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This article is about the acronym "TERF". TERF_sentence_0

For a broader discussion of related issues, see Feminist views on transgender topics. TERF_sentence_1

For the telomere-binding proteins, see TERF1 and TERF2. TERF_sentence_2

TERF (/ˈtɜːrf/, also written terf) is an acronym for trans-exclusionary radical feminist. TERF_sentence_3

Coined in 2008, the term was originally applied to a minority of feminists espousing sentiments that other feminists consider transphobic, such as the rejection of the assertion that trans women are women, the exclusion of trans women from women's spaces, and opposition to transgender rights legislation. TERF_sentence_4

The meaning has since expanded to refer more broadly to people with trans-exclusionary views who may have no involvement with radical feminism. TERF_sentence_5

Those referred to with the word TERF typically reject the term or consider it a slur; some identify themselves as gender critical. TERF_sentence_6

Critics of the word TERF say that it has been used in insults and alongside violent rhetoric. TERF_sentence_7

In academic discourse, there is no consensus on whether TERF constitutes a slur. TERF_sentence_8

Coinage and usage TERF_section_0

Trans-inclusive cisgender radical feminist blogger Viv Smythe has been credited with popularizing the term in 2008 as an online shorthand. TERF_sentence_9

It was used to describe a minority of feminists who espouse sentiments that other feminists consider transphobic, including the rejection of the view, predominant in feminist organizations, that trans women are women, opposition to transgender rights, and the exclusion of trans women in women's spaces and organizations. TERF_sentence_10

Smythe has been credited with having coined the term TERF, due to a blog post she wrote reacting to the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival's policy of denying admittance to trans women. TERF_sentence_11

She wrote that she rejected the alignment of all radical feminists with "trans-exclusionary radfem (TERF) activists". TERF_sentence_12

In a 2014 interview with The TransAdvocate, Smythe said: TERF_sentence_13

While Smythe initially used TERF to refer to a particular type of feminist whom she characterized as "unwilling to recognise trans women as sisters", she has noted that the term has taken on additional connotations and that it has been "weaponised at times" by both inclusionary and exclusionary groups. TERF_sentence_14

Though contested, the term has since become an established part of contemporary feminist speech. TERF_sentence_15

Writing in The New York Times in 2019, feminist theorist Sophie Lewis noted that the term TERF had become "a catchall for all anti-transgender feminists, regardless of whether they are radical". TERF_sentence_16

Edie Miller, writing in The Outline, said that the term was applied to "most people espousing trans-exclusionary politics that follow a particular 'TERF logic', regardless of their involvement with radical feminism". TERF_sentence_17

The term TERFy has also been used to describe things "that queer millennials deem uncool" such as bangs. TERF_sentence_18

Opposition to the word TERF_section_1

Feminists described as TERFs generally object to the term and sometimes refer to themselves as gender critical. TERF_sentence_19

British columnist Sarah Ditum wrote in 2017 that "the bar to being called a 'terf' is remarkably low." TERF_sentence_20

Some self-described gender critical feminists say they cannot accurately be described as trans-exclusionary because they say they are inclusive of trans men. TERF_sentence_21

Often, these feminists gender trans men as women. TERF_sentence_22

Writing for Socialist Worker, American feminists Danelle Wylder and Corrie Westing say that this position is "divisive and contradictory" and that it represents "transmisogynist ideology". TERF_sentence_23

In a 2015 article, American feminist scholar Bonnie J. Morris argued that TERF was initially a legitimate analytical term but quickly developed into a defamatory word associated with sexist insults. TERF_sentence_24

She described the word as "emblematic of the unresolved tensions between our LGBT community's L and T factions" and called on scholars and journalists to stop using it. TERF_sentence_25

British journalist Catherine Bennett has described the word as "a bullying tool" which has "already succeeded in repressing speech – and maybe even research". TERF_sentence_26

British feminist author Claire Heuchan argues that the word is often used alongside "violent rhetoric". TERF_sentence_27

Heuchan adds that language of this type is used to "dehumanise women", often lesbians. TERF_sentence_28

British clinical psychologist and medical sociologist David Pilgrim argues that phrases like "Kill a TERF!" TERF_sentence_29

or "Punch a TERF!" TERF_sentence_30

are also posted by trolls online and there have been other depictions of violence aimed at women labeled as TERFs. TERF_sentence_31

The 2018 UK All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Hate Crime received several submissions that indicated a high degree of tension between trans activists and feminist groups opposed to transgender rights legislation, with both sides detailing incidents of extreme or abusive language. TERF_sentence_32

The report noted that some women had submitted reports which argued that "women who object to the inclusion of trans women as female are being attacked both online and, in the street, with the term 'trans-exclusionary radical feminist' or (TERF) being used as a term of abuse." TERF_sentence_33

Slur debate TERF_section_2

The people at whom the word TERF is directed often characterize it as a slur or hate speech. TERF_sentence_34

In a July 2018 solicitation of essays regarding "transgender identities", British magazine The Economist required writers to "avoid all slurs, including TERF", stating that the word is used to try to silence opinions and sometimes incite violence. TERF_sentence_35

Transgender rights activist and philosophy of language professor Rachel McKinnon has called the idea that the word is a slur "absurd", saying that just because a word can be used pejoratively towards women does not mean it is a slur in general. TERF_sentence_36

In August 2018, seven British philosophers wrote on the website Daily Nous that two articles by Rachel McKinnon and Jason Stanley published in the journal Philosophy and Phenomenological Research normalized the term. TERF_sentence_37

They described the term as "at worst a slur and at best derogatory", and argued that it had been used to denigrate those "who disagree with the dominant narrative on trans issues". TERF_sentence_38

In response, Ernest Sosa, the journal's editor in chief, stated that scholars consulted by the journal advised that the term could become a slur at some point, but that its use as a denigrating term in some contexts did not mean that it could not be used descriptively. TERF_sentence_39

In a 2020 paper published in the philosophy journal Grazer Philosophische Studien, linguists Christopher Davis and Elin McCready argue that three properties make a term a slur: it must be derogatory towards a particular group, it must be used to subordinate them within some structure of power relations, and the derogated group must be defined by an intrinsic property. TERF_sentence_40

Davis and McCready write that the term TERF satisfies the first condition, fails the third condition, and that the second condition is contentious, in that it depends on how each group sees itself in relation to the other group. TERF_sentence_41

Author Andrea Long Chu describes the claim that TERF is a slur as "a grievance that would be beneath contempt if it weren't also true, in the sense that all bywords for bigots are intended to be defamatory." TERF_sentence_42

Feminist philosopher Talia Mae Bettcher argues that, regardless of whether the term is accurately classified as a slur, it "has at least become offensive to those designated by the term", which suggests it might be best to avoid "in case one wants to have a conversation across deep difference". TERF_sentence_43

See also TERF_section_3


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TERF.