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Rejecting Title IX TERFs

Alliance statement written by Senior Campus Coordinator, Sam Skaller .E.R.F stands for “Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist,” a term credited to Viv Smythe in 2008. It is commonly used as “a shorthand to describe one cohort of feminists who self-identify as radical and are unwilling to recognise transgender women as sisters, unlike those of us who do.”

While coined in 2008, the exclusion of Trans folks in so-called feminist spaces unfortunately originates much earlier in our history.

The term “TERF” is central to the current public discourse surrounding the upcoming release of the Biden Administration’s Department of Education’s new Title IX Regulations. It is rumored that the new draft rules will redefine “sex” to “gender” and “gender identity.” This potential change in language alone would be a massive win for Trans student rights to an education free from discrimination.

The backlash to this possible progress takes form in TERF rhetoric and ideology. For example, so-called feminists, often holding a combination of white heterosexual skinny cisgender womananhoods and other privileged identities, are being given platforms in some of the most major national news outlets to share their thoughts about pending changes to Title IX. TERF opinion pieces are arguing that any Biden Administration re-write to the draft rule would “erase women and undermine constitutional liberties” while others baselessly claim that allowing trangender women to participate in college athletics takes away opportunities for cisgender women. 

As we await the draft changes to Title IX for the second year in a row, we at the Alliance will continue to reiterate that trans women are women, nonbinary folks are nonbinary folks, and trans men are men. No matter what the future holds for Title IX, the Alliance will remain unwavering in our support for trans students’ right to an education free from discrimination. 

Visit our Campus Program page to read additional Title IX statements written in the past several years and to stay up-to-date on the upcoming changes to Title IX.

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