WDI USA STATEMENT ON WHITE HOUSE “FACT SHEET: Biden-Harris Administration Announces New Actions to Protect LGBTQI+ Communities”
June 17, 2023
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This post originally appeared on the website of Women’s Declaration International USA.
On the eighth of what many lesbians and gay men have begun derisively referring to as the “Holy Month of Pride” (out of frustration with the fact that increasingly, Pride seems to exclude actual lesbians and gay men), the White House published its new “FACT SHEET: Biden-Harris Administration Announces New Actions to Protect LGBTQI+ Communities.” Not once does the Fact Sheet reference lesbians or gay men specifically.
For people who have been paying close attention to society’s current debates about whether we’re ever allowed to acknowledge that sex is real and unchangeable (and/or that women and girls might be harmed by laws and policies that deny that fact), it reads like the typical postmodern nonsense we have all become accustomed to.
It states that the federal government will henceforth be undertaking actions that fall into three categories:
Protect LGBTQI+ communities from attacks on their rights and safety by launching a new LGBTQI+ Community Safety Partnership and announcing that the Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department will serve as the Department’s liaison to the LGBTQI+ community on issues related to protecting the rights of the community.
Support LGBTQI+ kids so they can thrive by strengthening mental health resources for LGBTQI+ youth, launching a new federal initiative to address LGBTQI+ youth homelessness, releasing federal funding to support programs that help parents affirm their LGBTQI+ kids, and advancing new regulations to protect LGBTQI+ youth in foster care.
Shield LGBTQI+ Americans from book bans that threaten their rights by announcing that the Department of Education will appoint a new coordinator to address the growing threat that book bans pose for the civil rights of students.
Reading over the document, anyone who cares about the material reality of sex and/or women and girls as a sex class might get the impression that this is yet another attempt by the Biden Administration to shred our rights. That interpretation would certainly be sensible. The Biden Administration has demonstrated repeatedly over the years that it doesn’t care how women and girls are affected by the replacement of the word sex with the meaningless phrase “gender identity,” which the Declaration on Women’s Sex-Based Rights vehemently opposes.
But from our perspective, the Fact Sheet signals something else.
Last year at around this time, the administration published an “Executive Order on Advancing Equality for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Queer, and Intersex Individuals.” WDI USA president Kara Dansky published a piece on her Substack that was available only to paid subscribers then and has now been made freely available and shareable. In that piece, she argued that as bad as the 2022 Order was, it (1) didn’t do anything worse than anything else the administration had already been doing; and (2) might actually signal good news for the movement to protect the sex-based rights of women and girls and to stop the abolition of sex. Today, a year later, we think she was right and that the 2023 Fact Sheet signals more of the same and may even prove more.
Regarding the 2022 order, Dansky stated:
As far as I can tell, the Order contains a series of toothless provisions that are designed to please the administration’s overlords at the ACLU and the Human Rights Campaign without actually accomplishing much of anything. Here are a few examples of what I mean:
The order requires HHS to, “as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, use [its] authorities to protect LGBTQI+ individuals’ access to medically necessary care from harmful State and local laws and practices,” to “promote the adoption of promising policies and practices to support health equity,” and to “develop and release sample policies for States to safeguard and expand access to health care for LGBTQI+ individuals and their families.”
It requires the Secretary of Education to “as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, use the Department of Education’s authorities to support LGBTQI+ students, their families, educators, and other school personnel targeted by harmful State and local laws and practices, and shall promote the adoption of promising policies and practices to support the safety, well-being, and rights of LGBTQI+ students,” and to develop and release sample policies for supporting LGBTQI+ students’ well-being and academic success in schools and educational institutions.”
It obligates HHS to “conduct a study on the impact that current Federal statutory and regulatory eligibility standards have on the ability of LGBTQI+ and other households as determined by the Secretary to access Federal benefits and programs for families” and to “produce a public report with findings and recommendations that could increase LGBTQI+ and such other households’ participation in and eligibility for Federal benefits and programs for families.”
These are just a few examples, but the bottom line, as far as I can tell, is that the Order is filled with sample policies, assessments, and studies.
To be clear, all of these sample policies, assessments, and studies are based on the odious forced teaming of the TQ+ with the LGB discussed above, and should be opposed on that basis. None of us should want the administration to be doing any of this, because it all has sex-denialism at its core. But as far as I can tell, this order does not impose any new rules or laws that compel anyone to do anything other than conduct the sample policies, assessments, studies, etc.
If this is all the administration has, because it’s already done all of the horrible things it can do, gender abolitionists should take note. If I’m right, we may have our opposition up against a wall.
The 2023 Fact Sheet is arguably even more toothless than the 2022 Order. The 2022 Order at least ordered federal agencies to do a bunch of things (that they were already doing anyway). The 2023 Fact simply appears to establish a bunch of partnerships and liaisons.
If that’s right, then the 2023 Fact Sheet, like the 2022 Order, “contains a series of toothless provisions that are designed to please the administration’s overlords at the ACLU and the Human Rights Campaign without actually accomplishing much of anything.”
The argument that both the 2022 Order and the 2023 Fact Sheet signal progress in the fight to protect the sex-based rights of women and girls and to stop the abolition of sex is based on Bill Moyer’s Movement Action Plan (MAP): A Strategic Framework Describing the Eight Stages of Successful Social Movements, available here. It’s literally a map for progressive social movements to use in accomplishing their objectives. In it, Moyers describes the eight stages, highlighting movement objectives and pitfalls, and opposition strategies, for each stage:
Stage 1 “Normal times.” “In this first stage—normal times—there are many conditions that grossly violate widely held, cherished human values such as freedom, democracy, security, and justice, and the best interests of society as a whole.”
Stage 2 “Prove the failure of institutions.” “The intensity of public feeling, opinion, and upset required for social movements to occur can happen only when the public realizes that the governmental policies violate widely held beliefs and values.”
Stage 3 “Ripening conditions.” “The ‘take-off’ of a new social movement requires preconditions that build up over many years.”
Stage 4 “Take-off.” “New social movements surprise and shock everyone when they burst into the public spotlight on the evening TV news and in newspaper headlines. Overnight, a previously unrecognized social problem becomes a social issue that everyone is talking about.”
Stage 5 “Powerlessness.” “After a year or two, the high hopes of movement take-off seems inevitably to turn into despair. Most activists lose their faith that success is just around the corner and come to believe that it is never going to happen.”
Stage 6 “Majority public support.” “The movement must consciously undergo a transformation from spontaneous protest, operating in a short-term crisis, to a long-term popular struggle to achieve positive social change.”
Stage 7 “Success.” “Stage Seven begins when the long process of building opposition reaches a new plateau in which the new social consensus turns the tide of power against the powerholders and begins an endgame process leading to the movement’s success.”
Stage 8 “Continuing the struggle.” “The success achieved in Stage Seven is not the end of the struggle but a basis for continuing that struggle and creating new beginnings.”
In 2022, Dansky suggested that our movement (at least in the U.S.) was in Stage 3, “Ripening conditions:”
As discussed above, the Order is primarily smoke and mirrors, as far as I can tell. The administration is digging its heels in. The order is all about assessments and sample policies. It does nothing concrete. There’s nothing more they can do. Lauren Levey, the vice president of the U.S. chapter of Women’s Declaration International agrees: “I agree that the genie is out of the bottle, and they know it, and they are feeling panic.”
This is what Moyer says about Stage 3:
Though irritated, the powerholders remain relatively unconcerned, believing that they can continue to contain the opposition through management of mainstream social, political, and communications institutions. The official policies remain publicly believed and unchallenged, and the operative policies continue to be hidden from the general populace.
A public consensus to support the powerholders’ policies, and the problem remains off society’s agenda. Yet, the growing public awareness of the problem, discontent, and new wave opposition, primarily at the local level, quietly raises the public opinion opposing current powerholder policies to 30 percent, even though the issue remains off society’s agenda.
That certainly rang true in 2022. Our opposition was definitely irritated at us, and they did believe that they could continue to contain us. At that time, much of the public was still in the dark, but awareness was growing.
Moyer says this about Stage 4, “Take-Off:”
New social movements surprise and shock everyone when they burst into the public spotlight on the evening TV news and in newspaper headlines. Overnight, a previously unrecognized social problem becomes a social issue that everyone is talking about. It starts with a highly publicized, shocking incident, a “trigger event”, followed by a nonviolent action campaign that includes large rallies and dramatic civil disobedience. Soon these are repeated in local communities around the country.
The trigger event is a shocking incident that dramatically reveals a critical social problem to the general public in a new and vivid way, such as the arrest of Rosa Parks for refusing to move to the back of a Montgomery bus in 1955, NATO’s 1979 announcement to deploy American Cruise and Pershing 2 nuclear weapons in Europe, or the Marcos government’s shooting of Ninoy Aquino as he arrived at the Manila airport in 1983. Trigger events can be deliberate acts by individuals, governments, or the opponents, or they can be accidents.
By starkly revealing to the public that a social condition and powerholder policies blatantly violate widely held cherished social values, citizen self-interest, and the public trust, the trigger event instills a profound sense of moral outrage in the general populace. Consequently, the general population responds with great passion, demanding an explanation from the powerholders and ready to hear more information from the opposition. The trigger event is also a trumpet’s call to action for the new wave opposition groups around the country.
We don’t know whether Lia Thomas competing on the U. Penn. women’s swim team and/or public revulsion at what “gender identity” is doing to young people counts as a “trigger event” that has propelled us into Stage 4. But it certainly seems reasonable to wonder if we’re there. Though the mainstream liberal legacy media industry is still doing its best to keep Americans in the dark, it’s fair to say that these issues have “burst into the public spotlight” and that everyone is talking about them. The images of Thomas competing against women were certainly a “shocking incident” that “dramatically revealed a critical social problem to the general public in a new and vivid way.” Both Thomas competing in women’s sports and the shock of learning that our medical and mental health professions are actively harming children have “starkly revealed to the public that a social condition and powerholder policies blatantly violate widely held cherished social values, citizen self-interest, and the public trust.” We’re not positive we’ve reached the place where those who would deny the material reality of sex have “instilled a profound sense of moral outrage in the general populace.” But if we’re not there yet, we soon will be.
We have a few other reasons to think we might be in Stage 4 of progress in the movement.
The Equality Act (which would have redefined sex to include the meaningless concept of “gender identity” throughout U.S. federal civil rights law) is dead and does not appear likely to come back.
The administration (and the entire concept of “gender identity”) is getting shredded in the federal judiciary. In late 2022, a federal district court ruled in Tennessee v. Department of Education that a series of Executive Orders, memos, and guidance documents the administration issued in 2021 were procedurally flawed. In early 2023, a federal district court ruled in Neese v. Becerra that one of those orders was substantively flawed as well and that the word sex means sex under both the Affordable Care Act and Title IX. Although these cases did not address the Biden Administration’s Executive Orders, the material reality of sex was upheld in Green v. Miss USA, Adams v. St. Johns County, and B.P.J. v. West Virginia as well. Each of those rulings came after the 2022 Order.
Parents and teachers all over the country are suing schools and school districts over rules that permit (and sometimes require) teachers and school administrators to “affirm a student’s gender” without informing parents.
“Detransitioners” (individuals of either sex who received some form of hormones and/or surgery and then reverted in acknowledgment of their sex) are suing the medical and mental health care providers who harmed them.
Dansky concluded her piece about the 2022 Order with this: “While the Order itself is built on a pack of lies, sex-denial, sexism, and homophobia, and should be opposed on that basis, if my analysis here is right, then its existence is encouraging because it suggests that the movement to protect the sex-based rights of women and girls may be further along than many of us thought. When the movement is viewed on its own, it can be relatively easy to become disheartened by how much women and girls have lost at the altar of “gender identity” and sex-abolition. But when seen in the context of larger movement-building, it becomes clear that we are just getting started.”
In 2023, we are no longer just getting started; we’re well on our way.