House GOP passes ban on transgender athletes in school sports

Published: Apr. 20, 2023 at 5:20 PM EDT

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - House Republicans have passed a bill to ban transgender athletes from school sports. But the measure is not expected to be passed by the Democratic-led Senate and the White House has promised a veto.

The 219-203 House vote was split among party lines. Democrats call ‘The Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act’ discrimination against transgender students. Republicans believe it’s a guarantee that sports will remain fair for women and girls.

“We have tremendous women athletes who are here with us today, who have talked about the unfairness when it comes to biological males competing in women’s sports,” said Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.).

The act would require schools to define students by their sex at birth in order to be compliant with Title IX. Title IX requires schools that receive federal funding to provide equal treatment to student athletes, regardless of gender.

During a press conference held by female GOP lawmakers, NCAA Volleyball player Macy Petty spoke. She said she had to play against a transgender student as she was being considered by college recruiters for a scholarship.

“This athlete that we were playing against was playing on a net over 7 inches shorter than he should have as a man. So, that shows his advantage already. He was also taller just because of his biological sex, had larger muscle mass, all of these things,” she said.

Petty acknowledged being able to play sports gives students opportunities for leadership and team training. She said, “I don’t want anyone to be excluded from that. I don’t want someone who identifies as transgender to be excluded from sports. That’s not what we’re fighting for. We’re just saying that just because you identify as transgender, you’re not excluded from the most basic rule that girl sports you have to be a girl. And boy sports, you have to be a boy.”

Rep. Becca Balint (D-Vt.), who is the first woman and openly gay person in Congress to represent Vermont, believes the act is a form of discrimination against transgender people. She said if Republicans wanted to protect girl and women athletes they would focus on funding school sports and advocating for women who have been sexually assaulted on teams. She added lawmakers should be leaning on professional athletic organizations like the NCAA and Olympics to learn how they address issues regarding gender.

“This bill is about making sure that any trans girl between kindergarten and 12th grade cannot play on a sports team. That is just discrimination. It’s wrong. And it just feels like they’re picking a fight with these kids who just want to belong. They just want to be able to fully participate in their school environment. And so there are already governing bodies of sports weighing in on those issues at the elite level. They could have tailored their bill to that. They didn’t,” she said.

She added, “I had an opportunity to meet with a girl yesterday who plays on a field hockey team, and she and her parents came to talk to us here in Congress and she said, I just want to be able to play sports with my friends.”

Meanwhile, as the debate over transgender athletes in sports Earlier this month, the Biden administration has proposed a compromise. It has suggested a Title IX rule change that would block total bans on transgender athletes. But allow bans, on a case by case basis. Public comment is currently being accepted on that proposal.