On Tuesday, a group of Republican Senators led by Georgia Senator Kelly Loeffler introduced a bill to prevent trans women from participating in women’s sports, a terribly mean piece of legislation whose passage has become the goal of seemingly every TERF croaking about “biological men” on Twitter. Love to know that in the midst of a pandemic and the continuing erosion of whatever semblance of a democracy we have left, Loeffler and her cronies can still find the time and energy to attack the lives of trans girls.
Loeffler was joined by her fellow Senators Mike Lee, Marsha Blackburn, Tom Cotton, and James Lankford in supporting transphobia, also known as the “Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act of 2020.” The bill—which looks to be inspired by similar legislation introduced in state legislatures around the country, including one bill that was recently signed into law but subsequently blocked by a judge in Idaho—would use the provisions of Title IX to punish federally funded schools that do the right thing and allow trans women and girls to participate in sports according to their gender identity.
Loeffler, like all of the other conservative goons who have lately wrapped up their transphobia in a shallow feminist gloss, defended the bill as a way to protect women and girls.
“Title IX established a fair and equal chance for women and girls to compete, and sports should be no exception,” Loeffler wrote in her press release for the bill. “As someone who learned invaluable life lessons and built confidence playing sports throughout my life, I’m proud to lead this legislation to ensure girls of all ages can enjoy those same opportunities. This commonsense bill protects women and girls by safeguarding fairness and leveling the athletic field that Title IX guarantees.”
In that release, she listed the groups that support the bill, a veritable Who’s Who of conservative organizations and think tanks that have in recent years pivoted towards attacking trans rights under the guise of feminism as a winning political principle—the American Principles Project, Concerned Women for America’s Legislative Action Committee, the Heritage Foundation arm Action for America, the Family Research Council, the Family Policy Alliance, and the Independent Women’s Forum.
As Melissa Gira Grant wrote in the New Republic recently, bills like Loeffler’s are part of a broader attack on trans rights happening at the federal level, efforts that are now turning to pitting trans student athletes against their cis peers. Take what’s happening at the Department of Education, which earlier this month threatened to pull federal funding from three school districts in Connecticut that allow trans students to compete according to their gender identity. This move, Gira Grant wrote, is “just the latest front in a national campaign, spearheaded by the conservative Christian organization the Alliance Defending Freedom, to launch another panic like the one over transgender students and school bathrooms, which it also helped spread.” The ADF is also behind the lawsuit filed in Connecticut by a group of cis teenagers that claim trans-inclusion in high school sports is a violation of Title IX, a lawsuit that Loeffler referenced in her statement about her new bill.
It’s fair to say that neither Loeffler nor her Republican colleagues really care about women’s sports, and are merely hoping that ginning up a manufactured panic over trans athletes is another way to throw red meat to their conservative Christian base. If you care so much about women’s sports, Kelly, maybe ponder why the members of the WNBA team you own hate you so much that they’re campaigning for one of your Democratic opponents.