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Webb Canyon Chronicle

The Student News Site of The Webb Schools

Webb Canyon Chronicle

The Student News Site of The Webb Schools

Webb Canyon Chronicle

Trans-exclusionary radical feminism undermines the core values of feminism

Kathy Duan
As Lia Thompson, a transgender woman, wins the women’s National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) division one swimming championship, many trans-exclusionary radical feminists (TERF) protest against trans women in sports. With a focus on feminism, TERFs have created an opposition between trans rights and feminism.

What would you consider the women’s issue of our time? Perhaps abortion rights or the wage gap? Nikki Haley, Republican presidential candidate and former South Carolina governor, thinks differently. 

“The idea that we have biological boys playing girls sports is the women’s issue of our time,” said Nikki Haley, in a CNN town hall event on June 5th.  

In the past several years, Republicans and trans-exclusionary radical feminists (TERFs) have directed much of their attack to people being “woke,” which often encompasses the general awareness of social inequities — one of which being LGBTQ+ identities. TERFism has existed ever since the ‘70s but has especially been prevalent in online spaces recently. For instance, J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, responded to a tweet saying “Opinion: Creating a more equal post-COVID-19 world for people who menstruate.” 

“I’m sure there’s a word for [people who menstruate],” J.K. Rowling said. “Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?” 

Using her own experiences as a cis woman, she seemed to believe trans people claiming shared experiences with cis women diminishes cis women’s experiences. 

Similar to J.K Rowling, many other TERF attacks have been on trans women being a threat to women in a variety of spaces. With the idea that focusing on transgender women draws attention away from the issues of women, much of said attack has been under the façade of feminism.  

“I think it partially has to do with how [TERFs] view trans women,” said Xenon Poon (‘25). “TERFs are typically very scared that [trans women] are going to hurt us because of the stories we see about men.” 

Haley has even gone as far as to connect girls’ suicidal tendencies to the presence of trans women in women’s spaces. Several mental health experts have expressed outrage over this far from true connection, such as like Tyler Black, a child psychiatrist who studies suicide and mental health at the University of British Columbia, and Anne Marie, a clinical psychologist who founded the Columbia University Clinic for Anxiety and Related Disorders.  

Trans-exclusionary radical feminism is not only damaging to the trans rights movement but also to feminism. Feminism is an inclusive movement. Through excluding a group of people who differ from the norm, so-called “feminists” do not recognize that such oppression empowers itself through the same root: the patriarchy. 

“A trans girl and a cis girl might have different experiences of transphobia and sexism, but the forces working against them share the same roots,” said Cory Warren, humanities department faculty and AdvSt Global Gender Studies teacher. 

Patriarchy thrives on division. The ideas that men are inherently different and inherently better are part of this division. When TERFs say that trans women are inherently different and thus do not deserve the same rights, they use the same rhetoric. Even if TERFs do achieve more rights for cisgender women, feminism would still be regressing as it will always be receiving rights from a gender hierarchy.  

Much of the TERF debate revolves around trans women in sports in particular. In addition to arguing that trans women are biological men and thus pose a threat in women’s locker rooms, many Republicans and even some athletes contend that trans women have an advantage in sports. 

Evidence falls on both sides, but the conservative media has cherrypicked a few examples, such as swimmer Lia Thomas. Recently, Thomas won the women’s National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) division one swimming championship. The prevailing story, though, has been the comparison of her lower rankings in the men’s races to her rankings in women’s race, which TERFs have attributed to her advantages in the women’s category. 

Women were not allowed to compete in sports either until the Olympics in 1922. The myths used to prevent women from partaking included that sports could harm women’s reproductive organs and that women’s little energy would be exhausted by sports.  

Both arguments rely on women’s physical unfitness to participate in sports, just like how many TERFs argue that trans women have physical advantages. The myths about women in sports have long been debunked, just like how it has been shown that Lia Thomas competed less in men’s races because she felt uncomfortable and that her times are on par with women’s times. 

Let us not believe in merely another step of disingenuous and untruthful identity politics. As feminists, we need to unite and use our differences as power to fight against patriarchy. 

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About the Contributor
Kathy Duan
Kathy Duan, Copy Editor
In both the classroom and at your local law firm, Kathy Duan (‘25) radiates an aura of unwavering positivity, always prepared to offer a listening ear or a supportive shoulder to those in need. Serving on the Honor Committee and contributing to the Webb Canyon Chronicle as a Copy Editor, Kathy showcases her dedication and dependability, readily addressing any questions from political theory and philosophy to the finer points of the Webb Canyon Chronicle’s style guide. During the summers of her sophomore and junior years, she immersed herself in an internship at a community law firm, deftly managing client communications. Beyond her legal pursuits, Kathy shines as a passionate debater, and is an integral part of the Webb debate team. Most notably, she founded a non-profit organization, Roundtable Debate Academy, that makes speech and debate classes more accessible. Apart from the newsroom, leadership, or debate, you may sometimes find Kathy at the pool practicing water polo with friends or in Fawcett Library researching the next big story in today’s political scene. As a passionate advocate for rectifying injustices around educational equality, Kathy dedicates herself to finding solutions constantly. The next time you walk by the Fawcett Library or take a nice stroll by Stockdale Center, be on the lookout for Kathy’s next big article! Favorite Song: "Passionfruit" by Drake

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