Feds Propose Rule on Trans Athletes

It allows for restrictions in high school, college under certain conditions
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 7, 2023 11:58 AM CDT
Feds Propose Rule on Trans Athletes
Transgender swimmer Lia Thomas of the University of Pennsylvania speaks to her coach after winning the 500 meter freestyle during a meet with Harvard on Jan. 22, 2022, at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass.   (AP Photo/Josh Reynolds, File)

The Biden administration is proposing a change to Title IX that would make categorical bans on transgender student athletes, now in place in 20 states, illegal under federal law. However, it would allow restrictions on trans athletes in high school and college if certain conditions are met. The proposed change to Title IX, which blocks sex-based discrimination in federally funded education programs, would permit restrictions at elite levels of competition if the restriction is "substantially related to the achievement of an important educational objective" and efforts are made to "minimize harms to students whose opportunity to participate on a male or female team consistent with their gender identity would be limited or denied," per NBC News.

Twenty Republican-led states have laws banning trans women and girls from female sports teams based on the argument that they have physical advantages over their cisgender counterparts, per CNN. But "a one-size-fits-all categorical ban ... would not satisfy the proposed regulation because it would fail to account for the nature of particular sports, levels of competition, or the greater education level of students to which it would apply," a senior Education Department official said Thursday, per NBC. "A key element of the proposed rule is a need for schools to have particularized consideration for each sport and level of competition and grade or education level."

The official said schools and programs would have "flexibility to identify their own important educational objectives," be it "fairness in competition or preventing sports-related injuries." But disapproval of trans athletes "would not qualify as important educational objectives." The proposed regulation will undergo public comment ahead of plans to finalize it next month. There's already criticism from both Republicans and trans advocates. Sen. Marsha Blackburn tells Fox News that the change would deprive women "of the opportunity to fairly compete." Meanwhile, trans activist Erin Reed tells BuzzFeed News that the proposal serves as a "playbook for how to enact the bans and still be in compliance with the law" and "hurts more than it helps things for trans people." (Read more transgender stories.)

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