For many people, it is difficult to believe that in 2023 the issue of rights for LGBTQ+ people is still up for debate, but Republicans have brought the topic to the forefront by proposing a federal law banning transgender people from participating in school sports teams in line with their gender identity. Democrats have vowed to fight the measure vigorously due to the devastating effects such a law would have on the well-being of trans kids.
For the first time, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce held a hearing about proposed legislation prohibiting transgender women and girls from participating in school sports teams in line with their gender identity.
A radical conservative congressman from Florida, Rep. Greg Steube, wants to amend Title IX — the civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on sex — to carve out an exception and discriminate by recognizing one’s sex as “based solely on a person’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth.”
He introduced the “Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act” in February.
The legislation follows a pattern of far-right-wing panic in recent years, resulting in extremists pushing conspiracy theories about the LGBTQ+ community broadly, but transgender people in particular.
Right-wingers, in some cases, have conflated drag performance with being trans, which has resulted in a GOP-led effort to ban drag queens from public spaces under the guise of protecting children from perversion.
Steube didn’t hide his bigoted mindset on Twitter.
“RT if you agree that biological MEN don’t. belong in WOMEN’S sports,” he tweeted.
LGBTQ+ advocacy groups note that it’s transgender people who are the ultimate targets of the new right-wing bigotry buffet.
Congressional Equality Caucus chair Rep. Mark Pocan, an out member of Congress who represents parts of Wisconsin, was joined by fellow opponents of the bill and transgender rights supporters at a press conference at the Capitol on Wednesday morning.
Pocan said that while there are real issues like lack of equal resources and pay, sexual harassment, and assault facing women and girls in sports, Republicans would instead bully a few trans kids who want to play sports with their friends and who have the right to benefit from the experience of team sports participation.
“But rather than addressing any of those issues, anti-equality politicians on the Education and Workforce Committee will spend their first legislative markup targeting a handful of trans girls and women who participate in school sports,” he said.
“This is part of a larger coordinated attack against transgender people in the larger community,” Pocan explained.
Director of justice for student survivors and senior counsel at the National Women’s Law Center, Shewali Patel, also criticized the Republican effort.
“While this bill is framed as protecting women’s and girls’ sports, we know what it really is. It’s a bigoted and discriminatory attempt to target an already marginalized group rather than address real barriers to gender equity and sports. This bill and other bills across the country like it are intentionally misleading when invoking women and girls’ rights because they really seek to exclude trans women and girls from sports,” she said.
Pocan added, “This is about building the personal brand of some extreme right-wing politicians, people who fundraise from an appeal to a small subset of their political base. These bullying politicians will endanger the lives of trans kids for their own political purposes with the support of the GOP leadership.”
During a weekly Democratic House leadership press briefing Wednesday by House Democratic Caucus chair Rep. Pete Aguilar, the California congressman addressed his GOP colleague’s obsession with transgender kids.
On the matter of GOP House members looking to legislate away the rights of LGBTQ+ community members, Aguilar echoed Pocan’s reference to conservative dogma.
“I would remind you that one of the speakers at (CPAC) said, ‘transgenderism must be eliminated.’ As a parent, I want every child to be able to grow up in a safe environment. I want every kid to grow up with the freedom to reach their full potential. That’s what we should all want, is parents and members of the community,” he said.
“It’s unfortunate that House Republicans continue to spew this and to support this. It is tragic and unfortunate, and House Democrats and I will continue to do everything we can to make sure every child lives up to their full potential no matter who they are, how they identify, or who they love,” Aguilar added.
This article originally appeared on Advocate.com, and is shared here as part of an LGBTQ+ community exchange between Q Voice News and Equal Pride.