What a 90s Cartoon Can Teach Us about TERFs
August 12, 2014
Mom confronts TERF bigotry aimed at her family
August 13, 2014

#TERFweek: Debunking TERF Tropes

By Cristan Williams


TERFs tend to behave much like a fundamentalist echo chamber so that once a new malicious anti-trans trope is created, it is quickly disseminated and replicated until the trans community and/or allied communities must waste their time addressing the fallacies. Therefore, the TransAdvocate has put together this list of debunked anti-trans TERF tropes for your reference.

The Cotton Ceiling:

TERFs assert that Planned Parenthood conspired to helped teach trans people how to force lesbians to have sex with them and this amounts to corrective rape.

Trope Deconstructed

The Transsexual Empire:

TERFs assert that a medical-technical apparatus, in service of the patriarchy, is moving to subsume the female form and this amounts to rape.

Trope Deconstructed

Trans Surgery is a Creation of the Patriarchy:

TERFs assert that men, acting in service to the patriarchy, created MTF/FTM trans surgery and, in this way, it is the ultimate rape of the female form.

Trope Debunked

Cis was created by trans people as a slur:

TERFs assert Cis and Cisgender are slurs recently created by trans people.

Trope Debunked

TERF was created by trans people as a slur:

TERFs assert TERF was created as a slur against lesbians, women, RadFems and/or feminists and as such, represents one of the ways the patriarchy subjugates women.

Trope Debunked

The Evergreen College Incident:

TERFs assert all trans women should be viewed as a potential risk because a trans woman had, on multiple occasions, stripped nude and paraded her genitals around in front of 6 year old girls.

Trope Debunked

The Florence Colorado Incident:

All trans women should be viewed as a potential risk because a 16 year old trans girl was actually a boy pretending to be trans in order to gain access to the girls restroom in order to sexually harass cis girls.

Trope Debunked

The Bad Apple:

Laws protecting trans equality promote rape, public indecency and assault.

Trope Deconstructed


Tip this TransAdvocate!

Writers for the TransAdvocate work hard to bring you news and commentary. If you found this article meaningful, let the author know that you appreciate the work they do with a tip!
Cristan Williams
Cristan Williams
Cristan Williams is a trans historian and pioneer in addressing the practical needs of the transgender community. She started the first trans homeless shelter in the South and co-founded the first federally funded trans-only homeless program, pioneered affordable healthcare for trans people in the Houston area, won the right for trans people to change their gender on Texas ID prior to surgery, started numerous trans social service programs and founded the Transgender Center as well as the Transgender Archives. Cristan is the editor at the social justice sites TransAdvocate.com and TheTERFs.com, is a long-term member and previous chair of the City of Houston HIV Prevention Planning Group.


  1. M. A. Melby says:

    So – someone called you a TERF – now what?
    Jul 2015

    Posted by M. A. Melby in Atheism, Bigotry, Civility, Debate, Gender, Politics, Pseudoscience



    There are many things possible in the universe. If you are called a TERF it could be that the person who said it is actually a self-loathing misogynist who hates feminism and puppies. It could be that the label was unfairly or inappropriately applied. It could also be that someone used the term to point out your casual trans antagonism or fucking jackass bigotry.
    Who the hell knows?
    Regardless, you have been told over and over again that once you have been tagged with the term “TERF” that a trans cabal will soon descend on you, wielding their mighty screen-capping skills and latent sense of male entitlement. Any moment now they will come to your door with pitchforks and whois searches ready to quote mine the last 5 years of your life and bend you to their will or you will face dire consequences.
    Or maybe nobody actually called you a TERF, just mentioned that something you said was trans antagonistic and made them angry, then you yelled at them and said “Next you’ll be calling be a TERF!” and you sort of remember it wrong – but whatever! The fascist PC police are ready to throw a spot light in your face and scream “Trans women are women! Yes or No! Prepare to be NO PLATFORMED!!”
    Now all the sudden even your close friends and acquaintances are part of this oppressive network of ideological purists. “I think some of the things you are saying about Caitlyn Jenner’s gender presentation are insulting to trans women,” says Sally. “That feminist you RT’ed the other day actually has very transphobic views, just so you know,” says Jo. “Christ! Did you just recommend Gender Hurts what the hell is wrong with you? Seriously – what’s next? The myth of the 6 million. Go fuck yourself!” says Patricia.
    You defriend and ban as quickly as possible, but as quickly as you cut off one head, another grows in it’s place.
    You think there was some time in all this when relationships could be salvaged, but that time is probably long gone. You feel drummed out of the feminist spaces that you have become accustomed too. Thank goodness you still have a few true friends that stood by you, letting you know that all your other intolerant friends were just out to get you because they HATE the notion of a nuanced, intellectually honest opinion! What else could it be?
    You’re upset. You’re angry – but don’t worry!
    You’re about to be love-bombed by a bunch of bigots who think that trans kids aren’t real, that trans related surgery is mutilation, that trans women should be turned away from shelters, that allowing trans women in bathrooms will result in rape, that trans women attracted to women are autogynophiles, that radical self-acceptance will magically make dysphoria disappear, that trans women being respected as women is a form of appropriation or mockery of “real women”, that trans women that were “socialized as boys” retain male privilege and entitlement and are therefor inherently violent, that transition is reinforcing oppressive gender norms and doesn’t *actually* save lives, and blah de blah blah blah.
    But no worry, all that disparagement, disinformation and fear-mongering against trans women – that has been advanced TIME and TIME again in high-profile articles in famous magazines will be wrapped in a nice little bow of *courage in the face of harassment and silencing* with a HUGE dose of pseudo-intellectual bullshit such as the ever-so-popular “Sex not gender!” song and dance.
    I’ve heard it all before. It’s a broken record. When trans women assert the validity of their lived experience as women, they are routinely accused of being entitled, violent men. Their actions and words sifted through to find anything unkind in a desperate attempt to paint trans activists as the villains.
    Amazingly, when I engage with other feminists with whom I disagree – I am often accused of the same damn thing – of being a violent man who refuses to respect the boundaries of women. My male socialization is “obvious”!
    This happens to me *regularly*.

    When anyone attempts to confront what they view as transmisogynistic or cissexist, trans women are blamed for this lack of docility even when the majority (or even ALL) of the people involved in the conflict are trans men or cis.
    Remember A Thousand Vaginas!
    Remember The Vagina Monologues!
    Collective punishment is part of how bigotry works. These generalizations are then excused by claiming that *good ones exist* but the *bad ones deserve it*.

    And irony upon irony – the brave heroins standing up to the “male” oppressors have a list of demands required to be on the *nice trans lady list* wherein you gain the *privilege* of being referred to by your real name, your real gender, and not some cute little neologism implying your inherent lack of relative legitimacy.
    [Oh – if you are wondering what in the world #8 is about.]
    “Nail polish does not a woman make.” And that’s the thing – it may sound high-road and common-sense, but only to those that have the privilege of reducing the trans experience to an intellectual exercise and assume that trans women need a patronizing lecture on “What it is to be a woman”.
    They demonize trans women by insisting that trans women stop being some twisted stereotype they themselves dreamed up. It’s like if I walked into a lab and the professor came up to me and said, “I just think women in science are great and I support you SO MUCH – just don’t distract the boys while they are working or cry if you aren’t able to figure stuff out!!”
    The resounding message that mainstream cis feminism is sending is: We will accept you into our exclusive club as long as we have the power to dictate who you are. That message is demeaning. It is not some sort of “nuanced” compromise.
    At it’s worst – this message insists that you place the comfort of others above your own life.

    This whole scenario is a pattern I have seen MANY TIMES – not just recently. Someone is criticized for parroting these talking points, they start shedding contact with anyone who doesn’t defend them against that criticism, and then they get loved bombed. These groups try to induct feminists who feel embattled, by wearing a facade of openness. They convince themselves and others that “trans women are women” is dogma and “penis is male” is science.
    I call bullshit.
    And no – I really, really don’t enjoy seeing this play out again.
    However, just so you know, that if this isn’t somehow magically derailed, the next stop is to indignantly froth about how unfair you were treated and how the big bad trans cabal messed up your Christmas and you’re sort of gonna sound like this:

    Share this:TwitterRedditFacebookTumblrGoogleLike this:Like Loading…


    About M. A. Melby
    Writer, physics instructor, feminist, arguer, atheist; Secular Woman Board Member, Block Bot admin, Transadvocate contributor; she, cis; opinions my own

    View all posts by M. A. Melby »

  2. […] movement has a history of happily embracing real acts of violence and even armed terrorism. We’ve debunked numerous myths and, in the process, showed that TERFs, far from being a benign group of internet trolls, have a […]

  3. Dee Omally says:

    In the Christian faith, there is one called the grand accuser of the brethren….the “devil”. Whether fictional or true, whether a concept birthed of a religion or not, incessant accusations, especially those spanning nearly 1/2 a century in duration are indeed very devious or “devilish”. Such an obsession, based not on gender, for transmen are men and yet are given a free pass based on labia that contain no testicles, is an obsession that raises the “boy crying wolf” story to an entirely astronomically new level.

    Constantly repeating “I hate penis”, “I hate penis”, “I hate penis” despite having “penis” as a father which we all do, does not for good attention make. Ironically, many of us also hate penis, so much so that we seek to surgically reconfigure it, and yet we share not the same obsession such that we must join in on the chant. Once we deconstruct all TERF arguments, it isn’t about the gender, but the penis, which of course they readily do admit. The problem with making hate a daily companion is that it becomes a burning rage such that it begins to, like a raging inferno, destroy the host.

    The problem with repetitive false assertions is that there truly comes a time when a point of diminishing returns is reached. This point, history is showing, is this year: 2014. The TERFs and their 4-star literary generals who spew out oral flatulence in book format are raising one more thing to an entirely new level: the meaning of an exercise in futility. The question is when will they concede? To give their argument any credence, rather to execute their mission objective would require nothing less than airport-styled X-ray scanners outside restrooms and locker rooms. I doooon’t thinnnnnk soooo.

  4. juli says:

    You rock!

Leave a comment