Republicans on the House Oversight subcommittee on health care and financial services initiated a hearing held on Tuesday that was rife with anti-trans bigotry and ignorance. At a hearing dubiously titled “The Importance of Protecting Female Athletics and Title IX,” conservative lawmakers and their witnesses railed for hours against trans women who compete in sports that align with their gender identity.
The hearing concerned a recent push by equal rights advocates to get the Biden administration to reinstate Title IX protections — which bar gender discrimination in schools and higher education — for transgender people and other marginalized women. Donald Trump's Department of Education had previously watered down those protections.
The subcommittee chairwoman, Rep. Lisa McClain of Michigan, went on a rant that stated trans women were threats to women’s sports and that their participation somehow infringed on the rights of cisgender women. "I will not stop protecting women," McClain exclaimed. "The Biden administration is weakening Title IX by allowing males who identify as women to participate in women's sports."
Aside from deliberately misgendering trans women, much of the GOP argument relied on debunked myths about men having natural athletic advantages over women, which Republicans used as justification for banning trans women from playing sports with other women.
Democratic Rep. Jasmine Crockett of Texas noted the hypocrisy that conservatives who claim to protect women would also back Donald Trump, who’s been found civilly liable for sex abuse. (Not to mention that the GOP’s anti-abortion extremism detonates its “pro-woman” propaganda, as well.)
It's disgusting that conservatives continue to target trans athletes with their bigoted attacks and scapegoating, particularly since Republicans have been ignoring real issues that plague women’s sports for years.
Late last year, I highlighted some of those issues on the ReidOut Blog, citing experts on the racially disparate distribution of Title IX benefits, the exclusion of women from coaching and athletic director positions and the marginalization of women’s sports in the media.
The GOP’s “we stand with women” claim when it comes to sports is even more absurd when you consider that the U.S. Center for SafeSport, a congressionally authorized nonprofit group created in 2017 to root out sexual abuse in U.S. sports, is under fire for woeful inadequacy.
More than 100 current and former U.S. soccer players — including the entire Women’s World Cup team — sent a letter this summer urging Congress to shore up SafeSport and fix its processes so victims have more opportunities to obtain justice.
Congress doesn’t appear to have done anything in response. House Republicans scheduled a hearing for October, but it was postponed as they dealt with the intraparty drama of ousting then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy. And the SafeSport hearing hasn’t been rescheduled.
In other words, Republicans passed up an opportunity to address serious issues with women’s sports to stoke fear and fury toward trans people. Very on brand.