Transgender athletes whose sex at birth was male would be barred from competing on women’s or girls’ sports teams at schools and colleges that are federally supported under legislation passed Thursday by the House GOP. The bill’s passage checks another box on their social agenda.
The bill was approved by a 219-203 vote along party lines and is unlikely to advance further because the Senate is Democrat-led and won’t support it. The White House has said President Joe Biden would veto the bill if it reached his desk.
Supporters of the legislation would put violators at risk of losing taxpayer dollars, but it is necessary to ensure fairness in competitions. They framed the vote as supporting women athletes who have been disadvantaged by having to compete against individuals who identify as a sex that doesn’t match their biological sex assigned at birth.
Opponents of the bill criticized it, saying it ostracizes a group already vulnerable for political gain.
The action by the House comes as at least 20 states have imposed similar limits on trans athletes at the collegiate or K-12 level.
The bill would amend landmark civil rights legislation, Title IX, which leveled the playing field for women and was passed more than 50 years ago. It would block recipients of federal money from allowing a person “whose sex is male” to participate in programs designed for girls or women. The legislation defines sex as “based solely on a person’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth.”
Republican Representative Greg Steube of Florida, the bill’s sponsor, highlighted the case of Emma Weyant, a resident of his district and a U.S. Olympic swimming team member in 2020 who finished second in the NCAA women’s 500-yard freestyle championship last year. In the race, she was defeated by Lia Thomas, who had previously competed for three years on the men’s swimming team for the University of Pennsylvania before joining the women’s team.
The integrity of women’s sports must be protected,” said Steube.
McCarthy: “Great day for girls and women and for fairness in sports”
Speaker of the House Republican Representative Kevin McCarthy, of California, said it was a “great day for girls and women and for fairness in sports.”
Democrats say every child deserves the opportunity to belong to a team regardless of gender, and prohibiting competitors from doing so sends the message they don’t matter.
The White House, in a message this week threatening a veto, said being part of a team is a critical part of growing up, learning life and leadership skills, and staying engaged in school. It maintains a national ban that doesn’t account for grade level targets or competitiveness targets people for who they are, which is discriminatory.
The Biden administration also issued a proposed rule that would prohibit any college or school that received federal money from implementing a “one-size-fits-all” policy that bans trans students from playing on sporting teams that are consistent with their gender identity. According to the administration, such policies would be considered a violation of Title IX.
Last month, the House passed legislation requiring schools to publish a list of books kept in libraries and course studies and affirm parents’ ability to meet with educators, examine school budgets, and speak at school board meetings.
While the legislation is not expected to advance, it allows supporters in the House to promote their vote for it during the election next year.
The American Civil Liberties Union condemned the vote and said that this year, over 450 bills that attack the rights of transgender people have been introduced in state legislatures.
“Why are Republicans in Congress spending their time bullying children? This is not what voters elected them to do,” said ACLU’s national political director, Deirdre Schifeling.