Column

No, President Biden Is Not ‘Erasing Women’

So-called progressives are angry Biden ended a policy that allowed schools to discriminate against trans students

Protestors at a rally against the transgender bathroom rights repeal, 2017. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Just hours after being inaugurated, President Joe Biden signed 17 executive orders undoing some of his predecessor’s most egregious and discriminatory actions, from reversing the Muslim Ban to ensuring that the U.S. reenters the Paris climate agreement. And though he hasn’t yet signed an executive order, Biden is also preparing to reverse the global gag rule: a devastating policy that bans funding for international health groups that even mention abortion to their patients.

So you can imagine my surprise when I saw, on Biden’s first full day in office, the hashtag “#BidenErasedWomen” trending on Twitter. Had the new president done or said something offensive about women already? Perhaps a Biden-esque gaffe to set off social media alarms?

No, the online furor wasn’t about some attack on feminist rights or the erasure of women — it was about Biden’s efforts to end discrimination against trans people. Namely, some so-called progressives were angry that Biden reinstated an Obama-era mandate that protects LGBTQ people under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. In doing so, Biden put an end to a Trump policy that, among other things, allowed schools to discriminate against trans students.

Making sure that a violently oppressed and marginalized community is treated with basic human dignity does not take anything away from anyone else.

I hate to give oxygen to the kind of thinking that pits cisgender women against trans women, and so I can’t bring myself to link to the uninformed and often downright hateful arguments being bandied about by those claiming to be feminists. The short version is that there’s a fear that cis women and girls will be somehow harmed if they are in the same bathrooms or on the same sports teams as trans women and girls. That by protecting the rights of trans students, cis students will suffer.

Let’s be clear: This is bigotry shrouded as feminism. Making sure that a violently oppressed and marginalized community is treated with basic human dignity does not take anything away from anyone else. And it’s a shame that the country’s first full day without Donald Trump has been spent by those arguing otherwise.

We have spent the last four years watching a hateful administration implement policies meant to curb progress and hurt the most vulnerable among us. The least we can do — the very least — is celebrate the new White House’s efforts to undo that damage. For those who can’t rise to that very low bar, at least have the decency not to call it feminism.

Feminist author & columnist. Native NYer, pasta enthusiast.

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