Hours after stressing on "unity" at his inaugural speech, President Joe Biden signed an anti-discrimination executive order that will allow transgender athletes to participate in women's sports. As of today, transgender people are protected by Title IX, which prohibits gender-based discrimination in educational institutions like high schools and universities.
The signing of the executive order now, many believe, will compel schools to include transgender athletes in girls' sports. Following the signing of the controversial order, #BidenErasedWomen and #TERFs (an acronym for "trans-exclusionary radical feminist") started trending on social media. This has also given rise to speculation that public schools may now have their funding pulled if they do not allow transgender female athletes to compete in women's sports.
The order, titled Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation, was signed just hours after Biden assumed office on Wednesday evening. The order states: "Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports."
Understandably, this is an extension and also the first step toward Biden's promise of back unity in the country which he stressed upon in his inaugural speech. The order further reads: "It is the policy of my administration to prevent and combat discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation."
The order immediately scraps Donald Trump's definition of gender as a person's "biological sex." At the same time it rules that universities and schools will now have to allow trans children to use proper restroom and locker rooms and cannot stop them from competing in the sport as the gender they are rather than the one they were assigned.
The decision to allow transgender athletes to compete in sports alongside their cisgender peers has caused controversy in recent years. The singing of the executive order thus was immediately cheered by proponents of transgender rights.
Starting With a Controversy
The decision was immediately met with backlash from different corners including some LGBT activists who believe that the order is nothing but simply Biden's attempt at moving towards a more inclusive society much like he had pledged in his inaugural speech.
The consensus among people using the hash tag #BidenErasedWomen was that, by including trans women in the protections, it may prevent millions of cisgender women from losing out on prestigious sports victories (and maybe scholarships that go with them). At the same time it also risks greater injuries to women.
Some are of the opinion that a more balanced decision perhaps would be to give trans athletes a league of their own. Soon after the signing of the order the hashtag #BidenErasedWomen began trending on Twitter.
Erielle Davidson of The Jewish Institute for National Security of America, wrote: "Sad day for women's sports. Women must compete against biological males at the risk of injury and loss of title, thanks to a new Biden executive order. Don't ever tell me this is 'pro-woman.' It's not. It's destructive and malicious."
"Biden just passed all the worst parts of the Equality Act without going through any legislation at all. Women and girls in the US just lost single-sex spaces, sports, all of it," another Twitter user wrote.
The debate over the participation of transgender athletes in women's sports last year saw 17 states introducing bills to restrict their participation in sports of their gender assigned at birth. Idaho also passed a bill into law. But the equation changes now. The US Education Department will now have to switch sides in two court battles, one in Connecticut and another in Idaho, over whether transgender athletes are treated by their biological sex or by how they identify.