We Don’t All Have Green Eyes (or Why Are TERFs Obsessed With What’s Between Our Legs)
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what it means to present a gender, how the world tells us that certain physical parts of us mean that we are one thing and that dictates everything about us. Yet, every one of us is different, even with these perceived physical similarities that group us, no one looks the same. My eyes are green. My green, it’s special and unique to me, no one else has the same colour. My hair is brown but it’s not the same brown as my sister, or my mum or my dad or anyone. It’s my brown.My hands are unique, my feet, my legs, my stomach, my annoying sex signifiers, all unique to the body that I call my own, no one looks like I look. So if we all look so different, are we obsessed with defining what sex we are by parts of our anatomy that won’t look the same as the person next to us anyway?
Over the weekend London Pride, a celebration of all things unique and wonderful, a small group of Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists (TERFs as we will be referring to them for the rest of this piece) crashed the parade and was allowed to march in front of it spreading hateful messages about trans women predominantly, and how if you have a penis you are a man. Well. Firstly it’s a huge shame that Pride, an event started by trans women, was subjected to this hate, and secondly, why are TERFs so obsessed with genitalia? Are they going to ask all women to show their private parts to makes sure they pass some arbitrary rules about cosmic appearance? Because that sounds like a weird, misogynistic, dystopian nightmare in my books. And not something any feminist should be fighting for.
The problem here is that for a long time, back in mists of feminism past, womanhood and the strength of woman was equated to the physical anatomy, which, at the time, gave a banner to stand behind and a call to arms for women to fight for their rights, but now is a super outmoded and generally harmful way of thinking. Unfortunately many are unable to move away from this ideology. It creates an us and them, not just of men and women, but of everyone, after all it’s not like intersex and trans people haven’t always been there too. To cling to this idea that someone has the “wrong” physicality to be the sex or gender they say that they are seems to me to be a desperate attempt to keep hold of an ideal world of simple needs and wants and solutions that never existed. A sort of cheat sheet version of feminism from before we knew better.
Considering that what we all seem to want is for a world where we are not judged on our gender, one would think that these TERFs would not be so obsessed with the physical body and more interested in the mind and souls of trans people. Because isn’t that who we actually are? Isn’t that the real point of the argument? To stop defining humans by anything other than the soul we present to the world? That there is no “boy” brain or “girl” brain, no “women can’t do that for reasons” or “men can’t do this because reasons” that we are simply ourselves. To bring the argument of feminism back to a purely physical biases means that anyone is allowed to argue that women can’t do certain because clearly you, TERFs, are saying that there are differences. It allows for people who see the world through a lense of some heavily socialised ideas and innate old fashioned biases to confine everyone to their gender box and stop any progress. If your cause is to help women move forward in the world then any argument about physical differences must be removed. Plus if we stop doing this then intersex people stop having invasive and traumatising surgeries forced on their from birth, people with different hormone balances stop being treated like freaks and told to change who they are to fit in with the our binary world, and nonbinary people get to have a passport that doesn’t make them put a freaking gender on it. Oh and gender bias, bullying or discrimination in all walks of life will be gone. But nah, let’s keep worrying about what people have between their legs.
The world is full of men who can give birth and women who do not have vaginas, but these physical traits to make them any less their gender. In the same way that my green eyes are uniquely my own, their bodies and everything about them are uniquely their own. They are different to the person next to them, just as I am different. It is not our similarities that make us strong but seeing that our differences make sure better. If we only join hands with the people who we deem to be like us then we hurt the cause, you know what, we hurt the progress of humanity. I am so much not the first to say this that I am amazed that I am still having to type it, and amazed that people will probably still be having to type or say or shout or sing this is many years to come but if we can see that other people having rights and freedoms is not stopping the rest of us having those things, if we can see that just because people are different it does not make them evil or wrong or lesser then we will make the world a better place. After all, it would be really boring if we all had green eyes.
Just before I finish this I have set up a YouTube Channel for British Sign Language videos for the nerdier inclined, aiming to make the nerd and cosplay communities more inclusive. I will be doing a bigger piece on that in the future but if you want to check them out or subscribe please head HERE
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If you want more please check out my last articles:
- GenderQuake: Why I Turned Down Channel 4
- And Now For Something Completely Different (Video Game Characters and the Importance of Doing Research)
- Strange the Way Things Turn Out (Ten Years Since Straight Out Of Surrey)
- Cute and Casual (Don’t Judge a Nonbinary Person by Their Cover)
- Let’s Talk about Gender Presentation and be Empowered
- The Doctor’s New Clothes
Written by Holly Rose Swinyard