Martina Navratilova – who is lesbian – says it supports most of the Biden administration’s plans for the LGBT community but believes that allowing transgender girls and women who “have experienced all or part of male puberty” gives them an unfair advantage.
A coalition of high-profile activists within the LGBT and women’s sports communities is urging the Biden administration to limit the participation of transgender girls and women in women’s sports, arguing it’s necessary to protect the future of women’s sports.
At issue are biological boys and men who identify as the other gender and want to play in girls’ or women’s sports.
The coalition, which includes tennis legend Martina Navratilova – who is lesbian – says it supports most of the Biden administration’s plans for the LGBT community but believes that allowing transgender girls and women who “have experienced all or part of male puberty” gives them an unfair advantage.
Christian leaders and social conservatives have also opposed the inclusion of transgender athletes in girls’ and women’s sports.
USA Today interviewed multiple individuals who are part of the coalition, known as the Women’s Sports Policy Working Group.
During his first week in office, Biden signed an executive order that prevents discrimination in public schools on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. The areas impacted include school sports. “Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports,” the order says.
The Biden administration interprets Title IX – a 1972 law prohibiting discrimination based on sex in education – as applying to sexual orientation and gender identity.
The coalition proposes a federal bill to remedy the problem.
“We fully support the Biden executive order, ending LGBT discrimination throughout society, including employment, banking, family law and public accommodations,” Nancy Hogshead-Makar, a Title IX attorney and a member of the group, told USA Today. “Competitive sports, however, are akin to pregnancy and medical testing; these areas require a science-based approach to trans inclusion. Our aim has been on protecting the girls’ and women’s competitive categories, while crafting accommodations for trans athletes into sport wherever possible.
“While the details of President Biden’s executive order remain fuzzy, asking women — no, requiring them — to give up their hard-won rights to compete and be recognized in elite sport, with equal opportunities, scholarships, prize money, publicity, honor and respect, does the cause of transgender inclusion no favors,” Hogshead-Makar said. “It engenders justifiable resentment, setting back the cause of equality throughout society. And either extreme position – full inclusion or full exclusion in sport – will make life much harder for transgender people. We must make sport a welcoming place for all.”
Options for transgender athletes could include separate heats, additional events/divisions, or the handicapping of results, the group told USA Today.
“There have been so many different approaches to this issue, from all-inclusion no matter what to all-exclusion no matter what,” Navratilova said. “We just wanted to find a better way of moving forward. We know there’s going to be somebody that’s not happy but we’re trying to make it as fair as possible. Now with transgender athletes, the rules are not clear. We need some clarity, we need some unity. We want to stay civil in the conversation and move the ball forward.”
The coalition also includes Olympic gold medalist Donna de Varona; Donna Lopiano, the former CEO of the Women’s Sports Foundation; Duke Law School professor Doriane Coleman; and Tracy Sundlun, an Olympic track and field coach.
Other supporters include Renee Richards, Pam Shriver, Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, Sanya Richards-Ross, Diana Nyad, Micki King and Lyn St. James.