I believe that wide variation in the expression of cultural gender, including culture "genders" other than just "masculine" and "feminine", are a normal part of human diversity, just as being gay or lesbian is. I don't care what bathroom you use. But I also believe in the reality and consequentiality of biological sex, I don't believe that "Transwomen are Women," and I think that "Affirmative Care" for minors is not well founded in science and research.

So I have gone from Certified Ally* to dirty TERF, though not an opinion of mine has changed.

I've accepted that I am probably not going to change my views to suit the New Doctrines, because they are in conflict with my connection to reality.

So here is how I cope with my TERFery:

a) I generally don't engage with the issue in my personal life unless it comes up naturally in conversation with someone who I know really well. I'm a Nice White Suburban Mom, and there is wide omertà around the transgender issue because it creates an intolerable ideological death match between the two things that Nice White Suburban Moms hold most dear - 1) our self image as Kind, Tolerant, and Enlightened-by-NPR members of the Anti-Trump Resistance and 2) our concern for the wellbeing of our daughters and their fair access to things like sports and locker rooms. This is irreconcilable and therefore unspeakable. When it comes up in conversation everyone's face goes white and someone will end the conversation by saying "It's just too....HARD." So no point in bringing it up, but if I'm asked, I will be gently honest.

b) I raise my daughters to be kind, but gender critical. I teach them that their bodies are what make them girls, and that they can be any kind of girl they want to be. I also teach them that you can respect a person and enthusiastically support their civil rights to live as they choose while not agreeing with their opinions or worldview, and that being able to do so is one of the most basic skills required of citizens in a liberal democracy. Respectful disagreement with someone's worldview is not being "unkind" or "intolerant".

c) We're taking the Benedict Option for adolescence. My daughters don't go on the internet or social media unless it is for school. They can get smartphones when they get a job to pay for them themselves. And while I adore my kids' public grade school, we are doing Catholic school for grades 5 and up to avoid any uncomfortable locker room situations, minimize unhealthy social groups, and so we can have confidence that the anthropology of the person that they are being taught is one that we (mostly) believe in.

So basically my strategy for dealing with my newfound TERFdom is a mix of prudence, avoidance, being a parent, and just being OK with having untrendy views. I avoid unnecessary confrontation.

*I used to work at a university, yes there is such a thing as certification for allies.

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Examples of TERF opinions: 1) opposing allowing confused teens or children as young as 5 years old to be mutilated by surgery or irreversible hormone therapy because they or their parents “feel” they are actually the “wrong gender.” 2) opposing allowing convicted male sex offenders to define themselves as women so as to assigned to female prisons. 3) opposing school athletic associations to allow men calling themselves as women To compete in women’s sports, thus garnering championships and scholarships which otherwise would have gone to women. In short, a terf is a feminist in the original sense and not at all radical. As Dave Barry would say, “I am not making this up.”

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TERF is a slur and is used to incite violence. There are valid concerns about erasing biology and having biological sex be conflated with gender preferences under law.

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I’ve got a few words for tall guy, from the perspective of a petite woman and my time in the dating scene a decade ago.

I found a distinct pattern interacting with big men - they were almost uniformly respectful of my space and incredibly good at reading body language cues. I was never hassled by a big man, for instance, if I said no thank you to him buying me a drink. He might still try to charm me, but he did it with however much physical space between us as I wanted. If I was at a crowded table with a big guy on one side of me and an average guy on the other, and I needed to push into someone’s physical space to slip off the stool, the bigger guy was always more likely to “be a gentleman” and make space for me to get past. The average guy, maybe and maybe not.

This was such a strong pattern, and various girlfriends of mine had similar experiences, I finally developed a theory - a big man is simply more aware of the space around him. A man who’s 5’9” may not register the small gestures a woman makes when she’s physically uncomfortable with him in her space because he generally doesn’t have to make space calculations - doesn’t have to duck under a ceiling fan, be careful of smacking his head on a low door lintel, doesn’t have to figure out how to fold himself into the backseat of a friend’s Volkswagen, doesn’t have to insist on the exit row seat on an airplane to keep his legs from cramping in economy class seats. There are lots of ways to gain physical self awareness, so it’s not exclusively the purview of the big men, it’s just that they don’t have the option of NOT being aware of how they fit into the space around them. That’s my 2 cent theory anyway.

Having worked closely with domestic violence survivors, this guy is probably really hyper aware of what signals a woman gives when she’s uncomfortable or afraid for her safety. And he probably experienced that aimed at him reflexively from women who were still traumatized by current or recent experience. Living in a violent home gives you constant PTSD, so it’s not actually representative of how he is seen by women in general.

I hope he’ll put himself in social situations with women who are interested in dating. I think he’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that his awareness of his size and understanding of her body language actually makes women more comfortable with him and interested in dating him, rather than fearful of him.

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Kat, I read your article several time, but have no I idea what a TERF is. And if it's what's referred to below (a slur and is used to incite violence in the femisnistcurrent.com link), what does it have to do with your essays? Persuasion is a community meant to enlighten, not confuse.

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I believe this is the second thing I've read by Kat in the past week where she has referenced "It". I am sensing some deep-seated clown issues. Hoping we can get to the bottom of this.

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