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WDI USA: Fighting for Women and Girls Before All Three Branches of the US Government
September 6, 2023
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This post was original posted on the website of Women’s Declaration International USA here.
As we pass the milestone of having been incorporated for over two years and head into our 2023 convention, “Accelerating the Women’s Liberation Movement,” we have been reflecting on all that WDI USA has accomplished in just a few years.
Women’s Declaration International (WDI) was launched as the Women’s Human Rights Campaign (WHRC) in New York in 2019. The US chapter was launched in 2020 and incorporated as a not-for-profit organization in 2021. In 2022 its name was changed to Women’s Declaration International.
The US chapter is happy to report that for over two and a half years now, we have been advancing radical feminist opposition to “gender identity” before all three branches of the US government, fighting for women and girls at the state level, engaging in research and writing about how “gender identity” harms women and girls, and doing grassroots organizing and advocacy. This post focuses on our federal advocacy.
Fighting for Women and Girls as a Sex Class before the Biden Administration
We have been battling the Biden Administration’s Department of Education over its attempts to redefine women and girls out of existence by redefining sex to include “gender identity” since mid-2021. In June of that year, current board member Lauren Levey gave live testimony before the Department explaining the radical feminist critique of “gender identity.” She said,
In a TMZ poll, out of 51,000 responses, 77 percent opposed men in women’s sports.
The 80% majority is not wrong. They’re not keeping an oppressed minority from having full civil rights out of blind hatred or fear. Men can participate in sports on the basis of their sex. Men are not women. And everybody knows that.
On March 2, 2022, WDI USA president Kara Dansky submitted an oral and written statement concerning anticipated rule changes to the Title IX implementing regulations to the Office of Management and Budget. Our position was that these regulations do not require any changes other than to add a coherent definition of the word sex in order to protect women and girls as a sex class in the educational arena.
In July 2022, and again in April 2023, WDI USA encouraged signatories to the Declaration on Women’s Sex-Based Rights to submit comments to some new proposed rule changes. In July 2022, the Department issued a public notice of proposed rulemaking, inviting public comment. That notice proposed to completely redefine sex to include “gender identity” (i.e., erase women and girls as a sex class) for all Title IX purposes. That proposal got over 240,000 comments – the most in the Department’s history. In April 2023, the Department issued another notice of proposed rulemaking, this time providing that “gender identity” can sometimes override sex, but not proposing to redefine sex completely. That proposal got an additional 150,000 public comments. Both times, WDI USA encouraged signatories to submit comments that presented a radical feminist objection to “gender identity” to the Department and urged the Department not to enshrine “gender identity” in the law at all.
Fighting for Women and Girls as a Sex Class before Congress
Our advocacy to protect women and girls as a sex class from the onslaught of “gender identity” in Congress pre-dates our advocacy before the Biden Administration.
The Equality Act (EA) is a piece of proposed legislation that has been around since 2015. The EA would completely redefine sex to include “gender identity” for all purposes under US civil rights law. It would, for example, mean the end, nationally, of single-sex spaces in all places of public accommodation, the end of single-sex housing, and the end of women’s sex-based rights in the employment context.
In the lead-up to the 2020 presidential election, then candidate Biden promised to get it passed within 100 days of taking office, and in early 2021 it looked like that might happen. The bill quickly went before the US House, which passed it largely along party lines. It then quickly moved to the Senate, where it went before the Senate Judiciary Committee for a hearing in March. We acted quickly.
Previously, we had established contact with a staffer in the office of Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer. We were able to do that because WDI USA board member Lauren Levey is a resident of the state of New York and one of Majority Leader Schumer’s constituents. She got us a meeting with the staffer and we met with her and continued to engage with her via email. On March 6, 2021, we sent him a letter explaining our concerns with the EA, and telling him how devastating the Equality Act would be to women and girls globally. Thanks to Women’s Declaration International, the letter was signed by thousands of women all over the world. We sent the letter directly to the staffer, who told us that she received it and that she would make sure Majority Leader Schumer saw it.
Ten days later, on March 16, the Senate Judiciary Committee was poised to hold its hearing on the EA. WDI USA board member Kara Dansky submitted testimony in opposition. She summarized her testimony as follows:
The nation simply has not had the national conversation that we need to have about the far-reaching implications of redefining sex to include so-called “gender identity,” which the current version of the bill would do. We need to have that conversation before any legislation is enacted that would redefine sex to include so-called “gender identity.”
Simply put, men aren’t women, even if they say they are, and even if they claim to “identify” as such. Women and girls need separate spaces from male people, also known as men and boys. There is no credible scientific evidence to support the proposition that a person born with a Y chromosome can be a woman. It is appalling that these things need to be said in the 21st century.
Children are being permanently harmed at the altar of so-called “gender identity,” whether the Democrats on the Committee are willing to recognize it or not.
Dansky received email confirmation that the testimony had been received by every member of the Committee. The bill passed out of the Committee over our opposition. At that point, Majority Leader Schumer had the authority to put the EA before the full Senate for a vote at any time, and he certainly could have brought it to the full Senate in time to get it passed and to the President’s desk within the first 100 days of Biden’s presidency. Instead, Schumer did nothing.
Back in 2020, we had drafted the Equality for All Act as an alternative to the Equality Act. We encouraged signatories to the Declaration on Women’s Sex-Based Rights to send it to their Members of Congress throughout 2021, and in 2022, we amped up the pressure on the Senate. In 2022, we encouraged Declaration signatories to send the bill to their Senators every month. In doing so, we did not anticipate that a member of Congress would introduce it, and none did. Instead, we were hoping to raise awareness of the radical feminist arguments against “gender identity.” Majority Leader Schumer had the authority to bring the EA before the full Senate for a vote at any time in 2022, and he didn’t.
In January 2022, WDI USA sent a copy of president Kara Dansky’s 2021 book The Abolition of Sex: How the ‘Transgender’ Agenda Harms Women and Girls, which is a full-throated articulation of the feminist critique of “gender identity,” to every member of Congress.
It’s hard to overstate the significance of this. The President had promised to get the bill passed within 100 days of taking office. Not only did he fail to do that, he failed to get it passed during the first two years of taking office, even though the Majority Leader of the Senate is a member of his own party. By the end of 2022, the Equality Act appeared to be dead and we cautiously declared victory. In doing so, we took care to say that the Democrats could bring the EA back in 2023. We didn’t think that would happen because Biden’s failure to get the EA passed in the first two years of taking office should have been so embarrassing that the Democrats wouldn’t be stupid enough to embarrass him again. It turns out we were wrong – the Democrats are that stupid and the EA has come back in 2023. But it hasn’t gone anywhere, and people who understand these things well say that it isn’t likely to go anywhere.
We would like to think that our extensive advocacy in emphasizing the radical feminist objections to “gender identity” played a role in the apparent death of the Equality Act.
On February 1, 2023, a member of Congress introduced the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act, which we publicly supported. It passed in the House in March. In 2023, we are presenting radical feminist opposition to “gender identity” to Congress every month by encouraging Declaration signatories to tell their Senators to take action on it.
Fighting for Women and Girls as a Sex Class before the Judiciary
WDI USA has filed five amicus (friend of the court) briefs before the US federal judiciary. Four of them are before the courts in live cases:
Hecox v. Little. In March 2020, Idaho governor Brad Little signed the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, which prohibits men and boys from competing in sports teams and events intended for women and girls. The lower court blocked the law from taking effect, and the state (along with two female athletes) appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, where we filed our brief. It argued: (1) “gender identity” is not a coherent category and should not be a separately protected legal status (citing Article 1 of the Declaration); (2) the Declaration on Women’s Sex-Based Rights demands that women and girls have their own athletics, in accordance with Title IX and its implementing regulations (citing Article 7 of the Declaration); and (3) the U.S. courts should not be furthering a broader movement to medicalize identity by enshrining “gender identity” in the law. A panel of the 9th Circuit affirmed the lower court’s opinion and the state has requested that the matter be heard by the entire court, which consists of 29 judges. If that happens, we’ll decide whether to file another brief.
B.P.J. v. West Virginia. West Virginia has a law on the books mandating that school sports remain single-sex. B.P.J. is a young man who wants to compete on the girls’ cross-country team on the basis of his “gender identity.” The lower court first ruled in favor of B.P.J. but then reversed itself and ruled in favor of the state. Our brief encourages the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals to affirm.
Neese v. Becerra. In that case, a doctor who received federal funds felt unable to provide sex-specific care to a male patient because the male patient claimed to be a woman. The court ruled in the doctor’s favor and our brief asks the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to affirm. From the brief: “WDI USA is interested in this appeal because it threatens the erasure of the female sex as a legal category worthy of protection. Women and girls have endured centuries of discrimination precisely because they are members of the female sex, as defined by genetics and biology. The categories of “gender identity,” “transgender woman,” and “transgender girl” erase the female sex by replacing the objective fact of being a woman with a claimed, subjective sense of being a woman. This linguistic destabilization of the meaning of sex permits males who claim a female identity to make demands on women and girls that were previously unheard of and that undermine women’s dignity and safety. In view of its work on these issues, WDI USA has a meaningful perspective to offer the Court.”
L.W. v. Skrmetti. Here, Tennessee has a law in place banning puberty-blockers and wrong-sex hormones for minors and a group of minors (and their parents and doctors) sued. The district court ruled in favor of the minors and blocked the law from taking effect. On appeal, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals appeared to be sufficiently alarmed that it issued an emergency ruling reversing the lower court and expedited briefing. We were able to pull together and file our brief within about two weeks. The court has promised to issue its final ruling by September 30. From the brief: “WDI USA is interested in this appeal first because, as an organization, we can hardly protect the sex-based rights of women and girls if sex is judicially redefined to mean an amorphous continuum of subjectively felt “genders” that may not be related to sex at all. Second, this case deals directly with the authority of a government entity, in this case the state of Tennessee, to protect children from the harms of what is colloquially referred to as “gender affirming care” (i.e., the use of hormones that cause irreversible damage to young peoples’ natural physical and psychological growth and development). Third, the linguistic destabilization caused by use of words like “transgender” and “cisgender” is producing massive confusion throughout society as well as in law, and ought to be avoided at all costs. In view of its work on these issues, WDI USA has a meaningful perspective to offer the Court.”
One case where we filed a brief that is not currently before any court is Tennessee v. Department of Education. There, twenty states sued the Biden Administration, arguing that a series of orders, memos, and directives that it had issued in 2021 were procedurally flawed because the Administration had failed to issue public notice and opportunity for comment, as required by federal law. We submitted an amicus brief in support of the states and offered the additional argument that the orders, memos, and directives violated the Equal Protection rights of women and girls as a sex class. The district judge in that case denied our motion to file, but he did so in an order making it clear that he had read it and considered our arguments. He then blocked the orders, memos, and directives from taking effect and the case is before the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.
As mentioned, federal advocacy is not all we do. All of our volunteers work very hard to engage in state legislative advocacy, expose the indoctrination of children in America’s schools and the housing of male prisoners in women’s prisons, and engage in nonviolent grassroots advocacy, among other things. But we’re quite proud to say we’ve presented radical feminist objections to “gender identity” before all three branches of the US government.