‘TERF’ is hate speech

I’ve seen some posts recently on tumblr, saying that we shouldn’t describe ‘TERF’ as a slur, because it doesn’t have the same power to harm as more established words like ‘slut’ and ‘whore’, and we shouldn’t conflate the two.

This is a fair argument, but the way ‘TERF’ is being used, it is hate speech. How else can we describe a word that is used to homogenise, dehumanise and demonise a group of people, especially when so-called ‘social justice warriors’ tweet and blog about how much they’d love to violently murder ‘TERFs’.

I have sent this email to the Guardian, expressing my concern over the use of the word ‘TERF’ in the article they published last Saturday.

Dear editor(s),

I am writing to you to express my concern over Lucy Mangan’s opinion piece published in the Weekend magazine on the 9th August (I am sending this to several different editors, as it is an issue that goes beyond this one article). My particular concern is over her use of the term ‘Terf’; this word is used as hate speech against any woman (and it is only used against women) who expresses a negative or critical opinion about gender or trans issues, or who even acknowledges that biological sex exists. It is used to dehumanise and demonise such women, and to justify violent threats against them and their children. It is highly irresponsible of a national newspaper to allow an article to be published that uses this term uncritically, as if it were a neutral descriptor.

I also wish to express my concern with the way the Guardian covers ‘gender’ issues generally; your coverage is alarmingly one-sided and uncritical, with the number of gender-critical pieces being minute in comparison to the number of articles that cover gender identity uncritically.

Why not, in the name of balance, ask Gia Milinovich or Sarah Ditum to write a critical response? Or even just commission a review of Sheila Jeffreys’ new book Gender Hurts?

I look forward to hearing back from you.

Yours sincerely,
Abi Pearson

Sent to these email addresses:


It will be interesting to see what kind of reply, if any, I get.

4 responses

  1. And wow! after sending that email and logging in here to post about it, I see that Sarah Ditum is now following this blog!

    Sarah, I hope you don’t mind me recommending you in this email?

  2. My guess is that you will get no reply. They only care about women’s voices when they fall in line with men’s.

  3. You’re probably right.

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