Here’s why the term “reality-based woman” has nothing to do with reality

Let’s face it, TERFs have some real time on their hands. How else do you explain the fact that they keep putting their heads together to come up with words and phrases that no one on Earth actually needs?

For instance, while we already have a perfectly good word to use to describe women (it’s women—the word is women) TERFs keep coming up with alternatives. First there was woman-born woman, then there was gender critical feminist, then there was whatever JK Rowling was trying to do with her deranged Mother’s Day tweet. Now, in Canada, there’s “reality-based woman.”

I know what you’re thinking: aren’t we all reality-based? Don’t we sort of…not have a choice in the matter? Trust me, no one wants to leave reality more passionately than I do, but sadly I’ve tried and it’s just not possible. Reality just has a way of inflicting itself upon us whether we like it or not.

If you’re wondering about the origins of this particular phrase, I’m devastated to report that I can tell you all about it. In Canada last June, female powerlifter April Hutchinson sent a legal letter to the Canadian Powerlifting Union after protesting their open identification policy, which gives trans powerlifters the ability to self-identify as their correct gender in order to compete. The letter employs all the usual TERF talking points, and at this point, it’s not worth refuting them. Most sane people living in this reality know that transness does not equal blanket advantage in sports, and there are endless cases to back this up.

Which begs the question: whose reality is it, anyway?

A cis woman calling herself a reality-based woman has exactly the intended consequence: it positions trans people are uniformly crazy, which is what so many cis people dangerously assume we are to begin with.

And sometimes, as a trans person, it can definitely feel like the world is doing its best to make you go insane. If you’re trans, you always feel like you’re living in someone else’s reality. The amount of crap you have to put up with just to make a basic statement about your humanity is part of that reality, one in which we are positioned as political wedge issues, signs of a civilization in decline, and threats to democracy. Anything, basically, but what we are, which is human beings trying to stay sane despite sharing a reality with people who want us not just gone, but erased from memory.

So go ahead, be my guest. Call your gender “reality-based.” A TERF by any other name would smell as vile.

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