Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) has introduced legislation that would ban transgender girls and women from participating in sports as their gender. Gabbard ran in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary and faced criticism for her past as an anti-LGBTQ extremist, where she referred to pro-marriage equality advocates as “homosexual extremists.”
The bill, which the former presidential contender introduced alongside Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), would amend Title IX of the Education Amendment of 1972 to make it illegal for sports programs “to permit a person whose biological sex is male to participate in an athletic program or activity that is designated for women or girls.”
Gabbard’s bill does not define “biological sex” or say how it will be determined, whether by DNA tests, genital exams, or other possible measures, leaving it up to state and local sports governing bodies to develop their own systems to ensure that they are in compliance with federal legislation.
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A similar law was passed in Idaho earlier this year, and it was criticized because it allowed anyone to challenge a student athlete’s gender, which would force the girl or woman to undergo DNA tests and “genital exams.”
Then in September, Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate that required state and local athletics organizations to determine a student athlete’s “reproductive biology and genetics at birth” in order to prevent transgender girls and women from participating in girls’ and women’s sports.
Loeffler’s office denied that she supported genital and DNA exams for women in sports but could not explain to LGBTQ Nation what part of her bill either explained how biological sex will be determined or prevented state and local athletics organizations from implementing such tests in order to maintain federal funding. Gabbard’s bill also omitted any such explanation.
“Title IX is being weakened by some states who are misinterpreting Title IX, creating uncertainty, undue hardship, and lost opportunities for female athletes,” said Gabbard in a statement. “Our legislation protects Title IX’s original intent which was based on the general biological distinction between men and women athletes based on sex.”
Before she was elected to Congress, she worked for one of her father’s anti-LGBTQ organizations, the Alliance for Traditional Marriage, which she later cited as a positive experience when she ran for the state legislature in 2002.
“Working with my father, Mike Gabbard, and others to pass a constitutional amendment to protect traditional marriage, I learned that real leaders are willing to make personal sacrifices for the common good,” she told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin at the time.
The Alliance for Traditional Marriage’s website, which appears to have been written by Gabbard’s father, had an FAQ that promoted conversion therapy, telling people that “a person can walk away from homosexuality if they are repentant, sincere, and determined” and “for those who experience the urge for sexual activity with someone of the same sex, it’s possible to overcome those sexual desires, no matter how powerful they may be.”
When asked about this, she said that she personally never supported conversion therapy and in early 2019 she made a video apologizing for her anti-LGBTQ past. She said that her views had changed, but she was still accusing Democrats of “fomenting religious bigotry” for saying that Christian judges should not impose their religious beliefs on others.
During her presidential campaign, Gabbard refused to respond to an HRC questionnaire on LGBTQ issues, which all the other major Democratic candidates responded to. Now that she has introduced an anti-transgender bill, though, it’s possible that she refused to respond to the questionnaire because she didn’t want to draw attention to her views on LGBTQ issues during the primary.
Gabbard lost the primary and endorsed Joe Biden, and she did not run for reelection for Congress. The bill she introduced now is unlikely to pass the Democratic House before Biden is inaugurated.
HRC’s Charlotte Clymer has called Gabbard’s bill “blatantly transphobic.”
Tulsi Gabbard is now introducing a blatantly transphobic piece of legislation aimed at trans and non-binary young people. Of course, that's hardly surprising for a Republican. https://t.co/uqIwG9snt8
— Charlotte Clymer 🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) December 11, 2020
Rep. George Steube (R-FL) introduced a similar bill in the House this past January.