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Nebraska governor defines trans people out of existence with new executive order

Nebraska governor defines trans people out of existence with new executive order
Republican Governor Jim Pillen of Nebraska

Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen (R) signed an executive order on Wednesday that he’s calling a “Women’s Bill of Rights.” It asserts that “a person’s biological sex is defined at birth” and isn’t subject to change in the eyes of state law.

The order mandates the governor’s own definitions of “woman, “girl”, “man” and “boy” be used in the “promulgation of administrative rules, enforcement of administrative decisions and the adjudication of disputes” among state agencies.

Pillen’s signature on the executive order comes weeks after a nearly identical “Women’s Bill of Rights” was signed by Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt (R). Both orders define a female as a “person whose biological reproductive system is designed to produce ova” and a male as a “person whose biological reproductive system is designed to fertilize the ova of a female.”

The definitions and Pillen’s proclamation led one of Hunt’s followers to comment, “Okay but I’m kinda laughing about the fact that ‘male’ is defined solely through its relationship to the female reproductive system. Do men keep existing if we don’t look at them??”

The list of definitions doesn’t address transgender individuals. However, in a statement accompanying the order, Pillen makes it clear that’s what the “Women’s Bill of Rights” is all about.

“It is common sense that men do not belong in women’s-only spaces,” Pillen said. “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.”

Out bisexual Nebraska state Senator Megan Hunt (I), who filibustered anti-trans legislation in the state earlier this year, called the order “offensive and ridiculous.”

“Today Governor Pillen, famous women’s rights supporter, signed this offensive and ridiculous proclamation establishing a ‘Women’s Bill of Rights.’ He should try saying this stuff to my face then we would see who’s got what biological advantage,” Hunt wrote in a Wednesday afternoon tweet.

Pillen signed the order on the day that Nebraska broke the world record for the highest attendance at a women’s sporting event. Over 92,000 spectators filled the stands of Memorial Stadium in Omaha for a women’s volleyball tournament.

Hunt’s sentiments were echoed by state Sen. Jen Day (D).

“We have this really historic day in women’s athletics here in Nebraska, and particularly Husker women’s athletics, where so many Nebraskans are gathered together,” said Day. “And the governor has taken the opportunity to essentially put out an executive order that divides us. And it’s just beyond angering and disappointing.”

LGBTQ+ issues have polarized Nebraska’s legislature all year.

Hunt and Day joined with state Sen. Machaeala Cavanaugh to filibuster every bill proposed in the unicameral legislature until an anti-trans bill was removed from consideration. “I will burn the session to the ground over this bill,” Cavanaugh promised.

State Sen. John Fredrickson (D) broke down in tears on the floor of the legislature, apologizing to constituents for the hate displayed by his Republican colleagues, while Hunt came under investigation by the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission for a possible conflict of interest because she has a transgender child.

In March, Sen. Bruce Bostelman (R) embarrassed himself and fellow lawmakers by perpetuating online rumors about schools providing litter boxes for students who identify as furries.

“The school didn’t provide the litter box, so the student went ahead and defecated on the floor,” Bostelman claimed, before eventually acknowledging the story was false. Similar claims have been repeated by Republicans nationwide as a way to attack trans-inclusive student bathroom policies.

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