Monday, 28 October 2013
TERFism in crisis.
“TERF” is the acronym for transphobes who hide behind bogus feminist discourse to harass and abuse trans people, previously referred to “Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists.” However it has now become apparent that neither the “Exclusionary” nor the “Radical Feminist” parts of this descriptor are accurate. There seems to be a new consensus forming around “Trans Erasing Reactionary Fakefeminists” as a more appropriate reading. Of course this new descriptor has the advantage that it still uses the acronym “TERF” but that is entirely intentional.
Back in the dark days of TERFism, in the 1970s and 80s when TERFs were unopposed by trans people in such large numbers and their declared aim was to see us “morally mandated out of existence” they were quite clear that their main aim was erasure or extermination. Despite the huge numbers of deaths caused by TERF collaboration with the Republican Party to deny trans people in the US access to healthcare, this was not a very effective strategy. It is estimated that the number of openly trans people and stealth trans people in existence has increased by at least 10,000% since Janice Raymond wrote the TERF bible “The Transsexual Empire.”
Even before trans people had become organised to counter their lies and fight back at their policy of placing trans people into situations where they face violence and murder, the failure of TERF policy was manifest. To the horror of the TERFs trans people simply refused to be mandated out of existence. What the TERFs failed to realise was that trans people had nowhere else to go. We could either be ourselves or die one way or another.
TERFism was in a mess, it had failed and now trans people were starting to become organised via the internet and were opposing TERF ideology wherever we could. Their stream of ever more ridiculous unsupported assertions were being revealed for the lies, half-truths and fabrications that they were. The publication of Sandy Stone’s paper, “The Empire Strikes Back.” effectively discredited Raymond’s core assertion, revealing it as a fantasy fabrication. The discrediting of Raymond through simple arguing back unnerved the TERFs and panic set in producing the subsequent TERF declaration that healthcare for trans people should be made into a human rights violation, something which set off the current dribble of ever more ridiculous statements about trans people. First-dribble TERFism was over, second-dribble TERFism had begun.
However second-dribble TERFism started to suffer, to an even greater extent than first-dribble TERFism, from trans people pointing out the glaring inconsistencies in their “arguments”. TERF ideology, having been forced by the enfeeblement of first-dribble TERFism, to become ever more extreme and ever more farfetched, layed it open to critique by trans people and their allies in a way that can only be described as beyond ridicule. TERFs reeled from humiliation after humiliation heaped on their “arguments” by ordinary trans people on blogs, forums, Twitter and Facebook and even in mainstream media. Having had mainstream media to themselves this was too much to deal with. TERFs became the laughing stock, their credibility, already at a low level, evaporated.
The problem for TERFs is that they suffer from a defective ideology. We all create theories of how the world works and test those theories out against reality periodically. In most cases those theories are altered or replaced by a process of creative thought characterised, by psychologists, as “constructive alternativism.” The problem for TERFs was that they had invested so much, as a group, in TERFism that they could not break out of this ideology and could not risk losing their own self-individualities and social identities that would come with admitting what they all realise deep down is reality; that they are wrong and that their entire belief-system cannot deal with the simple, plain, clear criticism of it put forward by trans people and their allies.
This left them only one alternative, and it is the one we see today; to use their superior socio-economic position to try and silence trans people and prevent trans people from repeating their observations about TERFism which undermine their own sense of selfhood as TERFs and expose them to acute humiliation. The only problem with this is that, since their own ideology cannot stand up to even the most elementary criticism, they have to rely on the standard method of TERFism; to provoke trans people into a reaction and then turn around to everyone else and say, “look we told you trans people are [insert whatever allegation here]”. So they had to both provoke and silence at the same time. Difficult but possible, hence the introduction of multiple legal threats to silence trans people and allies. These, along with threats to employers, are becoming standard practice now for TERFs. The problem is that provocation is becoming ever harder since trans people are much wiser now, and to be honest most of us ignore TERFs most of the time, there is simply no point in engaging in any discourse with them.
Hence the outing of the trans girl in Colorado by the TERF community. A child who has been threatened with violence and murder by the TERFs' friends on the Tea Party far right. The child in question is now on suicide watch. A sickening, revolting and contemptible act of bullying and cowardice by any standards – except obviously by those of the TERFs. The problem is that such evil acts are the only way TERFs are going to get any kind of attention from any sensible trans people. So this sort of thing is not going to go away. The provocation/silencing method will need to continue or TERFs will simply be unable to exist discursively, their worldview completely shattered. This is the equivalent of putting your fingers in your ears and singing loudly in the hope that you don’t hear what people around you are saying while kicking anyone nearby who is smaller than you.
Desperate measures of course, but TERFism is now in a struggle for existence, it cannot continue in the current discursive climate where pretty much any trans person can discredit TERF discourse. There will be no third-dribble TERFism this time it is the TERFs who have nowhere to go. This time the very existence of TERFism is under threat. No ideology can ever exist in a world where it is repeatedly discursively undermined and ridiculed by large numbers of people. As the TERFs diminish to an ever more isolated rump of extremists the only other possibility they have is to pretend to be Radical Feminists and gain access an unsuspecting audience before they have had time to hear the alternative point of view.
In effect TERFism is on course towards ever more vicious and violent acts of cowardice and hatred and lies, they will need to use ever more harmful means to provoke trans people. This will not end until their violence by proxy is exposed. In the meantime it is likely that trans people will be harmed as a direct result of TERF action.