A lone Democrat on Wednesday blocked the Senate from passing legislation that would prevent biological males from competing as transgender athletes on girls’ and women’s sports teams at schools and universities.
The Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act passed the House last week with no support from Democrats, and on Wednesday, Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., stood on the Senate floor and asked for unanimous consent to quickly pass the bill in the Senate. Tuberville, who was head football coach at the University of Mississippi and Auburn University, said he started out as a girls’ basketball coach and saw firsthand how important Title IX was in giving girls and women opportunities to play sports.
“Title IX was just starting to be implemented when I took the job,” he said on the floor of the 1972 federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in schools that receive federal funding, which is credited for broadly expanding female sports programs. “I was there to see its incredible impact it had on young girls all over this country. For the first time, the young women I coached had equal access to facilities, resources and competition.”
“I saw those hardworking athletes go on to earn college scholarships, start careers and become leaders in their own communities,” he said.
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He warned the Biden administration’s support for allowing transgender girls and women to play alongside biological women is “taking a sledgehammer… to Title IX.”
“A few weeks ago, on Good Friday of all days, Joe Biden’s Department of Education issued a new rule completely reinterpreting Title IX,” Tuberville said. “Biden’s rule says schools cannot ban boys from participating in women’s sports or else they’ll lose their funding.”
“That means teachers and coaches will have to begin opening their girls’ and women’s teams, fields and locker rooms to biological males,” he said. “It’s unfair, it’s unsafe and it’s downright wrong. To be honest, it’s moronic.”
Under the House bill that passed last week, educational institutions that receive Title IX funding would not be allowed to permit biological male athletes to “participate in an athletic program or activity that is designed for women or girls.” It holds that the sex of an athlete is defined only by their “reproductive biology and genetics at birth.”
But when Tuberville called on the Senate to pass the House bill by unanimous consent, Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, objected on behalf of her party and said the bill would block people from participating in sports “consistent with their gender.”
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“They continue to hurl insulting lies about transgender girls dominating sports,” Hirono said. “But what is true is that these bans are deeply hurtful to transgender girls, particularly transgender girls of color, girls who are gender-nonconforming, and cisgender girls as well.”
“This isn’t about supporting women and girls,” she added. “This is about power and control. My Republican colleagues are obsessed with controlling women’s bodies and our lives, as we are seeing today.”
“We shouldn’t be banning anyone from playing sports, we should be fighting the discrimination that all women and girls – trans, cis or otherwise – continue to face athletics, in the classroom and in the workplace,” Hirono said. “For these reasons, I object.”
That objection is a sign Senate Democrats will never consider the bill and will not schedule it at all for debate in the upper chamber. Hirono’s argument mirrored comments heard in the House debate, when Democrats accused Republicans of “bullying” transgender students by looking to ban their participation in school sports.
But Republicans say Democrats are destroying women’s sports by allowing males to compete on their teams. The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Greg Steube, R-Fla., said Democrats are ignoring the obvious differences between men and women “in worship to their trans idols” and has said Congress needs to act to “save women’s sports” – arguments that Tuberville echoed in the Senate.
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“Males have 40 to 50 percent greater upper body strength and 20 to 40 percent [greater] lower body strength. It’s dangerous to put them on the same field with women,” Tuberville said of transgender women athletes.
“This is basic biology. But what did we see from the party of science last week? Exactly zero Democrats in the House voted for this bill in the House,” he said. “Zero. The party of science seems to have skipped biology class.”
Tuberville added that by his count, 28 championships have been “taken away from girls and women at the hands of biological males.”
While Senate Democrats are unlikely to consider the bill again, Tuberville said the call for unanimous approval of the House legislation will help Americans “find out where the Senate Democrats stand.”
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“Americans do not want the federal government footing the bill for a policy that is a slap in the face to women who have worked so hard in the field of athletics,” he said. “It’s time to act before the situation gets worse.”