I was recently reading some Internet thread by some TERFs who were making an argument for excluding trans people from the roller derby world. While, yes, this is a long debate and as a cis, non-athletic woman I don’t know much about the topic, there was one thing that struck me: throughout the conversation, trans women were consistently referred to as men.
What’s strange about the TERFs’ decision to call trans women men is comparative, selective gender assignment by third parties. We live in a very homophobic culture; men are constantly called sissies, pussies, bitches – epithets used to evoke a sense of femininity and a dearth of masculinity in the subject’s mind. This is even more common with gay men; third parties try to cleave gay men from their sense of masculinity and assign them a feminine gender identity.
However, in the case of the online roller derby discussion, that is no longer the case. AMAB, femme presenting women are being called men just for the sake of argument. Because it’s convenient to see them as men as a means of exclusion, just as gay men are called sissies or little girls in order to ostracize them in a different context.
There’s no winning here. And it doesn’t make sense either – it’s as though the gender identity of trans and gay people are at our whim. We don’t give them power to express and perform their gender identity without the constant commentary telling them that they’re doing it wrong or they don’t fit in. This is done as a means to expel them from our social activities. We shape this argument to fit our whims of exclusion.
This has to stop. It’s just ridiculous. Being concerned about someone else’s gender identity is exhausting. Enough with the convenient epithets and using gender as a weapon against people who are breaking the mold. Let a bitch live!