RITB With The T

We wanted to add some specific detail to our previous Statement of Support in respect of the intense activity around the Gender Recognition Act Consultation that is creating upsetting misinformation. You can fill in the consultation with advice here. We oppose Transphobia (definition on wiki) which can be described as ‘any oppression that arises from people being trans, or perceived as trans or as not conforming to gender norms. And the structural oppression of transgender people by cispatriarchal society, and prejudicial and/or ignorant attitudes, narratives and actions which contribute to those structures of oppression’.

Screenshot 2018-10-14 23.22.12

We recommend this great post by Rosie Swayne. And we thank activists for their permission to print here the text of a leaflet which was handed out at an ‘L with the T’ solidarity demonstration recently that deals with common misperceptions. A PDF can be downloaded here > TERF rhetoric vs reality

TERF Rhetoric vs Reality
Content warnings: transphobia, mention of sexual assault, rape, suicide, mental health problems, conversion therapy, medical gatekeeping.

TERF rhetoric
Children are being given irreversible medical transition before they are old enough to know that they’re really trans.

Reality
Research confirms that children who assert a transgender identity know their gender as reliably as their cisgender peers of the same age. The effect of hormone blockers is reversible, while the effects of unchecked puberty are much harder to reverse if necessary. Transition-related surgeries are not performed on children.

TERF rhetoric
[Cisgender] women are at danger of being harassed or assaulted in bathrooms if trans women are allowed to use them.

Reality
Trans people just want to be able to use the bathroom in safety, like anyone else. There are no documented cases of this having led to harassment or assault of cis women. On the other hand, trans people frequently feel, and are, unsafe in the bathroom of their birth assignment.

TERF rhetoric
Trans women uphold stereotyped notions of femininity defined by patriarchy.

Reality
Trans women’s style of presentation is as diverse as that of cis women, if not moreso. This is despite the fact that they face even more pressure to conform to stereotypes, in particular by doctors who often continue to enforce discredited gatekeeping standards requiring such conformity before allowing access to medical care.

TERF rhetoric
[Cisgender] female biological reality is a defining aspect of women’s experience of oppression.

Reality
Women’s oppression takes many different forms for different groups of women. For example, lesbian and bisexual women face particular forms of misogyny, flavoured by homophobia, that straight women may not, while lesbians may be less likely to encounter other manifestations which usually take place in the context of relationships with men. In the same way, trans women’s experience of misogynistic oppression is different in some ways to that of cis women, but those experiences are no less oppressive and no less female.

TERF rhetoric
People who claim to be trans should instead be encouraged to accept their birth gender.

Reality
“Conversion therapy” on trans people is as abusive and ineffective as it is on LGB people.

TERF rhetoric
Trans women are men who are “trying to infiltrate women’s spaces”.

Reality
Trans women are women.

TERF rhetoric
[Cisgender] lesbians are being pressured to sleep with trans women, or shamed if they do not.

Reality
The vast majority of trans women want nothing to do with people who don’t consider them women; so the idea that they would want to pressure anti-trans cisgender lesbians to sleep with them is somewhat absurd. There is some discourse around the implications of cisgender people excluding transgender people of their preferred genders from their potential dating pools on the grounds of their transness, but this does not amount to anyone being pressured to sleep with people they don’t want to.

TERF rhetoric
Emphasis on detransition.

Reality
Less than 1% of people who have undergone transition choose to “detransition”. Often, those who do are responding to societal prejudice rather than rejecting their transitioned gender. Statistics about “surgical regrets” are also frequently cited in bad faith in this context. Many of these statistics include people who express dismay relating to complications or poor outcomes, as well as post-surgical depression – both of which are common problems following procedures of all kinds – and may or may not have any second thoughts at all about having undergone surgery. Likewise, even in rare cases where a patient might regret having opted for a procedure, this should not be taken to imply regret for having transitioned or a desire to detransition.

TERF rhetoric
Transition does not improve mental health or rates of suicide and self-harm.

Reality
Untreated gender dysphoria (due to delays or refusals of treatment), unnecessary and intrusive questioning/tests, prejudicial attitudes by service providers, and restrictive treatment pathways, all contribute to minority stress which is detrimental to the mental health and wellbeing of trans people. [shura.shu.ac.uk/8957/1/Ellis_Trans_people%27s_experiences_of_mental_health.pdf]
An article published in the July 2016 edition of The Lancet offers significant evidence that the “distress and impairment, considered essential characteristics of mental disorders” among trans people primarily arises in response to the discrimination, stigma, lack of acceptance, and abuse they face on a regular basis. [thelancet.com/journals/lanpsy/article/PIIS2215-0366(16)30165-1/abstract]

TERF rhetoric
Transition surgeries are “mutilation”.

Reality
This is a transphobic insult masquerading as an argument.
“Mutilation” is used here merely as a way to express disgust about trans people’s bodies; it is irrelevant to the actual purpose and merits of surgeries, which are effective and often lifesaving treatments.

TERF rhetoric
Gender is purely a social construct. Or Gender is defined by genitals.

Reality
Traditionally feminism understands both that biology does not determine how we experience the world AND that our biology does contribute to our shared experiences as women. There is no contradiction here for transgender women.