Who you gonna believe, Alexandra Brodsky, the Skadden fellow (?!?) at the National Women’s Law Center, or the Alliance Defending Freedom? After all, when it comes to women’s rights, is there not an official voice that tells all women what they must want, who they must be? And anybody who feels otherwise is a traitor to their gender.
Last month, a Minnesota federal court received a complaint about rampant gender discrimination in one of the state’s school districts. The lawsuit claimed that girls were subject to harassment, barred from participating in athletics, and forced to transfer schools rather than tolerate a hostile environment.
It seems like the sort of case that feminist warriors, like my colleagues at the National Women’s Law Center, might bring. But the plaintiffs’ lawyers come from the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative nonprofit organization that is elsewhere suing the federal government to stop it from protecting transgender students’ rights. The discrimination noted in the lawsuit stemmed from the presence of a transgender girl in the girls’ locker room.
If this was really about women, then the feminist warriors would be all over it like flies on shit. But they’re not. Instead, it’s the conservative ADF, and they are most assuredly not the officially approved warriors of feminism.
The federal government has made clear that Title IX’s prohibition on sex discrimination includes discrimination against transgender students. But the Minnesota suit claims that Title IX backs up the other girls in the locker room: Because they feel uncomfortable with a transgender girl present, the lawsuit claims, they are victims of sex discrimination.
Brodsky is testing whether you believe the official spin or actually know something about this. First, the “federal government” hasn’t exactly made anything clear. Executive branch bureaucrats have created this out of whole cloth, and in direct conflict with Congress, which has rejected this position over and over. If the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights is all there is to federal government, then it would be quasi-accurate. But it’s not.
Then again, this isn’t what the suit is about in any event. Rather, it’s about Auer deference, whether courts are required to accept a letter by a petty bureaucrat that creates a radical and entirely unauthorized paradigm shift in the law. If this is the way the law should go, then Congress should say so. Nobody made Catherine Lhamon the queen. Oh wait. Brodsky would, if we concede that her group is the official voice for women.
She has a beef with ADF being on the side of girls, and the parents who love them, in this case. That’s her group’s job, and ADF and NWLC haven’t been close friends. Not even loyal adversaries. They kinda dislike each other, though it’s unfair to make much of that since the NWLC hates everybody that isn’t it. The ADF isn’t a lot different.
But that doesn’t address whether the ADF has a point this time, or whether Brodsky is torn because of the fact that neither she nor her organization speak for the girls in this case.
The claim depends on the belief that transgender girls are actually boys. The organization bringing the suit sees no problem in the girls’ locker room if there are no transgender girls present. But the fake-feminist privacy argument is apparently more tolerable to liberal minds — and perhaps more dangerous for that reason.
Therein lies an interesting argument. Women, at least the ones involved in the suit, find it a problem that boys are in girls’ locker rooms (not to mention hotel and dorm rooms, and, should it be legally established, everywhere else they want to be). But “liberals,” the bane of progressive ideology because they ruin everything by applying intellectual rigor, find the arguments sound. That’s dangerous. Thinking people won’t drink the Kool-Aid. Those bastards.
When schools fail to value female athletes, or punish girls for “unladylike” outfits, they reinforce narrow visions of what makes a good woman. The same thing happens when they tell a girl she has to change in a different locker room solely because she is transgender.
Yeah, well, that’s where the Brodsky argument hits a brick wall. That may very well be the same thing to her, and the official feminist warriors at the meetings, but that isn’t what other women think. The sad reality is that nobody elected Brodsky to be the official voice for all women, and girls and their parents who don’t share her value system are entitled to their own views, even if Brodsky disagrees with them or calls them mean names for not being real feminists like her.
Our struggles against sexism and transphobia are not in tension but intertwined. Gender discrimination, whatever form it takes, should never stand in the way of a student’s opportunity to learn and thrive.
This is the orthodox line, but it doesn’t match up well with reality. Rights are in constant tension, and in this instance, direct tension. Are they fake feminists for not being as thrilled as Brodsky at the prospect of penises in their 12-year-old girls’ locker rooms? Or bedrooms (they keep leaving this out, but it’s part of the deal at present)? Is Brodsky allowed to sacrifice and seize control of the legitimate concerns of other women because of her feelings about transgenders? She has a mission, but to women who are not as willing to accept that male anatomy is their feminist duty, who’s the real creep?
While Brodsky’s claim to being a feminist warrior, while founding an organization that infantilizes helpless, delicate females and undermines generations of efforts to achieve equality, is a curious linguistic ploy, the bottom line here is that her choice to forego other women’s concerns because of her vision of social justice orthodoxy is a sham. This isn’t to say that discrimination against transgenders isn’t worthy of serious concern, but that if anyone is a fake feminist, it’s Brodsky.