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Monday, Cathy Ruse at Family Research Council writes: Under the “Equality Act,” A Woman’s Place is in the Bleachers. In order to cut to the chase, Mrs. Ruse writes:

There’s nothing “equal” about forcing women to compete against biological men.

Yet that’s what the so-called “Equality Act” will require, a bill being pushed now by transgender activists and their allies.

The religious right has been opposing the Equality Act (HR5) by attacking transgender people in one form or another. The reason is simple. The overwhelming majority of American citizens oppose discrimination against gay people. Part of that support stems from the fact that most people have gay family members, co-workers and/or friends.

However, most people do not know any transgender people. Trans folks comprise a minuscule percentage of the population and some transgender people are outwardly undetectable as transgender. I suspect that a large percentage of the population confuses trans people with drag queens when, in fact, most trans people are rather ordinary and boring — just like most of us. They want a decent job and a satisfactory quality of life.

HR5 would modify existing laws (mostly the Civil Rights Act of 1964) to protect people from discrimination on the bases of sexual orientation and gender identity. It applies to employment, housing, public accommodations, credit, jury service and public facilities.

Section 4 of the Act refers to nondiscrimination in public facilities. The text reads:

Section 301(a) of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. 2000b(a)) is amended by inserting “sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity),” before “or national origin”.

42 U.S.C. 2000b(a) now incorporates “… programs receiving Federal assistance under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. …”

Title IX (signed into law by Richard Nixon) prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity. Its primary purpose is to avoid the use of federal funds to support sex discrimination in education programs.

Participation in women’s sports is not a valid argument in opposition to the equality act.

Perhaps my analysis of section 4 is the genesis of Ruse’s argument. She has my email address and I am always willing to make corrections or to add context. Nevertheless, if that is the argument, it has several problems including scale and effect. I know of only two or three controversies. (From the angst you would think that there are hundreds).

At issue, I suppose, is the quarter-percent of the population who are transgender women. Some of those are students and some of those wish to compete in school athletic competitions. Some on the religious right would have you believe that young people will become transgender solely for athletic advantage. That notion is preposterous.

In terms of effect, I do not believe that HR5 changes the requirements for competition. In other words requiring a young person to have been transgender for a certain period of time which includes hormone consumption would not be prohibited.

There is a legitimate question regarding the participation of trans women in athletics. Dr. Renée Richards has claimed that she had an unfair advantage as a tennis player. Richards is a prominent activist for transgender inclusion. She has said: “Having lived for the past 30 years, I know if I’d had surgery at the age of 22, and then at 24 went on the tour, no genetic woman in the world would have been able to come close to me.”

Richards is a highly intelligent woman. At one time she was the surgical director of ophthalmology and head of the eye-muscle clinic at the prestigious Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital. It is important to point out that her opinion is just that. She did not have gender confirmation surgery at the age of 22 (she was 41).

I have yet to hear from any of the objectors that they could support HR5 conditioned on resolving the issue of sports participation. They would find some other reason to oppose laws that provide much-needed equality to LGBT people.

This is today’s version of Strom Thurmond’s admonition that a white woman should not be forced to provide a massage to a black woman. Thurmond believed that the very thought of touching a black person would be revolting to a white person so he advanced this argument to oppose the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

It is my firm conviction that discrimination is not necessary for any valid religious purpose. The Catholic Church, for example, does not approve of same-sex marriage. To me that means, if you are an observant Catholic then you must not marry someone of the same sex. It does not mean that you must defy the law and refuse service to a same-sex wedding in the form of cakes or flowers. Refusing service is just an excuse for refusing service in order to express disapproval.

The same thing is true of employment. Aside from lacking religious logic it is downright stupid not to hire the best candidate for any job. That prospective gay manager is not going to have gay sex under his desk.

Eventually the Equality Act will become law. It seems improbable until 2021 but I could be wrong. Fairness in sports participation is an easy thing to achieve. As I said, these folks are not interested in fixing anything. They just want the general public to view HR5 and its successors as something that is unreasonable and unfair.

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By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.