TERF is short for Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminism, a branch of feminism who seemingly have forgotten the purpose of feminism and taken man-hating to a new and highly conspiratorial level. Anything that is “tainted” by masculinity is highly toxic.
Take for instance this Facebook comment from a women’s liberation group that turned out to be anything but:
The first part of the sentence is a contradiction. Trans women are not men, otherwise they would be men, not trans women. There is clearly something that separates a person who identifies as a man and a person who have been assigned a male gender as a baby, but identifies as a girl as a child and/or a woman as an adult. The statement is nothing but the inverse of the heteronormative masculinist view that a man is an individual who qualify by a certain set of characteristics, and anyone who fails to live up to “man” is a second rate human being, or a “woman”, the “other sex”. These types of people do the reverse, they appropriate the identity “woman”, set up a list of criteria, and everyone else is a man. The group they despise.
The second part of the sentence is a non-sequitur, a logical fallacy that assumes that the first arguments follows from biology. It does not. No none is born a woman or a man. One becomes one or the other, or neither. What one becomes is a very complex issue as is well known by psychology. Biology does indeed exist, and biology produces a large variety of identities, both sexual and gender-wise. To argue that the first statement is correct due to biology is to assume that external genitalia is deterministic in dictating identity. There is no evidence for such a view in biology whatsoever. Of course, neither does biology always produce a distinctly male or female child genitalia-wise, chromosome-wise, or any other ‘wises.
Most people who enjoy a privilege tend to be blind to the existence of that privilege. So are these people blind to their own privilege, in this context cis privilege. Cis privilege is the privilege of having a gender identity that is consistent with their internal and external physical sexual characteristics, and therefore they do generally not have to face oppression for this particular kind of human variation. Since most people have limited access to evaluate these characteristics due to the general lack of public nudity, a lot of trans people also enjoy cis privilege. For the most part, so do I.
I’m not horribly invested in being a woman. The label is not that important to me. It is what I am labelled by people as I am a human being with female characteristics and a relatively feminine expression. All I do know is what I am not, the expression my eventual hormone levels dictated, and that I have now reversed medically. I do know though that I am transgender, and I may be intersex as my physical development was not distinctly male nor female until late puberty. It doesn’t really matter. What people see doesn’t bother me. How people treat me and others because of it does. Whether it is transphobia or misogyny.
In my feminism the arguments of the TERFs are fallacious. I do, as Judith Butler does, find strict adherence to the gender binary highly problematic and also view such a binary as being derived from a phallogocentric heteronormative world view. The very patriarchy they fear to such an extent that they see dicks everywhere.