The best article I’ve read about the slur TERF is this one. Please read it.
Seriously. Whoever you are, and whatever you’re doing here, read the article.
“Radical feminism seeks to make sense of the social and political reality of living in a particular type of body – a female body… Therefore, [it] has little to say about the experiences of people who identify as women but do not inhabit female bodies. This is not an oversight or an illegitimate act of exclusion. It is simply not the aim or purpose of radical feminist theory.”
“Many of the people who are labelled TERFs do not meet the description of any of the words included in the [acronym].”
By way of illustration of the last point, the first person I ever saw called a TERF was this rape victim. Though we have no evidence she’s a feminist, and she says in her article “I feel a deep sense of empathy for what must be a very difficult situation for transgender people,” I watched a dozen or so transgender activists pile onto her in a social media thread, repeatedly calling her a TERF and/or a transphobe (including my ex, who later admitted that he did so without reading the article first).
“It is not clear what, exactly, transwomen are being excluded from.”
“The word is inextricably associated with misogynistic, abusive, violent rhetoric.”
As I’ve said elsewhere: If your everyday vernacular has come to include a term that vilifies women/feminists specifically, I suggest revisiting your priorities. See also: bitch, harpy, nag, battle axe, whore.