A debate is raging both online and in politics about whether a person's sex is determined by their brain or their body, and it is getting increasingly nasty.

For the liberal left, there are male brains and there are female brains, and if your brain is female then so is your body, regardless of chromosomes and genitalia. For anyone who disagrees with that, sex is determined by your body, you're either male, female or intersex, and the concept of a gendered brain is seen as regressive. There is no such thing as a female penis, and no man has a uterus.

TERFs

The term TERF is being applied to anybody who questions the left's version of sex and gender, but primarily it is used on women.

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It is claimed to be an acronym for 'trans exclusionary radical feminist' and simply a descriptor for any woman who does not consider a trans woman to be a 'real' woman, however any quick search will find that it is used for any woman regardless of whether they're politically aligned with radical feminism.

Any person decreed a TERF is immediately subject to vitriol from some members of the trans and liberal communities. The vitriol can reach as far as death threats, and women are the primary victims of this abuse. Until recently, any such trolling of women has been considered to be socially unacceptable, but it would appear times are changing.

Owen Jones

In a recent blog post, Guardian columnist and author #Owen Jones described the #Abuse Of Women who don't agree with the left's take on gender as "understandable, even if the abuse is unsavoury."

Considering the violence of these comments I would suggest that they should neither be considered "understandable" nor "unsavoury." Instead they should be seen for what they are and anyone speaking this way about a group of women should be condemned, and anyone who targets a woman specifically with threats of death and violence should be considered a danger, regardless of the woman's politics.

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Any efforts to justify or normalise this abuse is an effort to silence woman and make violence socially acceptable.

Can it be justified?

Those in the trans and liberal communities argue that because these women seek to exclude trans women from their "safe spaces", the anger is justified. Trans-women are women and shouldn't need to do anything to justify why they should use the changing rooms, hospital rooms, prison rooms and rape shelters of biological women. Anything else is exclusionary and cruel, and as people who are transgendered have a higher rate of suicide than people who are not transgendered, it is dangerous to exclude them. A woman is a woman if she feels like one, if her brain is female gendered, and nothing else matters.

For others, people who are fully male bodied have no rights to be naked around vulnerable women and girls, and spaces are segregated by sex for a reason. The idea that being a woman means nothing more than having a gendered brain erases the life experiences of women, and diminishes being a woman down to favouring the colour pink over blue, and enjoying the wearing of dresses and frills.

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They argue that if transwomen do not feel comfortable being vulnerable around men then they should create their own spaces, rather than walk into those that women already fought for.

For me there is no justification. Whether you believe in pink and blue brains or not, there is no reason threats of violence, rape and murder are ever acceptable. For a man to tell people that speaking this way to women is "understandable" is disrespectful in the extreme and puts more women at risk of acts of aggression.