Gov. Ned Lamont of Connecticut has finally responded to the Trump Administration’s threat to cut millions of dollars in federal education aid over a policy that guarantees the right of transgender student athletes to compete in their authentic gender. And his response is: he will not risk millions of dollars in federal education funding in defense of that policy.
According to the Associated Press, which put the question to the governor directly, Lamont said he “is not willing to lose federal education dollars over a state policy that allows transgender athletes to participate as girls in high school sports.”
The statewide policy is based on state non-discrimination laws, and guarantees all trans student athletes the right to compete according to their gender identity without need for a doctor’s note or surgery. It’s a right they’ve enjoyed for seven years.
If what the AP says is true, what then will the governor do to protect the state constitutional rights of transgender residents? What length will he go to safeguard the rights of trans children and adults which right now are being targeted by the federal government? Or, put another way: What is he willing to surrender?
As of press time, Gov. Lamont and his spokesperson have not responded to these questions. Our attempts to reach the governor’s spokesperson for comment have been unsuccessful, as the media liaison has not responded to our emails for more than two weeks.
At a news conference Thursday in Hartford, the Democratic governor was asked by AP reporter Pat Eaton-Robb:
“The Office for Civil Rights has ruled that Connecticut is in violation of Title IX with its transgender athlete policy. Are you prepared to lose federal funds to keep these athletes competing as the gender with which they identify? And how are you reacting to that?”
“No, I don’t want to lose any federal funds, that’s for sure!” Gov. Lamont said.
“I’m looking at the NCAA, I’m looking at the Olympics,” he continued. “I’m seeing how those organizations handle this very delicate issue of somebody who identifies with the gender that they weren’t mostly born with. And I think we’ve got to work through that. I think we’re gonna get a lot of indications from the Olympics and the NCAA and perhaps follow their lead.”
The governor’s office told the AP it has had multiple discussions about the issue with the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, the board that oversees high school athletics. As far as the governor’s hope for advice from the NCAA and IOC, both sports organizations have long-standing policies that allow trans athletes to compete. The International Olympic Committee has been reviewing their standards and announced last year a plan to revise them following the 2020 Summer Games, which have been postponed until sometime in 2021.