You might be a TERF if…

By Cristan Williams


I’ve noticed that there seems to be some confusion about what a TERF* is so, here’s a quick guide to help you figure out if you’re a TERF. Chances are that you’re a TERF if you believe that you’re a feminist when you…

1.) Claim that trans women are cis men, that trans men are cis women and purposefully misgender trans people.

2.) Out trans people to employers.

3.) Tell trans women their surgery is about supporting rape culture.

4.) Assert that lesbian-identified trans women can’t be lesbian.

5.) Claim that a world without trans people is preferable.1

6.) Find that your anti-trans arguments and the anti-trans arguments of far right-wing groups match.2

7.) Assert cis privilege isn’t real; that non-trans people aren’t privileged in a society that’s hostile to trans people.

8.) Claim that gender isn’t real, but the MAAB/FAAB binary is.

9.) Claim that trans surgeries were pioneered by men in service of the patriarchy.3

10.) Lie about rape and death threats you’ve received from trans people.

11.) Fearmonger about the rape/violence threat trans women pose to cis women in the women’s restroom.

12.) Assert that trans people transition to satisfy their sexual urges.

13.) Degrade and dehumanize the genitals of trans people.

14.) Work to overturn trans equality protections.

15.) Work to halt access to trans medical care.

16.) Appeal to the Klan Fallacy.

17.) Compare transition to a disgusting Frankenstein-like process.

18.) Claim that trans people transition due to political or social pressures.4

19.) Claim that when you work to halt the propagation of anti-feminist stereotypes it’s empowerment, but when trans people work to halt the propagation of anti-trans stereotypes it’s censorship .

20.) Assert that trans women transition because they’re actually gay men and that trans men transition because they’re lesbians wanting to escape the patriarchy.


Self-identified RadFem TERF meets a ideological peer.

Progressives have noticed the similarity for some time: Self-identified “RadFem” TERF meets an ideological peer.

* Over the past year or so, much of the trans community has stopped referring to TERFs as RadFems. We’ve done this because there’s a number of radical feminists/2nd wave feminists/lesbian feminists who find the above demonstrated behavior abhorrent to feminism. Out of respect for actual RadFems, the trans community has stopped supporting the appropriation of the radical feminist identity by what is essentially a hate group. Thus, we instead use Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists (TERFs).


1.) They expect we’ll be shocked to see statistics about them being killed, and don’t realize, some of us wish they would ALL be dead.

– BevJo, TERF opinion leader, author and speaker

While there are many who feel that morality must be built into law, I believe that the elimination of transsexualism is not best achieved by legislation prohibiting transsexual treatment and surgery but rather by legislation that limits it and by other legislation that lessens the support given to sex-role stereotyping, which generated the problem to begin with. Any legislation should be aimed at the social conditions that initiate and promote the surgery as well as the growth of the medical-institutional complex that translates these stereotypes into flesh and blood.

– Janice Raymond (1980), Technology on the Social and Ethical Aspects of Transsexual Surgery, TERF opinion leader, author and speaker

2.)  Now one of the things I find puzzling about it is that, when I look at the House of Lords debate on this legislation, those I agree with most are the radical right. Particularly the person I find that I agree with most, in here, and I’m not sure he will be pleased to find this, is Norman Tebbitt… Tebbitt also says that the savage mutilation of transgenderism, we would say if it was taking place in other cultures apart from the culture of Britain, was a harmful cultural practice, and how come we’re not recognizing that in the British Isles. So he makes all of these arguments from the radical right, which is quite embarrassing to me, but I have to say, so called progressive and left people are not recognizing the human rights violations of transgenderism or how crazy the legislation is

– Sheila Jeffreys

3.)  [Transsexual surgery] could be likened to political psychiatry in the Soviet Union. I suggest that transsexualism should best be seen in this light, as directly political, medical abuse of human rights. The mutilation of healthy bodies and the subjection of such bodies to dangerous and life-threatening continuing treatment violates such people’s rights to live with dignity in the body into which they were born, what Janice Raymond refers to as their “native” bodies. It represents an attack on the body to rectify a political condition, “gender” dissatisfaction in a male supremacist society based upon a false and politically constructed notion of gender difference… Recent literature on transsexualism in the lesbian community draws connections with the practices of sadomasochism. 

– Sheila Jeffreys, TERF opinion leader, author and speaker

It should be noted that Jeffreys’ own community – Australian lesbians – pioneered both FTM and FTM transsexul surgery in Australia

4.)  My main conclusion is that transsexualism is basically a social problem whose cause cannot be explained except in relation to the sex role and identities that a patriarchal society generates. Through hormonal and surgical means, transsexuals reject their “native” bodies, especially their sexual organs, in favor of the body and the sexual organs of the opposite sex. They do this mainly because the body and the genitalia, especially, come to incarnate the essence of their rejected masculinity and desired femininity. Thus transsexualism is the result of socially prescribed definitions of masculinity and femininity, one of which the transsexual rejects in order to gravitate towards the other.

Thus I will argue, in Chapter III, that the First Cause of transsexualism is a gender-defined society whose norms of masculinity and femininity generate the desire to be transsexed…. I believe that the primary cause of transsexualism cannot be derived from intrapsyic attitudes and/or behaviors, or even from family conditioning processes. One must begin with the roles of a gender-defined society, as the First Cause of transsexualism (that which, in the Aristotelian sense, sets all other causes in motion.)

– Janice Raymond (1979), The Transsexual Empire, page 16

A significant number of transmen are lesbians who report that they want to transition in an attempt to escape misogyny – their own internalized version as much as society’s. A significant percentage of transwomen are homosexual males, pressured into transitioning by conservative society that hates gender non-conforming gay men.

There is no T in Lesbian

Lesbian feminists have noticed TERF behavior for a while now.

Lesbian feminists have noticed TERF behavior for a while now.

Lesbian Feminist DTWOF author: Noticing the logical inconsistencies of TERF trans bathroom meme since 1995.

Lesbian Feminist DTWOF author: Noticing trans lesbians as part of radical feminism while scoffing at the trans bathroom meme since 1995.

[alert type=”info”]Cross-posted from Ehipassiko[/alert]

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Cristan Williams

Editor-in-Chief at TransAdvocate
Cristan Williams is a trans historical researcher and pioneer in addressing the practical needs of the transgender community. She started the first trans homeless shelter and co-founded the first federally funded trans-only homeless program, pioneered affordable health care for trans people in the Houston area, won the right for trans people to change their gender on Texas ID prior to surgery, started numerous trans social service programs and founded the Transgender Center as well as the Transgender Archives. Cristan is the editor at the social justice sites and, chairs the City of Houston HIV Prevention Planning Group, is the jurisdictional representative to the Urban Coalition for HIV/AIDS Prevention Services (UCHAPS), serves on the national steering body for UCHAPS and is the Executive Director of the Transgender Foundation of America.
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49 comments on “You might be a TERF if…
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  29. When I first came out as transsexual, a feminist associated with Mitchfest said in her blog “[and as for that idiot Bob Tur, the one that the Indigo Girl’s believe should be soaping his balls at Mitchfest.” Well, the Indigo girls got the message loud and clear, and announced last year that they will no longer play the festival. Now, with acts dropping out, Mitchfest organizers are scrambling to defend their transphobic policies. Guess what, Mitchfest’s primary organizer Lisa Vogel is transgender, (her?) himself, a PCOS (polycyclic ovarian syndrome) patient. This could be one big reason Vogel so transphobic. Self-hatred is common. Two, if the transgender community really wanted to change Mitchfest’s anti-transgender policy, apply for jobs with the festival disclosing your transgender status. Then, when rejected for employment, file an EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) complaint. Any employer with 15 or more employees cannot discriminate based on transgender status. Big fines and a hiring order are available to those discrimated against. This is a result of the Macy v Holder decision. For more information

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  37. I understand black people destroyed the white race and fat people set back the skinny peoples cause! When will it all end ?!

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  40. I used to be a TERF. It’s something I shamefully admit to add this to the list in hopes that others like me can see the error of their exclusive ways. Maybe others can avoid the mistakes I’ve made.

    You are a TERF if you:

    Think gender reassignment surgery reinforces the gender/sex conflation that supposes that men have penises and women have vaginas.

  41. as far as i’m concerned thesse women aren’t feminists, they just hate men… i am moderately gender dysphoric, and i have been told more than once that i am just “a lesbian in denial” i was told by a terf once that having a preference for men was just “being a slave to the patriarchy” considering that i have never in my life been interested in female anatomy, this is rather ludicrous, but that’s what i get for not being gay, i guess… although i do think i would have made an absolutely fabulous drag queen if i had been born male 😀 the problem here, in my opinion, isn’t so much fear, or misunderstanding, as it is blind irrational hatred of all things that have ever possessed a penis, which is really quite silly, because penises are harmless, without the patriarchal bullshit society pushes along with them there are plenty of straight men out there who are proud to call themselves feminists, and each and every one of them possesses a penis, too should we automatically consider them our enemies? ‘cuz if we do, my sex life is screwed…. haha

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  44. I will admit, at one time I saw a TV special about intersex people and…well. One such individual said that after discovering she was intersex, she decided to continue to live as a woman, and that she was currently in a lesbian relationship. My overly-sheltered teenage brain thought, “but if she wanted to be with a woman, wouldn’t it be easier to just choose to be a man? After all, she can pick which one!”

    Then, I met actual gay and transgender people in real life. I am ashamed for even thinking what I mention in the above paragraph.

    So for some people, at least, it’s just plain ignorance. That doesn’t excuse people being disgusting and cruel to non-cishet folks. But at least we can change. :) That gives me hope for even the TERFs.

    • You were never a TERF, my friend. You were merely ignorant. You fixed that. TERFs, by definition, have fat too much emotional and ideological investment in their ignorance — they will go to astounding lengths to preserve it.

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