Biden Admin Releases New Title IX Rules for Transgender College Athletes

Colleges will have the power to decide where transgender athletes can compete in most high-stakes sports.
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Matthew Arrojas is a news reporter at BestColleges covering higher education issues and policy. He previously worked as the hospitality and tourism news reporter at the South Florida Business Journal. He also covered higher education policy issues as...
Published on April 7, 2023
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  • Biden's proposed Title IX rule change focuses on trans athletes.
  • The proposal does not outright prevent all colleges from banning trans athletes from participating on the team of their choice.
  • Level of competition would be an important factor in determining the legality of a ban.

President Joe Biden's proposed Title IX changes may allow transgender college athletes to participate on sports teams that match their gender identity.

The administration's proposed changes to Title IX, the civil rights law that prohibits schools or educational programs that receive federal assistance from discriminating against anyone on the basis of sex, would give colleges and universities the say in whether they can ban all athletes from participating in sports inconsistent with their assigned gender at birth.

The proposal encourages schools to allow transgender athletes to participate on their preferred team. However, it also acknowledges that in some situations, bans may be allowed if they exist to legislate fairness in competitive environments or prevent a sports-related injury.

"The proposed rule also recognizes that in some instances, particularly in competitive high school and college athletic environments, some schools may adopt policies that limit transgender students' participation," the Department of Education (ED) said in a statement.

"The proposed rule would provide schools with a framework for developing eligibility criteria that protects students from being denied equal athletic opportunity, while giving schools the flexibility to develop their own participation policies."

Under this framework, bans on transgender athletes in sports before high school will likely be unlawful.

Because college sports tend to be more competitive, these institutions will have more freedom to legislate where transgender athletes can compete.

Bans on transgender athletes in college sports may still violate Title IX rules in some cases under this proposed rule.

For example, a school that implements a ban for a no-cut team that allows all students to participate would likely violate the rule. The unofficial version of the regulation also states bans may be appropriate within one sport at a university, but not all sports.

Schools shouldn't be overbroad with a ban, ED stated.

"Any sex-related eligibility criteria for male or female teams that would limit or deny participation consistent with gender identity would need to be substantially related to achieving an important educational interest in relation to the particular sport to which the criteria apply," the regulation states. "Overbroad generalizations that do not account for the nature of particular sports would not be sufficient to comply with the proposed regulation."

ED encourages the public to comment on this proposed regulation.

Public comment will be open for 30 days after the department releases the proposal on the Federal Register, which it has yet to do.