The Biden administration has withdrawn government support for a federal lawsuit seeking to ban transgender athletes from participating in girls’ high school sports.
The lawsuit in Connecticut was filed by several cis runners who argue they’ve been deprived of wins, state titles and athletic opportunities by being forced to compete against two trans sprinters.
The Trump administration inserted itself into the case last year when then-Attorney General William Barr signed a statement of interest, arguing the state’s policy runs against Title IX, the federal law that allows girls equal educational opportunities.
But Biden’s government has now retracted this statement and pulled all support from the anti-trans plaintiffs. “The government has reconsidered the matter,” said Connecticut US Attorney John Durham said on Tuesday (February 23).
Attorneys for the plaintiffs declined to comment.
The Justice Department’s withdrawal came ahead of a Friday hearing in the case over the state’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
The news was celebrated by Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, who firmly told the AP: “Transgender girls are girls and every woman and girl deserves protection against discrimination. Period.”
Biden had previously signalled he would oversee a reversal of the Trump administration’s anti-trans policies, saying he would “flat out change the law”when he took office.
He made good on this promise in January when he repealed Trump’s trans military ban, and the latest move in Connecticut will be seen as a continuation of these progressive efforts.
Unfortunately this won’t be the end of the matter, as advocates fear a string of anti-trans bills in at least 20 states represents a “coordinated attack”against the American transgender community.
Supporters of such bills argue that transgender girls are naturally stronger, faster and bigger than their cis counterparts.
However, it has been widely noted that any athlete – male or female, transgender or cisgender – can have competitive advantages for multiple reasons besides hormones such as testosterone, including body size, access to training, and more.
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In actual fact there is no sound body of scientific evidence proving that trans athletes’ physiological characteristics provide them with an “unfair advantage” in sports.
“These bills are not addressing any real problem, and they’re not being requested by constituents,” said the Human Rights Campaign. “Rather, this effort is being driven by national far-right organisations attempting to sow fear and hate.”