The third-wave fight: TERFs vs trans women

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Thank you Moulting Phoenix for having the bravery to step out and voice opinions as a transgender person. We really love this articulate post which explains the tension between transgender people and TERFs when it comes to safe spaces such as toilets.

A Transgender Phoenix

A battle has been brewing across the ages – a fight of feminist ideology! A brawl between the likes of Sheila Jeffreys, Janice Raymond & Mary Daly against Laverne Cox, Janet Mock & Sylvia Rae Rivera. A battle – of TERF vs trans woman.

For those not in the know with the latest queer lingo, a TERF is a Trans Exterminationist Radical Feminist. A lot of people seem to think the term refers to Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists – but TERFs themselves changed this definition because it made them seem “too mean”. Of course, nothing is really too mean when you are trying to “morally mandate trans people out of existence”, but I digress. TERFs have been a part of western feminism and western feminist discourse for approximately 50 years now, and their attitudes haven’t really changed much over the years. They first sprung up in the second-wave, when feminists…

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Sex, Lies and Dysphoria: Myths about the gender queer

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Have a look at this excellent summary of myths about queer and transgender people. Explains why we need unisex, gender-neutral and all-gender toilets brilliantly. Thank you to Transcend Gender Australia!

transcend gender australia

There is a lot of bullshit whirling around when it comes to queer gender identities.

Some misconceptions are as old as the hills. We’ll probably never know how they originated and became so widely heard of. Others are more new, arising from hotly debated issues such as allowing transgender people to use preferred bathrooms or allowing children to have puberty blockers if they say they were born in the wrong body.

This space, Transcend Gender Australia, is all about clearing up these issues, because a valid discussion can only be had when arguments based in ignorance and aiming to incite fear and the marginalization of certain people are removed.

Here are a few misconceptions that need to be put in society’s bin for bullshit.

Please comment and let us know if there’s other misconceptions that need to just stop being spread.

  1. Allowing transwomen to use female bathrooms the risk women face of…

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South Park and Other Toilets

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I would like to applaud ‘South Park’ for attempting to spread awareness of issues facing queer and transgender people in society through one of their episodes titled ‘Cissy’. Despite the fact that they have not explored such issues well in the past, they are trying to make a difference now. That step forward is worthy of applause. I also found a great opinion article on areas ‘South Park’ could improve on and wanted to highlight some of the quotes I liked best.

On a more mundane level, “Cissy” handles bathrooms brilliantly: All-gender restrooms are necessary, because they’re the only safe and dignified place for many non-binary and genderqueer trans people to do their bathroom stuff. But a scene from Randy’s subplot aptly demonstrates the problem when people expect—or worse, force—binary male- and female-identified trans people (like myself) to use them: All-gender restrooms aren’t “the transgender bathroom,” they are bathrooms for everyone. Men’s is still just for men, and women’s is still just for women; but since most trans people are men or women, you can see why it’s wrong to assume someone should have to use the third option just because they’re trans. The episode subtly salutes this misconception by labeling the third door in the school as “Other.”

Yes, it’s time to acknowledge one crucial point: Trans men are men and trans women are women. Please acknowledge them that way because that is the way they want to be treated. If people are at a stage where they wish to question their identity, give them space. If someone does not want to be one or the other gender, let them be free to do so. No one should ever feel pressured or forced to be someone they are not. No one should be forced to go into a toilet environment where they will be forced to conform just to do their business.

love the idea of 10-year-olds questioning their gender. Here’s the thing about questioning your gender: It doesn’t actually change the way you feel inside, it just helps you look deep enough to know yourself best. The only reason we associate questioning with transition is because society punishes, so brutally, any variance from cis, that most people would avoid publicly revealing that they’re questioning themselves

I sincerely hope there will come a day, when people will become more educated about queer and trans identities, to the point where it will be perceived as something normal as the binary gender identities. Then, if people do come out come out, I hope they will no longer receive unwarranted treatment like stares and abuse. Queer, transgender and people who are questioning should be treated like normal people, because they are. There’s nothing wrong about questioning gender identities and there’s nothing wrong with people who experience gender dysphoria. They should not be discouraged from being who they are.

Some people may think it is abnormal because they haven’t experienced it themselves. I implore those people to open their minds and start acknowledging the fact that there are people out there who feel that way. There is a reason why these issues are receiving more and more attention now, even in a show like ‘South Park’. Queer and transgender identities obviously exist, so people should stop denying it. Even the latest version of the diagnostic and statistical manual (DSM-5), developed by the American Psychiatric Association, never said all transgender people have perverted desires. People shouldn’t assume that all transgender people are perverts or mentally ill, because they are not.

I think Principal Victoria puts it best, when in her announcement to the school after explaining why they’ve eliminated “the transgender bathroom,” she says: “Anyone who has a problem sharing a bathroom with people who might be transgender will have to use the special designated bathroom designed to keep them away from the normal people who don’t care

Having unisex, gender-neutral, or all-gender toilet facilities available is a crucial step forward and necessary, not only because queer and transgender people will no longer have to feel excluded, but also because such toilets expose people to different gender identities. These toilets should not be eliminated, as ‘South Park’ suggested.

The mistreatment queer and transgender people face in toilets can make them feel uncomfortable to be who they are and discourage them from coming out. It’s time to stop making toilets an obstacle. ‘South Park’, thank you. Thank you so much for improving your attitude and I hope you continue to improve!

Seeking a space to call safe

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The Swan Project is a group based in Singapore advocating for the addition of safe spaces for transgender people in Asia. Their posts are well-written with engaging images. Check it out!

The Swan Project

Navigating the gendered world as an individual who does not conform to gender norms and ideals.

Many of us fail to recognise that the world and its spaces around us are often heavily gendered. Public areas are partitioned into male and female, including everyday spaces such as the washrooms and shopping departments. In a world where gender is highly salient and clearly demarcated, transgender people remain burdened and subjected to the public eye.

in the train

The comic above is inspired by Ariel*’s personal experience, where she faces the tormenting gaze imposed by the judgmental eye of the public simply because she is a transwoman. The piercing stares, the questioning looks, and the disapproving expressions all prove to be highly distressing. “The attention will be all on me, and the whole time I will feel very uncomfortable,” Ariel said.

Like Ariel, many gender non-conforming individuals share the same sentiments and desire: to search…

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Should One Ask a Trans Person…

Source: BuzzFeed
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A Buzz Feed article stated that a question that people should not ask a transgender person is which bathroom they use. Perhaps, however, rather than going around telling people that it is a question to avoid asking, it’s time to ask why people are asking that question.

The answer is simple: People still need to be educated about why queer and transgender people need unisex or gender neutral toilets. With gendered toilets in existence, or with the stereotypical teachings telling them that only people of certain genders (which people tend to associate with genitals) can enter those toilets, this question gives queer and transgender people a chance to explain.

Gendered toilets mean more than segregation based on genitalia. Toilets are a symbol of how queer and transgender people have needs that are not being met. Queer and transgender people, unlike those who associate themselves with binary gender identities, are seldom acknowledged or understood in so many cases. They need to go to a toilet they can feel comfortable in, just like every other person in society. If a gendered person can have gendered toilets, why can’t queer and transgender people have unisex or gender-neutral toilets?

I implore any person who is queer or transgender not to pass on a chance to educate people about what it’s like to go to a gendered toilet and not feel welcome or comfortable about it. People who are transgender know better than anyone who isn’t transgender about being transgender. They are the people who can educate non-transgender people about what it’s like to live as a transgender person.

Once information becomes more widespread and it becomes general knowledge, maybe people will never have to ask the question about toilets to another queer and transgender person again. Maybe people will begin to understand why queer and transgender people need unisex or gender-neutral toilets. We will be one step closer to our aim of being acknowledged and respected in society.


Want to educate? This is your chance. Write to us and tell us your story.

Transgender, Not Rapist.

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Trigger warning: References to transphobia

I think there is a need for anyone and everyone to know what a TERF is if they don’t know yet. I came across the term about a week ago, when I was looking up articles about transgender people. I read the definition of the term, but only had a vague understanding of it. However, after talking with a few people online, I began to suspect that I might have been talking with TERFs. So, I did more research on the term to check.

TransAdvocate.com
linked to theterfs.com: A site “dedicated to exposing the hate contained within their movement.”, which has an infographic for those of you who don’t like reading too much text.

I consulted the dear members of the UNSW Queer Collective, who kindly explained to me the meaning of the term as well as the different waves of feminism. The following are some of the quotes I got from members of the collective:

In a nutshell, the term is used to refer to specific radical feminists who attempt to “exterminate” trans womens’ identities by rejecting their womanhood and gender identity, usually using “he” pronouns to refer to trans women and with various extremities (i.e. likening trans women to colonisation of women’s bodies by men, and also using rape analogies in a similar fashion).

A notable TERF is Cathy Brennan, who has done a lot of work to help with the extermination of trans women (e.g. influence law that assists in placing hurdles in front of trans women’s survival, such as legally blocking avenues of healthcare).

People often mistake the “E” in TERF to mean “exclusionary”, but that is the work of TERFs trying to say that they are merely “gender critical” a.k.a. they are spouting hate speech.

to deny the legitimacy of trans identities is effectively to call for the eradication of trans-ness, thus the one implies the other anyway.

In feminist discourse there is three waves of feminism, 1st (which was around the first half of the century), 2nd (60s-early 80’s) and 3rd wave (90’s – present).

Not all radfems are TERFs in fact a lot of anarchist feminists call themselves radical feminists whilst specifically including and being allies or being trans. Most TERFs belong to the discourse of the 2nd wave. Famous 2nd wave feminists include Germaine Greer and Sheila Jeffreys. Both are also Australian feminists, the latter is also known to be racist.

Modern (3rd wave) feminism holds that transwomen are women, just as transmen are men (and therefore benefit from the patriarchy in certain aspects.

There are some feminists who would for their other parts fit nicely into the 3rd wave type feminism except they are transphobic

I would also like to give a big thank you to our allies at Transcend Gender Australia, who wrote a simple and easy-to-understand check list of what being a TERF includes. The following were included in the blog post:

Do you think transwomen are men and they can never be a ‘real’ woman?

People questioned whether transwomen could understand female oppressions, whether the oppression of trans people measured up to this oppression, whether sex reassignment surgery made you a woman, so on and so forth. Who knew there was so much ground to cover. As Lucy Mangan from The Guardian said in relation to the excess of boundary marking and labelling this ‘TERF war’ incited:

“Will you excuse me while I go and shoot myself in the head? Because, like – whatever, you know?”

I have been accused of being pro-rape for advocating for the installation of unisex toilets, given links to cases where media outlets claim transgender perverts have assaulted women in their private toilet spaces. People have tried to tell me that transgender women should never be referred to as women because they are biologically different from the female sex and don’t menstruate. The negative generalisations people have stated to me clearly exhibit the behavior of people who have transphobia. Transgender women live their life presenting themselves as women and deserve to be respected for who they are. The way of extending this respect is to refer to them as women. So, I think that some of the people I talked to met the TERF criterion.

Also, let me ask the people who accused me of being pro-rape: If a rapist wanted to rape somebody, would that rapist care about which toilet their target entered? Or would they just rape once they lock in their targets? Rape can happen anywhere, including toilets, so toilets are not the direct cause of it. In fact, men, women and transgender people can all be sexually assaulted. Transgender people deal with a chance of being raped, just like everybody else. TERFs claim that a cisgender female will be more likely to be assaulted by a transgender woman, or have their privacy invaded by a transgender woman. Yet, they hardly think of how likely it is for things to be the other way around:

Say hello to the Pacific Justice Institute, a hate group that spreads propaganda about trans people. Sometimes mainstream media outlets repeat these lies. Like ABC’s Michael Chen, who, last October, mentioned the case of a trans girl peering over bathroom stalls to look at other girls. Except she didn’t. When activist site TransAdvocate investigated – using complex methods like picking up a phone – the school informed them that the story was “fabricated”.

…telling lies about transgender folk harassing people is a thing. People harassing transgender folks is also a thing. Transgender folk deserve restroom rights. Ya heard?

Did we mention that transgender women can also have problems with getting erections?

The following are more pieces of information that effectively discredit a TERF’s claims of how the majority of transgender people are rapists:

There are no statistics that support the idea that lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered individuals are more likely to commit sexual assault or be sex offenders than heterosexuals. In fact, sex offenders are disproportionately likely to be heterosexual men.

Montgomery County police chief Thomas Manger says that allegations that rapes and sexual assaults occurred in public restrooms following passage of a transgender accommodation law are “untrue.”

There’s no empirical evidence that things will “go wrong.” School districts with similar policies have reported no instances of misconduct and stated that the transgender protections have met with “nothing but positive results.”

According to Gay Star News’ Jane Fae, transphobic bathroom myths have been promoted by news outlets that fail to fact-check unsubstantiated stories about alleged sexual assaults.

Numerous conservative media outlets, including The Daily Caller, WND, and the Media Research Center, have similarly promoted the myth that sexual predators will exploit trans-inclusive restrooms to prey upon women. [Equality Matters8/19/138/22/132/3/14]

In an email to Media Matters, Executive Director Amy Sneirson of the Maine Human Rights Commission said that the state’s non-discrimination law hadn’t led to increased sexual assault or rape

“Since this law has been in effect, we have had no reported rapes committed in restrooms by men in women’s clothing,” Manger wrote Tuesday in a letter to Baltimore County Councilman Tom Quirk, who is lead sponsor of the anti-discrimination bill.

Someone claimed that I did not do enough research on this matter. I was called an imbecile for using the Media Matters article multiple times while I was defending my position and was mocked for the links or lack of links. Yet, that investigative piece had primary research and articles which linked to more articles, from pro-LGBTQ+ publications and authoritative sources, stating that transgender protection policies involving the installation of unisex or gender-neutral toilets have not increased sexual assault cases. Paragraphs 3, 4, 5, 6 are all from that Media Matters article. The sources for the rest have been linked in the paragraph. Note that Jane Fae also wrote this article on The Guardian with video evidence:

Last week, the horrific beating(warning: graphic, violent footage) of trans woman Chrissy Lee Polis shocked the world’s trans community to the core … Lee Polis visited McDonald’s in Rosedale, Baltimore, where she went to the women’s toilets. There she was accosted by two teenage girls, aged 14 and 18 … They attacked Chrissy, dragged her from the women’s toilets and proceeded to give her a good kicking.

I’m still perplexed by how the person I spoke to thought I did not do research on rape and sexual assault.

The other argument someone proposed was saying that I was taking away cisfemales’ safe spaces. Well, I’m not advocating for complete elimination of gendered toilets and UNSW is not eliminating gendered toilets either. If people still think that cisfemales are more likely to be abused in unisex or gender-neutral facilities, they have the right to keep gendered toilets and keep using them. It’s their choice and they have just as much right to feel safe as queer and transgender people do. I can’t wait to prove that transgender people just pee and poo in toilets like every other person who goes to a toilet once the unisex or gender neutral toilets have been built. People will get the chance to see for themselves that not all transgender people are perverts. To quote the charismatic Jenny Taylor once again, “Nothing happens in the bathroom when you’re transgender except for no.1 and no.2″.

I posted all this here, rather than the website that offended me by calling me a pro-rapist and imbecile. Why? The person who talked to me said goodbye and gave me parting words while other people told me to leave, so I did. I guess one could say that they were queer exclusionary too.

Mocked by Fox News

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How does it feel to be mocked by a major media organisation for your needs? You can now ask that question to LGBTQ+ residents of the United States. After Illinois State University decided to graciously change the ‘family’ toilets to ‘all-gender’ toilets, Fox News desperately tried to make a funny news piece by expressing and searching for confusion over a sign.

For those of you who don’t know, the news channel has had a history of mocking “gender-neutral passports, passport applications, college housing policies, student forms, and marriage licenses”. Despite the fact that changes have been made in the US to reflect transgender statuses, Fox News presenters seem to be trapped in a conservative, ancient bubble. What’s even more unethically unacceptable is, they have created fake stories to push their anti-queer and anti-transgender agenda. Fortunately, in this case, their mockery was put to shame. No one laughed. Not even the little boy.

There’s nothing funny about discrimination and abuse.