The U.S. House of Representatives passed on Thursday the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act, which prohibits those assigned male at birth from competing on female sports teams in K-12 schools and universities that receive federal funding.
Critics of the legislation have called it the “Politics Over Participation Act.”
The bill, H.R. 734, passed in a 219-203 along party lines. Thirteen lawmakers did not take part in the vote.
Florida Republican Rep. Gregory Steube authored the bill.
In introducing the legislation, Steube said in a press release, “Allowing biological males to participate in women’s sports is a complete affront to the hardworking women and girls who have spent their lives training to achieve their dreams. …. Floridians and Americans across the country are rightly outraged at what has become of women’s sports. We’ve seen time and time again how the far left only favors fairness when it aligns with their woke agenda. That’s why today, I’m pleased to reintroduce legislation that ensures women and girls a fair playing field in competitive sports.”
Ryan Russell: Trans kids must be allowed to play school sports
Steube’s bill is the opposite of the Biden administration’s proposed rule on enforcement of Title IX, which says that “categorically” barring trans student-athletes from competing under their gender identity violates Title IX.
The administration has won praise from LGBTQ+ activists for that wording but criticism for proposing to allow some exceptions.
President Joe Biden has vowed to veto H.R. 734 if it reaches his desk.
Democratic lawmakers roundly condemned the passage of the bill.
The House’s Equality Caucus released a statement that said H.R. 734 would ban trans girls and women from an opportunity to be part of their school’s community, challenge themselves, and learn sportsmanship. The group adds that it would also restrict nonbinary and intersex students from participating.
“As gun violence plagues our schools, anti-equality politicians decided the most pressing priority for the House was to ban trans girls of all ages from playing on school sports teams with their friends. These extreme politicians are trying to distract from the fact that they have no solutions for the problems facing everyday Americans, and trans kids are paying the price,” Equality Caucus Chair Rep. Mark Pocan, a Democrat, of Wisconsin, said.
“Trans girls deserve the same opportunity as all other girls – to be part of a team, learn sportsmanship, and challenge themselves. I condemn today’s vote to rob trans girls of these opportunities. Anti-equality politicians need to stop punching down and bullying trans kids. My colleagues who voted for this bill should be ashamed.”
The Senate, which has a Democratic majority, isn’t expected to bring the bill to a vote.
Forty leading pro athletes sent a letter to Congress this month detailing the harm they said the legislation would do to trans athletes and students. In the letter, the signers, including Megan Rapinoe and Lori Lindsey, urged lawmakers to instead focus on issues women athletes have been working on for years, which include equal pay, an end to abuse, and access to sports by girls of color and girls with disabilities.
Twenty states have adopted laws that either bar all trans students from competing under their gender identity or bar trans girls and women from female teams, according to the Movement Advancement Project. Some of the laws deal only with K-12 public schools, sometimes including charter schools or private schools that play against public ones. Some address public colleges and universities as well.
The push to pass these laws has come in recent years even though very few trans students are participating in school sports. A small number have won championships, but trans athletes do not dominate school sports by any means. Anti-LGBTQ+ activists claim that trans girls and women have unfair advantages over cisgender females, but scientists and LGBTQ+ advocates say this is not the case. And conservative Republicans have notably shown no interest in protecting women’s rights in general.
“H.R. 734 is undeniably an attack on our kids and does nothing to protect girls. Bills like this are aimed at taking away rights from LGBTQI+ Americans. Trans kids and their families are being targeted and harassed for political gain. Is this the nation we want to live in?” Democratic Rep. Becca Balint of Vermont, who identifies as a lesbian, said. “We risk lives when we don’t stand up clearly and loudly against discrimination towards trans people.”
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.