August 23, 2019

R.G. & G.R. HARRIS FUNERAL HOMES v. EEOC, et al., No. 18-107, 

The Supreme Court should not limit athletic opportunities for women and girls by holding that federal anti-discrimination law prohibits reasonable distinctions on the basis of transgender status. 

WASHINGTON, DC — Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) has filed a brief in the United States Supreme Court in R.G. & G.R. HARRIS FUNERAL HOMES v. EEOC, et al. The case asks the Court to determine whether Title VII’s prohibition on employment discrimination “because of sex” includes discrimination because of transgender status. 

IWF filed its brief in support of the employer Harris Funeral Homes because of concerns that a ruling expanding the statutory meaning of “sex” to include transgender status will have the unintended consequence of requiring athletic programs to allow male-bodied athletes to compete on women’s teams and against female athletes. 

When Congress passed Title VII in 1964, it banned employers from treating an individual less favorably than similarly-situated individuals of the opposite biological sex. Congress did not address the issue of discrimination because of an individual’s gender identity or transgender status. Eight years later, Congress enacted Title IX to prohibit sex discrimination in education. Title IX has been instrumental in expanding athletic opportunities for women and girls. 

Courts generally apply interpretations of TItle VII’s substantive provisions to Title IX (and vice versa). In the short term, a ruling in favor of the employee in Harris Funeral Homes will reduce the number of athletic opportunities for biological women and girls. In the long run, it will undermine the legal justification for maintaining any sex-specific athletic teams at all and may, therefore, result in the elimination of women’s sports altogether.

Jennifer Braceras, director of Independent Women's Law Center, issued the following statement: “When it comes to issues of gender identity, each context poses its own unique set of challenges and requires consideration of scientific evidence and the weighing of competing interests. Policy-making bodies are best suited for this deliberative process, and such deliberations are, in fact, ongoing. Transgender participation in competitive athletics presents particularly complicated issues that are not easily resolved by blunt, one-size-fits-all judicial decrees. The Supreme Court should not limit athletic opportunities for women and girls by interpreting federal anti-discrimination law to prohibit distinctions on the basis of transgender status.” 

Read the full brief HERE.


Independent Women's Forum is dedicated to developing and advancing policies that aren’t just well intended, but actually enhance people’s freedom, choices, and opportunities.