This week I had a lovely conversation with an older dyke who reminded me how much a lot of people have always hated TERFs and SWERFs.
She was talking about the time in the 1970s and 1980s when she was a young radical dyke and how many of the awesome dykes in the radical scene were trans women. So I asked her if there was ever any problem with TERFs and SWERFs. She didn’t know those words so I described them. Her reply was (paraphrasing a longer conversation):
“Oh, you mean the political lesbians? That’s what we called them at the time, no one really considered them radical. They hated everyone. They hated bisexual women who dated men. They hated us leather dykes and kinky dykes because they thought we were ‘copying the patriarchy’, they hated trans women. None of us in the radical scene liked them. A lot of them later left and admitted that they were straight but were presured to identify as lesbians in that group because being a feminist to them meant cutting all ties with men. They were like a cult. They often lived together and if you didn’t walk the political line you were dead to them. Intense stuff.
And like, I know her memories don’t have global relevance and there have also been places where TERFs had a much more prominent impact on the local radical women’s community, but still, to hear how despised these TERFs have always been by these truly radical dykes cheered me up a lot.
You mean to tell me, that hating TERFs is literally lesbian culture?
Jup, and actually it has been since TERFs first got started.
TERFs began to colonize the RadFem identity as early as 1973 at Radical Feminism’s biggest event: the West Coast Lesbian Conference. The conference was specifically trans-inclusive, but TERFs disrupted the event, demanding that trans attendees be removed. TERF icon Robin Morgan incited violence by telling the TERFs to “deal with” a trans women who was known to be in attendance.
When a group of TERFs tried to physically assault the trans woman, Radical Feminists stepped in to protect the trans woman. Instead of beating the trans woman, the TERFs instead beat the Radical Feminists. After the TERF violence, the conference still voted to remain a trans inclusive space, but the trans woman left the conference
voluntarily to avoid further TERF violence and disruption to the conference.
Perhaps the most iconic Radical Feminist institution was the Lesbian Separatist music collective, Olivia Records. This collective is largely responsible for the rise of women’s music movement of the 1970s. The Collective was trans-inclusive and even helped trans women access trans medical care. TERF icon, Janice Raymond discovered this and began a campaign against Olivia and the trans member of the Collective. This resulted in numerous death threats to the Radical Feminist members of the collective and credible armed death threats against the trans woman. Moreover, TERFs threatened to financially destroy Olivia Records for being trans inclusive with a boycott.
Even though Olivia voted to remain a trans-inclusive space, the trans woman left the Collective to avoid further TERF violence and disruption to the Collective.
Most of the media coverage around the MWMF casts this as a RadFem/Lesbian/Woman vs Trans issue. It’s not. The MWMF has come to represent a more nuanced struggle between TERFs who target both Radical Feminists and trans people in the name of Radical Feminism. The evidence reveals that almost from the start, the chances were that “there is still a better than 999 in 1000 chance that most Festigoers would welcome trans women”.
Moreover, the evidence reveals that the most iconic Radical Feminist institutions were designed to be trans-inclusive, until TERF violence forced trans people to choose between their own safety, the safety of Radical Feminists, the institution itself and leaving the space. As has always been, TERF aggression comes wrapped in the guise of Radical Feminism, for the purpose of colonizing Radical Feminism.
Good ass thread here
Hating TERFs is lesbian culture