WASHINGTON — As the Biden administration issued new Title IX guidelines Thursday allowing trans-identifying males to compete in women’s sports, a large cross-section of women rallied in opposition mere blocks away from the White House.
Assembled underneath a tent at Freedom Plaza near Federal Triangle, an array of activists ranging from radical feminist organizations to conservative Christian policy groups spoke on the 50th anniversary of the law.
The rally, called “Our Bodies, Our Sports,” highlighted the ways in which women are disadvantaged because men are being allowed to compete against women in athletic competition under the banner of “gender identity.” The event was held as the Executive Branch released 700 pages of revamped Title IX regulations that argue that the legal definition of “sex” must not be limited by biology.
Attendees interviewed by The Christian Post said women-only sports is the issue that has awakened many to the broader harms of gender ideology and its effects on young people. Several speakers referenced the example of UPenn student-athlete Lia Thomas, a male swimmer who went by the name Will for most of his life and has been breaking women's swimming records in competitions as a trans-identified athlete.
Meg Kilgannon, senior fellow for education studies at the Family Research Council, noted that the landscape has shifted on this issue in recent months. When she first started engaging the topic in 2015, when the D.C.-area Fairfax County (Virginia) school board began allowing boys to enter girls' restrooms and locker rooms, she struggled to get Christians or conservatives to take her seriously because they found the issue so unbelievable, strange and bewildering.
"They said, 'That’s crazy. No one would do that,'" she told CP of their disbelief.
But radical feminists and left-wing lesbians did believe her because they had been dealing with it in their communities for longer than she had. Politics has made for strange bedfellows, she said, but because of this issue, she has forged friendships she would never have otherwise.
“It absolutely is an assault on the dignity of the human person,” she lamented.
“Gender ideology was able to invade our institutions under cover of darkness, and it’s through the sporting issue that people are easily able to see an athlete like Thomas from the University of Pennsylvania standing next to an actual female swimmer, the obvious differences,” she said.
“Unfortunately, Americans are becoming less religious, but they are still pretty religious about their sports. We love sports because everybody loves rules, whether we want to admit it or not. We like to know what to expect; we want fairness. And this is obviously very unfair.”
Around the country, several states have passed laws declaring that women’s sports are only for biological females, starting with Idaho in 2020. Last week, the global swimming sports body FINA revised its guidelines, restricting post-pubertal males older than 12 from competing in girls' and women's athletic competitions.
When Kilgannon started resisting this years ago, the few who showed up to the school board meetings to voice their concerns were Catholics and other more socially conservative families. She attended a meeting in Fairfax Country recently and found that the coalition of people pushing back has considerably broadened. Every time a painting truck, landscaping truck or construction truck drove by, they received big honks and cheers of support, she recalled. One man even stopped his truck, came in and signed up to receive more information from a conservative organization addressing the issue.
“And in broken English, he said, ‘Thank you, we can’t do this to kids,” Kilgannon said. “This is not the time to let up. This is time to press ahead and forward, defend reality, defend life and defend children.”
Lauren Levey, vice president of the U.S. chapter of Women’s Declaration International, and a longtime lesbian rights activist, told CP that she was “disgusted” by the new Title IX regulations and the larger push coming out of the federal government.
She remembers what life was like before Title IX came to be. “I’m old enough to have played sports in high school before Title IX, and I remember that it changed overnight. All of a sudden, there were women athletes and girls' sports. They had nice uniforms. It was so instant and they got serious,” Levey said, describing the positive difference the law made in the lives of many women and girls.
Though she wishes that women’s rights — specifically the incarcerated women now being raped in prison by trans-identifying males — was the on-ramp for the public to see the harms that “gender identity” causes to women and girls, she's glad to see that through sports, the masses are awakening.
“I wish it were [by seeing] the kids whose bodies are being ruined [by cross-sex hormones and body mutilating surgeries] and whose health is being ruined before they even know what life is even like. But I’ll take it,” she added.
“Somehow people relate to fairness in sports in a way that they don’t relate to fairness in other ways.”
Maud Maron, a Democratic candidate for Congress from New York City, believes the issue of males being allowed to compete in women’s sports has galvanized people for whom gender ideology had previously seemed more abstract.
“But when you see Lia Thomas standing up there where he doesn't belong, taking a spot from a girl who should have been there, who worked really hard for her whole swimming career to be there, it’s visceral,” Maron told CP.
“People really get it and they understand it. And it makes it really clear that, sadly, what Joe Biden, who I voted for, is doing is throwing girls and women under the bus. I’m so disappointed and pissed off about it.”
The congressional candidate from lower Manhattan elaborated that though she has been a Democrat for 32 years, she has seen parents at PTA meetings voice strong opposition to such things as boys in girls' sports and teaching children to believe “that sex is something you can opt in or out of.” Opposition is strong from all sides, she added: “It’s bad for kids. It’s hurting kids. It’s also just indulging in an ideology at the expense of reality. Everybody knows that regardless of party.”
But many Democrats haven’t thought about it deeply, she maintains.
“If transgenderism isn’t touching your life it’s probably not something you spend a whole lot of time thinking about. But when people see what books their kids are reading, the funny language their kids are using, then they start to pay attention,” Maron added.
During the rally, a group of two dozen trans activists waving pink and blue striped flags and some wearing balaclavas blew whistles and beat on drums in an attempt to drown out the female speakers at the sports rally.
Riley Gaines, a swimmer from the University of Kentucky, who raced against Thomas at the NCAA finals at Georgia Tech earlier this year, spoke from the stage and later told CP that Thomas’ presence has opened the eyes of many people about the larger implications of allowing men to compete in women's sports.
"It really shows these blatantly obvious physical and anatomical differences that contribute to what makes an athlete a good athlete," she said, adding that she was encouraged by the diversity of the speakers: "It’s a great thing."
"It really shows to me that this isn’t something that has to be political. It’s something that only requires common sense, reason and science."
Gaines was interviewed by Tucker Carlson earlier this week and said this experience has forced her to realize how hard those who came before her had to work to get Title IX passed and realizes how much she had taken for granted. She now intends to fight to restore the law and create additional opportunities for female athletes.
Other groups who sponsored the “Our Bodies, Our Sports” rally were Independent Women’s Network, the radical feminist Women’s Liberation Front, Alliance Defending Freedom, and Concerned Women for America.