AP Stylebook Recommends We Stop Saying ‘TERF’

The newswriting overlords have decreed that the term is "vague and politicized," which, honestly, sounds like something a TERF would say.

AP Stylebook Recommends We Stop Saying ‘TERF’
Photo:Getty (Getty Images)

AP Stylebook, a standard-bearer for many journalists that occasionally takes stances on things like the Oxford comma (against) and using acronyms like PB&J and BLT for sandwiches (pro), decided to weigh into the culture wars on Wednesday by coming out against using the term TERF to describe people like J.K. Rowling.

“On our updated Transgender Topical Guide: trans-exclusionary radical feminist,” they tweeted. “We recommend avoiding the vague and politicized term to describe cisgender women or others who object to the inclusion of transgender women in women’s spaces.”

AP’s puzzling stance and explanation—as TERF is actually a pretty clear and useful way to describe certain kind of woman with a certain kind of politics, in my opinion—immediately got ratio’d on Twitter because, frankly, it sounded like a TERF wrote it. In fact, the queen TERF did basically write it back in 2020, after she got her feelings hurt that anyone would challenge her right to use her massive platform to peddle transphobia.

Considering that trans people are under siege right now and fighting for their literal right to exist, it’s quite a time to decide you should step up and protect the feelings of the cis women who hate them. So in response to the styleguide dropping its TERFy new rule, the internet, you know, did its thing.

An open letter to AP Stylebook: We appreciate your tolerance of sandwich acronyms. We humbly disagree on the Oxford comma. We will absolutely continue to use the word TERF to describe women who are masquerading as feminists and gay allies while actively oppressing trans people. And we respectfully request that you turn your attention to more pressing issues, like headlines using the passive voice to describe police shootings, the vague and politicized term “groomers,” the deliberate misgendering of LGBTQ people in news stories, and major outlets using terms “racially tinged” and “racially charged” to avoid saying a thing was racist. Thanks!

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