When someone says the words “radical feminism” what comes to mind? What type of women do you envision? The uprise of radical feminism in the 1960-70s formed the stereotype of the radical feminist being cisgender female lesbians (Cook, 2018). Angry women who are burning their bras and trashing men. There is an increasingly larger issue that is occurring though within feminism. The exclusion of transgender women (Cook, 2018). The issue has picked up so much criticism that the term “TERF” has been coined to call out those “Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists” who refuse to include or accept transgender women into discussions based on feminism. Lesbian radical feminists are claiming “lesbian erasure” because of LGBTQ activism being primarily male-driven, in addition to claims that transgender activism is a detriment to lesbians (Compton, 2019).
Radical Feminist views on how transgender rights and activism is harmful to lesbians date back to the 1970s and despite progress regarding LGBTQIA+ inclusion, acceptance, and rights the spillover from lesbian radical feminists continues to ostracize and refuse inclusion of transgender individuals, more specifically transgender women (Cook, 2018). Will there ever be a point in time where trans-exclusionary radical feminists will finally let go of their disdain for transgender individuals?
In the last few years more and more lesbian media outputs have been standing up and denouncing the radical feminist anti-transgender sentiments. Their aim is to condemn the rhetoric of “lesbian erasure” by pursuing a campaign dubbed “Not in our name” (Compton, 2019). The magazines that headed the campaign made it known that they believed that “trans women are women and that trans people belong in our community” (Compton, 2019). Furthermore, they went on to discuss their condemnation of other lesbian media outlets “who seek to foster division and hate within the LGBTQI community with trans misogynistic content and who believe ‘lesbian’ is an identity for them alone to define” (Compton, 2019). The unity under which these media outlets banded together to fight trans exclusion in the lesbian and feminist community and take a stand against the long-standing division is just the beginning of a long road of needed progress that is still in the early stages.
Will the LGBTQIA+ community ever fully be whole and undivided? Or will there continue to be one level of division or exclusion amongst another? What will it take for marginalized groups to no longer condemn other struggling marginalized groups? Time, unity, understanding, empathy, and a willingness to work together is the foundation for which change can be made and divisions can be dissolved.
- Compton, J. (2019, March 19). ‘Pro-lesbian’ or ‘trans-exclusionary’? Old animosities boil into public view. NBC News. https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/pro-lesbian-or-trans-exclusionary-old-animosities-boil-public-view-n958456
- Cook, J. (2018). When “Sisters” become “Cis-ters”: Failed Coalitionalism in 1970s Lesbian Separatism and its Twenty-First Century Remnants | Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association. Http://Www.Pamla.Org/2018/Proposals/%C2%A0when-%E2%80%9Csisters%E2%80%9D-Become-%E2%80%9Ccis-Ters%E2%80%9D-Failed-Coalitionalism-1970s-Lesbian-Separatism-And. http://www.pamla.org/2018/proposals/%C2%A0when-%E2%80%9Csisters%E2%80%9D-become-%E2%80%9Ccis-ters%E2%80%9D-failed-coalitionalism-1970s-lesbian-separatism-and