House of Representatives Republicans in the US Congress have passed the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act that would ban biological males from competing in girls’ and women’s sports at federally supported schools and colleges.
All House Democrats voted against the bill last week and their Senate colleagues look certain to block it because they have the majority in their chamber. President Biden has vowed to veto the legislation if it ever made it to his desk.
Supporters said the bill which would put violators at risk of losing taxpayer dollars, is necessary to ensure competitive fairness.
The Associated Press reports the Republicans framed the vote as supporting female athletes disadvantaged by having to compete against those whose gender identity does not match their sex assigned at birth.
The bill would amend landmark civil rights legislation known as Title IX that was passed more than half a century ago.
It would prohibit recipients of federal money from permitting a person “whose sex is male” to participate in programs designated for women or girls.
The legislation clarifies that “sex shall be recognised solely based on a person’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth.”
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said it was a “great day for America, a great day for girls and women and for fairness in sports.”
At the same time the Biden administration has moved to prevent US states from barring male athletes from women’s sport with a proposal that’s been widely condemned by its own supporters.
The proposed new rule would outlaw blanket bans on male athletes that have been approved in at least 20 states.
It argues that those bans violate the Title IX gender equity legislation already in place.
The Associated Press reports it faces a lengthy approval process.
There would also be extensive exceptions for schools and colleges that receive federal funding, particularly in elite competitions — a move which has angered prominent Democrats and LGBT activists.
New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called the plan “indefensible and embarrassing.” Activists claimed it provides guidelines on how to legally ban male athletes and “is actually worse than doing nothing.”
Some LGBT+ organisations were more receptive because it allows schools to adopt what they consider “reasonable policies for inclusion of transgender athletes that take into account differences between sports and across all levels of competition.”
Doriane Coleman, a law professor at Duke University, said the proposal allows schools to “still choose to have male and female sports teams” and makes sense compared with the “one-size-fits-all approach” found in some states.
Republican State leaders who have enforced blanket bans have vowed to defend their laws in the courts.