I am a feminist. My feminism is intersectional. It covers women, it covers race, it covers men, it covers people with disabilities, and it covers transgender and non-binary people. My feminism doesn’t always benefit me.
I have witnessed my friends and fellow campaigners being harassed by a minority of women who are labeled or identify as Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists (TERFs). Before we get into it, I want to make it absolutely crystal clear: I condemn as strongly as possible the words and actions of these women. To dead-name or mis-gender any person who is trans is the cruelest and pettiest thing one could do.
However, I don’t believe in calling names. I understand completely why a trans person would want to and respect their right to but I won’t do it. Firstly, I’m not going to attach the word ‘feminism’ to this hateful behaviour. Secondly, I don’t think that terms like TERF, Incel, etc. have any place in our lexicon. Cruelty doesn’t deserve the validation of a name.
I am a cis-woman. I have always identified as a woman and I’m comfortable in my womanhood. I regularly get called a “handmaiden” for being an ally to my trans friends and colleagues. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a pop-culture reference to Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale which was recently adapted into a popular TV series by Hulu.
Oh wow, where to begin with this one?
Atwood’s creation, as with all her novels, is a female perspective of injustices against women by men, whether subtle or insidious. It is as pertinent now as when it was first published in 1985. I’m staggered by the use of the word ‘handmaiden’ as an insult against women by women. The implication being that women who ally ourselves with trans people are somehow complicit in our own servitude. Just typing that made me swear very badly in my head!
Margaret Atwood has always challenged the notion of being ‘the right’ kind of feminist, and herself is not anti-trans:
“Some feminists have historically been against lipstick and letting transgender women into women’s washrooms. Those are not positions I have agreed with.”
– The Guardian, 2018
“I’m not that kind of feminist. And I’m not the kind that thinks that trans women are not women. So you tell me what you mean and I’ll tell you if I am one.”
– Irish Times, 2018
I think …