As if women are completely invisible

Holly Lawford-Smith on bad news out of Australia:

I know the sex self-id bill was expected to pass, but I’m still kind of in shock that it did, 56 v. 27 at Lower House yesterday. It’s just surreal, that Labour & the Greens are supposed to be progressive parties (whose members would probably call themselves feminists), and yet they’re pushing through legislation that replaces sex (an objective characteristic that affects how people are treated) with gender identity (a subjective characteristic that may play no role at all in how you are treated). Women in Australia still face a range of serious issues, including but not limited to pregnancy and breastfeeding discrimination, insufficient research into female-specific medical problems, subjection to domestic violence, subjection to rape, sexual assault, & harassment, underrepresentation in politics.

These parties have been acting like women are completely invisible. They never talk about what this legal change means for women, unless it’s to dismiss (always without evidence) the idea that there is any risk to women or women’s spaces. They talk incessantly about how important it is for trans people to have their “identities affirmed” on legal documents. What is identity affirmation worth, though, if you put it on the scales against all the interests that are protected by an accurate category of sex in law? (Including those interests women have in single-sex spaces). It makes me feel sick to think that it’ll take a range of horrible incidents like have happened in the UK, Canada, and US to show just how bad sex self-identification really is as a policy. Why should women have to lose their businesses (Canada), have to go through human rights proceedings (Canada), be assaulted in female bathrooms (Scotland), be re-traumatised in women’s shelters (Canada), be assaulted in women’s prisons or be re-traumatised by having to share intimate spaces in women’s prisons (UK), lose places in non-competitive sporting competitions (US, New Zealand)? And what about all the other ways in which women will start to self-exclude, from women’s gyms, or women’s groups, as male-bodied people start to self-include?

I’m just lost for words. Judith Butler wrote a stupid book, some academic disciplines liked the stupid book a bit too much, and now somehow here we are, with the completely mental idea that your sex is a matter of your beliefs rather than your body and your biology, making its way into state law and stamping out sex-based protections. I am furious.

For years, decades, centuries women have been struggling to get men to stop speaking over us, and now we’re expected to stop that struggle if the man says he’s a woman. Now we’re expected to share even our feminism with men. We’re expected to go back to having men speaking over us, but now they’re doing it in the guise of actually being women, when they’re not. We can’t even have our own fucking sex, even while we continue to be domineered over and silenced because of it.

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