The current TERF wars and the animosity between Exclusionary Radical Feminism and Transgender Women seeks to polarise public opinion against Trans people generally. The UK's Sunday Times and Daily Mail have run a number of hateful articles which have only served to fuel this debate further. Outspoken Feminists like Greer, Venice Allan and Sheila Jefferies have endeavoured to given further momentum to this debate, speaking at a number of meetings throughout the UK. I know that many of my feminist sisters from the heady days of 2nd wave feminism have fallen for this rhetoric. The arguments are seemingly very persuasive. There is now a new generation of younger 2nd wave feminists rallying to this call for the preservation of 'sex based rights'.
At the heart of this campaign is the whole debate about women's only spaces and whether Trans Women are men or women. It saddens me more and more, yet it scares me too. As a child my Feminist Mum raised me to believe that I could be whatever I wanted to be, regardless of gender. I studied hard and got better qualifications than my male counterparts. I also wanted a family and I took a number of years out to raise and care for my two kids. As a consequence, I'm now seriously disadvantaged in terms of employment. A single parent, I spent 8 years holding down a low paid job I could have done with half my qualifications. I didn't complain, Men scare me at times: As I child I was seriously abused by one. One of my previous boyfriends, a man I thought loved me, subjected me to serious emotional and domestic abuse. I needed and got help thank goodness. I therefore value women's only spaces and the support of my sisters. At times, they are the only spaces I have felt safe and secure. I have to admit that I too am unsure and unclear about what the proposed changes to the GRA will mean. I know however that I would be very unhappy to deny anyone who is clearly a woman access to women's only spaces, no matter how and where they started their lives.
As it happens, although my corrected birth certificate now declares me to have been born a girl, I have a Trans history. Having Gender Dysphoria put me through the worst of times which are now thankfully behind me. One thing I am certainly NOT however, is a man. If we exclude (Trans) people from women's only spaces, we EXCLUDE women. As a girl, feminism taught me that I have the right to determine my own destiny. Now a small group of my sisters seek to deny me that right. Why?
Excluding Trans Women from women's only spaces is not Feminism. Feminism is neither elitist or exclusionary. Once we start to pick and choose which women are deserving of protection and which women are not we are operating Apartheid.
HUGGS, Jane xx