Clayman Conversations: Three scholars examine the TERF Industrial Complex
In a wide-ranging conversation hosted as part of the Clayman Conversations series, three scholars of gender and sexuality set out to think through the politics of trans exclusion, but ended up thinking through the energy and wonder of a trans inclusive feminism. While the main topic under discussion were the TERFs (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists) and the strange fellow travelers their position has attracted amidst conservatives, the alt right, and free speech absolutists, the conversation broadly dealt with the experiences and priorities of transgender activists and academics, the intersections of feminism and race in discussions about trans inclusion, as well as questions both metaphysical and practical impacting trans lives. The Aug. 26 Clayman Conversations webinar “The TERF Industrial Complex: Transphobia, Feminism and Race” attracted high attendance and high traffic on Twitter, due to some controversy surrounding the topic and the terminology.
Introducing the event, Clayman Institute Director Adrian Daub made clear that “the existence and legitimacy of trans voices within the feminist movement isn't something that we at the Clayman Institute feel is up for debate.” He emphasized that the event was about the strange political alliances around transphobic politics, and the very real human cost that continues to be exacted by transphobic policies and ideas. “We're interested in the counterintuitive and circuitous politics of trans exclusion, not the legitimacy of exclusion.”
“The TERF is the person that makes alt-right troll techniques and politics acceptable to liberals who under no other circumstances would acknowledge their relationship with or their debt to people like Milo Yiannopoulos. But because it's coming from this apparently embattled group of white feminists, that relationship is allowed to be sustained, and with a bit of luck, perhaps not for much longer.” -- Grace Lavery