Posts to our blog page by Feminist Writer are the opinions of individual FIST members and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Feminists in Struggle organization. Official posts are authored by Feminist Struggle
California’s Democratic legislators – the same group that has been consistently incapable of voting to approve single payer universal healthcare for all its residents – is poised to approve an Orwellian piece of legislation, that requires, on the taxpayers’ dime, the repeated indoctrination of everyone in the medical or mental health profession through “cultural competency training” for the stated purpose of providing “trans-inclusive healthcare.” This bill, California Senate Bill 923, introduced by Senator Scott Wiener, SD 11, must be defeated.
While “trans-inclusive healthcare” sounds benign, what it means is indoctrination in sex denialism – the conflation of sex and gender, and the idea that sex doesn’t exist or has no significance and must be overridden by subjective “gender identity.” It also means promoting “gender affirming services” -the medicalization of gender non-conformity or the idea that the body is “wrong” and must be modified through the ingestion of hormones and multiple surgeries if the personality fails to “match” sex stereotypes of how men and women, boys and girls, are supposed to act and behave, and who they are supposed to love.
The new acronym of groups for whose benefit this training is supposed to be conducted is “TGI” – “individuals who identify as transgender, gender non-conforming, or intersex.” The “LGB” is gone from this acronym, subsumed no doubt in “transgender” and “gender non-conforming”, as indeed, medicalization often means “transing away the gay.” The promoted “gender affirming services” include “feminizing mammoplasty, male chest reconstruction, mastectomy, facial feminization surgery, hysterectomy, oophorectomy, penectomy, orchiectomy, feminizing genitoplasty, metoidioplasty, palloplasty, scrotoplasty, voice masculinization or feminization” as well as hormone therapy. Somehow, stopping children’s puberty, giving “wrong sex” hormones, removing healthy body parts of minors and adults alike, and rendering sterile those who do not conform to sex stereotypes is promoted as “progressive” rather than recognized as the 1950’s style sexism and homophobia that it truly is. And the medical and mental health profession is to be indoctrinated into this “treatment” with no dissenters or alternative non -invasive approaches to gender-role non-compliance and bodily unhappiness allowed.
The curriculum for this training is not being established by a representative group of gender non-conforming people, as many lesbians and feminists are gender non-conforming without denying their sex but whose perspective is uniformly disregarded. Rather, it is a state recognized group of gender identity ideologues called the California Transgender Advisory Council made up of such organizations as Transgender Law Center, California TRANScends, and Equality California, the last the result of the forced marriage between the “LGB” and the “TQ”, in which gender identity ideology overrides everything else.
Also unheard are the growing ranks of de-transitioners, mostly females and mostly lesbians, who are rejecting their “transition” and the medicalization of their non-compliance with sex stereotypes and have come to accept their bodies, their gender non-conformity, and/or their homosexuality.
Health practitioners in California will instead be “trained” in using “TGI-inclusive” terminology including “correct names and pronouns,” and instructed to avoid “making assumptions about gender identity by using gender neutral language.” And the consequences for not complying can be dire. If there is a complaint or grievance filed and a decision made in favor of the complainant, the practitioner may not only be subjected to submitting to another “training” but can have her or his name publicly posted by regulatory boards. The bill provides that a willful violation of these requirements by a health care plan would be a crime. We can just imagine how long health practitioners would be able remain in business and on referral lists for non-compliance.
Biological sex is highly relevant to health care. Our patriarchal medical system has long ignored the specific bodily needs of women and important physical differences between the sexes beyond obvious difference in reproductive organs. According to Sarah L. Berga, MD, Wake Forest Baptist Health’s chair of obstetrics and gynecology and Vice President for Women’s Health Service, in an article entitled, Medicine Looking Deeper into Vital Differences Between Women and Men, “We’re beginning to truly understand how men and women differ in very fundamental ways and how these differences affect disease risk, symptoms, diagnostic sensitivity and specificity, and responses to therapy.” Women have traditionally been excluded from clinical trials and treated as merely smaller men, to our detriment. Should SB 923, become law, will medical practitioners be penalized for recognizing the sex of their patients?
It is ironic that when other countries such as liberal Sweden and the UK are beginning to question the “affirmative care” medical model for addressing gender non-conformity and especially questioning the gender transitioning of children as in “Swedish U-Turn on Gender Transitioning for Children”, that California is trying to silence all dissenters.
The solution to gender unhappiness is not engaging in extreme body modification, that only profits the pharmaceutical industry and cosmetic surgeons. There is nothing wrong with being female or being gender non-conforming or lesbian or gay that requires “fixing the body.” Rather it is our society, not our bodies, that is in need of repair. As one female detransitioner put it:
For eight years I had thought I was transgender…the only way I had known to process the frightening, uncomfortable or disempowering aspects of being a woman had been to escape womanhood and see myself as something else…It’s been four years since I re-identified as a woman. My gender dysphoria was real and often painful, but the way for me to resolve it wasn’t by becoming a man. It was by questioning and rejecting the stories society had told me about what it means to be a woman.
There are a number of professional organizations opposing this bill, among them the American College of Pediatricians, the California Chapter American College of Cardiology, the California Rheumatology Alliance, and the International Federation for Therapeutic and Counselling Choice. Please help defeat SB 923 and join FIST in the struggle for women’s liberation from the tyranny of gender ideology and medical malpractice masquerading as “affirmative care” by contacting the members of the Appropriations Committee and demanding they vote NO.
In recognition of AGP Awareness Day today, we wish to share with you an informative video about this disturbing phenomenon. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, AGP stands for autogynophile, a cross-dressing, heterosexual man who is sexually aroused by wearing women’s clothing and being seen as a woman. It is estimated that 80% of trans-identified males are autogynephiles, while only 20% are estimated to be “gender dysphoric.” Women’s and girls’ rights and protections are being systematically dismantled and our safe spaces invaded by AGP males in the name of “inclusiveness” and “equity.” This video reveals what AGP really is: a sexual fetish.
During World War I, Alice Paul and her sister suffragists called out the hypocrisy of President Wilson and the US government in denying the rights of women at home while claiming to be fighting a war for freedom and democracy abroad.
So little has changed. President Biden is beating the drums of war, proposes an unprecedented $770 billion dollar military budget, and risks nuclear confrontation between the great powers, all in the name of “freedom” and “democracy.” Meanwhile, women in the U.S., who make up a majority of the poor, are denied housing, health care, equal pay, and accessible, affordable childcare. Even the pandemic-related child tax credit program that provided government relief to low-income families has been allowed to expire. We are poised to lose Roe vs. Wade, which will have a devastating effect on women’s freedoms with little action from the White House.
Biden has also failed to take the simple step of instructing the archivist to publish the Equal Rights Amendment already approved by the requisite 38 States, which would put women’s sex-based protections into the Constitution. His administration is thus undemocratically depriving us of a crucial tool to challenge our continued second-class status as a sex.
Those who are familiar with the history of U.S. wars abroad over the past century, have long known that U.S. foreign policy has everything to do with oil and empire and not a scintilla to do with democracy. Our military-industrial complex is a destructive money-making machine; it is the epitome of patriarchy in action, fighting to maintain status as the biggest bully on the block with no regard for human beings or their rights. Our government has repeatedly spearheaded the overthrow of democratically elected governments from Chile to Guatemala to Iran, rained untold destruction on Vietnam to prevent the people there from determining their own future, and currently counts as its closest allies (and arms to the teeth) the military dictatorship of Egypt, the religious fundamentalist sexual apartheid Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the ethnic apartheid regime of Israel. The decades-long occupation of Afghanistan not only failed to liberate the women there from the Taliban, but instead murdered 71,000 civilians, mostly women and children, and after the U.S. finally withdrew its troops, the imposition of murderous sanctions is now threatening the civilian population with mass starvation.
We must call out this hypocrisy today loudly and clearly, just as Alice Paul did more than a century ago. Fortunately, women around the globe are recognizing that war is not in our interests. Medea Benjamin of the women-led organization Code Pink, long a voice of the U.S. peace movement, has been speaking out against the threat of war with Russia over Ukraine, as well as demanding diplomacy and an end to NATO expansion.
On February 15th a group of women from the United States and Russia released a joint statement, “Independent American and Russian Women Call For Peace” raising their voices against militarism and war and calling for diplomacy and peace. They wrote:
“We are women from the United States and Russia who are deeply concerned about the risk of possible war between our two countries, who together possess over 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons. We are mothers, daughters, grandmothers, and we are sisters, one to another. Today we stand with our sisters in Ukraine, East and West, whose families and country have been torn apart, have already suffered more than 14,000 deaths…For the U.S. and Russia, the only sane and humane course of action now is a principled commitment to clear, creative and persistent diplomacy – not military action…We stand together and we call for peace. Stand with us.”
Thank you, sisters!
We’ve already tackled Mary Wollstonecraft and Simone de Beauvior, saw two great films, one on Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, “Not for Ourselves Alone,” and “The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter”, an outstanding film on the women who went to work in the factories during WWII, and are moving into discussing the founding documents of the Second Wave. If you missed signing up by the deadline and would like to join us for consciousness raising and stimulating discussion as we learn our history, just fill out the “Contact Us” form at feministstruggle.org and specify that you would like to register for the series and we will make the arrangements.
At the FIST forum on abortion rights last week we heard from Merle Hoffman, founder and CEO of Choices Women’s Medical Center in NY, that clinics can register with various abortion funds to serve women who cannot afford the procedure or need to travel long distances to obtain the care they need. The severe restrictions in Texas have increased the need for donations to abortion funds. Choices has already served more than a dozen women from Texas. With sheer grit, abortion funds persist in the state despite the vigilante law that encourages citizens to turn in anyone helping a woman get an abortion after 6 weeks of pregnancy.
The National Women’s Law Center has identified the following groups already on the ground helping to keep access to abortion in Texas. We encourage donations.
- Bridge Collective – abortion fund in Central Texas.
- West Fund – abortion fund serving West Texas and New Mexico.
- Frontera Fund – abortion fund serving the Rio Grande Valley.
- Buckle Bunnies Fund – mutual aid organization for Texans who need abortions.
- Texas Equal Access Fund https://teafund.org/ – abortion fund for Texans.
- Fund Texas Choice – fund to cover transportation costs in Texas.
- The Afiya Center – includes an abortion fund centering Black women and girls in Texas.
- Lilith Fund – abortion fund for Texans.
- Clinic Access Support Network – abortion fund for women who need abortions in the Houston area.
- Keep Our Clinics – support for independent abortion clinics.
- Jane’s Due Process – helps young Texans navigate parental consent laws to access abortion.
For those feminists and allies involved in the year-long defense of the Georgia Green Party for its gender critical feminist positions (endorsement of the Declaration on Women’s Sex-Based Rights and FIST’s Feminist Amendments to the Equality Act), the overwhelming vote by the National Committee of the Green Party to revoke the accreditation of Georgia (119 yes, 17 no and 6 abstentions) was extremely disheartening.
So were the undemocratic, even Orwellian, tactics used against Georgia and its supporters: guilt by association and constant smears and name-calling (“Bigots”, “fascists”, “transphobes”, “transmisic”, “supporters of the Proud Boys, etc.) directed at life-long socialists, peace activists, union leaders, and Greens who raised even the slightest questions or mild disagreement with gender identity ideology. This created an atmosphere of fear and intimidation, making others afraid to speak out. There was also a complete refusal to follow democratic process: the Georgia Party was deprived of the ability to properly defend itself, cross-examine witnesses, or present evidence to the Accreditations Committee, which was stacked with members and supporters of the Lavender Caucus, the complainant in the case. The Secretary of the Georgia Party was even excluded from the Zoom hearing room when the LC provided testimony against Georgia. Members of the National Committee that took Georgia’s side were silenced by biased moderators or removed from the NC before the vote.
But there was also great courage and fortitude shown by defenders of Georgia, who met weekly on Zoom in what we called our “war room” to collectively plan strategy. These include dozens of women and men who came out of the woodwork to contact us from all over the country. One example of such courage was the sole dissenter on the Accreditations Committee, won over during the course of the struggle. He wrote a scathing minority report which the AC attempted to suppress, though we were nonetheless able to get into NC hands. This brave individual was one of the people removed from his NC position, even though he had months left to serve out his term.
Georgia and its allies produced a voluminous amount of evidence and arguments in defense of gender critical feminist politics, including video-taped testimony from Hilla Kerner of Vancouver Rape Relief, Amparo Domingo from Women’s Human Rights Campaign, and by two trans-identified females who have been outspoken in opposition to child “transition.” This evidence was mostly ignored with the TRAs proclaiming “there is no debate.” The evidence can be found on the Dialogue Not Expulsion website. https://www.dialoguenotexpulsion.org/nlc-vs-ggp/pleadings.
How could this happen in a Party that claims support for grassroots democracy and feminism and seeks to create a just society? What does this mean for the future of “the Left”? And where do we go from here?
First, it should be recognized that gender identity ideology and the “cancel culture” that is imposing these misogynistic and individualistic ideas through authoritarian means, is not the product of a genuine independent radical or socialist left. Rather, it is thoroughly “establishment,” arising from a patriarchal neo-liberal capitalist order, into which the tiny weak Left has been unfortunately fully assimilated. This ideology has been promoted by the corporate-run Democratic Party, including by the Biden Administration (who is fine with killing the ERA while instituting gender identity nationally through his executive orders), and by private corporations, state legislatures, the courts, and even the Pentagon.
This form of “identity politics” on steroids, branded by corporate trainers as “diversity, equity and inclusion,” keeps people divided and focused on etiquette, language, tokenism, and on constructing individual and small group identities at no cost to the system. Not only does it ignore sex-based oppression now overridden by “gender identity,” it does virtually nothing for Black people, people with disabilities, immigrants, lesbians, or gay men (also defined out of existence) or other truly disadvantaged and oppressed groups nor for working people as a whole, facing increasing levels of impoverishment and homelessness. It is both a highly profitable endeavor (keeping women down and making profits for Big Pharma) and a fraudulent substitute for grassroots organizing and mass struggle like the ones that won women the vote, dismantled Jim Crow, and legalized abortion, movements capable of presenting real challenges to political structures of oppression and creating genuine systemic change.
Second, we are living through a period of deep backlash against the gains of Second and even First Wave Feminism. The existence of a Third or Fourth Wave is a myth. Instead, what has been called feminist waves is mostly backlash, and at best, no more than a small ripple. That backlash in the U.S. has two faces – that of the female and lesbian and gay erasure of the transgender “movement;” and the attacks on abortion rights and lesbian and gay rights coming from the Christian Right. Both faces pose extreme dangers to our sex. In the late 1960’s, Robin Morgan wrote an essay, “Goodbye to all that” about the sexism of the Left of that time. But the rise of the Second Wave changed that dynamic, made the Left, though imperfectly, a far friendlier place for feminism. Sadly, that has changed once again as a result of this backlash as can be seen in the U.S. Green Party.
Third, we need to create a gender critical pro-feminist Left, that can become a political home for those betrayed by the two corporate parties and now the leadership of the Green Party. Veterans of the Georgia Green Party struggle are already moving in that direction with the formation of the Green Alliance for Sex-Based Rights (GASBR), under a majority female/feminist leadership. There can be no Left worthy of the name, one that can effectively fight against war, for housing and healthcare, to end poverty, or to save the environment from the unfolding disaster of global warming, except under the leadership of conscious feminist women.
Finally, and most importantly, we must build our independent women’s liberation movement. Feminists in Struggle is part of that effort as are other groups such as the Women’s Human Rights Campaign. Our job, in a nutshell, is to turn this feminist ripple into a real wave for our sex.
Here is the letter FIST submitted on June 11, 2021 to the Department of Justice to support preservation of sex based rights of women and girls under Title IX: Written Comment: Title IX Public Hearing (gender identity and rights of women and girls).
Feminists in Struggle (“FIST”) is a women’s liberation organization focused on protecting the rights and advancing the interests of women. We are concerned that Executive Order 13988 will be interpreted and applied in such a way as to disadvantage women and girls as a sex in academic environments. Although the rights of transgender-identifying males do not need to infringe on the rights of girls and women, when gender identity and sex are conflated and gender identity is allowed to override or supplant sex, the two are in conflict. Since the objective of Title IX is to advance the status of those oppressed on the basis of their sex (i.e. women), FIST advocates an application of the Executive Order that does not compromise this objective. Our recommendation for fulfilling the directives of the Executive Order is as follows:
Sex-separated sports must remain an option for all students. This means that all students have the option to compete against only members of their own biological sex. Membership in these sports groups should not be attained by identifying as transgender or non-binary. The OCR should also direct schools to create co-ed sports groups and opportunities that are opt-in for students. This application of the Executive Order has many advantages that the previous applications of similar directives (the Obama Administration’s Dear Colleague letter of 2016) lack.
First, such a policy would preserve fairness in women’s sports. The differences between the physical capabilities of males and females are multifarious. On average, women have smaller bodies, less maximum oxygen consumption, smaller and shorter bones, and a lower ratio of muscle mass to body weight. As a result of these physical differences, among many others, men are almost always faster and stronger than women within their peer group, while women have greater balance, flexibility, and endurance than their male peers. Under the Dear Colleague guidance of 2016, sports did not remain sex-separated, and transgender identifying male students were allowed to compete against female students. They exploited their natural biological advantages in strength, speed, and size to claim prizes that would have otherwise been won by female students. Female students missed out on qualifying spots for higher competitions, chances to compete in front of college recruiters, and scholarship opportunities. In contact sports such as soccer and wrestling, the safety of female students is compromised in addition to fairness, as women are lighter and weaker than their male counterparts and more prone to musculoskeletal injuries. Female-only teams are also important because women and girls still have less opportunity to participate in sports and develop their potential as compared to their male counterparts. By preserving sex-separated sports as an option for all students, this application of Executive Order 13988 will preserve fairness and safety for female students, which should be a guiding principle for Title IX.
The creation of opt-in co-ed sports groups will also have many benefits. For one, it will reduce the “othering” of trans-identifying students and create a positive social environment in which they can compete. Because all participation is voluntary and open, the value of fairness is not an expectation in these sports groups, so it is not compromised by the presence of individuals of either sex. When the presence of trans-identifying male athletes is no longer a threat to sporting values such as fairness and safety, they can more freely enjoy the social, emotional, and physical benefits of sports.
FIST also suggests that the Executive Order be applied in such a way that maintains female students’ right to sex-separated spaces such as restrooms and changing rooms where women and girls are in a state of undress and need their privacy and safety protected. Male children are more likely to engage in unprovoked physical aggression than are female children, and male people overall commit the majority of sex crimes, including rape. Victims of sex crimes are largely female. The data available regarding the crime rate for trans-identifying males is limited, but the data that does exist shows that such males commit these crimes at the same rate as other males (i.e. retain a pattern of male criminality). Because of these factors, sex-separated spaces play a key role in preventing sexual assault and harassment in schools, which is a primary objective of Title IX.
FIST recommends that girls continue to have access to female-only restrooms, and that all students including trans-identifying individuals, have access to a gender-neutral restroom. This application of Executive Order 13988 will reduce sexual harassment of trans-identifying students while also protecting the privacy and safety of female students.
In the event that the OCR chooses not to follow FIST’s recommendation on the application of Executive Order 13988, it is imperative that data be collected on the results of this change. FIST demands that the impact on female students be measured. Data such as female participation rates in sports, as well as the number of prizes collected by trans-identifying males competing in female sporting events, should be gathered. Incidents of sexual assault and harassment in schools should be collected and aggregated by place of assault, sex of victim and perpetrator, and gender identity (if any) of victim and perpetrator. Surveys should also be conducted to determine whether female students’ attitude towards the school or sporting environment have changed, particularly female students’ feelings about their own safety within school and fairness within their sports. This data is important public health information that can be used to guide policy in the future.
Feminists in Struggle
June 11, 2021
Why do women still need the ERA? Won’t the placing of the word “sex” in the U.S. Constitution and providing for legal equality between the sexes just be used against us and provide no real benefit? Some, like our sisters in WoLF, think so. We think they are dead wrong on this one.
First we need to understand our past. The eagerness and utter blindness in which so many progressives have betrayed their principles and sold out the interests of women and girls in favor of a sex-denying gender identity ideology is not unprecedented in history. After the Civil War, the Abolitionist movement, the male comrades of the early suffragists and First Wave feminists betrayed their sisters by insisting that women, both Black and White, wait for our rights, and that only Black males should have their rights recognized. They ended up putting the word “male” in the Constitution for the first time, in the Fourteenth Amendment. Women were now explicitly non-citizens.
This split the movement, weakened both the feminist and anti-racist struggles, and led to some feminists incorporating racist ideology into their campaigns and for the first time opposing universal suffrage. This betrayal also delayed the victory for women’s suffrage until 1920. But, guess what, the word “male” is still in the Fourteenth Amendment, the Amendment that provides due process and equal protection of the laws. The Equal Rights Amendment is in part about a long overdue correction, to treat sex discrimination with the same seriousness and status as race discrimination under the highest law of the land, the U.S. Constitution.
Race and national origin discrimination claims benefit from what is called “strict scrutiny”–it is far easier under the Fourteenth Amendment to challenge discriminatory laws and practices based on race than on sex–and to do so everywhere in the country. And women still suffer from a ton of such practices. One of the biggest aspect of female oppression is we are poor and grossly underpaid. Poverty means that women often are forced to stay with abusive male partners or are vulnerable to being prostituted in order for them and their children to survive. We still have a largely sex-segregated workplace, with “men’s” jobs having higher status and pay. Women who entered the trades in the late 1970’s, were forced out a few years later largely as a result of sexual harassment. White women who work full-time earn 78 cents to every dollar a man earns. For women of color it is far less. Women are over 62% of minimum wage workers.
And even in female-dominated professions, men make more than women do, with women nurses paid 10% less than the males, and women lawyers earning 83 cents on the dollar compared to their male colleagues. While we have laws against discrimination in employment and wage discrimination they have loopholes or may not be enforced. And these laws could be weakened or repealed at any time. A Constitutional Amendment has much more staying power.
Or take pregnant women workers. Despite the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, pregnant women, especially those in low paid physically demanding jobs, are routinely fired or forced off the job. They are treated far worse than employees covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act suffering from a variety of medical conditions. Putting sex in the U.S. Constitution would make it far easier for those women to make their case.
The Equal Rights Amendment would give women an additional hook to challenge male violence against women in the universities and in the military. And women being denied access to contraception could challenge the double standard that allows Hobby Lobby to refuse to cover contraception while covering Viagra. And can it not be argued that it is sex discrimination for vasectomies to be perfectly legal and funded while abortion is not funded and instead even treated as a crime as many states are trying to do?
But what of the downside, that women-only spaces and programs might be eliminated? First, this is already happening under Title IX and in other areas of civil rights law, and through regulation, without the ERA. Should we then repeal Title IX or Title VII because the sex discrimination provisions can be used to eliminate the separate spaces and programs that women need? No, we need to fight against the use of “gender identity” to remove sex-based rights and we need to do so with or without the ERA.
Strict scrutiny doesn’t mean no distinction is possible. There is extensive case law holding that distinctions meant to address past discrimination of a historically disadvantaged group are allowed, or where there is a compelling reason to treat the groups differently. Female-only spaces and programs, including women-only scholarships, colleges, shelters, clinics, and training programs have compelling reasons justifying them, based on privacy, male violence, addressing past discrimination and other grounds. Same goes for women’s sports programs. The fight to defend affirmative action, for example, has been going on for decades and this is an area where men of color and women’s interests as a sex coincide.
It is quite telling that President Biden is all-in for eroding sex-based rights through support for an un-amended Equality Act and issuing Executive Orders that would have gender identity override sex, but can’t manage to tell the Archivist to publish the ERA. Women must expect and demand more.
It has been nearly one hundred years since the first version of the ERA was introduced in Congress in 1923 as the Lucretia Mott Amendment. A century is too long to wait for equal rights based on sex under the Constitution. EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT NOW!