The Declaration on Women’s Sex Based Rights (more commonly known as the Women’s Declaration) is an attempt by the Gender Critical movement to roll back recent progress within the wording and context of the United Nations 1979 “Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women” (CEDAW), with the express intention of erasing trans people’s civil rights, and undermining any significant movements forward with regards to gender identity and the inclusivity of CEDAW as a legislative framework for human rights and female liberation.
Using references to outdated language and delineations, and implicitly denying the growing body of evidence surrounding the biological reality of sexual development in humans, this “declaration” claims to base itself in “sex-based rights”, which is a loose and ambiguous term that is quickly dismantled under all but the most superficial of scrutiny.
Within the declaration, one of the initial assertions made is that the UN has incorporated “Gender Identity” in place of biological sex (which is a dubiously defined term anyway) by replacing references to “sex” with “gender” and positing that this has led to the “erosion of the gains made by women over decades”.
No examples or instances where this has been the case, however, have been provided, and the declaration’s next point, that “rights relating to sexual orientation are [...] necessary to enable lesbians, whose sexual orientation is towards other women, to fully exert their sex-based rights”, is completely undermined by its precursory dismissal of the concept of “Sexual Orientations and Gender Identity (SOGIES)”.
The declaration refers to “men who claim a female ‘gender identity’” in regards to motherhood, which, whilst not only being an extremely discriminatory and horrendously stereotyped way of viewing trans women, erases trans men and non-binary individuals from the conversation, thus removing any potential for them to be considered and/or covered by any legislation arising from a human rights framework developed under these strict conditions.
Forcing trans people to adhere to a human rights framework that refuses to acknowledge their existence and identity “others” them in a discriminatory and oppressive manner, in direct contravention to the premise of the framework, and allows room for such communities to be oppressed and discriminated against in legislation with no recourse for contention.
Gender identity, whilst being a social construct that may or may not differ from an individuals assigned sex at birth is a far more useful and helpful context within which to view human rights in general, and more specifically women’s rights, as the concept of biological sex is something that is currently undergoing a state of flux in the scientific community, especially as more and more information and evidence continues to evidence that the nature of such things are far more complex and intricate than the simple binary definition currently given in primary school textbooks would suggest.
Women have suffered for centuries as a direct result of having been reduced to their reproductive biology, and any supposed “human rights” that seeks to revert to this definition is deliberately and consciously choosing to prolong this suffering, and delay the liberation of women as oppressed individuals. It is therefore far more accurate and helpful to use an individual’s gender identity as a guide for ensuring that their rights and freedoms are not impeded by legislation, juristiction, and/or discrimination, and any attempt to change this not only harms the trans community, but also the rights and freedoms of any communities or peoples that labour under patriarchal oppression, in whatever form it may take.
For a more detailed analysis of the Women’s Declaration, Part 1 of Mallory Moore’s excellent deconstruction of it can be found here