The Independent Women’s Forum is uniting right and left in a bipartisan fight for women’s fundamental rights that’s still somehow controversial.
On the left, groups like the ACLU and the Human Rights Coalition are pushing for the eradication of the biological definition of womanhood completely, declaring a national LGBTQ+ emergency in response to an “onslaught of discriminatory legislation” and arguing that trans rights are “at the heart of gender justice for all.”
On the right, nimble nonprofits like Parents Defending Education and Moms for Liberty are fighting the new fight while mammoths like the Heritage Foundation are sponsoring upstart groups to “defeat the destructive ideology and designs of the radical left” by promoting their work through their new Innovation Prize.
One group is planting their flag right in the middle as a sort of peer mediator. And it’s working.
Independent Women’s Forum, run by Carrie Lukas, is leaning heavily into this issue. After standing for women for 35 years, she says she can’t sit by and watch everything IWF has fought for be taken away by a technicality.
To her and thousands of IWF donors and members, the effort to eradicate the concept of biological sex is the front lines of all women’s issues.
Serious safety concerns are arising as the right to single-sex spaces is being eroded. Without the ability to create women-only spaces, biological males identifying as women or girls are allowed to live in sorority houses, be admitted to women’s domestic violence shelters, serve out their sentences (even for violent crimes against women) in women’s prisons, compete against female athletes, and share bathrooms with schoolchildren.
IWF is fighting for women’s rights on all of these fronts with one pioneering effort: the Women’s Bill of Rights.
IWF’s Women’s Bill of Rights (WBOR) is a simple, clear model policy that defines terms like “women” and “female” as a matter of law. Developed in consultation with legal experts on both the right and left and co-sponsored by IWF’s Independent Women’s Law Center (IWLC) and the radical feminist group Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF), the WBOR provides women with the language to protect their own spaces.
As the document lays out, “Common sex-based words (such as ‘female’, ‘male’, ‘man’, and ‘woman’) are used thousands of times throughout state and federal law.”
That means it’s not just Biden’s new (and thrice-delayed) Title IX rules and the Violence Against Women Act that are being neutered by radical activist redefinition of terms. Every state and federal law is in danger of being warped.
Citing her formative time as a Cato staffer and her “still very libertarian core,” Lukas says IWF launched the Women’s Bill of Rights because “it was critical that a group like ours (no religious affiliation, no position on abortion, which has had prominent gay spokeswomen) be at the forefront of this issue. We didn’t want this to be publicly viewed as a battle of social conservatives against LGBTQ people—since that’s not what this is at all.”
Lawmakers seem to agree. Already, the WBOR model policy has become law in Tennessee and Kansas and was signed as an executive order in Oklahoma and Nebraska.
But despite its bipartisan appeal and quick legislative success, some funders just aren’t on the same page, even at otherwise conservative foundations. In Lukas’ words, “We’ve attracted some significant supporters to back this fight; but unfortunately we’ve also lost donors who don’t want to risk being dubbed anti-trans.”
Luckily for IWF, there are more donors falling into the first camp than the second. But even so, I’m left wondering: how is it that fighting for women to have the right to their own spaces or to play their own sports is considered controversial? A century ago, these rights would have been considered visionary . . . today, shouldn’t they be obvious?