Justice for Ann Menasche: Statement of Solidarity

“Have you no sense of decency?”
(AttorneyJoseph Welch to Senator Joseph McCarthy, Army- McCarthy hearings, June 9, 1954)

A Statement of Solidarity

 We, the undersigned, are outraged that Ann Menasche, a long-time civil rights  attorney  at Disability Rights California (DRC), was fired without notice in May of 2022 from her job of 20 years, for her outside feminist political activity (with Feminists in Struggle) and for having stated that abortion bans harm women as a sex. 

This drastic action was taken despite Ann’s strong work record over two decades and is at odds with DRC’s public stance of defending people’s civil rights. 

Ann had thanked DRC for taking a position defending Roe and said that access to safe legal abortions is a necessity for women as a biological sex.  This mild statement unleashed a torrent of name-calling and slurs against Ann along with disparaging references to her feminist political activities outside of work.

This was quickly followed by condemnation of Ann in absentia by DRC management for holding political opinions which allegedly denied the rights of transgender identified people and conflicted with the company’s values. Within days of her statement and without warning, she was terminated. 

DRC is wrong in insisting that recognition of the existence of biological sex constitutes bigotry against people who identify as transgender, non-binary, or gender non-conforming.  It is a fact of evolutionary biology that sex is binary and immutable in all mammals, including humans.   Mammalian reproduction depends on eggs and sperm.  No third gamete exists.  Gender, on the other hand, is about social roles and sex stereotypes dictating the dress, demeanor and activities approved by society for males and females respectively. Sex and gender (including gender identity) are not the same things. 

For feminists and lesbians like Ann, maintaining the category of sex is essential to be able to challenge persistent sex and sexual orientation discrimination and to sustain a movement to end the subjugation of women as a sex-class that has persisted for thousands of years under patriarchy. 

Ann Menasche believes that it is not possible to effectively defend abortion rights without naming the only coherent group of humans that can get pregnant and who will be directly harmed by abortion bans – females. In Ann’s view, it would be like fighting against racist police without being able to name the victims of police violence - Black people.  These views have nothing to do with hate.

Moreover, it is antithetical to long-standing democratic principles to tolerate efforts by employers to control the thoughts, political beliefs, and outside political activities of their employees, on pain of losing their jobs and livelihoods.  This ideologically motivated termination is reminiscent of the repression and blacklisting of the darkest periods of U.S. history, including the “red scare” of the 1950’s. 

In the words Welch directed at Joseph McCarthy in 1954, we must ask DRC, “Have you no sense of decency?”

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