The Violence Against ‘Individuals’ Act

Trans pride flag at Allianz Field in Saint Paul, Minn., June 23, 2021 (David Berding-USA TODAY Sports)

A bipartisan group of senators has recently come to a deal to reauthorize the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, which expired in 2019. It’s not yet clear whether the measure has the 60 votes needed to pass the Senate, but its prospects are looking better now that negotiating Democrats agreed to drop a gun-control provision that many Republicans oppose. Ostensibly, the bill could proceed to a vote in the near future.

As Sarah Parshall Perry noted in a piece here at NRO last spring, there are a few things lurking in the House version of the bill — passed last March — that should concern conservatives. (The Senate draft available online doesn’t appear to contain similar provisions.) Under the House bill, legislation that was originally intended to protect women from domestic violence now includes “transgender” and “gender non-conforming” individuals in addition to biological women.

The House bill explicitly calls for “the development of innovative LGBTQ+ specific strategies and projects to enhance access to services and resources for LGBTQ+ victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking who face obstacles to using more traditional services and resources.”

The bill would allow biological men who identify as women not only to be placed in women’s prisons but also to seek shelter in the same housing as vulnerable women fleeing abuse, and it doesn’t grapple with the obvious complications this poses in the context of domestic violence. Instead, it prescribes that “in making other housing and programming assignments” for where to assign a transgender individual, facilities should make a “serious consideration of the prisoner’s own views with respect to their safety.”

Meanwhile, in a post for the Independent Women’s Forum, Andrea Bottner notes that in several places, the Senate draft of the new VAWA legislation replaces the word “women” with “individuals.”

Though “women” remain in the bill title, one wonders how long that will last. In his statement applauding the bipartisan group of senators for coming to an agreement on VAWA, President Joe Biden didn’t mention women a single time, other than when stating the bill title. Instead, his statement referenced “survivors” and managed to discuss at length domestic violence against women without ever saying “women” at all.

Last fall, I wrote a piece about how the abortion-rights movement has started shying away from the phrase “women’s rights,” once a staple euphemism for describing liberal abortion laws. Indeed, abortion-advocacy groups now regularly replace the word “women” with “people” or “individuals,” out of deference to gender ideology. Because of the foothold that radical gender ideology has gained in the progressive movement, both referencing women and protecting them under the law has become unnecessarily complicated.

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