Apr 12th, 2021, 04:10 PM

Shared Values of the GOP and Third Wave Feminism

By Jacob Rogers
Image credit: Unsplash/Delia Giandeini
Here's how discriminatory legislation from the GOP and modern feminism both harm the trans community.

In celebration of International Women's Day, South Dakota Governor, Kristi Noem, decided to commemorate the occasion by promoting the discriminatory bill HB 127. Governor Noem cited that the bill is a, “celebration of rights in the defense of women’s sports.”

After years of continuous attempts by Republican (GOP) legislators to make discrimination against transgender youth legal, the Governor was dealt a bad deck of cards after a violent uproar about HB 127, a bill meant to disqualify trans youth, specifically the male to female (MTF) community, from participating in sports. Originally Governor Noem was, “excited to sign this bill.”

Yet, since the governor made these remarks, she has faced a huge backlash. First, South Dakota legislators raised concerns that if the bill were to pass, there would be a potential to lose an Amazon fulfillment center currently under construction in Sioux Falls and the 1,000 jobs that are promised. Second, thousands of trans rights activists marched on the state capitol to express their discontent with the proposed legislation. Third, the Director of Public Policy for the Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce came out against the bill citing, “potential economic fallout.”

Unfortunately, this bill is not the only one of its kind. The modern GOP and its legislation are plagued by a culture of bigotry. A political party that previously was defined by its neo-liberal and fiscally conservative policies has morphed into one that is willing to fall on the sword of a culture war. 

Since 2016, the GOP and its legislators have been conducting a war on bathrooms with transgender people being the casualties. It began with the controversial North Carolina "bathroom bill” requiring people to use the bathroom of the gender assigned at birth, on their birth certificates. The creators of the bill argued that transgender individuals using the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity and expression are dangerous to women, insinuating that transgender and nonbinary people are practicing predatory behavior in bathrooms.

Image Image credit: Creative Commons/Kevin Zamani

Historically, cis women also were denied access to bathrooms. Women in Victorian England were not allowed to relieve themselves as publicly as men were. Of the few public restrooms that were available, almost none were accessible to women thus chaining women to the home. Similarly, if trans people aren’t allowed access to bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity and feel uncomfortable using bathrooms that correspond with their gender assigned at birth, it leaves them no option but to use the bathroom in their homes. Essentially, this discriminatory legislation is chaining trans people to privacy, saying they are not suitable to be in the public eye. 

In addition to attempting to ban trans people from sports and bathrooms, the GOP-controlled Arkansas legislature has now introduced HB 1570. To synthesize, “this bill blocks trans youth from accessing gender-affirming care and opens the door for insurance programs to deny coverage to all trans people,” said the American Civil Liberties Union. 

“Medical decisions belong to trans youth, their parents, and their doctor — not the government. This bill flies in the face of common decency, basic human rights, and the advice of every major medical association — not to mention federal law. What could possibly be more cruel than trying to take away a child’s access to the care that could save their life?” said a statement from Holly Dickson, ACLU of Arkansas executive director. 

So not only does the GOP not want trans youth to participate in sports, or use public restrooms, but now they would like to strip them of their health care in the middle of a global pandemic. 

Unequivocally, trans rights are both women’s rights and human rights. In fact, trans people, and other members of the LGBTQ+ community, make up about 20% of hate crime victims in the U.S. annually. Factor in Black trans women and it is clear that they are one of the most targeted and vulnerable minority groups in the United States. Instead of separating and continually trying to write discrimination in law, we must protect this vibrant community. 

Image credit: Creative Commons/Joe PIette

Most concerning of all is the negligence of modern feminism to protect non-conforming women or include them in the movement. Modern-day feminism, which is characterized by its concentration on language, fails to understand that we are not in a post-discriminatory society. Before we focus on flowery language, it is imperative to dismantle the unequal pay structures, patriarchal political environment, and predatory medical practices against women. More specifically, those that target women of color, women chained by poverty, and trans women. “Women represent a majority of the extreme poor (less than $1.90 per day) in most regions of the world,” says the World Bank. 

As a party that has only won the popular vote of the presidency twice in the past 33 years, the GOP is struggling to maintain relevance. Fueled by the hatred promoted by the Trump presidency, the GOP has turned away from the once great party of Lincoln and of small government, to one that legislates where citizens can use the restroom. Clearly, this culture war on transgender individuals and youth is a last-ditch effort to regain a recently lost choke hold on power. 

*Additional resourcing done by Peacock Plume writer: Sarah Affonso