There’s excellent news for trans athletes looking to compete according to their gender identity, and it can be found within President Joe Biden’s day one executive order directing federal agencies to enforce the Supreme Court’s anti-LGBTQ discrimination ruling from 2020.
Of particular interest is one sentence under “Policy.” It reads: “Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports.”
You don’t have to hold a law degree to see that the Biden Administration’s interpretation of the Bostock v. Clayton County ruling is: let them play.
It’s important to note, however, that this order by itself does not serve as the basis for anti-discrimination legal precedent that will enable trans athletes to take to the field. As American Civil Liberties Union deputy director for trans justice Chase Strangio affirmed, “our federal statues are the source of legal protections for LGBTQ people — not [Wednesday’s] executive order.”
What President Biden’s order does do, according to Strangio, is provide guidance that all federal agencies “vigorously defend and enforce the legal protections” established in Bostock. And as the above quoted passage makes clear, those protections apply to trans athletes.
Under the previous administration, the Bostock ruling was interpreted by Betsy DeVos’s Department of Education in September as not having any impact on its Office of Civil Rights regulations or enforcement of Title IX.
Thankfully, that kind of negligence is now as firmly consigned to the past tense as the phrase “Betsy DeVos’s Department of Education.” DeVos even took one last swipe at trans kids on her way out the door last week.
Regarding how it applies to a situation like Montana’s proposed anti-trans sports bill HB 112, the ACLU has promised to sue should the bill pass. If that occurs, according to Biden’s executive order, the state of Montana should not expect any federal support to back its legislation.
Furthermore, we will no longer see situations where the Department of Education threatens to withhold federal funding to school districts that allow trans athletes to compete with other students of their gender identity.
Sometimes you can judge how to feel about government action based on who it pisses off. And if your supply of schadenfreude is running low, check out some of the apocalyptic bleating TERF outrage in response to Biden’s executive order, such as anti-trans writer Abigail Shirer with this scorching hot take:
On day 1, Biden unilaterally eviscerates women's sports. Any educational institution that receives federal funding must admit biologically-male athletes to women's teams, women's scholarships, etc.— Abigail Shrier (@AbigailShrier) January 21, 2021
A new glass ceiling was just placed over girls.https://t.co/cGWZqDpxl8
In response, Strangio did to Shirer’s argument what she claimed was being done to women’s sports...
This didn’t happen. Trans girls (who are girls) have been on sports teams for years. Title IX and Bostock are the source of the protection not yesterday’s EO. Biden just agrees to enforce the law. Also read this EO: https://t.co/ZJwQ1Gz7rJ pic.twitter.com/U7UcZ0c4fg— Chase Strangio (@chasestrangio) January 21, 2021
As Strangio made clear, trans athletes have had the backing of anti-discrimination law since the Supreme Court ruling from last year. President Biden’s executive order functions as assurance that the federal government will now be fully supporting it.
Score one for trans athletes. And humanity.