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Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Introduces Bill to Apply Title IX Protections Based Only on Biological Sex

On Thursday, Democratic Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Republican Oklahoma Rep. Markwayne Mullin introduced a bill to Congress that would specify that Title IX protects are applied based on whether a person's assigned female at birth.

The bill, titled the “Protect Women’s Sports Act of 2020," would prevent people who were determined to be males at birth from participating in women's sports.

“Title IX was a historic provision championed by Hawaii’s own Congresswoman Patsy Mink in order to provide equal opportunity for women and girls in high school and college sports," Gabbard said in a statement. "... However, Title IX is being weakened by some states who are misinterpreting Title IX, creating uncertainty, undue hardship and lost opportunities for female athletes. Our legislation protects Title IX’s original intent which was based on the general biological distinction between men and women athletes based on sex."

Though NCAA rules allow transgender women to participate in women's sports, this is not the first time legislation has presented an obstacle. Various branches of government have disagreed on this issue just this year.

In April, Idaho banned trans athletes from women's sports, though the state is being sued by Boise State track and field athlete Lindsay Hecox. In May, the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights decided that allowing transgender athletes to compete in Connecticut high school sports violated the civil rights of female athletes. The Supreme Court ruled in June, however, that discrimination on the basis of gender identity is classified alongside sex discrimination under the Civil Rights Act.

If passed, the new bill would make it a violation for institutions that receive federal funding to "permit a person whose biological sex at birth is male to participate in an athletic program or activity that is designated for women or girls.”

“Title IX was designed to give women and girls an equal chance to succeed, including in sports. Allowing biological males to compete in women’s sports diminishes that equality and takes away from the original intent of Title IX," Mullin said. "As the father of three girls involved in athletics, I want them to be able to compete on a level playing field. I am proud to lead this bill that will safeguard the integrity of women’s sports and ensure female athletes can compete fairly."

Title IX, which was passed as part of the Education Amendments of 1972, reads: "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."

Gabbard ran for the Democratic presidential nomination during the 2020 election cycle before dropping out in March. She is set to leave the House of Representatives in January after deciding not to run for reelection.

Mullin won a fourth term in the House in November.