- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 2, 2019

A hearing Tuesday in the House Judiciary Committee on the proposed Equality Act turned into a showdown over whether protecting transgender people’s rights would usher in an era of women’s athletics dominated by biological men.

Democrats sought to tout the benefits of the legislation, which would add gender identity and sexual orientation into 1964 Civil Rights Act. But Republicans argued that the bill’s broad language for removing sex discrimination in schools and public venues would strip away female-exclusive spaces, including sports teams and leagues, and herald the end of girls’ and women’s sports as participants now know them.

“Allowing men to compete against women in women’s sports isn’t demoralizing because female athletes aren’t talented,” said Rep. Doug Collins, Georgia Republican. “It’s demoralizing because it makes their talent irrelevant.”

There were nods to the two transgender girls who defeated the cisgender girls in a 55-meter dash at an indoor track championship in Connecticut in February. One witness openly wondered if the three medalists in the last Olympics women’s 800-meter championship were born male.

“You’ll have men’s sports, and you’ll have co-ed sports,” said Rep. Louie Gohmert, Texas Republican.

Mr. Gohmert questioned Duke Law professor Doriane Lambelet Coleman, a former college track star who said she believes the Equality Act would force the Olympics and other sporting regulatory bodies to “eliminate” testosterone levels as a requirement for gendered participation in sports.

“Anybody here that seriously thinks that there are men who would not like to have professor Coleman’s [track] scholarship and could get it?” Mr. Gohmert said, adding that “thousands” of men could have bested her and taken her scholarship if they had said, “Look, I feel like I am a woman.”

It’s not clear the bill would erase sex distinctions in competitive sports in protecting LGBT individuals from discrimination in housing, employment, education and other areas. A House Democratic aide told The Washington Times the bill “does not do that.”

Many sporting organizations already segregate athletic participation by sex based on participants’ testosterone levels. Last year, the International Association of Athletics Federations released new rules barring participants with extraordinary testosterone levels from competing in female sports.

“I’m grateful to the trans community,” said Rep. Ted Deutch, Florida Democrat. “For there is now an interest on the other side of the aisle in women’s athletics that has never existed in this House before.”

Mr. Gohmert responded by saying he had coached his three daughters and has been “a fan of women’s sports for a long time.”

Rep. Madeleine Dean, Pennsylvania Democrat, called Republican concerns about women’s sports “fear-mongering,” while another witness questioned whether such a phenomenon of opportunistic male athletes masquerading as female was even real.

“To have somebody say that people will go so far to make up entire identities, change pronouns, maybe get medical treatment, just to invade sex-segregated spaces or play sports is outlandish,” said Sunu Chandy, legal director for the National Women’s Law Center.

Republicans pointed to the bill’s potential unintended outcomes, such as a transgender woman beating a biological woman for a federal small business loan set aside for women, noting that a nondiscrimination law for LGBT persons is increasingly popular with the American public.

A March PRRI poll says that nearly 70 percent of Americans support anti-discrimination measures in the workplace. Of the 17 Republicans on the committee, only six appeared to ask questions about the bill that would make discrimination a federal crime.

The Equality Act will likely pass out of committee and receive a floor vote in the Democrat-controlled House. The bill’s low number — H.R. 5 — shows the support it enjoys from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, who previewed the legislation in her gavel speech in January.

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