TERFs. It’s a word you probably don’t know as it’s not exactly a hot button topic in the world of football, but this weekend they ventured into our universe with a protest of sorts outside the Women’s FA Cup final between Arsenal and Chelsea.
TERF stands for ‘trans exclusionary radical feminists’. They hate being called ‘TERFs’ which is ironic for a subset of people whose whole raison d’etre seems to be to tell trans people who and what we are.
Yes, that’s right. For those who don’t know, I’m trans. I don’t hide it, it’s right there on my Twitter profile if you want to check. I was born with female genitalia, the doctors decided that meant I had to be female and sent me off on a 36-year journey of misery until I finally worked out what was up.
But despite this long adventure with self-discovery and self-help, TERFs believe they know who I am better than I know myself. Because of the genitals I was born with, I must be female, there can be no other way.
Except biology doesn’t work like that.
I can refuse to believe in the existence of left-handed people simply because I’m a rightie and can’t comprehend what sort of brain wiring is required to use your left hand to do stuff, but biology still wins and I’m still wrong.
So it is with TERFs.
They refuse to use the correct pronouns for trans people, referring to trans women as ‘he’ and trans men ‘she’ whatever the person’s preference. Like me deciding to call you Mrs because I refuse to accept you’re a Mr.
You are who I say you are. Pretty stupid, right?
Fans groups from both sides issued a quick slapdown after it was reported that a group calling themselves ‘Women Demand Liberation’ boasted that they had handed out 400 flyers at Wembley before the game.
Today we went to the Women’s FA Cup Final and gave out 400+ flyers before the match about protecting women’s sport from men. pic.twitter.com/rbXpsDFax6
— MAYDAY 4 WOMEN (@mayday4women) May 5, 2018
With a record-breaking crowd of 45,000 in attendance, that doesn’t seem like much to be proud of, but when your whole sense of self is tied up in attacking someone else’s, you take what you can get, I guess.
I’d like to say that I understand the concerns of these TERFs but it’s hard when they peddle lies of Trumpian proportions and attack one of the most vulnerable sections of our society while sheltering under the banner of feminism for protection.
They often show little grasp of simple things – like how, exactly, can a body produce significant amounts of testosterone on its own after the gonads have been removed? Then again, when has the truth ever got in the way of a good old-fashioned witch hunt?
As trans people in sport become more visible, these sorts of attacks, the sort that trans people have been suffering for as long as they have existed (which is as long as all other types of people) will become more widespread. That is always the way when something that is feared through ignorance starts to become more socially acceptable.
As someone much wiser than me once said (Gandhi, I believe), “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
All this means to me is that we are one step away from winning.
Bring it on!