The debate over allowing athletes to compete on teams matching their preferred gender has raged in recent months with many on the left supporting laws that would require individual states to give transgender individuals that right.
Of course, many conservatives – not to mention a growing number of female athletes – argue that such policies would amount to an unfair advantage for athletes who were born male but transition to female.
Those critics scored a legal victory this week when a federal court in Tennessee sided with 20 attorneys general from Republican states who insisted that the Biden administration does not have the authority to force states to redefine their laws regarding gender-specific sports.
Aside from the argument that transgender female athletes have an inherent genetic advantage over competitors who were born female, the lawsuit filed nearly a year ago also took aim at the Biden administration’s proposal for mandating that transgender individuals be allowed to share locker rooms, restrooms, and showers with those assigned the opposite sex at birth.
In his ruling on Friday, U.S. District Judge Charles Atchley Jr. determined that “the harm alleged by the Plaintiff States is already occurring” and the constitutional freedom of individual states “to enforce their own legal code is hampered by the issuance of Defendants’ guidance and they face substantial pressure to change their state laws as a result.”
Although the ruling represents just a temporary roadblock for the Biden administration’s policy, the plaintiffs in this case clearly saw the outcome as a resounding victory for athletes and states’ rights.
The controversial issue has played out in other arenas recently, including in response to the University of Pennsylvania’s decision to nominate transgender swimmer Lia Thomas as NCAA Woman of the Year.
Thomas has been at the center of this debate for months and at least one University of Pennsylvania teammate indicated that critics of the school’s policy were being silenced.
Addressing the issue anonymously earlier this year, a biologically female swimmer said: “There’s a lot of things you couldn’t talk about that were very concerning, like a locker room situation.”
She added that those who dared to express their concerns were dismissed as “transphobic.”