Dear Madam or Sir,
Today, a woman (possibly, of course I have no idea how she identifies) named Kat, reposted Juno Dawson’s contribution to the magazine, where they disparage gender critical feminists as, ‘Terfs’ with a triumphant, “YES”.
Following that, I, and many women wrote to Kat to tell her we were disappointed that Glamour magazine would use a word which is only ever used today as a slur, and she would continue to repeat it.
Many women today told of their experiences of the word being used to silence and insult them although Glamour UK, whilst active online, did not respond in any meaningful way, other than telling us that words don’t really mean anything, the fucking idiot. See what I did there?
Your discrimination policy states that you will not permit disparaging remarks or editorial to be made to groups on the basis of their gender identity or sex.
A summary of the precise problem with the word, and the reason why it is discriminatory is as follows:
- TERF originated as an acronym some years ago standing for, ‘Trans Exclusive Radical Feminists’, describing a group of feminists who wish to exclude male-bodied people from female-bodied people spaces.
- The label ‘Trans’ applies to anyone who does not identify with the gender pertaining to their birth sex. Female-bodied people, being ascribed through life the gender class of ‘woman’ according to their birth sex of ‘female’ have suffered, in numbers exceeding any other marginalised group, violent discrimination at a global level, because that gender category is taken to denote an inferior class of citizen to the dominant male class.
- Therefore, the root of feminism is to reject the application of an inferior gender category and to fight to be liberated from that assumption and the consequences of it.
- There is no barrier to identifying as, ‘Trans’ – anyone can be trans, on the basis of self-declaration. Important social and legal changes have followed the growing adoption of the term.
- Given that female-bodied people have suffered extraordinary violence at the hands of male-bodied people over centuries, (precisely because of their sexed bodies that signalled the inferior gender class, and I trust you do not need sources to qualify this point), they have been forced to create safe-spaces for female-bodied people only, from rape crisis centres, to changing rooms, to sex-segregated bathrooms.
- So it is clear that there is now a case of competing rights. Trans people would like to be seen as their preferred gender, and align that to the sex category they believe it ‘belongs to’. Some feminists, long-schooled in caution if not fear, cannot give primacy to their invisible gender over their visible male-sexed bodies, and do not believe that adopting a new gender – which they reject in any case given the female experience – gives legitimacy to the adoption of the experience or spaces of their oppressed class.
- Since violence is predominantly committed on a world-wide scale by male bodied people, they have no way of knowing who is, or isn’t violent. Not all TW are violent. But all TW are clearly male-bodied, as this is what the Trans descriptor denotes.
- For this reason, some feminists asked that TW respect their spaces and hence the term was born.
- To a feminist however, this TERF acronym was at first baffling – the spaces were to protect from male bodied people! – and then frightening. A cohort of people adopted the term using violent rhetoric (probably about five years ago) to prevent feminists from drawing any boundaries between the sexes.
- However, and most pertinently to this argument, the use of the word has radically changed over the past three years, not only in breadth of usage, but semantically. It has now been adopted as an insult to women who:
- Maintain that there are male and female sex categories
- Argue that patriarchy is rooted in the oppression of female people by male people
- Argue that only female-bodied people have the potential to give birth, whether or not they do
- Argue that female-bodied people suffer assault, degradation and discrimination because their bodies are sexed female
- Sometimes, especially following rape or assault, request the need for female only spaces
- TERF is now used only as violent rhetoric. Its etymology forgotten; all that matters now is how it is deployed.
- To understand how this word is commonly deployed, please check www.terfisaslur.com
- Another precaution in determining whether or not this is a harmful or harmless term is to try to find one single woman who is happy with this label being applied to her as a descriptor of her beliefs and to defend its current usage in regards to them. I defy you to find one, anywhere.
- TERF is now only used as a discriminatory slur to alienate specific groups of women who articulate the bullet points numbers 1 to 5 above or express concerns over society’s fixation with gender norms. They are silenced, they are abused, they are hounded on the internet and they receive death threats each and every day. Vitally, the term is only ever applied to women, making it sex-specific.I find this discriminatory to me, as a woman, in terms of right to not suffer discrimination.
- Despite an editorial position which clearly states, under heading 12. Discrimination that, “The press must avoid prejudicial or pejorative reference to an individual’s, race, colour, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or to any physical or mental illness or disability.”, the magazine has continued to defend its usage.