women's Sports

Key Points

> Passage of the Equality Act would legalize males claiming female identity competing in women’s and girls’ sport.

> President Biden’s executive order on the elimination of sex discrimination draws on the Supreme Court decision Bostock v Clayton County (2020), which Justice Gorsuch limited to employment discrimination, to claim the decision also applies to Title IX.

> Males claiming female identity have already competed in female sports, taking top prizes from women and girls.

> Males have physiological advantages over females and these advantages are not significantly diminished by temporary testosterone suppression.

> Males, however they identify, do not belong in female sport.

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The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin. The category “sex” was not included until passage that same year of Title VII, the employment amendment of the Act, after some clever politicking by Democratic women. 

Title VII banned sex segregation in the job market, making it illegal for employers to post ads for “help wanted male” and “help wanted female.” It also prohibited employers from firing women for becoming pregnant and denying health insurance for pregnancy and childbirth.

Title IX of the education amendments, passed in 1972, also included sex, thereby prohibiting common practices of excluding women from some colleges and universities, using different admission criteria for women and men, and limiting the number of women admitted to professional programs such as medicine and law. It also banned kicking girls out of school if they became pregnant.

Title IX is most famously known, however, for its effect on sports for women and girls. Unlike many other countries, sport is embedded in education in the US. Therefore Title IX was a bonanza for female athletes because it required equitable distribution of resources in federally funded educational institutions. Even after Title IX was enacted, women had to fight for enforcement of the law. Basketball great, author, and artist, Mariah Burton Nelson recalls that when she was student at Stanford (1974-1976) she and other players: 

[S]pent all of our free time in the athletic director’s office reminding him about the law and holding sit-ins, saying, “Look, we want to play in Maples Pavilion, we want real uniforms, we want paid coaches. And we want to travel all over the country, like the men do.”

Title IX dramatically increased the numbers of women participating in sports, as well as percentages of women gaining college and professional degrees. Just one example: In 1964, 1 in 10 women were enrolled in medical school. By 2017, 51% of medical school enrollees were women. 

Proponents of female athletics argue that sports participation yields benefits beyond scholarships, health, and fitness. They cite statistics indicating that girls who

participate in sports are less likely to become pregnant in high school, have more self confidence, and that 80% of female executives of Fortune 500 companies have a sports background.

Both President Biden’s recent executive order regarding sex discrimination, and the proposed Equality Act (2019), would enshrine into federal law the emerging practice of allowing males who identify as women and girls to compete in female sport.

For the best up-to-date coverage of males competing in female sport, the bills to defend women’s sport that are moving through state legislatures, and actions you can take, check out https://savewomenssports.com/. Here are just a few of the dozens of cases documented on their site:

 CeCe Telfer. In 2016 and 2017, Telfer competed on the Franklin Pierce University men’s track and field team, ranking 200th and 390th respectively among Division II men in the 400 meter hurdles. In 2019, Tefler claimed female identity and competed on the women’s team, winning the women’s 400-meter hurdles national title at the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track & Field Championships. Telfer smoked the competition, winning with a time of
57.53, while the second place hurdler clocked in at 59.21. (Note: The women’s hurdles are six inches lower than the men’s.) In 2020, Concerned Women for America’s sex discrimination complaint charging violation of Title IX was resolved with Franklin Pierce University forced to rescind its policy of allowing men claiming female identity to compete in women’s sport.

*  Andraya Yearwood and Terry Miller.  Two Connecticut high school males claiming female identity were allowed to compete in women’s track and field events winning a combined 15 girls’ track events beginning in 2017. Female athletes filed a complaint in 2019 charging sex discrimination by the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Association (CIAC) in violation of Title IX. In 2020, the Dept of Education determined that Title IX had been violated and that federal funding could be withheld if the policy was not rescinded. The ACLU said they would represent Miller and Yearwood and defend the policy in court.

Rachel McKinnon (now Veronica Ivy). McKinnon, a man claiming female identity, competed and twice won the women’s  World Masters Track Cycling Championship (2018 and 2019). 

McKinnon defended participation in the women’s event, saying that the idea that men are stronger than women is a “stereotype,” and that “you can be successful with massively different body shapes.”

In both the Connecticut and Montana cases, the Department of Education determined that allowing males claiming female identity to compete in women’s sport is a violation of Title IX. However, President Biden’s executive order on LGBT discrimination claims that sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX includes “gender identity.” This would mean that males claiming female identity, and competing in women’s sport, is not sex discrimination. The EO  claim rests on on the Supreme Court decision Bostock v Clayton County (2020), a set of employment sex discrimination cases involving Title VII. The EO contradicts a recent Department of Education memo affirming that Bostock does not apply to Title IX.

The Equality Act similarly lumps “gender identity” with “sex.” If any male who declares himself to be female is, by law, treated as female, then sex based protections for women and girls are eviscerated.

Males have a multitude of physiological advantages over females, including larger hearts, greater lung capacity, more fast twitch muscle fibers, and longer and stronger bones. For a comprehensive analysis, see developmental biologist Emma Hilton’s article, Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger: Why We Must Protect Female Sports. Hilton compares male and female performances in a number of Olympic sports, noting that in 2017 alone, 744 high school boys bested the 100 meter record of the fastest female athlete of all time – Florence Griffith Joyner.

These advantages are not significantly mitigated by temporary suppression of testosterone. A recent study published in the journal Sports Medicine concluded that:

[T]he biological advantage, most notably in terms of muscle mass and strength, conferred by male puberty and thus enjoyed by most transgender women, is only minimally reduced when testosterone is suppressed.

Biological males do not belong in women’s sport. The Equality Act would overturn Title IX, decimating women’s sport, depriving women of scholarships and other opportunities that accrue from athletic participation

SELECTED SOURCES CITED

Dept of Education Office of the General Counsel Memo. Re: Bostock v. Clayton Cty., 140 S. Ct. 1731 (2020). January 8, 2021.  https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/correspondence/other/ogc-memorandum-01082021.pdf

Hilton, Emma. 2018. Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger: Why We Must Protect Female Sports. https://fondofbeetles.wordpress.com/2018/10/01/harder-better-faster-stronger-why-we-must-protect-female-sports/ 

Hilton, Emma N. and Lundberg, Tommy R. 2020. Transgender Women in the Female Category of Sport: Perspectives on Testosterone Suppression and Performance Advantage. https://fondofbeetles.wordpress.com/2020/12/14/transgender-women-in-the-female-category-of-sport-perspectives-on-testosterone-suppression-and-performance-advantage/

Watch Beth Stelzer, founder of Save Women’s Sports, discuss what motivated her to become an activist and the issues with males competing in female sport.