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July 11, 2017

OpEd: House Comm. Wants to Nationalize Transgender Discrimination

TRUMPINGTON, D.C.—Hey, remember when you were a kid and you had to fill out all those forms that asked you what your "gender identity" was? And later, when you were applying for a job, they also asked that same "gender identity" question? Of course, if you were unlucky enough not to have a job or other means of support, the state might have asked you what your "gender identity" was on your public assistance application, right? The answer to all of those questions, naturally, is "Of course not!" It's only within about the past 10 years or so that people began using the term "gender identity" to describe their mindset regarding their own sexuality rather than "sex" because as has now become clear, human sexuality ain't just "chocolate" or "vanilla"; there's lots of flavors, and checking "male" or "female" just doesn't cut it anymore. But perhaps the most important reason to understand how and why "sex" became "gender identity" is The Law—specifically, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Fair Housing Act, the Affordable Care Act and a few other federal statutes that bar discrimination based on "sex." And it's particularly important today because the House Committee on the Judiciary is currently considering H.R. 2796, the "Civil Rights Uniformity Act." Sounds innocuous enough, right? How about if you knew that the far right-wing legal group Liberty Counsel described the bill as "the most permanent and comprehensive response to the special radical LGBT rights agenda"? How about if the chairman of that group's "Action" affiliate, attorney Mat Staver, said that "The Civil Rights Uniformity Act would ensure that policies which affect the privacy and safety of women and girls are no longer reshaped to meet the demands of the special LGBT rights agenda"? You know what they're really talking about, right? It's those "women with penises" showing up in the "ladies room" at work or in restaurants, or the "girls locker room" in schools and sports stadiums. See, the Religious Right and their buds don't actually believe that there is such a thing as a transgender person. To them, it's all just make-believe—and as far as they're concerned, trans women who dress like "real women" and who've taken hormones to modulate their voices, increase the size of their breasts and redistribute body fat and muscle tissue just means they've taken that "make-believe" too far. Take for instance an article that appeared on the Baptist Press website today, "Army's promotion of transgender ideology 'misguided'." Author Tom Strode claims that by "implement[ing] new training that requires soldiers to accept the presence of people with the physical traits of the opposite sex in barracks, bathrooms and showers, [t]he Army is thereby threatening the religious freedom of service members and playing a role in promoting falsehoods about what it means to be male and female." That same bullshit logic is also being applied in states around the country, as noted in this legislative round-up by the National Center for Transgender Equality, which lists recently introduced bills in 21 states that would eliminate equal rights for transgendered persons—and thankfully, many of them have already failed of enactment. But the states may not have to worry about balky legislators who may have scruples about making trans folks to be second-class citizens; the federal government may be ready to do that for them! The "congressional findings" section of H.R. 2796 makes clear that despite the fact that the term "gender identity" is fairly new in world parlance, and hence could not have been used when legislation was passed at any time before, say, 2010, as far as this bill's proponents are concerned, when their predecessors used the word "sex," it was "a designation long understood to be grounded in objective biology," and that "There is no evidence that Congress or the American people ever understood the word sex or gender in civil rights laws to include subjective self-identification," aka "gender identity"—which for these assholes means "transgender." The "findings" go on to claim that since there have only been two bills passed by Congress—the Shepard-Byrd Act of 2009 and the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013—in which "gender identity is defined as 'actual or perceived gender-related characteristics,' with 'gender' there referring to characteristics associated with biological males and females," then "This demonstrates that when Congress wants to protect sex, it does so explicitly; when it wants to also elevate gender identity it does so explicitly; and when it does not want to elevate gender identity, it can do so either explicitly or by simply not disturbing the status quo." That's basically a reimagining of the old logical fallacy "Post hoc ergo propter hoc": "After this, therefore because of this." As far as these assholes are concerned, the fact that, say, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 didn't make clear that when it used the word "sex," it was including transgender people, that means they meant to exclude transgenders from civil rights protections! And in case that redefinition of "sex" isn't enough, they want to pass this bill to make that discrimination crystal clear. In fact, that's exactly what it says on page 5 of the bill: "The purposes of this Act are— "(1) to prevent the executive branch from unilaterally rewriting Federal civil rights laws by enacting or implementing any policy or undertaking any enforcement action that is based on construing the term 'sex' or 'gender' to mean 'gender identity'; and "(2) to ensure that gender identity is not treated as a protected class in Federal law or policy without the affirmative approval of the people’s representatives in Congress." (Clearly, the bill's author and sponsors believe that for the forseeable future, there will be enough bigoted federal legislators that that "affirmative approval" will never come to pass.) But wait; that's not all! Section 3 of the bill is entitled "PROHIBITION OF POLICIES REDEFINING SEX TO MEAN GENDER IDENTITY," and its first clause reads, "In determining the meaning of any Federal civil rights law, and of any related ruling, regulation, guidance, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the words 'sex' and 'gender' and their equivalents shall not be interpreted to mean 'gender identity' or its equivalent, and the words 'man' and 'woman' and their equivalents shall refer exclusively to a person's genetic sex." One thing that may not be obvious is how sexist this bill is, since its purpose is clearly to prevent the "womenfolk" (whom all those good ol' Southern boys—and too many Northern ones—have sworn on their daddies' graves to "protect") from ever having to view a penis in a bathroom or locker room, despite the fact that most modern women are more than capable of ignoring the sight—and just as importantly, "protecting" those "belles of the South" (and North) from having their tits, asses and pussies possibly being viewed by those "masquerading boys" or "fake women" that the rest of us know to be "transgender." But hey, that's what some of your legislators are wasting their time on instead of figuring out how to keep 20 or 30 million people from dying because they don't have healthcare.

 
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