How feminists can challenge liberal bathroom politics

How feminists can challenge liberal bathroom politics

Robert Jensen

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has announced that a “bathroom bill” addressing gender-identity claims in access to bathrooms, showers and locker rooms will be one of his top priorities for this legislative session.

However, House Speaker Joe Straus has made it clear that such a bill is not a priority for him. And, perhaps most importantly, the influential Texas Association of Business, which is most concerned with politics that affect profits, doesn’t want any legislation that stirs up the kind of boycotts that North Carolina faced after passing a similar bill.

The betting money is on Straus and the TAB. But Patrick is a relentless publicity-seeking politician, and we can assume the issue will be in the news. That means we have an opportunity to ask a basic question and make a key point about the transgender movement’s claims that usually get lost in the political shuffle.

The core question: If someone is born unambiguously male as defined by chromosomes, genitalia, and secondary sex characteristics, but claims to be female (or vice versa), what does that actually mean? If sex categories are a product of the biological realities of human reproduction — that is, not about how a person feels but about physiology — what could it mean to be clearly in one category but assert a civil right to be in the other?

This is a serious question about biology and reproductive-based sex categories, and the transgender movement has yet to offer a coherent answer. People’s internal subjective experiences may feel coherent to them, but the assertion of such an experience does not constitute an explanation, and public policy should be based on claims that everyone can understand.

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