These days TERFs are largely to be ignored. An increasingly fanatical group of haters desperately trying to convince anyone stupid enough to listen to them that they represent either
a) all feminists or
b) all women
when in fact they represent only a minute fraction of either. A small number of bigots who shout a lot and have a lot of sock puppet social media accounts.
However the huge amount of noise and vitriol poured out over the suicide of Leelah Alcorn was somewhat unexpected, after all these people may be fanatics but I refuse to believe that some of them are not so dumb as to to think being seen to dance on the grave of a teenage suicide victim is a PR disaster. Some TERFs have been suggesting that her suicide note should not have been published, despite it being deliberately published on her Tumblr by Leelah with her explicit wish that the world take notice. Only TERFs would try and silence a trans girl in death. Some TERFs have deliberately misgendered her, as have her parents, despite her explicit wish to be remembered as a girl. Other TERFs tried to jump to the defence of her parents, suggesting that no parents are perfect and that trans people have been "gleefully" criticising them. For anyone to have such a wilful lack of understanding of how the trans community is feeling right now is, quite literally breathtaking. I think some of these people may be on the verge of needing professional help.
This sickening vitriol and hatred has surprised even hardened TERF-watchers, but there is a reason for it.
The cause of Leelah's suicide is clearly the 'Christian' treatment meted out to her by so-called 'Christian' healers. This is another word for talking therapies or "conversion therapy". Conversion therapy was an experiment carried out by a group of either quack practitioners or very right-wing psychologists in some parts of North America. It was used in the latter part of the 20th century as a supposed 'cure' for being gay. It is neither based on any valid psychological theory nor has it had any degree of "success" in turning people straight. All that has happened is that it produced lots depressed and suicidal gay and lesbian people.
This "treatment" is however still used to try and "cure" trans children, in some instances by psychologists but mostly now by quack 'Christian' therapists working on behalf of parents who want their children to be heterosexual and cisgender. Despite its 0% success rate and 100% harm rate, there are still people out there who will try and use the Bible to force trans people to be cisgender. Transphobia is alive and kicking in some communities.
The problem is that therapies similar to those which caused the death of Leelah Alcorn have been advocated in much of TERF literature since the 1970s, it is their only answer to the "problem" of the existence of trans people. This kind of TERF equivalent of 'Christian' conversion therapy is their only answer to trans people. TERFs want trans women to be men, they want us to stay in our boxes, it is apparently part of their ideology of "de-gendering" (yes I know that doesn't make sense). If Conversion therapy is shown to fail, especially to fail with trans people, then they have no mode of action left in the face of growing numbers of openly trans people, other than the abuse, harassment and doxxing that is so common by those who describe themselves as "gender critical".
The problem is that I know that some TERFs have recently engaged in their own kind of conversion therapy with at least one trans woman. I suspect many more than that. What happened to Leelah is what TERFs want to happen to all trans children, indeed all trans people. "Stay in your boxes, shut up and die quietly if necessary." The reason they protest too much is because they are attempting to do to trans people what Leelah's "therapists" did to her. "Be cis or die!" is their answer to the existence of trans people. The fact that TERFs are prepared to risk the lives and/or mental health of trans people in order to preserve their ideology of hate, to rid themselves of an inconvenient group of people is scary, but let's face it, they have no other option. In order to justify their hate they have to have an "answer" to the "problem" of trans people's existence. These kind of therapies represent their only possible answer, Leelah's death shows that their answer doesn't work.
They are protesting too much not merely because Leelah's death highlights the failure of these methods and their obvious dangers but also because at least some of them have guilty consciences themselves, having tried this on trans people.
Rest in peace Leelah. :-(