Insight, News, and Opinion by Nick Abramo
  • September 23, 2021
U.S. Agency Rules Against Transgender Athletes’ Right To Play Girls Sports

There are policies in place giving transgender students protections and certain rights.

But apparently those rights do not include the ability for male-to-female transgender athletes to play girls sports — at least for the time being anyway.

On Thursday, the Associated Press reported from Hartford, Conn., that the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights has ruled that allowing athletes born male who now identify as female to participate in girls sports violates Title IX protections for female athletes.

The ruling came about in the aftermath of a small group of female athletes filing a federal lawsuit last year in an effort to show that two male-to-female transgender track and field athletes were unfairly dominating the sport in Connecticut because they — even though they identify as females — have male physical qualities.

Connecticut transgender athlete Andraya Yearwood has been a dominant track and field runner. (From Outsports.com).

This transgender issue is still likely to be heard in court, especially since the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference policy is to comply with state law that bars discrimination against transgender athletes

But the U.S. Department’s of Education’s Office of Civil Rights sees things quite differently, saying in a 45-page letter obtained by the AP that it “may seek to withhold funding” to Connecticut high schools if the CIAC policy remains in place. Withholding federal funds is the typical response when there is a violation of Title IX — the law that ensures equal opportunities for women.

The issue has implications in Hawaii. Two male-to-female transgender athletes played girls volleyball in the fall of 2019. One had played boys volleyball previously. There were some unofficial complaints at the time, but a formal complaint came early in 2020 from Cynthia Monteleone, a Lahainaluna track and field coach who noticed that one of those transgender athletes had begun to participate in track and field and that it looked to Monteleone that the girl (the designated pronoun for those born male who now identify as female) was on her way to dominating sprints in the Maui Interscholastic League. Monteleone’s complaint cited an unfair advantage for the transgender athletes over those who were born girls, some of who have been competing in the sport for many years.

The Hawaii HIgh School Athletic Association’s policy regarding transgender athletes is one of inclusion. Earlier this year, Idaho passed a law banning transgender athletes from taking part in girls high school sports, but that ruling is being challenged in a suit by the American Civil Liberties Union and other organizations, who contend the policy is discriminatory against male-to-female transgender athletes.

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