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Don't Use 'TERF,' AP Stylebook Advises

Don't Use 'TERF,' AP Stylebook Advises

Anti-TERF protester

"Trans-exclusionary radical feminist" and "TERF" are "vague and politicized," says the widely used style guide.

The Associated Press wants no TERFs on its turf — the term, that is.

On the Twitter feed for the AP Stylebook, which is followed by many U.S. newspapers and other publications, the news service posted a message Wednesday that it had updated its guide to transgender topics and that it recommends publications no longer use the term “trans-exclusionary radical feminist” or its acronym, “TERF.” It also advised against using “gender-critical.”

“Avoid the vague and politicized terms trans-exclusionary radical feminist or its acronym, TERF, and gender-critical to describe cisgender women or others who object to the inclusion of transgender women in women’s spaces,” the update reads. “Instead, be specific about a person’s or group’s objections, and paraphrase quotations that use the terms unless needed for a compelling reason.”

There are some feminists who do not consider trans women to be women. J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, has often been called a TERF. However, many other feminists recognize trans women’s womanhood and support their inclusion in women’s spaces and the feminist movement in general.

The Advocate and other publications of our parent company, equalpride, do not follow the AP Stylebook. We instead have our own style guide, drawing on the AP, the Chicago Manual of Style, and other sources.

The AP Stylebook is generally trans-inclusive, advising respect for each person’s pronouns and avoidance of terms have come to be considered anti-trans slurs. The TERF announcement met with mixed reaction on Twitter. Some said TERF is an accurate description, and others pointed out that some women call themselves TERFs. A few said AP should advise against the usage of “cisgender,” which describes women who are not trans.

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