WASHINGTON, D.C.—Protecting female sports from biological male athletes is a Republican priority in the 2023 legislative session, Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., said at an event celebrating National Girls and Women in Sports Day on Wednesday.
“It’s not a partisan issue,” said House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who moderated a panel of female high school and college athletes in the Rayburn Room of the U.S. Capitol. “It’s a fairness issue.”
After getting elected speaker, McCarthy committed to prioritize America’s growing debt, national security, and education, which includes the integrity of girls and women’s sports. “There are many, many issues that we want to deal with in [the education] area,” Foxx said. “But sports are certainly very high on the list.”
The first panel included Rep. Jen Kiggans, R-Fla.; former University of Kentucky swimmer and Stand with Women spokeswoman Riley Gaines; Lee University volleyball player and Young Women for America Ambassador Macy Petty; former high jumper Margo Knorr; and former high school tennis player Chloe Satterfield. Gaines moderated a second panel including Foxx; Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga.; and Rep. Lisa McClain, R-Mich.
Rep. Greg Steube, R-Fla., reintroduced the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act shortly before the panel discussions. The bill ensures that biological females only compete against other biological females in women’s competitive sports that are funded through Title IX.
“We are grateful to Rep. Steube, Rep. [Claudia] Tenney, and all of their colleagues who have made saving Title IX a top legislative priority,” Independent Women’s Forum Law Center Director Jennifer Braceras told The Daily Signal. “Women have fought long and hard for equal athletic opportunities, and we will not sit by while the Biden administration unlawfully erases those gains.”
Gaines, a former NCAA champion who tied in a race with transgender swimmer Lia Thomas her senior year, said forcing women to compete against biological males ignores female athletes’ feelings and threatens their safety and privacy. The lack of accountability for men competing in women’s athletics stems from the inaction of President Joe Biden, Gaines said.
“We were being forced to compete against biological men, change in the locker room with biological men,” Gaines said. “It was at this point I realized that we as female athletes were being sidelined to men, which, of course, makes a mockery of everything that I’ve dedicated my life to.”
Satterfield played one of her last high school tennis matches against a biological male, and Petty’s club volleyball team lost to a team with a biological male player.
“This is not about hatred,” Satterfield said. “It’s about protecting our rights as biological women and making sure we still have the opportunity to pursue our passions.”
Petty said men’s volleyball nets are 7 inches higher than women’s, showing that biological differences require different sports standards.
“They’re separated for a reason,” Petty said. “That reason has nothing to do with ideology or identity but with biology and how we’re designed and created.”
Petty, who coaches club volleyball for 13-year-old girls during her off-season, said she is fighting for the next generation of female athletes to be able to compete in college athletics.
“When I look at those girls, when I think about the fact that those roster spots can be taken by men rather than them, it makes me sick to my stomach,” Petty said. “I’m blessed by God to be a college athlete and to be able to have that scholarship, and so it is worth it to put that on the line to fight for the next generation.”
Female college athletes often do not speak up for themselves for fear of losing their scholarships, Gaines said. Gaines said if she did not use her platform as a swimming champion, “it would be a disservice to the future female athletes to come who don’t have a voice.”
“They’re afraid of losing their starting position because they called out the woke politics that are destroying women’s sport,” Greene said.
McClain said allowing men in women’s sports forces women and girls to encounter “indecent exposure.”
“I will fight until I don’t have any breath left to make sure that we have girls sports,” McClain said.
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