Feminist views on transgender topics

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Feminist views on transgender topics vary widely. Third-wave feminists tend to view the struggle for trans rights as an integral part of feminism.[1] Fourth-wave feminists also tend to be trans-inclusive.[1] Several studies have found that people who identify as feminists tend to be more accepting of trans people than those who don't.[2][3][4]

Some feminists, such as Janice Raymond and Sheila Jeffreys, believe that transgender and transsexual people uphold and reinforce sexist gender roles and the gender binary. In opposition to the view that gender identity is as important as biological sex, some feminists, sometimes described as "gender-critical", are critical of the concept of gender identity, hold that biological sex is immutable, and consider that sex-based differences require the continued provision of female-only spaces.[5][6][7][8][9][10] These feminists, who espouse views that other feminists consider transphobic,[11][12][13][14][15][16] who oppose transgender rights or the inclusion of trans women in women's spaces and organizations,[17] or who say trans women are not women,[18] have been called "trans-exclusionary radical feminists" or its abbreviation, "TERFs".

While these parties lack influence in academic feminist philosophy[19] and among Canadian feminist organizations,[20] they are more influential in the United Kingdom.[11][14][21] Additionally, some transgender people, such as Julia Serano and Jacob Anderson-Minshall, have formed a movement within feminism called transfeminism, which views the rights of trans people and trans women in particular as an integral part of the feminist struggle for all women's rights.[22]


Early history (before 1989)[edit]

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, corresponding roughly to the second wave of feminism, there were several notable clashes between feminists (especially early radical feminists) and trans women.

In 1978 a trans woman asked to join the Lesbian Organization of Toronto (LOOT). It refused to admit her and voted to exclude trans lesbians.[23] LOOT wrote: "A woman's voice was almost never heard as a woman's voice—it was always filtered through men's voices. So here a guy comes along saying, 'I'm going to be a girl now and speak for girls.' And we thought, 'No you're not.' A person cannot just join the oppressed by fiat."[23] Another dispute began in 1973, when the West Coast Lesbian Conference split over a scheduled performance by the lesbian transgender folk-singer Beth Elliott.[24] Elliott had served as vice-president of the San Francisco chapter of the lesbian group Daughters of Bilitis, and edited the chapter's newsletter, Sisters, but was expelled from the group in 1973 on the grounds that she did not qualify as a woman.[25][26]

Janice Raymond published The Transsexual Empire in 1979.[27] In it she criticised contemporary medical and psychiatric approaches to transsexuality, arguing instead that "the problem of transsexualism would best be served by morally mandating it out of existence," and accused trans women of reinforcing traditional gender stereotypes. Several writers characterized these views as extremely transphobic and/or hate speech.[28][29][30][31] Empire also included a chapter criticising "the transsexually constructed lesbian-feminist". Raymond devoted a section to Sandy Stone, a trans woman who worked as a sound engineer for Olivia Records, a feminist record collective that employed only women.[27] The collective publicly defended Stone, but after continued pressure, Stone resigned. She later wrote The Empire Strikes Back: A Posttranssexual Manifesto,[32] a response to Raymond's Empire, and a foundational work in the field of transgender studies.[33]

However, not every early radical feminist opposed trans acceptance. Radical feminist Andrea Dworkin viewed gender reassignment surgery as a right for transgender people.[34] She also argued that it was a myth "that there are two polar distinct sexes".[35]

The third wave (1990–2008)[edit]

The third wave of feminism saw much greater acceptance of transgender rights, largely due to the influence of philosophers such as Kimberlé Crenshaw and Judith Butler.[1][36] These philosophers argued for greater inclusion of other fields (such as critical race theory and queer theory) within feminism. Butler in particular argued that women's liberation required a questioning of gender itself, and that accepting gay and trans people would promote that sort of questioning.[36]

In the early 1990s the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival (MichFest) ejected a transgender woman, Nancy Burkholder.[37] From that point on, the festival maintained it was intended for "womyn-born womyn".[38] The group Camp Trans formed to protest this policy and to advocate for greater acceptance of trans women in the feminist community. A number of prominent trans activists and feminists were involved in Camp Trans, including Riki Wilchins, Jessica Xavier, and Leslie Feinberg.[citation needed] MichFest considered allowing post-operative trans women to attend, but this was criticized as classist, as many trans women cannot afford sex reassignment surgery.[39] Lisa Vogel, MichFest's organizer, said protesters from Camp Trans engaged in vandalism.[40] The festival ended in 2015.[41]

Modern history[edit]

Many fourth-wave feminists are trans-inclusive.[1] Organizations such as the National Organization for Women,[42] the Feminist Majority Foundation,[43] and Planned Parenthood,[44] now support trans rights, as do most Canadian feminist organizations.[45] The influence of trans-exclusionary radical feminists and trans-exclusionary feminists in general has waned significantly,[19] though they are still somewhat influential in the United Kingdom.[11][14][21] In a 2015 interview Catharine MacKinnon cited and agreed with Simone de Beauvoir's quotation about "becom[ing] a woman", and said that "[a]nybody who identifies as a woman, wants to be a woman, is going around being a woman, as far as I'm concerned, is a woman."[46]

Transgender rights and the feminist movement[edit]

Queer feminist philosopher Judith Butler has argued for feminist solidarity with trans and gender-nonconforming people, and has been critical of philosophers, such as Sheila Jeffreys, who she argues engage in oppressive attempts to dispute trans people's sense of identity.[47] In a 2014 interview Butler argued for civil rights for trans people: "[N]othing is more important for transgender people than to have access to excellent health care in trans-affirmative environments, to have the legal and institutional freedom to pursue their own lives as they wish, and to have their freedom and desire affirmed by the rest of the world." She also responded to some of Jeffreys's and Raymond's criticisms of trans people, calling them "prescriptivism" and "tyranny". According to Butler, trans people are not created by medical discourse but rather develop new discourses through self-determination.[48]

American academic Susan Stryker wrote in 2007 that first-wave feminism had commonalities with the transgender rights movement "[t]o the extent that breaking out of the conventional constrictions of womanhood is both a feminist and transgender practice".[49] She added that transgender issues had prompted feminist scholars to question notions of biological sex, and that transgender theorising was associated with the rise of postmodern epistemology in third-wave feminist thought.[49]

In 2012 Jeffreys wrote in The Guardian that she and other critics of "transgenderism" had been subject to intimidation campaigns on the internet, the extent of which suggested that trans rights advocates fear the "practice of transgenderism" becoming the subject of criticism.[50] British radical feminist Linda Bellos was uninvited from a University of Cambridge speaking engagement in 2017 after saying that "trans politics" sought to assert male power.[51]

Lesbian feminist of color Sara Ahmed has said that an anti-trans stance is an anti-feminist one, and that trans feminism "recalls" earlier militant lesbian feminism.[52][53] Kimberlé Crenshaw, developer of the theory of intersectionality, wrote, "People of color within LGBTQ movements; girls of color in the fight against the school-to-prison pipeline; women within immigration movements; trans women within feminist movements; and people with disabilities fighting police abuse—all face vulnerabilities that reflect the intersections of racism, sexism, class oppression, transphobia, able-ism and more. Intersectionality has given many advocates a way to frame their circumstances and to fight for their visibility and inclusion."[54]

Sally Hines, University of Leeds professor of sociology and gender identities, wrote in The Economist in 2018 that feminism and trans rights have been falsely portrayed as being in conflict by a minority of anti-transgender feminists, who often "reinforce the extremely offensive trope of the trans woman as a man in drag who is a danger to women". Hines criticized these feminists for fueling "rhetoric of paranoia and hyperbole" against trans people, saying that while spreading anti-trans narratives, anti-trans feminists abandon principles of feminism, such as bodily autonomy and self-determination of gender, and employ "reductive models of biology and restrictive understandings of the distinction between sex and gender" in defense of such narratives. Hines concluded with a call for explicit recognition of anti-transgender feminism as a violation of equality and dignity, and "a doctrine that runs counter to the ability to fulfill a liveable life or, often, a life at all."[55]

Feminist theorist, writer and Yale professor Roxane Gay has said that issues facing non-white and marginalized women such as sexual harassment and misconduct extend to trans women as well, and that TERFs have "woefully failed" to consider trans women's experience. Gay finds transphobia appalling, with the maltreatment and agony trans people suffer, such as the high suicide rates and murder rates of black trans women, not their fault. She has also said, "I think a lot of feminists are very comfortable being anti-trans. And that's painful to see because we should know better, having been marginalized as women throughout history and today. How dare we marginalize others now?"[56]


Transfeminism, or trans feminism, synthesizes feminist and transgender discourse. Transfeminists argue that there are multiple forms of oppression and sexism, and that trans and cisgender women have shared interests in combating sexism.[33] Influential transfeminists include Julia Serano and Diana Courvant.[citation needed]

Gender critical feminism/trans-exclusionary radical feminism[edit]

Feminists who describe themselves as "gender critical" say that sex is "real, important, and immutable" and is "not to be conflated with gender identity".[57][58][59][10] Feminists holding "gender critical" beliefs are also referred to as "transgender exclusionary radical feminists", or the acronym "TERFs".[60][61][18][62][63] These feminists hold ideas that some other feminists consider transphobic,[11][12][13][14][16][64] such as the belief that trans women are not women,[18] opposition to certain transgender rights and exclusion of trans women from women's spaces and organizations.[17][65]

Feminist Viv Smythe, who is credited with coining the term "TERF",[62] has stated its intention as a "technically neutral description ... to distinguish TERFs from other RadFems ... who were trans*-positive/neutral."[66] These feminists prefer the term "gender critical",[18][67][68] and consider the word "TERF"[69] inaccurate[18] or a slur.[40][68][70]

While these parties lack influence in academic feminist philosophy,[19] they are relatively powerful in the United Kingdom.[11][14][21] Commenting on the best selling books Material Girls: Why Reality Matters for Feminism by Kathleen Stock and Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality, by Helen Joyce, Louise Perry observed that "gender-critical" ideas that had been on the "radical fringes" in 2004 when Julie Bindel was accused of transphobia[71], had become "mainstream" in the United Kingdom by 2021.[72]

In 2021, an Employment Appeal Tribunal in the case of Maya Forstater v Centre for Global Development (CGD) found that these "gender critical" beliefs pass the legal test of a protected belief under the Equality Act 2010 because they "did not seek to destroy the rights of trans persons".[57][58] While Forstater was "delighted to have been vindicated", the CGD described the decision as a "step backwards for inclusivity and equality for all".[9]

The philosopher Kathleen Stock describes those whom she calls gender-critical feminists as being critics of gender in the sense of social stereotypes. She writes: "Gender-critical feminists particularly rebel against the idea, implicit in gender identity theory, that what makes you a woman or a man is a feeling. As far as they are concerned, this feeling could only be, deep down, about the applicability of restrictive and damaging sex-associated stereotypes to yourself".[7]

Journalist Abigail Shrier, quoting the sexologist Ray Blanchard, describes the debate on transgender health-care as being between "transgender activists" and "gender-critical feminists".[73] Another feminist who self-describes as "gender critical", Susanna Rustin, says that questioning gender roles, while arguing for sex-based rights, is the "whole point of feminism"; she denies the accuracy of describing "gender critical" feminists as "trans-exclusionary radical feminists".[8]

Support from conservatives[edit]

These feminists have allied with conservative groups and politicians who oppose legislation that would expand transgender rights in the United States,[74][75][76][77] the United Kingdom,[78] and Australia.[79]

Researcher Cole Parke at Political Research Associates (PRA), an American liberal think tank, wrote in 2016 that conservative groups opposed to the transgender rights movement were basing their arguments on the work of feminist authors such as Janice Raymond and Sheila Jeffreys, whom Parke described as "TERFs".[80] The Southern Poverty Law Center, an American civil rights nonprofit, reported in 2017 that American Christian right groups were trying to "separate the T from LGB", including via casting transgender rights as antagonistic to feminism or to lesbian or gay people. The report said this trend was "part of a larger strategy, meant to weaken transgender rights advocates by attempting to separate them from their allies, feminists and LGBT rights advocates".

The Southern Poverty Law Center detailed the anti-LGBT Family Research Council's annual Values Voter Summit, during which attendees were encouraged to rebrand their rhetoric in the language of feminism, including framing gender identities as offensive to women. The report quoted Meg Kilganon, leader of an anti-transgender conservative group, as saying "Trans and gender identity are a tough sell, so focus on gender identity to divide and conquer".[15][76][81]

In January 2019, the Heritage Foundation, an American conservative think tank, hosted a panel of left-wing feminists opposed to the US Equality Act.[76] PRA researcher Heron Greenesmith has said that the latest iteration of collaboration between conservatives and anti-transgender feminists is in part a reaction to the trans community's "incredible gains" in civil rights and visibility, and that anti-trans feminists and conservatives capitalize on a "scarcity mindset rhetoric" whereby civil rights are portrayed as a limited commodity and must be prioritized to cisgender women over other groups. Greenesmith compared this rhetoric to the right-wing tactic of prioritizing the rights of citizens over non-citizens and white people over people of color.[76] Bev Jackson, one of the founders of the LGB Alliance, has argued in contrast that "working with the Heritage Foundation is sometimes the only possible course of action" since "the leftwing silence on gender in the US is even worse than in the UK."[82]

Particular topics[edit]

Socialization and experience[edit]

Some feminists argue that trans women cannot fully be women because they were assigned male at birth and experienced some degree of male privilege.[83] Radical feminists generally see gender as a binary social class system in which women are oppressed solely due to their biology rather than gender identity.[67]

Patricia Elliot argues that the view that one's socialization as a girl or woman defines "women's experience" assumes that women's experiences are homogeneous and discounts the possibility that trans and cis women may share the experience of being disparaged for femininity.[84] Similarly, Transfeminist Manifesto author Emi Koyama contends that, while trans women may have experienced some male privilege before transitioning, trans women's experiences are also marked by disadvantages resulting from being trans.[22]

In "Growing Up Trans: Socialization and the Gender Binary", Michelle Dietert and Dianne Dentice write that when youth embody non-standard gender roles or otherwise deviate from expectations of their assigned sex, the gender binary becomes a form of control by authorities, enforcing social norms upon them. In their view, this begins at early socialization, and transgender youth, especially gender non-conforming children, often experience different treatment, leading to a fear of reprisals as they attempt to please their family and peers and navigate their understanding of their gender and societal expectations.[85] They argue that socialization affects transgender youth differently, especially if they are gender non-conforming.[86]

In 2017, while discussing whether trans women are women, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie said, "trans women are trans women." She acknowledged that transgender women face discrimination for being transgender and said she sees this as a serious issue, but also said, "we should not conflate the gender experiences of trans women with that of women born female."[87] She later expanded on her comments, saying, "From the very beginning, I think it's been quite clear that there's no way I could possibly say that trans women are not women. It's the sort of thing to me that's obvious, so I start from that obvious premise. Of course they are women, but in talking about feminism and gender and all of that, it's important for us to acknowledge the differences in experience of gender. That's really what my point is. Had I said ‘a cis woman is a cis woman, and a trans woman is a trans woman', I don't think I would get all the crap that I'm getting, but that's actually really what I was saying."[88]

Sex reassignment surgery[edit]

In her 1974 book Woman Hating: A Radical Look at Sexuality, radical feminist writer and activist Andrea Dworkin called for the support of transsexuals, whom she viewed as "in a state of primary emergency" due to "the culture of male–female discreteness". She writes: "every transsexual has the right to survival on his/her own terms. That means every transsexual is entitled to a sex-change operation, and it should be provided by the community as one of its functions." She also stated that the phenomenon of transsexuality might disappear within communities built on androgynous identity, as there would no longer be any gender roles to conform to.[34][89]

In 1977, Gloria Steinem wrote that while she supported the right of individuals to identify as they choose, in many cases, transgender people "surgically mutilate their own bodies" in order to conform to a gender role that is inexorably tied to physical body parts. She concluded that "feminists are right to feel uncomfortable about the need for and uses of transsexualism." The article concluded with what became one of Steinem's most famous quotes: "If the shoe doesn't fit, must we change the foot?" Although meant in the context of transgender issues, the quote is frequently mistaken as a general statement about feminism.[90]:206–210 The same year, she also expressed disapproval that the heavily publicized transition of tennis player Renée Richards (a trans woman) had been characterized as "a frightening instance of what feminism could lead to" or as "living proof that feminism isn't necessary", and wrote, "At a minimum, it was a diversion from the widespread problems of sexual inequality."[90] Steinem's statements led to her being characterized as transphobic for some years.[91]

In a 2013 interview with The Advocate, she repudiated the interpretation of her text as an altogether condemnation of sex reassignment surgery, stating that her position was informed by accounts of gay men choosing to transition as a way of coping with societal homophobia. She added that she sees transgender people as living "authentic lives" that should be "celebrated".[92]

In 1979, Janice Raymond wrote a book on trans women called The Transsexual Empire: The Making of the She-Male, which looked at the role of transsexuality—particularly psychological and surgical approaches to it—in reinforcing traditional gender stereotypes, the ways in which the "medical-psychiatric complex" is medicalizing gender identity, and the social and political context that has helped portray transsexual treatment and surgery as normal and therapeutic medicine.[27] Raymond maintains that transsexualism is based on the "patriarchal myths" of "male mothering", and "making of woman according to man's image". She argued that this is done in order "to colonize feminist identification, culture, politics and sexuality".[93] Several writers characterized these views as extremely transphobic and constituting hate speech.[28][29][30][31]

In her own 1987 book Gyn/Ecology Mary Daly, who had served as Raymond's thesis supervisor,[94] also criticized transsexuals, stating that sex reassignment surgery cannot reproduce female chromosomes or a female life history, and arguing that it can "not produce women".[95] Similarly, in a 2017 televised interview on BBC Newsnight, Germaine Greer said that feminizing SRS does not make trans women women.[96]

Transgender women in women's spaces and organizations[edit]

In 1995, Kimberly Nixon, a trans woman, volunteered for training as a rape crisis counselor at Vancouver Rape Relief & Women's Shelter. When the shelter determined Nixon was trans, it expelled her, with staff saying it made it impossible for her to understand the experiences of their clients. Nixon disagreed, disclosing her own history of partner abuse, and sued on the grounds of discrimination. Nixon's attorneys argued there was no basis for the dismissal, citing Diana Courvant's experiences as the first publicly trans woman to work in a women-only domestic violence shelter. In 2007 the Canadian Supreme Court refused to hear Nixon's appeal, ending the case.[97][98][99]

In 1996, Germaine Greer (at the time a fellow at Newnham College, Cambridge) unsuccessfully opposed the appointment to a fellowship of her transgender colleague Rachael Padman.[100][101][102] Greer argued that because Padman had been assigned male at birth, she should not be admitted to Newnham, a women's college. Greer later resigned from Newnham.[103][104][105][106]

A 2004 editorial by British radical feminist Julie Bindel titled "Gender Benders, beware" printed in The Guardian caused the paper to receive two hundred letters of complaint from transgender people, doctors, therapists, academics and others. The editorial expressed her anger at Kimberly Nixon, and also included Bindel's views about transsexuals and transsexualism.[71][107] Transgender activist group Press for Change cite this article as an example of 'discriminatory writing' about transsexual people in the press.[108] Complaints focused on the title, "Gender benders, beware", the cartoon accompanying the piece,[failed verification][109] and the disparaging tone, such as "Think about a world inhabited just by transsexuals. It would look like the set of Grease" and "I don't have a problem with men disposing of their genitals, but it does not make them women, in the same way that shoving a bit of vacuum hose down your 501s [jeans] does not make you a man."[71][110]

In April 2019, Angela Wild, leader of lesbian activist group Get the L Out, wrote that lesbians were being pressured to accept transgender women as sexual partners.[111] Jessica Stern, executive director of LGBT human rights NGO OutRight Action International, responded that Get the L Out's activism was perpetuating gender inequality and anti-transgender sentiment and parallelled religious conservativism by focusing on biological sex.[112]

By country[edit]


During the 1990s, Argentine LGBT activism took off, and the end of the decade saw the entry of travestis[a] into spaces of feminist discussion, marking the beginning of transfeminism in Argentina.[114][115] The inclusion in particular was that of Lohana Berkins, one of the most prominent leaders of the travesti movement.[116] Berkins got into feminism in the 1990s through meetings with lesbian feminists such as Alejandra Sarda, Ilse Fuskova, Chela Nadio and Fabiana Tron.[117]

The Argentine government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Argentina included trans-inclusive gender-based measures, with Minister of Women, Genders and Diversity Elizabeth Gómez Alcorta stating that "trans people are particularly vulnerable in our country."[118]

The Argentine feminist movement, including the National Gathering of Women has seen debates over reforming the Spanish language to be more gender neutral in recent years.[119][120]

The campaign to legalise abortion in Argentina has included transgender people, and after the movement was successful, the bill legalising abortion explicitly included trans and non-binary people.[121][122][123]


According to journalist Neil Macdonald, Canada saw an in increase in debates about transgender issues in feminism especially after the introduction of Bill C-16 in 2016, which added gender expression and gender identity as protected characteristics to the Canadian Human Rights Act and was opposed by a range of conservatives and some feminists, such as Meghan Murphy.[124]

Feminist writer Margaret Atwood has said she disagrees with the views that trans women are not women[125] or should not use women's washrooms.[126] In May 2021, over 110 women's and human rights organisations in Canada signed a statement supporting trans-inclusionary feminism, stating that "trans people are a driving force in our feminist movements and make incredible contributions across all facets of our society."[127] Canadian women's sporting organisations have also supported trans-inclusion, with the Canadian Women's Hockey League having a openly trans woman play, the Canada women's national soccer team having an openly non-binary play, and Rugby Canada rejecting proposals to ban trans women from the sport.[128][129][130]

In January 2018, the Halifax Women's March came under criticism for a lack of intersectionality, with a number of Indigenous, Muslim, and trans feminist activists breaking away from the march to form a rally of their own, titled Walking the Talk.[131][132] In March of that year, Gabrielle Bouchard was elected leader of the Fédération des femmes du Québec, the first transgender woman to hold the position.[133][134]

The Vancouver Rape Relief & Women's Shelter has been the centre of several controversies regarding exclusion of transgender women, such as the 2003 Kimberly Nixon Rape Relief case and when the City of Vancouver Council stopped awarding the shelter an annual $34 000 grant in 2019 over its exclusion of trans women.[135]


In February 2020, an open letter was published in the Huffington Post signed by around 50 French feminists, including sociologist Christine Delphy and ex-Femen activist Marguerite Stern, questioning the presence of trans women in feminist movements.[136] The Huffington Post later removed the letter from their website.[137] In response to the letter, several different feminist organisations, such as the Syndicat du travail sexuel, the Collectif NousToutes, and the Collages féminicides Paris, who Stern had previously been involved with, issued statements condemning transphobia.[138][139]

In late-February 2020, a further group of feminists and feminist organisations released an open letter stating that they opposed the importing of "transphobic debates" into France and that creating divisions between cis and trans women "only serve the patriarchy."[140]


In 2012, Jyl Josephson, professor of Political Science and Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University-Newark, stated that in Iceland "transgender and gender scholars seem to have a more congenial and more recent relationship."[141] Non-binary Icelandic journalist Owl Fisher has stated that "in Iceland the women’s rights movement as a whole has been wholly supportive of trans rights for decades."[142]

In 2019, Icelandic Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir proposed a bill to introduce gender recognition via statutory declaration in the country. The bill was passed by the Althing by a vote of 45-0, with three abstentions.[143][144]

On Women's Rights Day in Iceland in 2020, the Icelandic Women's Rights Association organised an event together with Trans Ísland that saw several different feminist organisations in the country discuss strategies to stop anti-trans sentiment from increasing its influence within Icelandic feminism.[145] Later that year, Trans Ísland was unanimously granted status as a member association of the Icelandic Women's Rights Association.[146]


In late-January 2018, over 1000 Irish feminists, including several groups such as the University College Dublin Centre of Gender, Feminisms & Sexualities, signed an open letter condemning a planned meeting in Ireland on UK Gender Recognition Act reforms organised by a British group opposing the reforms.[147] The letter stated that "Trans people and particularly trans women are an inextricable part of our feminist community" and accused the British group of colonialism.[148]

During the referendum on the Thirty-sixth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland that successfully saw the legalisation for abortion, the Together for Yes campaign group was explicitly trans-inclusive.[149][150]

In November 2020, on Trans Day of Remembrance, the National Women's Council of Ireland and Amnesty International Ireland co-signed a statement along with a number of LGBT+ and human rights groups condemning trans-exclusionary feminism.[151]

In March 2021, the Abortion Rights Campaign issued a statement condemning the Bell v Tavistock ruling the UK, stating that trans people had played a role in the Yes vote of the Thirty-sixth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland referendum and that the ruling was "ultimately an attack on our collective right to bodily integrity."[152]


A 2019 study from the European University Institute that examined the feminist Non Una Di Meno movement in Italy argued that difference feminism had traditionally been prevalent in Italy, but was coming to be supplanted by intersectional feminism. The shift was driven especially by younger feminist activists, often accompanied with rejections of binary gender as well as increased prominence of anti-racist and anti-capitalist organising, who considered that "intersectional feminism grasps the core of the feminist and LGBT struggles, which is the “union of all the oppressed against the oppressors”".[153]


In 2021, a split in the Spanish left-wing coalition government occurred over the Legislative Proposal for the Real and Effective Equality of Trans People, with United Podemos Minister for Equality Irene Montero advancing the bill that would have included the introduction of legal gender recognition via statutory declaration and legal recognition of non-binary identities. However, Spanish Socialist Workers' Party Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo argued that the bill "could put at risk the identity criteria for 47 million Spaniards." The bill ultimately failed to pass after the Socialist Workers' Party abstained on the vote.[154]

South Africa[edit]

In 2010, the Social, Health and Empowerment Feminist Collective of Transgender Women in Africa was formed.[155][156]

United Kingdom[edit]

The UK government's 2018 consultation on reforming the Gender Recognition Act 2004 became a locus of conflict between radical feminists and advocates for trans acceptance.[14] The GRA requires that one be medically diagnosed with gender dysphoria and live for two years in one's felt identity before legally changing gender.[157] Proposed reforms would allow one to self-declare one's legal gender without a diagnosis or waiting period.[158] While the UK's Equality Act 2010 permitted providers of single-sex or sex-segregated services such as women's shelters to deny access to transgender people on a case-by-case basis, a 2016 report of the House of Commons's Women and Equalities Committee[159] recommended that providers no longer be permitted to exclude persons who had obtained legal recognition of their "acquired gender" under the GRA.[160]

Groups including Fair Play For Women and Woman's Place UK were founded in opposition to the proposed reforms.[161][162] The groups have been condemned by feminists who support the reforms. London Feminist Library organiser Lola Olufemi described Woman's Place UK as "a clearly transphobic organisation" after withdrawing from an event at the University of Oxford that featured WPUK supporter and Oxford professor Selina Todd.[163]

British trans-exclusive feminist groups objected to the proposed GRA self-ID reform as eroding protections for women-only safe spaces and liable to abuse by cisgender men[164][165]—issues disputed by advocates of reform and unsupported by current evidence.[166][167] Pro-trans feminist academics such as Akwugo Emejulu and Alison Phipps view self-declaration as a right for transgender people.[168]

In October 2018 the UK edition of The Guardian published an editorial on GRA reform supporting a lessening of the barriers to legal gender change but also stating that "Women's oppression by men has a physical basis, and to deny the relevance of biology when considering sexual inequality is a mistake," and that, "Women's concerns about sharing dormitories or changing rooms with 'male-bodied' people must be taken seriously."[14][169] Journalists from The Guardian's US edition wrote an editorial repudiating their UK counterpart's stance, stating that it "promoted transphobic viewpoints" and that its "unsubstantiated argument only serves to dehumanize and stigmatize trans people".[14][170] In March 2019 more than 160 women, including Emma Thompson and members of the UK parliament, cosigned an open letter expressing solidarity with trans women and support for GRA reform, organised by LGBT charity Time for Inclusive Education.[171][172]

Seven Scottish women's groups - Close the Gap, Engender, Equate Scotland, Rape Crisis Scotland, Scottish Women's Aid, Women 50:50, and Zero Tolerance - released a joint statement during the GRA consultations endorsing the proposed reforms and stating that "we do not regard trans equality and women’s equality to be in competition or contradiction with each other."[173] The Cambridge Rape Crisis Centre has indicated that it accepts trans people as volunteers and the Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre has maintained individual gender neutral bathrooms.[174][175]

United States[edit]

The National Organization for Women (the largest feminist group in the United States)[42] and the Feminist Majority Foundation both support trans rights.[43][176]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Travesti" (meaning transvestite) was historically a pejorative used to designate trans women and crossdressers in South America. The word has been reappropriated by activists and is now used as a non-binary label for people assigned male at birth that have a transfeminine gender identity, but choose not to identify themselves as trans women.[113]


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Further reading[edit]

  • Califia, Patrick. Sex Changes: The Politics of Transgenderism, San Francisco, CA: Cleis Press, 1997. ISBN 1-573-44072-8
  • Jeffreys, Sheila. Gender Hurts: A Feminist Analysis of the Politics of Transgenderism. London : Routledge, 2013. ISBN 0-415-53940-4
  • Barrett, Ruth. "Female Erasure." Lebec, CA. Tidal Time Publishing, 2016.
  • Ahmed, Sara (2017). Living a Feminist Life (1st ed.). North Carolina, U.S.: Duke University Press Books. ISBN 978-0822363194.

External links[edit]