Tag Archives: Equality Act

Coalition for the Feminist Amendments to the Equality Act Kicks Off its Campaign with a Successful Zoom event!

The newly formed Coalition for the Feminist Amendments (“CoFA”), consisting of FIST, the LGB Alliance USA, XX Amazons, the Georgia Green Party and others, kicked off its campaign at a zoom forum on November 14, 2020 attended by over 150 people. The four speakers, Ann Menasche (FIST member and co-author of the FAEA, Tina Minkowitz (FAEA co-author), Callie Burt (Associate professor, Georgia State University), and M. Lynette Hartsell (LGB Alliance USA), gave an in depth analysis of the Feminist Amendments and made a compelling case for joining this effort. The presentations were followed by questions and comments by attendees. After the official program ended, 20 or more attendees were so inspired that they stayed on for another hour and a half and continued the discussion of issues surrounding the struggle to preserve women’s sex based rights.

CoFA’s first action after the forum was to send through U.S. mail to each member of the Senate requesting that they consider the Feminist Amendments and provide us with an opportunity to testify for these amendments. The letter is below. CoFA welcomes more volunteers as this campaign has just begun. CoFA needs feminists and our allies to call their Senators and Congress members and build our base of supporters. If you have not yet endorsed the Feminists Amendments, please sign onto the endorsement page on FIST’s website. And spread the word!

If interested in getting involved in CoFA, please email info@sexbasedrights.org.

Coalition for Feminist Amendments to the Equality Act
*****

Letter to the U.S. Senate

November 16, 2020

To members of the U.S. Senate,

The late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg devoted her life to fighting for legal protections on the basis of biological sex. Congress should honor that legacy, and the legacy of so many other women who’ve fought to secure our rights, but most importantly, Congress has a duty to uphold our most basic human rights protections. The current version of the Equality Act (HR 5), now pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee, will risk erasing sex as a protected class in law, weakening protections and undermining the existing rights of females as a unique class, and the progress that’s been made toward achieving equality.

The Coalition for Feminist Amendments to the Equality Act (“CoFA”) is a national alliance of feminist and LGB organizations and individuals. We write to urge hearings on our proposal to amend the Equality Act (to receive testimony on its many problematic provisions), and to provide vital input on how those issues may be fixed. The Feminist Amendments expands civil rights laws to cover lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender, and other individuals who don’t conform to gender stereotypes (roles traditionally imposed based on one’s sex), while continuing to uphold sex-based protections. In doing so, everyone’s rights are protected.

We support many of the positive provisions put forth by the Equality Act. Federal statutory protections for lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals based on sexual orientation are long overdue. We applaud the closure of the loophole that allows the use of religious freedom as legal grounds to allow any person to flout civil rights laws.

At the same time, the Equality Act’s attempt to protect transgender individuals from discrimination — through the creation of “gender identity” as a protected class — creates ambiguity, confusion, and a conflict of rights that must be addressed. The term “gender identity” is subjective, in that it describes a state of mind that may or may not be manifested in dress, grooming, or behavior. This subjectivity opens a loophole ripe for abuse. As it’s used in HR-5, the term provides no objective test useful to a court, which will ultimately litigate the conflicts sure to arise from this legislation. Failure to address these conflicts will threaten long-settled statutory and case law developed to protect the rights of females as a distinctive class.

More importantly, “gender” or “gender identity” is conflated with “sex” throughout the bill, and risks eliminating sex as a protected class in civil rights law. Merging two distinct groups — who have different sets of experiences, discrimination and marginalization — is detrimental to preserving human rights protections currently afforded to females as a uniquely subjugated class.

Female only facilities are an important legacy of women’s organizing, key to the protection of the female sex against male-pattern violence and to the broader participation of women in public life. It’s vital that these basic human rights provisions remain in place.

Male-pattern violence against females is so well-documented that Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act in an attempt to protect them from sexual and physical assault. However, such predatory violence remains pervasive as demonstrated by the “Me Too” movement and numerous well-documented instances of such violations by males in the entertainment business, the military, and even Congress. A Swedish study showed that this pattern of behavior is not mitigated by male-to-female sex reassignment surgery.

Moreover, the current bill’s “gender identity” provisions require that males who identify as women, including those with intact male genitalia (85-90% of males who identify as women retain male genitalia), must be admitted, solely on the basis of “self-identification,” into female facilities, such as, rape crisis centers, battered women’s shelters, homeless shelters, prisons, hospital rooms, communal showers, changing rooms, restrooms, and nursing homes.

Social scientists and international policy bodies have underscored the importance of maintaining separate statistics based on sex, as a key means of tracking disparities between the sexes, recording accurate data, and measuring our progress on addressing sex-based discrimination. In addition, there are multiple instances, such as within the context of health care, where having accurate information about a person’s sex, is vital, even life-saving.

By eliminating sex as a protected class, the bill, as currently written, would:

  • Undermine targeted remedies for the exclusion or under-representation of women and girls in education, and in jobs and professions traditionally held by men
  • Eradicate competitive women’s sports by undermining Title IX protections
  • Make it impossible to measure (and remedy) disparity between the sexes, such as the pay gap and domestic violence
  • Prevent the gathering of accurate crime and health statistics

See attached fact sheets for more information on the impact of erasing sex as a protected class in civil rights law, by allowing the concept of “gender” or “gender identity” to override “sex.”

The Feminist Amendments eliminate “gender identity” and instead establish two new categories in civil rights law: “sexual orientation” and “sex-stereotyping.” Doing so more effectively protects all classes, while not negating sex-based protections.

These amendments contain clear definitions of “sex” and “sex-stereotyping,” that will preserve female facilities and programs, allowing women and girls to participate fully in public life. (See attached.)

At the same time, the Feminist Amendments protect lesbians, gay men, bisexuals (and all people who don’t conform to imposed gender roles and stereotypes), including transgender people, from discrimination in employment, housing, credit, and in places of public accommodation.

These amendments also allow for the establishment of “gender neutral” facilities for individuals who may feel safer or more comfortable in such spaces, so long as the availability and access to female only facilities is not diminished. Thus, these amendments allow each protected class to continue to make progress toward achieving true equality.

One hundred years after women’s suffrage, women still get paid less, are denied equal opportunities in the workplace, and continue to be underrepresented in many fields and positions of economic and political leadership in our society, because of their sex. Females still suffer disproportionately from domestic violence and rape because of their sex. Discrimination on the basis of sex will not end if we eliminate sex as a stand-alone protected class.

No Senate action should be taken on the Equality Act without hearings to gather evidence on the conflicts outlined in this letter. We offer the Feminist Amendments to the Equality Act as our contribution to this much needed work.

We and members of our constituent organizations are prepared to sit down with you and members of your staff to discuss our concerns and appropriate strategies we might collaborate on to secure the hearing anticipated in the previous paragraph.

It is our fervent wish that you honor the legacy of our most revered jurist RBG by adopting the Feminist Amendments to the Equality Act to continue her fight to protect women and girls on the basis of sex.

Sincerely,

Ann Menasche

Feminists in Struggle

M. Lynette Hartsell

LGB Alliance USA

Co-Chairs, CoFA

This entry was posted in Feminist Resistance and tagged , on by .

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Green Party National Women’s Caucus Bans Feminists from Discussion

Two women were banned from the NWC Listserv for attempting to discuss women’s sex-based rights

By Kerri Bruss

Feminists in the United States are increasingly finding themselves politically homeless. Of the two major political parties, one has made clear its intent to enshrine “gender identity” into federal civil rights law via the so-called Equality Act which as written, would completely negate the existing sex-based rights of women, while the other stands in opposition to the Act, though for what many consider to be the wrong reasons.

This dichotomy has led some left-leaning women to seek refuge in alternative parties such as the Green Party (GPUS) which, in addition to its commitments to grassroots democracy, social justice, ecology, and peace, also includes “feminism” among its 10 Key Values.

Jerri and Thistle protest at DNC

Yet for those of us who assert that a woman is an adult human female, and hold that women are oppressed based on their sex and reproductive capacity (as opposed to whatever sex-based stereotypes they do or do not adhere to) the GPUS has not been particularly welcoming. I would go so far as to say that we Greens with gender critical views, and even those who take no position in this debate but call for dialogue not expulsion as a preferred means of resolving political disputes, have been met with outright hostility in most GPUS spaces.

In mid-September of this year, I and Thistle Pettersen, feminists and Wisconsin Green Party members in good standing, joined the GPUS National Women’s Caucus (NWC) intending to generate support for the Declaration on Women’s Sex-Based Rights, a document which reaffirms commitment to international standards on the rights of women and girls. On September 24, we each responded to a post contributed to the Work List of the NWC which advocated that the NWC host a workshop or panel discussion on what was termed “gender 101.” The workshop would in essence be further indoctrination into “gender identity” ideology, which is in direct contradiction to GPUS’ key value of feminism.

One caucus member diplomatically responded that perhaps a more open discussion that included all points of view on this topic might be more beneficial to the NWC and the Party as a whole. Thistle concurred and asked if caucus members were “familiar with the efforts of WoLF, FIST, and the WHRC USA to protect gender nonconformity while also protecting women’s sex-based rights.” I joined my sisters in their commentary and stated that, “I would very much like to see an open discussion ensue re: the sex-based rights of women and girls and how they are being negatively impacted in the current political climate.”


“I would very much like to see an open discussion ensue re: the sex-based rights of women and girls and how they are being negatively impacted in the current political climate.”


Considering we were contributing to the listserv of the NWC, we assumed that the perspectives of all female caucus members would be valued. We assumed that the NWC’s alleged “respect for diversity” also included respect and tolerance for diverse opinions, particularly in a political party that claims feminism as one of its 10 Key Values, and most importantly in an identity caucus that exists to engage women on issues of personal and political import to them as an oppressed sex class.

We apparently assumed wrong. Co-chair of the Women’s Caucus, Ann Link, immediately asserted that the mere mention of any organization that advocates for the sex-based rights of women “goes against” the Green Party platform plank which states:

“The Green Party affirms the right of all persons to self-determination with regard to gender identity and sex.”

It appears that Link’s stance is that because this particular platform plank exists, and because the NWC has issued a statement “affirming” this principle, (despite the fact that conflicting platform planks also exist that clearly support the rights of women, as well as the fact that the platform is a living document that changes over time), no party or caucus member is allowed to express an alternative point of view without being met with harassment, disparagement, doxxing, threats of violence—or other foul, well- documented, maneuvers intended to silence dissent—and eventual banishment from Green Party spaces, including the National Women’s Caucus.

Our suspicions were confirmed on October 11, when we received notice that Thistle and I had been, “removed from the National Women’s Caucus email list for violating caucus bylaw III.2 – respect for diversity and respect for NWC members.” The email further stated:

“This is because of a series of posts you sent initiating discussion on the Declaration on Women’s Sex-Based Rights and similar content, which denies that people should have the right of self-determination with regard to gender identity and sex. This right is supported by our platform and a statement approved by our caucus. These posts have created a threatening environment in our caucus, which should be a safe and supportive place for all our members.”

To be clear, what did not make for a “safe and supportive place” was simply “initiating discussion” on women’s sex-based rights. This is despite the fact that recent poll results show that an overwhelming majority of registered third-party voters support measures that the Declaration calls for, such as protecting women’s single-sex sports, prisons, and shelters.

Women burned at stake for saying men can't play women's sportsWe were also told that unless we recant our alleged heresy and promise to sin no more, we will not be reinstated to the listserv and would be officially removed from caucus membership—metaphorically burned at the stake. How this provides a “safe and supportive place” for women, lesbians, and those who don’t conform to sex-based stereotypes within the Green Party is unclear.

On October 27, Thistle and I published this open letter in response to our expulsion from the Women’s Caucus Work List. We find the co-chair’s stated position with regard to this matter to be invalid and we request that our full participation in the Work List for the National Women’s Caucus and hence our full participation in the business of this caucus be reinstated without delay and without conditions.

We maintain that defending the sex-based rights of women is not hate and that biology is not bigotry. We further maintain that “respect for diversity” also includes respect and tolerance for diverse opinions, particularly in a party that claims feminism as one of its 10 Key Values, and most importantly in an identity caucus that exists to engage women on issues of personal and political import to them as an oppressed sex class.

We join hundreds of other public signatories calling for “Dialogue Not Expulsion” in response to the silencing of feminist voices within the Green Party of the United States. Their statement reads:

“We ask that all member state parties, caucuses, candidates, and locals of the party take a step back from any suggestion that state organizations or their members be decertified, sanctioned, or silenced for positions they have adopted, or for concerns which they may have expressed on these important issues. We value decentralization, grassroots democracy, and a united Green Party—which will be especially important in this difficult election year. The political principles that unite us remain far more important than the questions where we clash, significant as those questions might be.”

If you are a member, volunteer, contributor or supporter of the GPUS, you can sign the Dialogue Not Expulsion statement (or sign the statement and also join the caucus) to show your support for allowing dialogue on issues affecting women here.

Green Party National Women’s Caucus Bans Feminists from Discussion first appeared on 4W.
It is republished here with permission.

Thistle, Kerri and Freind at DNC

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Feminist Amendments to the Equality Act – Support FIST Campaign

By Tina Minkowitz

Feminists In Struggle, a U.S. radical feminist network, has developed a model bill to illustrate how the rights of gender nonconforming (including transgender) people and lesbians, gay men and bisexuals, can be protected while strengthening the rights of women as a sex. The model bill is a feminist response to the Equality Act, a bill introduced in the US Congress that would amend civil rights legislation to include under the category of ‘sex’, subcategories including ‘a sex stereotype,’ ‘gender identity’ and ‘sexual orientation’. By proposing feminist amendments to that bill, FIST hopes to advance the debate about how to resolve conflicts between women’s rights and claims regarding subjective gender identity.

List of sex stereotypesThe central feature of the FAEA is that it protects everyone against sex stereotyping, broadly defined to include ‘the expectation that individuals will manifest behaviors, appearance, dress, grooming, interests and personality stereotypically associated with their sex and refrain from manifesting those associated with the other sex. Discrimination based on an individual’s nonconformity with such expectations constitutes sex-stereotyping discrimination. Sex stereotyping also includes the notion that sexual orientation will be heterosexual for both sexes (i.e. part of the stereotype of masculinity is being attracted to women, and part of the stereotype of femininity is being attracted to men).’

The definition of sex stereotyping is at the same time narrowed to prevent sex classification itself from being treated as a pernicious stereotype. ‘Sex stereotyping discrimination does not include merely recognizing or referring, accurately or in good faith, to the biological sex of an individual, or seeking to ascertain an individual’s biological sex for legitimate reasons consistent with this Act, irrespective of whether that person holds a deeply personal sense of identity that conflicts with or denies their biological sex.”’

boy and girl stereotypic shoesThe FAEA model bill defines sex as being female or male, based on reproductive structure and function, with the potential to adjust determinations made about intersex persons. It contains findings that address the systemic nature of sex-based discrimination and the need for sex classification ‘in order to separate biological differences from socially assigned stereotypes and to name, reject, and ultimately dismantle the system of disadvantage and advantage, domination and inequality of power and resources that society has created with respect to these biological differences…. Affirmative recognition of the different biology of females and males is furthermore necessary to combat discrimination against women, since male-dominated institutions have routinely failed to adequately take account of women’s biology on an equal basis with that of men when formulating policy and practice that deals with the human body, in areas such as health care, design of goods and services, provision of adequate sanitary facilities, and competition in some sports. When doing so, the ultimate goal should be equalizing power and resources between women and men.’

Furthermore, specific rules of construction are included that preserve single-sex spaces and programs for women and girls, for reasons of privacy and safety and also for advancement and development.

Finally, the FAEA agrees with the original bill that claims or defenses under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act cannot be raised against civil rights law obligations. FAEA also agrees with the original bill that discrimination based on pregnancy and related conditions should be included under ‘sex’, and FAEA adds ‘lactation’.

Feminists In Struggle LogoHere are my slides for a presentation on the FAEA that provide more detail related to the explanation here.

The full FAEA and related materials, including a comparison summary and a tracked changes version, can be downloaded from the FIST website.

Please contact FIST to support the FAEA and otherwise become involved.

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FIST Fights for Women With Equality Act Rewrite

By Jeanne Neath

Feminists In Struggle LogoGood news can be hard to come by in the U.S. fight against trans domination. But, it is time to celebrate! Radical feminists and gender critical allies just made a quantum leap forward!

On October 2, 2019 Feminists in Struggle (FIST) finished preparing and adopted their own feminist version of the U.S. Equality Act. The Equality Act (U.S. Senate Bill 788) currently in Congress enshrines transgender ideology and will take away critical women’s rights. This bill is supposed to be legislation to protect Lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender people from discrimination. The Equality Act was passed by the House on May 20th, 2019, but is unlikely, at this time, to pass the Senate (and would surely be vetoed by Trump). Nonetheless, the Equality Act is headed toward becoming law and, if passed in anything resembling its current form, will be a disaster for Lesbians, women and girls.

Over the past year I started seriously worrying about the Equality Act, but when I went to the Internet to try and find out what exactly the legislation included, I discovered that the Equality Act involves a rewriting of federal Civil Rights laws, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964. If your eyes just glazed over at mention of such complicated and important legal documents, you are following in my footsteps. I quickly realized that, not being a lawyer, coming to an understanding of the Equality Act on my own would be too large an undertaking. I didn’t even know how to go about finding a copy of the current bill! There was simply no way I had the time or enough motivation to overcome these obstacles. My worries about the Equality Act multiplied, but all I could do was wait and hope that other U.S. feminists would take the Equality Act on. And, thank the goddess for Feminists in Struggle and their legal team, we now have the “Proposed Model U.S. Equality Act Incorporating Feminist Amendments,” a detailed and truly feminist rewrite of the Equality Act (hereafter referred to as the FIST feminist Equality Act).

House passes Equality Act

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the so-called Equality Act on May 20, 2019. Note the LGB rainbow on the left and the equal size transgender rainbow on the right in the graphic. The version of the Equality Act passed in the House gives transgender people rights at the expense of Lesbians, women and girls.

And what a rewrite! I found it to be a fascinating document, even with all the (necessary) legal language. Tina Minkowitz, a member of the FIST legal team, explains that one of FIST’s primary aims was to “articulate a feminist position that addresses challenges to women’s political existence and rights, as a result of gender identity ideology.” Despite all the discussions I’ve participated in about female erasure, I had not put it together before hearing Tina’s statement that our legal existence as women is at stake with the Equality Act. When the law ensures that gender identity trumps sex, transitioned males become women legally, and the legal category of women as biological females is disappeared. I was impressed at how the FIST authors were able to take essential ideas from radical feminist critiques of transideology, then hone those ideas down into simple premises that then became the bases of the FIST feminist Equality Act.

FIST Conjures Up an Equality Act That Lives Up To Its Name

Let’s look at one example of how FIST’s legal team transformed the Equality Act. The Senate bill explicitly defines sex to include gender identity and finds that discrimination can occur “on the basis of the sex, sexual orientation, gender identity … of an individual, as well as because of sex-based stereotypes” and then goes on to say that each of these factors “is a form of sex discrimination.” Here is where women are erased! Gender identity is made synonymous with sex and discrimination for both gender identity and sex are considered to be sex discrimination. Over and over again, when the Senate’s version of the Equality Act mentions “sex” it uses the phrase “sex (including ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’).” FIST points out that when ‘sex’ and ‘gender identity’ are defined as synonymous terms, this eliminates “female only spaces by allowing access based on gender identity.” The Senate’s Equality Act explicitly states that there can be no female only private personal spaces: “[A]n individual shall not be denied access to a shared facility, including a restroom, a locker room, and a dressing room, that is in accordance with the individual’s gender identity.”

Support only a Feminist Equality Act

I couldn’t find images on Google that supported a feminist Equality Act, so I created a simple one. We’ll need many more of these!

FIST’s feminist Equality Act takes an entirely different approach that protects women, LGB, and transgender people by creating two new protected classes – sexual orientation and sex stereotypes. These are in addition to and separate from protections based on sex, allowing each of the three classes clear and uncomplicated protection. FIST eliminated all mention of gender identity from their document, but still addressed the legitimate claims of transgender people by providing protection from discrimination on the basis of sex stereotypes. By focusing on sex stereotypes, gender non-conforming people who are not transgender, including Lesbians and gay men, are also protected when they do not comply with sex role norms (demands).

The FIST feminist Equality Act includes the stated purpose of strengthening “sex-based rights for women and girls,” ensures that classification by sex remains legal and explicitly protects female only spaces. FIST explicitly states that the various laws being modified should not be construed “to prohibit places of public accommodation, schools, government entities or employers or other covered programs, services, establishments and activities, from establishing or utilizing female-only facilities, programs, or services such as transportation services, multi-stall toilets, locker rooms, changing rooms, communal showers, battered women’s shelters, refuges, homeless shelters, rape crisis centers, jail cells, bedrooms in residential facilities, hospital rooms, facilities providing intimate services such as massage or intimate grooming, or other places where women are sharing private facilities or are in states of undress and/or where their privacy may be compromised and.or their safety may be at risk from male-pattern violence against females.” (p. 17, FIST feminist Equality Act) FIST likewise explicitly protects female-only programs, services and activities that advance women’s status, development and well-being, including sports programs, scholarship programs, clubs, political programs and more.


The concept of gender identity made it possible for a M2T person to claim, not just his identity as a transgender person, but the identity of a woman. If we want to go to the root of the problem (and that is what radical feminists usually strive to do), then invalidating and eliminating the concept of gender identity is our goal.


When I heard that FIST was working on a feminist version of the Equality Act, my biggest hope was that they would find a way to eliminate all protections based on gender identity. I wanted transgender people to be safe from discrimination in hiring and housing practices and so on, but I was aware that existing laws protecting gender identity often gave M2T (male to transgender) persons access to women-only and girl-only spaces, such as school locker rooms. The concept of gender identity made it possible for a M2T person to claim, not just his identity as a transgender person, but the identity of a woman. If we want to go to the root of the problem (and that is what radical feminists usually strive to do), then invalidating and eliminating the concept of gender identity is our goal. I could go on and on about gender identity because it is such a serious problem, but I’ve moved most of those thoughts into a follow up to be published here soon. I celebrate FIST’s decision to keep gender identity out of their feminist Equality Act, while still protecting transgender people from discrimination on the basis of sex stereotypes.

Grassroots Campaigning for FIST’s Feminist Equality Act

There is much of interest to radical feminists and gender critical people in the FIST feminist Equality Act and I recommend reading through it, as well as the various supporting documents, available on the FIST website. We also have materials available on the XX Amazons site. I also recommend endorsing FIST’s feminist Equality Act.

FIST has done an outstanding piece of feminist work. Now it is our turn! Get involved with FIST to find out and support their strategies for advancing their Equality Act. We can also each unleash our own creativity in starting or getting involved with grassroots campaigns on every level, small and large. Even the simple graphic I created (above) is one small step toward an Equality Act that does what we need it to. (Feminist artists! Send copies of your feminist Equality Act graphics to XX Amazons and we’ll put them on display on this web site and make them available for grassroots campaigns. FIST may well be interested as well. XX Amazons can also display copies of your letters to the editor and other campaign materials that you’d like to make available.) The Equality Act is a federal law and that means that radical feminists and gender critical allies all over the U.S. can have a common goal of promoting FIST’s feminist Equality Act and sending the Senate’s (in)Equality Act straight to the trash bin.

Resources

View or download the PDF document containing FIST’s “Proposed Model Equality Act with Feminist Amendments

View or download FIST’s PDF document “Comparison of Original Equality Act (SB 788) and Proposed Model Act Incorporating Feminist Amendments

View or download a slideshow presentation prepared by Tina Minkowitz that highlights key points about the “FIST Model Equality Act: Feminist Amendments to HR5/S788.” Available as a Powerpoint presentation or as PDF file.

Coming soon on XX Amazons! Watch for the blog on the “Feminist Amendments to the Equality Act” written by Tina Minkowitz, one of the members of the FIST legal team.

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