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homophobia lgbtq reactionary bullshit transmisogyny transphobia

How Gender Crits’ “locker room panic” rhetoric greases the skids for a broader right-wing campaign against lesbians and gay men

So I wasted several minutes of my life today reading through a rambling “Gender Critical” essay om the Women’s Liberation Radio News website with the irritating title “Trans Rights are Men’s Rights; No Wonder they Clash with Feminists.”

The post comes courtesy of an Oregon Yoga teacher and homeschooling mom named Austin DeVille who says she “was politicized by radical feminism after her husband tried to become a woman.” It runs through many of the standard TERFy attacks on trans rights, including the “men’s rights” smear of the title. The idea there is that trans rights are men’s rights because trans women are really men; at no point does DeVille consider the inverse of that argument: that trans rights are women’s rights because trans men are, in TERFland, really women.

But for me the most revealing moment in the essay came when DeVille got around to making the TERF argument that trans women threaten cis women’s and children’s rights by using women’s bathrooms and locker rooms.

When I see little toddler girls changing in the locker room at the gym, it scares and enrages me to know that any man can wander in simply by pretending he thinks he’s a woman. Many men will take advantage of this arrangement just to gain access to these spaces to leer at children’s bodies. Even if they don’t act on their perversions, this is a violation and should always be considered a criminal offense. 

This is all a steaming pile of bullshit — it essentially assumes that all trans women are pedophiles, for one thing — but what strikes me about it is how easily this kind of rhetoric can be turned against lesbians and gay men. If the problem is people who “leer” at women and girls, wouldn’t lesbians be just as dangerous as faux (or real) trans women trying to catch a glimpse of female flesh?

Let’s make a few minor changes in that paragraph I just quoted and see how it looks.

When I see little toddler girls changing in the locker room at the gym, it scares and enrages me to know that any lesbian can wander in. Many lesbians will take advantage of this arrangement just to gain access to these spaces to leer at children’s bodies. Even if they don’t act on their perversions, this is a violation and should always be considered a criminal offense. 

You can just as easily change up this paragraph into a “warning” about predatory gay men.

When I hear about little toddler boys changing in the locker room at the gym, it scares and enrages me to know that any gay man can wander in. Many gay men will take advantage of this arrangement just to gain access to these spaces to leer at children’s bodies. Even if they don’t act on their perversions, this is a violation and should always be considered a criminal offense. 

That TERF logic can be so easily turned into rhetoric against lesbians and gay men shouldn’t surprise anyone. For all their claims of radicalism, TERFs are a reactionary force using reactionary rhetoric to attack a marginalized group using strategies pioneered by the far right. It’s no wonder that it’s been so easy for TERFs to find common ground with far-right transphobes and homophobes: they’re fighting some of the same battles.

It’s clear that for many of the far-rights bigots that have joined up with the TERFs the attack on trans people (and trans women in particular) is just the first stage in what they see as a broader cultural crusade against everyone under the LGBTQ+ umbrella. Come for the Bathroom Bills, stay for the end of gay marriage.

Lesbian TERFs will hardly be thrilled to see the arguments they once made against trans women being used against them. But that’s how karma works. it reminds me of this classic tweet:

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Dalillama
Dalillama
6 months ago

@Surplus
There are several defined formats for that sort of thing, consult the appropriate style guide for details. The image of Von Maria appears to be unattributed; in most circumstances, attributing it to Wikimedia Commons will be sufficient, and the book will do as a reference otherwise.

Last edited 6 months ago by Dalillama
Full Metal Ox
6 months ago

@Surplus to Requirements:

One image search site you might try is http://tineye.com; it’s not a panacea (and might not help with your specific historical image), but it can help track down the chronological order of online appearances of a given image. I’m a fan of old mobile wallpaper GIFs, and this has enabled me to track down some of their originators (here, for example, are a couple that saw a lot of mileage on wallpaper download sites during the Aughts and Tweens:

http://www.deviantart.com/hikeotron/art/Blue-Rain-12909137

http://www.reddit.com/r/gifs/comments/1pp01a/rain/?st=jeho0u80&sh=76760203)

LeeshaJoy
LeeshaJoy
6 months ago

@MV96

Or that it isn’t rape because penis equals rape and she doesn’t have one so her victims weren’t as traumatized.

Exactly. TERF rhetoric makes it easier for people like Cade to find victims and get away with abuse, because of the unspoken assumption that you need a penis to be a predator.

Elaine The Witch
Elaine The Witch
6 months ago

@Alan

It just makes me angry because rapists do not need a method, or a lie, or a cover story or whatever to rape someone in a public bathroom or lockerroom. it is already the easiest it could possibly be for them. they simply just have to walk through the door and do it to who ever is inside. No cis man has to put on a dress and pretend to be a transwoman to assault someone.

clingfoil
clingfoil
6 months ago

That happened to a close friend of mine once: having presumably been spiked, she regained consciousness in the women’s toilets of a gay pub, being viciously raped (by a cis man). I had heard of several other sexual assaults in that pub, and had reason to suspect the management were in on it. Fuck all could be done. Messed me up somewhat, never mind my friend ;_;

It terrifies me to think of the rapists walking around who know they can get away with it.

Gen Z
Gen Z
6 months ago

Canadian feminists here tend to vilify transgender women, and they have speeches and protests with police enforcement.

Yltra
Yltra
6 months ago

So, as someone from a country with a rich sauna culture, who has gone to naturist parks with my family since I was a twelve year old girl, this argument just never makes sense to me no matter which way you turn it. Trans women are women, of course, but even following TERFs’ logic I just don’t really get the big idea.
I promise you, naked men, women and children can all intermingle in a casual setting and no one will be leered at or traumatized. Seriously, it’s fine. Nudity isn’t inherently sexual, men aren’t sex crazed monsters, seeing a penis or vagina in a decidedly non-sexual context will
not traumatize a child.
Like, on the one hand I get that this is informed by my own cultural experience, that I’m a minority in that, and that for most people being casually naked around people of other genders is unthinkable, but on the other hand I just keep being baffled by how everyone just seems to ignore what seems to me to be the obvious solution. Oh, well.

Luzbelitx
6 months ago

That last tweet reminded me of my two favorite ones:
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