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Is It Fair Play? How Female Athletes Are Losing in the Age of Gender Identity

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli

I’m the mother of two athletes, a son who currently plays college baseball and a daughter who was captain of her volleyball team and on elite club teams. Today, my daughter’s leadership, work ethic, and resiliency from sports is translating in her college endeavors, including Army ROTC.     


Doors of opportunity open for female athletes through sports. But in today’s age of gender identity, this could all radically change.

Senator Birch Bayh was a Democratic Senator from Indiana who spearheaded the Title IX amendment that banned discrimination against women in college sports. Obituaries from his passing on March 14, 2019 hailed him as the “father of Title IX.”

The senator’s crowning legacy achievement will go to the grave with him if his own party has its way in passing the Equality Act.

Here’s why. The Equality Act expands sex in federal civil rights laws to include “gender identity,” which is not based on biology, but solely on perception, “regardless of the individual’s designated sex at birth.” That identity would be a protected class and couldn’t be challenged. Males could claim they were women at any time and for any reason. Period.  

Congressman Matthew Gaetz of Florida raised a possibility. “If President Trump were to say ‘I am the now first female president,’ who would celebrate that?” Absurd, yes, but it would be a legitimate and legally- protected claim under the Equality Act. 

More disturbing, Title IX’s nondiscrimination protections for female athletes would be negated by gender identity mandates. Since discrimination against transathletes would now be banned, male athletes identifying as women, biologically stronger and faster, would out-compete female athletes stealing their roster spots and scholarships. 


That is why the Equality Act will kill the very purpose of Senator Bayh’s Title IX legacy.          

In addition to opening women’s sports to males who think they are female, teams who stay overnight in hotel rooms would be required to house transgender athletes, male students, with female athletes. This goes for bathrooms, showers, and locker rooms – as we’re already seeing in too many schools today. 

We all know that athletics is an avenue for developing traits that are formative for girls and lead many women to break through glass ceilings. Title IX has been the foundation for much of this progress. But the errantly-named “Equality Act” will unravel the very foundation of equal opportunity for women in sports.    

Here’s the message: if the Democrats in Congress get their way, resting next to Senator Birch Bayh will be a Title IX tombstone inscribed RIP – Rejected In Purpose.    

The unfair playing field is happening already. Selina Soule, a high school track athlete in Connecticut, lost her chance to compete in the New England championship this year after two biological males took first and second place in the 55 meter.  The International Olympic Committee, the NCAA, most U.S. sports federations and state High School Athletic Associations have created one-sided policies favoring transathlete inclusion and are fueling this assault on female athletes.    


If Congress throws off all restraints by affirming “gender identity” in federal law, it will incentivize coaches to recruit and scholarship the “best” athletes to create the winning teams.  These will be women’s teams with biological men and boys on their rosters. They will be celebrated. CeCe, formerly Craig, Telfer was named Athlete of the Week by the US Track, Field and Cross Country Coaches Association after winning three titles in the Northeast 10 conference.

Many parents and coaches fear they will be bullied into silence if they speak up against this. Their daughters and athletes who are losing are learning a heartbreaking lesson: they can’t win against unfair competition or in a culture that won’t stand up for our rights and protections.   

Concerned Women for America, the largest public policy women’s organization in the country, is joining hands with the Women’s Liberation Front who proudly call themselves radical feminists. We disagree on many fronts, but we do agree on this:  making gender identity a protected characteristic under federal law would erase protections based on sex for women and girls. Our unlikely alliance should be a wake-up call that the Equality Act is wrong for women.  


Supporters have no way of defending the Equality Act against these threats to women even though basic common sense makes it obvious to most people. Many proponents have blindly jumped on the bandwagon – it’s time they consider the impact. Women will lose. Join us in the fight against this recklessness. 

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