By Jane Simonetti
One of the most important jobs we have as Americans is to participate in our democracy by actively staying informed. We must build a grounded foundation through personal research before stepping into opinion-based arguments. Failing to conduct a simple Google search before publicly voicing an opinion is ignorant, and the Chapman Republicans have once again proven to the student body that they abide by this ignorance in their opinion piece on the “authoritarian and unfair” Equality Act.
The recent addition to the Equality Act was simply a vote by the House of Representatives to add gender identity to the list of protections. The opinion drafted by Chapman Republican Club President, Justin Buckner, is proof of how rhetorically dangerous a lack of responsible research and participation in a democracy can be.
In response to his “arguments:”
There are no “male/female” standards.
It is first important to note that basic research would lead you to the fact that gender and sex are, in fact, not the same thing. Gender, as defined by the American Psychological Association, is “the attitudes, feelings, and behaviors that a given culture associates with a person’s biological sex.” One’s gender identity is one’s sense of self as female, male, or something else (genderqueer). A person’s gender identity is internal, and not necessarily visible to others. If an individual’s biological sex and gender identity are not congruent, the individual might identify along the transgender spectrum. Sex, one’s biological characteristics, is also on a spectrum. Intersexual people exist.
Therefore, if we were to look at this point through the lens of our own country’s constitutional framework, allowing people to identify as whatever gender they feel most comfortable with is directly in-line with the right to freedom of expression. This can be tested and proven.
Women’s athletic rights are not at threat.
I am really glad to hear that the Chapman Republicans are so pro-women all of a sudden, fighting for women’s rights in sports. Chapman Republicans have never felt the need to speak on issues concerning women’s rights, so why now? I love the attitude that is developing, can we take that to a greater level such as advocating for equal pay or equal rights when it comes to our bodies?
Buckner claims that adding gender identity is a “step in the wrong direction for equality of women,” but negates to recognize that the Equality Act is in place to protect women; the addition of gender identity just reaffirms their rights. Is he really concerned with women’s rights in sports at all? Because women have been fighting for years for the same wages as men in all industries to always come out with change to their dollar, even in athletics. If he truly cared about female athletes, then he would also be fighting for equal pay.
There are solutions to this “grave threat.” No matter how long a trans woman has been taking testosterone suppressants, not every athletic “advantage” that comes with being born biologically male dissipates with the lessening levels of testosterone. Trans women have advantages such as larger lung capacity and bigger bone structure do not change with the lessening levels of testosterone.
However, there are multiple solutions to this. In an essay written by Allison Heather, a physiology professor at Otago University, she and her colleagues propose a system that requires the use of algorithms, analogous to divisions in the Paralympics. These algorithms would each be sport-specific and would take into account physiological parameters such as height, endurance capacity, and testosterone levels. Another solution would be to include divisions beyond male and female – an easy solution to protect the rights of everyone. Undoing years of gender-conformity-based discrimination – by including gender identity in the Equal Rights Act to guarantee protection from discrimination when it comes to basic rights, such as health care – far outweighs the hypothetical possibility of the abuse in recreational activities.
The Equality Act is not “allowing men into women’s public facilities.”
We have separate facilities for means of basic privacy; not as a protective measure against women. I know I do not enter public restrooms with the thoughts of “yeah, this is a safe place,” regardless of what the Equality Act says. The amendment to the act is not “allowing men to walk into women’s [bathrooms].” How do signs on bathroom doors and social norms prevent sexual predators from being sexual predators? A 2018 UCLA study concluded that there is no link between letting transgender people use their preferred bathroom and safety concerns for us “protected” women. This argument stems from the false idea that trans women are men trying to peep in women’s restrooms, which is not only incorrect, but extremely transphobic. Such beliefs invalidate transgender identities by refusing to accept their existence.
Gender identity will not replace your biology class.
I pinky swear that this amendment to the Equal Rights Act will not remove biology from schools’ curriculums (as much as some people might want it to). As mentioned prior, biological sex is not equal to gender. Therefore, the inclusion of “gender identity” poses no real threat to the current standards of classroom biology. If you want to talk about “anti-biological” teachings and behaviors, then I recommend you make that a separate conversation. Historically, it is not up to religious institutions to determine what is taught in our public education.
Parental rights are not at risk.
The hypothetical idea of parents losing custody rights because they refuse to approve sex changes is so far-fetched it is almost not worth mentioning. There is an obvious distinction between children being impulsive and parents actively suppressing their child’s gender expression. The idea of expressing one’s true identity is not “trendy,” rather it is a fundamental right.
Separation of Church and Hate.
I am gonna say with a good amount of certainty that transgender people, as well as their allies, are not going to want their weddings to be officiated by bigoted religious institutions so this argument is both unnecessary and irrelevant.
Gender theory is a subject that I suggest everyone should familiarize themselves with before claiming invalid. After all, remaining informed is a fundamental part of being an active participant in our democracy.
A point that I want to re-emphasize is that there is scientific research and studies that do, in fact, prove the existence of gender identity. The repetitive claim made by Buckner that there is no scientific evidence is a lie that could easily be corrected with the simple Google search of “gender vs. sex.” It is not Democrats who are lacking a stance for “female, religious, and parental right,” but rather Republicans, who need to detach themselves from their outdated and misinformed opinions and accept that some people are not going to fit into a “standard” of sex.
A factor that Buckner also brings to light is that the “risks” of transitioning could include higher rates of substance abuse, suicide contemplation, and depression/anxiety than any other group. Buckner, citing an article from the Williams Institute, claims that “Nearly 82 percent of transgender adults have contemplated suicide in their lives, 40.4 percent contemplate it annually.” If Buckner were to put in a minimal amount of effort to scroll half a page down in the article he quoted, he would have read that “In addition to general risk factors, transgender people have additional risk factors, such as experiences of discrimination, stigma, family rejection, and lack of access to gender-affirming health care.” Trans people are not killing themselves because of “regrettable” transitions. It is because other people are not willing to accept their transitions.
Buckner’s lame attempt to take the statistic out of context to further his political agenda puts another stain on the Chapman Republican Club as a whole and further invalidates every claim he has made. The addition of gender identity to the Equality Act does absolutely no harm to the everyday citizen and the hyperfocus on this issue without proper education is dangerous. To label the act an “authoritarian” policy was too far of a reach. For the sake of all Americans, educate yourself before inserting yourself into a conversation that simply does not affect you.
Ms. Simonetti is a sophomore at Chapman University majoring in Film Production with a minor in Psychology. While she is not affiliated with any political groups tied to Chapman University, she does find it crucial to be a part of the conversation