"Enjoy ur erasure."
Photos of a British LGBTQ activist tearing up a sticker containing anti-transgender messages surfaced ideological tensions between transgender rights advocates and a controversial subset of feminists last week.
Known by the -- arguably derogatory -- moniker of "trans-exclusionary radical feminists" (TERFs), a segment of women's rights activists argue against the inclusion of transgender individuals into the broader women's movement. Members of this ideological subset insist that biological differences are an inseparable part of the female experience and are at the root of the social inequality which the feminist movement seeks to redress.
It is this group that UK-based writer and activist Shon Faye pushed back against with a series of tweets condemning flyers that prominently display the message, "Women's Sex Based Rights Are Not For Penises."
The flyers, referencing Parliament's Gender Recognition Act and the "spousal veto," accuse
Was washing my hands in a restroom on the train into work this morning - and what should I clock? One of those trash stickers designed to harass trans people! No need to worry! pic.twitter.com/qbUPBxY8El— shon faye. (@shonfaye) September 4, 2018
Faye, whose response was met with thousands of largely celebratory social media interactions, is seen in one photo tearing up a sticker encountered in the unisex bathroom on the Bristol to Cardiff train. The stickers were "intended
“This is an intimidation tactic,” Faye told PinkNews, regarding the anti-trans stickers. “I’m not going so far as to say it’s a fascist tactic, but it is one that far-right groups use, to cause fear in a minority."
I am not aware of the group, we will remove stickers and work with the Police to identify those responsible. Remember though,Liverpool takes #PRIDE in its diversity and history of fighting for equality for all, we love all our Trans residents and all our LGBT community https://t.co/YJdsA6uXXo— Joe Anderson (@mayor_anderson) August 18, 2018
And they very well may be.
But that doesn't dissolve the legitimacy of questioning whether an ideological divide exists between transgender activists and some proponents of women's rights who take issue with integrating biological males into previously women-only spaces.
Such inquiries have hardly been the sole province of anti-LGBTQ bigots. No less a pioneering feminist than Germaine Greer came under fire in 2016 for expressing the belief that post-operative transgender women are not women.
The Economist ruminated on the various complexities and contradictions that can arise when transgender-focused conceptions of activism clash with feminism in a lengthy 2017 piece:
Some of these contradictions are decidedly less abstract. In late August, a local news outlet sparked confusion by identifying a bearded, male-presenting crime suspect as a woman without noting she was transgender.
It's like watching a runaway train. Do people really believe that Kadin E Moore is a woman? And if convicted, that this crime should be logged as a female crime? https://t.co/Wbr8r7vW1s— Debbie Hayton (@DebbieHayton) August 29, 2018
Last week, a public outcry arose after a transgender woman who was born male admitted to sexually assaulting fellow inmates at a women's prison.
To be clear, these incidents shouldn't be viewed as indications that transgender individuals pose some sort of threat to society, but rather that difficult questions regarding how transgender rights should be negotiated alongside women's rights merit asking.
But attempts at such discussions are often strained by the explosiveness of the subject matter and the deeply held passions on both sides.
When a Twitter commenter ungraciously challenged Faye's identification as a woman in 2016, Faye's response was emblematic of a cultural climate rooted deeply in the triumphalism of snark.