WASHINGTON — Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) and Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) on Dec. 10 introduced H.R.8932, the Protect Women’s Sports Act.
Gabbard, a former presidential candidate who has chosen not to seek a fifth term in Congress, had previously apologized for taking anti-LGBTQ stances earlier in her career, but was criticized anew for this bill, which “would clarify Title IX protections for female athletes is based on biological sex.”
If enacted, the bill would deny federal funding to schools that “permit a person whose biological sex at birth is male to participate in an athletic program or activity that is designated for women or girls.”
A similar bill was introduced in the Senate earlier this year by Sen. Kelly Loeffler and other Republicans. Loeffler is one of two Republican senators facing competitive runoff elections in Georgia in January.
“Title IX was a historic provision championed by Hawaii’s own Congresswoman Patsy Mink in order to provide equal opportunity for women and girls in high school and college sports,” said Gabbard. “It led to a generational shift that impacted countless women, creating life-changing opportunities for girls and women that never existed before.
“However, Title IX is being weakened by some states who are misinterpreting Title IX, creating uncertainty, undue hardship and lost opportunities for female athletes. Our legislation protects Title IX’s original intent which was based on the general biological distinction between men and women athletes based on sex. It is critical that the legacy of Title IX continues to ensure women and girls in sports have the opportunity to compete and excel on a level playing field.”
“Title IX was designed to give women and girls an equal chance to succeed, including in sports,” said Mullin. “Allowing biological males to compete in women’s sports diminishes that equality and takes away from the original intent of Title IX.
“As the father of three girls involved in athletics, I want them to be able to compete on a level playing field. I am proud to lead this bill that will safeguard the integrity of women’s sports and ensure female athletes can compete fairly.”
Responses from LGBTQ advocates include the following (compiled by Time):
Chase Strangio, deputy director for trans justice with the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project: “It’s shameful that one of Rep. Gabbard’s last acts in Congress is to attack trans youth. While this bill will not advance, it has already sent a dangerous message to trans youth and is spreading the same lies that are fueling attacks on trans youth in state legislatures.”
Alex Schmider, associate director of transgender representation, GLAAD: “Rep. Gabbard’s harmful and unnecessary bill is not about protecting girls and women’s sports. There’s no evidence in the 18 states with policies that allow transgender athletes to participate on teams consistent with their gender identity that inclusion negatively impacts athletic programs. This is more about opportunistic people like Rep. Gabbard who, under false pretense, claim to be protecting girl’s sports to justify discrimination.”
Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality: “She should be ashamed of trying to burnish her right-wing credentials with attacks on transgender student athletes. It’s just a hurtful attempt to get on TV without any regard to the damage such rhetoric does to transgender kids.”
Sarah McBride, a Delaware Democrat and the first transgender woman to be elected as a state senator, tweeted that Gabbard’s legislation is proof she was actually “assigned Republican at birth.”