Feminists in Struggle (FIST), a national feminist organization, denounces the subjugation of female rights to those of transgender rights in the executive order signed by President Biden on his first day in office.
Women’s rights are included in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and Title IX of the Educational Amendments Act because female people have been and continue to be discriminated against on the basis of our sex. We are disadvantaged in employment; we do not receive equal pay as compared to males for the same or comparable work; we are discriminated against in education and in sports. Indeed, females have long been treated in patriarchal societies as lesser human beings because of our sex. Every advance we have made has been on the basis of sex, NOT “gender identity.”
Of course, as feminists, we wholeheartedly agree that, “Every person should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear, no matter who they are or whom they love,” and that people should not be “fired, demoted or mistreated because of whom they go home to or because how they dress does not conform to sex-based stereotypes.” However, we cannot possibly achieve equal rights for everyone by taking away the rights of some, in order to enhance the rights of others. “Gender identity” should not be used as grounds for eroding the sex-based rights of those of us born female since we have not yet achieved full equality.
This executive order does just that, by erasing females as a distinct class of people who are still oppressed and discriminated against in our society based on our sex and in need of legal protection. We continue to need programs for women and girls under Title VII and Title IX to redress past wrongs and level the playing field, so that those of us born female have an equal opportunity to develop ourselves and pursue our dreams. We need female-only spaces and refuges for reasons of dignity, privacy, and safety, especially because male sexual and physical violence against women and girls remain pervasive. Therefore it is crucial that “sex” remains a distinct category and that it is not conflated with “gender identity.”
We demand an executive order and an Equality Act that will protect everyone’s rights and not pit one group’s rights against another’s. FIST’s legal committee has drafted a model bill that incorporates Feminist Amendments into the Equality Act. Our Feminist Amendments to the Equality Act preserve women’s sex-based rights including the right to female-only spaces and programs while adding strong prohibitions against discrimination based on sexual orientation and sex stereotyping, Such provisions will fully protect lesbians, gay men, bisexual individuals, those who identify as transgender, and all gender non-conforming people without weakening the rights of females.
In addition, President Biden can make great strides toward equality for half the population born female by instructing the archivist to publish the Equal Rights Amendment (already ratified by the requisite 38 states) into the U.S. Constitution. We urge that he do so immediately.