Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) introduced legislation this week that would specify that Title IX, which protects people from being discriminated against based on sex in education programs that receive federal funding, be applied based on a person’s biological sex as determined at birth by a physician.
Gabbard introduced the bipartisan bill, dubbed the “Protect Women’s Sports Act,” with Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) on Thursday. 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.
“Since its creation, Title IX has been confronted by various challenges, often resulting in nuanced or situational solutions to the circumstances,” reads a press release from the two members of Congress issued Thursday. “This has included considering the fairness of an individual of one sex to play on a team designated for another sex when no such team is available to the individual, such as women’s field hockey or men’s football. This bill protects the sex-based intention of Title IX protections by reaffirming the biological sex-based distinctions between men and women in athletics.”
“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.”
“Title IX was designed to give women and girls an equal chance to succeed, including in sports,” said Rep. Mullin. “Allowing biological males to compete in women’s sports diminishes that equality and takes away from the original intent of Title IX. As the father of three girls involved in athletics, I want them to be able to compete on a level playing field. I am proud to lead this bill that will safeguard the integrity of women’s sports and ensure female athletes can compete fairly.”
Sports Illustrated provides some context for the bill:
Though NCAA rules allow transgender women to participate in women’s sports, this is not the first time legislation has presented an obstacle. Various branches of government have disagreed on this issue just this year.
In April, Idaho banned trans athletes from women’s sports, though the state is being sued by Boise State track and field athlete Lindsay Hecox. In May, the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights decided that allowing transgender athletes to compete in Connecticut high school sports violated the civil rights of female athletes. The Supreme Court ruled in June, however, that discrimination on the basis of gender identity is classified alongside sex discrimination under the Civil Rights Act.