The Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act of 2023 would amend Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 such that recipients of federal financial assistance which operate sports leagues cannot “permit a person whose sex is male to participate in an athletic program or activity that is designated for women or girls.” The legislation passed with 219 affirmative votes, all of which came from Republicans, and 203 negative votes, all of which came from Democrats.
“The Democrats have gone to great lengths to call this bill extreme. The Democrats have gone to great lengths, being almost hysterical, to call this bill discriminatory,” Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), the chairwoman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, said in a floor speech on Wednesday. “It’s quite telling when the other party attempts to tear things down without offering an alternative vision. Democrats refuse to posit a reason for allowing biological men to compete in women’s sports that comports with principles of athletic competition.”
Critics of allowing self-identified transgender athletes to compete in women’s sports leagues note that men have inherent physical advantages over women.
The phenomenon has dominated headlines in recent years: track athlete CeCe Telfer won an NCAA women’s national championship after competing with fellow men in the previous season, transgender swimmer Lia Thomas tied with female champion Riley Gaines and was honored by ESPN for a women’s history month segment, and MMA fighter Fallon Fox was accused of breaking multiple female opponents’ skulls after he began to compete as a woman.
Democrats nevertheless claimed that the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act is discriminatory in nature. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who previously served as Speaker of the House, said in another floor speech that she opposed the bill because “trans kids are all God’s children” and belong “in sports, in schools, in books, in families, and on teams.”
The Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act now faces a vote in the Senate, which is narrowly controlled by Democrats. The White House issued a veto notice on Monday clarifying that President Joe Biden would oppose the legislation.
“Schools, coaches, and athletic associations around the country are already working with families to develop participation rules that are fair and that take into account particular sports, grade levels, and levels of competition,” the notice said. “At a time when transgender youth already face a nationwide mental health crisis, with half of transgender youth in a recent survey saying they have seriously considered suicide, a national law that further stigmatizes these children is completely unnecessary, hurts families and students, and would only put students at greater risk. Discrimination has no place in our nation’s schools or on our playing fields.”
The White House recently sparked controversy after senior officials participated in several Transgender Day of Visibility events days after a woman who identified as a man killed three children and three adults at The Covenant School, a ministry of the conservative evangelical Covenant Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tennessee. Biden has not met with families of the victims but will host three Tennessee Democrats who were expelled or nearly expelled from the state’s General Assembly for breaking floor rules as they hosted a gun control protest.
Democrats have also opposed state-level measures to outlaw sex change procedures for minors, noting the permanent damage that surgeries and cross-sex hormones can inflict upon patients. Other bills passed by conservative-leaning states prohibit sexually explicit drag shows in public or near children.