By Madeleine Kearns, featuring IWF’s Our Bodies, Our Sports rally

Today, on the 50th anniversary of the passage of Title IX regulations, the “Our Bodies, Our Sports” rally was held at Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., in celebration of women’s athletic achievements and in defiance of transgender sports policy. The Independent Women’s Forum was a lead sponsor of the rally. Also today, the Biden administration announced new regulations with regard to Title IX that redefine “sex” to include “gender identity.” This change would spell the end of female-only sports.

In addition to college and high-school female athletes, both Republican and Democratic officials were in attendance. I spoke with Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat who represented Hawaii in the House, who was an original sponsor of the Protect Women’s Sports Act and a supporter of the Women’s Bill of Rights.

Madeleine Kearns: What brought you out here today?

Tulsi Gabbard: The 50th anniversary of Title IX is a big deal. An even bigger deal is the fact that the opportunities and the progress that 50 years of Title IX has brought are at risk of going away. You know, who would have thought that it would be a courageous statement to say there are differences, biological and physiological differences, between men and women? But that’s what’s happening here today with these amazing young athletes and leaders from across generations, taking a stand and saying, Hey, we need to protect Title IX, protect women and girls and sports. And all of the progress and opportunity that’s come with that.

Kearns: When did the issue of transgenderism and its policy implications first appear on your radar?

Gabbard: I mean, look, this is something that has been kind of in the conversation for quite some time. But before I left Congress, we started to see the occurrence of biological boys and men competing against girls and women. And what a problem that presents as we look at women and girls in sports and the intent of Title IX. And so, before I left Congress, I introduced legislation called the Protect Women’s Sports Act with a Republican colleague of mine, Markwayne Mullin from Oklahoma. He has three young daughters who are incredible athletes . . . And you know, he and his family represent a lot of families across the country, who want to make sure that their daughters have the opportunity to succeed in whatever way that they choose, and how important it is for Democrats and Republicans to take a stand to do just that to protect women and girls.

Kearns: As a Democrat, when you introduced this, you were very much an outlier. Why is that?

Gabbard: That’s a good question. It’s unfortunate [in] that I think that there are probably more people who agree and who recognize the truth, that there are, in fact, biological and physiological differences between men and women, and that a man does not become a woman simply by declaring it to be so. But there’s a lot of fear around it in this cancel culture and, you know, people feeling like they have to self-censor, or that they will be ostracized, as I have been, in many cases, simply for stating this biological truth.

Kearns: Why don’t you fear this, then? Given that a lot of Democratic politicians —

Gabbard: Because I choose not to be driven by fear. You know, my actions are driven by my desire to do what I can to be of service to make a positive impact to serve the best interests of the people of this country, men and women alike, for all Americans. And I don’t care what the backlash may be. Just as women for generations fought for the rights of women, fought for Title IX to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, they faced backlash, and they were ostracized, and they were criticized. It’s that kind of courage that we need to see from our leaders today. And it’s that kind of courage that we’re seeing from these young women, these athletes here today who are choosing to use their voice to represent the many who are being directly impacted by this today, and to represent those who will come after and whose future in many ways will be impacted based on what we choose to do or not do at this moment.

Kearns: Do you think part of the problem is that the transgender movement is seen as a continuation of the gay-rights movement?

Gabbard: I mean, I think the problem is that we live in a culture of fear, rather than a culture that’s based on objective reality and truth. It should not be a bold act to stand up and say there are differences between men and women. But this is where we are.

Kearns: Do you think there’s any truth to the statement that “transgender women are women”?

Gabbard: A woman is an adult biological female. How one chooses to identify is up to them. But there are biological realities that don’t change just because someone chooses to identify one way or another. And I think the fact that we have people like a Supreme Court justice, doctors, politicians, professors, who are incapable of defining what a woman is, [is] a big problem. How do you fight for women’s rights if you don’t know what a woman is?

Kearns: What would you like to see with regard to policy to push back on some of this stuff? Today, the Biden administration came out with regulations redefining “sex” to include gender identity. What can be done about that?

Gabbard: Congress needs to pass legislation. I mean, that’s the check and balance of the executive and the legislative branch. Congress needs to pass legislation in order to stop that action, [the] Biden administration’s action from moving forward because it will directly undermine Title IX and erase the progress that women have made.

Kearns: How optimistic are you about the success of this new women’s-rights movement?

Gabbard: My hope is that the more people speak up, the more others will feel inspired and almost feel a sense of duty to do the same if not for themselves then for their daughters, their sisters, their moms, their friends. Because if we don’t take a stand, then the consequences will be very serious and long-standing.