Seattle NOW – Organizing for the Women’s March on Washington, January 21st

Seattle NOW is excited to join forces with many other local activist groups and participate in the inauguration day Women’s March on January 21st here in Seattle — more details coming soon!

To prepare for this large-scale protest, we invite NOW members and members of the community to join us January 10 7-9pm for a sign making party. Bring sign making materials, creative ideas, and anyone who would like to participate.

7:00 PM
3720 Airport Way South
Seattle, WA 98134-2217

Please feel welcome to invite anyone you think would be interested.

“Human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights.”


A Letter from Pat Reuss – National NOW Action VP

Even tho I have spent the last 44 years in the women’s movement working for many issues including economic and racial justice, fighting against poverty and violence against women and promoting older women’s issues, the ERA, Title IX and work/family issues, I know that the fight of our lives in the months and years ahead will be to demand and defend reproductive justice. If we lose the constitutional and political gains we’ve made in reproductive justice, our cogency as a movement and a voice for girls and women will certainly be in question and girls and women’s lives will be at greater risk. If we go back to treating women as disposable rather than self-determining, whole, autonomous members of humanity, then we lose standing to demand fair pay, safe homes, and equal treatment under the law in all other arenas of life.

So we have to march and speak out and tell the truths about girls and women’s lives and the daily challenges of making health care and family formation decisions. But while we’re uplifting our supporters and educating the undecideds at the national level, we also need to address the reality that our work must be local and political. We have to change the minds of our state and local elected officials or defeat them at the polls. This is really hard work but we have allies in this effort. So let’s support our champions, work on our detractors and round up and support candidates who will defend and promote the rights of ALL girls and women as they face the barriers and challenges, fulfill their obligations and make their life’s choices. Through our tears, fears and fatigue, we at least know that we’re all in this together and we daily gain more “troops.” Love. pat


COLUMBUS, Ohio — Christina Hagan, the youngest woman in the Ohio Legislature, received a surprise last week. The toughest piece of abortion legislation in the country — a bill she had championed for years — suddenly passed.
The measure, which would ban abortions after a heartbeat is detected, as early as six weeks, was long presumed dead. But now that Donald J. Trump is headed to the White House, the political winds have changed, and it passed with overwhelming majorities.
So did a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks. Neither contains exceptions for rape and incest. Now Gov. John Kasich — a Republican who is an ardent abortion opponent and onetime challenger to Mr. Trump — is weighing whether to sign one or both.
“President-elect Trump has drastically shifted the dynamics,” said Ms. Hagan, 28, a Republican who has served in the State House since 2011. “I honestly could not have foreseen this victory a week or a month ago.”
The effects of Mr. Trump’s victory are only beginning to be felt. But one of the biggest changes is playing out in abortion politics. From the composition of the Supreme Court (Mr. Trump has promised to nominate staunchly anti-abortion justices), to efforts on Capitol Hill to enact a permanent ban on taxpayer-financed abortions, to emboldened Republican statehouses like the one in Ohio, combatants on both sides see legalized abortion imperiled as it has not been for decades.
That includes, they agree, the possibility of overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 abortion decision, during the Trump presidency.
“This is the strongest the pro-life movement has been since 1973,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-abortion group, and the chairwoman of a coalition of abortion opponents that worked to elect Mr. Trump. “We are dealing now with a president who has not been playing the game in the way that other presidents, including Republicans, have.”
Mr. Trump was elected after a decade of anti-abortion gains in state legislatures; Ohio is the 18th state to adopt a 20-week abortion ban, though two such bills, in Arizona and Idaho, did not survive constitutional challenges in federal court. States that preserve rights, like New York and California, are increasingly rare.
“I think we are standing on the precipice of a really dark time,” said Ilyse Hogue, the president of Naral Pro-Choice America. She said that Mr. Trump had “zero mandate” to roll back Roe, and that her group would fight back hard; its fund-raising and membership are up.
On Monday, the anti-abortion group Americans United for Life is scheduled to release a 135-page report describing what it calls “horrific abortion clinic conditions” in 32 states. Clarke Forsythe, the group’s acting president, said the report was intended to be “an inspiration to state legislators” to enact new restrictions, and as a “rebuke to the Supreme Court’s tragic decision” to strike down a far-reaching Texas anti-abortion law in June.
In Texas, where abortion foes are still bruised by that ruling, State Representative Jonathan Stickland has vowed “an absolute onslaught of pro-life legislation” in 2017. He said Texas also might adopt a heartbeat bill.
Four states — Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota and South Dakota — have adopted “trigger bans” that would automatically make abortion a crime if the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, leaving it to the states to decide on the legality of abortions. Mr. Strickland predicted that states would start “filling up the pipeline” with anti-abortion bills.
Others are more cautious.
“Instead of getting swept up in Trumpmania, let’s be realistic and continue the incremental approach,” said Michael Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, who pushed for Ohio’s 20-week ban. “Just because a Republican president appoints a justice doesn’t mean that the court will fall our way.”
In Tennessee, a grand jury recently issued new felony charges against a woman charged with trying to abort her 24-week-old fetus with a coat hanger — a case that abortion-rights advocates are citing as a throwback to the era of back -alley abortions.
Only four of the state’s 95 counties have abortion clinics. Now, said Allison Glass, state director of Healthy and Free Tennessee, a coalition of reproductive rights groups, advocates fear “a really extreme abortion ban.”
Mr. Trump’s emergence as a potent ally of the anti-abortion movement is a surprise. Ms. Dannenfelser said she opposed him during the Republican primaries, but mobilized 800 volunteers to work for Mr. Trump in the general election after he committed in writing to her group’s four top priorities — a letter she called “probably the most valuable piece of paper we’ll ever have.”
Those priorities include putting anti-abortion justices on the Supreme Court; passing a national 20-week ban like Ohio’s; eliminating federal money for Planned Parenthood as long as its clinics perform abortions; and making permanent the Hyde Amendment, passed annually by Congress to ban taxpayer-funded abortions.
“This is an attack on every single front,” said Representative Jan Schakowsky, Democrat of Illinois, a longtime defender of abortion rights. She predicted a “fierce battle,” beginning the day after Mr. Trump’s inauguration, when thousands of women are expected to march on Washington.
In Ohio, just about everyone seems surprised that the so-called heartbeat bill passed. It would ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat was detected, usually between six and eight weeks, which is often before a woman even knows she is pregnant and is far earlier than any law on the books in the United States.
Mainstream anti-abortion advocates opposed it on the grounds that it would never survive a court challenge (similar laws were struck down in North Dakota and Arkansas) and could mean a setback for their broader strategy of weakening one of the pillars of American abortion jurisprudence: the definition of medical viability of the fetus, currently understood to be around 24 weeks.
“Every political adviser I spoke to told me not to carry this,” Ms. Hagan said on Thursday, the last day of the state’s legislative session. “They said: ‘That’s a lightning rod. Don’t touch it.’”
For years it foundered. Janet Porter, president of Faith 2 Action, an anti-abortion group, tried many things to get it passed. She sent lawmakers teddy bears, roses and heart-shaped balloons. She reserved parts of the Statehouse for prayer meetings and rallies. She rented a small plane to fly overhead and drag a banner urging passage. Nothing worked.
But on Tuesday, the bill popped up on the schedule, folded into other legislation at the last minute. Opponents were shocked.
“There were no hearings. No legislative process at all,” said Gabriel Mann, the communications manager for Naral Pro-Choice Ohio. “Just all of a sudden, hey, this bill is back. And boom, it passed.”
Even supporters were surprised.
“All of a sudden we discovered that, yes, lo and behold, we have life,” Timothy E. Ginter, a Republican state representative, said. The first he heard the bill would be considered, he said, was the day it passed. “The heartbeat bill had a heartbeat,” he added.
Mr. Kasich has signed 17 anti-abortion measures since taking office in 2011, Mr. Mann said. During that time, the number of abortion providers in the state has been cut to nine from 16.
Both bills, though overlapping, in theory could be signed into law. But many abortion supporters say the heartbeat provision is less likely to survive an immediate legal challenge, and thus a harder sell for Mr. Kasich.
Clinics are worried. On a gray Friday outside Preterm, the largest abortion provider in Ohio, which is in suburban Cleveland, a protester yelled at people going inside. A few placards with pictures of babies were propped up against metal lawn chairs dusted with snow.
“Our phones have been ringing off the hook, primarily with the simple question: Is abortion still legal in Ohio?” said Nancy R. Starner, director of development and communications for Preterm. She said the calls had started the day after the heartbeat bill passed.
Angel Rucker, director of clinical services for Preterm, said 20 weeks was roughly the time when ultrasounds determined fetal anomalies.
“It’s very scary,” she said of the new legislation. “I’m quite concerned for women.”
After winning election, Mr. Trump told “60 Minutes” that if Roe were overturned, some women seeking abortions “might have to go to another state.” But Peggy B. Lehner, a Republican state senator in Ohio and the principal sponsor of the legislation calling for a 20-week abortion ban, said that would “create chaos.” She wants abortion banned outright. But the closer that moment comes, she said, the fiercer the abortion rights resistance will get.
“Abortion has been part of our culture for the last 50 years,” Ms. Lehner said. “It’s not just going to go away.”

Join Us for Our 2016 Annual Member Meeting December 13th 7:00 pm

Seattle NOW invites current Seattle NOW members – and the NOW-curious – to join us for an evening of refreshments, entertainment, games and PRIZES as we rededicate ourselves to feminist causes.

It is a time to be active, a time to be vigilant that rights we have won won’t be repealed AND it is a time to aggressively continue to make progress in the struggle for full equality for all, here in WA and nationwide.
Please, come to a very different Annual Meeting than any of us expected. While you do have to be a NOW member to vote in the election, you do not need to be a member to bring your energy, strength and ideas for action AND those are much needed in these new and different times.
There is much to be done, including passing legislation in WA to rescind the parental rights of rapists over a child born of that rape, and planning for the January 21st Women’s marches in Seattle and DC. It is a time to stand up and be counted as people who will not passively succumb to the rolling back of the clock (to the Middle Ages?) or to the bigotry and hate of our neighbors, friends and allies. It is even more important now that we come together to raise our voices in solidarity with others.

Come try your hand at Feminist Trivia!

  • Bring your team or form one when you arrive.

  • Prizes include: Olympus Spa passes, wine, feminist books from Elliott Bay Book Store, and chocolate.

Join Seattle NOW at our 2016 Annual Meeting!
3720 Airport Way South
Seattle, WA 98134-2217
Free Parking

December 13, 2016, 7:00 PM

We look forward to seeing you there!



NOW and YOU – Registering Voters May 7, May 28, June 11th and 25th, July 9th and 23rd.

Please join us on Saturday, May 7 noon to 3 PM to get out the vote by registering voters for upcoming elections.

Please join Seattle NOW and the 1st Legislative District’s campaign to register people to vote. It is easy, fun and you will feel great afterward.

You will be trained with a script, how to use the walking list, have a partner and a clipboard and registration forms before we head out

To win Republicans have to lie and restrict voting. In every state with a Republican governor, it has become increasingly difficult to exercise our right to vote. In WA it is somewhat better, with a mail-in ballot, but we need voter turnout for a progressive win on Federal and State seats. We need a big voter turn out to take back our State Senate and to increase our majority in the House, not to mention the need to retain our state’s progressive Congress men and women, Governor Jay Inslee and Senator Murray!

We start at 12 noon at Linda Tosti-Lane’s house :
Please call (425) 299-2869 for directions and confirmation.

And from there we go to Mountlake Terrace precincts. The precincts we call on are chosen because they have good democratic turn out. We will probably carpool and be within blocks of each other as we knock on doors.

Linda will have fresh coffee, tea, water, some fresh fruit and snack bars to keep us going.

If you are unable to make the May 7th Voter Registration, the other dates to reserve are: May 28th, June 11th and 25th, July 9th and 23rd.
All of the dates are Saturday and the time is NOON to 3pm.

No need to RSVP if you are coming on May 7th. If you are coming on other dates, please confirm by calling Linda at (425) 299-2869

WA State NOW 2016 Conference

Where Passions Meet: Racial and Gender Justice

WA State National Organization for Women 2016 Conference

Saturday – May 14, 2016

9:00 AM-4:00 PM

Northwest African American Museum

2300 South Massachusetts Street, Seattle, WA. 98144

9:30-10:00 Registration

10:00-11:00 1st Plenary: Welcome, Agenda, Resolution protocols

And Exercise #1 Appreciating Privilege

11:00-12:00 Keynote Dr. Karen Johnson, Black Alliance of Thurston County

12:00-12:45 Lunch and Partner Organization Chats

12:45-1:45 Reproductive Justice Speaker, Surge Reproductive Justice

1:45-2:15 Break Out Issue Discussion/Resolution Groups

2:15-2:45 Resolution Report Plenary

2:45-4:00 Closing, clean up and visit Museum exhibits

(Agenda Subject to Change)

Morning Snack and Lunch are provided with your $25 registration fee.

No member will be turned away.

Registration form



Sincere apologies for the delay in posting this.

There are 4 actions and everyone is welcome to join at whichever spot is convenient. You can walk with the group from place to place OR join at any time along the route. It all starts at:

Seattle / Capitol Hill
11:00 • Cal Anderson Park
E Denny Way & Nagle PL
Raise the alarm on grocery store workers rights: Join the Grocery Store Workers Bill of Rights float and workers demanding support for local grocers, local workers and the communities they serve every day. Property investment firm Gerding Edlen plans to bring New Seasons Market to the Capitol Hill light rail station despite its terrible health and safety record and poor benefits it offers employees. Join us to demand a local, union grocery store at the light rail station

Then on to:
12:30 • Seattle University
12th Ave & E Marion St
Raise the alarm on SU adjunct professors rights: Stand with SU adjunct Professors fighting for a union and a voice on the job.

Next Stop:
Seattle / Downtown
12:30 pm • Starbucks
Pike Place Market, Seattle
Raise the alarm on insecure schedules: Starbucks baristas are leading the fight for secure schedules in Seattle. Despite public commitments by the company to improve scheduling practices, baristas continue to struggle with unpredictable, unstable schedules, and executives have failed to meet with workers to discuss their concerns.

And Finally:
999 third Ave, Seattle

Raise the alarm on the extreme agenda of the Freedom Foundation and its links to Wells Fargo: A top regional Wells Fargo executive is a key funder of the Freedom Foundation, an extreme right-wing group which opposes the minimum wage, attacks unions, and otherwise tried to block workers rights.

Stand with NW Accountability Project; OneAmerica; Raise Up Washington; SEIU Locals 6, 775NW, 925, and 1199NW; Teamsters 117, UAW 4121; UFCW 21; Working Washington; and other organizations.

What Makes A Woman?

The article below appeared in the New York Times Sunday Review on June 6, 2015. Ms. Burkett raises questions that we all need to ask ourselves as women and as feminists. Some of it is easy to agree with: some of it is difficult. Do read and comment.

By: Eleanor Burkett

Do women and men have different brains?

Back when Lawrence H. Summers was president of Harvard and suggested that they did, the reaction was swift and merciless. Pundits branded him sexist. Faculty members deemed him a troglodyte. Alumni withheld donations.

But when Bruce Jenner said much the same thing in an April interview with Diane Sawyer, he was lionized for his bravery, even for his progressivism.

“My brain is much more female than it is male,” he told her, explaining how he knew that he was transgender.

This was the prelude to a new photo spread and interview in Vanity Fair that offered us a glimpse into Caitlyn Jenner’s idea of a woman: a cleavage-boosting corset, sultry poses, thick mascara and the prospect of regular “girls’ nights” of banter about hair and makeup. Ms. Jenner was greeted with even more thunderous applause. ESPN announced it would give Ms. Jenner an award for courage. President Obama also praised her. Not to be outdone, Chelsea Manning hopped on Ms. Jenner’s gender train on Twitter, gushing, “I am so much more aware of my emotions; much more sensitive emotionally (and physically).”

A part of me winced.

I have fought for many of my 68 years against efforts to put women — our brains, our hearts, our bodies, even our moods — into tidy boxes, to reduce us to hoary stereotypes. Suddenly, I find that many of the people I think of as being on my side — people who proudly call themselves progressive and fervently support the human need for self-determination — are buying into the notion that minor differences in male and female brains lead to major forks in the road and that some sort of gendered destiny is encoded in us.

That’s the kind of nonsense that was used to repress women for centuries. But the desire to support people like Ms. Jenner and their journey toward their truest selves has strangely and unwittingly brought it back.

People who haven’t lived their whole lives as women, whether Ms. Jenner or Mr. Summers, shouldn’t get to define us. That’s something men have been doing for much too long. And as much as I recognize and endorse the right of men to throw off the mantle of maleness, they cannot stake their claim to dignity as transgender people by trampling on mine as a woman.

Their truth is not my truth. Their female identities are not my female identity. They haven’t traveled through the world as women and been shaped by all that this entails. They haven’t suffered through business meetings with men talking to their breasts or woken up after sex terrified they’d forgotten to take their birth control pills the day before. They haven’t had to cope with the onset of their periods in the middle of a crowded subway, the humiliation of discovering that their male work partners’ checks were far larger than theirs, or the fear of being too weak to ward off rapists.

For me and many women, feminist and otherwise, one of the difficult parts of witnessing and wanting to rally behind the movement for transgender rights is the language that a growing number of trans individuals insist on, the notions of femininity that they’re articulating, and their disregard for the fact that being a woman means having accrued certain experiences, endured certain indignities and relished certain courtesies in a culture that reacted to you as one.

Brains are a good place to begin because one thing that science has learned about them is that they’re in fact shaped by experience, cultural and otherwise. The part of the brain that deals with navigation is enlarged in London taxi drivers, as is the region dealing with the movement of the fingers of the left hand in right-handed violinists.

“You can’t pick up a brain and say ‘that’s a girl’s brain’ or ‘that’s a boy’s brain,’ ” Gina Rippon, a neuroscientist at Britain’s Aston University, told The Telegraph last year. The differences between male and female brains are caused by the “drip, drip, drip” of the gendered environment, she said.

THE drip, drip, drip of Ms. Jenner’s experience included a hefty dose of male privilege few women could possibly imagine. While young “Bruiser,” as Bruce Jenner was called as a child, was being cheered on toward a university athletic scholarship, few female athletes could dare hope for such largess since universities offered little funding for women’s sports. When Mr. Jenner looked for a job to support himself during his training for the 1976 Olympics, he didn’t have to turn to the meager “Help Wanted – Female” ads in the newspapers, and he could get by on the $9,000 he earned annually, unlike young women whose median pay was little more than half that of men. Tall and strong, he never had to figure out how to walk streets safely at night.

Those are realities that shape women’s brains.

By defining womanhood the way he did to Ms. Sawyer, Mr. Jenner and the many advocates for transgender rights who take a similar tack ignore those realities. In the process, they undermine almost a century of hard-fought arguments that the very definition of female is a social construct that has subordinated us. And they undercut our efforts to change the circumstances we grew up with.

The “I was born in the wrong body” rhetoric favored by other trans people doesn’t work any better and is just as offensive, reducing us to our collective breasts and vaginas. Imagine the reaction if a young white man suddenly declared that he was trapped in the wrong body and, after using chemicals to change his skin pigmentation and crocheting his hair into twists, expected to be embraced by the black community.

Many women I know, of all ages and races, speak privately about how insulting we find the language trans activists use to explain themselves. After Mr. Jenner talked about his brain, one friend called it an outrage and asked in exasperation, “Is he saying that he’s bad at math, weeps during bad movies and is hard-wired for empathy?” After the release of the Vanity Fair photos of Ms. Jenner, Susan Ager, a Michigan journalist, wrote on her Facebook page, “I fully support Caitlyn Jenner, but I wish she hadn’t chosen to come out as a sex babe.”

For the most part, we bite our tongues and do not express the anger we openly and rightly heaped on Mr. Summers, put off by the mudslinging match that has broken out on the radical fringes of both the women’s and the trans movements over events limited to “women-born women,” access to bathrooms and who has suffered the greater persecution. The insult and outright fear that trans men and women live with is all too familiar to us, and a cruelly marginalized group’s battle for justice is something we instinctively want to rally behind.

But as the movement becomes mainstream, it’s growing harder to avoid asking pointed questions about the frequent attacks by some trans leaders on women’s right to define ourselves, our discourse and our bodies. After all, the trans movement isn’t simply echoing African-Americans, Chicanos, gays or women by demanding an end to the violence and discrimination, and to be treated with a full measure of respect. It’s demanding that women reconceptualize ourselves.

In January 2014, the actress Martha Plimpton, an abortion-rights advocate, sent out a tweet about a benefit for Texas abortion funding called “A Night of a Thousand Vaginas.” Suddenly, she was swamped by criticism for using the word “vagina.” “Given the constant genital policing, you can’t expect trans folks to feel included by an event title focused on a policed, binary genital,” responded @DrJaneChi.

WHEN Ms. Plimpton explained that she would continue to say “vagina” — and why shouldn’t she, given that without a vagina, there is no pregnancy or abortion? — her feed overflowed anew with indignation, Michelle Goldberg reported in The Nation. “So you’re really committed to doubling down on using a term that you’ve been told many times is exclusionary & harmful?” asked one blogger. Ms. Plimpton became, to use the new trans insult, a terf, which stands for “trans exclusionary radical feminist.”

In January, Project: Theatre at Mount Holyoke College, a self-described liberal arts college for women, canceled a performance of Eve Ensler’s iconic feminist play “The Vagina Monologues” because it offered an “extremely narrow perspective on what it means to be a woman,” explained Erin Murphy, the student group’s chairwoman.

Let me get this right: The word “vagina” is exclusionary and offers an extremely narrow perspective on womanhood, so the 3.5 billion of us who have vaginas, along with the trans people who want them, should describe ours with the politically correct terminology trans activists are pushing on us: “front hole” or “internal genitalia”?

Even the word “woman” has come under assault by some of the very people who claim the right to be considered women. The hashtags #StandWithTexasWomen, popularized after Wendy Davis, then a state senator, attempted to filibuster the Texas Legislature to prevent passage of a draconian anti-abortion law, and #WeTrustWomen, are also under attack since they, too, are exclusionary.

“Abortion rights and reproductive justice is not a women’s issue,” wrote Emmett Stoffer, one of many self-described transgender persons to blog on the topic. It is “a uterus owner’s issue.” Mr. Stoffer was referring to the possibility that a woman who is taking hormones or undergoing surgery to become a man, or who does not identify as a woman, can still have a uterus, become pregnant and need an abortion.

Accordingly, abortion rights groups are under pressure to modify their mission statements to omit the word woman, as Katha Pollitt recently reported in The Nation. Those who have given in, like the New York Abortion Access Fund, now offer their services to “people” and to “callers.” Fund Texas Women, which covers the travel and hotel expenses of abortion seekers with no nearby clinic, recently changed its name to Fund Texas Choice. “With a name like Fund Texas Women, we were publicly excluding trans people who needed to get an abortion but were not women,” the group explains on its website.

Women’s colleges are contorting themselves into knots to accommodate female students who consider themselves men, but usually not men who are living as women. Now these institutions, whose core mission is to cultivate female leaders, have student government and dormitory presidents who identify as males.

As Ruth Padawer reported in The New York Times Magazine last fall, Wellesley students are increasingly replacing the word “sisterhood” with “siblinghood,” and faculty members are confronted with complaints from trans students about their universal use of the pronoun she — although Wellesley rightly brags about its long history as the “world’s pre-eminent college for women.”

The landscape that’s being mapped and the language that comes with it are impossible to understand and just as hard to navigate. The most theory-bound of the trans activists say that there are no paradoxes here, and that anyone who believes there are is clinging to a binary view of gender that’s hopelessly antiquated. Yet Ms. Jenner and Ms. Manning, to mention just two, expect to be called women even as the abortion providers are being told that using that term is discriminatory. So are those who have transitioned from men the only “legitimate” women left?

Women like me are not lost in false paradoxes; we were smashing binary views of male and female well before most Americans had ever heard the word “transgender” or used the word “binary” as an adjective. Because we did, and continue to do so, thousands of women once confined to jobs as secretaries, beauticians or flight attendants now work as welders, mechanics and pilots. It’s why our daughters play with trains and trucks as well as dolls, and why most of us feel free to wear skirts and heels on Tuesday and bluejeans on Friday.

In fact, it’s hard to believe that this hard-won loosening of gender constraints for women isn’t at least a partial explanation for why three times as many gender reassignment surgeries are performed on men. Men are, comparatively speaking, more bound, even strangled, by gender stereotyping.

The struggle to move beyond such stereotypes is far from over, and trans activists could be women’s natural allies moving forward. So long as humans produce X and Y chromosomes that lead to the development of penises and vaginas, almost all of us will be “assigned” genders at birth. But what we do with those genders — the roles we assign ourselves, and each other, based on them — is almost entirely mutable.

If that’s the ultimate message of the mainstream of the trans community, we’ll happily, lovingly welcome them to the fight to create space for everyone to express him-, her- or, in gender neutral parlance, hir-self without being coerced by gendered expectations. But undermining women’s identities, and silencing, erasing or renaming our experiences, aren’t necessary to that struggle.

Bruce Jenner told Ms. Sawyer that what he looked forward to most in his transition was the chance to wear nail polish, not for a furtive, fugitive instant, but until it chips off. I want that for Bruce, now Caitlyn, too. But I also want her to remember: Nail polish does not a woman make.

Elinor Burkett is a journalist, a former professor of women’s studies and an Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker.