More than a dozen transgender legislators across the U.S. have written a letter to President Joe Biden in opposition to proposed Title IX policies that could make it easier for people to discriminate against trans athletes.
“We are fourteen of the transgender and nonbinary legislators holding office across the United States of America, and we are writing to express our concern regarding the Administration’s proposed rulemaking changes to the eligibility of transgender athletes in sports,” the letter states. “When it comes to policy addressing trans athletes, our stance is this: Trans athletes belong in sports. Full stop.”
Last week, the U.S. Education Department announced proposed changes to Title IX, a policy that prohibits discrimination based on sex in federally funded education. If implemented, the change would prohibit broad bans that prevent trans students from playing on sports teams that align with their gender identity, as opposed to their sex assigned at birth—a type of ban the GOP politicians have passed in 20 states and counting.
But critics say the proposed amendment includes language that would give schools leeway to discriminate against trans students, and implement sports bans anyway. For example, with this proposal school administrators can still limit trans athletes’ participation if they say it would increase the risk of injuries or undermine competitive fairness.
“To put it plainly, there is no such thing as an acceptable ‘compromise’ that limits transgender Americans access to equal rights,” the letter continues.
“What I would say is think about intent versus impact,” Montana Rep. Zooey Zephyr, one of the signatories of the letter, told VICE News. “I think there is intent from the Biden administration to protect trans athletes but you can’t reconcile that intent with the fact that this policy opens the potential pathway for discrimination.”
The letter urges Biden to reconsider the policy change and work alongside trans legislators, lawyers, and activists to rewrite the amendments so that it “allows trans people to fully participate in the sports of their choosing, and does not perpetuate unfounded and harmful claims about trans athletes.”
The notion that trans athletes have a leg up in sports is rooted in myth, and the news comes at a time when across the U.S., nearly 500 anti-trans bills, including sports bans and gender-affirming care bans, have been introduced for this legislative session alone—a record-breaking year.
Rep. Leigh Finke in Minnesota, Rep. Alissandra Murray from New Hampshire, and Rep. Taylor Small from Vermont also signed the letter.