Opinion: TERFs are the worst

I call bullshit on this archaic brand of ‘feminism’. Stop hiding behind the idea that you’re protecting women and girls. It is gender essentialism at its worst, it’s dangerous and damaging and has no place in Irish society in 2019.

Trans rights protest holding anti TERFs signs

I have worked in the queer media in Ireland for over a decade and am pleased to say in an Irish context we have witnessed and welcomed much positive social change. The Marriage Equality referendum, the introduction (finally) of progressive Gender Recognition legislation and the long-overdue Repeal of the 8th Amendment. One of the hardest parts of my job is bearing witness to the many struggles experienced by LGBT+ people in Ireland and globally.
The news we report daily on this site brings me face to face with the harsh reality of how difficult it still is to be an LGBT+ person in many cultures, countries and societies. We report extensively on Trans issues as our Trans siblings are sadly still disproportionately affected by homophobia, transphobia, misogyny & racism.
One of the more odious developments in recent years (in the UK mostly) is the rise in the feminist & queer movements of TERFs (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist) which feels oxymoronic from where I’m sitting. As you might deduce from the title of this piece, I’m pretty clear on how I feel about these supposed “radical feminists”, they are the pits.

Exactly a year ago to the week an Irish feminist collective of over 1,000 individuals signed an open letter to British TERFs who had a planned event in Dublin, stating that they are not welcome here. This was a heartening response from a feminist and queer collective movement that truly understands the intersectional nature of social change and the power of solidarity.

“We, the signatories of this letter, organise hand in hand with our trans sisters. Together, cis and trans, we are Irish feminism. Trans women are our sisters; their struggles are ours, our struggles theirs. They were our sisters before any state-issued certification said so and will always be no matter what any legislation says, either now or in the future.”

I was so proud of this and happy to see that we were having precisely none of their TERFs nonsense. Their scaremongering is transphobia dressed up to look like concern for women’s safety and preservation of womens’ spaces. Get a Grip.

Enter stage right, Graham-Patron Saint of TERFs – Linehan. Linehan and his wife, Helen became vocal and high profile voices in the fight to repeal the 8th Amendment sharing their own experiences of access to reproductive healthcare in the UK.

It seems pretty ironic to me that the same person who campaigned to allow women bodily autonomy is now calling gender affirming surgery ‘mutilation’ and going on increasingly bizarre, unhinged twitter rampages about Trans people and their bodily autonomy. Linehan told The Irish Times this week “he is astonished the argument has got so far. “A lot of transgender people agree with me. I’m not transphobic. Because of this debate, I now have a number of friends who are trans, and they don’t agree with this dogma.”  *EYE-ROLL*

This was in response to the PrimeTime report on Trans issues in Ireland, “Generation Gender”  that aired this week despite a massive response from the community that was being reported on and RTE’s insistence on creating a debate where there isn’t one. Trans people aren’t up for debate and it is telling that they had to go to the UK to talk to Linehan and another concerned “Feminist”, let’s call her TERFY MC TERFFACE! That fear and transphobia is not a thing here.

Aoife Martin spoke eloquently earlier this week about Linehan’s inclusion in the Primetime segment, ‘Linehan Shouldn’t Have A Platform To Say How We Should Treat Our Trans Kids’. It is mystifying to me that Linehan is so concerned about this when it has exactly nothing to do with him. He is not a trans person, he is not a medical expert.

One of the most pathetic and ridiculous themes brought up in the Prime Time Report by Linehan and a TERFs go-to is the assertion that predatory males will become trans to access female spaces and abuse women and girls. I hate to break it to you Graham but men have been doing just fine in the whole subjugating women department for hundreds of years and the pantomime villain “creep in a dress” is a construct of your misogyny and transphobia. Linehan and these TERF activists could advocate and agitate in literally any other way if they actually wanted to help women and fight for equality, but they don’t. They want to ghettoise and terrorise trans folk. Linehan has previously stooped as low as trying to block a charity for Trans kids from receiving vital funding.

True Radical feminism is intersectional, it’s open and accepting. It stands in solidarity with all kinds of people and in Ireland, we’ve seen the positive and transformative power of collaborative campaigning. True feminism understands that rights and respect given to one group of people doesn’t take away from anyone else. We won’t be importing any of this pathetic, reductive nonsense. We stand in support and allegiance with our trans peers.

Let’s continue to support the wonderful work of the TENI, BelonG To, Shout Out & LGBT Ireland to name a few and let’s always stand in solidarity with our Trans siblings.

If you would like to find out more, three excellent Twitter threads go into detail about the TERF movement from an Irish context:

Aisling Cronin reported on this subject for GCN issue 345, which can be read here.

© 2019 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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