Equality Act Endangers Survivors of Abuse

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What do you get when you cross then-Sen. Joe Biden’s 1994 “Tough on Crime” bill with President Joe Biden’s 2021 Equality Act? Answer: Spikes in sexual assault in women’s shelters, prisons, and jails.

The so-called Equality Act would allow any person of any age, at any time, to declare what gender they are for any reason. This may sound like a refreshing freedom, but it’s actually a spectacular setback after more than a hundred of years of progress in women’s civil rights in America.

Under the Equality Act, biological men would be able to request a spot in a women’s domestic violence shelter or a transfer to a women’s prison, based solely on their self-proclaimed gender identity. This poses a significant threat to vulnerable and hurting women.

Women who have experienced domestic abuse are not a small population. According to TheHotline.org, a phone and chat service that helps victims of domestic violence, one in three women experience “rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner.” The population of incarcerated women is growing, as well: the Sentencing Project reports a 700% increase in the number of incarcerated women between 1980 and 2019.  This is thanks in no small part to the 1994 Crime Bill authored by Biden and implemented with a heavy hand by then-prosecutor Kamala Harris.

Often, the two groups overlap. According to the Vera Institute of Justice, a shocking 86% of incarcerated women “report having experienced sexual violence in their lifetime.” The fight to end sexual violence is the furthest behind where it matters the most. 

For any of these women—whether the abuse they suffered was at the hands of a partner or someone else—being forced to bunk with a member of the opposite sex may be deeply traumatizing, not to mention a potential threat to their safety.

And yet, rather than recognize the human plight of our girls and women who are domestic violence survivors, incarcerated, or both, the leaders of the Democratic Party have written the Equality Act so broadly that it empowers the person committing the rape. Males inclined to rape women could opportunistically declare that they are women and demand housing at a women’s shelter, or transfer to the women’s prison or jail.

There’s no requirement for a diagnosis, surgery, or waiting period. If they were rejected, they could claim “discrimination!” and file a federal civil rights lawsuit.

New data from California indicates that this will not be a small problem. There, a law implemented just this year gives people in prison the right to apply for a male or female facility based on self-declared gender identity. Already, 261 applications for transfer have been filed. None have been denied, and all but six were requests to transfer to a female facility.

Moreover, incarcerated women have reported incidents of sexual assault by males they are forced to live with (who claim to identify as women) in Illinois and Washington state. Both are states where males who identify as female have been transferred to women’s prisons. In Washington, a biological male described by a prison employee as “a proven sexual predator, having committed multiple crimes against women” was transferred to a women’s prison. Another transfer was a man convicted for having sex with a 12-year-old girl.

In any other context, being forced to see the opposite sex’s genitalia—or forced to let them see yours—in a shower or at the toilet would be sexual harassment. Yet, under the Equality Act, that would just be daily life for these women.  

Even when a man transferred to a women’s shelter or prison is not an immediate threat, the reality of cohabitation may be traumatic for many women. After experiencing sexual or domestic abuse, victims may exhibit symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. When female victims of abuse in either shelters or prisons hope to use that time to recover, the last thing they need is a male cohabitant to remind them of the trauma in their past.

Instead of protecting victims of sexual or domestic abuse, the Equality Act protects men at the expense of women. That includes men who do not actually feel they are women, and men who, however they identify, may be incarcerated for sexual assault. The Equality Act would be used to give those men the federally-protected right to sleep and shower right alongside women they may victimize—women who, in most cases, are just trying to recover from their last experience with male abuse.

To our United States senators we ask, do you want to follow Biden in revictimizing survivors?

The truth is, we can’t fix a struggle for one person by seriously endangering another. Let’s hope our senators see through the lies of the so-called Equality Act and vote it down.

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