It’s Official: Transphobes and TERFS Really Don’t Have Any Good Arguments

Warning: this post is going to be very pro-LGBTQ, with extra emphasis on the T, and very anti-TERF. If that upsets you, better not read it.

For those lucky few who don’t know what a TERF is, it stands for “Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist.” The TERFs themselves have tried to claim that this acronym is a slur and prefer to be called “gender critical” or “GC”… But really, the way they act they don’t deserve to be called anything but “TERFs.” TERFs, then, are people, often women, who see the existence of trans people as an infringement on women’s rights, and will tell you in long diatribes how trans women are not women but just men who want to get into women’s bathrooms so they can rape and molest all they want while a woman-hating government indulges them and grants them all kinds of special privileges. Trans men don’t come up as much in these diatribes (nobody really remembers trans men, do they?), but when they come up, they’re generally dismissed as either “lesbians in denial” or traitors to the feminist cause who deny their womanhood because… reasons.

And that’s the gist of it. Because the TERFs really don’t have any good arguments. I mean, I knew that already. I’ve spent too much time listening to TERFs debating and their arguments have been mainly based on fallacies and the othering, and at times direct demonizing, of trans people. Oh, they’ll use lots of fancy, pseudo-scientific words about biology and chromosomes, and insist that nooooo, they don’t hate trans people, they just point out that you can’t change your sex and calling trans women women is wrong and delusional and a lie that harms REAL women because it’s claiming that sex doesn’t exist, and how DARE you erase the entire female sex when women have been oppressed for millennia, you misogynist!

Fun, isn’t it? I’ve been on the receiving end of that on Twitter for three days, after replying to J. K. Rowling’s self-righteously transphobic tweets. If you haven’t read them, you haven’t missed much. It was just JKR dropping all pretenses and letting her transphobia show, while insisting that she loooves trans people, she’s just against the erasing of the female sex, and how dare we call her transphobic because it’ s not hate to speak the truth and say that sex is real. She even had the gall to say “if sex isn’t real, neither is same-sex attraction,” trying to frame her transphobia as pro-gay statements.

There are so many things wrong with that statement, but the biggest one is that nobody, with the possible exception of a few lunatics online, has ever claimed that sex wasn’t real. Trans people know all too well that sex is real, but (and I’m aware I’m simplifying a lot here) since sex and gender are two different things, it’s natural to spend time and effort reaffirming your gender when, unlike cis people, you are going against the sex you were born with. If trans people didn’t think sex was real, they wouldn’t have bothered, would they?

So I made a couple of sour replies to JKR’s tweets. Later on, I even spent some time on Quora going through her tweets and why I thought they were bunk. ( Link here!) Of course JKR didn’t answer and I hadn’t expected her to. A nobody like me with less than a 100 Twitter followers? She wouldn’t even notice me. But a few of her defenders did, much smaller than her but much more unashamed about name calling and insults.

I was told repeatedly how wrong I was, and got the same arguments as always. Sex is real. Trans women are not women. Trans rights trample on women’s rights. You’re erasing the female experience. TRAs (trans right activists) are all men who hate women. Won’t someone think of the children. This is systematic oppression of women who lose more and more rights while those privileged white middle class men who pretend to be women get everything.

There was a lot of mentions of mean TRAs who attacked and assaulted innocent women, and no they didn’t mind trans people, they would grudgingly accept “transsexuals” who didn’t try to lie about being women or claim any rights or anything, but TRAs were all women hating misogynists and usually privileged middle aged men who just hated seeing women having anything to themselves so they just oppressed and attacked women and were violent bullies with the government on their side.

You might notice a bit of a victim mentality here. While sexism and oppression of women IS a thing, and ignoring it is just as wrong as ignoring the oppression of trans people, this kind of smacks of “I’m the victim here, nobody else can be a victim or have it worse than me because I’M THE VICTIM (and therefore I don’t have to think about how I treat others because they are the bullies and I’m just defending myself.”

It’s not like oppression and discrimination are limited resources. It’s perfectly possible to fight for women’s rights AND for trans rights. The two aren’t mutually exclusive, and in fact both sexism and trans sexism are so rooted in misogyny that in many cases they’re the same.

Of course the TERFs didn’t listen to this I was called delusional, “transplainer” and told like I sounded like I was in a cult.

I asked for examples of the systematic oppression. I got a few out of context examples of trans people who lost their tempers with the TERFs, and a minimum of research generally revealed that the TERFs had been harassing and purposefully misgendering them. A big deal was made out of someone who had revoked an old rule that a two person panel should include one male and one female… But it turned out that the ruling had actually just been changed to “two people of different genders,” which isn’t actually about excluding women at all but including others like intersex and non-binary people. Pointing this out earned me “THAT’S A MAN IN A DRESS YOU CAN SEE HIS DICK!” Yeah, I was really having my suspicions confirmed… These people don’t have any good arguments.

I asked for examples of how trans people or TRAs were saying sex isn’t real and wanting to erase the female sex. Once again, a lot of examples of trans people claiming they were women, a couple of crude phrases like “suck my girl cock” and similar. None of them actually said sex wasn’t real or called for the erasing of the female sex. I pointed this out and was ignored, only to later on be told that they had given me plenty of examples, so there.

One woman in particular insisted I read an excerpt from a legal reform document that she insisted PROVED that these TRAs were trying to erase the female sex. It was an excerpt that had gone round a lot and got a lot of bile from the TERfs because it was saying something in the vein of “we will count trans women as women.” Cue outrage about how this was the death of single sex spaces and, especially if this terrible terrible new self-identification clause was accepted, because now any macho man with a beard who wanted to rape a woman could just say “I’m a woman, honest,” stroll right into a woman’s bathroom and have at it.

Never one to be satisfied with out of context quotes, especially in situations like this, I read through the document. The entire document. Know what it was about? It was about how to choose candidates for public boards, and how to ensure there was diversity and representation. One section talked about trans women and concluded that, for this particular purpose they would count trans women as women, but they underlined that this definition was ONLY for that purpose and they weren’t calling for the same definition in any other social or legal circumstances.

That was it. That was what everyone had been up in arms over. That was the huge threat against women that would lead to more public bathroom rapes. A little more flabbergasted than I probably should have been at this blatant misinformation, I pointed out that this didn’t even have anything to do with the social or legal standing of trans people and certainly didn’t make it easier for them to get into single-sex spaces, the woman who had insisted I had read the excerpt replied with what was basically “well, it does mean men can replace women on public boards, that’s oppression of women.”

And when I pointed out that here in Norway we’ve had the self-identification laws for four years now and it hasn’t led to increased oppression of women, or more public bathroom assaults, and concluded that it really didn’t seem like ttrans rights in any way impeded on women’s rights, I was mostly ignored… Except for this one woman who just dismissed me with “that’s just an opinion piece, I’m only interested in peer reviewed studies and statistics.”

Not ONCE in three days did I get anything resembling an actually decent argument. Time and time again it was the same arguments. Sex is real, trans women are not women, you want to erase the female experience. One woman told me she knew and liked many trans people because they knew they were really men. I asked her to name them, and she responded by calling me a sock puppet and blocking me. Someone, I have no idea who they were cause they never talked to me openly, PMed me with “stupid misogynist” and blocked me so I wouldn’t be able to answer or even look at their account.

I could mention several other instances like the girl who tried to claim she was “empathetic” with trans people and just didn’t want to build up against their “lies”… I said that empathy means nothing if you undermine their identity and what trans people need is validation… She spent several tweets going on the most pedantic rant about the definition of the word “valid.” this was the same girl who called me a sock puppet and blocked me, by the way, she’d un-blocked me in order to make more of the same “sex is real” arguments.

I will admit, on occasion I got pretty snarky and sometimes, when realizing that they weren’t actually listening to me or when they were saying especially atrocious stuff, I just made jokes and digs at them and refused to take it seriously. At one point, when we were locked in a “trans women are women” / “No they’re not” / “Yes they are” loop, I began quoting the Monty Python argument skit. You know, the “this isn’t an argument!” / “Yes it is!” / “No it isn’t!” routine. Immature, I know, but at this point I was getting rather fed up.

I did try to be reasonable and actually explain my point more clearly. After an eight part tweet where I briefly, but I think pretty rationally, explained why I disagree that accepting trans women as woman does not erase the female experience but rather broadens it (no two women have the same experiences, but different lives does not mean they aren’t women) and a nine part tweet where I laid out why trans acceptance isn’t sexism, and in fact the acceptance of trans people would broaden gender stereotypes and not enforce them… This was really meant to be my final speech, after which I would bow out of the debate and wish everyone well, despite everything…

I got the response “Rampant transplainer, nothing worse than somebody telling you men can do it better.”

I hadn’t mentioned men at all in that series of tweets, nor had I said trans women were better than women, or better at anything than cis women. I pointed this out, and the dear woman who had called me a transplaining MRA said, and I quote, “I’m not even reading just strolling past, is anyone else reading all the transplaining, maybe it would be better if she just used her energy on someome [sic] who cared like anyone at all.”

Okay then. She hadn’t read what I wrote. She’d just assumed that since I didn’t agree with her I was probably just talking about male superiority. And this assumption was enough for her to talk about how awful I was for saying men could do it better.

I thanked her for proving once and for all that TERFs don’t actually listen to what people have to say and just make up the arguments of the opposition because they can’t be bothered to pay attention to what’s actually there. And for the first and only time in that debate, I did use the word “TERFs” because I’d decided to try and be polite. But with that, she’d proved she did not deserve that much consideration.

And with a couple more sly digs, I opted out of the conversation. I did notice that I got the response “well you mentioned trans women and trans women are men,” proving that these people have zero imagination with their comebacks.

So what have I learned? Nothing I didn’t already know, really… But I had it confirmed HARD over these three days. TERFs do not have any good arguments. Go behind all their constant mantras of “sex is real,” trans women are men” and “basic biology,” behind all the misleading “examples” of how trans people are imposing on women’s rights and how women are being erased, behind their stiff-necked refusal to accept any other definitions or terms than their own…

… And you find two basic concepts. Transphobia and victim mentality. The Transphobia says “I just think it’s icky and perverted when men dress up as women” and victim mentality says “I’m the victim here and I don’t like the thought of anyone else being bigger victims than me.”

That is, as far as I can see, the entirety of TERFdom. Not a single thing any of them said convinced me otherwise, and most of the things they said just confirmed it.

If you have read through all this, thanks for your attention. Happy Pride Month, and TRANS RIGHTS!