The University of Cambridge Students’ Union has been blasted for posting a guide that tells students how to spot ‘TERFs’.
TERF is the acronym for ‘trans-exclusionary radical feminists’ and is used as a slur for women who say that it is not possible for a man to become a woman.
The guide, titled ‘How to Spot TERF Ideology’ was drawn up by the Union’s Women’s Officer, Milo Eyre-Morgan, who is trans.
‘Keep an eye out’
The guide says that “the core characteristics of TERFs are a conservative, binary, essentialist conception of sex as the be-all-end-all”, claiming this includes “a deep hatred for trans women, couched in the language of feminism and feminist theory”.
It goes on to list several “signs of a TERF”, including those who believe in “protecting women and girls”, those who refuse to state their pronouns and those who oppose people using the toilets or changing room they ‘identify’ with.
Without offering any evidence the document also claims that “TERFs (particularly the famous ones who figurehead the movement) spend a lot of time working with the far-right” and that students should keep “an eye out for this way of thinking” in any feminist works they encounter.
It concludes by urging readers to “encourage people to unlearn the gender and sex binary and teach themselves why it is reductive and harmful”.
The document was slammed by academics, with philosophy Professor James Orr saying it was “driven by ideology not reason”.
He compared it to a “witch-finders charter”, adding it was “an extremely sinister development and is effectively incentivising behaviour among students that is wholly opposed to the flourishing of any serious intellectual culture”.
Orr concluded: “These are perfectly plausible and defensible positions to hold, not immoral and not even close to being unlawful, and should be able to be expressed freely – especially if you think they are wrong.”
Earlier this month, Professor Kathleen Stock OBE of the University of Sussex was the subject of a hate campaign by activist group Anti Terf Sussex, which labelled her “one of this wretched island’s most prominent transphobes”, due to her view that a biological male who identifies as a woman is still a man.
Prof Stock told The Sunday Times that the threatening and abusive messages had been deeply damaging to her confidence and that she is unsure if she can remain in academia, or even feel safe walking around the area.
She added: “I am vulnerable on campus. The police implied that I would need security guards accompanying me to go back on campus.”