WASHINGTON, D.C. Independent Women’s Law Center and Independent Women’s Forum today condemned new Biden administration rules that undermine women’s sports.

The proposed rule would prohibit schools from imposing a “one-size-fits-all” policy that categorically bans trans-identified students from playing on sports teams consistent with their gender identity. The proposal comes nearly ten months after the administration proposed detailed regulations equating sex discrimination with discrimination on the basis of ‘gender identity.’  

Title IX was passed in 1972 to expand opportunities for women and girls in education, including school athletics. Late last year, the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit confirmed Title IX applies only to “sex” (not “gender identity”), calling into question the validity of the Biden administration’s interpretation of the statute.

Long-standing Title IX regulations require that colleges and universities provide “equal athletic opportunit[ies] for members of both sexes,” 34 C.F.R. § 106.41(c), meaning females and males. The Biden administration’s proposed new athletic rule would require schools to allow trans-athletes to compete on teams that align with their gender-identity, except where it would undermine “fairness in competition” or safety. 

Jennifer C. Braceras, director of Independent Women’s Law Center said, “Rather than placing the burden of proof where it belongs—on the trans-athlete seeking accommodation—the Department of Education shifts the burden of proof to women to prove that the participation of males in women’s sports harms them. But the harm should be obvious to all. Male puberty conveys lasting and life-long athletic advantages that cannot be erased with pharmaceuticals or hormones. Moreover, when males compete in women’s sports, women lose opportunities—not just opportunities to win, but opportunities even to play. This is discrimination plain and simple.”

Riley Gaines, Stand with Women spokeswoman at Independent Women’s Forum, added, “Every time a male takes a lane in the pool for a women’s competition, a female athlete loses the opportunity to race. Every time a male athlete is named a female All-American, a female athlete loses that honor.”

“With this new rule, the Biden administration is chipping away at the female category of sport, which exists for the sole purpose of providing equal athletic opportunities for females,” continued Gaines. “At Independent Women’s Forum, we are all for inclusion. But that inclusion cannot come at the expense of women. There are other ways to accommodate trans-athletes without discriminating against female athletes.”

Earlier today the Supreme Court declined to grant the state of West Virginia’s emergency request to enforce its Save Women’s Sports Act while the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit considers a challenge to the law. The West Virginia law, passed in 2021, limits participation in women’s sports to biological females. A lower court has already ruled that the law is consistent with Title IX and the U.S. Constitution. The Fourth Circuit is reviewing that decision. [Independent Women’s Forum and Independent Women’s Law Center statement]

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