Radical feminists, once pillars of the Left, have been shown the door by many in the transgender movement, but they aren’t keeping quiet.
The feminists are continuing to speak out against the elimination of women from society, and the erosion of their rights as an individual sex.
Kara Dansky worked in the progressive criminal justice reform movement, and also spent time working at the ACLU, but when she started speaking out against the erasure of women through the legal promotion of gender identity, she lost work and was sidelined in the field she had worked in for years. Dansky had been pointing out how it was important to not enshrine terms such as “gender identity” into the law, and how doing so would harm women and girls.
“Even though I am solidly on the political Left, in political Left circles, the kinds of things I was saying were very unpopular, even actually socially and professionally prohibited,” Dansky told The Daily Wire.
She is firmly against the Equality Act, which passed the House of Representatives last year. She said the Equality Act would “redefine sex throughout civil rights law to include the phrase ‘gender identity.’”
She said this “obliterates the ability of women and girls to be named as a sex class in the law. And radical feminists think that that is important and a very bad thing for women and girls because we aim to fight sexism, and we cannot fight sexism if we cannot say what sex is and if we cannot say that women and girls constitute a coherent class of people.”
She discussed the hard-won battles that feminists have fought in the past to achieve segregated spaces where women would be apart from men.
According to Live Science, in 1887, Massachusetts passed a law saying that workplaces with women have to have separate restrooms for them, per an article in Rutgers University Law review. By the 1920s, this was the standard in the majority of states.
“There are lots of reasons why historically women have stayed in the home, Dansky explained, and lots of them are “ideological,” and due to stereotypes about the roles of sexes. “But one of them is very practical. Just as a practical matter, it was very difficult for women to be out and about in public life because there was no such thing as women’s restrooms,” she said. “And [getting] public women’s restrooms, as strange as this may sound, was actually a really important feminist fight.”
Public restrooms aren’t the only area where safety and violence is an issue, but also in domestic violence shelters and prisons.
“Women worked very hard to get domestic violence shelters established so that women fleeing male violence in the home could have somewhere to go,” she said, adding how now domestic violence shelters are being legally forced to allow men to stay in the facilities due to “their so-called female gender identity, and that’s really dangerous for women and girls.”
She pointed out how there’s more to it than just the safety concerns, though, such as “really important privacy and dignity issues.” She said even if the men aren’t physically or violently threatening to girls and women, “women and girls ought to be able to say ‘no’ to men and boys in our spaces.”
Prisons are also a major concern as states like California create policies to let men be housed in women’s prisons if they say they are a woman.
In November of 2021, feminist group Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF) filed a lawsuit challenging California’s law that permits men who say they personally identify as non-binary or female to be placed in women’s prisons. The ACLU recently sought to get involved in the case, in support of the law, but a decision has not been made on their request.
The bill, SB 132, went into effect in January of 2021 and “allows incarcerated transgender, non-binary and intersex people to request to be housed and searched in a manner consistent with their gender identity,” according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Mahri Irvine, the executive director of Women’s Liberation Front, told The Daily Wire that most of the women who are coming into prison have already gone through several traumatic experiences.
“I would describe incarcerated women as one of our country’s most vulnerable group of people,” she said.
Women in prisons who identify as transgender or non-binary are also at risk due to these policies, Lauren Adams, who recently worked as legal director for WoLF, said. She noted that they aren’t seeking to go to men’s prisons in large numbers, because they are at risk in those environments. They can also become pregnant or be raped, and their physical size is smaller than the men arriving at the women’s prisons.
She said she believes there have been “ten transfer requests from female to male facilities. None have been granted. None have been denied. They’re just letting them hang out there, inviting another lawsuit, I assume, for failing to even to deny them.”
On the other hand, she said, there have been around 350 requests by men to enter women facilities. Adams said she often hears that the women in prison at times want to protect the transgender woman in the facility, and not say anything that would result in the person being sent back to the potentially dangerous men’s prison.
“And there [are] men who take advantage of that, regardless of what their personal identity is, whether they sincerely believe themselves to be something or other,” she said.
“These are violent criminals serving long sentences who are looking at this as their one chance to have sexual relationships with women ever for the rest of their entire lives,” she added. “A lot of these men are serving life sentences, and they did what they had to to get over there… And from what we hear act like men, we hear that over and over again.”
Dansky and Women’s Liberation Front say there is support for their message against such transgender policies. While some support them, often they are still afraid of the repercussions.
“We have thousands of supporters and donors, some of them very small and low level, but thousands of people who very privately support us, but they’re still worried about the backlash, and these are people in professional positions,” Irvine noted.
She said they know from private messages that there are lots of people in different areas who think that women and girls deserve specific spaces and certain resources to operate as single sex.
In January, Senator Tom Cotton (R-AK) introduced a bill that would not allow prisons to use gender identity to house men in women’s prisons — and vice versa.
Dansky said public opinion is starting to move, and she has started hearing from more mainstream Democrats on the topic.
The issue might seem as if it only impacts Democrat-run states, but the policies allowing men to be housed in women’s prisons are far-reaching, Adams said. She explained that over half of states essentially use “cross-sex” housing, meaning that these states seem to have specifically accommodated people who identify as transgender in women’s facilities. Only recently, she noted, have states started to put men who still have functioning male reproductive body parts in female prisons. It is a difficult area of the law, and Adams pointed out over email that no state or federal laws give women in prison the “right to have single-sex housing [sic].”
One state that caters to transgender-identifying inmates is South Dakota.
The South Dakota Department of Corrections’ policy regarding gender dysphoria management was signed in June of 2021. The policy notes, “Facility housing and programming assignments for all inmates, including those that identify as transgender, intersex or who have a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, shall be made on a case-by-case basis,” while considering the the individual’s past and adhering to inmate classification procedure.
“Inmate housing is not based exclusively on external genital anatomy of those housed in the unit or facility,” it added.
There are several states that allow men to be put in women’s prisons, either through law or policies. In Washington state, policies have allowed men to be put in female prisons. California’s practice, where there is legislation concerning the topic, is rare.
“It’s not something that can really simply be solved because… it’s something that happened very slowly over time based on various obscure laws,” Adams said.
WoLF pointed out the sexist nature of the policies allowing men to be in women’s prisons. Women are the ones who are put at a disadvantage and whose wellbeing is not considered. The women who are most traumatized and defenseless do not have enough people advocating for them.
Irvine pointed out how when “trans identified men” say they are unsafe and need to get out of the men’s prison because they are in danger, they are allowed to go to a women’s prison. “But then we have all these female inmates who say they don’t feel safe, and where do they get to go? There’s nowhere for them to run. Right? So the running away is only in one direction,” she added.
The policy becomes more of a Band-aid than a real fix to the problems surrounding the incarceration system. “…we want everybody to be safe in prison. But those men’s prison administrators, they need to fix their own problems and not just dump them off on women’s prisons,” she noted.
Adams pointed out how the push to get men into women’s prisons is not something that is benefitting both sexes. “It’s very much a men’s rights movement, it’s very much a men’s rights campaign,” she said.
“These laws specifically benefit men,” she pressed. “They explicitly benefit men.”