I’ve always been someone with a firm belief in justice. If somebody is being a dick, you let them know and try to find ways to get them to stop being a dick. But if it’s making you exhausted, is it worth it?
I didn’t even know TERFs existed until I joined Twitter and opened my @andiepasdedeux account there in a bid to connect with other trans people and perhaps make a few contacts.
I’ve made some amazing friends over there and there’s a real feeling of sisterhood – we’re all in this together, so let’s support each other and share the good times and the bad. And pictures of kittens. Obvs.
I always knew the world had transphobes, but I assumed most of these would be twattish, blokey yobs, who assume anyone trans is a “faggot” or a “fucking weirdo”.
All the cis women I’d encountered up to this point had been really supportive and welcoming. You tell a woman you’re trans and (usually) you get a sort of “Wow! You’re one of us now – that’s fantastic!” reaction. Hugs all round.
What I wasn’t prepared for were the TERFs – trans-exclusionary radical feminists. These are the vile transphobes who view transwomen as mentally ill, perverts, predators in women-only spaces and certainly “not real women”.
Thankfully, they represent a tiny minority of cis women – but those that do exist are among the people on the internet who shout the loudest, using blogs, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to get their message across.
For my own sanity, I try not to visit their YouTube channels or blogs, I keep my Facebook account pretty trans-free and I have blocked most of them on Twitter using @TERF Block List.
I just haven’t got time in my life for all that negativity. I’m still not out full-time – far from, it, you all know about my journey of baby steps – and to read their poison about trans people hardly fills me with confidence to get out there and “be me”.
But even with TERF Block List, you can’t ignore their hatred on Twitter, simply because most trans people on there will retweet it and comment on it. So you’ll see a comment from someone trans with “This Tweet is Unavailable” beneath it. Like this, from the excellent @ResistingHate, which reports the bigots:
That’s because the original tweet has been blocked. But if you click on it, you can then still read it. Curiosity killed the cat.
Other times, trans people will tweet screen grabs of tweets from TERFs, so you get to see them that way, too.
The TERFs have been having a field day of late, with all the negative reporting of trans issues in the British press. I decided a couple of weeks ago that I would begin compiling a dossier of all the transphobic reports and submit them to the Press Complaints Commission.
I also decided to shop a few TERFs. I’ve reported dozens of their posts to Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. These are posts that break all the conditions on those sites – those about harrassing people because of their gender orientation.
And yet the tweets, messages and videos remain up. Nothing is done to remove them – even though they’re legally classed as hate crimes. If it were homophobic or racist content, they’d be straight down. So why is transphobia still seen as OK by some people? We still have such a lot of work to do.
One particular TERF I have reported to the police, and I have a meeting with a police officer next week to go over the things she’s written and sent me personally through various channels. Obviously, I can’t really say any more than that as the case is active.
I just think that someone should stand up to these vile people, and I’d be more than willing to have my day in court if it means it stops them doing what they’re doing.
At the end of the day, the suicide rate among trans people is through the fricking roof and, if bigots keep sending us hate messages, it’s going to push some people over the edge. Some of us are more sensitive than others. When a TERF posts something vile about us, it really hurts.
And that brings me on to Lily Madigan, the 19-year-old transwoman who was recently elected a constituency women’s officer by her local branch of the Labour Party.
She has been subjected to a torrent of vile abuse from the TERFs over the past few weeks but she has never once risen to their bait and, unlike them, has conducted herself with dignity and maturity way beyond her tender years.
One of her biggest critics has been notorious Twitter TERF @DrRadfem (not a real doctor at all), aka Venice Allan (certainly not editor of The Guardian, as it claims on Facebook), aka Offred Cohen, and also on YouTube here.
As a lefty lesbian, you’d think she’d be more understanding of LGBT+ matters, but it appears not. Anyway, in recent days, she’s waged a war of words about poor Lily which came to a head yesterday at a Labour Party women’s event at which both were there.
Due to her keyboard warrior abuse, Venice was asked to leave, which she did. But not before taking a selfie with Lily in the background, which she then ran along to The Times with. The Times, naturally, printed another one-sided transphobic article today.
I mentioned suicide among trans people earlier. This is one of the Facebook messages from Venice which has been retweeted on Twitter today. It shows Lily, with added red eyes, before her transition.
What kind of sick fuck would do this? This woman is 42, for heaven’s sake! Were Lily not so strong, Venice could have blood on her hands by now. But would she even care were that to happen? Or would she see it as some kind of scalp?
If I were Lily, I’d be straight off to the police, because some of what has been written constitutes hate crime – no two ways about it. I really hope that happens.
Meanwhile, I have my own legal battle with my own TERF to deal with. I’m finding the whole thing mentally draining, so I dread to think how Lily feels. Why the hell should we continually have to justify our existence to bigoted wankers?
And what really narks me is that most transwomen, along with the TERFs, are passionate feminists – so instead of fighting among ourselves, we should be using our time to fight the patriarchy and stand up for ALL women, whether cis or trans.
Update: Good story on Lilygate by the Gay Star News: right here.