Nebraska organizations condemn Pillen executive order; lawmakers question legality
‘Women’s Bill of Rights’ raises questions about discrimination in state services, policies; groups say it targets LGBTQ+ rights
OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Several advocacy organizations around Nebraska expressed their concern Thursday at Gov. Jim Pillen’s executive order strictly defining the sexes.
The order, signed Wednesday, defines biological male and female, and it could have an impact on daily operations across the state.
Pillen’s EO goes further than just defining biological males and females; it mandates facilities across the state follow those definitions.
State Sen. George Dungan, who is also a practicing attorney in Lincoln, explained the possible immediate impacts.
“If they have these strict definitions implemented by virtue of proclamation, that could have a wide-ranging effect on things like family services and other sorts of services provided by those executive entities,” he said.
The order includes physical spaces where this policy would apply, stating it’s the governor’s duty “to protect our kids and women’s athletics, which means providing single-sex spaces for women’s sports, bathrooms, and changing rooms.”
Dungan said it raises a concern about discrimination.
“So somebody could ultimately be cut off from something hypothetically speaking because they don’t match the definitional criteria,” he said. “So I think we could be looking at discriminatory practices and certainly, I think we could be looking at potential discrimination lawsuits down the road. But again that’s going to depend on the enforcement. It’s going to depend on what the executive actually asks for. And how that has boots on the ground effect for people.”
Several advocacy organizations raised red flags Thursday about the order.
OutNebraska issued a separate more detailed statement, calling the governor’s order a “thinly veiled attack on transgender women and girls” and accusing him of trying to enflame the debate between feminist and transgender advocates.
“We are deeply disturbed and angered at our governor’s continued attempts to pit two intertwined struggles against one another, all under the guise of ‘protecting’ women,” the statement says. “Transgender rights and women’s rights are not at odds. They are a collective fight for self-determination and control of our own bodies.”
Nebraska Appleseed called the order “dangerous” and saying it falsely espoused support for women: “Yesterday’s executive order is a dismissive and dishonest attack on women, non-binary, and gender expansive Nebraskans... Discrimination is not a legitimate use of executive power.”
ACLU of Nebraska expressed concern that the governor’s order was only the beginning.
“This executive order is the catalyst for the continued and slow erosion of decades of rights,” the statement says.
ORGANIZATIONS SPEAK OUT
Several organizations issued a joint statement in response to Gov. Jim Pillen’s executive order. Read their full statements below.
“This Executive Order will not protect Nebraska’s women and girls, it will make every one of them a target for government intrusion on private matters. Under this order, any woman or girl can have their femininity called into question. I do not believe that everyday Nebraskans want their state to be in the business of policing gender based on our internal or external organs. Once again, the governor focuses on culture war issues when there are more pressing matters for our elected officials to address.”
Additionally, OutNebraska issued a separate more detailed statement, calling the governor’s order a “thinly veiled attack on transgender women and girls.”
“We are deeply disturbed and angered at our governor’s continued attempts to pit two intertwined struggles against one another, all under the guise of ‘protecting’ women.
Transgender rights and women’s rights are not at odds. They are a collective fight for self-determination and control of our own bodies.
Let us be clear: This executive order is a thinly veiled attack on transgender women and girls. There is no doubt that this order will erode civil rights for all Nebraskans by creating an environment where ANY woman or girl’s femininity can be called into question, resulting in invasive questioning or testing. We do not believe that everyday Nebraskans want their state government to be in the business of policing gender based on our internal and external organs.
Two-spirit, transgender, gender expansive, and intersex people have always existed in Nebraska and they persist as valuable members of our communities.
Given the governor’s previous comments and actions, we are not surprised that he is trying to exert his power over our community in this way. OutNebraska will continue to push back against these attacks and strive for a Nebraska where every person can access what they need to thrive.”
Trans Lifeline: The organization offers assistance for those struggling with their mental health. Anyone in need is encouraged to call 1-877-565-8860.
“Trans, nonbinary, intersex and gender expansive Nebraskans have always existed in our state. It is disappointing to see Governor Pillen continue to hide behind the promise of protecting gender equity when in reality, this executive order is the catalyst for the continued and slow errorison of decades of rights. This Executive Order is not about protecting the rights of women, this is about attempting to remove trans women from public life and we refuse to let that happen.”
“I challenge our executive government to actually show up and address opportunities that Nebraskans care about versus causing undue harm and division across the state. Elected officials represent their constituents, which include nonbinary and trans folks. We demand a Nebraska where all people can access their full potential to live wholly - anything less will not be tolerated.”
“Governor Pillen’s recent anti-trans identification executive order is nothing but a sham and a further attack on some of the most vulnerable Nebraskans. It blatantly discriminates against transgender people, who have faced countless attacks by the people elected to represent them. The only rights the governor cares about are the ones that align with a narrow ideology that is out of touch with the majority of Nebraskans. Transgender Nebraskans are valued members of our community who deserve to feel safe and welcome.”
“Attacks on trans people protect no one and hurt us all. While this is framed as ‘protecting women’s and girls’ sports,’ we know better and directly call out this hateful measure for what it actually is—a discriminatory attempt to target an already-marginalized group. We know who is perpetuating gender-based violence in our communities, and we can clearly see what systems are impeding our progress toward gender equity. Demonizing and weaponizing trans identities endangers all women and girls.”
“In declaring a ‘Women’s Bill of Rights’ based on biological sex, Nebraska doesn’t protect women; it further marginalizes trans women, setting a dangerous precedent for discrimination. We denounce this executive order as an attack on human rights, cloaked in the guise of protection. Legislation that defines women by biological sex is not a ‘Women’s Bill of Rights’; it’s a Bill of Wrongs against the transgender community.”
“Yesterday’s executive order is a dismissive and dishonest attack on women, non-binary, and gender expansive Nebraskans. The executive order’s words are dangerous - falsely espousing support for ‘women’ while simultaneously putting trans, non-binary, and gender expansive people’s existence and rights at risk. Discrimination is not a legitimate use of executive power. To trans Nebraskans - you belong, you are loved, and we stand with you.”
Nebraska Abortion Resources (NEAR)
“This executive order serves no meaningful purpose other than perpetuating inaccurate and harmful information about the trans community. This executive order falls far short of protecting women; instead, it fuels an environment of exclusion and discrimination that does not align with the values we hold as Nebraskans. We firmly believe in an inclusive and equitable Nebraska, one that welcomes and supports transgender Nebraskans. This order does not reflect the spirit of unity that our state should champion. Our commitment remains resolute: standing alongside the trans community and working towards a Nebraska that upholds justice, respect, and dignity for all.”
Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen signed an executive order on Wednesday establishing a “Women’s Bill of Rights,” declaring a “biological definition of male and female” and detailing the differences between the sexes.
The order declares that, in matters of the state, the “biological differences between the sexes are enduring” and that the “sex” of a person will be defined by the gender designated at birth. In addition to specifically noting how boy, girl, man, and woman will be defined, the order also includes biological descriptions.
According to the order, such clarifications are necessary because of “inconsistencies” in policy initiatives and court rulings that have “led to endangerment of single-sex spaces.”
The order mandates that the definitions apply to not only facilities with gender designations — like prisons, schools, domestic violence shelters, and rape crisis centers — but also to locker rooms and restrooms.
It also stipulates that all vital statistics collected by state agencies and departments adhere to the definitions in the order as well.
The governor’s order, effective immediately, uses similar language as the order signed by Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt on Aug. 1.
“It is common sense that men do not belong in women’s only spaces,” Pillen said in the news release. “As Governor, it is my duty to protect our kids and women’s athletics, which means providing single-sex spaces for women’s sports, bathrooms, and changing rooms.”
State Sen. Megan Hunt tweeted in reaction to the order, saying that the governor’s actions puts trans Nebraskans — and some of the state’s federal funding — at risk. Hunt was part of the contingent who filibustered the Unicameral alongside State Sen. Machaela Cavanaugh in protest of the trans youth health care bill earlier this year only to have proponents attach it to the state’s abortion ban bill at the end of the session.
Copyright 2023 WOWT. All rights reserved.