WoLF v. trans women and girlsTrans Progressive Thursday, August 18th, 2016
Commentary: Trans Progressive
“A bathroom battle! Transgender students can choose which bathroom or locker room to use at schools, but now a women’s group is suing,” began Lisée Mitri for her Aug. 12 KRQE News report .
Its easy shorthand to think of the battle enemy of LGBT civil rights as being religious right aligned organizations. Sometimes it’s hard for us in the LGBT community to wrap our heads around the idea that an organization that defines itself in terms of radical feminism would work to oppress an LGBT subcommunity.
Yet, the Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF) last week filed suit against Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) over the Department of Education’s (ED) interpretation of Title IX.
ED published a Dear Colleague letter about civil rights protections for transgender students May 13. “This letter summarizes a school’s Title IX obligations regarding transgender students and explains how the ED and the DOJ evaluate a school’s compliance with these obligations.”
The guidance can be summarized from the text of the Dear Colleague letter: “The Departments’ interpret Title IX to require that when a student or the student’s parent or guardian, as appropriate, notifies the school administration that the student will assert a gender identity that differs from previous representations or records, the school will begin treating the student consistent with the student’s gender identity. Under Title IX, there is no medical diagnosis or treatment requirement that students must meet as a prerequisite to being treated consistent with their gender identity.”
In other words, trans girls are to be treated as girls and trans boys are to be treated as boys.
Where there has been organized political pushback – mostly from religious right aligned organizations – it’s been focused on trans students’ use of sex segregated bathrooms and locker rooms.
WoLF is different. On its Statement of Principles webpages, the organization defines its membership as:
• Unapologetically radical feminists.
• Dedicated to the total liberation of women.
• A women-only organization: We are females who survived girlhood.
WoLF filed their suit in the U.S. District Court in Albuquerque Aug. 11 in support of their stated principles. WoLF states in their suit that the ED’s “unilateral decree that women are not, as has been understood since the dawn of time, people who are biologically female, but anyone who, for any reason or no reason at all, choose to so describe themselves at any given time, is an arbitrary and breathtakingly irresponsible action that denies every female’s biological and social reality.”
The two named plaintiffs in the suit are “AB,” identified as a 15-year-old public school student, and AB’s mother. Both are members of WoLF. According to the suit, “They fear not only the increased risk of sexual assault on AB, but the embarrassment, humiliation, anxiety and loss of personal dignity because they will have to share such intimate spaces with men while in various stages of undress. Each of AB’s injuries is imminent, traceable to the May 13 guidance and redressable by this Court.”
There’s not a breadth of hair’s distance between the language that WoLF radical feminists are using to describe the alleged dangers of transgender girls using school bathrooms and locker rooms alongside non-transgender girls, and the language organizations such as the Family Research Council, Alliance Defending Freedom and American Family Association are using to describe the same alleged dangers.
WoLF board member Kara Dansky was asked by KRQE about children who were assigned female at birth but have a male gender identity. Dansky replied, “If a particular biological female wants to use a male space? No. That’s not our main concern.”
Of course it’s not Dansky’s or WoLF’s concern. This “bathroom battle” WoLF is waging in feminism’s name has nothing to do with trans men and boys, or even about how trans women and girls actually behave in women’s and girls’ spaces. It has everything to do with eradicating trans women and girls from public life.
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