Cancelling Women

Biden’s Woke Rampage Puts Biological Females at Risk

During his first day as President, Joe Biden signed an executive order ostensibly designed to protect the “LGBTQ+ community” from discrimination. But as is often the case, laws preventing discrimination against one group merely end up mandating discrimination against another group. Executive Order #13988 is no exception: in protecting the trans community from discrimination, this law discriminates against the community of biological women. In fact, it essentially cancels them.

In order to understand the implications of this Executive Order, some definitions will be helpful. What do we mean when we talk about “men” and “women,” and how is this related to “sex” and “gender”?

Sex and Gender: What’s the Difference?

Over the last decade, many have found it hard to keep up with all the novel theories about gender and sex. Fortunately—or perhaps, unfortunately—we have an easy short-cut for bringing ourselves up to speed on the views “good people” must hold. That short-cut is Wikipedia. Among the online encyclopedia’s many benefits is its efficiency in constantly echoing establishment viewpoints, and being continually policed for PC compliance.

Wikipedia shows that the distinction between gender and biological sex has yet to be canceled. In fact, the encyclopedia has an entire page explaining the difference. The “Sex and gender Distinction” page acknowledges that biological sex relates, among other things, to a person’s anatomy at birth and their reproductive systems. By contrast, they explain that gender is more subjective, relating to a person’s “internal awareness.” On this scheme, sex is a function of biology while gender is a function of choice. Sex is binary; gender is open-ended and fluid.

Decoupling Gender from Sex

Although sex and gender have never been understood to be identical (e.g. nouns and clothes can have a gender, but not a biological sex) they have traditionally been understood as having a correspondence. For example, to be born biologically male is to be associated with the male gender, while being born biologically female is to be associated with the female gender. But this correspondence is now under attack. While progressive thinkers continue to recognize sex as an objective category rooted in the fixities of biology, they no longer acknowledge gender to be intrinsically related to sex. On this new way of thinking, gender is entirely a social construct, with no grounding in the realities of biological sex.

Biological Sex isn’t Yet Cancelled

Many at the fringes of the transgender movement are using pseudoscience to agitate for the complete elimination of biological sex. Yet these ideas are not yet mainstream. Most progressive thinkers—including liberal newspapers and Wikipedia—routinely differentiate between a person’s biological sex and their chosen gender.

In the near future it is unlikely that biological sex will be collapsed into the now vacuous concept of gender. This is because the concept of binary sex differentiation is relevant in many fields, including zoology, medicine, anatomy and physiology, genetics, nutrition, and forensic investigations. What is more likely is that Cancel Culture will simply ignore biological sex as if it does not exist. And that brings us back to President Biden’s Executive Order.

Cancelling Biological Sex Through the Back Door

Executive Order #13988 mandates that laws and businesses must organize individuals according to their chosen gender identity rather than biological sex. That is not explicit in the order, but simply an unacknowledged side-effect of the law’s provisions.

On the surface, the order simply addresses issues that have long been concern for those who identify as transgender, namely equal access to spaces and activities. While this sounds harmless enough, the move to adjust society around a person’s chosen gender identity entails two important de facto consequences.

First, it means that the community of biological women will no longer receive protections as a distinct group.

Second, it means that without formally denying the objective existence of biological women, society is being required to organize itself as if such a community does not exist.

This is Cancel Culture at its most sinister. Executive Order #13988 effectively cancels biological women. Of course, it does the same to biological men, but I am focusing on women because of the practical harm this community stands to suffer from these moves. Let’s look closer at this.

Woke Rampage Puts Biological Women at Risk

Andrew Sullivan, though a himself a homosexual and a gay rights advocate, has raised concern that vulnerable girls could be put at risk through Biden’s refusal to accommodate biological women as a protected class:

[Biden] takes the view that the law should…insist that trans women are absolutely indistinguishable from biological women — which erases any means of enforcing laws that defend biological women as a class. If your sex is merely what you say it is, without any reference to biological reality, then it is no longer sex at all. It’s gender, period. It’s socially constructed all the way down….

Some traumatized women who have been abused by men do not want to be around biological males in prison or shelters, even if they identify as women. I think these women should be accommodated. There are also places where we segregate by sex — like showers, locker rooms — for reasons of privacy. I think that allowing naked biological men and boys to be in the same showers as naked biological women and girls is asking for trouble — especially among teens. But for Biden, this is non-negotiable, and all objections are a function of bigotry….

Sullivan is right: by refusing to recognize biological women as a distinct community, President Biden nullifies protections they might otherwise be entitled to under the law. For example, biological females will have no protection against biological males who identify as “transgender women” and demand to enter women’s spaces (i.e., locker rooms, dressing rooms, showers) or demand to perform women’s jobs (i.e., TSA agents performing pat-downs, theatre wardrobe assistant for females, medical assistants to nuns).

In a very real sense, biological women are the victims of the new Jim Crow laws. They may not be sent to the back of the bus, but they are being prevented from organizing their own sporting events, or even having their own restrooms.

Of course, try as he might, Biden will never be able to completely erase the category of biological sex, given how central it is to many disciplines from zoology to forensic investigations. However, he doesn’t need to formally cancel biological sex, for by creating laws and systems that institutionalize the erasure of biological women as a distinct class, he leaves them without any resources to defend themselves from discrimination.

Sullivan is hopeful that Biden’s discriminatory move will not be able to stand under scrutiny:

The federal government cannot actively discriminate on the basis of race, sex or group identity under the Constitution. It cannot strip women of their rights as a distinct biological class…. Biden’s woke rampage in the federal government won’t last, because it cannot last if our constitution means anything. So let the lawsuits commence as Biden alienates and inflames his moderate supporters and snubs practices that most Americans take as common sense.

Them’s fightin' words! Let the battle begin.

is the author of Gratitude in Life's Trenches: How to Experience the Good Life Even When Everything Is Going Wrong (Ancient Faith 2020) and has a Ph.M. in history from King’s College, London. He is currently working on a Master’s in library science through the University of Oklahoma. He works as a freelance writer and researcher for a variety of publications and operates a blog at www.robinmarkphillips.com.

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