Fairness in Women’s Sports Act

Abigayle Allen, Opinion Editor

“Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 is a federal law that states: ‘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.’” (Women’s Sports Foundation)

In March of 2022, Lia Thomas became the first openly transgender athlete to win an NCAA Division 1 national championship in any sport, beating out biological women for this title. 

After months of protests conducted by concerned women and female athletes due to the unfairness of Thomas being able to compete against biological women, Concerned Women for America filed a formal civil rights complaint under Title IX, with the U.S. Department of Education, against the University of Pennsylvania for refusing to protect the rights of college female athletes. The complaint goes further than just the unjust competition, also addressing  privacy concerns where Thomas was allowed to change in the female locker room, where biological women change and shower. 

The Fairness in Women’s Sports Act, or House Bill 972, “would protect opportunities for women and girls in athletics by ensuring women are not forced to compete against biological males playing on women’s sports team.” (Borowicz, 22) This act works to try and uphold the standards of Title IX and keep an even playing field for women. The bottom line is that identities do not play sports, but bodies do. The male body, after completing puberty, has strength, speed and endurance that women’s bodies, unfortunately, do not. If you are comparing Lia Thomas, a biological male who competed on the UPenn men’s swim team for three years before switching to the women’s team, to this situation, the difference between biological male and female capabilities are highlighted. Thomas smashed many female records and won against the fiercest women athletes in those categories. This bill ensures that everyone, biological men and women, can compete fairly. 

Under the bill, an athletic team or sport designated for females, women or girls may not be open to students of the male sex. “In addition, a student deprived of an athletic opportunity or who suffers direct or indirect harm because of a violation of this act by a college or public school would be able to bring a cause of action for injunctive relief, psychological and physical damage, and the costs involved in filing a lawsuit against the college or high school.” (Borowicz, 22) 

Women have fought for rights to compete in collegiate sports for decades. Before Title IX was implemented, there were less than 30,000 women collegiate athletes in the U.S. By 2012, that number had risen to 190,000. Women still face barriers, like less pay in professional sports and championships, mandatory tests for women with high testosterone at the Olympics in 2011 and the list goes on. Despite these challenges, women persevere, and that has shown even more abundantly with the movement for fairness in women’s sports. 

To be clear, this bill was passed to help preserve fairness and protect women. This in no way bans transgender students from competing on athletic teams, but instead requires biological males to play on a men’s team and biological women to play on a women’s team. It is my hope that, because of Lia Thomas, many other transgender students will continue to come forward and compete on teams, so much so that they will be able to compete against each other without being forced on a team not corresponding to their identity.