Mi­nor­ity view should not de­fine what ‘woman’ is

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - EDITORIAL PAGE -

Trans­gen­der peo­ple should be pro­tected by law against dis­crim­i­na­tion and should cer­tainly be as free as any­one to serve in the U.S. mil­i­tary. But, some in the trans­gen­der move­ment make de­mands of so­ci­ety that go well be­yond bring­ing an end to dis­crim­i­na­tion. Over the past 10 to 20 years a small mi­nor­ity of the pop­u­la­tion has be­gun to in­sist that a woman is any­one who claims to be one. The Trans­gen­der Law Cen­ter in San Fran­cisco says only 15 per­cent of trans­gen­der peo­ple re­ported hav­ing any kind of surgery, so ap­par­ently anatomy is be­com­ing al­to­gether ir­rel­e­vant to be­ing a woman.

Where is the pub­lic dis­cus­sion over who is a woman? My 1991 dic­tionary de­fines woman as “the fe­male hu­man be­ing.” Does the pub­lic re­ally want to aban­don that def­i­ni­tion? Laws that change our un­der­stand­ing about who is a woman are al­ready be­ing con­sid­ered and passed in some states, but there has been very lit­tle free and open pub­lic dis­cus­sion among Amer­i­cans about this ques­tion. I cer­tainly want trans­gen­der peo­ple to live their lives free from dis­crim­i­na­tion and free to ex­press their fem­i­nin­ity or mas­culin­ity. But, I’m not ready to change the def­i­ni­tion of who is and isn’t a woman on the say so of this small mi­nor­ity.

What do women want? Can there be a pub­lic dis­cus­sion about who is a woman? Is the pub­lic go­ing to al­low a mi­nor­ity of trans­gen­der peo­ple to pre­vent women from dis­cussing im­por­tant ques­tions like this one, as hap­pened when trans­gen­der ac­tivists de-plat­formed speak­ers at the God­dess Fes­ti­val and OMNI Cen­ter in Fayet­teville last March? This si­lenc­ing of women is hap­pen­ing all across the U.S.!

Where is the pub­lic dis­cus­sion over who is a woman? Who is a woman? What do you think? What do women want?

JEANNE NEATH St. Paul

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