The road to equity in athletics has been a long and winding one for women — but will it hit a roadblock in the Biden/Harris administration?
In the 1800s, women mostly engaged in recreational activities such as horseback riding, but were barred from most organized athletic competitions. At the turn of the century, women began forming informal athletic clubs. World War II brought about the first professional women’s team — the All-American Girls Baseball League. The expansion of women’s sports gained traction following the war with the allowance of intercollegiate programs for women in 1957, the establishment of the Commission on Intercollegiate Sports for Women in 1966, and eventually the 1972 passage of Title IX which prohibits discrimination based on sex in education programs — including sports.
Today, 40% of professional athletes are women.
Today, there are over 200,000 female college athletes, and 40% of professional athletes are women. But all of these victories that have allowed women’s sports to progress to its current glory could soon be for naught as the Biden/Harris administration has already vowed to further transgender rights — including the acceptance of trans athletes in women’s athletics.
What Will Happen to Women's Sports over the Next Four Years?
The incoming administration has already expressed plans to further the rights of transgender people. Biden has stated that he will “restore transgender students’ access to sports…in accordance with their gender identity.” The DeVos-led Department of Education determined that allowing transgender athletes to compete in women’s athletic competition violates Title IX. But with Biden in the White House, the decisions of the DeVos DOE will likely be reversed.
Biden plans to sign the Equality Act within the first 100 days of his presidency.
Furthermore, while on the campaign trail earlier this fall, Biden promised the mother of an 8-year-old transgender daughter that he will “flat out change the law,” referring to anti-LGBTQ policies the Trump administration has put in place (i.e. the ban on transgender people in the military). He also plans to sign the Equality Act (a bill cosponsored by Harris) within the first 100 days of his presidency.
What This Means for Female Athletes
With the implementation of the aforementioned promises, all of the advances in women’s athletics could soon be undone. Title IX, which protects the rights of female college athletes, would essentially be overturned by the Equality Act. Allowing transgender males to compete against biological females blatantly harms young female athletes, reducing their opportunities to compete and/or emerge from competition victorious.
The nation has already witnessed this with the controversial inclusion of transgender athletes in Connecticut high school track and field meets. Andraya Yearwood and Terry Miller — both biological males who transitioned — competed against high school girls in sprinting events and, on most occasions, walked away with victories in their respective events. Several runners filed a complaint, arguing that the Connecticut policy violates their civil rights as female athletes. Biological males have a physical advantage, giving them an obvious edge in competition. Athletes nationwide are fighting this injustice, but if the Equality Act becomes law, their efforts will be in vain.
The rights of transgender athletes will infringe upon the rights of female athletes.
Victories, scholarships, and roster spots are at stake for female athletes. The opportunities afforded women by Title IX are already being infringed upon by transgender athletes and would be utterly obliterated by the passage of the Equality Act and other laws and policies geared towards the rights of those who identify as LGBTQ.
If such things come to pass in the next four years, we will see a re-emergence of a kind of inequality that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 sought to erase.
We don’t want to see the end of women’s sports, for we have fought long and hard to get to where we are today. We have the right to continue to compete, excel, and contribute to the flourishing of female athletics without the worry that biological males will fight their way into our hard-won territory.
Being informed is sexy. Get an unbiased news breakdown of everything you need to know in politics, pop-culture, and more in 60 seconds or less.