Perhaps in the last few days you’ve seen a video pop up on your Twitter feed of various plaster casts of vulvas. I certainly have. I didn’t initially click on them or mentally engage for the very good reason that I was in my office and assumed it was some anti-trans bullshit similar to the nutso people who spend hours zooming in on photos of people’s Adam’s apples to determine if they are cis or trans. Surprise, surprise, I was correct. But eventually I was lured into learning a little more about what was going on with said vulva casts because as much as I hate TERFs (trans-exclusionary radical feminists), I do delight in seeing them get absolutely dragged online.
So gather round and I’ll tell you how we got to the point where a TERF-y clit-advocate (advo-clit?) publicly solicited nudes from a famous porn star, and revealed herself to have fingered a dead corpse—all in the pursuit of her own bigotry!
Jessica Pin has, until now, made a career out of advocating for better understanding of vulvar anatomy, as well as speaking out against non-medically urgent labiaplasty. She’s been a guest on The Daily Show and been quoted in the New York Times—which is to say she isn’t just a completely obscure TERF we’re spotlighting for no reason. Pin herself had a labiaplasty at 18 to “fix” an “oversized” labia minora (quotes my own) she was shamed into believing was abnormal, and she now regrets it; in doing so, she lost most of her clitoral sensation. That unequivocally sucks! Vulvas come in as many variations as there are vulva-havers, and from this specific vantage point, Pin’s pursuit is noble. Pussies are unique, and by and large the medical field has overlooked their lovely intricacies.
But Pin has gone so far in championing the diversity of vulvas, she’s turned back in on herself and has gone viral for saying some vulvas shouldn’t count. She has, if I may, muff dived off the deep end. A video of artist Lydia Reeves’ plaster casts of vulvas came across her timeline and Pin decided to reach out to the artist to ask why some of the vulvas looked, in her words, “mutilated.” Reeves responded that she chose to include post-op trans vulvas, which then led Pin to tweet out a whole screed on why post-op trans vulvas should not be included in a video on vulva diversity. Yes, just to be clear: She is arguing that a certain kind of vulva should not be considered in a piece about vulva diversity. But that aside, this is a piece of artwork; Reeves can do literally whatever she wants in it, and is not beholden to Pin’s bigoted analysis. (For what it’s worth, Reeves has adamantly distanced herself from Pin, saying she “goes against everything [Reeves] stands for within [her] work.”)
Pin’s thread blew up, and users mocked her for circling the vulvas she determined through her dubious TERF lens to be “natural, normal” vulvas, versus trans vulvas. And thus the term “pussy phrenology” got coined, a phrase I value not for its meaning but for its ingenuity.
The maelstrom resurfaced a lot of Pin’s past behaviors, including a string of racist behavior and attacks against Black OBGYNs. In one instance, Pin presumed a medical artist had drawn a mutilated vulva because she was Nigerian. Not only is female genital mutilation illegal in Nigeria, the image was intended to focus on a Black fetus, not the pregnant person’s genitals (see video above.) Perhaps more surprising (because unfortunately being anti-trans and racist go hand in hand all too frequently) is that, to prove the G-spot is not an anatomical body part, Pin once fingered a cadaver, and also decided to disclose on Twitter that she had fingered a cadaver. Beyond baffling decision making, if you ask me! When a collective “what the fuck?” arose in her Twitter replies, she doubled down, writing, “inserting a finger into a cadaver to find out where the clitoral body is in relation to the vagina is not violation.” (Why then, I must ask, did her initial tweet say she did this “when no one was looking”?????)
At one point in the fracas this week, professional pornstar and cis woman, Electra Rayne, chimed in to say that one of the “mutilated” trans vulvas Pin was so concerned about actually looked a lot like Rayne’s own genitalia. “That looks a hell of a lot like mine and I was born with it!” she wrote. “It doesn’t. Look again. Look closer,” Pin responded. Rayne—who, again, is a pornstar—let Pin know she is both intimately and professionally acquainted with her own vulva and knows what it looks like. This then led Pin to publicly and over DMs request that Rayne send her images of her vulva, something that is widely available via a quick Google (as long as safe search is turned off).
I don’t know what point Pin was trying to make by soliciting photos of Rayne’s genitals, but I do know that Rayne made the salient point that Pin allegedly advocates for in her own career, which is that all vulvas are different. All of them! They’re like snowflakes! And that categorizing some vulvas as trans and some as cis is not only “pussy phrenology” but just categorically not possible when each pussy is as different as the day is long.
We’re witnessing this gross preoccupation with trans people’s genitals and bodies play out in regressive and harmful legislation across the country. Utah, South Dakota, and Mississippi have all banned gender-affirming care for trans youth; other states are set to do the same. Not only are these bills a threat to trans people’s existence, they falsely reduce the vast discrepancies in cis people’s bodies as well: Wyoming just passed a bill to keep trans kids out of sports that would determine their “eligibility based on physical characteristics for the age and gender group in a given gender‑designated interscholastic activity including height, weight.” Sorry tall cis girls; no soccer for you!
TERFs readily abandon the very people they claim they’re fighting for if those cis women don’t fit the narrow definition of what they believe a “real woman” to be; it’s almost as if there is no real substance to their argument.
Anyway, there you have it. TERFs laying everything on the line just to continually prove their bigotry. That is the long and snatch of it. Are you better off for having read all of this? Am I better off for having explained it all to you? Well, that’s a conclusion you have to come to yourself. In the meantime, remember to yell at your local pussy phrenologist.