The US Congress began a joint session on Wednesday to confirm Joe Biden as the next President of the United States.
The session started at 13:00 local time (19:00 CET) but was suspended 15 minutes later after objections over the results in Arizona — the third of the country”s 50 states to announce its Electoral College count — were raised.
The session is expected to last into the night as Republican House members have said they would object to as many as six battleground states. Lawmakers from the House and Senate must debate each objection.
Outgoing President Donald Trump has alleged widespread fraud in the November 3 election but has failed to produce any evidence to support his claims. Republicans have attempted to overturn the results in several key states through the courts but been have been unsuccessful.
Democrat Biden, 78, won the Electoral College 306-232 and is to be inaugurated on January 20.
‘Sad day for our country’
As the session started, Trump held a mass rally in Washington in which he vowed to “never concede” and falsely claimed his Vice President, Mike Pence, has the power to delay the confirmation by sending Electoral College votes back to the states to be recertified.
“Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us,” Trump said, “and if he doesn’t it’s a sad day for our country.”
He also criticised members of his party who have not supported his attempt to overturn the results as “weak”.
Pence, however, refuted Trump’s claim in a letter.
“It is my considered judgment that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not,” he wrote.
All eyes on Georgia
The session to confirm Biden as the 46th president of the United States comes as the Democrats look poised to flip the Senate on Wednesday as the results of the run-off election in Georgia come in.
Raphael Warnock, a 51-year-old pastor from Atlanta, is projected to have unseated Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler, while former documentary filmmaker Jon Ossof, 33, currently has a narrow lead over incumbent David Perdue.
If both Democrat contenders win their races, the balance in the Senate would be 50-50 which would make Vice President-elect Kamala Harris the tie-breaker to pass laws. With the lower house already held by Democrats, Joe Biden’s ability to push through his agenda would be massively strengthened.
However, if one of the two Republican incumbents in Georgia retains their seats, they would then be able to block court nominees and legislation.
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A coalition of GOP senators and senators-elect, led by Sen. Ted Cruz, will object to the Jan. 6 certification of the presidential election results when a joint session of Congress meets next week unless there is an emergency 10-day audit of the results by an electoral commission.
Cruz — along with Sens. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.; James Lankford, R-Okla.; Steve Daines, R-Mont.; John Kennedy, R-La.; Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Mike Braun, R-Ind.; as well as Sens.-elect Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo.; Roger Marshall, R-Kansas; Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., and Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala. — say that the election “featured unprecedented allegations of voter fraud and illegal conduct.”
Their effort is separate from one announced by Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., who said this week that he would object to what he said was the failure of some states — most notably Pennsylvania — to follow their own election laws.
HAWLEY SAYS HE’LL OBJECT TO ELECTORAL COLLEGE CERTIFICATION OF BIDEN VICTORY ON JAN. 6
“Voter fraud has posed a persistent challenge in our elections, although its breadth and scope are disputed. By any measure, the allegations of fraud and irregularities in the 2020 election exceed any in our lifetimes,” the lawmakers say in a statement.
A source familiar with the effort told Fox News that it was Cruz who orchestrated the effort, working with other senators to organize the push against the certification and call for the electoral commission with just days to go before the joint session of Congress.
The lawmakers say there is a precedent of Democrats objecting to election results in 1969, 2001, 2005 and 2019: “And, in both 1969 and 2005, a Democratic Senator joined with a Democratic House Member in forcing votes in both houses on whether to accept the presidential electors being challenged,” they say.
The senators and senators-elect are calling for Congress to appoint an Electoral Commission to conduct a 10-day emergency audit of the election returns in states where the results are disputed. They cite as precedent the 1877 between Samuel Hayes and Rutherford Hayes, where there were allegations of fraud in multiple states.
“In 1877, Congress did not ignore those allegations, nor did the media simply dismiss those raising them as radicals trying to undermine democracy,” the lawmakers say. “Instead, Congress appointed an Electoral Commission — consisting of five Senators, five House Members, and five Supreme Court Justices — to consider and resolve the disputed returns.”
“We should follow that precedent. To wit, Congress should immediately appoint an Electoral Commission, with full investigatory and fact-finding authority, to conduct an emergency 10-day audit of the election returns in the disputed states. Once completed, individual states would evaluate the Commission’s findings and could convene a special legislative session to certify a change in their vote, if needed,” they say.
Without that, they will vote against the certification.
“Accordingly, we intend to vote on January 6 to reject the electors from disputed states as not ‘regularly given’ and ‘lawfully certified’ (the statutory requisite), unless and until that emergency 10-day audit is completed,” they say in the statement.
It is unclear whether they will rally more Republicans to their cause, and the lawmakers note that most Democrats and some Republicans will vote to certify the results, but say that an audit would increase the public’s faith in the process.
“These are matters worthy of the Congress, and entrusted to us to defend. We do not take this action lightly. We are acting not to thwart the democratic process, but rather to protect it,” they say. “And every one of us should act together to ensure that the election was lawfully conducted under the Constitution and to do everything we can to restore faith in our Democracy.”
The new effort by the senators marks a major win for President Trump’s efforts to challenge the results of the election. Trump has repeatedly claimed he beat Biden, who flipped a number of red states including Georgia and Arizona to get over the 270 Electoral College votes needed to secure the White House.
Trump’s campaign has launched a number of legal challenges, while Trump himself has urged states with Republican governors and legislatures to overturn Biden’s victories — as he alleges widespread voter fraud tilted the scales to Biden.
Senate GOP leaders are against efforts to challenge Biden’s win, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell recognizing the former vice president’s victory, and behind closed doors urging Senate Republicans not to contest the election results.
But if the GOP senators object, with a similar effort by House Republicans, the joint session of Congress would be dissolved and the House and Senate would then meet separately for two hours to debate a contested state’s electoral vote.
Each body would then vote whether to accept or reject that state’s slate of electoral votes. Then the House and Senate reconvene in the joint session.
In the House, at least 10 incoming House GOP freshmen will back Rep. Mo Brooks’ effort to object to the certification of the presidential election results on Jan. 6.
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The last time this happened (and only the second time in U.S. history) was in January 2005, following President’ George W. Bush’s narrow reelection victory over Democratic challenger Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts. One Senate Democrat – Sen. Barbara Boxer of California – and one House Democrat – Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones – objected. In 2017, a handful of House Democrats objected to Trump’s victory over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, but no Senate Democrats joined them.
A state’s slate of electoral votes would only be thrown out if both the House and Senate vote to do so — something that is unlikely given the Democratic majority in the House, and the push by GOP Senate leaders to certify.
Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser, Jason Donner, Marisa Schultz and Tyler Olson contributed to this report.
Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) speaks during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
OAN Newsroom UPDATED 2:59 PM PT – Friday, January 1, 2021
More GOP senators have blocked the vote for $2,000 stimulus checks. Friday, Republican lawmakers John Cornyn (R-Texas) and John Thune (R-S.D.) both objected to the proposal.
Cornyn said he blocked the vote on behalf of Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) who was absent from the Senate floor.
Congress should continue helping workers who’ve lost their jobs. But blindly borrowing more than $600 billion so we can send $2,000 checks to millions of people who haven’t lost any income is terrible policy. I won’t consent to a vote on that. https://t.co/hCOlgcFPnq
Thune rejected the motion, saying that it was not targeted specifically for those in need. He added that some Americans who are financially secure would receive stimulus checks as well.
“If you really want to help people who need this the most in a time where we are running this trillion dollar debt, borrowing every penny that we are making available to do this, we ought to sit down and figure out how to do it the most efficient, effective, and targeted way possible,” Thune stated. “This absolutely does not do that.”
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) reiterated his opposition toward the bill, saying it was not the right approach.
Lawmakers have until the legislation expires to vote on the issue as Congress will have to start from scratch once the new Congress is sworn in on Sunday.
MORE NEWS: President Trump Extends Restrictions On Foreign Work Visas
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) reportedly urged GOP senators to refrain from objecting to electoral votes when it comes time to count them in Congress next month, making the remarks on a caucus call Tuesday.
McConnell, who formally recognized Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as president-elect and vice president-elect on Tuesday, reportedly told colleagues that an objection “isn’t in the best interest of everybody,” per the Hill:
McConnell warned that any GOP senator who signed onto a House Republican objection to a state’s electoral votes would then force the Senate to debate and vote on the objection, putting fellow GOP senators in a bad position.
McConnell was not the only Republican leader to make the request, with Republican Whip Sen. John Thune (R-SD) and Rules Committee Chairman Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) making the same call, though there is no indication, currently, that any GOP senators plan to object to the results.
“I think that there was encouragement on the phone for us to accept the result, as much as it’s not what we, you know, would have envisioned for the next four years, and to try to do what’s best for American people, which is to look forward,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) said, according to the Hill.
Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) also said he has not heard any rumblings of GOP senators poised to reject the results.
On Monday, Republican electors in key swing states cast alternate slates of electoral votes to help keep President Donald Trump’s legal challenges afloat, particularly in the event of a viable challenge in Congress.
Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) plans to object to next month’s count, which will take place January 6. However, he needs a GOP senator to join him in order to launch the challenge successfully.
“Well, it’s happened many times in the past,” Brooks said during a Monday appearance on Fox News Business’s Lou Dobbs Tonight. “Apparently, some folks have not done their history.”
“By way of example, the Democrats in the House tried it in 2017 when they tried to strike Alabama’s votes for Donald Trump. Georgia, the same way, the House Democrats tried to strike it. Barbara Boxer tried to strike Ohio for George Bush back in 2005, so this is not unusual,” he continued, adding that the “law is very clear.”
“The House of Representatives, in combination with the United States Senate, has the lawful authority to accept or reject Electoral College vote submissions from states that have such flawed election systems that they’re not worthy of our trust,” Brooks said.
The AAP believes any interference or commentary from elected heads of other countries on India’s internal matters is unsolicited and unwelcome, party spokesperson Raghav Chadha said on Tuesday, reacting to Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s comments on the ongoing farmers protests in India.
Mr. Chadha urged the Centre to immediately resolve and accede to farmers’ demands which remains an internal matter of India. “While we urge BJP government to immediately resolve and accede to farmers’ demands, this remains an internal matter of India. AAP believes interference or commentary from elected heads of other countries are unsolicited and unwelcome. India is capable of handling its own domestic matters,” Mr. Chadha tweeted.
Also read | Canadian leadership’s comments on farmers protest “ill-informed”: MEA Spokesperson
Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi also asked that Mr. Trudeau not “play politics using India’s internal issue as fodder“. “Dear @JustinTrudeau, touched by your concern but Indias internal issue is not fodder for another nations politics. Pls respect the courtesies that we always extend to other nations. Request PM @narendramodi ji to resolve this impasse before other countries find it okay to opine,” tweeted Ms. Chaturvedi, a Rajya Sabha member.
Mr. Trudeau is the first international leader to comment on the burgeoning protests against the controversial farm laws.
“I would be remiss if I didn’t start by recognising the news coming from India about the protests by farmers. The situation is concerning and we’re all very worried about family and friends. I know that’s a reality for many of you. Let me remind you, Canada will always be there to defend the rights of peaceful protest,” Mr. Trudeau said.
“We believe in the importance of dialogue and that’s why, we’ve reached out to multiple means, directly to the India authorities to highlight our concerns. This is a moment for all of us to pull together,” the Canadian leader said.
The protest entered its sixth day on Tuesday as thousands of people from several states, including Punjab and Haryana, continued to hold peaceful sit-in demonstrations at the outskirts of Delhi.
Their “Dilli Chalo” march was met with water cannons, tear gas, and police barricades by the Haryana Police on the Delhi-Haryana border. They were eventually allowed to pass through.
They are demanding that they be allowed to stage protests in the city against the new laws. Enacted in September, the laws are anticipated to bring “reforms” in the agriculture sector by removing the middlemen and allowing farmers to sell anywhere in the country. The farmers worry this will eliminate the safety cushion of a Minimum Support Price and scrap away mandis that ensure earning.
The Centre is expected to hold talks with farmers on Tuesday to find a solution.
FEW WORKS of literature capture the challenges of managing decay better than “The Leopard”, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s masterpiece about Sicilian blue bloods struggling to adapt to the changes ushered in by Italian unification in the 1860s. Replace the “shabby minor gentry” with Silicon Valley parvenus and recently impoverished but now monied masses with emerging China, and the novel also serves as an apt metaphor for the decline of once-princely corporate Italy.
“We had the richest and most perfect region of the world but we are old aristocrats who are losing our momentum,” sighs Marco Tronchetti Provera, boss of Pirelli, a 148-year-old tyremaker based in Milan. Many of his fellow chief executives echo di Lampedusa’s Don Fabrizio, who pined for the days when “We were the leopards, the lions.” Like the fictional patriarch, they see the world in upheaval but find themselves unable to do much about it.
Ironically, when di Lampedusa’s novel was published in 1958 Italy was the opposite of decaying. Its GDP doubled between 1951 and 1963, and by 1973 added another two-thirds. Gianni Agnelli, Fiat’s dashing owner, hobnobbed with the Kennedys. The Red Brigades’ campaign of terror launched in 1970 shook business for over a decade but did not cripple it. Olivetti became the world’s second-biggest computer-maker, behind IBM. Montedison was its seventh-largest chemicals firm. Mediobanca rivalled Lehman Brothers and Lazard in merchant-banking prowess. Benetton brought colourful sweaters to the masses; Giorgio Armani, Gianni Versace and Dolce & Gabbana shoulder-padded Wall Street and Beverly Hills.
These days Italy SpA is out of style. The country’s doldrums aren’t news; The Economist called it “the real sick man of Europe” 15 years ago. “It escapes no one, and certainly not business,” says Carlo Bonomi, head of Confindustria, Italy’s main business lobby. Even before covid-19, its economy was smaller than it had been before the financial crisis of 2007-09. Its stockmarket is worth under €500bn ($590bn). It accounts for 3.7% of the MSCI index of European stocks, down from 6.2% in 2000, according to Morgan Stanley, a bank (see chart). Only seven Italian firms feature among the world’s 1,000 biggest listed ones. The €77bn market capitalisation of the most valuable, Enel, an electric utility, is a rounding error relative to that of America’s trillion-dollar tech titans.
Rather than confront these challenges, plenty of Italian tycoons have been flogging the family silver. Treasured Italian brands that have gone into foreign hands in the past decade include Bulgari, a jeweller (sold to LVMH, a French luxury group); Luxottica, which makes Ray-Ban shades (and merged with Essilor, a French spectacles firm) and Versace (bought by Michael Kors, an American fashion house). Since 2015 Pirelli’s biggest shareholder has been ChemChina, a state-owned giant. In 2018 Federico Marchetti sold Yoox Net-a-Porter, his online luxury startup and Italy’s rare tech success, to Richemont, a Swiss group.
Others have been departing il bel paese. After merging with Chrysler in 2014 Fiat moved its headquarters to London and legal seat to the Netherlands; it is now combining with PSA Group, a French carmaker. (Exor, the Agnelli family’s Dutch-domiciled investment vehicle which owns 28.9% of Fiat-Chrysler’s shares, is also a shareholder in The Economist’s parent company.) Ferrero, the maker of Nutella, has decamped to Luxembourg. This year Campari, producer of the bitter apéritif owned by the Garavoglia clan, picked the Netherlands. It may be joined by Mediaset, Italy’s biggest private broadcaster controlled by Silvio Berlusconi, a scandal-prone former prime minister, which is seeking to move the headquarters of its holding company there. “I keep less than 5% of my total wealth in Italy. I am very careful with this country,” confessed Francesco Trapani, scion of the Bulgari dynasty, in 2018.
Many other firms are shadows of their former selves. In 20 years the market value of Generali, an insurer, has more than halved, to €19bn. Telecom Italia’s has shrivelled by nearly 90%, to €7bn. Intesa Sanpaolo and UniCredit, two big banks, tried their hand at consolidation with ambitious deals in Europe, only to retrench.
Three main reasons explain corporate Italy’s slide into irrelevance. They have to do with a self-reinforcing lack of financial, social and human capital.
According to the OECD, a club of industrialised countries, 40% of Italian corporate assets are financed by short-term debt, more than among big European peers. Credit is granted on a basis of history, so new firms find it hard to raise money. Political risk—embodied by the rise to power in 2018 of the antibusiness Five Star Movement (M5S)—plays on the nerves. Reliance on banks means that when they get into trouble—as in the financial crisis and the ensuing euro crisis—all their corporate clients suffer, not just the delinquent ones.
All this constrains investment and makes Italian companies more vulnerable to macroeconomic shocks—of which the covid-19 pandemic is the latest. Cerved, a ratings agency, reckons that even in the best case perhaps 7% of non-financial firms are at risk of default this year. In the worst case that could rise above 10%.
Italy’s capital markets are shallow compared with the rest of Europe, let alone America. It has no venture-capital industry to speak of. Business elites grumble about Italians’ aversion to investing in their own stockmarket, despite being among the world’s most prodigious savers. Domenico Siniscalco, a former finance minister, likens it to “an oil producing country without an oil industry”. Investors are wary of putting money into listed firms controlled by founding families or the state, which dominate Italy’s shareholder registers—and which prevent their companies from raising new shares, fearing dilution.
Confidence in big business is further eroded by a constant gusher of scandals. Every few months a business bigwig gets into hot water. In July prosecutors requested an eight-year prison sentence for the boss of Eni, an oil major, for allegedly bribing Nigerian officials to secure an oil block. He and the company deny wrongdoing.
Disenchantment with corporate Italy sows more mistrust, depleting its already thin social capital. A recent report found that nine in ten Italians want caps on executive pay, the highest share among seven Western countries. That would add to already baroque red tape that is a barrier for upstart firms. Italy ranks 58th out of 190 countries in the World Bank’s “Doing Business” survey. It comes a dismal 97th on securing building permits, 98th for starting new businesses, 122nd at enforcing contracts and 128th on tax rules.
Rather than improving the physical and legal infrastructure that would help all firms, government money goes to bailing out perennial failures. This year the state once again rescued Alitalia, the endlessly loss-making flag-carrier. Italy has no equivalent of the Fraunhofer institutes that help Germany’s medium-sized firms stay at the cutting edge of their fields, observes Fabrizio Barca, an economist and former development minister. “If we had the infrastructure of the Germans we would be six or seven times more competitive,” says Marco Giovannini, boss of Guala Closures, a global leader in the niche market for bottle tops. “We have to compete against inefficiency.” In 2017 he opened Guala’s main research centre not in its Piedmont home but in Luxembourg.
Di Lampedusa’s characters might recognise the third shortage—of human capital—as the flipside of pride. In the post-war era, when it fuelled founders’ devotion to their creations, this was a virtue (as to some extent it is today in Silicon Valley). Now it looks like obstinacy. Bankers talk of multiple failed attempts to persuade Mr Armani to build a bigger group in the mould of LVMH. During Italy’s lockdown a photo of him dressing the windows of his Milan store added to the myth of Italian creative genius. LVMH’s billionaire owner, Bernard Arnault, gets others to do that menial task, so he can focus on business.
In 2017 Guido Corbetta of Bocconi University estimated that half of first-generation Italian firms have an owner-boss who is over 60, and a quarter have one who is at least 70. Italian boardrooms’ denizens seem almost as ancient as the Renaissance art adorning their walls. Italy’s most prominent businessmen—they are almost exclusively male—are octogenarians: Mr Berlusconi (84), Leonardo Del Vecchio of Luxottica (85), Luciano Benetton, the clothing clan’s patriarch (85), Mr Armani (86).
No wonder Italians feel the system is rigged in favour of a few ageing billionaires and plump for populists like the M5S. Talented youngsters shy away from a career in the unloved business world. “There is now little opportunity anywhere in Italy, even for the wealthy and well-connected,” says Andrea Alemanno of Ipsos, a research firm.
Despite this self-perpetuating cycle, examples of Italy’s post-war industrial vigour persist. Enel is a world leader in clean energy. In certain areas “pocket multinationals”, as Vittorio Merloni, an entrepreneur, dubbed them in the 1990s, churn out wares admired the world over: Lavazza and Illy (coffee), Moncler and Ermenegildo Zegna (fashion), IMA and Marchesini (packaging), or Technogym (fitness kit)
And Italy remains a country of enterprise. The OECD reckons nearly a quarter of Italian firms are high-growth, more than in most big European countries. Johann Rupert, the South African financier behind Richemont, has mused that Italy’s craftsmen might benefit from a failure to adapt to globalisation as the world comes to prize their old-fashioned skills. Pirelli’s Mr Tronchetti Provera praises the deal with ChemChina, which let the tyremaker’s headquarters and technology stay in Milan, as “an opportunity to further strengthen our position in China without giving up Italian roots”. Some see Italy’s less hard-edged capitalists as an antidote to Wall Street; last year Jeff Bezos made a pilgrimage to Brunello Cucinelli, founder of a posh-sweater company who advocates a humanistic capitalism.
In 2011, shortly before he became governor of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi warned fellow Italians that Venice in the 17th century and Amsterdam in the 18th century planted the seeds of their collapse by putting elite privilege ahead of innovation. Corporate Italy can hang on to what is left of its sheen. But, as Don Fabrizio’s thrusting nephew, Tancredi, told his uncle, “If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change.”■
This article appeared in the Business section of the print edition under the headline “How the leopard lost its spots”
WHEN SHE was ripping through the water during swimming races as a little girl, it did not occur to Nancy Hogshead-Makar that she might one day make a career out of it. But that changed during high school, when she won a full athletic scholarship to university. Four years later Ms Hogshead-Makar won three gold medals at the 1984 Olympics.
Her achievements would have been impossible without Title IX, a brief one-paragraph amendment made to the Civil Rights Act in 1972, when she was ten years old. Title IX banned discrimination “on the basis of sex” in educational institutions that receive federal funding. This meant that most schools and all universities were legally required to provide equal opportunities in activities. It covered things like scholarships; it also resulted in the provision of separate programmes for girls.
Its effect on female participation in sport was immediate and dramatic. Two years after Title IX was passed, the number of girls playing high-school sports jumped from under 300,000 to 1.3m. Today the figure is 3.4m. The lost ground it enabled women to make up has been one of the biggest achievements in the battle for sexual equality in America. It has also had important knock-on effects: research suggests that girls who play sport stay in education longer and get better jobs.
Nearly half a century later, there is still some way to go: Ms Hogshead-Makar, who went on to become a lawyer and establish Champion Women, a women’s-rights non-profit, says many universities do not comply with Title IX’s requirements. And yet some of its protections may soon be erased.
This is because of the demands of another group that has long suffered discrimination: transgender men and women. Their call to be recognised as members of the gender with which they identify—amplified by the merging of their rights with those of gay and lesbian Americans—has led to demands for an Equality Act, which would ban “discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity and sexual orientation”. The House of Representatives passed it in 2019; Joe Biden has said making it law would be a priority during his first 100 days in the White House.
A federal anti-discrimination law of this kind is sorely needed. In its absence a clashing patchwork of laws and regulations has sprung up across states, counties and cities. Conflicts over such matters are increasingly decided by the courts; they should be settled by elected lawmakers. Eliza Byard, executive director of GLSEN, which campaigns for the rights of LGBT students, says the passing of the Equality Act would be “a transformative moment of liberation for millions of Americans who have had to live as second-class citizens”.
The problem is that parts of the bill appear to put the needs of transgender people above those of women. This is because the act redefines “sex” in Title IX and other amendments of the Civil Rights Act to include “gender identity” rather than making transgenderism a protected category of its own. Its definition of “gender identity” is fuzzy and appears to downplay the reality of sex, listing as it does, “gender-related identity, appearance, mannerisms, or other gender-related characteristics of an individual, regardless of the individual’s designated sex at birth.” The way the act is written suggests that women-only spaces, from public bathrooms to sports teams and prisons, would have to be open to transgender women.
The problem is clearest-cut when it comes to Title IX. That is because although opening up spaces once reserved for females to transgender women carries security and privacy concerns, these can be mitigated to an extent: toilets can be made both unisex and more private (prisons would pose more of a problem). But the protections of Title IX are rooted in the differences between the sexes, chiefly, the physical advantages bestowed by testosterone, which allows boys of average sporting ability to run faster or jump higher than exceptionally talented girls. The Equality Act would require female sports teams to include transgender players, even if their transition from male to female was not obvious: if, for example, they had not taken testosterone-suppressing drugs.
Transgender activists tend not to accept that this is unfair. When asked what she thought about transgender girls with undiminished levels of testosterone racing against female runners and trouncing them (as has happened in at least one state with such a policy) Ms Byard of GLSEN said, “But they are girls! They are girls. Men don’t compete in women’s sports.”
Let’s talk about sex
This denial of the meaning of “sex”, which is reflected in the language of the Equality Act, is a poor ground on which to build policy. The implications could extend well beyond spaces once reserved for women. Doriane Coleman, a law professor at Duke University, points out that if policymakers are not allowed to ‘see’ sex, “all the centres of excellence at research hospitals that currently exist to collect data on and then study sex differences in immunology, cancer, you name it, would be defunded and, indeed, become verboten”.
Ways exist to prevent discrimination against transgender Americans without denying the reality of sex. In prisons, where transgender women housed with men are much more likely to be sexually assaulted than other inmates, wings could be set aside for them. In sport, some champions of Title IX have suggested that transgender girls who have not been through puberty as males (because they have taken testosterone blockers and then oestrogen) could be included in women’s teams. A system of adjusted scores and start lines, according to testosterone levels, could also be introduced. “This is about testosterone, not whether someone is transgender or not,” says Donna Lopiano, adjunct professor of sports management at Southern Connecticut State University and a former college sports director who is lobbying for a change to the wording of the act.
Such solutions are unlikely to satisfy some feminists, who believe no person born a man should win a women’s contest. For many trans activists, these work-arounds would amount to a denial of gender identity and the continued perpetuation of discrimination. Negotiating a path through these clashing demands would be messy and time consuming. But ending discrimination against one group of people should not depend on discriminating against another.■
This article appeared in the United States section of the print edition under the headline “Liberalism and its contradictions”