All the Democrats in the House of Representatives except one are cosponsoring a bill that's intended, in part, to allow biological male athletes who identify as females to compete against biological females in public schools.
The Equality Act would broadly amend civil rights legislation to outlaw discrimination against LGBTQ people in employment, housing, public accommodations, jury service, education, federal programs and credit, NBC News reported. The bill's specific language prohibits discrimination based on peoples' "sexual orientation and gender identity."
But some cosponsors and supporters of the bill are looking at the bill as an avenue to allow transgender athletes in public schools to compete on teams that match their gender identities — which has become a contentious issue nationwide of late.
What do supporters and cosponsors say regarding transgender athletes?
Democratic House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler (N.Y.) offered the following in his opening statement last week about the Equality Act:
Many states have sexual orientation and gender identity nondiscrimination laws, and all of them still have women's sports. Arguments about transgender athletes participating in sports in accordance with their gender identity having competitive advantages have not been borne out. Sports have positive impacts on physical, social, and emotional well-being, and we should not be denying transgender athletes those opportunities simply because sometimes they may win. Nor should their occasional success be used as a roadblock to advancing civil rights legislation for LGBT people as a whole.
Sarah Warbelow — director of the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ advocacy group — championed the Equality Act in written testimony to the House and echoed Nadler's words, saying it's a myth that transgender female athletes have unfair advantages over biological female athletes:
Opponents of equality in athletics for transgender athletes have argued that girls who are transgender have unfair physiological advantages over cisgender girls and as a result, will dominate women's competitive sports. Some have also suggested that girls who are transgender pose a threat to their cisgender teammates both on the field and in shared locker rooms. None of these arguments are rooted in fact. Existing evidence shows that denying opportunities and access to students based on their gender identity causes actual harm to those students, while there is no data to suggest that girls who are transgender are dominating athletics or posing a harm to their cisgender counterparts.
The issue is particularly hot in Connecticut, where a pair of biological males who identify as females have been dominating sprinting competitions in high school track and field. And as you might expect, not every biological female opponent is happy about it.
What did one opponent of the bill have to say?
Julia Beck of the Women's Liberation Front testified to the House against the Equality Act, saying "men will dominate female sports; girls who would have taken first place will be denied scholastic opportunity."
Beck added that the bill is a "human rights violation" and that in the end "every person in this country will lose our right to single-sex sports" and "we will no longer be able to distinguish between women and men."
Who are the outlier House members?
The only two Republican House members cosponsoring the Equality Act are John Katko of New York and Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania. GOP Rep. Jennifer Gonzalez-Colon of Puerto Rico also cosponsored the bill, but she's not a voting member.
The Daily Caller noted that Illinois Rep. Dan Lipinski, "the only pro-life Democrat left in the House, is also the only one in his party not co-sponsoring the Equality Act."
Here's a look at the Connecticut high school transgender sprinters: