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Trump to Appoint Anti-Feminist To Key Women’s Rights Position

Trump intends to nominate a woman named Penny Young Nance as ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues. As such, she’d be responsible for managing the State Department’s programs to fight gender-based violence and promote women and girls’ educational and economic achievement.

Here’s the problem: Penny Young Nance has made her career standing in the way of girls’ and women’s rights.

Nance is the President and CEO of Concerned Women For America (CWA), an organization whose mission statement says it “protects and promotes Biblical values and Constitutional principles” in America. The group is as far-right as it gets, and Nance is basically a bargain Phyllis Schlafly — a reactionary zealot getting rich by selling out women and giving the right cover for the right’s openly misogynistic, anti-LGBTQ agenda.

Here’s just a sampling of where Nance and CWA stand:

  • CWA opposed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, partly because it “creates new protections for homosexuals” and partly because it “encourages the dissolution of marriages.” Of course the only marriages that VAWA helps dissolve are abusive ones, but I guess Nance is more concerned with the nuclear family than the 12 million people abused by intimate partners in the United States every year.
  • Remember Jane Doe, the teenage asylum-seeker who the Trump Administration held in custody and prevented from getting an abortion? Penny Nance applauded the Trump Administration’s choice to hold a pregnant minor in detention, deny her access to healthcare, and force her to battle the Trump Administration in court just to exercise her constitutional right to seek an abortion. Nance suggested that Jane could just go home to her parents to “decide what to do” — in other words, that Jane should be deported back to a country where abortion was illegal and returned to parents who beat Jane’s sister to induce a miscarriage.
  • In 2014, when Uganda passed a law designed to put LGBTQ people in jail for life, then-President Obama spoke out against it. CWA condemned Obama for it, saying it was “cultural imperialism.” Weird how conservatives only seem to care about imperialism when it comes to imprisoning gay people! CWA has also said Uganda’s draconian law was “courageous.”
  • Nance applauded Betsy DeVos’ decision to rescind Title IX guidance outlining transgender students’ rights to go to school free from discrimination, suggesting transgender students’ civil rights were mere “political correctness” that were less important than some people who “felt uncomfortable.”
  • Of course, Nance and CWA don’t seem to care much about the 75% of transgender students who feel “uncomfortable” because they’re harassed in school: CWA has lobbied against anti-bullying legislation to protect LGBTQ students and even opposes programs designed to fight bullying. Apparently, telling kids not to call one another names is part of the “pansexual agenda.”
  • CWA lobbied against ENDA, a federal bill to explicitly ban workplace discrimination against LGBTQ people.

Nance even went on Fox to complain about Disney’s “Frozen,” saying that the charming kids movie about two princess sisters who save their Kingdom was bad for “our little boys” who need “ to know that they’re essential. We want to raise heroes. We want to raise real men.” Here I thought almost every movie made since the invention of the video-camera starred boys and men, but sure, whatever, Penny.

Penny Nance is a walking embodiment of the social conservative movement — a woman trying to turn back the clock to the days when women and girls couldn’t choose when to become parents, control our own bodies and economic futures, or even see positive representations of ourselves on TV. No one who opposes women’s rights has any business running an office that’s supposed to empower young women.

The good news: Republicans only have a one-vote majority on the panel that approves ambassador positions, so if all Democrats oppose her and just one Republican joins them, she’s out.

Call your senators. Tell them to keep Penny Nance out of the State Department.

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Sejal Singh is a columnist at Feministing, where she writes about educational equity, labor, and reproductive justice. Sejal is a Policy and Advocacy Coordinator for Know Your IX, a national campaign to end gender-based violence in schools, where she has led several state and federal campaigns for student survivors' civil rights. In the past, Sejal led LGBT rights campaigns for the Center for American Progress. Today, she is a student at Harvard Law School and a frequent speaker on LGBTQ rights and civil rights in schools.

Sejal Singh is a law student and columnist at Feministing, writing about educational equity, labor, and reproductive justice.

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