A fortnight before President Biden took office, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that “mother”, “father”, “daughter”, “brother” and other gendered words to describe familial relationships would be removed from House rules. Henceforth in official documents they would be replaced by the gender-neutral terms “parent”, “child” or “sibling”. The purpose of this was to “honour all gender identities”.
Then, within hours of his inauguration, the president’s first executive order decreed that his administration would fully apply the Supreme Court’s Bostock ruling that denying rights “‘because of … sex’ covers discrimination on the basis of gender identity” too.
But this order has far wider consequences. In a stroke of the pen, with zero debate or legislative scrutiny, biological sex as a discrete political and legal concept has gone. US women’s prisons, publicly funded domestic violence refuges and college sporting contests can no longer deny entry to any male-born person who identifies as a woman.
If sex and gender identity are the same, a male person does not just have the human right to live as a woman free from violence and discrimination, or be granted social and legal recognition as a woman. (Which most feminists wholeheartedly support.) What is now claimed is that such a male is biologically female. From this bizarre science-denial stem many absurdities: a penis is not necessarily a male organ, therefore a teenage male who identifies as a girl cannot be denied entry to female showers because, regardless of physical appearance, they are also “female”.