Halloween’s the perfect time for a witch hunt, and the good people at the University of Cambridge have the holiday spirit — allegedly.
The elite UK school’s student union has released a handy handbook, How to Spot TERF Ideology.
If you’re unaware, the acronym stands for “Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist.”
Said fake-grass-sounding zealots doubt a person with testicles might be a lady.
Per the text, that attitude’s solely for the fanatical fringe.
And folks with phobias — psychological disorders of irrational fear — can kick sand:
Fighting for autonomy and freedom must be a fight for everyone, and there should be no room for transphobia or TERFs in feminist organizing.
The student union’s not only standing against strident scrotum discrimination; it’s offering information on how to detect those transphobic nuts and crush ’em:
We are committed to not only a trans inclusive but a trans liberatory feminism. This guide helps people understand what TERFs are and what makes “TERF-ism” a distinct subcategory of transphobia, how to spot TERF ideology, how to deal with it, and how to make spaces trans inclusive.
The wording harkens back a bit to this:
So how will chivalrous students shatter suppression?
First, one must understand the malady:
TERF ideology is a specific form of transphobia. … TERFs define misogyny as sex-based oppression, which results from being “biologically female” (a term they define flexibly, but can often be taken to mean people who are assigned female at birth).
The student union labels such a “narrow” view as “reductive.”
For the broad-minded among you, here’s how to find phobes:
- TERFs often self-refer as “gender critical” or “adult human female.”
- They refer to believing in “sex-based rights,” “LGB rights,” and “protecting women and girls.”
- They refer to trans people as “TRAs” (Trans Rights Activists), “the trans lobby,” “the trans debate,” and to trans women as “TIMs” (Trans-Identified Males). They typically dislike the term cis(gender) and may say “I don’t have a gender identity” or “I don’t have pronouns.”
- TERFs will refer to issue of trans people in bathrooms or changing rooms as being about “predators” and co-opt the language of sexual violence to refer to trans people existing in public spaces
- Their narratives represent transmasculine people as confused, redeemable, and often as children and teenagers “corrupted” by the “trans lobby,” and transfeminine people as predatory, aggressive, and the ones doing the corrupting.
As for dealing with TERFs in person, stay safe from seduction:
[T]he unique danger of TERF rhetoric is that it is styled to sound like feminism.
Step one in convincing them to compute their fluke:
[T]ry and figure out where they got [the idea] from. Did they hear it from a friend, or read a news article? If they’ve read something and it’s the first thing they’ve heard about trans people or the first time they’ve taken an interest, it may be relatively easy to inform them about where they’re going wrong, and why what they’re backing is harmful.
The Cambridge crew suggests you “talk through what the endpoint of their ideology is.”
And if the situation’s particularly pernicious, break out the big guns:
[I]t may…be worth bringing up that TERFs (particularly the famous ones who figurehead the movement) spend a lot of time working with the far-right.
“Trans liberation,” the manual maintains, “is feminism we should all be doing.”
Because we’re not just fighting sexism:
Many feminist spaces that are hostile to trans people are also racist and ableist.
To be sure, many have taken up the fight.
TERFism is roamin’ ’round, but those in the virtuous vanguard are vigilant.
What a day to be alive. Margaret Atwood shares a transphobic article by a TERF and upon being questioned asks trans women to read the piece and claims the writer is not a TERF. Remind me again how cis feminists are being trans-inclusive. https://t.co/TEbqsaqn5b
— Swarnim ⚧ (@swarnim0707) October 19, 2021
Margaret Atwood and all TERFs and TERF-adjacent people are asking the brave questions. (with captions!) pic.twitter.com/Ld26g9QFl8
— 🎃Imani Gandy Corn🎃 (@AngryBlackLady) October 20, 2021
Cambridge is on top of it — as well as other social ills.
In addition to the TERF guide, the student union’s served a Statement on Anti-Asian Hate and Violence.
CliffsNotes version: They’re against it.
And the front page of the university’s site offers an article on climate change — as it turns out, “Europeans want climate action but show little appetite for (a) radical lifestyle change.”
It’s a robust reminder: Some forms of extremism are exemplary while others are downright dastardly.
If you wanna be a radical, ride an energy-saving unicycle.
But don’t fancy yourself a fundamentalist — the Cambridge kids implore — in a way that’s prejudice against prostates.
Save the world, and by all means, go green — but not in a TERF sort of way.
That said, not everyone at the school is of the same mind.
Using that analogy, understand what’s at stake.
After all, we know what happens where TERF is concerned: People get burned.
Jacks terf burn😵 pic.twitter.com/LX0vPMUy
— monica 🌼🌸 (@monicahorinko) October 16, 2012
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