The Equality Act which passed the House of Representatives is the greatest blow for sex equality possible. It would be a far greater benefit for anti-trans campaigners than for trans people. This is because of its definition of “gender identity”:
The term ‘gender identity’ means the gender-related identity, appearance, mannerisms, or other gender-related characteristics of an individual, regardless of the individual’s designated sex at birth.
It includes every way human beings express ourselves, including how “bossy” (female) or “decisive” (male) we are, how “feminine” (good) or “effeminate” (bad).
Reacting to a person based on gender stereotypes would become potential unlawful discrimination. Specifically, “The term ‘sex’ includes a sex stereotype”. As I understand it, statute does not define “sex” for the purposes of discrimination, which is how Aimee Stephens could persuade the US Supreme Court to protect her based on her gender identity. But the law does not yet specifically protect against discrimination based on sex stereotype.
Trans excluders would be less keen that “in a situation in which sex is a bona fide occupational qualification, individuals [have a right to be] recognized as qualified in accordance with their gender identity”. And “an individual shall not be denied access to a shared facility, including a restroom, a locker room, and a dressing room, that is in accordance with the individual’s gender identity.” Excluders are going mad about this, now. They pretend that trans women are sexual perverts, or that we want to use women’s facilities because of sexual perversion. I want to use loos because I have functioning kidneys, and so need to pee regularly. I have little interest in other people there, indeed am happiest when toilets are deserted. But then I should not be excluded now, based on the Bostock case. All the Act does is put that beyond all doubt.
Republicans in the Senate will block it. They filibuster everything. I read that Americans do not know that they can block legislation with 41 Senate votes: only 15% of voters surveyed got that right. That’s despite the New York Times Opinion section having 81 articles in the past year about the filibuster, with headlines like “The Filibuster Must Go”. Those of us interested in politics can be shocked by how uninterested in politics, and ignorant, most people are. Voters think the Democrats control the Senate and House, so blame the Democrats for failure to legislate. Only people interested in politics would read those NYT articles.
Does the Act matter? Whether or not it is passed, some trans women will be mocked, bullied or excluded from women’s spaces, some might claim unlawful discrimination, various people will get irate, and the New York Times will put forth comment articles. I read two or three a day because I find them entertaining. Real life will go on. But, for those aware of it, the Act passing the Senate would shift the culture towards greater acceptance of difference, including gendered difference, and that would benefit everyone.
I might entitle today’s artwork “Trans Women Dreaming They Have a Ghost of a Chance” Or, am I just dreaming that trans women are entitled to having a real chance? It all haunts me, anyway.
It’s Frances MacDonald, one of The Four, or the Glasgow School. When I was a student I thought Art Nouveau was a Scottish movement. I thought the Enlightenment was primarily Scots, too.