We need feminism. When I say feminism, I mean intersectional feminism. The last thing we need when fighting for equal rights is to realize that the people you are fighting with, are not fighting for you.
Being transgender is hard. There are so many people in society that are seeking your demise or blatantly denying your existence. To be transgender and live openly as so comes with both pros and cons. Unfortunately, we face more cons.
If you are following the news, there was recently a case that went to the Supreme Court that posed the question: can you legally be fired for your gender identity?
Back in 2013, Aimee Stephens, a transgender woman, came out to her long-time employer as transgender in a letter stating that, “As distressing as this is sure to be to my friends and some of my family, I need to do this for myself and for my own peace of mind, and to end the agony in my soul.” After reading the letter, her boss said, “Okay”, put the letter in his pocket, and walked away.
Two weeks later, she was fired.
That’s when she sought legal action. Multiple circuit courts ruled in favor of Aimee, stating that “discrimination against a trans person is a violation of Title VII’s ban on sex stereotyping.” But it has since moved up to the Supreme Court.
Now nine cisgender Supreme Court justices have to make a decision. If ruled in Aimee’s favor, trans people will have explicit nondiscrimination protections under federal law for the first time in history.
As amazing as that would be, there is always some type of group that seeks the demise of others.
That is where the TERFs come in.
According to Urban Dictionary, a TERF is a “Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist. That group of feminists that claims that trans women are not really women, as biological determinism is only a fallacy when it is used against them, not when they use it against others.”
When the case was moved all the way up to the top court, many people had a lot to say about it. A group called the “Women’s Liberation Front”, WoLF for short, wrote in their amicus to the Supreme Court, “Simply, Aimee Stephens is a man. He wanted to wear a skirt while at work, and his ‘gender identity’ argument is an ideology that dictates that people who wear skirts must be women, precisely the type of sex stereotyping forbidden by Price Waterhouse.”
This type of speech is dangerous. It leads people to believe that feminism is only for white, straight, cisgender women which is far from what it truly is. Groups like WoLF believe that trans women are “really men, who are the ultimate oppressors of women.” Therefore, they do not believe in defending or protesting for their basic human rights.
This is where we have to draw the line. Transgender women are women. They should be afforded the same rights as any other women.
We need feminism for the sake of equality.
We need feminism for women of color.
We need feminism for trans women.
We need feminism for marginalized groups.
But if TERFs definition of feminism is not all inclusive and intersectional; it is not the feminism we need.