On April 1, 2022, the Nobel Prize Committee introduced a new category for its literature prize: the “Non-TERF Division.” In explaining the award, the Norwegian Nobel Committee wrote, “At this point, it seems almost inevitable that the authors of mediocre fiction turn out to be transphobic assholes […] the purpose of this award is to recognize those who somehow manage to write a popular novel without eventually revealing themselves to be TERFs.”
Indeed, trans-exclusionary radical feminists (TERFs) have an unfortunate knack for writing popular fiction. While perfectly capable of inventing whole new imaginary worlds, they find themselves utterly incapable of understanding that gender is a social construct. Perhaps the most famous example of this is J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series – flying cars are well within the limits of her imagination, but Rowling just can’t wrap her head around the fact that trans women are women.
McGill student Sam J. Wilson expressed disappointment that the division even had to be created. “Don’t get me wrong, I hate TERFs,” they said, “but it’s concerning that the Nobel committee had to incentivize being a decent human being so authors would feel less inclined to be pieces of shit.” Likewise, Professor Angela Bramble said they felt surprised and betrayed when their favourite authors were disqualified from the Non-TERF Division: “It’s absolutely astonishing. I mean, if we can’t trust liberal white women to be steadfast advocates for complete liberation from the patriarchy, who can we trust?” Fortunately for McGill students, we have an advocate for trans rights in our principal, Big Suze.
Author and notable uterus-haver Margaret Atwood spoke out against the Non-TERF Division. While Atwood is happy to take the brave stance that women should have the same legal status as men – her dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale imagines a world in which women are second-class citizens, making the bold claim that gender inequality is indeed bad – her impressively progressive ideals end there. “One day you’re being asked to use the correct name and pronouns for someone, and the next you’re told to refrain from promoting hateful writing to your millions of Twitter followers; it’s absolute tyranny,” she said in an interview with L’Oignon. “I really think we just need to find a middle ground between basic decency and violent transphobia. Maybe, like, one in three people could invalidate strangers’ gender identity for no reason? That seems fair.”
The Daily reached out to Atwood for comment on this matter, but she declined, writing, “The McGill Daily editorial board is composed of a bunch of crazy anarchist hippies. As a staunch proponent of the Golden Mean Fallacy, I have no interest in speaking with you tyrants.” We would rebut this claim, but she’s not wrong.
If you want to read some quality literature that’s not written by despicable human beings, check out Verso Books’ Feminist Classics, Haymarket Books’ Feminism and Gender collection, n+1’s “A Women’s Strike Reading List,” and Noname Book Club’s monthly picks.