It was Sunday, and I had just made a public comment on Twitter to a follower about an infamous gender-critical (terf) woman obsessed with attacking transgender people. She likes to refer to the phrase transgender ideology and also cruelly jibe about trans peoples body parts. Not that we can help our body parts - at birth we are gifted them, and just sometimes they are the wrong ones or do not work properly. We were chatting away and then bam! Ambush!
The gender-critical footsoldiers were on me in a flash, not for the first time, of course. To all trans folk and their allies, this is an occupational hazard on Twitter. The gender war is both false and real at the same time. I have a theory that on Twitter trans folk who are seen by the gender-critical as a threat are "shadowed" by sleepers and ambushes set up. Most of the footsoldiers then broke off, just one 'woman' took up the fight.
As a possibly a neutral reader of this blog, you may find this suggestion far fetched, childish even - but it is what happens and being bullied either physically or verbally is far from pleasant. My attacker hit me with the often-repeated gender-critical phrase "trans ideology" which eradicates my existence as a human being, so when I challenged her that there was no such thing she then mooted it was part of "queer theory." First I was an "ideology" and now I was a "theory."
I felt the attack would peter out; that I had won the Twitter battle, and she was on the defence. But no - she then resolved to change tactic using a known methodology of terfs and gender crits called DARVO.
Never heard of it?
DARVO is an abbreviation for "deny, attack, reverse victim and offender." She had moved to stage three in an instant saying "It's all about you, Steph!" thinking I was not aware of the strategy she was using.
I say she - but. As is my standard procedure on Twitter, I like to check out who I am talking to, and something was not right. This gender-crit soldier was fighting far above her weight. Just sixty followers and had been on Twitter for less than two months. Somehow her timeline did not 'smell right.'
Trans people are rather good at feeling things are not quite right.
It is like a sixth-sense that we develop feeling - no knowing if we "pass" or not when in a shop, pub or club.
We sense danger. And my attacker's timeline showed that she liked the phrase "trans ideology" quite a lot, but her tweets, her language and interests were that of a man - not a woman. I also suspected from the professionalism of his attacks that this was no rookie. Ah, Glinner, I thought. A known terf banned from Twitter for transphobic behaviour who had recently set up a false account pretending he was trans. The battle raged for a full day. My adversary slowly getting worn down - refusing to accept that he was transphobic, refusing even to Google the definition for the word transphobia. For the record, transphobia means dislike of, or prejudice against transsexual or transgender people, and for sure he was prejudiced against me and all trans folk.
A few days later, the phrase came up again but within a discussion group within allies. "I hate that phrase," said one trans woman, we are not an ideology we are biology, real people. I've seen “trans ideology” used a lot. It legitimises transphobia because it frames being trans as political.
I had not even thought of it, but later found it was a tactic used against gay folk going back decades. "They would not like it if I said women ideology" I mooted - "that's feminism" came a reply.
But is it?
I started to think, and the definition of feminism has undoubtedly changed. There now exists 4th wave feminism meaning feminism evolves to opinion at different times. Some perhaps many feminists reject 4th wave views. Like the trans umbrella, feminism has broad connotations. I certainly consider myself a feminist. To me, it means equality. Not that women should dominate men but the defeat of patriarchy.
Patriarchy dominates virtually every society on earth and certainly in the UK. In the workplace, in politics, even on TV panel shows men dominate.
And I detest it.
Feminism is an ideology, but with different definitions. Some people see terfs as feminists. the acronym stands for 'trans-exclusionary radical feminist.' But equally many claim terfs are not feminists at all because they are exclusionary. I believe this is true. Feminism is about equality, so to claim to be a true feminist, I and many others believe anyone and everyone can be a feminist.
I was left thinking. If we can't, all agree on the definition of a feminist, how in the heck can we explain what trans ideology is?
Except, we can.
It means 'transphobia', but gift wrapped.