House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said there should be a level playing field for women in sports on Feb. 1, which marks the 37th anniversary of National Girls and Women in Sports Day.
McCarthy hosted a panel in Washington on Wednesday in honor of the day, while raising concerns over transgender men competing in women’s sports.
“This is not a partisan issue,” McCarthy said at the panel. “I will tell you as I go across the country, it’s a fairness issue.”
“Allowing biological boys to compete in women’s sports is wokeness at its worst,” he added on Twitter. “It erases women. It can deprive them of the opportunity to be champions, excel at sports, and earn college scholarships.”
Other participants in the panel were Rep. Jen Kiggans (R-Va.), 12-time NCAA All-American swimmer and Stand with Women spokeswoman Riley Gaines, NCAA volleyball player and Young Women for America ambassador Macy Petty, former North Dakota State University high jumper Margo Knorr, and retired tennis player Chloe Satterfield.
Gaines hosted a follow-up panel, which was attended by three GOP lawmakers, Reps. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), Lisa McClain (R-Mich.), and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.).
“Today, on Girls & Women in Sports Day, I listened to female athletes tell their stories of unfair competition, and I commit to them and to you—I will always stand up for a level playing field for women in sports,” McCarthy said in a separate post on Twitter.
In the first panel, Gaines shared her past experience competing against biological men, particularly how she had to change in a locker room with them.
“It is so wild that you can turn around and see a 6’4″ biological man pull down his pants down watching you undress, and no one is willing to stick up for you?” Gaines said.
Last year, Gaines found herself competing against Lia Thomas, a biological male transgender athlete, in the NCAA swimming and diving championships. They tied for fifth place in the 200-meter freestyle event.
“If we, as female athletes, aren’t willing to stick up for ourselves, how can we expect someone else to stick up for us,” Gaines said.
Petty shared how she had to compete against biological males for scholarships in front of college recruiters.
“These sports reflect our bodies, right?” Petty asked, pointing to how in volleyball, the men’s net is over seven inches higher than the women’s net. “They’re separated for a reason, and that reason has nothing to do with ideology or identity but biology, and how we’re designed and how we’re created, and how that’s reflected in our sports.”
Satterfield, who is currently attending Georgia Tech, said she had to compete against a female-identifying biological male during her senior year in high school.
“This is not about hatred, or trying to stop them from doing something they love, but protecting our rights as biological women and making sure that we still have the opportunity to pursue our passions,” Satterfield said.
During the first panel, McCarthy read a statement on behalf of Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.), who announced he had reintroduced the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act.
“House Republicans pledged to protect women’s sports. Today we’re delivering on that promise,” the statement said.
“As I’ve said many times, it’s a sad day in America when we have to introduce a bill to say that men will play on men’s teams and women will play on women’s teams,” it continued. “But we’ve seen time and time again how the left only favors fairness when [it] aligns with their woke agenda.”
“So today, I’m pleased to have reintroduced legislation that gives women and girls a fair playing field in competition sports. It ensures that the school athletics comply with the Title IX recognition of a person’s reproductive biological and genetics at birth.”
Steube first introduced the legislation in January 2020. According to the text of the bill (pdf), it would be a civil rights violation for schools receiving federal financial assistance to allow female-identifying biological males to participate in athletic programs and activities designated for women or girls.
Tabitha Walter, executive director at Eagle Forum, said in a statement calling on every House lawmaker to vote in favor of the legislation.
“Radical gender ideology has pushed its way into women’s locker rooms and onto girls’ sports teams,” Walker said, adding that the bill “ensures the intention of Title IX remains and is not given over to SOGI [sexual orientation and gender identity] ideology.”