Senate Democrats on Thursday blocked a bill to protect single-sex sports from transgender athletes, rejecting warnings from Republicans that the Biden administration’s proposed Title IX overhaul would sideline female athletes.
Sen. Mazie Hirono, Hawaii Democrat, shut down a motion by Sen. Tommy Tuberville, Alabama Republican, to discharge from a committee the Protection of Women and Girls’ Sports Act, which would cut off federal funds for programs that allow males to participate in sports designed for females.
“My Republican colleagues falsely claim that allowing transgender women and girls to play sports is harmful to cisgender women and girls,” said Ms. Hirono on the Senate floor.
“They continue to hurl insulting lies about transgender girls dominating sports, but what is true is that these bans are deeply harmful to transgender girls, particularly to transgender girls of color, girls who are gender nonconforming or born with intersex traits, as well as cisgender girls,” she said.
Mr. Tuberville, who sponsored the bill, said he was “disappointed that my colleague won’t stand up for women and women’s rights.”
The largely symbolic effort came after Mr. Tuberville hosted a press conference to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Title IX and push back on the Education Department’s proposed overhaul, which would extend the anti-discrimination law’s protections to sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics.
Sen. Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee Republican, predicted that the proposed rulemaking would make women and girls spectators in female athletics.
“If they get their way in changing Title IX, you’re going to end up with a team of men and a team of former men,” said Ms. Blackburn. “That’s what you’re going to have. And it is women that are going to be sidelined.”
Mr. Tuberville said that female participation in college sports has soared by 600% since Title IX was enacted, but in the last four years, “biological males in women’s sports have won 22 championships.”
“Democrats, basically, are forcing politics onto the playing field,” Mr. Tuberville said. “Allowing athletes to self-identify into a gender category erodes the gains that women have made over the past 50 years, and it ignores the biological differences between male and female athletes.”
Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, Mississippi Republican, said the Biden administration’s Title IX proposal represents “discrimination against women, plain and simple.”
“The price of ignoring the biological differences between men and women will be paid by young women and girls,” she said.
Earlier this month, the Washington Stand reported that male-born athletes have captured nearly 30 women’s sports titles since 2003, with most of those coming in the last few years.
At least five of those were won by University of Pennsylvania swimmer Lia Thomas, who captured four Ivy League women’s swimming championship titles in February.
In March, Thomas became the first male-born athlete to win an NCAA Division I women’s title. Thomas was cleared to compete after undergoing at least a year of testosterone suppression as required under NCAA rules.
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