to the binary and the patriarchy that conditioned us so very well.

I have always held the notion that transgenderism is a fad, a way of being a special snowflake, of distinguishing yourself from the “norm” so that you can be considered “cool.” It’s exactly like the on-line BDSM fad of several years ago in the butch-femme world (the straight and gay men’s world as well, but again, I cannot speak of what I don’t know). Suddenly, there were daddies, babygirls, masters, and mistresses all over the butch-femme on-line communities. Why? Again, it was a way to be different and special, to separate yourself from the “norm” and appear to be “cool.” Transgenderism is the same thing: a fad. I have said before and I will say it again: if society would stop with the preconceived notion that females or women own femininity and males or men own masculinity and instead allowed people to express themselves in any way that they wish, dress as they wish, wear make-up or not, have long, short, or no hair, walk, talk, and act as they wish, all regardless of their sex, then there would be no need for transgenderism and no need to “transition” into anything.

Masculine and feminine, like gender, are socially constructed, but I don’t view them as genders. Masculine and feminine are simply descriptors that do not belong to either sex. This means that that men can be feminine and that there is nothing wrong with that. On the flip side, women can be masculine and there is also nothing wrong with that.

So with that, I think I have come to the end of it, dear reader. It started as a question in my head: whether or not I could consider myself a butch lesbian and gender critical at the same time. While I consider myself a lesbian essentialist, I do not consider myself a butch essentialist. I may have been born a lesbian and was quite the dyke for a long time, but I found butch through exploration and an ultimate discovery of who I was (and am) as a woman.

I was chatting with a friend the other day (at least, I would like to be able to call her a friend) and she said that for her, “lesbian” is a “descriptor that others can understand.” I liked the way that sounded. Oh not for lesbian, but for butch and masculine. For me, butch has always meant and will always mean, masculine woman, but in this society, people get confused by putting those two words together, masculine and woman, so I say butch.

In that context, butch is a descriptor that others can understand, to varying degrees, of course. Like I said, there is the fad of being male identified and/or transgender, neither of which are actually butches, but the premise is the same. I use butch, not as a gender or an identity, but as a descriptor to signify to the world that while I am masculine, I was, am still now, and always will be a woman. I am a masculine woman, a butch.

So the answer is: yes, I can be critical of gender and be a butch lesbian at the same time. They are not mutually exclusive.

RE-BLOG — A Statement from Gender Identity Watch

No matter if we are gay, straight, or bi, we women really need to start standing together and standing up for one another in this.

So transgenders and transsexuals deserve to be protected under the law from discrimination and violence? Of course! But where a line needs to be drawn is: not at the expense of women. For people born male and socialized with male privilege to DEMAND entry into women’s private spaces, it is not just disrespectful, it is misogynistic.

If you are male bodied and you truly want to call yourself a woman, then do what we women do for each other: respect women, put women first, listen to women’s lived experiences, support women.

When you can do THAT, then we can talk.

Gender Identity Watch

In the last 20 years, we’ve seen a rapid expansion in rights extended to discrete groups. Marriage equality was unthinkable in 1993, and now the U.S. Supreme Court has paved the way for gay marriage. We applaud these advances, but, unfortunately, some bad has come with the good. Most notably, the expansion of rights for transgender people has intruded upon the rights of Women. GLBT organizations advance laws to ban discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations against transgender people, who identify with the sex opposite their birth sex. We admire this goal in most contexts; however, gender identity legislation codifies into law sex stereotypes that Women have struggled to shake for decades. Gender identity legislation also raises specific issues in the context of sex-segregated spaces such as locker rooms and domestic violence shelters because it allows anyone to gain entrance into a space reserved for the opposite sex by…

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Swag, The “Transman” Troll

Swag_10-14-13

I found this response to my post, Another Sister Lost To The Madness on my Tumblr interesting for a couple of reasons.

First, it is clearly a troll account as the person describes her blog as something she uses to “comment on bullshit tags.” So she clearly isn’t really interested in anything I have to say, she just wants to play the oppression Olympics and prove that she has it worse off then everyone else, which is common with people suffering from a trans delusion.

Secondly, while she starts off saying that she would like my opinion on certain things, she spends the rest of her post trying to shame me for my very valid opinions based on a lot of years of lived experience as a butch lesbian.

The rest of her post is filled with a lot of things trans people say to me when trying to “make me see the error of my ways” in my opinion about transgenderism. She complains about how trans people are treated while completely ignoring what gay people go through because, with trans people, it really is all about them.

She also inaccurately calls transgenderism a medical condition when in reality, it is a mental condition. There is no such thing as “being born (or trapped) in the wrong body,” there is only the belief that one’s life would be easier and one would be happier if one could transform oneself into the opposite sex. This is not a medical condition, this is a mental condition that requires therapy, not hormones and surgery.

Of course, the rest of her post is the typical narcissism that we see with trans people, the accusations that I am speaking for all people, the assertion that I have no sympathy or empathy for trans people, the complaints about how we lesbians just don’t get it and have such easier lives, the assumptions of what it is I think when I never said anything of the sort, etc.

Here’s the thing, Swag. From your post, it sounds like you are a young straight woman who is unhappy with her life. I would venture to guess that you have been subjected to a lot of sexism in your young life and were under the belief that living as a man would make things easier for you but you are now faced with a very harsh reality that giving up on the woman that you are means you gave up the power you had inside of you to deal with said sexism. Or perhaps you thought being trans would make you “special” or unique and now you are feeling the opposite of that and are struggling.

Either way, I feel very badly for you and wish that you could see that conforming to the binary and trying to “be a man” was just a cop out for you. You have a lot of choices and this one, it’s a really bad one.

Yes, being trans is about society, it is about the patriarchy, it is about conforming. Gender is nothing more than a social construct based on the sexual stereotypes put forth by this patriarchal, misogynistic society; and you, my friend, have bought into that, hook, line, and sinker. When a person gets so completely caught in the gender shell game of biological stereotypes, they assume that to dress this way or to enjoy these things, etc. then they must be the opposite sex. This is a sham. 

Swag, I can understand a hatred of one’s self and I can even understand the homophobia or lesbophobia, given what you may have faced in your life, but what I would seriously recommend is being seen by a therapist to help you with your contradictions: the self hate coupled with the narcissism. You are a wonderful and beautiful woman who doesn’t need hormones, surgeries, or to hate lesbians to live a healthy life.

I wish you much luck; and if you ever need to chat, shoot me an email.

 

I Call It Like I See It

This is an older entry (Nov 2012), but is significantly relevant to my posts, “Ass”uming Butches Into Extinction and the follow-up to that post. We women who do not conform to societal standards and the binary system get “misgendered” every single day of our lives. It’s inevitable; and while it can be annoying and even aggravating, we do not contact the press, we do not sue the people who have called us men or trans, and we do NOT threaten anyone with death or rape. This is a clear difference between women and people who are male but call themselves women.

Please also note that this person, Theresa/Thomas is a very violent person who was convicted of aggravated assault (see: http://nametheproblem.com/2013/06/17/teresa-cross/). So when he was kicked out of this store, it most likely was NOT because he was gently “correcting” these women about his “gender.” He was probably acting like the scary violent man that he is; but in a dress.

You think I just don't understand, but I don't believe you.

Being a woman is not about spending thousands I agree, it is about conviction, courage and standing up to patriarchy and the glass ceiling. It is about finding Leda and the Swan disgusting and hating violations of womankind, or indeed mankind. But, transwomen have to work to attain what non trans women have from birth. For the record, I have never spent thousands, I don’t have it to spend.”

Do you find this disgusting? If so, you are a woman.

A news item from Fort Worth, Texas crossed my inbox recently.  Teresa Cross, a Transgender Woman, attempted to shop at a store.  When Teresa asked if she could use her debit card, the clerk stated that “he” could not. This act bothered Teresa because “she’s a Woman.”

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Guest Post — A Black Butch Speaks: Addressing Female Oppression by Pippa Fleming

This is a fantastic analogy on how we treat young black and butch girls who hate their bodies and wish to change things about themselves in order to become more like the rest of society instead of being taught to love themselves and their bodies, society be damned.

 

As lesbians and especially as butches, we need to step out more, be more visible, let our voices be heard, and even mentor a young butch struggling with her body and how it does not conform to society’s standards.

 

Society needs to change, not the individual it chooses not to accept.

Bev Jo -- Radical Lesbian Feminist writing

A Black Butch Speaks: Addressing Female Oppression

Guest Post by Pippa Fleming

I’ve been holding silence for quite some time but now it’s time for me to speak.

When a Black child presents with signs of internalized racism, we want to protect them. We want them to know they are perfect as they are and loved for exactly who they are. If we are conscience Black folks, we try to infuse our young people with the knowledge, skills, wisdom and support necessary, so they may survive and thrive in this racist society.

If little Lakesha comes home with “mommy I hate being Black and I want to be white” we are shocked, dismayed and sadden by her self loathing and rush to find the source of her oppression. Is it school, the media, her peers, society or all of the above?

So why when little butch Lakesha comes home with…

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