Republicans in the U.S. Senate have introduced a bill that would strip federal funding from schools and organizations that enable biological males who identify as transgender to compete in women’s and girl's athletics competitions.
Sen. Kelly Loeffler of Georgia, along with Sens. Mike Lee of Utah, James Lankford of
Oklahoma, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Tom Cotton of Arkansas introduced the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act of 2020 last week.
The bill would “provide that for purposes of determining compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 in athletics, sex shall be recognized solely on a person’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth.”
A similar bill was introduced in the House of Representatives earlier this year.
Under the Senate legislation, a “recipient of Federal funds who operates, sponsors, or facilitates athletic programs or activities” that permits “a person whose sex is male to participate in an athletic program or activity that is designated for women or girls” would find itself in violation of Title IX.
The legislation comes well over a year after the Democrat-led House of Representatives passed the Equality Act in May 2019, a bill that would codify discrimination protections on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation into federal law.
That bill has stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate
By amending the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, some argue that the Equality Act will enable biological males who identify as females to compete in female athletics events.
Exclusive Op-eds from the Presidential Campaigns
Critics contend that the Equality Act could damage Title IX protections.
Even though the Equality Act has failed to become law, many states have already embraced the idea of letting biological males compete in women’s sports.
Three female athletes in Connecticut have sued the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference over its policy allowing biological males who self-identify as females to participate in women’s and girl’s athletic events.
The U.S. Department of Justice issued a statement of interest on behalf of the female athletes, claiming that the policy fails to account for “the real physiological differences between men and women.”
The DOJ went on to accuse the CIAC of depriving girls of “the single-sex athletic competitions that are one of the marquee accomplishments of Title IX.”
Loeffler, the co-owner of the Atlanta Dream of the Women's National Basketball Association who was appointed last December to fill Georgia Sen. Johnny Isakson seat after he resigned for health reasons, agreed with the DOJ’s assessment.
“Title IX established a fair and equal chance for women and girls to compete, and sports should be no exception,” Loeffler said in a statement. “As someone who learned invaluable life lessons and built confidence playing sports throughout my life, I’m proud to lead this legislation to ensure girls of all ages can enjoy those same opportunities. This commonsense bill protects women and girls by safeguarding fairness and leveling the athletic field that Title IX guarantees.”
Blackburn said in a statement that schools and universities allowing biological males to participate in women’s sports “defeats the purpose of Title IX.”
Lankford, a Baptist lawmaker, concurred.
“Permitting biological males to participate in women’s sports rejects the very spirit of Title IX, which was intended to create an equal playing field for women and girls,” he said.
As she interviewed one of the athletes suing the CIAC, Selina Soule, on her Fox News program last year, Laura Ingraham laid out some of the physiological differences between the sexes that give biological males an advantage over females in sports.
“Females are, on average, 9% shorter than males,” she said.
“Male bones are bigger in both size and density. Females have shorter arms and legs relative to body size. Females are around 30 to 35% muscle by weight, while males are 40 to 50% muscle,” she added. ”Females’ ligaments are thinner and softer than males. The internal organs of … men tend to be bigger, broader, more capable of taking in oxygen. … The structure of the anatomy is different, period.”
The senators who introduced the new bill also pointed to biology when explaining the need for the bill.
“Men and women are biologically different,” said Sen. Lee. “For the safety of female athletes and for the integrity of women’s sports, we must honor those differences on a fair field of competition.”
The state of Idaho passed a similar bill earlier this year called the Fairness in Women’s Sports Act. However, the bill was temporarily blocked by a federal judge last month.
With the 2020 presidential election less than two months away, Republicans hope that Democrats’ support of the Equality Act will hurt their chances in November.
The conservative think tank American Principles Project put together a $4 million ad campaign in swing states highlighting Democratic candidates’ support for allowing biological males who identify as transgender to compete in women’s sports, an idea opposed by a majority of voters in several states.