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Has the definition of phobia changed?

(66 Posts)
ImpYCelyn Fri 04-Nov-16 11:08:19

Okay, I'm being a little sarcastic, but I cannot believe how easily people throw around the term phobia at the moment.

On FB I'm part of a cloth sanitary pad chat group (I realise how weird that sounds). Someone posted a link to 15 cartoons about periods "that only women will understand". The first comment is "this is transphobic". There is then a back and forth with one person accusing everyone else of transphobia. Someone has attempted to point out that it's not transphobic, however it could be argued that it has failed to take into account trans people, so admitting there's an issue, and has been told "you don't get to decide what's phobic, you're not part of the oppressed minority".

I'm pretty certain phobia has a specific meaning. And not including trans people isn't automatically transphobic. "15 things only straight women will understand" wouldn't be homophobic. It's just about straight women. It might display a lack of knowledge, but that's not the same as homophobia.

I have friends who won't identify as bisexual anymore (specifically, on the kink scene), because apparently the word bisexual is transphobic as it excludes trans people. Pansexual is what you have to be. Again, just because the word bisexual doesn't explicitly say "I'll sleep with trans people" that surely doesn't make it phobic? And since when is having sexual preference indicative of a phobia? Straight people are not homophobic because they don't want to have sex with people of the same sex. That's just their sexual preference.

I've put this in feminism chat because although asking about the meaning of a word isn't directly feminist, I am really annoyed that this has now reached the point where a support group for women asking all kinds of questions about periods, incontinence (often post childbirth) and advice for helping their teenage daughters, has suddenly become somewhere where you can be transphobic for saying that women have periods. although when I read the post I just laughed. Because, of course.

whoputthecatout Fri 04-Nov-16 11:15:36

I feel a massive shrug coming on. It's just a way to try and close down/shame anyone who questions the current zeitgeist.

0phelia Fri 04-Nov-16 11:18:18


0phelia Fri 04-Nov-16 11:20:58

Not at you!

(sorry. I feel for you having to put up with a troll like that)

VestalVirgin Fri 04-Nov-16 11:22:16

Well, strictly speaking, most "homophobic" people do not really suffer from phobia, they're just jerks.

But yes, the transwacktivists have changed the meaning again.

Whereas "homophobic" meant "hating homosexuals for no good reason", which is very different from "irrational fear of sameness", which would be the logical meaning, "transphobic" means "disagreeing with transgenderists"

At least "homophobia" was a bit more logical in that some people (men) who hate homosexuals try to cite "gay panic" as justification for their attacks.

Most people who disagree with transgenderists do not fear them, and those who do, do not irrationally fear them - there is good reason for women to fear males, in general, and that includes trans"women".

If they take a term that means "irrational fear" and use it to mean something entirely else, that is their fault, and theirs alone. No, they don't get to define "phobia", because they are not psychologists.

Though I assume they use the word because if they claimed that stating biological facts is "hateful", people would understand what that they are saying and realize it is nonsense.

0phelia Fri 04-Nov-16 11:23:08

The word "phobia" has been appropriated that's for sure.

venusinscorpio Fri 04-Nov-16 11:24:14

It's "activism" for sad little fuckers. Best to ignore. "Transphobia" is so overused as a term that it's basically meaningless. There is nothing that women can do to please the transactivists, they hate us for being women.

Thelilywhite Fri 04-Nov-16 11:24:40

Of course its not transphobic to discuss periods. Transwomen do not have periods, its a biological impossibility. Another example of female voices being silenced. The true meaning of phobic is being misappropriated by these activists to intimidate. It makes me furious too impy

0phelia Fri 04-Nov-16 11:31:36

Can you get this person deleted from your fb group?

ChocolateForAll Fri 04-Nov-16 11:34:18

Is "trans-exclusionary" a word? This seems more fitting. I do find it annoying when phobic is misappropriated. We're not talking about irrational fear, or even fear at all.

FWIW, before I duck for cover, trans men can have periods. I'd imagine that periods would be something you'd want to put a stop to if you're identifying as male, but IMO this is what the poster in your CSP group was on about, in a goady fuckery way. it's a biological fact that trans women can't have periods but the same isn't true for trans men.

Still doesn't make anyone phobic, though.

ImpYCelyn Fri 04-Nov-16 11:34:42

Ophelia thank you, I did wonder if it was at me grin

Vestal yes, sorry. Technically, from a linguistic perspective, it's already being used inaccurately in homophobia, and not like in arachnophobia. But I suppose I meant given that everyone understands homophobia to mean "being a bigot/deliberately offensive/generally nasty" towards gay people, it's now being changed again to mean "anything that doesn't specifically include and isn't positive towards trans people".

TheLily this person identifies as gender queer (not even a transman), has periods, but is not a woman. And so is offended that "only women have periods" as they are not a woman. They do not identify as a man, male or a transman though. Also very offended by the statement that XX people have periods. Apparently not only XX people have periods. I must admit, I'm not sure in this one, I've not looked into menstruation in enough detail to know about intersex. But regardless, I would have thought a pad chat forum would the the place you could acknowledge that periods, postpartum bleeding and incontinence post childbirth is a women's issue.

ImpYCelyn Fri 04-Nov-16 11:36:32

X-post chocolate, yes this person would fit that group. Although as they don't identify as a man, just refuse to be identified as a woman, I would say goady-fuckery is spot on.

venusinscorpio Fri 04-Nov-16 11:39:24

That "gender queer" person needs to get their head out of their arse and grow up. Are they 15? I bet they joined with the sole intention of disrupting the group.

ImpYCelyn Fri 04-Nov-16 11:42:37

Ophelia I'm just a member, but I suspect kicking out a trans person would be something the moderators didn't feel they could do. I suspect there'd be a big backlash and I don't think the group needs that kind of hassle sad

Venus definitely older than 15, recent grad, but up their own arse for sure.

ImpYCelyn Fri 04-Nov-16 11:46:40

I think at this point "trans-exclusionary", whilst more accurate, is still used to shut people up, like in TERF. The implication being that trans-exclusionary is transphobic.

venusinscorpio Fri 04-Nov-16 11:53:12

If I ran the group (and I do run quite a large social media group) l I would just make a statement to the effect of "we recognise that trans men may also have periods and need sanitary protection and they are very welcome here, however the vast majority of people who have periods are women, and as such it does constitute a women's issue considering the billions of women who experience periods in their lifetimes." Something like that, you get the idea. Then I wouldn't engage with any more shit.

0phelia Fri 04-Nov-16 12:37:53

At the end of the day, a transman still has part of them that is female. It's the part of them that bleeds once a month. So if you appear male or identify as such there's still a female part of you so it's a woman's issue not a man's issue.

I agree with Venus. Welcome to be in group but not if it is to disrupt the group, slur people and derail.

ImpYCelyn Fri 04-Nov-16 13:33:39

Holding my hands up to ignorance here, but is anyone able to explain who is being referred to here? Who are the humans who are not trans and not "women" who have periods? I'm not being goady, I'm just genuinely not sure. Is there actually a biological group that fit this? Or is this "gender queer, not one or the other"?

"As above - not all people who have periods are women, even ignoring the trans part of this you still have a large section of humans who are not trans and are not "women" who have periods."

Prawnofthepatriarchy Fri 04-Nov-16 14:26:43

Some intersex people have periods, I just googled it.

However the truth is that even including the tiny percentage of intersex people and the tiny percentage of dickheads who claim one of dozens of special snowflake genders, it's overwhelmingly women, biological females, who menstruate.

The person on your FB group is a goady fucker, and you have my sympathy.

I think if I were you I might point out the truly appalling situation worldwide faced by many girls who have to pull out of education and any participation in the public sphere when they start their period. Might point out that being "gender queer" is such a 1st world problem that in comparison with the troubles of girls in India that perhaps she might wind her neck in.

In other words, be even more right on than she is.

WankingMonkey Fri 04-Nov-16 14:43:41

Bring on the stupid comments I say. More people noticing this bollocks leads more people to peak trans. Which in turn leads most to look into things a bit deeper and find out its all just a load of bullshit. Transgender I mean. Not transsexual. I know there is a very real condition that makes some yearn for the body of the opposite sex. Transgender though, I mean even to transactivists they say 'gender' is just a feeling. So how on earth can one be transgender when gender is just a feeling in your head to start with?!

Sorry. Not many people outside of tumblr will fall for this female penis, cotton ceiling etc malarkey. I am glad this is leaking out into more peoples lives.

OneFlewOverTheDodosNest Fri 04-Nov-16 14:44:00

Any chance they're referring to pre-18 year old girls? Otherwise I'm at a loss... I mean other female animals have periods, but they specifically state humans so I don't really get it.

venusinscorpio Fri 04-Nov-16 14:51:24

People really need to challenge this idiocy. I don't stick my head above the parapet nearly as much as I'd like to on social media for various reasons, but I would challenge this, in polite and reasonable language. Let the tumblr devotee look like the narcissistic idiot she is.

ImpYCelyn Fri 04-Nov-16 14:51:36

Thanks Prawn.

This time three years ago I had a big argument with a trendy right-on friend who was super pro trans (but before it kicked off massively), because I felt this whole transgender/gender queer ideology (not transsexualism) was regressive for feminism. At that point the people I knew, or knew of, doing it the most were degree educated, young 20s, women, self-identifying feminists, who were sick of being treated like, well, women, and wanted to put on power suits and be men sometimes, have a boys name and male pronouns and enjoy "male privilege" (as much as you can when everyone knows you're really a woman). They didn't want to be boxed in. I spent ages arguing that they would be better off changing the world by demonstrating you could be powerful as a woman, in a skirt if that's what you wanted, not just a man's suit, and that it was anti-feminist to suggest you have to become a man to get those things. Not because women do get them now, but because as a feminist you should be working to get them for all women, not finding a get out clause to be a man and bailing out once you've sorted things out for yourself. I still think it's anti-feminist, but I had no idea it would get this bad.

And the sad thing is these right-on, young feminists would previously have been shouting about girls in India. Now they can only shout about trans. They've become so fixated on one thing.

ImpYCelyn Fri 04-Nov-16 15:03:15

Venus I'm a teacher in a girls' school, with a surprisingly (or perhaps not) large number of trans students. I have to be really careful with what I say on social media. Bizarrely I'm able to gently challenge a bit more in the classroom, face to face, where things can be framed carefully. But typing it on FB - that way disciplinary action lies...

Amalfimamma Fri 04-Nov-16 15:13:48


I would have been like your friend, super pro trans. But thanks to people like prawn venus wanking and other feminists on MN and especislly thanks to the transactivists on here I've realised that I was wrong and that the word transphobia is belted out right left and centre to create an echo chamber where the trans movement is not questioned.

Tbh, the questions put to transactivists on here have largely been ignored or the Asker been told they are a bigot or transphobic

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