Trans lawmakers urge Joe Biden to unequivocally support trans student-athletes

President Joe Biden
President Joe Biden Photo: Shutterstock

Fourteen trans and nonbinary legislators from across the country have sent a letter to President Joe Biden urging him to reconsider his administration’s proposed rule changes that would sometimes allow schools to discriminate against trans athletes.

“There is no such thing as an acceptable ‘compromise’ that limits trans Americans’ access to equal rights,” the letter declared. “When it comes to policy addressing trans athletes, our stance is this: Trans athletes belong in sports. Full stop.”

The Department of Education (DOE) recently proposed a rule change to its Title IX regulations that would allow K-12 schools and universities to limit the participation of transgender athletes in sports while also forbidding schools from completely banning trans athletes altogether.

The proposal is intended to promote “fairness in competition” and strike a compromise between trans advocates and those who support the trans athlete bans that have been passed in 20 states. It would generally allow trans elementary school students to play on sports teams matching their gender identities.

However, higher school levels could ban trans students from certain sports if they claim it’s to preserve “fairness” or avoid the possibility of sports-related injuries. If a school does ban trans students from a sport, it must try to “minimize harms” by providing other participation opportunities, the DOE said — a vague condition that could be interpreted many ways.

The trans and nonbinary lawmakers accused the Biden administration of “granting credence to false narratives around the supposed advantages of trans athletes” and perpetuating “unfounded and harmful claims.”

“Revisions should be made in conjunction with a wide array of transgender legislators, lawyers, and activists, and the new proposed policy language should begin with the presumption of full inclusion for transgender athletes.”

The letter’s signatories include Oklahoma Rep. Mauree Turner (D), Montana Rep. Zooey Zephyr (D), Minnesota Rep. Leigh Finke (D), and Vermont Rep. Taylor Small (D).

Biden has made history for his unwavering support of trans rights, and as such, the proposed rules have been a shock to many.

Slate writer Mark Joseph Stern called the move “extraordinarily disappointing and a total reversal from a position the Biden administration as taken since Day One.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) called it “indefensible and embarrassing.”

“The admin can still walk this back,” she said, “and they should. It’s a disgrace.”

The proposal will first undergo a 30-day public comment period before being changed or going into effect. 

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