|Trans-exclusionary radical feminists are now actively harassing transgender kids in an attempt to erase their identities. (Photo: Antonio Guillem)|
I never recommend that trans people get engaged in online discussions with militant TERFs (trans-exclusionary radical feminists). Many of them are Internet trolls, and there will be no constructive debate.
Nevertheless, a few times a year I do engage with them on twitter, partly to show those who are listening in that there is a different way of looking at transgender people, and partly to find out how the TERFs think. There are not many of them, but they do some serious damage, and in order to limit that damage, we need to understand what drives them.
The two main groups of TERFs
There is no simple answer to that, as the TERFs are not a homogenous group. Still, if we allow for some simplification, we could say that there are at least two groups of women associated with their cause:
- White, straight, middle or upper class women, who are looking for some kind of excuse to force transgender children back into the closet and restrict transgender women to their homes.
- Militant "radical feminists". The latter group consists mainly of real cis lesbians (some of them channeling aggressive masculine energies), or cis straight women who resent men so much that they "have abandoned heterosexuality" (also known as "political lesbians").
The most vocal trolls belong to the second category.
(Please note that these women represent a very small, but active, minority among feminists. Most feminists, lesbians included, support transgender people.)