A growing number of transgender women, who were born male, have begun participating in–and dominating–competitive women’s sports. Concerned that transgender participation disadvantages biologically female athletes, Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) recently introduced the “Protect Women’s Sports Act.” The legislation defines “sex”, for purposes of athletics, as biological sex at birth—not gender identity.
In a statement, Gabbard explained that she felt compelled to act because some athletic associations are weakening Title IX, “creating uncertainty, undue hardship and lost opportunities for female athletes.” Gabbard said her legislation “protects Title IX’s original intent which was based on the general biological distinction between men and women athletes based on sex.”
Trans-athletes say they are only seeking inclusion and that their participation doesn’t hurt anyone. Alex Schmider, GLAAD’s Associate Director of Transgender Representation, said, “There’s no evidence in the 18 states with policies that allow transgender athletes to participate on teams consistent with their gender identity that inclusion negatively impacts athletic programs.”
Are they right?
-Alex Schmider, GLAAD
Mostly false or misleading. Significant errors or omissions. Mostly make believe.
Competitive sports, as opposed to non-competitive or intramural sports, are not supposed to be inclusive. Varsity teams are selective; colleges recruit athletes to fill their rosters; there are, inevitably, winners and losers. Every time a transgender woman wins a head-to-head athletic competition, a biological female loses.
And every time a transgender woman secures a spot on an elite women’s team or wins a scholarship reserved for female athletes, a biological female loses an opportunity.
These lost opportunities are not hypothetical. Connecticut, for example, allows high school athletes to compete according to their gender identity—even if they have not started the process of medical transition. Two transgender sprinters in the state, Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood, have won at least 15 state women’s titles between them, prompting biological female runners to file a lawsuit against the state athletic association. At the college level in 2019, transgender woman CeCé Telfer (Franklin Pierce College) became the NCAA Division II national women’s champion in the 400-meter run.
These are just a few examples. But, as more athletic associations allow transgender women to compete in women’s sports, the number of lost opportunities for biological females is likely to increase.
Transgender athletes say they simply want a chance to play the sports that they love. Fair enough. But Title IX was passed specifically to increase opportunities for women and girls. Allowing male-bodied athletes to play competitive women’s sports decreases opportunities for biological females to succeed at the highest levels and undermines the integrity of single sex sport.