WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, on National Women and Girls in Sports Day, Independent Women’s Law Center and Independent Women’s Forum were joined by Senators Joni Ernst, Cindy Hyde-Smith, Tommy Tuberville, Mike Lee and Marsha Blackburn, as well as “Margaret,” a former college athlete and mother of a swimmer who has competed against Lia Thomas and Olympic swimmer, and Women’s Sports Foundation co-founder Donna de Varona, to speak up for female athletes across the country.

Jennifer Braceras, director of Independent Women’s Law Center, began the call by stating that, “Allowing biological males to compete as athletes on women’s teams with limited rosters, means that there are inevitably fewer spots on those teams for females and perhaps less playing time or scholarship money for those females who do make the team.” 

Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) put names to the faces of the women and girls who’ve been affected by these harmful policies and forced to compete against transgender athletes. “Last summer, I had the opportunity to meet with Team USA World Champion Track Athlete Cynthia Monteleone and her daughter Margaret O’Neal, a high school track athlete, to hear firsthand how they were placed at a disadvantage in competing against male-bodied athletes,” Sen. Ernst said. “Through my conversation with Cynthia and Margaret, it was clear that protecting female athletes isn’t just about ensuring women have the opportunity to win in their sport. It’s also about ensuring they have the opportunity to compete in the first place.”

“Title IX changed that, and I assure you, it changed it for the better,” added Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS). “But allowing male-bodied athletes to compete against females in sports will totally undermine girl sports. It will undo all of that.”

Senator Tommy Tubberville (R-AL), who formerly was the longtime football coach for Auburn University, then said, “[Women’s sports is] not just about winning and losing, it’s about giving the opportunity to do something along with other girls or other teammates to win. And then, you have to understand how to compete with each other and how to handle the wins and how to handle the losses. So sports are equalizers, whether you’re rich or you’re poor or what background you come from.”

“As a father, as a husband, as a person, I want to make sure that everyone, and especially all women and girls, can have every chance to achieve success on and off the field, in and out of any sport that they might choose, and I think this is a necessary step,” added Senator Mike Lee (R-UT)

“Margaret,” the mother of a swimmer who has competed against Lia Thomas, shared powerful testimony. “Sex-based categories in competitive sports have been a huge part of women’s success in overcoming marginalization. It is no surprise that the rise of women’s sports has coincided with the rise of women’s voices, status, and contributions,” she said. “A female champion, a female athlete is a symbol of power, an inspiration and a source of strength. Alongside a female leader in business or politics, a female athlete is a chance for women to see their potential, to know they are worthy of reward and recognition. We cannot strip this away.”

“Indeed, without the tools sports provide us in navigating the competitive world in which we live, where would we be?” said former Olympic swimmer and Women’s Sports Foundation co-founder Donna de Varona.

Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) concluded the call by saying, “You look at the NCAA not setting a standard and not standing up for women and their ability and their right to participate, to train, to participate, to win, to celebrate that success. And it is why my Senate colleagues and I are working to pass the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act. And this is something that would make certain that women are fairly treated through this process.” 

A recording of today’s press call and a transcript can be found HERE.



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

Independent Women’s Law Center advocates for equal opportunity, individual liberty, and respect for the American constitutional order.