Men are not women. Yet when women come right out and say so, they are called hateful, bigoted “TERFs.” Those letters stand for “trans-exclusionary radical feminist,” and the acronym is typically deployed while berating women for believing that biological sex is a non-mutable condition. Of course, attempting to silence women or calling them names is all that can be done, since there’s no convincing argument that the TERFs are wrong.
Kaitlyn Tiffany attempts to do so, however, in her Atlantic interview with Mary Kate Fain, a developer of Ovarit, a social media space for gender-critical women. The article is about the proliferation of radical feminists in online forums. Many have been shunted off mainstream platforms and have moved into realms of their own design. Tiffany represents the leftist view these women ought to be silenced: because they are mean to men who think they are women.
Fain not only doesn’t believe that men are women but has actively created forums where women can speak freely. Tiffany blasted Fain and didn’t enter the interview in good faith. Instead, she came into the interview already fully convinced that Fain is a hateful, bigoted person.
Through online forums, Fain made friends with numerous other women, relieved they could feel comfortable expressing their steadfast belief in basic biology. Tiffany wrote, “Eventually, her beliefs radicalized further: She became convinced that trans women are men and trans-rights activism is just another weapon of the patriarchy.”
This is incredibly misleading and disingenuous. At some point, Tiffany also became convinced of something: that men who say they are women are, in fact, women.
She wasn’t born with that belief. She didn’t learn it in fifth-grade biology. Believing men who attempt to appear as women and say they are women actually are women is a perfect example of something a person must be convinced of before she believes it. What happened to Fain is that she snapped back to reality.
Of the sites and subgroups Fain visited, Tiffany writes, “they use many of the same trolling tactics as other internet-based fringe political movements to disrupt conversation, skew reality, and make the internet another dangerous place for trans women through doxing and harassment.”
Tiffany doesn’t try to discredit Fain’s ideas but to discredit her for the way she engages in online discourse, smearing her by likening it to the way politically disreputable people interact. Because she’s unable to marshal an argument based on facts, she shames and sullies by association.
Tiffany complains women like Fain turn the conversation “away from discrimination and instead encouraging renewed debate about trans women’s bodies.” The idea here is that the only appropriate way to discuss trans persons is to talk about how persecuted they are, not to question the foundation of the delusion that sex is immutable.
With very little discussion, the left has decided, wholesale, that a person born male, with a male reproductive system, can be a woman if he merely says he feels like he is one. This is perceived as the compassionate thing to do. Compassion alone, however, is not a good reason to abandon reality and rational thought.
There is absolutely no consensus on what it means to “believe you are female” and have a male body. To be a woman means to be an adult, human female, and to be female means to have been born with a female reproductive system (whether it functions properly or not).
Men are born with their gonads on the outside of their bodies, and they are called testicles. Women’s gonads are on the inside, and they are called ovaries. But to say these words is now considered hateful by people who prefer delusional thinking to the truth.
Leftist writers don’t want women who understand basic biological truths to speak; they don’t want them to get together and talk; and they definitely don’t want them on social media. “As radical communities multiply on the outskirts of the internet, whose responsibility is it to worry about them?” Tiffany asks. That’s how afraid today’s radical leftists are of women speaking up about the reality of being female.
Tiffany goes on:
reactionary alternative platforms such as Ovarit are popping up like mushrooms. Many of the exiled groups behind them have little in the way of shared ideology or politics, but they do share a fixation on the way they’ve been persecuted. And they raise a whole new set of questions about how to break down the internet’s structural penchant for hate.
So, since there’s no way for trans advocates to discredit women who are critical of trans ideology, leftists resort to calling such women discriminatory and hateful, and to chastise them for holding positions that will hurt the poor boys’ feelings.
But TERFs don’t care anymore. They’ve had enough of the accusations. They’ve had enough of the lies. And they’ve had enough of being bludgeoned with their own compassion. To be frank, TERFs hardly even care if they’re called TERFs. Women don’t need permission to claim their spaces or their bodies, or to speak their minds.
Tiffany hoped her “arguments” against Fain would have been enough to shame her. “After we spoke,” relays Tiffany, “I sent Fain a link to a thread on Ovarit, in which women were discussing their disdain for Transgender Day of Remembrance, an annual observance dedicated to the memory of people who were killed directly by anti-trans violence. In 2020, the number of deaths is at least 40 so far [in fact, there have been a total of five trans murders classified as hate crimes since 2015]. ‘How many f–ing invented holidays do they have at this point?’ one asked. ‘They should change it to Every Day is a Trans Day because they don’t let us stop reading or hearing about them for even a minute,’ wrote another.”
Fain wasn’t disconcerted or shamed. Instead, she replied, “I think humor and anger are both very common ways for people to deal with pain and oppression.”
The time in which women felt they had to justify their refusal to believe in the mutability of sex is over. No amount of compassion shaming, social media censoring, de-platforming, or slurs against TERFs can undo the steps these gender-critical women have taken back into the realm of reality.
This article has been corrected since publication.