Last week marked the inaugural National Women’s Sports Week and the 50th anniversary of the passage of Title IX. I attended the “Our Bodies, Our Sports” rally, organized by the Independent Women’s Forum. The event coincided with the Biden administration’s release of new Title IX regulations, which — as National Review’s Jack Wolfsohn has highlighted — paves the way for the legal erasure of women and the end of female athletics as we know it.
Dozens of brave women gathered at Freedom Plaza to celebrate past female achievements and to stand in defiance of present threats. “I heard someone say the other day that we must not only be the role models for this generation but the heroes of the generations to come,” said Madisan DeBos, a cross-country and track athlete at Southern Utah State University whose team lost to one with a male athlete.
DeBos gave a sense of the situation on the ground, the palpable injustice, and the unmissable truth that forcing women to compete against men is not a level playing field. She recalled hearing a male runner competing in the women’s division at a conference championship being told by his coach “to slow down.” “This athlete was in 6th place, moved up to 3rd, then told to slow down and got 2nd,” she explained.
I bumped into Selina Soule. Soule is a track athlete in Connecticut who was deprived of opportunities because she was forced to compete against male athletes. In that case, two male athletes were awarded 15 women’s state championship titles, and set 17 new individual meet records, displacing dozens of young women. In 2019, I interviewed Soule for the Wall Street Journal. We noted how there has been a cultural shift since then. “I was the only one, now there’s more of us!” she said. Indeed, two other Connecticut athletes, Chelsea Mitchell and Alanna Smith, joined her at the rally.
The young female athletes in attendance were well supported by professional athletes. Cynthia Monteleone, a Team USA World Masters track champion, spoke of her decision to boycott this year’s World Masters championships for allowing male athletes to compete against females. However, Monteleone also found cause for hope. She described the world swimming organization’s recent policy banning athletes who have gone through normal male puberty as a “step in the right direction.”
Intergenerational solidarity is powerful resistance. When Riley Gaines Barker, an NCAA female swimmer forced to compete against UPenn’s male swimmer Lia Thomas, took to the stage, transgender activists (many of them men) assembled nearby with drums and megaphones and attempted to drown her out. The response of those in the rally was to cheer even louder for Gaines. Another speaker cried “Our bodies!” and the crowd responded enthusiastically with “Our sports!”
The pushback is also bipartisan. Kara Danksy, president of Women’s Declaration International USA and a registered Democrat, described the transgender craze as “left-wing misogyny on steroids.” Other Democrats were also in attendance. I interviewed former U.S. representative Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat who was the original sponsor of the Protect Women’s Sports Act. She told National Review that “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.”
Fifty years ago, there was little doubt that discriminating “on the basis of sex” referred to anatomical sex. But in May 2016, the Obama administration issued “significant guidance” to public schools via a “Dear Colleague” letter, jointly issued by the Department of Education and Department of Justice, instructing schools receiving federal funding to redefine sex to include transgender identity.
Betsy DeVos, the secretary of education under Trump, cleaned up much of this mess and has at least prevented the Biden-Harris administration from immediately resurrecting the Title IX menace. (Thanks to DeVos’s foresight, a long administrative process soliciting comments from interested parties must now ensue.) Still, the ill effects would not be limited to sports. The new regulations would apply to all female-only spaces, roll back due-process rights, and undermine parental rights in the realm of ideological indoctrination and child transition.
As Jennifer Braceras and Inez Stepman of the Independent Women’s Forum explained in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed: “Out of a single sentence barring discrimination on the basis of sex, the Biden administration is illegally rewriting federal law to erase women and undermine constitutional liberties.” These trans-maniacal bureaucrats must be stopped.