28 lawmakers, including six of the seven members of Connecticut’s delegation, signed a joint letter condemning the U.S. Department of Education’s May 15 decision regarding transgender athletes. The lawmakers request that the Department of Education (DOE) reconsider its decision, as well as other rulings that “roll back” the rights of transgender students. They have tasked the DOE with answering a series of questions about the decision by July 1.
In the decision, the DOE found that a Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC) rule which allowed transgender student-athletes to compete with others who share their gender identity violated Title IX. In explaining the decision the Department miss-gendered transgender females and stated that CIAC “by permitting the participation of certain male [transgender female] student-athletes in girls’ interscholastic track in the state of Connecticut … denied female student-athletes athletic benefits and opportunities” The decision required CIAC, as well as other Connecticut school districts utilizing the policy, to alter it or face the loss of federal funding.
In the letter, lawmakers assert that the Department’s decision “represents a disregard of the Department of Education’s duty to prevent discrimination and denial of benefits in federally funded education programs for every American student.” It goes on to state that in making the decision “the Department continues a discriminatory and blatantly illegal pattern by this administration to enshrine discrimination against transgender people in all levels of society…”
The letter specifically addresses the dangerous myth the initial Title IX complaint was based on – that transgender women are really men and therefore have an unfair advantage in competitions against cisgender women which allows them to win more frequently. The letter refutes this claim and cites the fact that cisgender females have beaten the two transgender athletes mentioned in the complaint– Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood – in at least 10 track meets.
It goes on to argue that the DOE’s decision serves to “solely punish women-identified students with physical attributes incongruent with stereotypical expectations for students assigned female at birth for the purposes of sports participation.” It asserts that “using Title IX to target a group of students who fail to meet your [the DOE’s] expectations of female or male is not in the spirit or the letter of the law.”
Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-CT), the leader of the letter’s signatories, commented that “The decision of the Department of Education to issue a determination targeting transgender student-athletes on the eve of Pride Month is not coincidental. It is a transparent example of their campaign against the rights and dignity of LGBTQ+ children. Title IX was created so that all young women—no matter their sex assigned at birth—are protected from discrimination…It was not meant to target children who do not identify as cisgender or create a space in which transgender kids must choose between living truthfully or having access to opportunities.”
Sources: Hartford Courant 6/19/20; The New York Times 5/29/20; Hartford Courant 5/29/20; Hayes Press Release 6/17/20