What’s happening right now in college sports should be a wakeup call to all American women. Title IX is under attack, and women’s sports are being compromised. Repeat assaults make a federal response all the more urgent.
In December, the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights notified Concerned Women for America that it has opened an investigation into our complaint that Franklin Pierce University has violated Title IX by permitting male transgender athletes to compete on women’s teams. This is the first federal investigation of its kind in college sports.
Title IX is a federal law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs and activities. Every school in America receiving federal funds, K-12 through college, is required to follow Title IX law prohibiting sex discrimination. Sex has never been defined as anything but male and female.
In May, Franklin Pierce University took home its first Division II national title when a male trans-athlete who had previously competed on FPU’s men’s team won the women’s 400-meter hurdles. Earlier in the season, the Northeast 10 Conference crowned FPU’s CeCe Telfer “Women’s Track Athlete of the Week.”
Last fall, the University of Montana rostered a male athlete identifying as a woman on its Division I women’s cross country team. The senior competed for the past three seasons as a standout on the men’s team. In October, the Big Sky Conference crowned the male trans-runner “Female Athlete of the Week.”
Denying rightful opportunity for female athletes to compete against females violates the very reason Title IX was enacted more than 40 years ago. Sports are inherently physical. There is no way to divorce the advantage of male DNA, anatomy and physiology from athletic capacity. To declare otherwise is to deny science — a pathetic stance for any institution of higher education.
Over the last year, schools in many states have forced female athletes to face competition against males identifying as girls. It leads to heartbreaking stories like the phone call we received from a Georgia mom whose high school daughter said, “If this is the way it’s going to be, what’s the point?”
Selina Soule, along with several other Connecticut high school track athletes, filed a landmark federal complaint after their hopes and dreams to advance in the competition were dashed when two male runners identifying as girls displaced them. This complaint is also under investigation.
The Department of Education Office for Civil Rights’ investigations are welcome developments, but there is no time to waste.
The upward trajectory of activism and state policies pushing transgender rights will only continue to displace female athletes. Our daughters are being sidelined by a politically correct mandate to give biological males identifying as women the right to compete in female sports, taking our medals and scholarships, and having full access to our locker rooms, denying our privacy.
Recently, Rasmussen Reports released new poll results confirming Americans’ growing unease with what is happening in women’s sports. A majority oppose allowing athletes to compete according to their “gender identity,” not their sex. Only 29 percent support the idea. Twenty percent remain undecided.
Concerned Women for America refuses to turn a blind eye to female athletes, unlike self-proclaimed “women’s rights” groups — Women’s Sports Foundation, National Organization for Women and Women’s Law Center — which have already abandoned women on this issue.
The NCAA and regional conferences allowing trans athlete males in women’s sports are also betraying female athletes. Celebrating and elevating them in competition is a slap in the face to women and girls at all levels of sport. It turns back the clock on the half-century of progress Title IX has brought for women.
Today’s female college and high school athletes have only one shot at achieving their dreams. President Trump has all the tools he needs to defend women and girls and put an end to this unfairness. The OCR’s investigations can back up what his administration should require — that all schools abide by Title IX’s mandate prohibiting sex discrimination against women and girls in sports or lose their federal funding.
Doreen Denny is Vice President of Government Relations for Concerned Women for America, the nation’s largest public policy women’s organization.
Editor's Note: This piece originally ran in The Washington Times.