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GOP’s “Women’s Bill of Rights” Riddled With Attacks on Trans People

Far from recognizing women’s rights, one Harvard Law expert described the measure as being “solely about transphobia.”

Rep. Debbie Lesko speaks during the Republican Study Committee news conference to introduce a "Women's Bill of Rights" outside the Capitol on May 19, 2022.

A group of Republican lawmakers in Congress have submitted a resolution that purports to be a “Women’s Bill of Rights” — but in reality, their document is less about establishing protections of any rights at all for women, and more about curtailing the rights and recognition of transgender people.

The resolution purports to establish a number of rights to “reaffirm legal protections afforded to women under Federal law.” Yet, as an analysis from LGBTQ Nation noted, the “Women’s Bill of Rights” only seeks to promote one supposed right — to allow cisgender women to discriminate against transgender women in public spaces — while promoting transphobia.

Within the six points of the resolution, the “Women’s Bill of Rights” defines a person’s gender as the sex assigned to them at birth rather than their gender identity. The text also defines a “mother” as a parent who is a cisgender woman, disregarding transgender men and nonbinary people who can give birth, too. The measure would also require state and local governments that compile data on gender to only do so based “on the biological sex of individuals at birth.”

The resolution, sponsored by Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Arizona) in the House and co-sponsored by 13 other Republicans in that chamber, was introduced this week and referred to the House Judiciary Committee. In the Senate, the measure was also introduced by Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Missouri), and is co-sponsored by Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyoming).

Purporting to promote the protection of women — a talking point that has long been used by conservatives to justify prejudice against transgender and nonbinary individuals — the measure doesn’t actually codify anything in terms of protecting anyone’s rights. The resolution also ignores reproductive rights.

The resolution will likely be blocked for the time being due to Democrats’ control of both houses of Congress. But the measure provides a preview for how Republicans may seek to deny the rights of transgender and nonbinary individuals in the coming year, should the GOP win in the 2022 midterms.

The resolution’s main proponent, Lesko, argues that the bill is necessary because, according to her, Democrats “are erasing women and the spaces that are uniquely ours.” But Alejandra Caraballo, a trans advocate and instructor at Harvard Law School, has rejected that framing.

“[The resolution] erases the existence of trans people from federal law,” Caraballo said in an analysis of the resolution. “It’s solely about transphobia.”

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