On Friday, The Democratically controlled House of Representatives voted 236-173 in favor of the Equality Act, which will require schools to include male athletes who identify as transgender girls on female sports teams.
8 Republicans crossed party lines to vote in favor of the bill, which had unanimous Democratic support.
The bill amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to make “sexual orientation and gender identity” protected characteristics under federal anti-discrimination law.
Among other things, it will force public schools to expand female athletic teams to include biological males who identify as transgender females.
Republican Florida Rep. Greg Steube introduced a last-minute amendment to the bill that would have preserved Title IX’s protections of female athletic teams, but the Democrats rejected the proposal.
Every House Democrat but one co-sponsored the legislation. The only Democrat who didn’t, Illinois Rep. Dan Lipinski, also announced his support for the bill following pressure from left-wing activists.
“People need to wake up. This radical bill is going to totally eliminate women’s and girls sports,” Republican Arizona Rep. Debbie Lesko said in an op-ed on Thursday.
On Thursday, Republican Missouri Rep. Vicky Hartzler and many other House Republicans held a press conference in opposition to what Hartzler dubbed the “Inequality Act.”
“Congress enacted Title IX to provide equal opportunities for women in education and sports. All this is erased under H.R. 5,” Hartzler stated at the press conference.
Three former elite female athletes, Doriane Coleman, Martina Navratilova and Sanya Richards-Ross, warned that the Equality Act would wreak havoc on women’s sports in an April 29 Washington Post op-ed.
“The legislation would make it unlawful to differentiate among girls and women in sports on the basis of sex for any purpose. For example, a sports team couldn’t treat a transgender woman differently from a woman who is not transgender on the grounds that the former is male-bodied,” the former athletes claimed.
“Yet the reality is that putting male- and female-bodied athletes together is co-ed or open sport. And in open sport, females lose,” the three women warned.
House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, a New York Democrat, insisted that the bill wouldn’t put female athletes at a disadvantage.
“Many states have sexual orientation and gender identity nondiscrimination laws, and all of them still have women’s sports. Arguments about transgender athletes participating in sports in accordance with their gender identity having competitive advantages have not been borne out,” Nadler said at a April 2 hearing on the bill.
In Connecticut, one of the states to which Jerry Nadler was referring, two male runners have dominated girls’ high school track. A female competitor called the male runners’ advantage “demoralizing.”