The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) is a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution intended to guarantee equal legal rights for all American citizens regardless of sex, and thereby end legal distinctions between men and women which have disadvantaged women. During the 1970’s it seemed destined to pass, but it was found to disadvantage women in important respects. Its momentum for passage halted, and some states rescinded their approval.
Troubling questions remain: how can we keep separate public restrooms, locker rooms, bathrooms and sports competitions for the sexes without violating that proposed amendment? I know no girls or women who want boys or men in those places; the only exception is for young boys with their caretakers in the women’s restroom. Although early feminists assured us that integrating the armed forces would pose no problems, reports of sexual assaults against women at the service academies and on the job are increasing – at all ranks, including the highest.
Another problem has appeared. Male athletes identifying as females have entered competitions for females and, not surprisingly, won. Although identifying as females, they retain their male skeletal and muscular structures which render them stronger and faster than even well trained female athletes. Disadvantaged females, unable to win in direct competition with them, forfeit opportunities they have earned for recognition and prizes, including scholarships, etc.
For example, biological males who identify as transgender girls continue to dominate high school girls track in Connecticut. Juniors Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood took first and second place in the state open indoor track championships on Feb. 16, 2019. Miller is the third fastest runner in the country in the girls’ 55-meter dash. Yearwood is tied for seventh nationally. As sophomores in 2018. both also easily outpaced female runners in the state.
One of their competitors, high school junior Selina Soule, told The Associated Press it was unfair to force female runners to compete against male runners. “We all know the outcome of the race before it even starts; it’s demoralizing,” said Soule. “I fully support and am happy for these athletes for being true to themselves. They should have the right to express themselves in school, but athletics have always had extra rules to keep the competition fair.”
How can fairness for girls/women’s sports competitions be ensured? This unsolved problem faces us without the ERA’s passage. Under the ERA, female athletes will have no hope of legal protection from such competitors.
A year later, our elected state legislators have not provided me any solution to these difficulties although they have pledged to vote for the ERA. Until they do, I urge them to reverse their stance.
Women have assumed many additional roles and entered many more fields in the last forty years without the ERA. Why do we need it?
What legal ill can be solved only by passage of the ERA? (Again, no response from our legislators.) If there is none, and passage will result in foreseen difficulties which have no viable solutions, passing the ERA is irresponsible.
Ellen Latane Tabb