By Valerie Richardson, featuring Independent Women’s Forum

Congress enacted Title IX with virtually no debate over who qualified as a female athlete. How times have changed.

The landmark anti-discrimination law marks its 50th anniversary Thursday caught in a legal and political tug of war over the future of scholastic sports as transgender athletes increasingly apply to compete in the girls’ and women’s arena. The dilemma: Does progress on transgender rights threaten five decades of gains for female sports?

Many of the 1972 law’s defenders argue that allowing biological males in female athletics does exactly what Title IX was intended to avoid: a scenario in which female athletes are pushed aside in favor of males — in this case, males who identify as females.

Title IX of the Education Amendments prohibits discrimination based on sex in scholastic programs that receive federal funding. It has triggered a boom in girls’ high school and collegiate sports.

“Before Title IX, only 1 in 27 girls participated in sports. Today, 2 in 5 do,” said the right-leaning Independent Women’s Forum. “Despite this progress, female athletes are being sidelined in order to make room for males. This isn’t right, and it isn’t fair. It’s time to take back Title IX.”