Members of the House of Representatives are expected to vote this week on the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act. It will be the third attempt at a measure first brought forth by Rep. Greg Steube (R-Florida) in 2021.
It's a long way from becoming law, but a floor vote on GOP-sponsored H.R. 734* would also serve the dual purpose of making Democrats go on record as opposing or supporting males who identify as females on girls' and women's teams across all levels of education.
In its effort to advance transgender rights, the Biden White House has proposed widening the scope of Title IX, the 50-year-old landmark legislation that exists to protect the rights of women in sports.
"Title IX was created 50 years ago to give women athletes equality. At the time, in 1972, there were only 300,000 female athletes nationwide. Right now, you have 3.2 million high school female athletes. That has done so much for women to give them equality of opportunity, and even our rights to vote are only 100 years old. This is not a time to be going back on women's rights," Mary Beth Waddell said on Washington Watch with Tony Perkins on Friday.
Waddell is the director of Federal Affairs for Family and Religious Liberty at the Family Research Council.
Currently 21 states ban transgender males from competing on girls' and women's sports teams. H.R. 734 would make the ban nationwide.
"All athletic programs have to be done via strictly biological sex. The only things it would make sure are okay is if you have co-ed teams – but you're not allowed to give a biological male a roster spot that's meant for a woman," Wardell said.
The ban would not apply to co-ed teams and would not apply to practice sessions "if the women want to scrimmage against the men because they know the men are better, and it's going to improve their skills," Wardell said.
People often think of fairness when confronted with the transgender sports discussion, but that's the first of many layers, according to the FRC spokeswoman.
"We've seen over the years a number of biological males competing in what should be biological women's sports and taking titles, taking scholarships, taking opportunities," Waddell said.
White House: 'Here's how we'll do it'
The Department of Education earlier this month published a fact sheet on its proposed changes to eligibility standards for athletic teams. The proposal stopped short of banning transgenders from girls' and women's sports altogether but calls for "flexibility."
School districts would not be allowed to adopt a one-size-fits-all policy for team eligibility. In addition, schools would be required to show that allowing transgenders to compete with biological females was unfair or had the potential to cause injury.
Current state bans "fail to account for differences among students across grade and education levels. They also fail to account for different levels of competition – including no-cut teams that let all students participate – and different types of sports," the proposal states.
As students mature physically, girls' sports like basketball and softball become more physical and more competitive.
Language in the proposal makes it difficult for school districts to ban transgender students from female teams at the elementary school level. It becomes murky at the middle school level, stating:
"The Department expects that, under its proposed regulation, elementary school students would generally be able to participate on school sports teams consistent with their gender identity and that it would be particularly difficult for a school to justify excluding students immediately following elementary school from participating consistent with their gender identity."
The policy concedes that fairness is an issue for older students. Even then, schools would have to address transgender eligibility issues on a case-by-case basis.
"For older students, especially at the high school and college level, the Department expects that sex-related criteria that limit participation of some transgender students may be permitted, in some cases, when they enable the school to achieve an important educational objective, such as fairness in competition, and meet the proposed regulation's other requirements," the proposal states.
The Left's passion for trans movement
While the male-female difference seems obvious to many, the Left often responds to the transgender sports discussion with great passion, Waddell said.
"You're seeing this vitriolic response that is uncalled for and shows the deception, the blindness that has been placed over people's eyes," she said.
Earlier this month, former Kentucky swimmer Riley Gaines (left) was forced to seek safety in a classroom after a speech at San Francisco State University. Gaines has said she intends to pursue legal action.
A 12-time All-American and five-time Southeastern Conference champion, Gaines watched the NCAA give the fifth-place trophy to transgender female William "Lia" Thomas in 2022. Technically, Gaines and Thomas tied. The different was too little to determine a winner.
"… I had the opportunity to meet [Riley Gaines] and to introduce her last year for an event on the 50th anniversary of Title IX," Waddell shared. "She's well-spoken, very poised, very kind. You wouldn't think she would illicit such a reaction. She's just telling her story and what happened to her. Even from those within the LBGT community who were part of this, I just think it shows that there really is a wound underneath that they're trying to protect."
* H.R. 734 currently has 93 cosponsors in the House – all of whom are Republican.