CHARLOTTE HUNT raises topical questions on how women should be defined and the dangers surrounding all women.
For those of you who don’t know, TERF stands for Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist. This means that there are so called ‘feminists’ out there who don’t believe that trans women are women. To me, it sounds like these “feminists” don’t truly believe in equality, as isn’t the whole point of feminism equal rights for all women? Sounds hypocritical to me.
Gender versus Sex
TERF ideals started in the USA and are believed to have existed since the 1970s. In Britain, these ideas didn’t emerge until the 1980s. Many TERFs believe that trans women contribute to ‘female erasure’ and often do not believe in gender, only the biological sexes (Lewis, 2019). Gender exists wholly and separately from biological sex. Gender refers to someone’s identity and how they want to express themselves under society’s gender roles. This means that your gender can be the same as your biological sex, or your gender and sex can be different (Office for National Statistics, 2019). Identifying as a man, woman, or non-binary is entirely independent of biological sex, and no-one should have the right to question anyone’s gender identity.
In 2020, hate crimes against trans-women, men and non-binary people were reported to have quadrupled in just five years. That’s an increase of 354% (BBC News, 2020). On the other side of the Atlantic, of all transgender people killed in America, 98% were trans women (Wareham, 2020).
Transgender Women are Women
Being a woman in the UK means that you have a 1 in 4 chance of being a victim of domestic abuse and a 1 in 5 chance of being a victim of sexual assault (HO News Team, 2019). To be a woman is a dangerous, sometimes deadly, thing. Precautions such as holding keys in your hand, constantly looking over your shoulder at night, making (or even faking) a phone call and letting friends know when you’ve arrived home are not abstract phenomena, but familiar realities to women. I personally don’t know a single female friend who hasn’t been inappropriately spoken to, and, at times, touched without consent. Do you? And if you think you don’t, have you asked them?
If the meaning of feminism is the ‘advocacy of equality of the sexes’ (OED online, 2020), then the matter is indisputable: trans women are women. We should not be questioning how one identifies themselves, especially not during Women’s History Month, when we should be celebrating all women.
Written by Charlotte Hunt
Office for National Statistics. (2019). What is the difference between sex and gender? Exploring the difference between sex and gender, looking at concepts that are important to the Sustainable Development Goals. GOV.UK.