Sen. Tommy Tuberville is calling on coaches, administrators, and athletic directors to stand up for their female athletes forced to compete against men identifying as women.

“Coaches and administrators, stand up for your athletes—or get out of the profession,” the Alabama Republican, a former collegiate football coach, said during a roundtable discussion with advocates for women’s sports in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.

Three female GOP lawmakers joined Tuberville at the Capitol Hill event—Sen. Katie Britt of Alabama, Sen. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, and Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi. Members of the Independent Women’s Forum were also at the table, including University of Pennsylvania swimmer Paula Scanlan, former Oberlin College lacrosse coach Kim Russell, and Cady Mullens, the mother of an NCAA athlete who spoke out about a male joining her team.

Then-Cincinnati Bearcats head football coach Tommy Tuberville, now a U.S. senator, looks on during a game against the Memphis Tigers on Nov. 18, 2016, at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo: Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images)

Former ESPN broadcaster Sage Steele moderated the conversation, which centered on President Joe Biden’s administration‘s plan to rewrite Title IX in a way that would allow men onto women’s sports teams and into their locker rooms.

The issue has exploded since the 2022 NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships, where Riley Gaines tied for sixth place with Lia Thomas, a man who identifies as a woman. Gaines quickly became a high-profile women’s advocate, gaining fame around the country even as transgender activists used harassment and violence to challenge her views.

Following Gaines’ example, other female athletes have stepped forward to speak out, including Scanlan, Peyton McNabb, and others. Steele, an outspoken advocate for women’s sports, says she was told by ESPN to stop talking about the controversy surrounding Thomas.

Mullens spoke about her daughter Lily’s experience as an NCAA athlete and captain of the Roanoke College women’s swim team. Lily Mullens and two of her teammates, Kate Pearson and Bailey Gallagher, pushed back strongly enough that a trans-identifying athlete ultimately withdrew from the team. But Mullens’ mother broke down in sobs as she recounted her daughter’s extreme anxiety over the ordeal.

“It shouldn’t be up to the athletes to push back,” she said. “What can Congress do to put the responsibility on the schools to protect them?”

Tuberville also emphasized that it should not be up to the athletes alone to fight this battle. “It’s for coaches, administrators, athletic directors,” he said.

“They’re a joke,” he added. “They don’t fight. They go along with the norm … they want to keep their jobs.”

In February, Tuberville introduced the Protection of Women in Olympic and Amateur Sports Act, legislation that would prohibit any governing body recognized by the U.S. Olympic Committee from permitting males to compete as females. He has previously introduced the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act, aimed at ensuring “fair, safe competition in women’s sports across the country.”

He said that he has asked the 10 to 12 Democratic women who have “consistently” voted against women, “Do you have daughters?” and “Do you really believe this?”

“They don’t have an answer,” he said. “So, you know they don’t believe it.”

Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the URL or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state.