Oklahoma delegation cites Title IX after passage of bill banning transgender athletes in women’s and girls’ sports


Transgender girls and women were banned in 2021 from participating in women’s sports teams in schools and colleges in Oklahoma. Photo Illustration/ Human Rights Campaign.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Members of the Oklahoma delegation said allowing transgender women and girls in sports undermines the purpose of Title IX, after House Republicans passed a bill that would ban transgender athletes from participating in girls’ and women’s sports.

Despite a White House veto threat and an expectation that the Democratic-controlled Senate will not consider the bill, the “Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act” – which would prohibit transgender women and girls from playing on sports teams that align with their gender identity – passed last week by a vote of 219-203, underscoring Republican efforts to draw attention to the matter.

The Biden administration has proposed changes to Title IX regulations on students’ eligibility in sports teams that would allow schools to enforce certain limitations for transgender student athletes, but would oppose policies that “categorically” ban  students from participating on sports teams that align with their genders.

The limitations may vary depending on the specific policies adopted by each school, but generally, it could mean schools are allowed to consider factors such as hormone levels, physical attributes, and competitive advantage when determining whether a transgender student can participate in a particular sport.

Markwayne Mullin, Oklahoma’s junior senator from Westville said it is unfair for his daughters to compete against transgender girls due to their biological advantages.

“I made it very clear in the past that my daughters can compete with anybody on an even playing field, but competing against another boy is not an even playing field,” Mullin said. “Title IX was put into place so my daughters could have the same opportunity to go to college wrestling and compete against their peers the same way my boys do.”

Title IX is a federal civil rights law passed in 1972 as part of the Education Amendments Act. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any educational program or activity that receives federal funding, including athletics. Title IX requires schools to provide equal opportunities for male and female students to participate in sports and receive athletic scholarships.

Additionally, it prohibits sexual harassment and assault, and requires schools to have policies in place to address and prevent such conduct.

“It’s not the same when you start allowing a male athlete that competed as a male (and) all of a sudden decided he wants to transition and claimed to be a female. Biologically, that doesn’t change anything. He was still born a male,” Mullin said.

Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Tulsa) said the House fought many years ago for Title IX to promote gender equality in areas such as athletics, admissions, financial aid and academic support.

“I’ve been consistent on this from day one. We should protect women’s rights and girls performing and playing in girls sports. Both my boys played in sports (and) I think it’s great competition.”

Sen. James Lankford (R-Oklahoma City) criticized on social media the administration’s proposed changes to Title IX.

“So if you are a parent who has a problem with a biological male on your daughter’s team and in their locker room, your view doesn’t count,” Lankford said in a Twitter post.

The legislation, even if adopted, would have no impact in Oklahoma because Gov. Kevin Stitt signed into law a bill that bans transgender girls and women from participating in women’s sports teams in schools and colleges in Oklahoma two years ago.  At least 21 states have adopted similar legislation or restrictions to ban transgender women and girls from participating in sports that are consistent with their gender identity.

“We fought in this body right here many years ago for Title IX (and) we should be respectful of that (and) make sure that women are taken care of,” Hern said.


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