e way things have been for more than 100 years, and so it is self-evident that they should not change. As commentator Liz Wheeler put it, “Only boys should be Boy Scouts. Only girls should be Girl Scouts. Because girls and boys are different. Why is that so hard for liberals?!”

Assuming that’s a genuine question, I may have an answer. A constant tension among human-rights advocacy is whether to focus on protection or freedom. Nowhere is the debate more heated than on questions of gender and sexuality. There are times when it is necessary to highlight differences among groups of people, and there are times when it’s beneficial to downplay differences. When calling out discrimination and injustice predicated on such a difference, it needs to be discussed frankly. When the difference is being named to excuse injustice, it’s better to emphasize what everyone has in common.

The separate-but-equal approach casts women as a group to be respected and protected but understood as deeply other. It also reinforces the idea of two monolithic genders that interact in a particular way.