As it is the case with many younger radical and gender critical feminists, I haven’t always been into such politics. I spent years on the opposite side. I’m familiar with liberal feminist and trans activist terminology, from DFAB to demi girl – although I’m sure dozens of new terms have emerged since I left those circles around Summer 2016 – so no trans activist argument is strange to me. That’s something trans activists and liberal feminists tend to forget (or knowingly ignore) when they argue with us or spread whatever rumours about us; our disagreement isn’t based on ignorance, it’s based on thorough understanding.
I wasn’t just an ally to the transgender community, I was a member. It may have started as allyship, I can’t quite remember, but very soon I was genderfluid, bigender, a trans boy… Quite frankly, I obsessed over my gender identity, and the deeper I fell into that hole of obsession, the worse I felt about my body. I hated my breasts, my hips, my face, my hair… I hated my features because they didn’t fit the way I felt inside. I didn’t feel like my breasts or my hips belonged to me – I didn’t feel female or like a woman, therefore, according to the ideology I subscribed to at the time, I had to be something else.
I came out to two of my closest friends as transgender and they were both very accepting. I went through numerous name and pronoun changes as I was desperately trying to find a “me” that felt comfortable. I thought about medical transition and, as I was applying to university, I planned how to tell my professors about my preferred name and pronouns. However, neither of those things happened: my dysphoria decreased to a point where I didn’t feel the need to identify as transgender anymore.
It’s not very clear to me what happened to my dysphoria. It didn’t disappear overnight but I struggled with it for a good while even after ‘reidentifying’ as a woman. When I started university, there was no sign of dysphoria at all. I was comfortable with my womanhood and lesbianism. (My sexuality went through a bit of a crisis during the end of my first year of university and the beginning of the second when I was in a relationship with a man, but that crisis calls for its own post). I still considered myself a liberal feminist and a supporter of the trans movement although I was slowly drifting further and further away.
During the summer after my first year in university, I began to feel that it was strange how, despite calling myself a feminist, I didn’t actually know much about the movement or the ideology itself. I wanted to educate myself more on feminist theory and literature, and the history of feminism. I felt stuck, like there was something that didn’t quite make sense about the feminism and gender politics I had learned about and supported, but I wasn’t able to point out what that ‘something’ was. Naturally, the first place I went to was Tumblr but this time it wasn’t the mainstream, liberal type of feminists I wanted to go to but the people I had been told to stay away from: the radical feminists or the so called TERF’s. Much to my surprise, I didn’t find literal demons advocating trans genocide, which was basically what I had been told about these people. Instead, I found women critiquing liberal feminism and the trans movement, pointing out inconsistencies and flaws in these ideologies, and asking very good questions about transgenderism, sex positivity, the beauty industry and many other things. Quite soon afterwards, I joined them.
And I’m glad I did. I would describe finding radical feminism as an enlightenment but not a comfortable one. The truth is that realising how illogical and sometimes messed up some ideas that I used to support actually are has been a painful journey at times but, through that pain, I have been able to grow as a person – as a woman, as a gay woman. Radical feminists’ honesty about women’s suffering has showed me things that I never even thought about during my liberal days. Radical feminism is not Fun Feminism, it’s not and doesn’t try to be comfortable, it makes you frustrated and angry.
It certainly has made me angry and that’s why I’m here. Every time I encounter yet another woman who has things to say but is terrified of the backlash, I gain more motivation to fight. I’ve seen how women are silenced but I’ve also seen women fighting against that, loudly and unapologetically, and that’s the kind of a woman I aspire to be. Since I’ve always loved writing, I decided to start writing this blog about my thoughts. Less trendy than Twitter, I know, but often 140 characters isn’t enough. Also, I’m too awkward for YouTube.