Congress enacted Title IX with virtually no debate over who qualified as a female athlete. How times have changed.
The landmark anti-discrimination law marks its 50th anniversary Thursday caught in a legal and political tug of war over the future of scholastic sports as transgender athletes increasingly apply to compete in the girls’ and women’s arena. The dilemma: Does progress on transgender rights threaten five decades of gains for female sports?
“Title IX has promised women so much: a fair chance to compete, opportunities to excel at college, and skills that apply to all areas of life,” said Christiana Kiefer, senior counsel of Alliance Defending Freedom. “But all of this is being threatened by the unscientific idea that a man can be a woman.”
Complicating the debate, the Title IX anniversary celebration takes place in the midst of Pride Month, throwing into sharp relief the increasing tension between the gender identity movement and women on both sides of the political aisle advocating for female opportunity through single-sex sports.
Many of the 1972 law’s defenders argue that allowing biological males in female athletics does exactly what Title IX was intended to avoid: a scenario in which female athletes are pushed aside in favor of males — in this case, males who identify as females.