Males who identify as women are today seeking access to women’s sororities, sports, rape crisis centers and prisons in alarming numbers. Ordinary Americans are shocked by this assault on women’s spaces but feel powerless to do anything about it. 

We aren’t. And we can start by eliminating the word “gender” from our vocabulary.

Contrary to today’s conventional wisdom, the words “sex” and “gender” are not synonyms. You may be invited to a “gender reveal party” for a pregnant friend or relative, but it is the unborn baby’s sex that you will discover at this party. 

“Sex,” of course, refers to either of the two categories of individuals (male or female) that occur in many species for distinct reproductive purposes. (To be sure, a tiny percentage of humans are born with chromosomal or genital abnormalities. But they are not a third sex. They are the exception that proves the rule.) 

Sex is an immutable trait that is biologically determined. And it cannot be changed by altering one’s appearance, having surgery or taking cross-sex hormones. Sex is stamped in every cell of a baby’s body. 

The word “gender” is borrowed from grammar. In some languages, such as Spanish, words can be either masculine (“el barco”/the boat) or feminine (“la casa”/ the house). 

As Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia once noted, “gender is to sex as feminine is to female and masculine to male.” Feminists of the 1970s used this concept of “gender” to refer to cultural norms regarding men’s and women’s appearance, interests and lifestyle. 

“Gender,” therefore, is shorthand for “sex roles.” Yet, somehow, in an effort to avoid saying “sex” (which can refer not only to physiology but also to intercourse), our neo-Victorian culture has adopted the word “gender” as a shorthand for the categories of male and female.

For many years, I played along. “Gender” simply sounded less crass. But in saying “gender” when I meant biological sex, I (and others my age) inadvertently opened the door to the Left’s claims that sex is culturally determined, that the categories of male and female are arbitrary constructs, and that children as young as preschool can choose whether they are male, female or something else entirely.

This incorrect use of “gender” has, perhaps ironically, led to a resurgence of regressive sex stereotypes. 

The notion that a girl who enjoys playing with boys, likes sports, and experiences common pubescent discomfort with her body is actually a boy reflects sexist stereotypes about women’s options and women’s bodies. 

Likewise, the idea that a boy who enjoys playing dress-up and painting his nails is a girl disregards normal developmental play and embraces antiquated and often homophobic notions of masculinity. 

In this way, gender ideology limits the freedom of both children and adults to live in a world free of assumptions and bias.

It also erodes fundamental civil rights protections. Significantly, both Title VII, which outlaws employment discrimination, and Title IX, which prohibits discrimination in education, use the word “sex,” not “gender.” Both statutes are premised on the notion that it is unfair to treat similarly situated people differently on the basis of an immutable characteristic. 

But while both race and sex are immutable, men and women aren’t similarly situated with respect to biology. So, while employers or schools can’t provide indoor bathrooms for males while providing only outhouses for women, they can require males and females to use separate indoor facilities of similar quality. 

Not for long, if woke progressives have their way. 

Capitalizing on our collective squeamishness over the word “sex,” these radicals have convinced federal bureaucrats (and even some courts) to interpret our foundational sex discrimination laws as requiring employers and schools to allow anyone who identifies as a woman to access women’s spaces. 

What can we do to stop this? We can make sure that we define sex in law consistent with biology. But we can also do our part by resisting the urge to say “gender” in daily conversation and calling out others, even conservatives like former Vice President Mike Pence, who continue to say “gender” when referring to physiology. 

And the next time you’re invited to a “gender reveal” party, tell them you’d be delighted to attend, so long as they reveal the baby’s sex.