House lawmakers clash on GOP effort to ban transgender women from sports

Photo by Vuk Valcic/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images.

House Democrats and Republicans clashed on Wednesday over federal legislation that would bar transgender women and girls nationwide from competing on female sports teams.

“It is a sad reflection on society that the federal government must step in to protect our nation’s young women,” House Committee on Education and the Workforce Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) said Wednesday during a mark-up session. “Progressivism and the lies it espouses have devastated our public education system.”

House Bill 734 — or the “Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act — would amend Title IX, which protects against sex-discrimination in education, to recognize sex as “based solely on a person’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth.”

The measure, introduced last month by Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.), has 68 cosponsors, all of them Republicans.

Foxx on Wednesday said Title IX has been “perverted” by the Biden administration to achieve “the opposite of its intentions,” referencing a 2021 executive order that expanded the definition of sex discrimination to include discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

In June, the Education Department announced a slate of proposed changes to the landmark civil rights law, including extending protections to LGBTQ students. The department has said it plans to issue a separate proposal addressing the eligibility of transgender students to participate in school sports.

“The Biden administration’s radical rewrite now denies equal opportunity to women, a group for whom Title IX was originally drafted,” Foxx said Wednesday.

Committee Republicans during the mark-up session dismissed the existence of transgender people altogether, repeatedly arguing that “men are not women” and every person is “immutably” male or female.

Rep. Mary Miller (R-Ill.), who is sponsoring additional legislation in the House to remove transgender women and girls from female sports teams, said the concept of gender identity itself is merely “a left-wing political ideology.”

Rep. Burgess Owens (R-Utah), arguing in favor of Steube’s bill, said more people with “old school courage” need to speak out against transgender women and girls “stealing” athletic opportunities from cisgender female athletes.

“You can’t let young girls continue to suffer just be on the safe side of political correctness,” Owens, a former professional football player, said Wednesday.

House Democrats on Wednesday condemned the bill, which they said constitutes sex discrimination.

“This bill is not about protecting women’s sports, it is about attacking trans kids,” Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.), one of 13 openly LGBTQ members of Congress, said Wednesday. “What a cowardly thing to be doing. Cowardly.”

An amendment introduced by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the co-chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus’s Transgender Equality Task Force, would have renamed the bill the “Stigmatizing Vulnerable Children Act.”

“LGBTQ kids already face enormous challenges, and many trans kids suffer from lack of adequate services and supports,” Jayapal, whose daughter is transgender, said Wednesday.

Recent research from The Trevor Project, a national LGBTQ youth suicide prevention organization, found that 45 percent of transgender and nonbinary youth seriously considered attempting suicide over the last year. In a 2015 survey, more than 75 percent of transgender students reported feeling unsafe at school.

Legislation targeting LGBTQ identities, especially transgender identities, has been introduced this year in dozens of state legislatures. Since 2020, 18 have enacted laws that bar transgender young people from competing on sports teams consistent with their gender identity.

During an Equality Caucus press conference outside the Capitol Wednesday morning, Rebekah Bruesehoff, a transgender 16-year-old from New Jersey, said a federal ban would prevent her from playing on her high school’s girl’s field hockey team, isolating her from her friends and teammates.

“Sports are one of the most American experiences in any childhood, a federal sports ban would alienate me from my community, and prevent me from continuing to become a better version of myself,” Bruesehoff said.

“I’ve been raised and taught by my parents, coaches and teachers to be the kind of person who works actively to include people, make sure no one eats alone in the lunchroom and who stands up to bullies,” she said. “That’s what I’m doing here.”

Tags Biden administration Burgess Owens Education Department Greg Steube House Democrats House Republicans LGBTQ rights Mark Takano Mary Miller Pramila Jayapal Title IX Virginia Foxx

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