Activists: Biden’s Embrace of Transgender Athletes a Blow to Women’s Rights

FILE - In this Feb. 7, 2019 file photo, Cromwell High School transgender athlete Andraya Y
AP Photo/Pat Eaton-Robb

President-Elect Joe Biden’s promise to embrace transgender ideology will likely include supporting biological men who say their gender identity is female to compete in sports against biological women.

Attorneys representing transgender athletes and women athletes expect Biden’s Department of Education to reverse course in two lawsuits in Idaho and Connecticut that the Trump administration had backed to protect women’s rights.

The Associated Press (AP) reported on the ongoing legal battles:

Transgender athletes are getting an ally in the White House next week as they seek to participate as their identified gender in high school and college sports — although state legislatures, Congress and the courts are all expected to have their say this year, too.

Debate is also expected in statehouses. Last year, bills to restrict transgender athletes’ participation to their gender assigned at birth were brought up in 17 states, although only one, Idaho’s, became law.

It may ultimately fall to Congress to clarify once and for all whether Title IX, the civil rights law that guarantees equal opportunities for women and girls in education, protects or bars the participation of transgender females in women’s sports, said Elizabeth Sharrow, an associate professor of public policy at the University of Massachusetts.

“I think if they do that, lawmakers at the state level can propose laws, but it doesn’t mean those proposals are going to be taken seriously in the legislative bodies they serve in or that if the state passes those laws anyway that they would necessarily be considered legitimate,” Sharrow said. “The courts will sort that out.

“In Idaho, a law signed in March became the nation’s first to prohibit transgender students who identify as female from playing on female teams sponsored by public schools, colleges, and universities,” AP reported, adding the Trump administration supported the law, which has been blocked by a federal judge while a lawsuit brought by the left-wing American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)  is litigated.

“Allowing males to enter our sports isn’t fair,” Madison Kenyon, a cross-country runner at Idaho State, said in a statement released on Friday. “It changes everything because it eliminates the connection between an athlete’s effort and her success. Idaho’s law helps make sure that, when women like me work hard, that hard work pays off, and we have a shot at winning.”

In Connecticut, the Trump Administration intervened in a lawsuit filed by several women who were seeking to block a state policy that allows transgender athletes to compete according to their gender identity instead of biological sex. 

This, the women argued, is unfair because biological males have a physical advantage in sports.

Both the ACLU and the Christian non-profit Alliance Defending Freedom, which is involved in fighting for women athletes in Connecticut and Idaho, expect the Biden Administration to announce that Title IX also protects transgender women from discrimination.

“I think that is extremely concerning for the future of women’s sports and would reverse nearly 50 years of gains for women under Title IX,” Christiana Holcomb, an attorney for the Alliance Defending Freedom, said in the AP report.

“Opponents of bans are encouraged by Biden’s victory and a 2020 Supreme Court decision that found that transgender people are protected from discrimination in employment,” AP reported.

“It’s possible that the Connecticut case could evaporate under a new administration that doesn’t want to press it,” Erin Buzuvis, a professor at the Western New England School of Law who specializes in gender and discrimination in education and athletics, said.

“The Idaho situation is different because it is a state law that is being challenged under the equal protection doctrine,” Buzuvis said. “That could set some sort of national standard about what kind of policies states are allowed to have or prohibited to have. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the case would say, ‘Here is the one policy that all states must have.’”

A federal judge has set a hearing date on Feb. 26 to rule on a request to dismiss the Connecticut lawsuit.

Biden is also expected to support access to bathrooms and locker rooms based on gender identity instead of biological sex.

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