Biden Admin Withdraws Support From Case Challenging Transgender Athletes in Girls’ Sports

February 24, 2021 Updated: February 24, 2021

The Departments of Justice and Education have withdrawn their previous support of a federal lawsuit that seeks to block transgender athletes in Connecticut from competing in interscholastic sports with biological girls.

The lawsuit in question was filed in June 2019 by three female athletes against the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC), which administers high school sports in the state. The girls, represented by conservative legal group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), argued that the CIAC’s policy of allowing transgender athletes to compete in girls’ sports had deprived them of track titles and scholarship opportunities.

According to the ADF, the Biden administration has informed the federal court that it’s reversing the position taken by the Trump administration regarding the case.

“The government’s politically motivated reversal can’t change biological reality or the correct interpretation of the law,” the ADF said in a statement, noting that males will “always have inherent physical advantages” over “comparably talented and trained girls.”

The Trump-era Justice and Education Departments, headed by former Attorney General William Barr and Secretary Betsy DeVos, respectively, weighed in on the case last year in favor of the suing girls. In separate statements, the agencies argued that allowing male-born students to compete on girls’ teams is a violation of Title IX, the federal law prohibiting sex-based discrimination in education.

“Title IX and its implementing regulations prohibit discrimination solely ‘on the basis of sex,’ not on the basis of transgender status, and therefore neither require nor authorize CIAC’s transgender policy,” a March 2020 statement of interest by the Justice Department read. “To the contrary, CIAC’s construction of Title IX as requiring the participation of students on athletic teams that reflect their gender identity would turn the statute on its head.”

“No credible legal argument can be made to push girls off of the winners’ podium in their own sports,” the Education Department wrote in a September 2020 letter (pdf) to Connecticut school systems, threatening to pull federal funding unless they disaffiliate with the CIAC. “Males will always have inherent physical advantages over comparably talented and trained girls; that’s the reason we have girls’ sports in the first place.”

The federal agencies’ abandonment of support for the female athletes came weeks after President Joe Biden signed an executive order, stating that children should be able to “learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports.”

Miguel Cardona, who was named Connecticut’s K-12 school chief in August 2020 before tapped by Biden as his Education secretary, has also said during his Senate confirmation hearing that he believes it’s the right of male-born students to compete in girls’ sports.