Sunday, September 24, 2023

U.S. lawmakers pass bill to ban transgender athletes from female sports

The World Athletics Council announced that transgender athletes who transitioned from male to female after puberty would be barred From April 1, 2023.

• April 20, 2023
U.S. House of Reps
U.S. House of Reps [Credit: Reuters]

Republicans in the House of Congress, Thursday, voted to prohibit transgender women and girls from participating in athletic events meant for females.

The legislation titled ‘The protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act’ is the first major attempt at discussing the topic at a national level, with it only having been an issue across different states and individual sporting associations.

The bill has failed to pass in the last three Congresses and is expected to hit yet another stumbling block when it’s passed up to the Democratic-controlled Senate. President Joe Biden has threatened that he intends to veto the bill if it ends up on his desk.

The bill is intended to amend Title IX — the federal civil rights law prohibiting sex-based discrimination in education — so as to recognise sex as that which is “based solely on a person’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth.” 

Last year, the world governing body for swimming, FINA, banned transgender women from competing in female swimming events. In 2020, World Rugby also did the same and just last month, The World Athletics Council announced that transgender athletes who transitioned from male to female after puberty would be barred From April 1, 2023.

A popular case in Athletics is that of South African runner, Caster Semenya, who is the world’s fastest woman in 800m. She is legally female and was raised female but has ‘XY’ Chromosomes and a naturally high level of testosterone.

In 2018, Ms Semenya refused to take treatment meant to lower her testosterone levels and was subsequently banned from competing in female sports. She lost her case at the Court of Arbitration for Sports and is presently appealing the decision at the European Court of Human Rights.

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