I saw the news on this on MSNBC on Wednesday, then checked my email — in my inbox was the press release and the executive order for the White House announcement: President Obama Announces White House Council On Women And Girls.
Conservative women’s groups apparently felt snubbed. He invited over a hundred women and girls to participate in an announcement ceremony — representing a wide swath of women’s and girls’ organizations — but apparently the White House left representatives of the Concerned Women For America and the Independent Women’s Forum off the guest list.
However, one woman who was invited as a representative for folk like me was Mara Keisling of the National Center For Transgender Equality (NCTE). Apparently, the President wanted to send a message to the trans community that he considers trans women to be among the women included in the goals of this initiative:
Over the past generation, our society has made tremendous progress in eradicating barriers to women’s success. A record number of women are attending college and graduate school. Women make up a growing share of our workforce, and more women are corporate executives and business owners than ever before, helping boost the U.S. economy and foster U.S. competitiveness around the world. Today, women are serving at the highest levels of all branches of our Government.
Despite this progress, certain inequalities continue to persist. On average, American women continue to earn only about 78 cents for every dollar men make, and women are still significantly underrepresented in the science, engineering, and technology fields. Far too many women lack health insurance, and many are unable to take time off to care for a new baby or an ailing family member. Violence against women and girls remains a global epidemic. The challenge of ensuring equal educational opportunities for women and girls endures. As the current economic crisis has swept across our Nation, women have been seriously affected.
These issues do not concern just women. When jobs do not offer family leave, that affects men who wish to help care for their families. When women earn less than men for the same work, that affects families who have to work harder to make ends meet. When our daughters do not have the same educational and career opportunities as our sons, that affects entire communities, our economy, and our future as a Nation.
The purpose of this order is to establish a coordinated Federal response to issues that particularly impact the lives of women and girls and to ensure that Federal programs and policies address and take into account the distinctive concerns of women and girls, including women of color and those with disabilities.
So, when President Obama is discussing pay inequities for women, about earning less money for doing the same work as men, limited educational and career opportunities, he is also talking about transgender women.
Truly amazing. This kind of inclusivity into America’s political mainstream is what I hoped for in an Obama Presidency. In this case, making sure that a trans woman was invited to this kind of White House ceremony is important in both in its symbolism and the possibilities for wider equality for trans people under the law. This is change I can believe in.