We, the trans community and our allies and advocates, really need people to start using “Transphobe” instead of “TERF” in the general case of transphobia. It’s a problem.
While it is true that there are disturbing alliances between self-described “Gender Critical Feminism” and the wider anti-feminist transphobic movement in the current backlash against trans people’s civil rights gains of the last decade or two, the vast majority of transphobes do not have the slightest interest in the works of Sheila Jeffreys or Mary Daly. They hate trans people and that’s it.
Our continued use of the term TERF has produced some absolutely laughable moments including providing cover for a literal Conservative MP, who has abstained from or voted against every single measure to liberalise the UK’s abortion regulation in the last 10 years to play act as a radical feminist.
The scapegoating of feminism in the use of “TERF” has served a dual function of enabling transphobes to present resistance to transphobia as misogyny and a war between trans people and “women” when the portion of society who are actually TERFs is small. The word TERF was coined to address fractures within feminism over transphobia and the inclusion or exclusion of trans women, not as a catch-all epithet for transphobic hate. I understand how for a lot of people who have only come to the terminology from it becoming mainstreamed in this casual way, this may come across as pointlessly nit-picky, but the perception that trans liberation struggle is a fight against women (when a large and scary contingent of the organised transphobic movement are men talking about war and heads on spikes) has been weaponised against us extensively, and has done us a great deal of harm.
Call transphobia, anti-trans discrimination and hostility, what it is. It’s got a name. It’s not (in general) a feminist position to be transphobic. The vast majority of actually engaged trans activists have a very long history working within the feminist movement.
Besides, an additional side effect of the mainstreaming of “TERF” has been that misogynist dickhead men do in fact use it to refer to nearly any feminist, any woman they think is a bit of a bitch, random trans people they take a dislike to. We don’t need their involvement, deflecting issues of transphobia off of themselves onto women opportunistically.