If you spend any amount of time around exclusionary feminists you quickly realise how they broadly brushstroke their personal opinions onto all women. Not some. All. They talk about trans women being men who invade women’s spaces, how trans women can never be women because of their lack of femaleness (whatever they define that as), and how trans women are essentially sexual predators in waiting. What they also do is talk about consent, and how they personally do not consent for trans women to be even called women, let alone allowed into their mythic circle of the adult human female. Essentially, they gaslight every single trans inclusive woman and feminist, seeing them as nothing more than deluded by the trans empire.
Yet, as all the women in my life will tell you who actually cares? Trans women are women in their eyes, not some bunch of blokes in frock to be excluded just because they lack wombs and a certain version of girlhood. To them being a woman is much more than the biology you are born with, it is you as a person defining yourself as a woman in the world, just simply being. And exclusionary feminists hate this. Hate the fact that they are a minority, a very vocal minority, but still a minority.
This matters because in the insinuation that they are right, it de facto means that all other women who are trans inclusive are wrong. Which looks perilously close to patriarchy in my eyes. First and second wave feminists fought bitterly to overturn the notion that womanhood was rooted in biology, with all power retained in the male form. By seeing women as more than the sum of their wombs, second wave feminists tore down the artificial barriers between the sexes, showing that it was gender constructs within society that were the central cause of women’s plight. Yes, periods and pregnancy are central to womanhood for many women, but the advent of the pill and better understanding of female biology highlighted that many other women do not experience those. Biology became reductive because it was only part of the issue with patriarchy.
And this is why trans inclusive feminism is so potent. It sees womanhood as a universal condition, not something tied to blood and babies. It shows the male dominated structures for what they are, a boys only club that any male identified person can belong to no matter the physiology you started off with. If biology were simply the root of the problem, then castrating all men would be the quickest fix. Which is obviously false, because trans men can be equally misogynistic and patriarchal as their cis brothers. Bodies are only the start, they are not our destinies, and trans inclusive feminists understand this.
In gaslighting trans inclusive women, the exclusionists ignore the lived reality of those women who support trans rights. Gaslighting is a way to control the moment, stop conflict, ease anxiety, and feel in control on the targeted group, something which exclusionary feminists do with abandon. However, it often deflects responsibility and tears down the other person or group, which again exclusionary feminists do to both cis woman and trans women. Some exclusionary feminists may even gaslight others by denying events or fabricating narratives out of those events. Exclusionary feminists consistently negating both cis and trans women’s perceptions, insisting that they are all wrong, or tell them that their emotional reaction is irrational or dysfunctional. Indeed, exclusionary feminists continually attempt to manipulate the perceptions of others.
They truly are trying to both manipulate and deceive, whether they realise it or not. No cis trans ally is immune to this, as the continuous barrage of anti-trans rhetoric continually flung out does not care who the listener is. Trans inclusive lesbians are called bi or straight, their lesbianism erased. Cis women married to trans women are called bi or straight, their queer identities seen as smoke screens. Cis women who play sports with trans women are called victims of trans patriarchy, denying those women the agency to decide for themselves. The level of projection and vitriol levelled at trans inclusive feminists is on par with trans folk themselves. Yet, exclusionary feminists will deny this gaslighting ad infinitum because they see themselves as the only victims, the only people worthy of judging trans identities as shams and frauds. In this they are classic manipulators, classic abusers who only see themselves in any situation. They accuse trans folk of being narcissists, but the reality is they are the self-centred ones whose only concern is their own false victimhood.
Herein lies the falsehood of exclusionary feminism, and why most second and third wave feminists rejected it. Exclusionary feminists fear trans women because they see the penis in everything, the phantom phallus waiting to strike. They do not see the owner of said phallus as anything other than a stormtrooper of the patriarchal empire. The delude themselves into seeing trans bogeywomen around every corner and every bathroom stall, failing to see the actual predation amongst the ranks of their male exclusionary allies. In gaslighting cis women for being trans inclusive they are essentially blinding themselves to those inclusive lived realities, namely that trans women are not the threat, it is the social patriarchal constructs that are. In essence, they are gaslighting themselves as well, for they are women of the world along with the rest of us. They gaslight because they learned that gaslighting relieves a modicum of their own anxiety, their own fear, and gives them a smidge of power over someone else. That is not liberation, that is dire need of self-reflection and a deeper understand of why most women are actually trans inclusive.
Lindemann, H. (2001). Damaged Identities, Narrative Repair. Cornell University Press.
Merriam Webster. (2023). Gaslighting https://www.merriam-webster.com/wordplay/word-of-the-year
Stern, R. (2019). I’ve counselled hundreds of victims of gaslighting. Here’s how to spot if you’re being gaslighted. https://archive.ph/Sd5uS