Have you been coming across a lot of ‘terf’ usage in tweets amid the heated debates around Harry Potter writer JK Rowling‘s controversial anti-trans tweets? Well, you are not alone as many like you stormed Google to find the meaning of the word ‘terf’ , making it the most searched query. Also Read - After JioPhone, Reliance to Launch Another Affordable Android Smartphone, Partners With Google for 'Make in India' Product
In a series of tweets recently, Rowling went on a transphobic rant only to seal it by projecting herself as an ally. She had tweeted, “If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction. If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased. I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn’t hate to speak the truth . The idea that women like me, who’ve been empathetic to trans people for decades, feeling kinship because they’re vulnerable in the same way as women – ie, to male violence – ‘hate’ trans people because they think sex is real and has lived consequences – is a nonsense. I respect every trans person’s right to live any way that feels authentic and comfortable to them. I’d march with you if you were discriminated against on the basis of being trans. At the same time, my life has been shaped by being female. I do not believe it’s hateful to say so (sic).” Also Read - Determined to Make India '2G Mukt': Mukesh Ambani as Google Set to Invest Rs 33,737 Crore in Jio
As the tweet stirred controversies and wrath of the supports of transgender community, many called her a ‘terf’. Coined in 2008 by Viv Smythe, ‘terf’ is an acronym for trans-exclusionary radical feminist. TERF or Terf is characterised as a slur or hate speech towards whom it is directed. The term is used by people to attribute and define those who reject that trans women are women, assert the exclusion of trans women from women’s spaces and are opposed to transgender rights legislation. Also Read - Amid Assam Floods, Twitter Joins Hands With National Disaster Response Force to Help People Stay Updated About Relief Efforts
While initially it referred to a minority of feminists, the meaning has since expanded to refer more broadly to people who refuse to consider trans-women as a part of their feminist narrative. It now includes people with trans-exclusive views who may have no involvement with radical feminism.
JK Rowling broke millions of fans hearts with her anti-trans tweets and her arguement that discussion of gender identity invalidates biological sex. Many called her a ‘terf’ and claimed that her stance had irreparably damaged their love for the Harry Potter series.