Nations’ 63rd Commission on the Status of Women, the ostensible purpose of the 12-day gathering was to discuss the priority theme of access to social protection systems and to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality, and the empowerment of women and girls.
Although too often these women’s conferences fall into the trap of
defining women and women’s issues solely in terms of reproduction (obviously, an
important component of womanhood, though not the only one), a newer danger to addressing
women’s genuine needs was on full display at this conference.
Rather than just reducing women’s needs and priorities to issues pertaining to their biological and reproductive capabilities (as though women care solely about sexual and reproductive health), this radical ideology now threatens to erase biological women from the discussion altogether.
The rapidly changing and ever-expanding ideology of so-called gender identity threatens to undermine women’s economic, social, and political progress in unprecedented ways.
Nowadays, the term gender identity is used to describe an
individual’s self-perception as male, female, both, neither, or something along
The word “gender” in international legal documents has
historically been understood to mean biological sex (male or female), and thus
laws and policies that are implemented to achieve gender equality are intended
specifically to help women and girls.
However, policies that treat people based upon their gender identity undermine decades of efforts to remedy historical and societal injustices that disproportionally affect women and girls by benefiting any male who “self-identifies” as a woman.
The Heritage Foundation, together with the Hands Across the Aisle Women’s Coalition, recently hosted an event, “Equal or Erased?: The Rights of Women and Girls in the Age of Gender Identity.”
The panel featured a diverse panel of
speakers who explained how gender-identity ideology harms women and girls.
Each of the panelists—Dr. Monique Robles, Natasha Chart, Kaeley Triller, and Nuriddeen Knight—generally disagree with each other on many issues on political or religious grounds, but were united in their conviction that gender identity ideology, and the policies it demands, pose real threats to women and girls.
“In the U.S., doctors are giving 13-year-old
girls mastectomies, throwing 14-year-old girls into menopause, and surgically
castrating 16-year-old boys,” said Chart, board chairwoman of the Women’s
Liberation Front and writer at Feminist Current. “So, some of us will still say
that gender identity and self-identification are a form of hateful discrimination
against women, and a threat to children, and a silencing of our complaints
about sexual harassment.”
The panelists’ statements in defense of
biological women provoked strong reactions from transgender activists, many of
whom strenuously oppose the idea that women’s rights and private spaces be exclusive
Those activists dominated the question-and-answer
portion of the event with a variety of personal attacks and emotional
statements barely disguised as questions, and some walked out of the room
before even waiting to hear the panelists respond.
Pushback on this assertion—that a
conference on women ought to be able to focus on the needs and challenges of
actual, biological women—was even more heated in the Twittersphere.
For example, in response to a similar event that the Holy See co-sponsored with Heritage, the Women’s March Global tweeted under the hashtag #BanTheBinary and asserted that “Trans Women Are Women. This is not up for debate,” lamenting “trans exclusionary discourse.”
That’s part of a growing trend at the United Nations. LGBT activists and their liberal allies in the international human rights community, both nongovernmental organizations and member states, have succeeded in persuading a number of U.N. entities to reinterpret “sex” in foundational treaties such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to include “sexual orientation.”
Similarly, the committee that monitors implementation of, and compliance with, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women treaty has issued a number of general recommendations incorporating gender identity into its guidance on issues, such as women’s access to justice, education, combating gender-based violence, and even climate change.
Additionally, transgender activists recently unveiled an
updated supplement to the controversial Yogyakarta Principles, the “YP plus 10,” to
cover “sexual orientation and gender identity and the recognition of the
distinct and intersectional grounds of gender expression and sex
“YP plus 10” recommendations include allowing individuals to
legally register according to gender identity without use of birth
certificates or other documents and to allow name changes without taking into
account psycho-medical diagnoses or a person’s criminal record.
As feminists around the world have warned, such a policy would allow male sex offenders to erase their criminal pasts from the public record by renaming themselves as women.
The YP plus 10 also includes a demand to allow male athletes to self-identify and compete as women. Far from being an obscure document, several U.N. special rapporteurs and independent experts either drafted or signed the Yogyakarta Principles and are well-positioned to incorporate them into U.N. documents.
Individuals who identity as transgender—or anything else—must be treated with dignity and respect, and are entitled to the same human rights and protections as anyone else. However, these human rights and legal protections—such as the rights to life, expression, and assembly, and freedom from torture and inhumane treatment—apply to all human beings by virtue of our humanity, not because of membership in any particular group.
Furthermore, there’s strong and growing resistance in the highest
ranks of U.N. leadership to hearing the voices
of member states that oppose the progressive redefinition of terms such as
“family,” “gender,” “health,” “life,” and human rights.
Take, for example, the U.N.’s Free and Equal Campaign, a well-funded initiative with the weight of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights behind it to promote controversial issues, such as same-sex marriage, the criminalization of “hate speech,” and the affirmation of LGBT lifestyles.
Those policies are anathema to many U.N. member states,
particularly in the developing world, and are prime examples of the sort of ideological
colonization that ruffles feathers abroad.
The U.S. statement
at the conclusion of the Commission on the Status of Women rightly emphasized
the American priority of meeting the real needs of women, despite
efforts by radicals to promote abortion or the
When Western countries and U.N. bureaucrats assert special
privileges for particular favored identity groups through new readings of
treaties, they undermine the universality of human rights and the legitimacy of
the human rights movement.
The U.S. must insist that the U.N. bureaucracy and various other
entities stay within their mandates so as to safeguard fundamental rights for
all men, women, and children.
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