Biden’s Proposed Title IX Transgender Athlete Rule Draws Criticism From Politicians, Advocates

Nobody seems happy with Biden's proposal legislating transgender students' participation in college athletics.
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  • Biden's proposed Title IX change allows colleges to decide what teams college trans athletes compete on.
  • Many on the left criticized the rule for not offering widespread protections for transgender student-athletes.
  • Meanwhile, conservative pundits took issue with the rule allowing some students to participate on teams matching their gender identity.

President Joe Biden seems to have reached an unhappy compromise.

Biden's proposed changes to how K-12 schools and colleges can legislate transgender sports participation elicited criticism from both the left and the right. The public is also seemingly united in its confusion as to what the president's 116-page proposed rule would do if enforced as is.

That confusion is perhaps best exemplified by the battling original headlines from two of the nation's marquee newspapers.

The New York Times: "School Sports Cannot 'Categorically' Ban Transgender Athletes, Under Biden Title IX Proposal"

The Washington Post: "Biden Administration Says Schools May Bar Trans Athletes From Competitive Teams"

The New York Times later changed its headline to more closely mirror the sentiment of The Washington Post. However, reactions from politicians spanning the ideological spectrum reinforce the idea that people can draw very different conclusions from the same proposed rule.

What Does Biden's Transgender Athlete Rule Say?

President Biden's proposal lets individual colleges and universities decide in most instances whether transgender athletes must participate on sports teams matching their assigned gender at birth.

The rule would create a gray area in colleges and universities, as schools can institute bans on trans athlete participation in instances where fairness is in question. In most cases, postsecondary institutions have broader freedom to place bans on these athletes due to the higher level of competition.

Institutions can, however, choose to allow trans students to play on teams matching their gender identity.

K-12 schools are more likely to run afoul of Title IX rules if they don't allow a transgender student to play on a team matching their gender identity.

Progressives Say Rule Isn't Enough

The potential that colleges and universities can institute non-inclusive policies in sports toward trans athletes left some Democratic lawmakers calling Biden's move "embarrassing."

"Absolutely no reason for the Biden admin to do this. It is indefensible and embarrassing," U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York tweeted Thursday. "The admin can still walk this back, and they should."

Many lamented that the president would seek compromise on any issue regarding transgender rights. Such a compromise goes against some of his campaign trail rhetoric from 2020.

"Let's be clear: Transgender equality is the civil rights issue of our time," then-candidate Biden tweeted in January 2020. "There is no room for compromise when it comes to basic human rights."

Transgender rights activist Imara Jones called the administration's move disappointing.

"What's sad is that the Biden Administration seems to have fallen for an intellectual and rhetorical trap set for them by the Christian Nationalist movement over a decade ago," Jones, who is transgender, said Thursday.

Erin Reed, a transgender writer and activist, emphasized how the rule would allow schools to perform "invasive physical exams" to determine a student's sex.

"The regulations outline situations in which schools could likely ban trans individuals from sports," Reed wrote, "making the new Title IX proposal document resemble a guide on how to discriminate rather than a comprehensive protection for transgender people."

Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said parts of Biden's proposed rule are a step forward. However, there is room for improvement.

"This is huge in that [the] federal government is definitively saying that categorical bans on trans kids' participation in school sports [are] inappropriate, unlawful, and fundamentally un-American," Heng-Lehtinen said. "Soon it will be time to submit public comment to make this even stronger!"

Conservatives Resurface Anti-Trans Rhetoric

Politicians on the right were quick to jump on the portion of Biden's rule that allows transgender athletes to participate on the team matching their gender identity.

The emphasis remained on trans women competing in women's sports.

"At the hands of the Biden administration, Americans are witnessing a major shift in the country, where woke, far Left politics are advancing inequality and unfairness," U.S. Reps. Virginia Foxx of North Carolina and Mary Miller of Illinois said in a joint statement. "The people who stand to lose the most from this troubling measure are women and girls."

U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee focused on her view that the proposed rule would impact women's sports.

"For a party that claims to care about women, the left sure is intent on depriving them of the opportunity to fairly compete," she said Thursday in a tweet containing transphobic language.

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy called the proposed rule "anti-women."

Concerned Women for America, a public policy organization, said that equal rights for female athletes "are history" due to Biden's proposed rule.

"Biden has put the final nail in the coffin of Title IX," the organization stated in another tweet that included transphobic language.