The TERF War

It was a good day.

Yesterday, Facebook took down the anti-trans hate group, Gender Identity Watch’s page, and although it was immediately replaced with Gender Identity Watch Reloaded, the 9,000+ members of the old community have dwindled to about 250 by last count. This is great. Not only did Facebook swat a bug, they finally did something about an anti-trans group, treating it like a homophobic or racist group. This has not always been the case. The times, they are a changin’.

Back when I joined Facebook with a female account, I joined a couple of trans-advocacy groups. This allowed Facebook’s algorithms to start suggesting other groups I might like to join. Gender Identity Watch was one of the first suggested, and I joined.

I wrote about my experience interacting with the folks at Gender Identity Watch in a post on Facebook a few months ago. I will let the old post speak for itself:

“Well that was interesting. I was following a Facebook group called Gender Identity Watch, their logo, “The Radical Notion That Women Are People”. Seemed cool.

They started posting some stuff that got my trans alarms ringing. One post included a picture of a pregnant woman and it had the caption, “A woman’s biology is not transphobic.” I agree. I do not know how biology can be transphobic. Male or female. People, certain people, are transphobic, but leave biology out of this.

So, I started asking questions. Oops! My bad. I was informed by the members of the community that the picture is a joke, you see, trans people are not women because they can’t reproduce. Unlike all those post menopausal women and pre-pubescent girls, I guess. Unlike those who are born without reproductive systems, those born XXY or who have a hysterectomy. I asked about those trans people who are born with a female reproductive system. No answer.

I was having a great time asking questions and sometimes getting them answered, until I asked this: “Don’t you think it is bullying and a bit ironic, for a group that wants to spread the radical notion that women are people, to pick on a teeny tiny minority group that is weak and vulnerable?”

The group administrator’s reply was classic. “Men are not weak and vulnerable.”

Another person compared trans folk to performers who wear black face. I replied, explaining how it is impossible to converse with a straw man.

Then all my posts were deleted and my account was blocked.

Gender Identity Watch folks! And to think I am transitioning to become a woman! I guess some radical feminists are just too radical for this feminist!

It is good to know there are such nice and helpful people in the world as the folks in charge of the Facebook Gender Identity Watch Group, which is run by a person who hates men so much she doesn’t seem to realize many transgendered people start as female and move towards male.

Well, my Dad always tells me not to get in a pissing contest with a skunk.

Fact is, I do not really care in the grand scheme of things if I really count as a woman or a man or a third gender. I know I could get my ID legally changed to say female, as early as Monday and if someone needed to follow me into a bathroom to make sure my identification was correct, I could have them arrested for more than just a petty misdemeanor.

Without a major breakthrough in science I will never have two X chromosomes. I just thought a group called Gender Identity Watch would know the difference between gender and sex.”


And that was that… for then. The thing is, I don’t exactly know how to let things go. So, even though this group had silenced me, I continued to observe their posts. I was still allowed to like the group, just not participate within it.

In hindsight, that was a fine thing. It was around that time I noticed one of those trans-advocacy groups (TransAdvocate) on Facebook was posting about Gender Identity Watch being a hate group. That its founder, Cathy Brennan (she is on Facebook too) was considered by the trans community to be a T.E.R.F.

Now, a TERF is in many ways a mythological, usually female beast with many heads. A beast that strikes fear into the trans community. Rumors about the mysterious and elusive TERF and its magical powers have been spread hither and thither through the ages.

So what is a TERF, really? TERF stands for Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist, and it seems, if you follow the unscientific link above, to have been coined within feminism, either by the TERFs themselves, or by other feminists who wanted nothing to do with them. Hey, not all feminists are bad. Some of my best friends are feminist. Just sayin’.

I suppose now is as good a time as any for my disclaimer. I am going to look at this issue, like I do when I tackle trans politics, from all sides. That means I intend to say some things that will not shine the trans community as a whole in a good light, and some things that may humanize those dastardly TERFs. People do not see themselves as part of a hate group, more often than not, even when society tells them they are. TERFs are no exception. They are people. Often damaged people. End disclaimer.

TERFs often identify as a group of radical feminists, radfems, dykes or militant lesbians. Maryland attourney, Cathy Brennan’s group, Gender Identity Watch, takes a vocal position fighting a sometimes good fight. They look to end male violence and abuse against women. At least on paper they do. But if you could see their old Facebook page which was taken down, or their new one, if it still remains, you will see that the vast majority of their posts have to do with trans people. They sometimes spice things up with articles about male on female violence. GIW also, likes to editorialize when they post links to things, making their anti-trans position clear. These editorials are often temporary, as GIW takes them down frequently, I suspect, in order to avoid being caught by the Facebook police.

Now, to be fair, violence against women happens far more frequently than society ever seems to admit. Men are typically the aggressors. Having lived most of my life on testosterone, I can say it is some powerful juice. It makes a person want to fight, have sex, and sometimes both. There is a reason beyond the large litters, as to why we often neuter our pets. That said, not all men are bad. Hey, some of my best friends are male. Just sayin’.

It sure seems like many of the fundamentalist members of GIW want NOTHING to do with men, or masculinity, and between their two major battles, trans exclusion and putting violent men in their place, I can begin to see a pattern. TERFs disown everything male, even trans women, because men have deeply harmed each and every one of them. Often enough, I suspect this harm has been violent and sexual. Sometimes for years on end, I imagine. I can’t entirely hate a group that seems to me to be rooted in so much pain. Irreparable pain.

Trans folk often enough have similar experiences, I am sad to say. I have already seen enough to know it is a whole new world I am living in. I am lucky compared to many.

So, back to TERF mythology. It is often said amongst trans communities that TERFs took trans health care rights away. This is a partial truth.

An anti-trans radical feminist named Janice Raymond was part of a group appointed by the Carter Administration to review and revise national health insurance guidelines and she was asked to write and deliver the ruling herself. The group decided trans medical treatments from hormones to surgery were experimental, and not worthy of coverage. Until this month, that has been the national guideline preventing the vast majority of trans people from getting treatment covered by their insurance. That does not mean Janice Raymond herself was responsible for all of this, but she was asked to deliver the message which implies she was at the very least, a vocal supporter of the change.

Only recently has the American government started to look into, and revise these policies, starting with Medicare. This is the start of bringing insurance coverage up to speed with the popular opinions of doctors. Treatment is the only known cure for gender dysphoria. It has a remarkable success rate. It works for me. Being trans has become a medical issue in my life.

So TERFs have been around for a while although the term has only recently become widely used in trans circles. Unlike, “Tranny”, it is a specific term describing exactly the type of radical feminists who are anti-trans, although when the whole, “Tranny” debate happened, TERFs attempted to say the term, “TERF” is a slur. It certainly can be used as a slur but it is not a widely used term, and it is most frequently used to differentiate TERFs from other feminists. For example, I consider myself a feminist but I am not a TERF.

Brennan over at GIW and the new page now, GIW Reloaded, likes to post inflammatory things, and often editorialize, in the attempt to get someone to respond in anger. When they do, she takes a screen cap of the comment and then deletes it along with her editorial. Later, she posts the picture of the comment with the name removed and uses it as evidence that all trans folk are crazy, and/or like to make threats. I mean, this stuff is classic Internet trolling. Trolling 101.

She also runs a blog, which I will not list here, where she posts pictures of men who commit violent crimes against women. AND she posts before and after pictures, along with the old names, of trans folk who have argued against her, all mixed right in with the violent criminals. She has threatened to out a friend of mine to his job (he is already out).

In fact, this is one of the reasons why it is good for me to be out. I got out ahead of the story, so it does not have power over me. I am trans and proud to be trans. If someone tells my job, friends or family I am trans, it will be old news. I mean, TERFs could do something really mean like calling me, “Tommy” or, “Male”. I shudder at the thought.

Now, the folks over at GIW argue in some circular logic. If a man disagrees with them, they are mansplaining to women as if women have no right to form their own opinions… or the man is considered a MRA (male rights activist) to also diminish the argument from a man, since arguing for male rights is kind of like arguing for white supremacy. Trans women are men in their eyes. Trans men are just misguided women.

Any post that is not in line with their philosophy is removed from the page and the poster is no longer allowed to post. Take a look at Gender Identity Watch Reloaded’s page and click on a discussion. Before you do, note how many comments it says the discussion contains. Now click and count how many actually remain. Note the remaining comments are all, for the most part, in agreement with each other as if nobody ever has anything else to add. If there is a comment against the GIW position, it is one of the most recent comments and it simply has not yet been deleted.

Many TERFs are self identified dykes (dyke, not lesbian… I too identify this way sometimes, but they don’t count people like me over at GIW, so I will never be a real lesbian, and unlike Pinnochio, I will always be a real boy), and they don’t fully embrace femininity. So why would a woman transition to male? They could just be dykes like the TERFs. In fact, that is what they still are in TERF eyes. Dykes.

Transition is a way to compensate for homosexuality, you see. I am transitioning, TERFs tell me, because I am secretly gay. In reality I am bi and proud, but depending on the day, I tend to like women more.

Any man who is not in lock step with TERF philosophy, is a violent and abusive being. This includes trans women because, hey… penis. They have/had a penis. Hence violent abuser. And yet, some of my best friends have penises. Just sayin’.

If someone comes out as trans in a discussion at GIW, Brennan and her fans will immediately start calling them by their former gender and when possible, former name. This is not considered by them to be rude, only the angry replies from the people they misgender are considered inappropriate.

In recent years, Brennan has outed at least two trans students to their high schools. That chaps my craw.

So, TERFs are feared by much of the trans community. GIW spends its time fighting against trans rights, as they claim to be there to prevent violence against women. Trans folk risk being outed by Brennan and her group for speaking up.

Why do TERFs rally so hard against trans issues? Because, unlike men, who make up half the population, trans folk are small in numbers. TERFs have a better chance at winning their anti-trans battle.

This too, is why trans folk rally against TERFs. They are a small group and therefore, trans activists feel they have a fighting chance.

Both groups are picking the small battle rather than the big one.

Since TERFs overlap into the lesbian community, much like many gays overlap into the drag community, it can cause infighting within the LGBT acronym. I can’t remember how many times this month, I have seen people say the T should be dropped and it should just be LGB.

The crux of the TERF argument is men have XY chromosomes and women XX. That may never change. Not that it matters, as I have never needed my chromosomes tested.

It is just a sad state of affairs. Once again, the bullied needs to be a bully to someone else. Someone they deem weaker than THEY are.

This is just an overview of the situation as I see it. I could go on much longer, but I somehow doubt this interests my readers as much as it interests me.

I promise my next post will be light, funny and linear. My high school reunion is coming up. I met some of my best friends in high school. Just sayin’, and boy, do I have a surprise for them!


Update: Five hours after posting this blog, Gender Identity Watch Reloaded was also, taken down.


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