Varieties of TERFness

Published on 10 March par Héloïse Humbert

Call for Papers - Special Issue “Varieties of TERFness”

To be published in open access in 2023 in DiGest. Journal of Diversity and Gender Studies (https://www.digest.ugent.be/news/7/)

Edited by
Mauro Cabral Grinspan (Université libre de Bruxelles)
Ilana Eloit (Université de Lausanne)
David Paternotte (Université libre de Bruxelles)
Mieke Verloo (Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen)

The acronym TERF, which stands for Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist, has become part of public debates in the last years. Yet, this term remains highly contested among scholars and activists. While the term permits to label and to describe a social and intellectual phenomenon which is currently acquiring increasing social and political relevance, there are problems with the term too. To name just two: it can be seen as a “misogynistic slur” (Pearce, Erikainen, Vincent 2020), and has a problematic understanding of what is “radical feminism”. For all its problems, and maybe also because of them, we see it as a useful heuristic tool to understand past and contemporary exclusionary patterns within feminist discourses and practices, and to complexify genealogies of radical feminism.

In this special issue, we argue that the unicity of the term conceals the diversity of positions included under this label and we aim to unpack its complex and entangled meanings as well as to map the diffusion of its way of reasoning across a multitude of actors. In particular, the salience of British and US debates on trans rights, combined with the hegemony of Anglo-American scholarship within gender studies, overshadows the variety of trajectories leading some feminists to adopt anti-trans positions. Actually, a first comparative look at contemporary debates allows us to identify at least three different roads to TERFness: anti-gender activism, radical feminism and radical lesbianism, and institutional feminism.

This special issue first aims to unpack, highlight and describe varieties of TERFness, and to understand the theoretical and ideological underpinnings of these positions as well as their empirical manifestations. It also aims at conceptualizing TERFness, in order to develop a useful analytical tool for feminist analysis. Instead of amalgamating them under the all-encompassing label of TERF, this approach ambitions to distinguish between different discourses and strategies to better understand when and how they overlap and/or echo each other. It also wants to investigate new collaborations and coalitions among actresses who may have been opposed or in competition in the past. At the same time, it is absolutely clear that only some feminists embarked in one of these trajectories have adopted TERF positions (Stryker and Bettcher 2016). Secondly therefore, this special issue will also attempt to explain why certain feminists with a specific trajectory are sensitive to these arguments while others with the same background are not. Thirdly, the feminist debate on trans issues is not new (Green 2006, Kubala 2020), as illustrated by the Raymond-Stone controversy in the 1970s and 1980s. Therefore, it is crucial to explore historical legacies that can shed light on why this debate has suddenly become so salient and central.

For this special issue, we welcome pieces investigating TERFness in four areas: discourses and arguments, actors and networks, implications for feminist theory and the role of affects (Hemmings 2021). We expect authors to address a key theoretical question in relation to the variety of TERFness on the basis of new empirical data, and to examine trans debates in different geographical locations. Articles thus have to be based on sound literature review and clear theoretical conceptualization, empirical material and adequate methods of analysis.

Format

We expect final papers to be between 7000 and 8000 words (bibliography and footnotes included), submitted in Word format. References in APA Style, 7th edition.

Timeline
01/05/2022: Send a 2000 words proposal by email to the guest editors (maulesel@gmail.com, ilana.eloit@unil.ch, david.paternotte@ulb.be, mieke.verloo@ru.nl)
01/06/2022: Acceptance email to authors
15/11/2022: Submit a full draft (online submission platform)
From 15/01/2023: Responses on first drafts
01/06/2023: Submit the final draft
15/10/2023: Publication of the special issue

- Extended CFP