Weekly Reads: The Rise of the TERFs (eww)
And the Fall of Gendered Dress Codes (yay!)
Howdy Readers! It’s September 11th and nineteen years later I think it’s ok to forget a little.
Our main story today is an excellent Vox piece by Katelyn Burns entitled The Rise of Anti-Trans Radical Feminists, Explained. It’s an excellent deep dive into the recent gains made by TERFs, especially their unholy alliance with the Trumpian Right. Centered on the case of funeral home employee Aimee Stephens, who was fired after announcing her transition to her boss. Her case will be heard in the Supreme Court on October 8th, 2019.
In 2013, she gave the funeral home’s owner, Thomas Rost, a note that she also shared with friends and colleagues. “I realize that some of you may have trouble understanding this. In truth, I have had to live with it every day of my life and even I do not fully understand it myself,” she wrote. “As distressing as this is sure to be to my friends and some of my family, I need to do this for myself and for my own peace of mind, and to end the agony in my soul.”
After he read the note, Rost simply said, “Okay.” Stephens was fired two weeks later. Rost told her that it was “not going to work out.”
Stephens sued, claiming her dismissal was discrimination on the basis of her sex, setting off a flurry of legal activity. According to court documents, Rost testified that he fired Stephens because “[she] was no longer going to represent [herself] as a man. [She] wanted to dress as a woman.”
The Trump Administration has made no secret that they think employers should be able to fire anyone for being LGBTQ, a cynical chunk of red meat thrown to their slavering bigoted base. But they have found enthusiastic allies in the Stephens case from “gender critical feminists,” (fucking TERFs.)
In their amicus brief to the Supreme Court, the Women’s Liberation Front, or WoLF, writes, “Simply, Aimee Stephens is a man. He wanted to wear a skirt while at work, and his ‘gender identity’ argument is an ideology that dictates that people who wear skirts must be women, precisely the type of sex stereotyping forbidden by Price Waterhouse.”
Groups like WoLF are commonly referred to as “trans-exclusionary radical feminists,” or TERFs. They alternate among several theories that all claim that trans women are really men, who are the ultimate oppressors of women. Most of their ideas — like that trans women are a threat to cisgender women’s safety — are based on cherry-picked cases of horrific behavior by a small number of trans people. Above all else, their ideology doesn’t allow for trans people to have self-definition or any autonomy over their gender expression.
Read the whole thing folks, it’s a chilling reminder that there is always pushback against progress and it can come from surprising places.
By the way, Grounded Parents and the rest of the Skepchick network are specifically trans-inclusive. We don’t put up with TERF bullshit here. My oldest is Non-Binary and I have several dear friends who are trans. Most of us in this community have had to cast aside folks that we thought of as dear friends due to their insistence on promoting trans-antagonistic views. Don’t expect much patience from us, TERFs are out to harm our loved ones. We react accordingly.
Now on to some links!
We often feature stories about sexist school dress codes, so this story of Roanoke County public schools adopting a gender neutral dress code warms our hearts.
On the other end of the news spectrum, this story of an Alaskan high school swimmer disqualified for what can only be described as prurient interest on the part of a race official.
“In a world where young girls are told at every turn that the skin they’re in is not good enough for a thousand reasons, the last thing we need to do in youth athletics is add to that unhealthy dialogue,” Langford, a swim coach at Anchorage’s West High School who coached the teenager and her sisters when they were younger, wrote in a widely shared blog post on Medium after Friday’s meet. She added, “If you do not like the way that swimsuits fit on these girls’ bodies then don’t look; they are minors, children, and no one should be looking at them anyway.”
This story about an Indiana man who taught his Grandmother to play Dungeons and Dragons in her final year is the most uplifting thing I’ve read all year.
Nicole Cliff has some good advice for an Atheist parent whose teen is “rebelling” by going to Quaker meetings…
One reason teens seem to be taking longer to “grow up?” They have a closer relationship to their parents than previous eras.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood looks like it will be quite the Thanksgiving flick we need.
Haven’t checked in with OK GO in awhile…