A trans woman’s conversation with a ‘TERF’ — trans exclusionary radical feminist

To be fair, she’d (her name isn’t JK Rowling) probably describe herself as gender-critical instead. She started her conversation with me as follows:

“My question for you is this: If one can be “transgender” then why is it not possible to be “transracial”? As a woman, I am mystified by biological males who choose to identify as female. I fail to understand how people identifying as transgender will ever truly understand the discrimination women suffer for all of their lives, compared to me . From cultural discrimination in families (where male children are frequently more highly valued than female), to lifelong discrimination in various guises in educational and workplace environments.

Transgender identifying “females” can never understand the extraordinary (and frequently humiliating) experience of spontaneously bleeding from an orifice of the body over several days once a month for many years, then the inversion of this at menopause, when the cessation of menstruation rapidly ages the body you live in, affecting everything from unwanted weight gain, to increased signs of ageing (including wrinkles, greying and thinning hair, reduced libido). Transgender identifying “females” will never know the stress and joy and angst of carrying a living being inside them for 9 long months, then birthing that living being the size of a watermelon through a hole the size of a donut.

I don’t understand this societal fad; it frustrates me, just as this black woman in this clip (https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-10781465/Can-identify-transracial-British-Oli-London-clashes-Black-influencer.html) is frustrated by someone claiming to identify as transracial. To me, the logic about identifying as transgender is identical to the logic identifying as transracial.”

My response:

“There are already people who identify as transracial, and to be honest, I find it difficult to relate. Sounds like the both of us (not just you, I’m guilty as well) aren’t really open-minded after all. I suppose I could choose to identify with my biological sex, but I’m not crazy enough to do more mental harm to myself. That’s just mental suicide, and I don’t need that in my life. I too have suffered from discrimination in my life, gender transition is not glamorous. Your experience of discrimination will be different to mine. And my experience of discrimination will be different to other men and women. Life sucks, I can’t make discrimination go away for myself, or for others.

It’s also true that I won’t ever have the bodily experience of a cis woman, and at no point did I ever claim to have such an experience, including yours. As a traditional Catholic (as traditional as I can get given the circumstances), I’m anything but a societal fad. I’m pretty sure if I was a cis woman I would’ve been cancelled by now, and it appears that I’ve never been at significant risk of cancel culture. I find my history of gender dysphoria frustrating, but to be blunt, I shouldn’t have to be a high and constant suicide risk to myself by allowing people to feel more comfortable by not transitioning genders. I don’t know if Oli London has a comparable experience, but what is now clear to me is that you and I are now at odds with each other.

At these crossroads, we now have a choice to make: do we battle it out over Messenger like petty keyboard warriors, do we have deeper dialogue, or do we part ways and call it a stalemate? You are not obliged to respond, you do have a choice to walk away, but I sincerely hope that you choose dialogue. I would like to further add that I transitioned in 2009, and many other trans women had transitioned in the 1960s-2000s. Surely this suggests something more complex than a fad…”

Her counter-response:

“Thanks for responding Dana. I would like to say that I appreciate your enquiring approach; other transgender folks I have known have been quite rude and bombastic and refuse to engage in discussion. It is not my intent to hurt or offend you. Please know that as your read my thoughts following. You have invited them; I have responded. This is a lengthy response and I can’t promise that I can invest this much time in protracted discussion, but I have taken time and done considerable wider research to formulate these responses.

My question “If one can be transgender than how is it not possible to be transracial?” and following comments were not intended to make you react, yet your initial remarks indicate to me that you did not appreciate what I initially said. So thank you for stepping back a little from that and inviting discussion. I’ll address each item one by one:

  1. I wouldn’t identify myself as “open minded”. I would identify myself as someone who cognitively wrestles to comprehend viewpoints/values different to my own.
  2. It is frequently reported that trans identifying people nearly always establish the “mental/psychological torture” argument as a basic justification for their decision to attempt to transition to the opposite gender from which they were born. If one has psychological problems and needs help with those, then that assistance must be sought. It doesn’t mean that the solution to this mental torture is absolved by morphing into what one “feels” like they should be by taking hormones and cutting body parts off and taking on the appearance of the gender they long to be. There is an entire industry in the medical sector (from drugs developed by big pharma to psychological constructs as research to medical specialisations) which is making a king’s ransom out of the trans tsunami. (Refer to point #4). In my experience, it takes a lifetime to feel comfortable in one’s skin, to be certain of who one is and what one’s purpose is.
  3. The discrimination I refer to relates to being a biological female who fully embraces being a female woman. It is not to invite comparison with other types of discrimination. If one is not biologically female, they can never understand this discrimination which is unique to women who are born female; who are unique because of their biology, because one’s experiences and perceptions of being a woman are truly unique to each woman. Which is true for anyone who does not identify as “x” (or should that be “y”? Bad pun!). For example, I will never understand or comprehend the discrimination my good friend from Jamaica suffers because of her accent and the colour of her skin. (BTW, She tells me that an even worse form of discrimination for her is “classism”; which she maintains is endemic in the milieu of Caribbean societies. She says it has far worse implications than racism in her unique experience). I can listen to her but I can never truly understand how that discrimination affects her; that is her unique experience as a Jamaican woman.
  4. You make a point about being “cancelled by now” if you were “a cis woman”. That is exactly how transgender people identifying as female make ME feel — cancelled, invalid, not relevant, lacking meaning. Womanhood is unique to those born as female. The biology I was gifted at conception (because God doesn’t make mistakes) is a wondrous thing which can’t be copied or replicated externally. It feels that transgender folks parody or mock all expressions of the feminine. Frankly, I find the term “cis” to be offensive in the extreme. You won’t like it, but as a female adult woman, I completely agree with a certain very famous 20th century feminist who said that in her opinion, transgender women are “not women”. She also says that transgender women — who she refers to as “male to female transgender people” — do not “look like, sound like or behave like women”; indeed, she states that they make a travesty of womanhood. Further, this Australian intellectual argues that a trans person cannot actually know their real gender identity. When asked about people who know that they’ve been born with the wrong sex, this intellectual replies by saying, “You can’t know that … because you don’t know what the other sex is”. I can never know truly what it is to be male, to be a man; not just because I don’t have that biology, the “bits”, but because my mind, my soul, my heart are not male. I can dress as a man, I can act as a man, I can change all externals to appear male, but despite this, I would know in my heart that I am not a man, I am not male. So perhaps trans people have developed or evolved a third “sex”. Given the amount of estrogen and progesterone in the waterways of the world and hormones used in food production since the 1960s, perhaps our species are morphing into another new “type” of human. There is some early scientific literature supporting this theory.
  5. Regarding transgenderism as a “fad”: Trans numbers worldwide are generously estimated by some sources to be as high as 0.5% of the global population. This varies statistically from country to country — 0.1% in Brazil, 0.7% in the US (for adults between 18–24, lower in number above that age bracket). In a recent paper, a University of Sydney professor quotes that “In the USA, the rate of self-identification as transgender doubled in 10 years from 12.5 (0.013%)(2002) to 23 (0.023%) per 100,000 (2011).” Link below to paper. So yes, the argument can be made that transgenderism does appear to be a “fad”; accelerated by changing social structures, political ideology and popular culture in a world of young adults who have grown up feeling that they did not belong, that they are unwanted or unloved or misunderstood. I have yet to meet a trans person who had a happy experience of childhood and adolescence. Deeply internalised pain which has not been dealt with is the common denominator in the experience of most trans people. This doubles back to point #2 above. As a writer with HRW says “…gender variant people have existed throughout the world and across time, celebrated in some cultures, denigrated in others. Some societies recognized people who embodied a gender identity beyond the binary, for example, hijra communities in South Asia, two-spirit people among some Native American cultures, waria in Southeast Asia and Fa’afafine in Pacific Islander communities.” As a young person in 1980s/90s Australia, we learned about these cultural aberrances. We did not see them walking down the streets of Australian cities. They were not part of the Australian cultural paradigm. We did not see white kids from the suburbs choosing to switch genders. So you and other trans identifying persons will be celebrated, not cancelled, by our society at the moment because it is quite fashionable to be part of LTGBQ culture. Perhaps you are correct; we agree to disagree. I’m sure if we met up for coffee and chat that we’d get along nicely, we’d find common interests. Heck, we might even like each other! But what happens in the future, Dana? As you age, your biology will determine changes in your cellular structure. Your brain will respond to your birth biology. Your body will respond to your birth biology. I am already concerned for you. Thanks for reading. I don’t have a lot of time today to respond but I wish you peace and grace. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5227946/ https://www.diannakenny.com.au/k-blog/itemlist/tag/Transgender%20hysteria.html)”

My counter-response:

“I apologise that your experience with other trans people hasn’t been dialogical:

  1. Ahhh, so a dialogical thinker? We need more of them.
  2. I have sought non-transition assistance in the past, and it wasn’t helpful. In fact, it has left me very bitter about the experience. I resent the experience so much so that the imperfect solution that is gender transition feels right, at least for me, no matter how imperfect HRT and SRS is. It appears that I’m in the genuinely absurd “damned if I do, damned if I don’t” position. I have always accepted the unabsolvable imperfections of transition, because it at least means I can move on from the mental torture and be a productive member of society, which I am. I understand the concerns surrounding Big Pharma, but I refuse to torture myself anymore than I already have — at least now I won’t regret not transitioning, on my deathbed (I’m aiming pretty low here). I have no doubt that in your experience, it took you a lifetime to feel comfortable in your skin, but my years of mental torture would suggest that I have a radically different experience — we’re just not going to agree here. As a Catholic theology student, I’ve been learning in-depth (postgrad level) “who one is and what one’s purpose is”, and I’ve yet to be convinced that detransitioning is right. I’ve gone too far into the faith, yet if the Catholic Church cannot convince me that I’ve made a mistake, I don’t think you’ll have any success.
  3. I must say, I do enjoy a pun in the middle of what is an emotional discussion. It’s true that you can listen to your friend, but you can never truly understand how discrimination affects her. It’s also true that I can listen to you, but can never truly understand how discrimination affect you. And it’s just as true that you can listen to me, but you can never truly understand how discrimination affects me. Is this an absurd stalemate to be in?
  4. Based on responses 1–3, it would be absurd for me to apologise to you. I promise you, if I tried to apologise to you for cancelling you, it would not be genuine. No one deserves a half-hearted apology, and that’s not what I’m going to serve you with. I don’t believe I’m cancelling you, but I do acknowledge that I’ll never be able to fully understand why you feel that I’m cancelling you. If I tried, I’ll probably come across as insensitive, so I won’t try. I can only listen to you, and that’s about it. This stalemate is really absurd. I’m well aware that God doesn’t make mistakes, but that won’t convince me that I’ve made a mistake, because I haven’t as far as I’m concerned. There you go, another stalemate. It is not my intent to parody or mock you, but I genuinely don’t know how to convince you that I’m not parodying/mocking you. So I give up. I don’t intend to offend when I use the term cis, and will continue to use the term. I mean, I could feel offended by a lot of what you’ve had to say, but I’m not going to bother, it’s unproductive. You agree with Germaine Greer’s views, what can I do? Nothing. If I try to pressure you to change your views, I just risk pushing you further away… (This is now a real stalemate) Maybe I really don’t know what the other biological sex is, but now what? I’m still living in society as a woman, and my dysphoria has been alleviated. Life just goes on for me in that respect. It’s good to know that you haven’t experienced my gender dysphoria. I’m jealous actually. Perhaps our species are morphing into another new “type” of human, perhaps “fad” is a correct but inadequate explanation after all?
  5. Noting that I knew I was different at the age of four-ish without anyone telling me, why do you think I didn’t have a happy experience of childhood and adolescence? What deeply internalised pain do you think I have that I haven’t dealt with, that may convince me to detransition? What do you know about me that I don’t know about? I’m certainly not celebrated in the Catholic Church, nor do I want to be. I’ve had Catholics treat me very uncharitably, but that’s life. I have coffee with people who probably have your views, a non-event really. But at least we’re not keyword warring against each other, as tempting as that may be. What do you mean by “as you age, your biology will determine changes in your cellular structure. Your brain will respond to your birth biology. Your body will respond to your birth biology”? It doesn’t make sense.”

Her conclusion:

“Thanks Dana for responding again. I really admire your courage and willingness to engage with those who thing differently. I have to go out now but I will tell you of an incident regarding a transgender person a few years ago. As I said in my previous message, I wish you grace and peace. Namaste, as we say in yoga.”



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store