It’s 2019 and, unfortunately, conservatives aren’t the only ones discriminating against transgender and non-binary folks.
On January 28, the anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ Heritage Foundation hosted a panel entitled “The Inequality of the Equality Act: Concerns from the Left.” Three of the panelists invited to speak were members of an organization called the Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF), which describes itself as a “radical feminist” organization, and of the four total panelists, at least two identify as members of the LGBTQ community. The panel focused exclusively on their shared opposition to transgender equality, going so far as to call being transgender “the new eating disorder.”
This is not the first time so-called “radical feminists” have teamed up with far-right organizations to tear down the trans community, or even the first time WoLF has done so. Many of these trans-exclusionary “radical feminists” (TERFs) focus specifically on trans women, claiming that they pose a threat to cisgender women and children in private spaces such as restrooms and changing rooms. (Note: Cisgender is an adjective used to describe individuals whose gender matches the sex they were assigned at birth.) TERFs consistently misgender trans women, claiming that the sex they were assigned at birth makes them more likely to commit violence against cisgender women because of their “male privilege”. Claims like these are easily debunked; Media Matters for America compiled data from 12 states that shows introducing bathroom nondiscrimination laws did not lead to trans women attacking cisgender women. Notably, there is history of cisgender women attacking trans women in restrooms, including the sexual battery of a trans woman in Charleston by two cisgender women.
By co-opting and warping the “feminist” label as a tool to oppress people on the basis of assigned sex at birth, TERFs have attempted to straddle the left and the right, posing as supporters of women’s rights in order to push discrimination against trans and non-binary people.
As a non-binary, progressive feminist, let me make it very clear: TERFs have no place in the feminist movement. No one can claim to support and fight for gender equality while further marginalizing transgender and non-binary people. No one can claim to oppose violence against women while perpetuating hate against trans women, who already experience disproportionately high levels of violence. No one can claim to support a progressive, feminist agenda while entwining themselves with anti-feminist, anti-LGBTQ organizations.
People who oppose transgender equality, want to keep transgender women out of cisgender women-only spaces, claim that transgender women are sexual predators, and refer to transgender people as the wrong gender are not feminists. Their opposition to the acceptance and inclusion of people like me makes them just as anti-feminist as the right-wing groups they partner with to push anti-trans legislation.
TERFs do not belong in progressive feminist spaces; transgender and non-binary folks do.