House passes federal transgender sports ban

A women's sports team wearing red jerseys in a huddle
Photo: Shutterstock

House Republicans have passed a ban on transgender students participating in school sports. The bill passed earlier today with a 219-203 vote, with only Republicans voting for it and Democrats voting against it.

H.R. 734, dubbed the “Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act of 2023,” amends Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the law that currently prohibits sex-based discrimination in education. The Biden administration has said that Title IX prohibits anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination in schools because it is impossible to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people without taking sex into account, the same reasoning used by the Supreme Court in its 2020 Bostock v. Clayton Co. ruling.

If passed by the Senate and signed by President Joe Biden, H.R. 734 would prohibit sports associated with schools that receive federal funding from permitting “a person whose sex is male to participate in an athletic program or activity that is designated for women or girls” and would define sex as “based solely on a person’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth.”

The bill was introduced by Rep. Greg Steube (R-FL), who has introduced similar legislation in Congress in previous years. The bill threatens funding to cash-strapped school districts if they don’t keep trans students off of certain teams, but it doesn’t say how schools should determine a student-athlete’s “reproductive biology and genetics at birth.”

Some states have considered or passed bills requiring genital inspections for girls who want to participate in school sports.

“Allowing biological males to participate in women’s sports is a complete affront to the hardworking women and girls who have spent their lives training to achieve their dreams,” Steube said in a statement. ” We’ve seen time and time again how the far left only favors fairness when it aligns with their woke agenda.”

“Trans kids deserve the right to be equal members of their school communities, learn sportsmanship, and challenge themselves outside of the classroom, including by participating in school sports,” out Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) said in a statement. “As gun violence plagues our schools, anti-equality politicians decided the most pressing priority for the House was to ban trans girls of all ages from playing on school sports teams with their friends.”

LGBTQ+ advocates condemned the bill.

“Rather than focus their energy on doing literally anything to improve the lives of children, House Republicans have prioritized attacking transgender youth purely as a political ploy,” said HRC President Kelley Robinson. “All kids — including transgender, nonbinary and intersex kids — have the right to enjoy the benefits of camaraderie, teamwork, self-discipline and sportsmanship that come from playing school sports. Instead, anti-equality extremists just don’t want to let kids play.”

Last week, 40 professional athletes, including Megan Rapinoe, Sue Bird, Chris Mosier, and CeCe Telfer, wrote a letter to Congress asking them to reject the bill.

“Denying children access to a place where they can gain significant mental and physical health benefits and learn lifelong lessons that come from being part of a team and working hard towards your goals does not protect women in sports,” the letter said.

“If this bill passes, transgender and intersex girls and women throughout the country will be forced to sit on the sidelines, away from their peers and their communities. Furthermore, the policing of who can and cannot play school sports will very likely lead to the policing of the bodies of all girls, including cisgender girls. This will deter girls from participating in sports and create additional barriers.”

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) called transgender students “trans terrorists” while celebrating the passage of the bill.

The Democratic Senate is unlikely to bring the bill up for a vote and Biden, who signed an executive order in 2021 supporting trans student-athletes in school sports, is unlikely to sign it into law.

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