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National NOW Times >> Spring, 2001 >> Article

Let's Talk about Gender

By Gina Reiss

Questions of gender are central to the feminist transformation of society. From a woman’s right to a safe and fair workplace to her daughter’s right to enroll in and excel at “boys’ sports.” From a lesbian’s right to be free from verbal harassment for looking “too butch” to the right of “Boys Don’t Cry” hero Brandon Teena to be protected from rape, assault and murder for living as a man. The struggle against gender-based oppression is important to us all.

To help bring together all those who have a common stake in gender rights -- feminists, gays and lesbians, transgender people, and youth -- GenderPAC is hosting, and NOW is co-sponsoring, the 1st National Conference on Gender, May 18th-20th in Washington DC. As president of NOW, Patricia Ireland will give a keynote address on Friday at the opening of the conference.

“Many people still refer to GenderPAC as a ‘transgender group.’ Yet GenderPAC is not the political arm of the transgender movement, the transgender arm of the gay movement, or even the gender arm of the feminist movement,” says Riki Wilchins, executive director of the organization. “GenderPAC is the national organization dedicated to ensuring all individuals’ civil right to express their gender free from stereotypes, discrimination and violence.”

The National Conference on Gender will feature three days of politics and strategy on topics including gender law, job discrimination and hate crimes, re-connecting gender, race and class, the new edge of gender in cinema, gender and feminism, and the special issues of queer and transgender youth and elderly.

The National Conference on Gender will be followed by GenderPAC’s 6th National Gender Lobby Day on May 21st, when hundreds of gender activists from around the country converge on Capitol Hill to educate Congress members and their staffs on issues like gender rights, job discrimination and hate crimes.

Five Good Reasons YOU Belong at the 1st National Conference on Gender
• Brandon Teena: played by Oscar-winner Hilary Swank in “Boys Don’t Cry” and shot and stabbed to death for living as a man.
• Darlene Jespersen: fired by Harrah’s Casino -- her employer of 21 years -- when she refused to comply with a new dress code requiring her to wear makeup and “feminine hair.”
• Jonlee R.: An 8-year-old shamed and humiliated by his schoolmates because he’s sweet, sensitive and not “macho” enough.
• Apasha Blocker: A college heptathlon star assaulted by four security guards after she exited a women’s bathroom. One shouted “Can’t you freakin’ read?”
• Aurora Lipscomb: born Zachary and taken from her family by the County Sheriff in Franklin, Ohio after her parents allowed her to call herself Aurora and wear a dress to school.

To find out more, visit GenderPAC’s website, call 202.462.6610, or email

All NOW members will receive 10% off their registration fee.

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