One of America’s oldest genealogical societies, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), is no longer exclusively female. Men who identify as women are now permitted to join the prestigious group if they can procure an altered birth certificate that lists their sex as female.
Multiple members and ex-members of DAR pointed out the sheer irony of this new policy in a series of interviews with the Independent Women’s Forum. Most obviously, these women pointed out how ludicrous it is to be able to join a group using an altered birth certificate when membership is contingent on accurate biographical records. For those familiar with DAR’s origins, however, the irony cuts deeper.
“DAR was founded in 1890 because women weren’t allowed to join the Sons of the American Revolution [SAR],” member Linda Smith told IWF. Once again, a space women carved out for themselves in response to male exclusion is being taken away.
DAR is one of the most highly regarded among a number of historical groups in the United States. Finding a biological connection to early Americans who fought in the Revolutionary War is tremendously meaningful for descendants. The Sons of the American Revolution was established in 1889 for this purpose, but the group was exclusively male. One year later, a group of four intrepid women formed the Daughters of the American Revolution as a refuge for women who also wanted to bond over their shared connection to America’s founding.
DAR’s motto is “God, home, and country.” Allowing radical gender ideology, the new religion of an increasingly irreverent and unpatriotic West, to infiltrate a group so dedicated to America’s founding values would no doubt have been a difficult sell. This is why Judy Lindsay, regent of Wyoming’s Cheyenne chapter, said that DAR leadership implemented their new policy in a way that, at best, could be described as misleading.
“I attended the Continental Congress [DAR’s annual leadership convention] in June of 2023, and was in the business meeting when the bylaw amendments were presented,” Lindsay told IWF. “The national bylaws stated that to be eligible for membership, one must be a woman, but the president general acknowledged that altered birth certificates [listing biological men as women] have been accepted.”
The new language being introduced was vaguely worded and did not explicitly state that males would be admitted to the society. Instead, the existing bylaw was simply amended to say that DAR could not “unlawfully discriminate against an eligible applicant … for any characteristic protected by applicable law.”
When asked for comment, DAR said this new language was added to update and strengthen its existing non-discrimination policy, and that certain chapters have allowed men to join in the past if their birth certificates listed them as female.
While DAR said the admission of men into certain chapters was not a secret, members seemed surprised and disturbed by the new language at the 2023 Continental Congress. On the livestream, multiple members can be heard asking if the updated non-discrimination policy would allow men who identify as women to join DAR. Clearly, even those members in attendance at the Continental Congress were not aware that this was happening.
According to Lindsay, most DAR members are still “just now” finding out about it. Even those who voted for the new language, she alleged, did so under pressure.
“It appears to me that [leadership] unilaterally decided to allow males in and then tried to hide it from the membership,” Lindsay said. “I stated at Continental Congress, when I spoke against the amendment, that they were using fear tactics to get members to vote by saying our tax-exempt status was at risk unless we passed the bylaw.”
While many DAR members are still in the dark about the new policy, about 200 women resigned from the society after learning that men would be permitted to join, according to Smith.
Silenced by Leadership
One of those women, former DAR member and chaplain Amy Barron, said that she initially tried to speak out against the policy at a chapter meeting but chose to resign after she was silenced by chapter leadership.
“I told them I was concerned about how the amendments were worded — you would never know by looking at them that they were meant to include [men],” Barron said.
Partway through Barron’s statement to the other members, the meeting host muted her. “She said, ‘We can discuss this offline,’” Barron recalled.
DAR is not and never has been a political organization. That’s why Barron, and other members like her, are baffled by the society’s foray into one of the most controversial political issues of our time — the erasure of women and women’s spaces in favor of men who want to access their organizations and spaces. Members feel particularly betrayed, Barron said, because other genealogical societies have not implemented language adding members of the opposite sex into their bylaws.
“SAR and Colonial Dames aren’t doing this,” Barron said. “They’ve been asked why many times, and their answer is, ‘We’re not DAR.’”
True to the spirit of their revolutionary ancestors, many DAR members are refusing to participate in their own erasure.
Former DAR member Brenda Becker, who served on her chapter’s executive board before resigning, told IWF that she organized an online group called “Biological Daughters” after members’ comments about the issue were removed from DAR’s official online forum. Through “Biological Daughters,” 13 chapters from around the country united in opposition to the new amendment.
In their comment, DAR affirmed that “offensive” language was subject to flagging and/or removal on their official online forum. Opposition to men joining DAR, therefore, likely fell under that category.
According to Becker, her former chapter proposed an amendment to the updated bylaw, which they hope will be discussed at the 2024 Continental Congress. It would specifically define the word “woman” and would also require a hopeful member to present an original birth certificate and/or DNA test to be eligible for admission.
The DAR chapter is just the latest group pushing to define the term “woman.” This effort, which includes the Women’s Bill of Rights legislation, is unfortunately necessary at a time when the very existence of women as biologically distinct from men is denied by activists and American leaders alike.
The Daughters of the American Revolution have dedicated themselves to preserving the spirit of their ancestors, many of whom sacrificed everything to throw off the yoke of injustice and oppression. Inspired by their legacy, we can only hope that those standing up to protect DAR from radical ideologues will prevail in their fight for dignity, history, and truth.