More than 80 House Democrats recently introduced a resolution they call the Trans Bill of Rights. The authors claim it will ensure that transgender and nonbinary people are, as a lead sponsor Rep. Marie Newman put it, “free to live as their authentic self.”
In practice, the Trans Bill of Rights guts protections and programs for biological women. Every American must now decide: do I support this vision of trans rights, or do I stand for women’s rights? It is impossible to support both because they are in direct conflict.
The press materials promoting the Trans Bill of Rights focus on the idea of inclusivity, personal fulfillment, and preventing the bullying and mistreatment of LGBTQ+ and gender-nonconforming communities, all of which sounds very nice. Of course, Americans oppose bullying and want everyone treated with kindness and respect. But the Trans Bill of Rights isn’t just a feel-good statement of support or warning against bullying. It has serious legal implications — particularly for women.
The Trans Bill of Rights would redefine the term “sex” under the Civil Rights Act to include “gender identity and sex characteristics” and prohibit public accommodations and federally funded programs from offering spaces and programs exclusively for women. In other words, it would become illegal to take into account sex or “sex characteristics,” and single-sex facilities would cease to exist. If a female athletic team cannot discriminate against males, then men will dominate competitions meant for women. If women’s locker rooms, rape crisis centers, and domestic violence shelters are required to take in men, women’s privacy and security will be compromised. If men are allowed to opt in to women’s prisons, then female prisoners will face physical harm.
We already see this happening today. Female athletes around the country are being forced to compete against physically-advantaged biological males. NCAA Swimmer Lia Thomas is the most notorious example, with the NCAA just last week selecting Lia as the “female athlete of the year.” That was a slap in the face to all female swimmers who have spent their lives training and competing without the benefits of testosterone and having undergone puberty as a male, which creates lasting physical advantages, including greater height, bone mass, lung capacity, and more. Yet this phenomenon goes far beyond one swimmer. Male-bodied athletes are competing — and often dominating — track and field competitions, skateboarding, weightlifting, fighting sports, volleyball, and more.
The Trans Bill of Rights would accelerate this trend by forbidding the taking of sex into account entirely so that any man — not just men who identify as women — could choose to compete in women’s sports, apply for an engineering scholarship meant for a woman, enter a female prison, or choose to undress in a women’s locker room. Single-sex facilities would disappear.
The Trans Bill of Rights’ erasure of single-sex institutions wouldn’t affect men and women equally. No one worries about allowing biological women to enter men’s sports. No one is concerned about the physical safety of male prisoners faced with a biological female, or women using a male changing room. Women who are physically weaker, more vulnerable to assault, and who have historically suffered from discrimination alone would pay the price.
Americans can make a different choice and reject the Trans Bill of Rights’ radical, anti-woman agenda. The Women’s Bill of Rights — a resolution recently introduced in Congress and supported by a bipartisan coalition of women’s organizations and advocates — stops the assault on women and single-sex institutions. It clarifies the definition of terms like “female” and “women” under existing law as based in biology and affirms that there are circumstances in which single-sex is not only legal, but necessary.
The Women’s Bill of Rights would not prevent the adoption of protections for transgender and nonbinary people. Accommodations can be made in athletics, prison systems, education, and shelters. Yet those accommodations would not be achieved by erasing women as a matter of law as would be done by the Trans Bill of Rights.
One cannot be for both women’s rights and this vision of trans rights. One cannot stand up for women without knowing what the term woman means. Americans know what a woman is, what a female is, and what a mother is. Our laws should too.