Culture

Bipartisan Women’s Rights Groups Protest the Equality Act

A bathroom sign welcomes both genders in Durham, N.C., May 3, 2016. (Jonathan Drake/REUTERS)
This new act is likely to pass, and bodes more harm than good for women and children.

The Equality Act — which would amend civil-rights legislation to explicitly include “gender identity” as a protected characteristic and mandate all federally funded entities to interpret sex as “gender identity”– is on the House’s agenda. It will likely pass.

“Gender identity” is the gender or sex one feels oneself to be. Perhaps because of the ideology’s internal incoherence, the ramifications of legally enshrined “gender identity” are poorly understood. Media spin, activist “studies,” pseudoscience, and the conflation of “gender identity” with sex and sexual orientation have confused the matter.

What are the connotations of the phrase “gender identity,” which the Equality Act would enshrine in the U.S. Code? To a conservative, it might mean something vague relating to bathrooms and pronouns. To a liberal, it might imply opposition to bigotry. But there is a growing movement, spanning left and right, of people who understand that gender-identity ideology poses harmful consequences for women and children. They are now putting aside their political differences and joining forces.

With debate over the Equality Act looming, two groups held events in Washington, D.C., last weekend. The first, “Women Stand Up,” was organized by members of Standing for Women, along with other bipartisan women’s- and lesbian-rights groups across Britain and North America. The second, “The Inequality of the Equality Act: Concerns from the Left,” was put on by the Heritage Foundation.

Kara Danksy, a board member of the radical-feminist organization Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF) explained the policy minefield. After the Department of Education, under President Obama, decided that “sex” as defined in Title IX’s anti-discrimination provisions should include “gender identity,” the Trump administration rolled back its guidelines. This has muddied the waters for schools and colleges, with everyone unsure of the proper protocol.

Since then, some trans-identifying pupils have sued their schools for not granting them access to opposite-sex bathrooms, while female pupils have sued their schools because they want sex-segregated bathrooms. Dansky hopes that the latter will appear before the Supreme Court, which could help clarify this question.

The Equality Act, however, would be an “unmitigated disaster,” says Dansky:

If we construe the word sex to mean gender identity, what we are saying is that women and girls do not exist as a category worthy of civil-rights protection. Feminists have been fighting for hundreds of years in this country and for thousands of years in other places to fight for the rights of women and girls in many arenas but, for my purposes, in the legal and policy arenas. And we have made really, really important wins. And I do not want to see those pulled back.

Across Britain and North America, trans activists are successfully overriding the legal and policy protections for women, emboldened by widespread confusion. Last year, the United Kingdom had its own version of the kerfuffle with a nationwide debate over proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA). If reformed, the GRA would allow a person to change his legal gender simply by filling out a form.

Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull, co-organizer of “Women Stand Up” and Standing for Women, funded a billboard campaign to spread a dictionary definition of “woman” (“an adult human female”). But when trans activists complained, the billboard company removed the billboards and its owner said his company had been “misled” about them.

The dictionary entry was also banned from appearing on buses in Edinburgh after the company explained it was “likely to offend” the general public. A recent press release on free sanitary products from the Scottish government did not mention the word “woman, “women” or “girl.” Words like “menstruators,” “pregnant people,” and “chestfeeding” are cropping up elsewhere. This, says Keen-Minshull, is misogynistic.

Standing for Women focus their efforts at the grassroots and encourage women to speak out in their local communities and to remind the public what the definition of a woman is. Their latest campaign involved draping statues of famous women around the U.K. in T-shirts with the same definition. Trans activists deemed this “transphobic.” Pink News, a pro-trans website, inaccurately described the statues as having been “defaced.”

For their efforts, such women face censorship and smears. On the panel of “Women Stand Up” was Canadian feminist Meghan Murphy, who was kicked off of Twitter for stating that a male sex offender (who identifies as female) is male. And when Keen-Minshull tweeted that a child sex-change advocate had “castrated” her 16-year-old son when she took him to Thailand for a now illegal sex-change operation, she was investigated by the police on suspicion of “hate speech” and told she would be arrested if she left the country.

At the event, Keen-Minshull urged the mostly American and female audience to cherish and make use of their constitutionally protected free speech — and to oppose laws which undermine women’s sex-based rights. Women and children depend on it.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article referred to Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull as “Kelly-Ann” Keen-Minshull. It has been corrected.

Madeleine Kearns — Madeleine Kearns is a William F. Buckley Fellow in Political Journalism at the National Review Institute. She is from Glasgow, Scotland, and is a trained singer.