Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Christians and Feminists Unite Against Transgender Bathroom Policy

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Politics, it has been said, makes strange bedfellows; and what could be stranger than an alliance of Christian pro-family activists and radical feminists? Yet that is precisely what has occurred in response to the Obama administration’s attempt to force schools to open up sex-segregated private spaces to “transgender” individuals.

The Family Policy Alliance (FPA), a public-policy partner of Focus on the Family, has joined with the Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF), which describes itself as “a radical feminist organization dedicated to the total liberation of women,” to oppose the administration’s “bathroom policy.”

That policy, articulated last year in directives from the Justice and Education Departments, requires schools that receive federal funding under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 to allow individuals identifying as transgender to use the bathrooms, locker rooms, and other sex-segregated facilities of their choice, regardless of their biological sex. Schools are threatened with a loss of funding for failure to comply.

In a video posted on FPA’s website, FPA director of public policy Autumn Leva and WoLF board member Kara Dansky discussed their unlikely alliance.

After naming some subjects on which the two groups disagree, Dansky said, “But on certain issues, such as gender identity, pornography, and prostitution, WoLF finds that the Left has pretty much sold out women.”

“We stand up for women and girls,” she added, “and to the extent that Family Policy Alliance also stands up for women and girls on these issues, we’ll work together.”

Dansky made the once-obvious point that viewing male and female as sexes determined by one’s chromosomes, not “identities” subject to one’s feelings, “is not a conservative argument, it’s not a liberal argument, it’s not even a political argument at all. It’s basic biology.”

FPA, naturally, views the sexes as creations of God, “and that’s why … we will always oppose any efforts to erase either sex from the law,” said Leva.

The two organizations have filed an amicus brief in a Supreme Court case challenging the Obama administration’s novel interpretation of Title IX, which bars sex discrimination in schools. The case concerns a female Virginia high-school student who identifies as male but was prohibited from using the boys’ restroom in her school. Although the school installed single-stall unisex toilets open to any student, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that this was insufficient to comply with the administration’s directive and ordered the school to allow the student to use the restroom of her choice. The school district appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, which granted a stay of the ruling until such time as the appeal could be heard.

“Pro-family Christians and radical feminists may not agree about much, but they agree that redefining ‘sex’ to mean ‘gender identity’ is a truly fundamental shift in American law and society,” FPA and WoLF state in their brief. “It also strips women of their privacy, threatens their physical safety, undercuts the means by which women can achieve educational equality, and ultimately works to erase women’s very existence.”

The groups argue that accepting the Obama administration’s interpretation of the law means “women will lose their physical privacy and face an increased risk of sexual assault” since “any man can justify his presence in any women’s restroom, locker room, or shower by saying, ‘I identify as a woman.’”

This extends far beyond letting boys using girls’ restrooms in school, they say, because colleges and universities that get federal funding will now be prohibited from having women-only dormitories under the administration’s directives. Worse still, women who think they are living in sex-segregated housing will not even know in advance if a man is living there because the administration believes that informing people that someone has chosen a “gender identity” different from his biological one is an invasion of that individual’s privacy. “It is truly mind-boggling,” reads the brief, “that informing women as to which men might have the ‘right’ to share a bedroom with them is an ‘invasion of privacy’, but it is not an invasion of privacy to invite those men into women’s bedrooms in the first place.” (Emphasis in original.)

Aside from matters of safety and comfort, there is also the fact that Title IX was intended to remedy historical discrimination against women. Letting men claim to be women, however, will enable men to enjoy benefits that were never intended for them, defeating the purpose of Title IX, the groups maintain. They also note that at one time women were denied opportunities for higher education under the mistaken assumption that they were not meant for it physiologically. “It is ironic,” they observe, “that while women’s bodies were once used as an excuse to deny them education, now women’s educational opportunities will be curtailed by saying that there is actually no such thing as a ‘female’ body: Women, after all, are simply anyone who ‘identifies’ as such.”

Finally, they point out that “the most serious consequence of legally redefining ‘woman’ as anyone who claims to be one, is that ‘woman’ — as humankind has always recognized ‘woman’ — will cease to exist.” This could leave women even more at the mercy of men than they were in the days when women were largely considered the property of their husbands or other male relatives. At least then they still had a separate legal identity. “If, as a matter of law, anyone can be a woman, then no one is a woman,” write the groups.

All of this, of course, could have been avoided had the federal government not strayed from its constitutional limits and gotten involved in funding education in the first place. Then it would have no “carrots” and “sticks” with which to force schools to comply with its demands.

Be that as it may, the Supreme Court should certainly overturn the Fourth Circuit’s decision, which treated a mere directive from the Obama administration — one that radically altered the clearly intended meaning of existing law — as if it had the force of law or even of a duly promulgated regulation. Better yet, incoming President Donald Trump could order his agencies to rescind the Obama administration’s directives, rendering the entire case moot and saving other schools from suffering the same ordeal, at least for the next four years.

One way or the other, the notion that everyone else should be forced to accept an individual’s chosen “gender identity” regardless of legitimate privacy and safety concerns needs to be quashed as soon as possible. As FPA’s Leva remarked, “How wrong does something need to be for a Christian pro-family organization and a radical feminist organization to oppose it together?”

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