Welcome to the Biden Era.
Last night, hours after being sworn-in, President Biden signed an executive order banning discrimination in the federal government on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation, reflecting last summer’s Supreme Court ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County that held gender identity and sexual orientation fall under “sex” as a protected class when it comes to employment. Biden and his team simply expanded that logic to all other policy areas under federal purview.
This is all common sense and legally straightforward, of course. For decades, lower federal courts had made the same determination, repeatedly concluding that LGBTQ people—and everyone else, too—are protected in those characteristics on the basis of sex.
To be clear, although this is an enormous milestone for LGBTQ rights, much work is left to be done. A lot of it. LGBTQ people are still vulnerable to discrimination in most of the United States, where there are no laws in state jurisdictions protecting LGBTQ people against discrimination in housing, public accommodations, credit, jury service, etc.
Why? Because federal non-discrimination executive orders like the one signed by President Biden don’t apply to non-federal circumstances. So, we need Congress to finally pass the Equality Act—which President Biden has long pledged to sign—and guarantee universal protection for LGBTQ people against discrimination in all states and jurisdictions.
Again, this is common sense. In a free society, people should be permitted to love who they love and be who they are authentically without fear of violence and discrimination.
But for many Republicans, this common sense issue is seen as a potent distraction from doing their jobs and actually improving the lives of all Americans.
This morning, #BidenErasesWomen trended on Twitter after social conservatives like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green (GA-14) claimed Pres. Biden’s executive order would, um, erase women. (Spoiler: it will not.)
This has long been an issue that social conservatives have repeatedly attempted to frame as their next primary battle in the poorly named “culture wars”.
They lost on same-sex marriage. They lost on gay, lesbian, and bisexual people serving openly in the military. They lost on women serving in combat roles. They’ve lost repeatedly on issues of diversity, inclusion, and affirmation as they relate to race, religion, gender, disability, nationality, etc. etc. etc.
It turns out the “culture wars” are really about one side wanting everyone else to look, think, and act like them and a failure to assimilate entirely is somehow a threat to their way of life.
Trans and non-binary people—and in this case, particularly, trans women—are simply the next chapter of social conservatives demanding to be in our bedrooms, in our private lives, making our decisions for us.
There is zero evidence--not a shred--that protecting trans women against discrimination harms cis women. We have asked for it. Many times. And all transphobes have is conjecture, lies, and performative fear disguising ignorance and hatred.
Because it turns out that equality is not pie.
I know pie very well. I am a friend of pie. Pie is absolutely delicious, arguably one of the all-time greatest culinary innovations.
And sometimes, there appears to be not enough pie to go around.
These are sad moments, as two or more people look longingly at a lone slice of sweet or savory filling in a delicious baked crust of flour, butter, salt, and sugar (perhaps variations of minced nuts for us weirdos) and must decide who gets it.
They could also decide to simply split the last piece, as reasonable and compassionate adults are capable of doing. I have witnessed this, and it’s the America I love.
The point is that, unlike pie, there is no need to split equality. There is not a finite amount of equality. There is not a series of underground mines where equality is extracted, no factory where it is manufactured, no store where it is distributed in a delightful Labor Day sale. There are no empty shelves of equality with a sign hanging down that says “WILL RESTOCK. MORE COMING.”
Equality is only restrained in its availability by the arbitrary limits we, as fellow human beings, put on it in an attempt to marginalize each other, or enabled by our neglectful ignorance and absent allyship when those limits are in place.
If I, a transgender woman, am able to hold a job without fear of being fired because I’m transgender, that does not mean one of my colleagues who is a cisgender woman is somehow more vulnerable because she’s cisgender.
If a Black person in this country is able to live and work and protest without fear of being murdered by law enforcement, that does not make my life harder as a white person.
If a Muslim or Jewish or Hindu or Atheist or Agnostic person wishes to work and live in circumstances in which they are not forced to observe and adhere to my specific religious beliefs, that does not make my life harder as a Christian.
Equality is not pie.
Pie is pie. Equality is equality.
And I promise you that if we all work together, we can all eat our own damn pies and have equality, too.
Hi, I’m Charlotte Clymer, and this is my Substack. It’s completely free to access and read, but if you feel so moved to support my writing, please consider upgrading to a paid subscription: just $7/month or save money with the $70/annual sub. You can also go way above and beyond by becoming a Founding Member at $210.
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