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In her recent article, “This is my TERF! Lesbian Feminists and the Stigmatization of Trans Women,” Worthen (2022) focuses on feminist lesbians and their alleged “anti-trans” and “trans-exclusionary” beliefs. Analyzing a subsample of ‘cis women’ from a larger online survey, Worthen examines whether feminist lesbians “express greater levels of negativity” toward transwomen than other women and whether there is “a relationship between feminist identity among lesbian cis women and the stigmatization of trans women”. Although Worthen reports finding a positive association between being a feminist lesbian and holding negative views towards transwomen, which she interprets as indicating that lesbian feminists hold more negative sentiments toward transwomen than other women, that is not what her results show. Notably, while this misinterpretation of findings is particularly egregious, mischaracterizations pervade Worthen’s article. Here, I correct these misrepresentations. I address Worthen’s use of ad hominem in lieu of logic and evidence. I also discuss differences between gender-critical feminism and what I call trans-activist feminism, drawing attention to the latter’s explicit prioritization of male inclusion in women’s provisions over female safety and psychological well-being. I show that, contrary to her interpretations, Worthen’s findings indicate that lesbians have significantly less ‘anti-trans [woman] sentiment’ than most other women and their non-lesbian feminist counterparts. I conclude by considering how we arrived at this socio-cultural situation, where feminists who believe that sex is biologically real and matters in some contexts are derided, their concerns are denounced as hateful, and flawed articles purporting to demonstrate feminist lesbians’ uniquely ‘anti-trans’ sentiment are published despite factual inaccuracies.


Author accepted manuscript version of an article published by Springer in Burt, C.H. Feminist Lesbians as Anti-Trans Villains: A Comment on Worthen and Elaboration. Sexuality & Culture (2022).

Available for download on Sunday, August 13, 2023