I first came across the 'TERF' initialism about 10 years ago. It was in the women’s toilets of a queer pub that I was visiting to see a performance (I live in one of the UK’s most progressive and LGBTQ-friendly cities, so it was at the vanguard of trans activism). The initialism was printed on stickers that had been plastered around the inside of the cubicle. The stickers read: 'TERFs not welcome here'. I didn’t know what 'TERF' stood for at the time, but, being where I was, I guessed that RF probably meant radical feminist.
There was something particularly nasty in the way a space of such vulnerability had been filled with aggressive speech, and I instinctively felt under attack. I assumed that the RFs the stickers were telling weren’t welcome were women. Even if you don’t agree with a woman’s politics, why on earth should you feel it appropriate and acceptable to drive them from a necessary space? Where are they supposed to relieve themselves? I had always thought of myself as a feminist (possibly radical, I didn’t really know), but I certainly didn’t identify with the kind of woman who is so dangerous and hateful that she should be driven from using the toilet facilities designed for her. I couldn’t possibly be a 'TERF'. Or could I?
When I got home I looked up 'TERF' and was shocked to discover that, in TRAs eyes, I am one. That because I believe in the material reality of my biological sex, and because I believe that my lived experience is different from a transwoman’s lived experience (and vice versa), I’m not welcome in those toilets designed for me. That I am a bigot. That I deserve to be raped by 'lady cock'.