Is Sen. Paul right to tell Education nominee that policy on transgender athletes would 'destroy girls sports'?


Fact Box

  • The term ‘Transgender’ often describes someone whose “personal identity and gender does not correspond with their birth sex.”
  • About 0.58% of adults in the United States identify as transgender. 
  • On January 20, 2021, President Biden issued an executive order allowing trans student athletes to participate in sports corresponding to their gender identity. On February 3, 2021, Senator Rand Paul questioned President Biden’s education secretary nominee, Miguel Cardona, about the order, saying it will “destroy girls’ athletics.”
  • Biden’s executive order expands the June 2020 Supreme Court ruling, Bostock v. Clayton County, to school settings. In the Bostock ruling, “sex” in Title VII (1964) is expanded to include “sexual orientation,” “transgender status” and “gender identity” as protected features against workplace discrimination. 
  • Last year, the US Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights under Sec. Betsy DeVos informed Connecticut after three high school girls sued the state, they were violating Title IX in allowing trans student athletes to participate in female sports.

Elizabeth (Yes) 

Society today is, rightfully, significantly more accepting and inclusive of gender non-conformists. No fair, sane person would deny a trans individual's right to exist and live a happy, fulfilling life. However, it's equally arguable to advocate against putting biological males, regardless of how they identify, in the same sporting events as biological females. It's a recipe for disaster, and Rand Paul is right to say so.

From puberty's onset, differences between the sexes become undeniable and largely irreversible. Males have larger hearts and lungs, more blood oxygenation, greater bone density, and muscle mass even after hormone therapy. An adult male on the low end of testosterone is generally still +3x higher than a female with high levels. This creates both competitive and safety issues in sports. High school male athletes routinely break track and field records held by elite female athletes. Similarly, the Williams sisters were easily defeated by the 203rd ranked male tennis player in 1998. For the same reasons, different weight classes don't compete against each other in strength and power sports. Neither should genders.

As the average male outperforms even a gifted female athlete, it stands to reason all athletic scholarships could potentially end up going to males who identify as females. It takes only a small handful of trans-athletes across all sports to erase decades of female achievement. This would effectively nullify Title IX and eliminate female professional sports, not to mention the athletic aspirations and female athletes idolized by little girls worldwide. When it comes to trans female athletes participating in female sports, safety and fairness for biological females (as they make up 99%+ of the participants) must take precedence before accusations of 'discrimination' are considered.

Andrew (No)

The evidence on transgender athletes dominating their cisgendered competitors is not convincing. As the ACLU has noted, only a few transgender athletes have had real success in high school athletics, which is notable since there are perhaps hundreds or thousands competing. Both the NCAA and the Olympics, organizations with strict rules, have developed policies that make it fair for trans athletes to compete. There are ways to make competition fair for everyone, and for Senator Paul to make this claim is old-fashioned and shows a lack of understanding of the issue.

Competitive advantage comes from a number of sources, including physiology, access to resources, family legacy, and more; to say that athletes with an advantage in one area can't compete but others can is the real unfair decision. Dr. Timothy Roberts, a pediatrician with expertise in hormones and athletic performance, pointed out that children of famous athletes have access to world-class training and facilities yet are still allowed to compete with everyone else their age. Should this also be considered an unfair advantage?

Trans individuals often have an extraordinarily difficult time in high school. They are dealing with huge decisions and confusing feelings and emotions that most cisgendered teens never have to face. Many end up changing schools or leaving altogether. For Senator Paul to suggest that they have any sort of advantage is tone-deaf and frankly offensive to the real struggles of trans teens. Maybe excelling in athletics in high school will help ease these individuals' experiences. Perhaps they'll gain recognition for helping a team to victory and therefore find acceptance from their peers more easily.

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