Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has split from the Democratic Party on a key issue with her bill to bar transgender athletes from girls’ and women’s sports, calling it the “height of hypocrisy” for women’s rights advocates to deny biological differences between males and females.
In a video posted Sunday, Ms. Gabbard defended H.R. 8932, which she introduced Thursday with Rep. Markwayne Mullin, Oklahoma Republican, saying it would safeguard female athletes from being forced to compete against biological males who identify as the opposite sex.
“Let’s be honest: there are some people who oppose my bill, the Protect Women’s Sports Act, upholding Title IX because they don’t like Title IX in the first place,” said Ms. Gabbard. “They don’t like Title IX because it is based on that recognition of the biological distinction between men and women, but it is a scientifically established fact that there is such a thing as a man and a woman. It’s also common sense.”
From a political standpoint, however, there is no wiggle room in the Democratic Party on the transgender-sports issue.
In May 2019, the House passed H.R. 5, the Equality Act, which would prevent excluding transgender athletes from female sports by banning discrimination at the federal level based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The vote on H.R. 5 was 236 to 173, with no Democratic votes against it and eight Republicans in favor. President-elect Joseph R. Biden supports the legislation.
“Biden will make enactment of the Equality Act during his first 100 days as President a top legislative priority,” said the Biden campaign website. “Biden will also direct his Cabinet to ensure immediate and full enforcement of the Equality Act across all federal departments and agencies.”
Ms. Gabbard called it “the height of hypocrisy for those who claim to be advocates for women’s rights to deny that there is even such a thing as a woman, biologically speaking.”
LGBTQ advocates have blasted her legislation, calling it “blatantly transphobic” and insinuating that Ms. Gabbard, who ran unsuccessfully for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, is a closet Republican.
“Tulsi Gabbard is now introducing a blatantly transphobic piece of legislation aimed at trans and non-binary young people,” tweeted Human Rights Campaign spokesperson Charlotte Clymer. “Of course, that’s hardly surprising for a Republican.”
The bill requires that “sex shall be determined on the basis of biological sex as determined at birth by a physician” for purposes of compliance with Title IX, the 1972 civil-rights law that bars discrimination based on sex and led to a “massive generational shift” in women’s athletics.
“Unfortunately, some states are now misinterpreting Title IX creating uncertainty, hardship and lost opportunities for girls and women,” said Ms. Gabbard. “It is being undermined by changing rules that allow biological males who identify as women to compete against biological women in sports.”
She continued: “It’s a fact: biological males hold a physical advantage over biological females when it comes to sports. This is specifically why Title IX’s sex-based segregation in sports was created.”
During last year’s House debate, Republicans warned the Equality Act would effectively kill girls’ sports, while Democrats said that there was no evidence of that even in states where transgender athletes are now allowed to compete with biological girls and women.
“No trans person is trying to game the system to participate in sports,” said then-Rep. Katie Hill, California Democrat, according to ThinkProgress. “That does not happen, and that is a sad scare tactic that has no place on the floor of the people’s house.”
Mr. Mullin, whose three daughters are involved in athletics, said that “Title IX was designed to give women and girls an equal chance to succeed, including in sports.”
“Allowing biological males to compete in women’s sports diminishes that equality and takes away from the original intent of Title IX,” he said in a statement. “As the father of three girls involved in athletics, I want them to be able to compete on a level playing field.”