DON’T MOURN, ORGANIZE!

With the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, we’ve lost an outspoken advocate for women who broke multiple barriers in the long fight to end discrimination on the basis of sex. Though she was no radical or revolutionary, she was in many ways both a product of decades of struggle for women’s rights as well as one of our most passionate proponents. And we have suffered this loss at a time when we are facing two enemies at the gate – one who will take advantage of this loss to swing the Court even more to the Right, putting in direct jeopardy Roe vs. Wade, lesbian/gay rights and the effort to finally enshrine the Equal Rights Amendment, already ratified by 38 states, into the U.S. Constitution in addition to disappearing sex as a protected class in language and in law in favor of “gender identity.”


Laws are passing in a number of states that will result in the most vulnerable groups of women–those escaping male partner violence, experiencing homelessness in shelters, or those who are in prison, having to share intimate congregate spaces with males. These women are poor, disproportionately women of color, and many have been victims of sexual and physical violence by men. Yet, women’s needs for privacy and a safe refuge from male violence and the ability to establish boundaries are being run roughshod over by an ideology that re-defines “women” and “men” as a set of stereotypes that a person of either sex can claim. Girls in middle and high school going through puberty are coming of age in a violently misogynist porn-soaked culture, are being taught that they are sexual objects that have no intrinsic value, that they have no right even to say “No,” as males enter their locker rooms and private spaces and take away their prizes and sports scholarships set aside for women and girls. No wonder so many girls decide that being female is not for them and ingest hormones and seek double mastectomies to ‘become men” or “nonbinary.”


And then there is the Equality Act that has already passed the U.S. House and is pending in the Senate that while providing long overdue statutory rights for lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals, would take away sex-based protections by redefining sex as “gender identity.” Even without the Equality Act, the Courts have already moved in that direction. While the U.S. Supreme Court in Bostock ruled just this past June that employment discrimination based on an undefined “transgender status” was based in part of sex, the narrowness of the ruling did not prevent two lower courts from citing to Bostock to deny the existence of sex entirely. And though Title IX regulations explicitly allow separate bathroom and changing room facilities in schools based on sex, “sex” now has been redefined to mean “gender identity, ” with the Courts ruling that two girls who identified as boys that were denied access to the boys’ facilities were discriminated against based on “sex”.

In light of these developments, the approach taken by FIST’s Feminist Amendments to the Equality Act remain essential. In order to avoid confusion and end subsuming the category of sex by “gender identity,” we need a bill with clear definitions of all the terms being used, and separate provisions protecting each class of persons, rather than merging distinct protections under the broad umbrella of “sex.” Rather than the amorphous and subjective concept of “gender identity,” people who do not conform to gender role norms should be protected from discrimination based on” sex stereotyping” whether they identify as transgender or not. Most importantly, we need a federal bill to spell out the rights of women and girls to separate spaces and programs.


FIST and the newly formed LGB Alliance USA are in the process of creating a broad coalition to advance the Feminist Amendments. Please sign on as an endorser and join the campaign!


Feminists across the globe including in the United States are starting to organize once again, asserting the primacy of our own rights and needs as a sex by demanding full civil rights protections under the law. We cannot let the courts, Congress, and state legislatures erode our sex-based rights, whether by restricting or outlawing abortion, eroding lesbian/gay rights, denying us the Equal Rights Amendment, or prohibiting female-only spaces, programs, and short-lists. The purpose of securing our rights is not to perpetrate discrimination of any kind; rather, it is to advance our status in society against continued systemic oppression based on sex.


Let’s honor the memory of RBG by committing ourselves to continuing the struggle for the sex-based rights of women and girls. DON’T MOURN, ORGANIZE!

California SB 132 Would Allow Trans-Identified Male Inmates to be Housed with Females

Feminists in Struggle, a nationwide feminist organization, strenuously opposes SB 132, a bill in the California legislature, “an act to add Sections 2605 and 2606 to the Penal Code, relating to corrections,” which would allow males who identify as transgender to be housed with the female population. This bill if enacted poses a grave risk to actual women, who comprise 52% of the general population and a growing percentage of the prison population.  SB 132 has already passed in the Senate and is due to be voted on imminently in the Assembly.

While we support and understand that the intent of this bill is to protect vulnerable trans-identified people, the actual result of this legislation would:

  • Allow ANY incarcerated male to CLAIM that he has a feminine “gender identity.”
  • Give any such incarcerated male the legal right to be housed at a women’s facility, even if he has been convicted of violent or sexual crimes against women.

This is a serious concern since studies indicate that males who transition retain the same patterns of male violence and criminality. A long-term study in Sweden found transwomen were 6 times more likely to commit any crime, and 18 times more likely to commit a violent crime, than female controls, and showed no evidence that identifying as a woman or undergoing sex reassignment surgery reduces the risk of male violence.  In the general population, violent crime is much more common among men than women, also putting women at much greater risk if males are housed with females.

To allow any male to claim a trans identity, with no biological requirements whatsoever, opens the door for sexual predators of various types, from voyeurs to rapists, to reinvent themselves as female by taking on female names and identities. Add to this the reality that the majority of female prisoners have been molested, raped, sexually assaulted, trafficked, coerced or forced into pornography and/or prostitution, and the potential harm to incarcerated women and girls is greatly increased if SB 132 becomes law.

It is unacceptable to endanger females in this way. Sex-segregation has long existed as a principle in human rights law, for reasons of privacy, safety, and dignity. We believe the onus must be on those seeking to change or abolish these principles to prove that doing so will not result in harm. Authors of SB 132 have not taken the requisite steps to provide such proof that SB 132 will not result in harm to female prisoners.

Additionally, where transgender self-ID policies have been allowed, such as in the UK, women have been raped, and assaulted. See: transgender inmate sexually assaults female prisoners; complaints from female prisoners leads to transgender prison wing; female prisoner files lawsuit for rape.

As written, this bill would violate the privacy, dignity, and safety of vulnerable women in prison.  We encourage feminists and allies to urge the California Assembly to vote NO on SB 132.

Supreme Court Ruling: Cause for Celebration and Concern

On June 15, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a surprise 6 to 3 decision written by conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch in three cases interpreting Title VII of the Civil Rights Act banning sex discrimination in employment, The first two cases involved gay men who lost their jobs for being gay (Bostock vs. Clayton County, Georgia, and Altitude Express Inc. v Zarda) and the third involved a transgender-identified male who was fired upon announcing he was “transitioning” and would be returning to work in women’s garb (Harris Funeral Homes vs. EEOC.).

First the good news. The Court held that discrimination based on homosexuality was covered under Title VII as a form of sex discrimination since it is intrinsically tied to biological sex. This means that after many decades of struggle, lesbians and gay men finally now have federal civil rights protection against job discrimination. Also, the interpretation of Title VII is so broad that sex-based dress and grooming codes and discrimination based on all forms of gender non-conformity may be successfully challenged in the future, something important to feminists.

The decision in the Harris case is far more problematic for feminists concerned abut the maintenance of sex-based rights. True, Judge Gorsuch did not fully embrace transgender ideology,; he did not deny the existence of sex; he didn’t use the popular expression among transactivists, “assigned at birth”, and instead, referred to “observed sex at birth.”, But he did refer to Stephens as “she” and find transgender status to be a form of sex discrimination.

Though the Court limited its ruling to firing someone based on homosexual and transgender status, and stated that the Court was not ruling on single sex bathrooms and changing rooms, we do indeed have to worry about the future.  Title VII law has a strong influence on the interpretation of Title IX and other Civil rights statutes. Even getting the Equal Rights Amendment into the Constitution as currently written will be a double edged sword, since sex and transgender status are now merged. Fighting for legislation that spells out sex-based rights to female-only spaces and programs, as FIST did in its proposed Feminist Amendments to the Equality Act, has become in light of this decision, more important than ever.

FIST Forum: “Defending Women-only Spaces for Victims of Male Violence” with Speakers from Vancouver Rape Relief, Sun. June 28th

Please join us for our first FIST Forum on Zoom on Sunday June 28th at 1:00 P.M., Pacific Time, with special guests from Vancouver Rape Relief on the important topic of defending women’s spaces for victims of male violence. This is a participatory event with lots of time for questions and discussion.

Please buy your tickets on Eventbrite at: Defending Women’s Spaces for Victims of Male Violence and we will send you the Zoom link.  Tickets are only $5 plus a service charge, funds split between VRR and FIST.

The event is co-sponsored by the Chicago Feminist Salon and the San Diego Feminist Organizing Project.