On the first day of his office, President Joe Biden passed an executive order protecting transgender individuals from discrimination, drawing flak from conservatives who argue that his decision goes against cisgender women’s rights.
The new order passed by Mr Biden requires federal agencies to ensure that laws forbidding discrimination apply to sexual orientation and gender identity and not just biological identity, race and religion, among other things. It strengthens the rights of the LGBTQ+ community and marks a big shift from the policies of the Trump administration.
“Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports,” Mr Biden’s executive order said, calling for “all persons” to receive equal treatment under the law, “no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation.”
The order was lauded by rights activists as a step towards necessary change. Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, called it the most “wide-ranging” executive order concerning sexual orientation and gender identity ever issued by a US president.
But the move also triggered a debate on social media as conservatives lashed out against the Biden administration with the hashtag #BidenErasedWomen, alleging it diluted the rights and protection provided to cisgender women.
“On day 1, Biden unilaterally eviscerates women's sports. Any educational institution that receives federal funding must admit biologically-male athletes to women's teams, women's scholarships, etc. A new glass ceiling was just placed over girls,” writer Abigail Shreir wrote on Twitter.
“Sad day for women’s sports. Women must compete against biological males at the risk of injury and loss of title, thanks to a new Biden executive order. Don’t ever tell me this is ‘pro-woman.’ It’s not. It’s destructive and malicious,” Eriele Davidson, a policy analyst for The Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA), wrote.
“It’s not possible to provide protections for women if a man can declare himself a women and access the same protections. That’s not an opinion. That is a logical fact. Evolution endowed the sexes differently. Protections for women are just and must be defended,” wrote Bret Weinstein, a biologist and evolutionary theorist.
"Every time a transgender woman secures a spot on an elite women's team or wins a scholarship reserved for female athletes, a biological female loses an opportunity," the Independent Women's Forum, a women's rights non-profit that has taken anti-trans stances in the past, tweeted.
However, many users also hit back at the argument that extending protection to trans women will take anything away from cisgender women.
"There is zero evidence – not a shred – that protecting trans women against discrimination harms cis women. We have asked for it. Many times. And all transphobes have is conjecture, lies, and performative fear disguising ignorance and hatred. Equality will win," writer Charlotte Clymer tweeted.
"A reminder that Biden's executive order on trans rights exists so that trans people can't be fired or evicted for being trans anywhere in the US, whereas previously there were places this was legal to do. Let's focus on that shall we instead of made up nonsense,” wrote a Twitter user called Chris Forest.