On Thursday, April 20, the US House of Representatives passed a bill that proposes to ban trans athletes from women’s and girls’ sports across the nation. While the legislative fight over trans rights has largely played out on the state level, this is the first anti-trans bill to pass the US House.
The bill, HR 734, has been named the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act, with opponents calling it the Politics Over Participation Act. It seeks to amend Title IX—the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education—in order to define sex as “based solely on a person’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth.” If passed, the bill would apply to federally funded public K-12 schools and universities in every state.
Surprising no one, the bill comes out of Florida, via Republican Rep Gregory Steube. The bill passed with a 219-203 vote along party lines, with 13 representatives abstaining.
HR 734 now heads to the Senate, where it is not expected to pass the Democrat majority. Additionally, President Biden issued a statement pledging to veto the bill.
“Instead of addressing the pressing issues that families and students face today—such as raising teacher pay, keeping guns out of schools, addressing the mental health crisis our youth face, and helping students learn and recover academically from unprecedented disruptions—Congressional Republicans have instead chosen to prioritize policies that discriminate against children,” the statement read.
Earlier this month, the Biden administration (through the Department of Education) proposed its own regulation change to Title IX, which would classify the banning of trans participation in sports as discrimination. At the same time, the proposed rule drew criticism from LGBTQ+ advocacy groups for carving out exceptions. According to the press release, the rule “recognizes that in some instances, particularly in competitive high school and college athletic environments, some schools may adopt policies that limit transgender students’ participation.”
Earlier this month, forty professional Olympic and Paralympic female athletes, including Megan Rapinoe, sent an open letter to Congress condemning HR 734. Democratic lawmakers have joined them in denouncing the bill.
Washington Rep Pramila Jayapal, co-chair of the House Equality Caucus and mother to a transgender daughter, slammed the bill during debates. “Don’t believe for a minute that this is about protecting women and girls,” she said, “because if Republicans cared about that they would not be voting against equal pay, against paid sick leave, against universal childcare. The way that this bill targets children in the name of gender equality is insulting.”