Do some trans women look feminine

Trans-hostility among women : Concerned feminists

Tennis star Martina Navratilova is a feminist: As one of the first openly lesbian top athletes, she has been campaigning for LGBTI rights for decades. But that didn't stop the nine-time Wimbledon winner, who is now mainly a TV commentator, from polemicising trans women. She spoke out loudly in favor of excluding trans women from women's tennis - and referred to them as men who “choose” to be a woman.

Navratilova is not an isolated case. On Christopher Street Day in London last year, eight lesbian women led the way: one of their banners read "Trans-activism erases lesbians"; and in the flyers they distributed, trans women were described as "straight men who pretend to be women". The well-known author and feminist Germaine Greer made a similar statement: She excludes trans women from her feminism, “because trans women are not women”.

The term TERF is an attribution, not a self-designation

When there are discussions about these topics in the comment columns of social media, one term has appeared more and more recently: TERF. Martina Navratilova was referred to as TERF, as was Germaine Greer and also the eight lesbian women. TERF is the abbreviation for "Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminism". Translated into German one speaks of a "trans-exclusive radical feminism". The term was used for the first time in 2008 - at that time still predominantly in English-speaking countries. For a number of years it has increasingly found its way into German-language discourses.

Taken literally, the abbreviation is clear and unambiguous: TERFs are radical feminists who exclude trans people. But it's not that easy: When is feminism “radical”? What exactly does it mean to “exclude trans people”? The problem with the term “TERF” lies in its use: Because the word is an external ascription and not a self-ascription, there are very few radical feminists who say of themselves that they are TERFs. It is much more the other way around: Feminists take certain positions and then get the TERF label stuck on from the outside.

Trans people are seen either as victims or as perpetrators

Behind this is a way of thinking that makes trans people linguistically invisible, doubts their identity or denies them their existence: Instead of understanding gender as a spectrum and gender identity as fluid, TERFs assume that gender is biologically determined and therefore unchangeable because we are certain male and make female body parts men or women forever and ever. From this perspective, trans people are seen either as victims or as perpetrators.

For TERFs, trans men are “biological women” who fall victim to gender stereotypes and misogyny: In order to escape the overwhelming patriarchy, they become physical men. Often, TERFs for trans men continue to use the pronoun "she"; Or, with a word like “women” or “women *”, I mean all people who were assigned the female gender at birth.

While trans men are mostly classified under "women" by TERFs, trans women are considered to be "men" for them, who only pretend to be women in order to break into women's safe rooms. TERFs see women's shelters, women's groups and even women's toilets as being threatened by trans women.

Again and again it's about toilets and changing rooms

TERFs almost always see themselves as victims, from whom something is either taken away or something is done to - by patriarchy or by trans people. From this perspective, the topics that TERFs deal with emerge almost automatically: The question of which toilets and public changing rooms trans women are allowed to visit is one of the most important concerns of TERFs: Men disguise themselves as women in order to be in women - Protective room "women's toilet" to exercise violence or to traumatize people with the sight of their penis. A similar argument can be found on the subject of prison. TERFs oppose trans women being placed in women's prisons. And TERFs believe that trans women enter women's sport in order to dominate there and overtake other women.

If you scroll through the social networks, you can observe an interesting phenomenon: until then, completely inconspicuous, enlightened feminists suddenly write something like: “I am against men with penis being allowed to use the women's toilet!”, “There must be shelters for women give! ”,“ Our women's sport is in danger! ”“ Men who believe they are women want to dominate us! ”.

These so far completely inconspicuous feminists react irritably when contradicted and often start reading articles from websites like Feminist Current in which singular events are scandalized: A trans woman, for example, is said to have been outraged in the women's waxing studio that a beautician refused to remove the hair on her penis.

TERFs are rarely interested in studies or facts

When sharing such articles, there is often the addition that you are putting yourself at risk as soon as you dare to speak “uncomfortable truths” out loud. Such people could be called concerned feminists - analogous to the phenomenon of “concerned citizens”, it is not about facts, but about perceived truths, taboos and threats.

Take toilets, for example: It is almost impossible for women to actually see naked genitals there - after all, there are always cubicles with lockable doors in women's toilets.

Example sport: trans people have been allowed to take part in the Olympic Games for 15 years. But in 15 years not a single trans woman has qualified for the Olympic Games. There is already a long-term study that shows that trans women are not able to dominate women's sport. But TERFs are rarely interested in studies or facts, but rather in a perceived threat situation.

TERFs often share supposedly simple, logical and, at first glance, consensus-based opinions. Of course, nobody wants women to experience violence in the women's bathroom! Of course, it would be unfair if women were unfairly disadvantaged in women's sport! But all of these are argumentative sidelines: Basically, the only thing that matters is to determine what other people are allowed to be, what they are allowed to call themselves and whether they belong or not. Have you been socialized as a man and do you have a penis? "Then you can never be a full woman - and if you have a vagina and a uterus, then you are not a man, but belong to us women".

You don't want to say "man with a uterus" even though it's more inclusive

TERFs therefore categorically reject the term "person with uterus". This includes all those who have a uterus but are not women: for example trans men or non-binary people. Anyone who talks about pregnancy or menstruation is formulating more inclusive when talking not only about women, but also about people with a uterus. A term that does not take anything away from anyone - and instead includes others who are otherwise made invisible.

41 percent of trans women and men try to kill themselves at least once. Is it really “radical feminism” to deny these people their existence and identity? Wouldn't it be much more radical to accept these people unconditionally and to fight together for their existence, their safety and their visibility? These are questions that TERFs should ask.

The publicist Carolin Emcke once said that human rights are not a zero-sum game. Incidentally, this is also the case with the terms “woman” and “man with uterus”. Of course, feminists will not lose the term "woman". It is only supplemented by a further term so that even more people can be taken into account and made visible through language.

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