(Note: I will be using “Exterminatory” instead of “Exclusionary” throughout this piece. The E was changed to “Exclusionary” by TERFs to seem less aggressive, while “Exterminatory” was the original term for them, created by Katrina Rose, a transwoman, to express the pain they inflict.)
Trans Woman Exterminatory Radical Feminists. TWERFs. The people that will tell you transgender women aren’t really women. The ones that insist that having a vagina is the end-all, be-all of womanhood. The ones that somehow believe trans women experience male privilege, or even go so far as to say they are just men trying to infiltrate feminist spaces. These are the ones we are afraid of.
Transwomen are women. Transmen are men. There are more than two genders.
I’ve spent a long time trying to explain these few simple facts to a whole lot of people, and, to be honest, I’m getting really sick and tired of people questioning me. The body parts you have do not decide your gender. If you’re cisgender, that’s great. Congrats. Now you get to step into the world of allyship.
As a non-binary person, I cannot stress enough how important it is to listen to trans and non-binary people. Try your hardest to understand the struggle we go through, but know that you will never fully know it. Realize that gender is not made up of two solid lines. It’s a spectrum. Understand that refusing to believe transwomen are women because they’ve never menstruated or experienced anything else you consider “womanly” makes you a TWERF. And I am scared of you. I am scared for my f***ing life.
I recently had an encounter with someone on campus who expressed transphobic sentiments and I walked away with a heavy rock in my stomach for the remainder of the day. Why was I feeling this way? I’d dealt with people like this before on countless occasions. It should be no big deal. But then I realized, going about my day not knowing someone I interacted with – even liked – felt this way made me feel so unsafe. That I could be around someone with so much misunderstanding and pure hatred for my community sickened me to my core. At Mills, I thought I’d be able to escape the rampant transphobia in the outside world. This is my safe place. My accepting space. My brave space. You took all that away with a few simple, but deeply hurtful words.
I do not have to prove my gender to anyone. If you ask, or I feel like it, I will tell you and you damn well better believe me without question. You will go about your day and you will use the right pronouns or so help me God I will… suffer a mental break.
Because, not all of us are so strong as to let it roll off our backs like it’s nothing. And the transphobia we experience on a daily basis is a cold wind that rips right through us. We can’t go on like this.
Please accept trans and non-binary people. Please do not call their gender into question. Please understand that transwomen are women, and transmen are men, and that there are more than two genders, no matter what our bodies look like. Otherwise, kindly f*** off.