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Feminism and transphobia

Feminism and confusion: why is Margaret Atwood being accused of transphobia?

Among many other books, Margaret Atwood wrote “The Handmaid's Tale,” a dystopian novel which narrates life in a society where women’s rights have been eliminated. This famous Canadian author is renowned for her strongly feminist literature.

A few weeks ago, Atwood shared on her personal Twitter account an article from The Toronto Star titled “Why can’t we say ‘woman’ anymore?,” in which the use of the word “person” instead of “woman” was intensely criticized. After a downpour of criticism against the underlying transphobic ideas in the text, the author decided to share a second article, titled “Trans rights? Yes. Toxic, in-your-face activism? No.”

After sparking a huge discussion on Twitter, Atwood responded. On the one hand, she affirmed that the article, which states that trans masculinities and non-binary people make up a tiny fraction of all gestating people, is not TERF. On the other hand, she repeated that she has pronounced herself in favor of trans rights for a long time and then re-tweeted a non-binary person’s tweet who responded to her, telling her why the article was violent for them.

However, it is quite confusing why the author considers that trans rights advocacy rhetoric is more “toxic” than an influential person who questions a historically oppressed community's concerns on language.

The first travesti publication in Latin America

According to its official website, "El Teje" was a newspaper edited by Centro Cultural Rector Ricardo Rojas, supported by its Gender Technologies and Communication departments and born of a workshop on reporting and journalistic research. It was coordinated by María Moreno and developed from an idea by Paula Viturro in organization with Futuro Trans, under Marlene Wayar's political and educational supervision.

El Teje taught a group of trans people, particularly some being pushed to prostitution, the profession of journalism (reporting and researching) to reclaim their own voices, rebuild memory, build together other possibilities for the travesti imaginary and shine a light on their systematically silenced production of culture. The project aimed at impacting society to promote inclusion and respect for travesti identities. The publication was distributed for free and it became a space for real dialogue both within the community and between the community and the rest of society.

El Teje published seven editions as a result of the semester-long workshop and it was active between 2007 and 2012. The project was funded by Astraea Foundation (@astraeafndtn) and Buenos Aires' Centro Cultural de España.

How would you translate the acronym TERF?

The acronym TERF is very commonly seen in social media to refer to radical feminists who exclude trans identities from feminist demands. They tend to use biologicist arguments.

Although some people, such as writer J. K. Rowling, complain that the acronym is an insult, it does describe their exclusionary attitude trying to force trans rights demands away from feminism.

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