Why Progressives Should Support the Protect Women and Girls in Sports Act
April 20, 2023
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As far as I know, the U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote at 10:45 a.m. this morning on the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act. This bill defines sex as based solely on a person’s immutable reproductive biology and genetics and would give federal protection to women’s sports in the United States under Title IX. The U.S. chapter of Women’s Declaration International supports it.
UPDATE: The House did pass the bill, which is now pending before the U.S. Senate.
The content below originally appeared in The Washington Examiner here.
Today, the U.S. House of Representatives is poised to take the historic step of passing the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act of 2023. The U.S. chapter of Women’s Declaration International, of which I serve as president, is proud to support the bill.
In the 1960s and 1970s, second-wave feminists, who leaned to the Left, fought hard for women’s rights. They opened rape crisis centers and domestic violence shelters (run by women) for women fleeing male violence. They won many property rights for women, which allowed women to leave oppressive marriages. And they fought for abortion access.
There’s a very good reason why second-wave feminists had to fight for women’s rights: it was because women didn’t have those things before. And the reason women didn’t have those things before was because they were women. Today, all of that is being thrown out the window because of the absurd fallacy of “gender identity.”
One of feminists’ most stunning accomplishments was the enactment of Title IX, which was designed to end discrimination against women in the educational arena. Its implementing regulations permit the separation of the sexes under certain circumstances.
The Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act of 2023 is a powerful piece of legislation that would bolster Title IX by explicitly protecting women and girls in athletics, and political progressives should support it. So why aren’t they?
Our society has been taught a vicious and unscientific lie: that some men can be women, and that some women can be men, on the basis of their “gender identity.” Democratic Party leadership, at the state and federal levels, is one of the greatest perpetrators of this lie.
Men aren’t women, even if they say they are, and even if they claim to “identify” as such. Women and girls (female humans) need separate spaces from men and boys (male humans) because of differing biology. There is no credible scientific evidence to support the proposition that a person born with a Y chromosome can be a woman. It should not be considered “conservative” or even remotely controversial to say so.
The vast majority of Americans across the political spectrum know this to be true, despite the Democratic Party’s insistence to the contrary. Recent polls show that the vast majority of Americans understand that the following phrase is false: “Transgender women are biological women.” Even 65% of people who call themselves “very liberal” and 80% of people who call themselves “liberal” know that phrase is false. As a proud Gen X progressive myself, I’m happy to see that fully 85% of Gen Xers know that phrase is false.
I hear from rank-and-file Democrats, some more progressive, others more moderate, every day who are appalled at what the Democratic Party is doing to women’s rights at the altar of gender ideology. But most Americans never hear their voices because the left-leaning media shuts us out. Issues around “gender identity” are always framed as a battle between the Big Bad Christian Right and a “small marginalized community.” In reality, that’s not what’s going on. There are liberals and progressives all over this country who want to take a stand for the rights, privacy, and safety of women and girls. The Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act is one way to do that.
To Democratic lawmakers, I say this: Thank you for championing abortion access, which is an aspect of the human right to bodily integrity.
However, I’d also ask you this: If a woman is fully human, and has full human rights, including rights to bodily integrity, physical safety, privacy, and dignity, then how can you compromise her full humanity to further the lie that some men are women? Or the lie that simply claiming to be a woman is enough to make a man one? Or the very regressive lie that if a man enjoys wearing feminine fashion, he may literally be a woman and deserve all of the legal protections associated with womanhood?
If women are fully human, then we have human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights declared that “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” Surely this includes women’s right to female-only sports and spaces. Surely it includes women’s right to say that we are women and that men aren’t.
A commitment to human rights is supposed to be a progressive value. If you think women’s human rights are important, you have to respect women’s sports and spaces. A sport is not a women’s sport and a space is not a women’s space if it admits men, regardless of “gender identity.”
Fellow progressives, if you want to regain your credibility with voters of both sexes, you should support the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act and do so boldly. If you don’t, you need to tell American women why you don’t think we are fully human.
Yesterday, another piece ran in Fox News titled “Radical feminist groups break with Biden, join GOP in support of women’s sports bill: ‘Height of hypocrisy.’”
It notes that both Women’s Declaration International USA (WDI USA) and the Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF) support the Protection for Women and Girls in Sports Act. It quotes me as saying:
Kara Dansky, the President of Women’s Declaration International USA, said her nonpartisan organization was "devoted to advancing the Declaration on Women's Sex-Based Rights, which, according to the group, "reaffirms women and girls' sex-based rights," and challenges the discrimination experienced "from the replacement of the category of sex with that of ‘gender identity.'"
We are a radical feminist organization, and Article Seven of the Declaration on Women's Sex based Rights, which is grounded in a radical feminist critique of gender identity, demands that sports be kept single sex. And we think that Representative Steube's bill is in alignment with Article Seven of the Declaration
I am a registered Democrat and always have been, and I think it's the height of hypocrisy for Democratic leadership, including the president, to champion the rights of women and girls to abortion, which we totally support, while simultaneously denying the rights of women and girls to single sex spaces.
It quotes WoLF chair Lierre Keith as saying:
Women and girls deserve to play in athletic competitions that are fair and safe. Single-sex sports are critical to ensuring equal opportunity, scholarships, and careers, and new 'gender identity' policies threaten to set women back decades in progress.
Girls who play sports demonstrate higher levels of confidence and positive body-image, achieve better grades in school, and are more likely to graduate. Additionally, even the fastest female Olympians are still out-run by high school boys, and biological differences between males & females are not even remotely changed by hormones or surgery.
Most ‘gender identity' policies don't require physical or hormonal changes for men to identify as women and compete in the same sport.
For all these reasons, we strongly support the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act.
Lierre had also cited polling showing Americans largely disagree with allowing "trans-identified boys and men" to compete against girls and women.
(Full disclosure: I served on the board of WoLF from 2016-2020 and remain a loyal member.)