Billie Jean King, the famed tennis player who beat Bobby Riggs in the 1973 “Battle of the Sexes,” has joined several LGBT athletes demanding that the state of Idaho be punished for the recent law requiring transgender athletes to compete in sports corresponding to their biological sex.
“Lesbian athletes, including tennis legend Billie Jean King and World Cup champion Megan Rapinoe, were among the 176 women who signed a legal brief submitted to a federal appeals court Monday calling on judges to overturn an Idaho law barring transgender girls from participating in school sports,” reports the Washington Blade.
The brief, coordinated by the LGBTQ group Lambda Legal, calls upon the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn HB 500, arguing that school athletics “provides unparalleled opportunities to forge a sense of belonging, connectedness, and contribution.”
“The benefits of sports extend to all aspects of school and throughout life. But these benefits are diminished when some athletes are excluded because of who they are,” the brief says. “Amici’s experiences in sports and in life are a testament to the value of inclusion in building powerful teams and social, societal, and business institutions.”
In a statement, Billie Jean King said that sports should be no place for discrimination.
“There is no place in any sport for discrimination of any kind,” she said. “I’m proud to support all transgender athletes who simply want the access and opportunity to compete in the sport they love. The global athletic community grows stronger when we welcome and champion all athletes – including LGBTQI+ athletes.”
Earlier this month, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) introduced legislation in Congress that would effectively ban biological males from competing in women’s sports.
“Gabbard introduced the bipartisan bill, dubbed the ‘Protect Women’s Sports Act,’ with Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) on Thursday,” reported The Daily Wire. “The bill seeks to protect ‘the sex-based intention of Title IX protections by reaffirming the biological sex-based distinctions between men and women in athletics.’ The bill would prevent organizations which allow biological males to compete against females from receiving federal funding.”
In a statement, both Gabbard and Mullin said that Title IX originally created opportunities for women that would be eroded by a faulty interpretation.
“Title IX was a historic provision championed by Hawai’i’s own Congresswoman Patsy Mink in order to provide equal opportunity for women and girls in high school and college sports,” Rep. Gabbard said in a statement included in the release. “It led to a generational shift that impacted countless women, creating life-changing opportunities for girls and women that never existed before.”
“However, Title IX is being weakened by some states who are misinterpreting Title IX, creating uncertainty, undue hardship and lost opportunities for female athletes,” Gabbard continued. “Our legislation protects Title IX’s original intent which was based on the general biological distinction between men and women athletes based on sex. It is critical that the legacy of Title IX continues to ensure women and girls in sports have the opportunity to compete and excel on a level playing field.”