Have you heard the one about a trans woman having a prostate exam? Or the acronym TIM splashed across replies to trans women talking about women’s issues. You know, the exclusionary japes that seem to think that just because a woman has a trans history she must always be a man. Funny. As a funeral. Dead on arrival. Exclusionary feminists like to poke fun of trans women as men in frocks, as walking pantomimes, the sort of butcher of womanhood who parodies all things good ship woman. They punch down because they have the power to do so, and in the insults they betray a certain callousness that only values womanhood as a cultural artefact rather than a visceral thing.
Whenever those insults fly they indicate that the insulter is more interested in scoring points rather than engaging in conversations. Indeed, when they use words like troon and Trans Identified Male they show a complete lack of understanding of the trans condition. Not that they care much for niceties, they see trans women as a colonising force invading women’s spaces. Insulting trans women is as much as a sport as a weapon, a means of shaming and reframing trans experiences.
Insults reflect as much on the insulter as they do their targets, the use of language reflecting cultural perspectives and willingness to punch down. Insulting others involves a power dynamic that requires unpacking to understand, though often it is the last refuge when all other ideas run out. There is a critical difference between satire and insults, puncturing hubris and punching down. There is always room for discourse, for bridge building, but when rights collide if that bridge is impossible then exclusionary feminists’ frustration boils over into insults.
Their way of dealing with gender is to deduce it down to sex, raw bodies that only matter in opposition to other bodies. Being a woman becomes a trope that is only defined by them and no-one else. Those tropes serve the purpose of layering power and smugness into the exclusionary discourse, easily digestible and memeable on Twitter. It is this passing of knowledge from one person to the next, a quasi-religious experience of coming to the light via hate of the other, in this case an anti-trans venom that drips via troon and TiM. Insults are a catechism that becomes rote, as easy to chant…