The new US administration under President Joe Biden wants boys and men to be able to take part in sports competitions held by girls and women if they state that it is their gender. Schools that receive federal funds have to accept that, he decreed . On the other hand, women like the former UN ambassador Nikki Haley and tennis legend Martina Navratilova want to take action and recruit allies – but many women and girls are afraid of being “transphobic”, says Haley.
Biden initiated the new policy on the first day of his term in office. Among the countless presidential decrees he signed was one entitled: “Decree to Prevent and Combat Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation”. It says:
“Children should be able to learn without worrying about being denied access to the toilets, changing rooms or school sports.”
All persons should receive “equal treatment under the law, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation”. On Twitter, Biden was then uncompromising:
“Let’s be clear: transgender equality is the civil rights issue of our time. There is no room for compromise when it comes to basic human rights.”
Soon “battles for school toilets and school sports”
Some commentators, trying to downplay the meaning of the Biden Decree, claim that it merely spells out what is already applicable law; so the Supreme Court last year in the case of Bostock v. Clayton County, in a 6-3 ruling, declared unconstitutional discrimination against people based on homosexuality or transgender status. The majority of constitutional judges argued that such discrimination was tantamount to discrimination on grounds of sex – prohibited by the constitution – if an employer could not fire a woman because she loved a man, he could not do so with a man who loves a man. But constitutional judge Neil Gorsuch, who wrote for the majority, emphasized in the written grounds of the judgment expressly that the decision relates only to employment relationships and has no effect on “gender-separated toilets, changing rooms and dress codes” or “anything else of this type”. Certainly the constitutional judges did not want to pave the way for men to take part in women’s running, swimming or boxing competitions. Nevertheless , after the verdict, commentators prophesied that the “next battles” would be “fought over school toilets and school sports.”
The Biden Decree is “far more ambitious” than the Supreme Court ruling, the Wall Street Journal comments :
“Any federally funded school – including almost every public high school – must either accept biological boys who identify as girls on girls’ sports teams or face administrative sanctions from the Department of Education. What would this mean for sport for girls and women if this policy were largely adopted in anticipation of the regulations which are undoubtedly already in the works?”
For those who are not clear about the Biden Decree, the new Education Secretary, Miguel Cardon, appointed by President Biden, dispelled any doubts at the Senate hearing: Students should be allowed to participate in sports competitions of the sex they belong to, he said .
“What planet are you from?” Republican Senator Rand Paul asked him. “I mean: to believe that it is okay for boys to compete with girls in an athletics competition, that that would be kind of fair.” He wonders “how feminists feel about it. I wonder where the people are who supported women’s sports. I mean, are we all going to find it okay if six-foot boys wrestle with girls?”
Nikki Haley: Flaming appeal for the protection of women and girls
Trump-traitor and former South Carolina governor and former United States ambassador to the United States, Nikki Haley, issued a flaming appeal in the conservative monthly magazine National Review to warn of the effects of girls and women competing against boys and men. Haley reported how she trained in tennis “around the clock” as a student and how important it was to her to feel that it was not entirely impossible to achieve great things. Although she was never the best player in her high school, according to Haley,
“But I was good enough to be on the team. My dream was to be in the US women’s team and meet my sports heroines Chrissie Evert and Martina Navratilova. Of course, I would never have made it – I clearly didn’t make it! – but still I had hope. To be honest, I would have been just as happy to have been the best at my school. “
“Will today’s young girls have that hope?” Asks Haley. “Will they have a chance to be the best in their schools, much less in their districts or states?” She worries, and not just about tennis. “The entire sports world is playing against women and in favor of biological men.” President Biden is the “latest case of a man manipulating the game – and as someone who claims to be an advocate for women,” said Haley . Biden’s decree is in truth “an attack on women’s rights”. Generations of women have “fought hard to ensure that their daughters and granddaughters have a level playing field, because girls deserve the same opportunity as boys to play sports”. Thanks to the “efforts of innumerable feminists,” the number of girls’ teams in schools in the United States has increased over the past 50 years. In the past, less than four percent of girls played a sport, today it is 40 percent, according to Haley.
“My generation was one of the first to benefit from these victories. My daughter’s generation has also reaped the wages. But Biden’s actions will reverse those victories and put women at a disadvantage. When a girl shows up for a competition, she has to ask herself: Who am I really competing against?”
“Justice and equality are at stake”
Transgender children deserve support and respect, Haley said. However, there remains “the fact that biological boys and girls are built differently”. The best male athletes would have a “natural advantage” over the best female athletes. You have to “ignore science in order not to see that,” says Haley.
“The fastest female sprinter in the world has won nine Olympic medals; even so, there are nearly 300 high school boys faster than her. In states where biological boys compete against girls, the girls almost always lose – not just the match, but potential college scholarships and a life of success in their favorite sport. Their chance to shine is stolen from them.”
You approach this problem “as a woman and as a mother,” writes Haley.
“When my daughter ran long distances, I went to the races. I can’t imagine how hard it would have been to see her lose to someone with an unfair advantage. And I hate to imagine how my daughter would have reacted. She ran because she always felt she had a chance. If she had lost that feeling, would she have continued running? Why compete when your best may not be good enough? Girls across America could be asking themselves exactly these questions in a moment. Some are certainly already doing it. On this critical issue, women’s rights are moving in the wrong direction.”
If this trend is not stopped, Haley said, the records that “so many brave women have set over the years will be erased.” That is “wrong” and “offensive”.
“And women know that too, whether they’re retired athletes, middle-aged mothers, or a 16-year-old girl who is toying with the idea of registering for a swim. They’re just afraid to speak up because they know they’ll be silenced and called intolerant. But we are not intolerant. We are women. And we need to be heard, not silenced. We also need the support of those who should know better. Most feminists are currently absent. You should be at the forefront of this fight. “
Men also have to “step off of the sidelines,” writes Haley. It is unlikely that men’s sport would be affected, but if this were the case, one could “bet that the boys would cause a riot”.
“They should still show solidarity with their wives and friends and daughters and classmates. Justice and equality are at stake, and common sense is just as important as compassion. Women didn’t take part in this race only to find out that we never had a chance to win. “
Martina Navratilova: exception for “top sport”
The tennis player, long-time world number one and 18-time Grand Slam winner Martina Navratilova has also spoken out. There must be an exception for “top-class sport”, she told British radio broadcaster BBC Radio 4. She supports steps towards equality, but the physical advantages of biological men are “pretty obvious”. A “situation in which trans men and women could fully compete based solely on their self-identification would clearly not be fair competition,” said Navratilova.
Navratilova created the Women’s Sports Policy Working Group to develop a “science-based, ethical approach” to “strike a balance that protects both girls’ and women’s sports and takes transgender athletes into account”. In “top-class sport” there should be “some rules about what is possible and what is not”, rules “that are only based on biology, evidence and science,” said Navratilova. “We’re just talking about an exception or separate policy for elite or senior level sports in high school, college, and professional.”
Sharon McGowan, Chief Strategy Officer of Lambda Legal, which, according to its own account, campaigns for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, rejects this. “The kind of proposals that [Navratilova] and others have unfortunately promoted would go far too far and limit the ability for transgender children to participate in a way that ensures fairness and opportunity”.
Tulsi Gabbard – Voice of Reason among the Democrats
The debate about the participation of (trans) men in women’s sports was already boiling before the Biden Decree was signed. In December, Tulsi Gabbard, the Democratic member in the House of Representatives who became famous for her (ultimately unsuccessful) run for the presidential candidacy, introduced a bill that would exclude schools where boys can participate in girls’ sports competitions from federal funds: the Protect Women’s Sports Act. She was assisted by Republican MP Markwayne Mullin. In her own party, however, Gabbard was alone in this view. She is no longer a member of the new Congress because she did not run for re-election for one of Hawaii’s two seats in the House of Representatives (which she would certainly have won).
With the Protect Women’s Sports Act, Gabbard objected to interpreting Section IX of the United States Education Amendments of 1972 – which guarantees equal access to school sports and prohibits gender discrimination – as some states already do: that boys declare themselves to be girls to take part in the girls’ competitions. “Paragraph IX was a historic provision advocated by Hawaii’s Congressman Patsy Mink to give women and girls equal opportunities in high school and college sports,” said Gabbard in a statement. “It led to change that affected countless women and opened life-changing opportunities for girls and women who had never been before.” Today, however, the law is misinterpreted by some states, resulting in “uncertainty, unnecessary hardship and missed opportunities for Athletes”, says Gabbard. “Our bill protects the original intent of Section IX, which was based on the general biological distinction between male and female athletes by gender,” she added.
Markwayne Mullin said Paragraph IX should “give women and girls the same chance of success, including in sport”. The admission of biological men in women’s sport undermines this equality and the original intent of the law.
“As the father of three girls who practice athletics, I want them to be able to compete on an equal footing. I am proud to lead this bill, which protects the integrity of women’s sport and ensures that women athletes enjoy fair conditions. “
Like 50 years ago with Monty Python
Journalists and thousands of users poured out their anger at Tulsi Gabbard in parts of the Internet’s press and social media. She was accused of being “trans-phobic” or “anti-transgender“. The congresswoman rejected the charge. She told the New York Post they “welcome real criticism and debate”. Their “so-called critics” didn’t want to discuss the issues at all. “They only practice slander and defamation, insults and allusions. Identity politics is incredibly destructive to our country instead of realizing what connects all Americans,” said Gabbard. “This is done to help people and parties come to power and stay in power by pitting individual Americans against one another.” Gabbard said that her bill does not discriminate against anyone, but rather protects “biological women who are in sport” against having to compete against biological men who identify as female”. These are not equal competitive conditions. “And it’s amazing how quickly people attack those whose positions are based on science and common sense,” said Gabbard.As so often, Monty Python already knew everything 50 years ago. In the 18th episode, John Cleese plays a heavyweight boxer, “the great white hope of the British boxing world”, who boxes against a little blonde girl. He knocks the girl to the ground, she stands up again, whereupon he knocks her back to the ground, etc. – until she is knocked out on the mat at some point. From off camera you can hear the voice of someone who, according to the script is “a critic” and who says: “Of course boxing has to have its limits, but if both are in top shape, I can’t see anything wrong with a healthy man beating a schoolgirl to a pulp.”