A powerful new White House council aims to promote the issue of gender identity across the federal government as it seeks to change gender practices for both domestic and foreign policy.
The Biden administration announced the creation of the Gender Policy Council on Monday, March 8, which was celebrated as International Women's Day.
"We'll be working urgently to ensure that both here in the U.S. and globally, gender and gender identity do not pre-determine opportunity and outcomes and that all people, including women and girls and those who face other forms of discrimination, can thrive," Council co-chair Jennifer Klein told reporters at a press briefing.
Critics warn that the council will harm women and girls.
"What they are intending to do is to elevate this concept of gender identity, above females, above sex-based rights, basically eliminating that as meaningful concept across the government," said Mary Hasson, the Kate O'Beirne Fellow in Catholic Studies at the Ethics & Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C.
"It's deceptive because most people still when they hear gender, they think you're talking about males and females and that's not at all what this administration means," she explained. "When you hear gender think transgender because that's what this is about."
The inclusive definition will change the way the government collects data and evaluates programs she noted.
"The programs that were meant to advance females, to encourage girls to be in STEM activities and all those things, now really are going to be programs that are measured by how well they include people that identify in other ways, so any gender identity is going to be included there," said Hasson.
Klein, who has worked on women's issues going back to the Clinton administration, said the name change to Gender Policy Council is strategic. Under former President Obama, it was called the White House Council on Women and Girls.
"We are very inclusive in our definition of gender," Klein said Monday. "We intend to address all sorts of discrimination and fight for equal rights for people, whether that's LGBTQ+ people, women, girls, men."