Sort of like Nazis and KKKers objecting to being called Nazi Anti-Semites and Racist KKKers.
TERFs object to being point out as bigots and supporters of right wing anti-LGBT hate groups. Wow who would have thought.
I would have thought they would wear their bigot label proudly.
Philosophers object to a journal’s publication of a term referring to radical feminists who don’t necessarily count trans women among their ranks. Is it a slur?
By Colleen Flaherty
August 29, 2018
For some, using the word “TERF” means calling out transphobia where they see it. For others, the word is a slur that has no place in academic discourse. And those points of view are currently clashing in philosophy, a journal of which recently permitted use of the term.
Still, to others, “TERF” sounds like a foreign word. So, first, a primer: TERF is an acronym meaning “trans-exclusionary radical feminist.” While the term has become controversial over time, especially with its often hateful deployment on social media, it originally described a subgroup of feminists who believe that the interests of cisgender women (those who are born with vaginas) don’t necessarily intersect with those of transgender women (primarily those born with penises).
To some feminists, that notion is obvious: the experience of having lived as male for any period of time matters. But some trans scholars and allies say that notion is in and of itself transphobic, since it means that trans women are somehow different from women, or that they’re not women at all.
This debate has been simmering for some time in public life in Britain, which is considering updating its Gender Recognition Act to allow for gender self-identification. (New Zealand also is moving toward self-declaration). But it has not reached such a pitch in academe, especially in the U.S. — at least not until now. As Kathleen Stock, a professor of philosophy at the University of Sussex, in Britain, wrote on Medium in May, “Beyond the academy, there’s a huge and impassioned discussion going on, around the apparent conflict between women-who-are-not-transwomen’s rights and interests, and transwomen’s rights and interests. And yet nearly all academic philosophers – including, surprisingly, feminist philosophers – are ignoring it.”
This month, though, a group of scholars registered a public complaint with Philosophy and Phenomenological Research’s editorial team. In a guest post for the Daily Nous philosophy blog, the scholars said that in a recent issue of the journal, the term “TERF” was lobbed in “ad hominem attacks” rather than in mere discussions.
In question is a symposium on the noted 2015 book How Propaganda Works, by Jason Stanley, Jacob Urowsky Professor of Philosophy at Yale University. In an article called “The Epistemology of Propaganda,” Rachel McKinnon, an assistant professor of philosophy at the College of Charleston, uses Stanley’s work to analyze what she calls “a modern form of propaganda where so-called trans-exclusionary radical feminists (TERFs) are engaged in a political project to deny that trans women are women — and thereby to exclude trans women from women-only spaces, services and protections.”
Noting that the phrase “trans-exclusionary radical feminist” was coined by two cisgender radical feminists in 2008, McKinnon argues that “this point is important, since many contemporary feminists accuse trans women of coining the phrase/term — and, ludicrously, claim that ‘TERF’ is a misogynistic slur.”
The scholars who complained — seven feminist philosophers from Britain and Australia — wrote in Daily Nous that TERF “is at worst a slur and at best derogatory. We are extremely concerned about the normalization of this term in academic philosophy, and its effect in reinforcing a hostile climate for debate on an issue of key importance to women.”