Former Daughter of the American Revolution criticizes admission of trans members in historic organization

Former Daughter of the American Revolution criticizes admission of trans members in historic organization

A former member of the Daughters of the American Revolution is speaking out against the inclusion of transgender women in the historic organization, even as the group argues its rules about members haven’t changed.

“Radical gender ideology has no place in this historic institution,” Brenda Becker, a former DAR chapter executive board member who resigned in October, told Fox News Digital.

DAR members famously must trace their lineage to those who helped fight in the war for American independence. It amended its bylaws last summer to say its chapters cannot “discriminate against an eligible applicant based on race, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability, or any other characteristic protected by applicable law,” leading to criticism that biological men identifying as transgender women could be part of the group. But the organization notes that was already the case.

Since the organization announced the amendment during DAR’s 2023 Continental Congress, over 500 members and former members of the DAR have sent nearly 3,000 messages to DAR leadership expressing discontent with the bylaw change, according to the New Tolerance Campaign (NTC). Members against the change argue that unless the bylaws are reversed, they will be forced to share changing rooms, restrooms and hotel rooms with biological males.

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Becker told Fox News Digital she and other women feel like they are being deceived, and added it was ironic that one can join the DAR using an altered birth certificate when membership is contingent on accurate biographical records. She also highlighted that the organization was founded in 1890 since they couldn’t join their male counterparts, the Sons of the American Revolution.

“The motto of DAR is God, Home and Country, so this really violates the values and beliefs of many members of DAR by saying that now a man can say he’s a woman just because he thinks he’s a woman or feels like a woman,” she said.

DAR is a women’s volunteer organization made up of almost 190,000 members of varying beliefs and backgrounds who share a commitment to honoring Revolutionary War patriots and promoting historic preservation, education, and patriotism. 

“NSDAR and its chapters may not discriminate against an eligible applicant based on race, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, age, disability, or any other characteristic protected by applicable law,” the amended bylaws read. 

The updated language was criticized for its vagueness, with some members expressing confusion last year over whether this would mean transgender women could join. In a document titled “Answers to Frequently Asked Member Questions Regarding Transgender Women in DAR,” which was shared with Fox News Digital, the organization’s leadership affirmed that transgender members were permitted to join.

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“Does DAR allow transgender members? Yes. Transgender women have been, and continue to be, eligible for DAR membership. This is not a new policy and was not introduced by the recent bylaw amendments,” the document states. 

“Does this policy mean that DAR is now allowing men to be members? No. Men are not eligible to become members of DAR. A transgender woman is not a man; a transgender woman is also not a man simply dressed as a woman. A transgender woman lives and identifies as a woman,” the document continues.  

DAR told Fox News Digital that the amendments to the national bylaws were overwhelmingly passed by the member delegates and clarified that they “did not change DAR membership requirements” and instead “updated non-discrimination policy language.”

DAR said its membership eligibility remains the same: “Any woman is eligible for membership in the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution who is not less than eighteen years of age, and who is lineally descended from a man or woman who, with unfailing loyalty to the cause of American Independence, served as a sailor, or a soldier or civil officer in one of the several Colonies or States, or in the United Colonies or States or as a recognized patriot, or rendered material aid thereto.”

“The language that was updated in the bylaw last summer is: DAR accepts certified birth certificates that indicate an applicant is female, including birth certificates that may have been legally amended. This has for decades been an official policy and practice. Whether and under what circumstances birth certificates can be changed are matters governed by individual state laws and policies, not by the DAR,” the statement added. 

The document shared with Fox News Digital affirms this, stating that, “For more than 30 years, a government-issued birth certificate indicating female has been accepted as proof of eligibility. The admission of transgender women happened organically.”

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Becker said the “vague language” was justified as a necessity for DAR to maintain its tax-exempt status, but pointed out that as a private membership organization, DAR is protected from discrimination lawsuits. In the document sent to DAR leadership and shared with Fox News Digital, the organization clarified member questions about the DAR’s status as a private membership association. 

“If discrimination is illegal, then how can NSDAR and its chapters exclude men from membership?” the document states. “In addition to being a public accommodation and employer, DAR is also a private membership association. Its membership policies are generally considered outside of the scope of anti-discrimination laws when membership is restricted to people who share a protected characteristic – in this case, women. There are still limits on DAR’s restriction of membership; for example, it would be illegal to accept only White women as members.”

Becker described this as “very contradictory” and organized an online group called “Biological Daughters” after members’ comments about the issue were removed from DAR’s official online forum. 

“The moderators of that kept shutting down our threads and saying, we couldn’t talk about this and things like that,” she said. “So I said, let me just start a private forum for those of us who want to work on this. There’s a group of us, there’s probably about, I don’t know 85 to 90 of us from Maine to California, we’re across the country… We would like to see the current bylaw rescinded.”

The group worked to draft and present an amendment to the bylaw that would be voted on at the upcoming Continental Congress in June 2024, but in February, the National Board of Management voted against the amendments proposed by Becker’s Nevada Sagebrush Chapter, which was endorsed by 11 other chapters. Because of that, there will not be a vote on the amendment at next month’s Continental Congress. 

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When asked to confirm if transgender women are allowed in the group, a DAR spokesperson responded, “DAR is a women’s organization that accepts applicants whose birth certificate identifies them as female. DAR does not collect demographic data about members that would indicate if an applicant or a member is transgender. DAR knows anecdotally from some chapters that — over a long period of time, going back decades — they have welcomed and supported a small number of applications of prospective members whom they believe may be transgender women who became active and respected members of their local chapters. DAR will continue to follow these same long-standing practices.”