February 17, 2017

Biology Isn’t Bigotry: Why Sex Matters in the Age of Gender Identity

For the past several years, all across America, parents, teachers and local school districts have been having conversations about how best to accommodate the dignity, privacy and safety concerns of students who identify as transgender while also addressing the dignity, privacy and safety concerns of other students.

As gender identity ordinances and bathroom battles sweep the nation, ordinary Americans have had to confront the question of whether their long-standing beliefs about the sexes are based on biology or bigotry.

While the debate has polarized many, it has also served to unite exceptionally unlikely allies. In something of an historical first, self-professed radical feminists and conservative women are tabling their ideological differences and standing in solidarity against gender identity legislation, which they have come to recognize as threatening the civil rights of women.

The Hands Across the Aisle Coalition is a bi-partisan group of women who have committed to working together and leveraging their collective resources and platforms to oppose aspects of the transgender movement.

The following is the transcript of my introduction at an event I hosted at the Heritage in which five of the coalition’s leaders offer a perspective the mainstream media too often ignores on this very important issue. I also encourage you watch the entirety of the event posted in the video below.

Thank you, John, and thank you everyone for joining us today for what promises to be an informative and enlightening conversation from voices the mainstream media has ignored. I’d also like to thank the Clare Booth Luce Policy Institute for co-sponsoring today’s event.

For the past several years, all across America, parents, teachers and local school districts have been having conversations about how best to accommodate the dignity, privacy and safety concerns of students who identify as transgender while also addressing the dignity, privacy and safety concerns of other students.

Solutions were found, such as the creation of single-occupancy restrooms and changing facilities for students who identify as transgender while retaining girls’ and boys’ rooms for biological girls and boys. But activists attacked these commonsense compromise policies as “transphobic.”

Then, last May, the Obama administration said that a 1972 law settles all of these issues: Students are to be treated the same based on their “gender identity,” regardless of their biological sex. On May 13, 2016, the Obama Administration Departments of Justice and Education sent a “Dear Colleague” letter to our nation’s schools informing them that going forward “both federal agencies [would] treat a student’s gender identity as the student’s sex for purposes of enforcing Title IX.”

The result of this decree was that schools would have to allow students access to bathrooms, locker rooms, dorm rooms, and hotel rooms for overnight field trips based on the self-declared gender identity of the student.

But then on August 21, federal judge Reed O'Connor blocked the decree from going into effect in all 50 states. The judge ruled that the attempt by the Obama administration to redefine sex was unlawful, writing that “it cannot be disputed that the plain meaning of the term sex as used … following passage of Title IX meant the biological and anatomical differences between male and female students.”

The Obama Department of Justice appealed this ruling in October. But just last Friday, the Trump Department of Justice withdrew that appeal and cancelled oral arguments that were to be heard this week.

Judge O'Connor got it right. The Obama administration was unlawfully rewriting federal law. The term “sex” is not ambiguous, and is not subject to executive branch agencies redefinitions to now mean “gender identity.”

But in addition to being unlawful, the Obama administration’s “Dear Colleague” letter is bad policy. That’s the focus of today’s panel.

Today we will hear from five women, from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, explaining why the Obama-era rules turn the purpose of Title IX on its head. How the rules turn a law meant to protect women and girls into a law that allows men who claim to be women the right to enter women-only spaces. How the Obama-era rules favor the concerns of students who identify as transgender while entirely ignoring the concerns of other students. Legitimate safety, privacy, and equality concerns exist, and the Obama administration ignored them. Today, we’ll hear about those concerns.

Let me briefly introduce our panelists.

Miriam Ben-Shalom is an educator and activist who made history for being the first person to be reinstated to the military after being discharged from service for being openly lesbian.

Kaeley Triller Haver is a rape survivor whose personal experience inspired her political activism on women’s privacy and safety. She serves as the Communications Director for the Just Want Privacy Campaign in Washington State.

Kami Mueller is the CEO of the Mueller Group, a communications firm. She played an integral role in the communications efforts defending the state’s controversial privacy law (HB2).

Mary Lou Singleton is a midwife and a feminist who is an active member of the Women’s Liberation Front (WOLF), the radical feminist organization that filed a lawsuit against the Obama Administration to restore Title IX rights to women and girls.

Emily Zinos is a stay at home mom who works with the Minnesota chapter of the “Ask Me First” campaign, a project sponsored by the Family Policy Alliance to defend the safety and privacy of women and children.

Unfortunately due to a family medical emergency Emily is unable to be with us in person today. Mariam will read the remarks that Emily had prepared for today’s event.

Following the panelists’ opening remarks, I’ll open the forum to questions and answers.

Let me conclude by saying that up until last year’s prime-time interview of Bruce Jenner (as he was then called), many Americans had never had a conversation about transgender issues. It’s a conversation we need to have. But the Obama administration tried to shut down these discussions before they had even taken place. The Obama administration attempted to force a one-size-fits-all policy on the entire nation rather than allow parents and teachers and local schools the time, space, and flexibility to find nuanced solutions that respect everyone.

For many Americans, gender identity concerns are a new reality. Rather than follow the Obama administration’s rush to impose a top-down solution on the entire country, we should encourage the American people to have these conversations, consider all of the relevant concerns, and make policies that will best serve all Americans. Today’s event is at the service of fostering such conversations. Please join me in welcoming our panel.

Republished from The Heritage Foundation.

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