Recent controversies surrounding transgender athletes create new questions surrounding what Title IX policies might mean for LGBTQ+ students participating in high school and college sports. While many right-wing politicians are seeking to ban all transgender athletes and transgender activists are fighting for no-holds-barred inclusion, what tends to get lost in the debate is the actual individuals whose lives are impacted by these decisions. Of course the best-case scenario would be policies that are fair to both female athletes and transgender girls and women, but the story of Terry Miller illustrates why this conclusion will be tough to achieve.
When Transgender Athletes Create Controversy
As a ninth-grade student in Hartford, Connecticut, Terry Miller competed on the boys' track team and was an average athlete who failed to make any postseason events. In 2018, Miller came out as a transgender girl, and as a sophomore she competed on the girls' track team. Running against other girls instead of boys, Miller proved to be a dominant competitor, winning five state championships and two regional championships. Andraya Yearwood, another transgender girl, mirrored Miller's success in state and regional competitions.
While Miller expressed that track was essential to her well-being while transitioning, many coaches, girls at her school and other parents did not support her or the school's decision to allow her to compete in female sports. Because Miller was born male, detractors complained that she had an unfair advantage over other girls on the team, and many insisted that transgender girls in sports should be required to suppress testosterone before competing to create a more level playing field.
How Title IX May Affect Transgender Athletes
In Connecticut, current policies allow transgender athletes to compete in girls' sports with no restrictions, but some legal experts argue that the state's policy violates Title IX. While Title IX doesn't define what it means to be a woman, it does intend to restrict participation in female sports to individuals who have not gone through male puberty. Because puberty causes testosterone in boys to rise four to 10 times higher than the level found in girls and women, this creates a distinct advantage in athletic competitions and can eliminate many opportunities for female athletes.
A recent bill introduced in Congress also aims to prevent individuals who were determined to be male at birth from participating in women's sports. According to Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, the “legislation protects Title IX's original intent, which was based on the general biological distinction between men and women athletes based on sex.” However, while these types of policies are intended to create opportunities for females in sports, they could also be harmful to transgender girls and women, opening the door to more discrimination and harassment in their daily lives.
Have You Experienced Sex Discrimination?
While Andraya Yearwood and Terry Miller were legally allowed to compete in girls' high school track events, that doesn't mean the discrimination they experienced was harmless. Miller does not know whether competitive track is part of her college plans, and Yearwood has indicated her running career is over.
Similarly, complex legal battles over gender and inclusion in sports rage on. Attorney Joseph D. Lento is highly experienced in Title IX claims and has successfully resolved hundreds of Title IX cases at schools across the country through negotiation and the Title IX hearing process. Call the Lento Law Firm a call at 888-535-3686 or contact us online.